LVV, Ukraine (AB) – The Russian military says the Russian army shelled a mosque in the besieged city of Mariupol where more than 80 people were staying.
The government statement released on Saturday said there were no immediate reports of casualties. The Ukrainian embassy in Turkey had earlier announced that a group of 86 Turkish nationals, including 34 children, were among those seeking refuge from the Russian attack on the besieged port city.
An embassy spokesman quoted the mayor as saying. She noted that it is difficult to communicate with anyone in Mariupol.
This is a breaking news update. Below is the previous story of AP.
LVV, Ukraine (AB) – Russian forces advanced in a slow battle from northeastern Ukraine to reach the capital, Kiev, with tanks and artillery shelling already besieged areas. Number of deaths.
In past attacks in Syria and Chechnya, Russia’s strategy has been to suppress armed resistance with a series of airstrikes and shelling to level the population centers. That kind of attack has cut off the southern port city of Mariupol, and a similar fate awaits Kiev and other parts of the country if the war continues.
In Mariupol, repeated attempts to bring in food and water by evacuation and evacuate trapped civilians were thwarted. On Friday, an Associated Press photographer captured the moment a tank appeared directly on top of an apartment building, surrounded by a page surrounded by orange fireball.
The mayor’s office said the death toll from the Mariupol attack in the 12 days had exceeded 1,500. A strike at a maternity hospital in the city of 446,000 people this week has killed three people, sparking international outrage and war crimes allegations.
A series of shelling forced the public to stop digging trenches for the graves, so “not even the dead were buried,” the mayor said.
According to the World Health Organization, Russian forces have attacked a dozen hospitals since the February 24 invasion of Ukraine. Ukrainian officials said on Saturday that heavy artillery had damaged a cancer hospital and several residential buildings in the town of Mykolayiv, 489 kilometers (304 miles) west of Mariupol.
The hospital’s chief physician, Maksim Beznosenko, said hundreds of patients were in the facility at the time of the attack, but no one was killed.
Occupying Russian forces have fought more than expected against determined Ukrainian fighters. Russia’s strong military is threatening to crush its defenses, despite a steady flow of weapons and other aid from the west to Ukraine’s democratically elected government.
The conflict has already forced 2.5 million people to flee the country. Thousands of soldiers are believed to have been killed on both sides, along with several Ukrainian civilians.
On the ground, the Kremlin’s forces seemed to be trying to regroup and regain momentum after fierce opposition over the past two weeks and heavy casualties. Britain’s Ministry of Defense has said Russia is trying to “re-deploy” its troops, preparing for action against Kyiv.
“It’s already ugly, but it’s getting worse,” said Nick Reynolds, a war analyst at the Royal United Services Institute, a British think tank.
Russian forces have laid siege to Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, despite efforts to build new humanitarian corridors and other urban centers around it, but residents are still able to get help and evacuate.
Ukraine’s emergency services announced on Saturday that the bodies of five people – two women, a man and two children – had been pulled from a shelled building in Kharkiv.
The Russians intensified their attacks on Mykolive, 470 kilometers (292 miles) south of Kiev, in an attempt to encircle the city.
As part of a multi-pronged attack on the capital, Russian motives appeared to be advancing from the Northeast, with a U.S. defense official speaking anonymously to provide a US assessment of the fighting. As the troops advanced 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from Kyiv, the battle units moved upwards from the rear.
New commercial satellite images appeared to capture artillery fire in residential areas between the Russians and the capital. The company said images from Maxar Technologies showed muzzle flashes and smoke from large guns, as well as craters and burning houses in the town of Moschun, 33 kilometers (20.5 miles) from Kyiv.
Residents of a devastated village east of the capital climbed over the crumbling walls and wrapped metal strips around the remains of a pool hall, restaurant and theater newly bombed by Russian bombs.
As the temperature dropped below freezing, villagers quickly spread plastic wrap or nailed plywood over the windows of their homes.
Ivan Mersik, 62, said Russian President Vladimir Putin “created this mess by thinking he was responsible here.” He added: “We are not going.”
On the economic and political front, the United States and its allies moved to further isolate and allow the Kremlin. President Joe Biden announced The United States will dramatically reduce its trade status with Russia And ban the import of Russian seafood, liquor and diamonds.
The move to revoke Russia’s “most preferred country” status was taken in conjunction with the European Union and a group of seven countries.
“The free world is coming together to confront Putin,” Biden said.
On the 16th day of the invasion, Putin said there were “some positive developments” in talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators on Friday. He did not give any details.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky appeared in the video to encourage his people to continue fighting.
“We can not say how many more days our land will be released, but we can say that we will do it,” he said from Kiev.
Gelensky said authorities were working to establish 12 humanitarian routes and to ensure that food, medicine and other urgently needed bases were available to people across the country.
He also accused Russia of abducting Melidopol, the mayor of a city, calling the abduction a “new phase of terrorism.” The Biden administration had warned before the invasion of Russian plans to detain and kill people targeted in Ukraine. Zelenskyy itself is a great target.
U.S. defense officials say Russian pilots fly an average of 200 aircraft a day, while Ukrainian forces have five to 10 aircraft that focus heavily on ground-to-air aerial missiles, rocket-propelled grenades and drones to take off Russian aircraft.
The United States has said Russia has fired about 810 missiles at Ukraine.
Until recently, Russian troops made their greatest advances in cities in the east and south, while fighting around the north and Kiev. They have also begun targeting areas with large numbers of refugees in western Ukraine.
Russia on Friday said it had used high-precision long-range weapons to “operate” military airports in the western cities of Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk. The mayor said four Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the attack on Lutsk.
Russian airstrikes first targeted Dnipro, a large industrial center in the east and the fourth largest city in Ukraine, with a population of about 1 million. Ukrainian officials say one person has been killed.
In pictures of the aftermath released by the Ukrainian Emergency Agency, firefighters set fire to the burning building, and the ashes fell into the bloody rubble. Smoke billowed over the broken concrete where the buildings were.
The UN political leader said the international community had received credible information that Russian forces were using cluster munitions in populated areas. International law prohibits the use of small explosives scattering bombs over cities and towns.
Associated Press journalists Philip Dana and Andrew Drake from Ukraine and other reporters from around the world also contributed.
Follow the AP’s coverage of the Ukraine crisis https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
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