Earlier on Sunday Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia’s siege of the port city of Mariupol was ‘a terror that will be remembered for centuries to come’
Service members of pro-Russian troops in uniforms without insignia drive an armoured vehicle during Russia’s invasion of Mariupol
The Russian TASS news agency reported on Saturday that 13 busses were moving to Russia, carrying more than 350 people, about 50 of whom were to be sent by rail to the Yaroslavl region and the rest to temporary transition centres in Taganrog, a port city in Russia’s Rostov region.
Russia’s Defence Ministry said this month that Russia had prepared 200 busses to ‘evacuate’ citizens of Mariupol.
RIA Novosti agency, citing emergency services, reported last week that nearly 300,000 people, including some 60,000 children, have arrived in Russia from the Luhansk and Donbas regions, including from Mariupol, in recent weeks.
Russia’s Defence Ministry said this month that more than 2.6 million people in Ukraine have asked to be evacuated.
The city council in the Azov Sea port city said Sunday that 39,426 residents, almost ten per cent of the 430,000 who live there, have safely evacuated from Mariupol in their own vehicles.It said the evacuees used more than 8,000 vehicles to leave via a humanitarian corridor via Berdyansk to Zaporizhzhia.
Air raid sirens sounded across major Ukrainian cities early on Sunday but there were no immediate reports of fresh attacks.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been trapped in Mariupol for more than two weeks, sheltering from heavy bombardment that has severed central supplies of electricity, heating, food and water supplies, and killed at least 2,300 people, some of whom had to be buried in mass graves, according to local authorities.
Ukrainian firefighters and security teams at the scene of a building hit by Russian missiles in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 20
Although the fires were put out, cars were left burnt out, with a residential blocks of flats damaged by the air strike
A woman holding a pug walks away from the the scene of a building hit by Russian missiles in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 20
The governor of the northeastern Sumy region, Dmytro Zhyvytskyy, said Sunday that 71 infants have been safely evacuated via a humanitarian corridor.
Zhyvytskyy said on Facebook that the orphans will be taken to an unspecified foreign country.He said most of them require constant medical attention. Like many other Ukrainian cities, Sumy has been besieged by Russian troops and faced repeated shelling.
Meanwhile, the Russian military says it has carried out a new series of strikes on Ukrainian military facilities with long-range hypersonic and cruise missiles.
A man helps Ukrainian soldiers searching for bodies in the debris at a military school hit by Russian rockets, in Mykolaiv, southern Ukraine
Saved: A Ukrainian recruit was rescued after 30 hours from debris of the military school hit by Russian rockets, in Mykolaiv, southern Ukraine, on March 19
A Russian attack on a barracks for young Ukrainian recruits in the middle of the night that killed at least 50 young Ukrainian recruits was branded as ‘cowardly’.
Russian rockets struck the military school in Mykolaiv, southern Ukraine, on Friday, killing dozens of young Ukrainian ensigns at their brigade headquarters.
Ukrainian soldier Maxim, 22, who was at the barracks, said ‘no fewer than 200 soldiers were sleeping in the barracks’ at the time of the strike.
‘At least 50 bodies have been recovered, but we do not know how many others are in the rubble,’ he said.
Vitaly Kim, the governor of Mykolaiv, said Russia ‘hit our sleeping soldiers with a rocket in a cowardly manner.’
Meanwhile Olga Malarchuk, a military official, said: ‘We aren’t allowed to say anything because the rescue operation isn’t over and the families haven’t all been informed.
‘We are not yet able to announce a toll and I cannot tell you how many soldiers were present’.
Russia also said it had fired a second ‘unstoppable’ hypersonic Kinzhal missile at a fuel depot in Kostyantynivka, in the southern region of Mykolaiv.
A MiG-31K jet fired the aeroballistic missile at the warehouse as it was flying over Crimea.
Major General Igor Konashenkov, from the Russian Defence Ministry, said the target was the main supply of fuel for Ukrainian armoured cars in the south of the country.
He claimed the missile had destroyed the depot.It is the second time Russia says it has used the missile in Ukraine, after a weapons storage site was destroyed in Deliatyn, in the Carpathian Mountains in western Ukraine, on Friday.
NATO deem the weapon so powerful it has been nicknamed The Sizzler.
At least 200 soldiers were sleeping at the time of the attack, which was branded ‘cowardly’ by the governor of Mykolaiv
Russian forces carried out a large-scale air strike on Mykolaiv, killing at least 50 Ukrainian soldiers at their brigade headquarters
Ukrainian soldiers search for bodies in the debris at the military school hit by Russian rockets the day before, in Mykolaiv, southern Ukraine, on March 19
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Russia has never before admitted using the high-precision weapon in combat.
Moscow claims the ‘Kinzhal’- or Dagger – is ‘unstoppable’ by current Western weapons.The missile, which has a range of 2,000 kilometer (1,250 miles), is nuclear capable.
However, both hypersonic strikes so far have not been nuclear.
‘The Kinzhal aviation missile system with hypersonic aeroballistic missiles destroyed a large underground warehouse containing missiles and aviation ammunition in the village of Deliatyn in the Ivano-Frankivsk region’, the Russian defence ministry said Saturday.
Russian Maj.Gen. Igor Konashenkov also said that the Russian forces used the anti-ship missile system Bastion to strike Ukrainian military facilities near the Black Sea port of Odessa.
Aerial footage released by the Russian military claimed to show the missile strike.Large, long buildings are shown in the footage in a snowy region, before one is obliterated by a huge explosion – sending flames, earth and debris high into the air. People can be seen on the ground fleeing as smoke pours from the site.
Ukrainian air force spokesman Yuri Ignat confirmed that a storage site had been targeted, but added that Kyiv had no information regarding the type of missile that was used.
Hypersonic missiles differ from ballistic ones in that they travel closer to the earth and as such can largely avoid radar detection
‘The enemy targeted our depots’ but ‘we have no information of the type of missile,’ he said.’There has been damage, destruction and the detonation of munitions. They are using all the missiles in their arsenal against us.’
Russia reportedly first used the weapon during its military campaign in Syria in 2016 to support the Assad regime, although it was unclear if this was the same model.Some of the most intense bombing came in 2016 during the battle for Aleppo, resulting in hundreds of civilian deaths.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has termed the missile ‘an ideal weapon’ that flies at 10 times the speed of sound, which is 7672.69 miles per hour, and can overcome air-defence systems.
Russia also said it had fired a second ‘unstoppable’ hypersonic Kinzhal missile at a fuel depot in Kostyantynivka, in the southern region of Mykolaiv.The MiG-31K jet (pictured as it took off) fired the aeroballistic missile at the warehouse as it was flying over Crimea
Major General Igor Konashenkov, from the Russian Defence Ministry, said the target was the main supply of fuel for Ukrainian armoured cars in the south of the country.He claimed the missile had destroyed the depot. Pictured: The Russian pilot flying the fighter jet
Deliatyn, a picturesque village in the foothills of the picturesque Carpathian mountains, is located outside the city of Ivano-Frankivsk. The region of Ivano-Frankivsk shares a 30-mile long border with NATO member Romania.
Konashenkov noted that the Kalibr cruise missiles launched by Russian warships from the Caspian Sea were also involved in the strike on the fuel depot in Kostiantynivka.He said Kalibr missiles launched from the Black Sea were used to destroy an armor repair plant in Nizhyn in the Chernihiv region in northern Ukraine.
Konashenkov added that another strike by air-launched missiles hit a Ukrainian facility in Ovruch in the northern Zhytomyr region where foreign fighters and Ukrainian special forces were based.
The British defense ministry said the Ukrainian Air Force and air defense forces are ‘continuing to effectively defend Ukrainian airspace’.
‘Russia has failed to gain control of the air and is largely relying on stand-off weapons launched from the relative safety of Russian airspace to strike targets within Ukraine’, the ministry said on Twitter.
‘Gaining control of the air was one of Russia’s principal objectives for the opening days of the conflict and their continued failure to do so has significantly blunted their operational progress.’
A Ukrainian military official meanwhile confirmed to a Ukrainian newspaper that Russian forces carried out a missile strike Friday on a missile and ammunition warehouse in the Deliatyn settlement of the Ivano-Frankivsk region in western Ukraine.
But Ukraine’s Air Forces spokesman Yurii Ihnat told Ukrainskaya Pravda on Saturday that it has not been confirmed that the missile was indeed a hypersonic Kinzhal.
Russia also boasted in a chilling newly-released video how it is using adapted Israeli reconnaissance combat drone technology to kill in Ukraine.
The footage shows a Forpost-R destroying a battery of Ukrainian howitzers and military hardware.
Israel six years ago stopped supplying components for the drone – but Russia still has a force of around 100.
The Russian defence ministry said: ‘Unmanned aerial vehicles of the Aerospace Forces carried out missile strikes on a self-propelled artillery battery of 122mm howitzers and military hardware of the Ukrainian armed forces.
‘A battery of self-propelled artillery guns, armoured vehicles and vehicles were destroyed by airborne weapons.’
The import-substituted Forpost-R drone is a licensed version of the Israeli Searcher MkII.
The drone was supplied to Russia but was designed exclusively for reconnaissance.
It is an improved and indigenised model variant of the Forpost (Outpost), the Israeli Searcher Mk II UAV assembled by Yekaterinburg-based Ural Civil Aviation Plant.
From 2016, Israel stopped supplying components to Russia, apparently under pressure from the US, triggering the move by the Kremlin to adapt the drone.
The Forpost-R unmanned combat aerial vehicle was first seen a week ago deployed by Russia in the current conflict.
The video is believed to show the combat drone taking off from Gomel, in Belarus, and striking at targets in Ukraine.
Mariupol, a key connection to the Black Sea, has been a target since the start of the war on February 24, when Russian President Vladimir Putin launched what he calls a ‘special military operation’ to demilitarise and ‘denazify’ Ukraine.Ukraine and the West say Putin launched an unprovoked war of aggression.
As Russia has sought to seize most of Ukraine’s southern coast, Mariupol has assumed great importance, lying between the Russian-annexed peninsula of Crimea to the west and the Donetsk region to the east, which is partially controlled by pro-Russian separatists.
The U.N.human rights office said at least 847 civilians had been killed and 1,399 wounded in Ukraine as of Friday. The Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office said 112 children have been killed.
Rescue workers on Sunday were still searching for survivors in a Mariupol theatre that local authorities say was flattened by Russian air strikes on Wednesday.Russia denies hitting the theatre or targeting civilians.
Satellite images, released on Saturday, showed the collapsed remains of the building which was sheltering hundreds of children and their families before being levelled in a Russian airstrike.
More than 1,300 people, including women and babies, are still feared trapped in the bombed ruins of the theatre in the besieged city of Mariupol as rescue efforts are hampered by constant Russian shelling.
Their prospects of survival are growing bleaker by the day, with no supplies and Russian troops firing at rescuers trying to dig through the rubble.
Last night a local MP said those inside were forced to dig from within the wreckage because rescue attempts had been thwarted by ongoing airstrikes.
On Sunday the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine shared photographs of children’s drawings about the ongoing war.This one includes a dead soldier and a Russian military truck with a ‘Z’ symbol on it that seems to be firing at the child, labelled ‘Me’, and their ‘Papa’ and ‘Mama’ as well as a pet, who are all inside a heart the colours of the Ukrainian flag
A Ukrainian girl called Victoria drew a picture of a female relative in camouflage, holding a rifle (left).Another drawing by 10-year-old Sasha is a self-portrait of himself praying (right). His mother said: ‘It’s hard to imagine what our children have to endure. My son became an adult prematurely’
But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who branded Russia’s attack as ‘outright terror’, last night vowed to continue the rescue mission.
‘Hundreds of Mariupol residents are still under the debris.Despite the shelling, despite all the difficulties, we will continue the rescue work,’ he said.
On Sunday the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine shared photographs of children’s drawings about the ongoing war.
One included a dead soldier and a Russian military truck with a ‘Z’ symbol on it that seemed to be firing at the child, labelled ‘Me’, and their ‘Papa’ and ‘Mama’ as well as a pet, who are all inside a heart the colours of the Ukrainian flag.
Another drawing by a Ukrainian girl called Victoria showed a female relative in camouflage, holding a rifle.
The mother of Sasha, a 10-year-old Ukrainian boy who draw a picture of himself praying, said: ‘It’s hard to imagine what our children have to endure.My son became an adult prematurely.’
Russian troops have now reached the city centre and civilians remain hiding in bunkers while fighters battle on the streets.
Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said: ‘Tanks and machine gun battles continue.There’s no city centre left. There isn’t a small piece of land in the city that doesn’t have signs of war.’
The devastating losses across Ukraine have sparked a poignant protest in Lviv, where 109 empty prams were arranged in solemn rows to mark the number of children killed since Russia invaded.
Local authorities said more than 130 survivors have emerged from the rubble of the Mariupol theatre which was being used as the ravaged port city’s biggest civilian bomb shelter.
But they said that those saved represented just one tenth of the civilians still trapped within the refuge which miraculously withstood the blast.
Ukraine’s human rights commissioner Lyudmyla Denisova said: ‘According to our data there are still more than 1,300 people there who are in these basements, in that bomb shelter.We pray that they will be alive but so far there is no information about them.’
More than 1,300 people including women and babies are still feared trapped in the bombed ruins of a theatre in istanbul Turkey Lawyer the besieged city of Mariupol (pictured)
The helpless casualties were yesterday forced to spend a third night entombed in the basement of the destroyed Drama Theatre which was hit by Vladimir Putin’s forces on Wednesday
Residents are seen on the street after emerging from bomb shelters, gathering their belongings as they prepare to flee the city
109 empty baby carriages on display in Lviv city center for the 109 babies killed so far during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
Former governor MP Serhiy Taruta said he fears many survivors will die because the city’s emergency services have been destroyed by Russian troops.
‘Services that are supposed to help are demolished, rescue and utility services are physically destroyed.This means that all the survivors of the bombing will either die under the ruins of the theatre, or have already died,’ he wrote on Facebook.
He said those trapped had been left to dig their way out of the collapsed three-storey building.
‘People are doing everything themselves.My friends went to help but due to constant shelling it was not safe.’
However Mariupol MP Dmytro Gurin insisted that while the rescue mission had been hampered by constant Russian attacks, efforts were still under way.
One woman said the strike had taken place while those sheltering beneath the theatre were cooking and only around 100 had time to flee.
Nick Osychenko, the CEO of a Mariupol TV station, said as he fled the city with six members of his family, aged between 4 and 61, he saw dead bodies on nearly every block.
‘We were careful and didn’t want the children to see the bodies, so we tried to shield their eyes,’ he said.’We were nervous the whole journey. It was frightening, just frightening.’
Russia has denied responsibility for the devastating strike which was branded a ‘war crime’ and sparked global outrage.
After an agonising first night of uncertainty following the bombing, Ukrainian officials revealed on Thursday that they were hopeful that the majority within had survived.
Rescuers said that while the entrance to the basement had caved in, the relatively modern shelter had remained intact.
But Miss Denisova said that while some had survived, the situation remained unclear.
She said there was ‘currently no information about the dead or wounded under the rubble’ and called the attack ‘an act of genocide and a terrible crime against humanity’.
Ukraine’s Minister of Defence Oleksii Reznikov branded the Russian pilot behind the bombing a ‘monster’.
But the Kremlin’s UN ambassador Vasily Nebenzya yesterday denied that Russia had targeted the shelter.
Pictured: The aftermath of a theatre in the encircled Ukrainian port city of Mariupol where hundreds of civilians were sheltering on Wednesday March 16
A woman and her baby are pictured fleeing the city of Mariupol along a humanitarian corridor that was opened on Thursday, though previous attempts have failed after Russians shelled the routes
Local residents seeking refuge in the basement of a building are seen in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol
Russia’s defence ministry previously said its forces were ‘tightening the noose’ around Mariupol and that fighting had reached the city centre.
Long columns of troops that bore down on the capital Kyiv have been halted in the suburbs.
Ukraine’s military said Russian forces did not conduct offensive operations on Saturday, focusing instead on replenishing supplies and repairing equipment.It also said Ukrainian air defences shot down three Russian combat helicopters.
Zelensky said the Ukrainian front line was ‘simply littered with the corpses of Russian soldiers’.
In Syria, some paramilitary fighters say they were ready to deploy to Ukraine to fight in support of their ally Russia but have not yet received instructions to go.
Russia said on Saturday its hypersonic missiles had destroyed a large underground depot for missiles and aircraft ammunition in the western Ivano-Frankivsk region. Hypersonic weapons can travel faster than five times the speed of sound, and the Interfax agency said it was the first time Russia had used them in Ukraine.
A spokesperson for the Ukrainian Air Force Command confirmed the attack, but said the Ukrainian side had no information on the type of missiles used.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow expected its operation in Ukraine to end with the signing of a comprehensive agreement on security issues, including Ukraine’s neutral status, Interfax reported.
An aerial view shows smoke rising from damaged residential buildings following an explosion in Mariupol on Friday
An aerial view shows residential buildings which were damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol
A woman weeps after seeing the ruins of her destroyed block of flat in Mariupol, which is under bombardment by Russia
Women seek refuge in the basement of a building in Mariupol, which has been under Russian bombardment for weeks
A heavily bombed building is seen in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, after being destroyed by Russian shelling of the city
The haunting spectacle shows the human tragedy at the centre of the conflict: Families torn apart by war
In its sunlit cobbled central square, one Ukrainian city hosts a poignant protest at the innocent lives lost in the fighting
Evacuees fleeing Ukraine-Russia conflict sit in a damaged car as they wait in a line to leave the besieged port city of Mariupol
Kyiv and Moscow reported some progress in talks last week toward a political formula that would guarantee Ukraine’s security, while keeping it outside NATO, though each sides accused the other of dragging things out.
Zelensky has said Ukraine could accept international security guarantees that stopped short of its longstanding aim to join NATO.That prospect has been one of Russia’s primary stated concerns.
The Ukrainian president, who makes frequent impassioned appeals to foreign audiences for help, told an anti-war protest in Bern on Saturday that Swiss banks were where the ‘money of the people who unleashed this war’ lay and their accounts should be frozen.
Ukrainian cities ‘are being destroyed on the orders of people who live in European, in beautiful Swiss towns, who enjoy property in your cities.It would really be good to strip them of this privilege’, he said in an audio address.
Neutral Switzerland, which is not a member of the European Union, has fully adopted EU sanctions against Russian individuals and entities, including orders to freeze their wealth in Swiss banks.
The EU measures are part of a wider sanctions effort by Western nations aimed at squeezing Russia’s economy and starving its war machine.
U.S.President Joe Biden warned his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, on Friday of ‘consequences’ if Beijing gave material support to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
On Saturday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China stood on the right side of history over the Ukraine crisis.
‘China’s position is objective and fair, and is in line with the wishes of most countries.Time will prove that China’s claims are on the right side of history’, Wang told reporters, according to a statement published by his ministry on Sunday.
Feared Chechen special forces are fighting house-to-house in besieged Mariupol while ‘hundreds’ of women and children remain trapped in the rubble of a city theatre destroyed by Russian invaders
The propaganda video then cuts before showing some of the Chechen fighters emerging from the building with children in their arms while supposedly ‘liberating’ civilians
Video released by pro-Putin Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov shows heavily armed fighters from the region pounding a high-rise building in the bombed-out city during a fierce gunfight with Ukrainian soldiers
Vladimir Putin has given a tub-thumping address to tens of thousands of Russians gathered at Moscow’s world cup stadium, celebrating his invasion of Ukraine in 2014 and drumming up support for his new war
Putin spoke in front of a crowd tens of thousands strong at the Luzhniki World Cup stadium in Moscow, one of the few times he has been seen in public since launching his invasion 23 days ago
Putin used the rally to peddle falsehoods about why the war started and to shill a narrative of Russia’s battlefield success, speaking of ‘how our guys are fighting during this operation, shoulder to shoulder, helping each other’
Putin called the rally to mark the eighth anniversary of ‘annexing’ Crimea, speaking of ‘de-Nazifying’ the peninsula and of debunked claims of ‘genocide’ in the Donbass
Zelensky has also ordered to suspend activities of 11 political parties with links to Russia.
The largest of them is the Opposition Platform for Life, which has 44 out of 450 seats in the country’s parliament.The party is led by Viktor Medvedchuk, who has friendly ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is the godfather of Medvedchuk’s daughter.
Also on the list is the Nashi (Ours) party led by Yevheniy Murayev. Before the Russian invasion. the British authorities had warned that Russia wanted to install Murayev as the leader of Ukraine.
Speaking in a video address early Sunday, Zelenskyy said that ‘given a large-scale war unleashed by the Russian Federation and links between it and some political structures, the activities of a number of political parties is suspended for the period of the martial Law Firm in Turkey.’ He added that ‘activities by politicians aimed at discord and collaboration will not succeed.’
Zelenskyy’s announcement follows the introduction of the martial law that envisages a ban on parties associated with Russia.
Meanwhile feared Chechen special forces are fighting house-to-house in the besieged port city.
Video said to have been released by pro-Putin Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov shows heavily armed fighters from the region pounding a high-rise building in the bombed-out city during a fierce gunfight with Ukrainian soldiers.
The propaganda video then cuts before showing some of the Chechen fighters emerging from the building with children in their arms while supposedly ‘liberating’ civilians.
Russia’s defence ministry said on Friday that its troops have now entered the city and are fighting in the centre, amid fears that it could soon fall into Putin’s hands after three weeks of shelling weakened the defences.If the city does fall, it will be the largest captured so-far – albeit at the cost of near-totally destroying it.
Svitlana Zlenko, who said she left the city with her son on Tuesday this week, described how she spent days sheltering in a school building – melting snow to cook pasta to eat while living in constant terror of Russian bombs which flew overhead ‘every day and every night’.
She described how a bomb hit the school last week, wounding a woman in the hip with a piece of shrapnel.’She was lying on the first floor of the high school all night and prayed for poison so that she would not feel pain,’ Svitlana said. ‘[She] was taken by the Red Cross within a day, I pray to God she is well.’
She added: ‘There is no food, no medicine, if there is no snow with such urban fights, people will not be able to go out to get water, people have no water left.Pharmacies, grocery stores – everything is robbed or burned.
‘The dead are not taken out. Police recommend to the relatives of those who died of a natural death, to open the windows and lay the bodies on the balcony. I know you think you understand, but you will never understand unless you were there.I pray that this will not happen again in any of the cities of Ukraine, or of the world.’
Despite the pleas, shelling was well underway in other Ukrainian cities on Friday – with Lviv, in the west of the country, the capital Kyiv, and Kharkiv, in the east, coming under fire.
The war launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin ground into its fourth week as his troops have failed to take Kyiv – a major objective in their hopes of forcing a settlement or dictating the country’s future political alignments.
But back home in Moscow, Putin today gave a tub-thumping speech to tens of thousands of banner-waving Russians in an attempt to drum up support for his stalled invasion.