Russians continue to pressure Mariupol; Massive convoy breaks up – Press Enterprise


MARIUPOL, Ukraine (AP) – Russian forces continued their bombardment of the port city of Mariupol on Thursday, while satellite photos showed a massive convoy stuck outside the Ukrainian capital split up and fanned out into towns and forests near Kyiv. brought into firing position with artillery pieces.

International condemnation escalated over an airstrike in Mariupol a day earlier that killed three people at a maternity hospital. Western and Ukrainian officials called the attack a war crime. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia’s refusal to allow evacuations from the port city was “open terror”.

As the West seeks new ways to punish Moscow, US President Joe Biden planned to announce on Friday that the United States, the European Union and the Group of the Seven Leading Industrialized Nations would move to revoke Russia’s trade status as “most favored nation.” ‘ according to a source familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to preview the announcement. Losing trade status would allow tariffs to be levied on Russian imports and increase the isolation of the Russian economy.

Meanwhile, top-level talks have yielded no progress since the invasion began two weeks ago, the number of refugees fleeing the country surpassed 2.3 million, and Kyiv braced for an attack, with the mayor boasting that that the capital has become a virtual fortress protected by armed civilians.

Satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies showed a 40-mile convoy of vehicles, tanks and artillery being disbanded and redeployed, the company said. Armored units were seen in towns near Antonov Airport, north of the city. Some of the vehicles drove into woods, Maxar reported, with howitzers drawn nearby in position to open fire.

The convoy had assembled outside the city earlier last week, but its advance appeared to have stalled due to reports of food and fuel shortages. US officials said Ukrainian troops also attacked the convoy with anti-tank missiles.

A US defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said some vehicles had veered off the road into the tree line in recent days, but the official could not confirm whether the convoy had broken up.

In Mariupol, a southern seaport of 430,000 people, the situation grew worse as civilians trapped in the city searched for food and fuel. More than 1,300 people died in the ten-day siege of the cold city, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

Residents have no heating or telephones, and many have no electricity. Nighttime temperatures regularly dip below freezing, and daytime temperatures usually hover just above. Corpses are buried in mass graves. The streets are littered with burned-out cars, broken glass and splintered trees.

“They have clear orders to hold Mariupol hostage, to mock it, to bomb and bomb it constantly,” Zelenskyy said in his late-night video address to the nation. He said the Russians launched a tank attack right where a humanitarian corridor should be.

On Thursday, firefighters tried to free a boy trapped in the rubble. One grabbed the boy’s hand. His eyes blinked, but otherwise he was silent. It was not clear if he survived. Nearby, by a crashed truck, a woman wrapped in a blue blanket shuddered at the sound of an explosion.

Grocery stores and pharmacies were emptied days ago by people breaking in to get supplies, according to local Red Cross official Sacha Volkov. There is a black market for vegetables, meat is unavailable and people steal gasoline from cars, Volkov said.

Places protected from bombing raids are hard to find, with basements reserved for women and children, he said. Residents, Volkov said, are turning against each other: “People started attacking each other to get food.”

A weary-looking Aleksander Ivanov pulled a cart loaded with bags down an empty street flanked by damaged buildings.

“I don’t have a home anymore. That’s why I’m moving,” he said. “It does not exist anymore. It was hit by a mortar.”

Repeated attempts to send in food and medicine and evacuate civilians have been thwarted by Russian shelling, Ukrainian authorities said.

“They want to annihilate the people of Mariupol. They want to starve them,” Vereshchuk said. “This is a war crime.”

In total, about 100,000 people have been evacuated from seven cities under Russian blockade in the north and center of the country, including the suburbs of Kyiv, over the past two days, Zelenskyy said.

Zelenskyy told Russian leaders that the invasion would backfire as their economy would be choked. Western sanctions have already dealt a severe blow, plunging the ruble, fleeing foreign companies and sending prices up sharply.

“You will definitely be prosecuted for aiding and abetting war crimes,” Zelenskyy said in a video address. “And then it will definitely happen that you will be hated by Russian citizens – by everyone who has cheated you constantly, daily, for many years in a row, when they feel the consequences of your lies in their wallets, in their shrinking opportunities, in the stolen ones future of Russian children.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed such talks, saying the country had endured sanctions before.

“We will overcome them,” he said at a televised meeting of government officials. However, he acknowledged that the sanctions create “certain challenges”.

In addition to those who have fled the country, millions have been displaced from their homes in Ukraine. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said about 2 million people, half of the metropolitan area’s population, have left the capital.

“Every street, every house…is paved,” he said. “Even people who never intended to change their clothes in their lives are now in uniform with machine guns in hand.”

On Thursday, a 14-year-old girl named Katya was recovering at the Brovary Central District Hospital on the outskirts of Kyiv after her family was ambushed while trying to flee the area. She was shot in the hand when her car received gunfire from a roadside forest, said her mother, who identified herself only as Nina.

The girl’s father, who drove frantically from an ambush with blown tires, underwent surgery. His wife said he was shot in the head and had two fingers ripped off.

Western officials said Russian forces had made little progress on the ground in recent days and are seeing greater casualties and stronger Ukrainian resistance than Moscow appeared to have anticipated. But Putin’s forces have used air power and artillery to raid Ukraine’s cities.

Earlier in the day, the Mariupol City Council released a video showing a convoy to bring food and medicines. But as night fell, it was unclear whether those buses had reached the city.

A child was among those killed in the airstrike on the hospital on Wednesday. In addition, 17 people were injured, including women waiting to give birth, doctors and children buried in the rubble. Images of the attack, with pregnant women covered in dust and blood, dominated news reports in many countries.

French President Emmanuel Macron called the attack “a shameful and immoral act of war.” British Armed Forces Secretary James Heappey said whether the hospital was hit by indiscriminate fire or deliberately attacked “it is a war crime”.

US Vice President Kamala Harris, on a visit to Ukraine’s neighbor Poland, backed calls for an international probe into the invasion over war crimes, saying: “The eyes of the world are on this war and what Russia has done in relation to this aggression.” has these atrocities.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed concerns about civilian casualties as “pathetic shouting” from Russia’s enemies and denied that Ukraine had been attacked at all.

Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba held talks at a Turkish resort in their first meeting since the invasion.

The two sides discussed a 24-hour ceasefire but made no progress, Kuleba said. He said Russia still wanted Ukraine to surrender but insisted that would not happen.

Lavrov said Russia was ready for further negotiations, but showed no signs of softening Moscow’s demands.


Associated Press journalists Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Ukraine and Felipe Dana and Andrew Drake in Kyiv, Ukraine contributed along with other reporters from around the world.


Follow AP’s coverage of the Ukraine crisis at


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