When Ukrainian forces face off near Kiev, Russia chases goals

  • Zhelensky says Russian forces are dealing with ‘powerful blows’
  • Russia signals military focus on eastern Ukraine
  • Authorities estimate 300 people were killed in the Mariupol theater blast

Mariupol / LVV, Ukraine, March 26 (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky has offered to hold further talks with Russia, but Moscow has pushed back its ambitions to focus on Russian-backed separatist territory in the east.

In a statement issued on Friday, the Russian Defense Ministry said that the first phase of its operation had largely been completed and would now focus on Russia’s border with Donbass, which borders Moscow. read more

“The combat capability of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has been significantly reduced, which makes it possible to focus our main efforts on achieving the liberation of Donbass, the main target,” said Sergei Rutskoy, chief of staff of the Russian Civil Service. Directorate of Operations.

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Russian-backed forces have been fighting with Ukrainian forces in the Donbass and adjacent Luhansk region since 2014. Soon after the February 24 invasion they declared independence with the blessings of Moscow – but were not recognized by the West.

Military analysts say reconsideration of Russia’s targets will facilitate the victory that will save President Vladimir Putin’s face. read more

Moscow has said its so-called “special operation” targets include the elimination of the military and the “reduction” of its neighbors. Western officials say the invasion is unjust and illegal, aimed at overthrowing Zelenskiy’s pro-NATO government.

The peace talks that have been going on for weeks have not made significant progress. In a video conference late Friday, Zhelensky said his troops’ opposition to Russia had dealt “powerful blows”.

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“Our defenders are leading the Russian leadership to a simple and logical idea: we must speak, meaningfully, urgently and fairly,” Zhelensky said.

In a keynote address in Poland on Saturday, US President Joe Biden called on officials to comment on the united efforts of the free world to support the Ukrainian people, hold Russia accountable for its brutal war, and secure a secure future. The White House said in a statement.

The United Nations has confirmed 1,081 civilian deaths and 1,707 injuries in Ukraine since the invasion, but says the actual number could be higher.

The Ukrainian state prosecutor’s office said on Saturday that about 136 children had been killed so far during the invasion. read more

Russia’s Defense Ministry said 1,351 Russian soldiers were killed and 3,825 wounded, according to the Interfax news agency. Ukraine says 15,000 Russian soldiers have been killed. Reuters could not independently verify the claims.

Waste was thrown

Despite the massacre, Russian troops occupied Ukraine and did not capture any major cities in a month. Instead, they bombed cities, dumped garbage in urban areas and evicted a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million people from their homes.

More than 3.7 million of them have fled abroad, half of them fleeing to neighboring Poland in the west, where Biden met with troops strengthening the eastern part of the NATO alliance of the US Army’s 82nd air division on Friday. read more

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“Millions of people are being cut off from aid by Russian forces and are being besieged in places like Mariupol,” Biden said. “It’s something like a science fiction movie.”

Views of the southeastern port, home to 400,000 people before the war, showed destroyed buildings, burned-out vehicles and shell-shocked survivors fleeing for water and facilities. Residents have buried the victims in temporary graves as the land melts.

Local authorities, citing the accounts of witnesses, estimate that 300 people were killed in the March 16 bombing of a theater in Mariupol.

The city council had previously not paid a fee and clarified that the exact number could not be determined after the incident. Russia has denied bombing the theater or targeting civilians. read more

Counter attacks around Kiev

The battle lines near Kiev have been frozen for weeks, with two major Russian armored columns to the northwest and east of the capital. The British intelligence report describes the Ukrainian counter-attack that pushed the Russians back in the east.

“Ukrainian counterattacks and Russian forces retreated on exaggerated supply lines, allowing Ukraine to recapture cities and defenses up to 35 km (22 miles) east of Kiev,” the report said.

Volodymyr Borysenko, mayor of Boryspol, the eastern suburb where Kyiv’s main airport is located, said 20,000 civilians had evacuated the area and responded to calls for Ukrainian troops to launch a counterattack.

At another important point outside Kiev, northwest of the capital, Ukrainian forces are trying to encircle Russian troops in the suburbs of Irbin, Pucha and Hostomல்l.

The cities of Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumi in the north and east of Kiev have also been hit by catastrophic bombings. Its governor said Chernihiv was effectively surrounded by Russian forces.

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At the request of the Ukrainian government, Britain said it would provide 2 2 million ($ 2.6 million) worth of food supplies to areas surrounded by Russian forces. read more

Japanese media reported on Saturday that Russia was conducting military exercises on islands claimed by Tokyo, thousands of miles from Ukraine, and that Moscow had suspended peace talks with Japan due to sanctions on Ukraine’s invasion. read more

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Reuters journalists in Mariupol, Klep Karanich in Kiev, Natalia Ginetz and Maria Starkova reporting worldwide at Elviv and Reuters bureau; Written by Lincoln Feast; Editing: William Mallard

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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