Ukraine Reclaims A Strategic Position The Struggle For Mariupol Rages In A Kyiv Suburb

Early Tuesday, Ukrainian forces announced they retook a strategically vital neighborhood of Kyiv, as Russian forces encircled other districts around the city and continued their assault on the besieged southern port of Mariupol. Kyiv was jolted by explosions and gunshots, as black smoke billowed from a location in the north. Intense artillery fire could be heard coming from the northwest, as Russia is attempting to encircle and seize several key suburbs of the capital. Residents were forced to seek cover at home or underground due to a 35-hour curfew issued by local officials, which will last until Wednesday morning.

Russian forces also continued their siege on Mariupol after the city’s defenders refused to surrender, with fleeing citizens reporting incessant bombardment and bodies strewn over the streets. However, the Kremlin’s ground offensive in other parts of the nation progressed slowly or not at all, as the Ukrainians launched devastating hit-and-run strikes. After a heavy struggle, Ukrainian troops drove Russian forces out of the Makariv area of Kyiv early Tuesday, according to Ukraine’s Defense Ministry. Ukrainian forces were able to seize control of a critical highway and bar Russian troops from surrounding Kyiv from the northwest thanks to the reclaimed land.

Nonetheless, Russian soldiers advancing toward Kyiv were able to partially take other northwest suburbs, including Bucha, Hostomel, and Irpin, which had been under siege almost since Russia’s military invaded than a month ago, according to the Defense Ministry. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces are aggressively focusing their air and artillery might on Ukrainian cities and civilians. According to the United Nations, Moscow’s invasion has displaced nearly 3.5 million people from Ukraine, with another 6.5 million displaced within the country. The United Nations has recorded nearly 900 civilian deaths, but the true toll is likely significantly higher. The number of Russians killed varies, but even conservative estimates are in the tens of thousands. According to US and British officials, Kyiv remains Russia’s top priority. The majority of Moscow’s forces are still far from the city center, but missiles and artillery have demolished residential complexes and a big retail mall, which was left a blazing ruin after attacks killed eight people late Sunday, according to emergency officials.

Russia has increased air sorties over the past two days, carrying out as many as 300 in the last 24 hours, according to a senior US defense official speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the military’s assessment. Russia has also fired over 1,100 missiles into Ukraine since the invasion began. President Joe Biden, who will travel to Europe later this week to talk with allies, said Monday evening that things could become worse. Biden stated, “Putin’s back is against the wall.” “He didn’t realise the breadth and depth of our cooperation. And the more he has his back against the wall, the more severe the measures he may use.” Biden reiterated his claims that Putin is considering using chemical weapons.

While Russian forces strive to pressure Kyiv, video-based discussions to end the violence have failed to bridge the gap between the two sides. Late Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Ukrainian television that he would be willing to contemplate foregoing Ukraine’s NATO candidacy — a key Russian demand — in exchange for a cease-fire, Russian troop withdrawal, and a guarantee of Ukraine’s security. Zelenskyy also hinted that Kyiv might be open to future talks about the status of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, and the eastern Donbas region, which is held by Russian-backed separatists. However, he stated that this was a discussion for another time. Zelenskyy will address Italian legislators on Tuesday and Japanese legislators on Wednesday as part of a series of speeches to foreign legislatures as he seeks support.

The status of individuals inside an art school that was devastated on Sunday and a theatre that was blown apart four days earlier in Mariupol was unclear, with communications hampered, movement restricted, and many residents in hiding. More than 1,300 individuals were said to be hiding in the theatre, with another 400 believed to be in the art school. Mariupol, located on the Sea of Azov, is an important port for Ukraine and is located along a border between Russia and Crimea. As a result, it is a critical target that has been besieged for more than three weeks and has witnessed some of the war’s worst suffering. It’s unclear how close it is to being captured. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said Tuesday that its forces were still defending the city and that a Russian patrol boat and electronic warfare equipment had been destroyed.

Moscow had offered Mariupol safe passage out of the city over the weekend, with one corridor extending east to Russia and the other west to other regions of Ukraine, in exchange for the city’s surrender before daylight Monday. The offer was flatly rejected by Ukraine well before the deadline. Mariupol had a population of around 430,000 people before the conflict. Around a fifth of the population is thought to have fled in the early days of the conflict, with tens of thousands more fleeing through humanitarian corridors in the last week. The violence has blocked previous attempts. Officials in Mariupol reported on March 15 that the siege had killed at least 2,300 people, some of whom were buried in mass graves. There has been no official estimate since then, but after six more days of shelling, the number is expected to be much higher.

Conditions have deteriorated for those who have remained. Mariupol’s electricity, water, and food supplies have all been cut off, as has communication with the outside world, forcing people to battle for survival. Smoke could be seen billowing from structures struck by Russian artillery in recent commercial satellite photographs. Those who managed to escape Mariupol described a shattered city. “There are no structures there anymore,” Maria Fiodorova, 77, said after crossing the Polish border on Monday following a five-day journey. Gunfire blew out her windows, and her flat went below freezing, according to Olga Nikitina, who escaped Mariupol for the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, where she arrived Sunday. “Battles raged down every street.” “Every house was turned into a target,” she explained.

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Residents of the besieged city of Mariupol sought refuge in a temporary camp set up by Russian-backed separatists in the Donetsk area, as a long line of vehicles stood on a road in Bezimenne, east of Mariupol. Approximately 5,000 Mariupol residents have sought sanctuary in the camp. Many arrived in cars bearing Russian placards that read “children.” Yulia, a lady who only revealed her first name, said she and her family sought refuge in Bezimenne after a bombing destroyed six houses near her home. “That’s why we got in the car and left in 15 minutes, at our own risk,” she explained. “Everything is devastated there, and dead people are laying around.” “They won’t let us pass through anyplace because there are shootings,” says the narrator. According to Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk, moreover, 8,000 people left to safer places through humanitarian corridors on Monday, including roughly 3,000 from Mariupol. According to Zelenskyy, the Russian bombardment of a passageway on a road coming out of Mariupol injured four youngsters.

The speed and scale of people fleeing danger in Ukraine, according to Matthew Saltmarsh, a spokesman for the United Nations Refugee Agency, is “unprecedented in recent memory.”

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