Ukrainian forces feared traps and recaptured areas near Kiev

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) – Ukrainian troops moved cautiously to retake areas north of the country’s capital on Saturday, using cables to pull civilian bodies off the streets of a city for fear of being trapped by Russian forces.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky has warned that Russian troops are leaving They created a “catastrophic” atmosphere for the public by leaving landmines, abandoned equipment and “even the bodies of those killed” around homes. His claims could not be verified independently.

The Associated Press in Pucha, in the northwestern suburbs of Kiev, saw Ukrainian soldiers pulling bodies from a street using cables, backed by a column of tanks and other armored vehicles. Locals said the dead – the AP counts at least six – were civilians killed without provocation as Russian soldiers left.

“Those people were walking and they shot them for no reason. Bang,” said a Pucha resident, who refused to give his name for security reasons. They will shoot without asking any questions.

Ukraine and its Western allies Russia has withdrawn its forces from around Kyiv and evidence is growing that it is building its military presence in eastern Ukraine.

The visible change does not mean that the country has faced a recovery from more than five weeks of war or that there are more than 4 million refugees. Those who left Ukraine will return soon. Zhelensky said he expects the departing cities to withstand missile and rocket attacks from a distance and that the war will intensify in the east.

In his nightly video speech on Saturday, the Ukrainian leader said he would not allow the Russians to retreat without a fight: “They are shelling them.” They destroy everyone they can.

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Zhelensky said Russia has enough power to put more pressure on the east and south of Ukraine.

“What is the target of the Russian troops? They want to capture the Donbass and the south of Ukraine,” he said. “What is our goal? To protect us, our freedom, our land and our people. “

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Moscow’s focus on eastern Ukraine was also at a crossroads with the besieged southeastern city of Mariupol. The port city on the Sea of ​​Azov is located mostly in the Russian-speaking Donbass region, where pro-Moscow separatists have been fighting Ukrainian troops for eight years. Military analysts believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin is determined to capture the area after his forces failed to defend Kiev and other major cities.

The International Committee of the Red Cross hoped to evacuate Mariupol residents on Saturday but had not yet reached the city. A day earlier, local officials said the Red Cross had been blocked by Russian forces.

Zelenskyy’s adviser, Oleksiy Arestovych, said in an interview with Russian lawyer and activist Mark Feygin that Russia and Ukraine had reached an agreement to operate 45 buses to Mariupol to evacuate residents “in the coming days.”

The Mariupol City Council said on Saturday that 10 empty buses had gone to the town of Berdyansk, 84 kilometers (52.2 miles) west of Mariupol, to pick up passengers. About 2,000 people left Mariupol on Friday, some in buses and some in their own vehicles, city officials said.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vareshchuk said on Saturday that 765 Mariupol residents used private vehicles to reach Saporizia, a city still under Ukrainian control, targeting other planned evictions.

Among the survivors was Tamila Masurenko, who escaped from Mariupol on Monday and arrived in Berdynes that night and then boarded a bus to Saporigia. Masurenko said he waited for the bus until Friday and slept in the field one night.

“I have only one question: why?” She told me about the city test. “We lived as normal human beings. And our normal life was ruined. And we lost everything. I have no job and can not find my son.

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Mariupol has been surrounded by Russian forces for more than a month and has suffered some of the worst attacks of the war, including the maternity hospital and the theater that housed the public. About 100,000 people are believed to be living in the city from the pre-war population of 430,000, and they face shortages of water, food, fuel and medicine.

Zhelensky said that a significant number of Russian troops were stationed in Mariupol, allowing Ukraine “precious time … to thwart the enemy’s tactics and weaken its capabilities.”

The capture of the city will give Moscow an unbroken ground bridge from Russia to the Crimea, which was captured in 2014 from Ukraine. But Volodymyr Feschenko, leader of the Ukrainian think tank Penta, said its opposition to Russia’s invasion was of symbolic significance.

“Mariupol has become a symbol of the Ukrainian opposition, and without its victory, Putin can not sit at the negotiating table,” Fesenko said.

About 500 refugees, including 99 children and 12 disabled people from eastern Ukraine, arrived overnight in the Russian city of Kazan. When asked if he was looking at a chance to return home, Mariupol resident Order Kirillov replied, “It’s not possible, it’s no longer a city.

In the cities and towns around Kiev, signs of fierce fighting were seen everywhere after the Russian partition. Armored vehicles were destroyed Both forces lay with military equipment scattered in the streets and fields.

Ukrainian troops were stationed at the entrance to Antonov Airport on the outskirts of Hostomine, demonstrating control of the runway that Russia had tried to storm in the early days of the war.

Inside the compound, the Maria, one of the largest aircraft ever built, crashed beneath a hangar marked by holes from the February attack.

“The Russians could not create something like this, so they destroyed it,” said Oleksandr Mercushev, mayor of the suburbs of Irfin Kiev.

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Irfin has seen some fierce fighting, and Russian troops “left many bodies, destroyed many buildings, and cut down many of them,” Mercushev said.

A prominent Ukrainian photojournalist who went missing last month in a war zone near the capital has been found dead Friday in the village of Huda Mejihirskaya, north of Kiev, the country’s attorney general’s office said. The State Attorney’s Office said Max Levine’s death was the result of two separate shootings by the Russian military and an investigation was underway.

Elsewhere, at least three Russian ballistic missiles were launched late Friday in the Odessa region In the Black Sea, said regional leader Maksim Marchenko. The Ukrainian military says the Iskander missiles did not hit the critical infrastructure they were targeting in Odessa, Ukraine’s largest port. And the headquarters of its navy.

Ukraine’s state nuclear company announced a series of bombings on Saturday that injured four people in the southeastern city of Enerhodor, which has been under Russian control since early March and is located near the nearby Saporizia nuclear plant. The Ukrainian human rights ombudsman said in a telegram that four people had been badly burned when Russian troops fired light and loud grenades and mortars during a pro-Ukrainian demonstration.

The head of the Ukrainian delegation in talks with Russia said that Moscow’s negotiators had informally agreed to most of the draft proposals discussed during face-to-face talks in Istanbul this week, but no written confirmation was provided. However, David Arakamiya told Ukrainian television that he hoped the draft was sufficient for the two presidents to meet and discuss.

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Karmanov reported from LV in Ukraine. Journalists from Irfin, Andrea Rosa in Ukraine and the Associated Press around the world contributed to the report.

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