August 8, 2022

Live Updates: Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

Live Updates: Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Russian soldiers monitor the main square in Melitopol, Zaporizhia region, Ukraine, on June 14. (Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

The Ukrainian mayor of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov, said that Russia closed the exits of the occupied Ukrainian city of Melitopol for the second day in a row.

Fedorov, who is not in Melitopol, said Russian forces “were so afraid of the Ukrainian armed forces’ counterattack that they covered themselves with thousands of civilians as human shields.”

“The whole city is being held hostage,” he added.

Fedorov said the Russians had closed the Vasilivka checkpoint – the main crossing point for civilian traffic trying to reach other parts of Ukraine.

On Monday, Fedorov said the Russians had closed off the western part of Melitopol, stranding tens of thousands of residents of the residential neighborhood.

Melitopol, like parts of the neighboring Kherson region, has seen strikes by Ukrainian forces far from the front lines in recent days.

The head of the Russia-appointed regional administration of Melitopol, Yevgeny Palitsky, said Tuesday on his Telegram channel that the Ukrainian government “has turned into ISIS: they blow up bridges and carry out attacks on public figures,” apparently referring to the reports. Attempted assassination of the pro-Russian local official, Andrei Seguta, whose car was blown up.

“That wouldn’t change anything,” Palitsky said. “The residents of the Zaporozhzhia district have already made their choice … the liberated part of the Zaporizhzhia district will become part of [the Russian Federation] through a referendum.

Fedorov claimed that there was a heavy loss of life in a Ukrainian attack on a Russian garrison in Melitopol on Saturday night, saying that the occupying forces “do not know where they will put the bodies of the dead Russian soldiers.”

“Forensic doctors do not want to cooperate and do not issue death certificates because they do not want to cooperate with the Russians,” Fedorov said.

Fedorov said last week that more than 30 raids targeted a single military base outside the city.

CNN cannot confirm the extent of damage or casualties caused by Ukrainian strikes against Russian forces in the region.