News from Ukraine: Russia killed TWICE as many civilians in Mariupol as Nazi Germany | World | News

Vadym Boychenko, the mayor of Mariupol, said Vladimir Putin’s troops had doubled the civilian death toll by 10,000 in two months during the two years Germany occupied the now besieged city under Adolf Hitler.

Mr Boychenko wrote in a message on Telegram: “In two years, the Nazis killed 10,000 civilians in Mariupol. The Russian occupiers killed more than 20,000 Mariupol residents in two months. More than 40,000 people were expelled of strength.

“This is one of the worst genocides against civilians in modern history. The Russian military is deliberately and ruthlessly destroying our city and its people.”

The port city of Mariupol, in the south of the country, has been constantly bombarded since the beginning of the military conflict on February 24.

Petro Andriushchenko, adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, this week accused Russian forces of firing artillery at the exit zone from the Azovstal steelworks, the last part of the southern city still in the hands of Ukrainian troops.

He claimed that the agreed humanitarian corridor had been a “trap”.

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Moments after announcing over loudspeakers that a green passage had been opened, Andriushchenko recalled, the Russians broke their promise outside the four-square-mile industrial plant, which served as a temporary residence for about 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers and their families.

On Saturday, a group of around 25 civilians – including six children under the age of 14 – were able to leave the steelworks, becoming the first group to leave since Putin ordered the area sealed off last week “so that a fly cannot pass”. .

Captain Svyatoslav Palamar, deputy commander of the Azov regiment, said the group had been “transferred to a suitable place and we hope that it will be evacuated to Zaporizhzhia, in territory controlled by Ukraine”.

Captain Palamar, who was among the Ukrainian soldiers trapped at the factory, said: “They are women and children. We hope that these people will go to the agreed destination.

“From now on, the rescue operation is underway, carried out by the Azov military – we are rescuing civilians from the rubble.”

Speaking in a video on the regiment’s Telegram channel, he added: “We hope that this process will be further extended and we will succeed in evacuating all civilians.”

Some 1,000 civilians are believed to still be trapped inside the steelworks and talks to free them are ongoing.

Meanwhile, according to Ukrainian Defense Ministry intelligence on Saturday, Moscow intends to continue airstrikes on Mariupol, with a focus on “blocking” units near the Azovstal steel plant.

Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said Russian forces were gradually increasing the intensity of their offensive in eastern Ukraine.

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In a briefing, he shared “signs that the aggressor is preparing for an even greater activation of military actions”.

He added: “We are seeing signs that Russia is also strengthening its grouping in the eastern area of ​​operations…and is now increasing its desire to seize as much Ukrainian territory as possible.”

Taking Mariupol would benefit Putin’s plans to seize the entire southern coast of the country, which would unite pro-Moscow breakaway regions such as rebel-held Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine with the Crimea, which the Kremlin seized and annexed in 2014.

It would also increase access to the breakaway Moldovan region of Transnistria, which it is feared will soon become embroiled in the conflict.

A narrow strip of land wedged between Moldova and Ukraine, the self-declared republic of Transnistria, with a population of around 400,000, seceded from Moldova in 1992 after a brief war.

About 1,500 Putin’s soldiers have been based there since, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought back unsettling memories of the fighting in the early 1990s.

On Monday, the Transnistrian Interior Ministry said government buildings in the capital Tiraspol were hit by what appeared to be a grenade launcher attack.

In the days that followed, the ministry said a radio tower re-transmitting Russian stations near the Ukrainian border was also hit by blasts.

Shots were also reportedly fired at a village housing a Russian arms depot after drones flew over from Ukraine.

Christi C. Elwood