Piece of the loss of the Black Sea flagship and indignant at alleged Ukrainian aggression on Russian territory, Russia’s military command had warned of renewed missile attacks on Ukraine’s capital. Officials in Moscow said they were targeting military sites, a claim repeated – and refuted by witnesses – throughout the 52-day war.
The tax goes much deeper. Every day brings new discoveries of civilian victims of an invasion that has shattered European security. While Russia was preparing for the expected offensive, a mother cried over the body of her 15-year-old son after rockets hit a residential area of Kharkiv, a city in northeastern Ukraine. An infant and at least eight other people died, officials said.
In the Kyiv region, authorities have reported finding the bodies of more than 900 civilians, most shot and killed since Russian troops withdrew two weeks ago. Smoke rose from the capital again early Saturday when Mayor Vitali Klitschko reported an attack that killed one person and injured several.
The mayor advised residents fleeing the city earlier in the war not to return.
“We do not rule out further strikes in the capital,” Klitschko said. “If you have the opportunity to stay a little longer in the cities where it’s safer, do so.”
It was not immediately clear from the ground what was hit in the attack on Kiev’s Darnytskyi district. The vast area on the southeastern outskirts of the capital contains a mix of Soviet-style apartment blocks, newer shopping malls and large retail outlets, industrial areas and railway stations.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said an armored vehicle factory was targeted. He did not specify where the factory was located, but there is one in the Darnytskyi district.
He said the facility was among several Ukrainian military sites hit by “air-fired high-precision long-range weapons.” As the United States and Europe send new weapons to Ukraine, the strategy may aim to raise Ukraine’s defenses rather than what is expected to be a full-scale Russian attack in the east.
It was the second attack in the Kiev area since the Russian military this week promised to intensify missile attacks on the capital. Another hit a missile factory on Friday as residents showed up for walks, foreign embassies planned to reopen, and other preliminary signs of the city’s pre-war life began to reappear after Russian troops’ inability to capture Kiev and their retreat.
Kiev was one of many goals on Saturday. The Ukrainian president’s office has reported missile strikes and shelling over the past 24 hours in eight regions across the country.
The governor of the Lviv region of western Ukraine – long considered a safe zone – reported airstrikes on the region by Russian Su-35 planes taking off from neighboring Belarus.
In apparent preparations for its attack on the east, the Russian military intensified shelling of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, in recent days. Friday’s attack killed civilians and injured more than 50 people, the Ukrainian president’s office reported.
Saturday was an explosion believed to be caused by a missile that sent relief workers on the move near an outdoor market in Kharkiv, according to AP reporters at the scene. One person was killed and at least 18 people were injured, according to rescue workers.
“All the windows, all the furniture, all broken. And the door too,” said the astonished resident Valentina Ulianova.
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, who met with Vladimir Putin last week in Moscow – the first European leader to do so since the invasion began on February 24 – said the Russian president is “in his own war logic” against Ukraine .
In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Nehammer said he believes Putin believes he will win the war, and “we have to face him and we have to confront him. with what we see in Ukraine. “
Nehammer also said he confronted Putin with what he saw during a visit to the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, where graphic evidence of murder and torture during Russian occupation has emerged, and “it was not a friendly conversation.”
In southeastern Ukraine, the battered southern port city of Mariupol is enduring, but the situation is critical, the Ukrainian president’s office said. Russian troops have maintained a blockade there since the early days of the invasion.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Saturday that Ukrainian forces have been driven out of most of the city and remain only in the huge Azov steelworks.
The capture of Mariupol would allow Russian forces in the south, which came up through the annexed Crimean peninsula, to fully connect with troops in the Donbas region, Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland.
The struggle for control of Mariupol has cost terribly imprisoned and starving civilians. Locals reported seeing Russian troops dig up corpses from housing estates and ban new burials. It was unclear why.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed for more Western weapons and a global embargo on Russian oil and accused Russian troops of terrorizing civilians in occupied cities.
‘The occupiers believe this will make it easier for them to control this area. But they are very wrong. They fool themselves, Zelenskyy said late Friday in his video speech that evening. “Russia’s problem is that it is not accepted – and will never be accepted – by the entire Ukrainian people. Russia has lost Ukraine forever.”
He also warned in an interview with CNN that “all countries of the world” should be prepared for the possibility that Putin could use tactical nuclear weapons, an underlying fear ever since the invasion began.
Zelenskyy estimated that 2,500 to 3,000 Ukrainian troops died in the war and about 10,000 were wounded. The Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine said on Saturday that at least 200 children have been killed and more than 360 injured.
Russian forces have also captured about 700 Ukrainian soldiers and more than 1,000 civilians, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Saturday. Ukraine has about the same number of Russian troops as prisoners and intends to arrange a prey, but demands the release of civilians “without any conditions,” Vereshchuk said.
Russia’s warning of escalating attacks on Kiev came after Russian authorities on Thursday accused Ukraine of injuring seven people and damaging about 100 residential buildings with airstrikes in Bryansk, a region bordering Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials have not confirmed striking targets in Russia. However, they took responsibility for destroying an important warship with missiles earlier in the week.
Moscow sank on Thursday after taking major damage. Russia did not acknowledge any attack and said only one fire had detonated ammunition on board.
The sinking reduced Russia’s firepower in the Black Sea and seemed to symbolize Moscow’s fortunes in an eight-week invasion that is widely perceived as a historic blunder following the Russian withdrawal from the Kyiv region and large parts of northern Ukraine.
After the retreat, corpses were left in the streets of cities around Kiev or given temporary burials. Andriy Nebytov, who heads the region’s police force, cited police data indicating that 95% died of gunshot wounds, saying they were “simply executed in the streets.”
Several bodies are found every day under rubble and in mass graves, he added, with the largest number found in Bucha, more than 350.
The diplomatic gap between Russia and the West was further deepened on Saturday as Moscow prevented British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and a dozen other British top officials from entering the country in response to British sanctions.
Chernov reported from Kharkiv. Yesica Fisch in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, Robert Burns in Washington and Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report.
Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine