by Yurus Karamanau and Adam Schreck
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The Ukrainian city of Mariupol created more horror after a six-week scuffle by Russian troops, with the mayor saying that more than 10,000 civilians have been killed in the strategic southern port, their bodies “trailing through the streets.” Carpets”. ,
As Russia mounted targets around Ukraine and prepared for a major attack in the east, the country’s leader warned that President Vladimir Putin’s military might resort to chemical weapons, and Western officials said they were a Ukrainian We’re investigating an unconfirmed claim by the regiment that a poisonous substance had been spilled in Mariupol.
The city has seen some of the heaviest attacks in the war and civilian casualties, but there is limited information about what is happening inside the city in land, sea and air raids fighting to capture it by Russian forces.
Speaking by phone on Monday with The Associated Press, Mariupol Mayor Vadim Boychenko accused Russian forces of blocking weeks of humanitarian convoy efforts in the city to hide the massacre. Boychenko said the death toll in Mariupol alone could exceed 20,000.
Boychenko also gave new details of allegations by Ukrainian authorities that Russian forces brought mobile cremation equipment to Mariupol to dispose of the bodies of siege victims. He said the Russian military had moved several bodies to a large shopping center with storage facilities and refrigerators.
“Mobile crematoriums have come in the form of trucks: You open it, and there’s a pipe inside and these bodies are burned,” Meyer said.
Boychenko spoke from Ukrainian-controlled territory outside Mariupol. The mayor said he had multiple sources for his details about the alleged burning of bodies by the Russian military in the city, but did not detail the sources.
The discovery of large numbers of civilians apparently killed after Russian forces retreated from cities and towns around the capital Kyiv has already prompted widespread condemnation and accusations that Russia is committing war crimes in Ukraine.
Those forces withdrew after failing to take Kyiv in the face of stiff resistance from Ukraine, and Russia now says it will focus on the Donbass, an industrial region in Ukraine’s east. There are already signs that the army is gearing up for a major attack there.
On a visit to Russia’s Far East on Tuesday, President Vladimir Putin stressed that the military would achieve its goals in Ukraine, adding that the campaign was aimed at ensuring Russia’s security and protecting civilians in the east. He said his country had no intention of isolating itself and that foreign powers would not succeed in isolating it – despite widespread economic sanctions.
Putin’s visit to the Vostochny Space Launch Facility marked his first visit outside Moscow since Russia’s invasion on February 24.
The British Defense Ministry said Russian forces were continuing to pull out of Belarus to support operations in eastern Ukraine, where it said fighting would “intensify over the next two to three weeks.”
Building up forces in the east, Russia continued to attack targets throughout Ukraine to undermine the country’s defenses. Russia’s defense ministry said on Tuesday it used air and sea missiles to destroy an ammunition depot and airplane hangars in Starokostiantyiv in the Western Khmelnitsky region and an ammunition depot near Kyiv.
The Donbass has been torn by fighting between Russian-allied separatists and Ukrainian forces since 2014, and Russia has recognized the separatists’ claims of independence. Military strategists say that Russian leaders expect local support, logistics and territory in the Donbass to favor Russia’s larger and better armed force, potentially allowing its troops to eventually turn the tide decisively in their favor. Gives, the way they have struggled so far.
Russia has appointed an experienced general to support its renewed advance in the Donbass, but questions remain about the Russian army’s lackluster and demoralized ability to conquer much of the ground.
When their invasion of many parts of the country was thwarted, Russian forces increasingly relied on bombing cities – a tactic that leveled many urban areas and killed thousands. And Western officials have warned that Putin may use unconventional weapons, especially chemical agents – as a deterrent, part of a campaign by US and UK officials to release intelligence findings about Russian plans.
Zelensky reiterated the warning in his nightly address on Monday, specifically saying that weapons could be used in Mariupol. “We take this as seriously as possible,” Zelensky said.
Russia-affiliated separatist official, Eduard Basurin, appeared on Monday urging their use, telling Russian state TV that separatist forces had previously been blocked from Ukrainian forces by blocking all exits from the factory, a giant metals plant in Mariupol. should be confiscated. “And then we’ll use chemical troops to get them out there,” he said.
A Ukrainian regiment guarding the plant on Monday claimed without evidence that a drone had dropped a toxin on the city. This indicated that there were no serious injuries.
The claims of the Azov Regiment, now part of the Ukrainian Army, a far-right group, could not be independently verified.
Interfax news agency quoted Basurin as saying on Tuesday that separatist forces “have not used any chemical weapons in Mariupol.”
But Deputy Defense Minister Hannah Mallier said Ukrainian officials were investigating. She told Ukrainian television that “there is a suggestion that there were, possibly, phosphorous warheads.” Britain has warned that Russia could use phosphorus bombs – which cause horrific burns and whose use in civilian areas is banned under international law – in Mariupol.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement that the US could not confirm the drone report from Mariupol. But Kirby noted the administration’s persistent concerns “about Russia’s ability to use a variety of riot control agents, including tear gas mixed with chemical agents, in Ukraine.”
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the UK was “working urgently” to investigate the report.
Meanwhile, Western military analysts say Russia’s attack is focusing on an area stretching from Ukraine’s second-largest city Kharkiv in the north to Kherson in the south.
A senior US defense official on Monday described a lengthy Russian convoy, now with artillery, aviation and infantry support, heading towards the eastern city of Izium as part of a reparations for the emerging Russian campaign. is in.
Before that invasion, little diplomatic progress had been made toward ending the war, which drove more than 10 million Ukrainians from their homes, more than 4 million of them from the country, leaving thousands dead.
The United Nations children’s agency said that nearly two-thirds of all Ukrainian children have fled their homes since Russia’s invasion began, while Ukrainian officials have accused the Russian military of atrocities, including Kyiv. The massacre in the city of Buka outside the U.S. included airstrikes on hospitals and a missile. Last week an attack on a train station where people were trying to escape.
Meanwhile, in Mariupol, about 120,000 citizens are in dire need of food, water, heat and communication, the mayor said.
Ukraine accused Russian forces of forcibly removing people from cities in Ukraine’s separatist-controlled east before sending them to economically depressed areas in Russia. Russia has refused to take people against their will.
Karamanau reported from Lviv, Ukraine. Associated Press writer Robert Burns in Washington and AP journalists from around the world contributed to this report.
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