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Ukrainian President Zelenskyy accuses Kremlin of creating ‘a humanitarian catastrophe’

Ukraine’s president said Russia is trying to starve his country’s cities into submission but warned Saturday that continuing the invasion would exact a toll on Russia for “generations.” The remarks came after Moscow held a mass rally in support of its bogged-down forces.Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused the Kremlin in an overnight video address of deliberately creating “a humanitarian catastrophe ” and appealed again for Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet with him to prevent more bloodshed.Here’s the latest on the Ukraine-Russia conflict as of 9:30 a.m. (Eastern):A Ukrainian military official has confirmed to a local news outlet that Russian forces carried out a missile strike Friday on a missile and ammunition warehouse in the Delyatyn settlement of the Ivano-Frankivsk region in western Ukraine.Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk announced Saturday that 10 humanitarian corridors have been agreed on with the Russians. They include a corridor from the besieged port city of Mariupol, several in the Kyiv region and several in the Luhansk region. The Prosecutor General’s office in Ukraine says a total of 112 children have died in the country since the start of the Russian invasion. The office says more than 140 children have been wounded since Feb. 24. The U.N. migration agency estimates that nearly 6.5 million people have now been displaced inside Ukraine, on top of the 3.2 million refugees who have already fled the country. Noting that the 200,000 people reported to have attended the rally was similar to the number of Russian forces deployed to Ukraine, Zelenskyy said Friday’s event in Moscow illustrated the stakes of the largest ground conflict in Europe since World War II.“Picture for yourself that in that stadium in Moscow there are 14,000 dead bodies and tens of thousands more injured and maimed,” the Ukrainian leader said, standing outside the presidential office in the capital, Kyiv. “Those are the Russian costs throughout the invasion.”Putin lavished praise on his country’s military forces during Friday’s flag-waving rally, which took place on the anniversary of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. The event included patriotic songs such as “Made in the U.S.S.R.,” with the opening lines “Ukraine and Crimea, Belarus and Moldova, it’s all my country.”“We have not had unity like this for a long time,” Putin told the cheering crowd.Taking to the stage where a sign read “For a world without Nazism,” he railed against his foes in Ukraine with a baseless claim that they are “neo-Nazis” and insisted his actions were necessary to prevent “genocide” — an idea flatly rejected by leaders around the globe.The rally took place as Russia has faced heavier-than-expected losses on the battlefield and increasingly authoritarian rule at home. Russian police have detained thousands of antiwar protesters.Fighting raged on multiple fronts in Ukraine more than three weeks after Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion. U.N. bodies have confirmed more than 800 civilian deaths since the war began but say the real toll is considerably higher. The U.N. says more than 3.3 million people have fled Ukraine as refugees.The northwest Kyiv suburbs of Bucha, Hostomel, Irpin and Moshchun were under fire on Saturday, the Kyiv regional administration reported. The city of Slavutich, located 103 miles north of the capital was “completely isolated,” the administration said.Video: Lviv and Kyiv hit by missiles and shellingIn the besieged port city of Mariupol, the site of some of the war’s greatest suffering, Ukrainian and Russian forces battled over the Azovstal steel plant, one of the biggest in Europe, Vadym Denysenko, adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, said Saturday.“One of the largest metallurgical plants in Europe is actually being destroyed,” Denysenko said in televised remarks.Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Zelenskyy, said the nearest forces that could assist Mariupol’s defenders were already engaged in battle against “the overwhelming force of the enemy” or at least 60 miles away — or both.“There is currently no military solution to Mariupol,” he said late Friday. “That is not only my opinion, that is the opinion of the military.”The Russian military said Saturday that it has used its latest hypersonic missile for the first time in combat. Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, said Kinzhal missiles destroyed an underground warehouse storing Ukrainian missiles and aviation ammunition in the western Ivano-Frankivsk region of Ukraine.Russia has said the Kinzhal, carried by MiG-31 fighter jets, has a range of up to about 1,250 miles and flies at 10 times the speed of sound.A Ukrainian military official confirmed a Friday missile strike on a military warehouse in the region but told a newspaper that authorities have not yet verified the type of missile used.Ukrainian and Russian officials agreed to establish 10 humanitarian corridors for bringing aid in and residents out — one from Mariupol and several around Kyiv and in the eastern Luhansk region, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Saturday.She also announced plans to deliver humanitarian aid to the southern city of Kherson, which was seized by Russian forces.Video: Cosmonauts wear Ukrainian colors on space stationIn a separate development, Norway said four U.S. service members died in a plane crash during NATO drills in that country’s north. The annual exercise, “Cold Response,” is unrelated to the war in Ukraine.In his nightly video address, Zelenskyy said Russian forces were blockading the largest cities with the goal of creating such miserable conditions that Ukrainians will surrender. But he warned that Russia would pay the ultimate price.“The time has come to restore territorial integrity and justice for Ukraine. Otherwise, Russia’s costs will be so high that you will not be able to rise again for several generations,” he said.The two sides have held several rounds of negotiations but remain divided over Ukraine’s future status, with Russia pressing for its neighbor’s demilitarization and Kyiv demanding security guarantees.In a call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday, Putin said Ukraine was trying to “drag the negotiations by making a series of new, unrealistic proposals,” according to the Kremlin.Britain’s foreign minister, meanwhile, accused Putin of using the talks as a “smokescreen” while his forces regroup. “We don’t see any serious withdrawal of Russian troops or any serious proposals on the table,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told the Times of London newspaper.The British Department of Defense said in its latest intelligence assessment that the Kremlin “has been surprised by the scale and ferocity of Ukrainian resistance” and “is now pursuing a strategy of attrition” that is likely to involve indiscriminate attacks.U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, during a Saturday visit to NATO ally Bulgaria, said the Russian invasion had “stalled on a number of fronts” but the U.S. had not yet seen signs that Putin was deploying additional forces.Around Ukraine, hospitals, schools and buildings where people sought safety have been attacked.At least 130 people survived the Wednesday bombing of a Mariupol theater that was being used a shelter, but another 1,300 were believed to be still inside, Ludmyla Denisova, the Ukrainian Parliament’s human rights commissioner, said Friday.“We pray that they will all be alive, but so far there is no information about them,” Denisova told Ukrainian television.Satellite images on Friday from Maxar Technologies showed a long line of cars leaving Mariupol as people tried to evacuate. Zelenskyy said more than 9,000 people were able to leave in the past day along a route that leads 141 miles away to the city of Zaporizhzhia.The governor of the Zaporizhzhia region, Oleksandr Starukh, announced a 38-hour curfew in the southeastern city after two missile strikes on its suburbs killed nine people Friday.Video: Buildings in flames, soldiers on guard in UkraineThe Russian forces fired at eight cities and villages in the eastern Donetsk region in the past 24 hours, including Mariupol, Ukraine’s National Police said in a statement Saturday.The attacks with rockets and heavy artillery killed and wounded dozens of civilians, and damaged at least 37 residential buildings and facilities, including a school, a museum and a shopping center, it said.In a show of defiance against the Russian invasion, Kyiv residents gathered in the sunshine Friday to arrange some 1.5 million tulips in the shape of Ukraine’s coat of arms in a central square. They said the flowers will be distributed in hospitals later to cheer up patients.“We are continuing to live our lives as we do in peaceful times,” Oleksandr Malykhin, one of the participating residents. “Children and grandchildren must be happy for the coming of spring, to breathe freely. We feel confident and we are not afraid.”

Ukraine’s president said Russia is trying to starve his country’s cities into submission but warned Saturday that continuing the invasion would exact a toll on Russia for “generations.” The remarks came after Moscow held a mass rally in support of its bogged-down forces.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused the Kremlin in an overnight video address of deliberately creating “a humanitarian catastrophe ” and appealed again for Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet with him to prevent more bloodshed.

Here’s the latest on the Ukraine-Russia conflict as of 8:45 a.m. (Eastern):

  • Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk announced Saturday that 10 humanitarian corridors have been agreed on with the Russians. They include a corridor from the besieged port city of Mariupol, several in the Kyiv region and several in the Luhansk region.
  • The Prosecutor General’s office in Ukraine says a total of 112 children have died in the country since the start of the Russian invasion. The office says more than 140 children have been wounded since Feb. 24.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russian forces are blockading Ukraine’s largest cities to create a “humanitarian catastrophe” with the aim of persuading Ukrainians to cooperate with them. He says Russians are preventing supplies from reaching surrounded cities in the center and southeast of the country.
  • The U.N. migration agency estimates that nearly 6.5 million people have now been displaced inside Ukraine, on top of the 3.2 million refugees who have already fled the country.

Noting that the 200,000 people reported to have attended the rally was similar to the number of Russian forces deployed to Ukraine, Zelenskyy said Friday’s event in Moscow illustrated the stakes of the largest ground conflict in Europe since World War II.

“Picture for yourself that in that stadium in Moscow there are 14,000 dead bodies and tens of thousands more injured and maimed,” the Ukrainian leader said, standing outside the presidential office in the capital, Kyiv. “Those are the Russian costs throughout the invasion.”

Putin lavished praised on his country’s military forces during Friday’s flag-waving rally, which took place on the anniversary of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. The event included patriotic songs such as “Made in the U.S.S.R.,” with the opening lines “Ukraine and Crimea, Belarus and Moldova, it’s all my country.”

“We have not had unity like this for a long time,” Putin told the cheering crowd.

Taking to the stage where a sign read “For a world without Nazism,” he railed against his foes in Ukraine with a baseless claim that they are “neo-Nazis” and insisted his actions were necessary to prevent “genocide” — an idea flatly rejected by leaders around the globe.

The rally took place as Russia has faced heavier-than-expected losses on the battlefield and increasingly authoritarian rule at home. There were suspicions the event was a Kremlin-manufactured display of national pride. Russian police have detained thousands of antiwar protesters.

Fighting raged on multiple fronts in Ukraine more than three weeks after Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion.

The northwest Kyiv suburbs of Bucha, Hostomel, Irpin and Moshchun were under fire on Saturday, the Kyiv regional administration reported. The city of Slavutich, located 103 miles north of the capital was “completely isolated,” the administration said.

Video: Lviv and Kyiv hit by missiles and shelling

In the besieged port city of Mariupol, the site of some of the war’s greatest suffering, Ukrainian and Russian forces battled over the Azovstal steel plant, one of the biggest in Europe, Vadym Denysenko, adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, said Saturday.

“One of the largest metallurgical plants in Europe is actually being destroyed,” Denysenko said in televised remarks.

The Russian military reported Saturday that it has used its latest hypersonic missile for the first time in combat. A spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, said Kinzhal missiles destroyed an underground warehouse storing Ukrainian missiles and aviation ammunition in the western Ivano-Frankivsk region of Ukraine.

Russia has said the Kinzhal, carried by MiG-31 fighter jets, has a range of up to about 1,250 miles and flies at 10 times the speed of sound.

A Ukrainian military official confirmed a Friday missile strike on a military warehouse in the Delyatyn settlement of the Ivano-Frankivsk region, but he told the Ukrainskaya Pravda newspaper Saturday that authorities have not yet verified the type of missile used.

Konashenkov said Russian forces also used the anti-ship Bastion missile system to strike Ukrainian military facilities near the Black Sea port of Odesa. Russia first used the weapon during its military campaign in Syria in 2016.

Ukrainian and Russian officials agreed to establish 10 humanitarian corridors for bringing aid in and residents out — one from Mariupol and several around Kyiv and in the eastern Luhansk region, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Saturday.

She also announced plans to deliver humanitarian aid to the southern city of Kherson, which was seized by Russian forces.

Video: Cosmonauts wear Ukrainian colors on space station

In a separate development, Norway said four U.S. service members died in a plane crash during NATO drills in that country’s north. The annual exercise, “Cold Response,” is unrelated to the war in Ukraine.

In his nightly video address, Zelenskyy said Russian forces were blockading the largest cities with the goal of creating such miserable conditions that Ukrainians will surrender. But he warned that Russia would pay the ultimate price.

“The time has come to restore territorial integrity and justice for Ukraine. Otherwise, Russia’s costs will be so high that you will not be able to rise again for several generations,” he said.

In the wake of the invasion, the Kremlin has clamped down harder on dissent and the flow of information, banning sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and instituting tough prison sentences for what is deemed to be false reporting on the war, which Moscow refers to as a “special military operation.”

Vladimir Medinsky, who has led Russian negotiators in several rounds of talks with Ukraine, said Friday that the two sides have moved closer to agreement on the issue of Ukraine dropping its bid to join NATO and adopting a neutral status. In remarks carried by Russian media, he said the sides are now “halfway” on issues regarding the demilitarization of Ukraine.

However, Mikhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelenskyy, alleged that Moscow’s characterization was intended “to provoke tension in the media.” He tweeted: “Our positions are unchanged. Ceasefire, withdrawal of troops & strong security guarantees with concrete formulas.”

Britain’s foreign minister accused Putin of using the talks as a “smokescreen” while his forces regroup. “We don’t see any serious withdrawal of Russian troops or any serious proposals on the table,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told the Times of London newspaper.

The British Department of Defense said in its latest intelligence assessment that the Kremlin “has been surprised by the scale and ferocity of Ukrainian resistance” and “is now pursuing a strategy of attrition” that is likely to involve indiscriminate attacks.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, during a Saturday visit to NATO ally Bulgaria, said the Russian invasion had “stalled on a number of fronts” but the U.S. had not yet seen signs that Putin was deploying additional forces.

Around Ukraine, hospitals, schools and buildings where people sought safety have been attacked. Ludmyla Denisova, the Ukrainian Parliament’s human rights commissioner, reported Friday that at least 130 people survived the Wednesday bombing of a Mariupol theater that was being used a shelter, but another 1,300 were believed to be still inside.

“We pray that they will all be alive, but so far there is no information about them,” Denisova told Ukrainian television.

Video: Buildings in flames, soldiers on guard in Ukraine

Satellite images on Friday from Maxar Technologies showed a long line of cars leaving Mariupol as people tried to evacuate. Zelenskyy said more than 9,000 people were able to leave the city in the past day along a route that leads 141 miles northwest to the city of Zaporizhzhia.

The governor of the Zaporizhzhia region, Oleksandr Starukh, announced a 38-hour curfew in the southeastern city after two missile strikes on its suburbs killed nine people Friday.

The Russian forces fired at eight cities and villages in the eastern Donetsk region in the past 24 hours: Mariupol, Avdiivka, Kramatorsk, Pokrovsk, Novoselydivka, Verkhnotoretske, Krymka, and Stepne, Ukraine’s National Police said in a statement Saturday.

The attacks with rockets and heavy artillery killed and injured dozens of civilians, and damaged at least 37 residential buildings and infrastructure facilities, the statement posted on Telegram said.

“Among the civilian objects that Russia destroyed are multistory and private houses, a school, a kindergarten, a museum, a shopping center and administrative buildings,” the statement said.

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy accuses Kremlin of creating ‘a humanitarian catastrophe’ Source link Ukrainian President Zelenskyy accuses Kremlin of creating ‘a humanitarian catastrophe’

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