Russia renews its strikes on the Ukrainian capital and strikes other cities

In the Kyiv region, authorities reported finding the bodies of more than 900 civilians, most of them shot, since the withdrawal of Russian troops two weeks ago. Smoke rose again from the capital on Saturday morning as Mayor Vitali Klitschko reported a strike that killed one person and injured several.

The mayor advised residents who had fled the city at the start of the war not to return.

“We do not rule out further strikes on the capital,” Klitschko said. “If you have the opportunity to stay a bit longer in the cities where it’s safer, do it.”

It was not immediately clear what was hit in the strike on Kyiv’s Darnytskyi district. The sprawling area on the capital’s southeastern edge contains a mix of Soviet-style apartment buildings, new shopping malls and big-box retail stores, industrial areas and rail yards.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said an armored vehicle factory was targeted. He did not specify where the plant was, but there is one in the Darnytskyi district.

He said the plant was among several Ukrainian military sites hit by “high-precision, long-range air-launched weapons”. As the United States and Europe send new weapons to Ukraine, the strategy could be aimed at hampering Ukrainian defenses ahead of what is expected to be a full-scale Russian assault in the east.

It is the second strike in the kyiv region since the Russian military pledged this week to step up missile strikes on the capital. Another hit a missile factory on Friday as residents went out for walks, foreign embassies planned to reopen and other tentative signs of the city’s pre-war life began to resurface after the failure Russian troops to capture kyiv and their withdrawal.

Kyiv was one of many targets on Saturday. The Ukrainian president’s office reported missile fire and shelling in the past 24 hours in eight regions of the country.

The governor of the Lviv region in western Ukraine, which was only sporadically affected by the violence of the war, reported airstrikes on the region by Russian Su-35 planes which took off from neighboring Belarus.

Apparently in preparation for its eastern assault, the Russian military has in recent days stepped up the bombardment of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. Friday’s attack killed civilians and injured more than 50 people, the Ukrainian president’s office reported.

On Saturday, an explosion believed to be caused by a missile sent rescuers rushing near an open-air market in Kharkiv, according to AP reporters at the scene. One person was killed and at least 18 people were injured, according to rescuers.

“All the windows, all the furniture, all destroyed. And the door too, ”said a stunned resident Valentina Ulianova.

Nate Mook, a member of the NGO World Central Kitchen run by celebrity chef José Andrés, said in a tweet that four Kharkiv workers were injured in a missile strike. José Andrés tweeted that staff members were pissed but safe.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, who met Vladimir Putin last week in Moscow – the first European leader to do so since the invasion began on February 24 – said the Russian president was “in his own logic of war” against Ukraine.

In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Nehammer said he thinks Putin believes he’s winning the war and “we have to look him in the eye and we have to confront him with what we let’s see in Ukraine”.

Nehammer also said he confronted Putin with what he saw during a visit to the kyiv suburb of Bucha, where more than 350 bodies were found along with evidence of murder and torture under Russian occupation. and “it was not a friendly conversation”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an interview with Ukrainian media that the continued siege of the southeastern city of Mariupol, which has cost horribly to trapped and starving civilians, could frustrate attempts to negotiate the end of the war.

“The destruction of all our guys in Mariupol – what they are doing now – can end any format of negotiations,” he said.

The beleaguered port city is holding firm but the situation is critical, the Ukrainian president’s office said earlier.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Saturday that Ukrainian forces had been driven out of most of the city and remained only in the huge Azovstal steelworks.

Capturing Mariupol would allow Russian forces from the south, crossing the annexed Crimean Peninsula, to fully link up with troops in the Donbass region, the industrial heartland of eastern Ukraine.

Zelenskyy estimated that 2,500–3,000 Ukrainian soldiers died during the war and about 10,000 were injured. Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office said on Saturday that at least 200 children had been killed and more than 360 injured.

Russian forces have also captured some 700 Ukrainian soldiers and more than 1,000 civilians, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Saturday. Ukraine is holding roughly the same number of Russian soldiers as prisoners and intends to arrange an exchange but demands the release of the civilians “without any conditions”, Vereshchuk said.

Russia’s warning about escalating attacks on kyiv came after Russian authorities on Thursday accused Ukraine of injuring seven people and damaging around 100 residential buildings in airstrikes in Bryansk, a border region from Ukraine.

Ukrainian officials have not confirmed any striking targets in Russia. However, they claimed responsibility for destroying a key warship with missiles earlier this week.

The Moskva sank on Thursday after sustaining heavy damage. Russia did not acknowledge any attack, saying only that a fire had detonated ammunition on board, but the loss appeared to symbolize Moscow’s fortunes in an eight-week invasion widely seen as a historic mistake.

Russian Major General Vladimir Frolov, whose troops were among those besieging Mariupol, was buried in St Petersburg on Saturday after dying in action, Governor Alexander Beglov said. Ukraine said several Russian generals and dozens of other high-ranking officers were killed during the war.

The diplomatic chasm between Russia and the West widened further on Saturday, as Moscow banned British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and a dozen other senior British officials from entering the country in response to British sanctions.

At the Vatican, Pope Francis on Saturday invoked “gestures of peace in these days marked by the horror of war” in an Easter Vigil homily in St. Peter’s Basilica in the presence of the mayor of the occupied Ukrainian city of Melitopol and three Ukrainian parliamentarians. Francis did not refer directly to the invasion of Russia but called, apparently in vain, for an Easter truce to reach a negotiated peace.

Christi C. Elwood