MARIUPOL, Ukraine (AP) — An attempt to evacuate civilians from the beleaguered port of Mariupol was jeopardized by continued fighting on Tuesday as conditions grew more desperate inside the city of 430,000, with corpses on the streets and starving locals breaking into shops for food. .
As Ukraine pleads for more fighter jets, Poland says it will donate all of its MiG-29 fighter jets to the US, apparently agreeing to a deal that would allow them to be used by the military Ukrainian. Ukrainian pilots are trained to fly Soviet-era combat aircraft.
Ukrainian officials said further Russian shelling and other risks jeopardized efforts to relieve a beleaguered Mariupol, where the sound of artillery fire was relentless and thousands of people crowded into the underpasses. floors. Many were forced to draw their water from streams or by melting snow.
Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II has become even more serious, with UN officials reporting that 2 million people have now fled Ukraine.
Moscow forces have besieged Ukrainian towns and cut off food, water, heating and medicine in a deepening humanitarian catastrophe. But for days, attempts to create corridors to evacuate civilians safely stumbled amid continued fighting and objections to proposed routes.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has vowed that his country will fight Russia’s invasion in its cities, fields and riverbanks.
‘We won’t give up and we won’t lose,’ he said in a video connection to a packed House of Commons in Britain’s Parliament, referring to the ‘never surrender’ speech Winston Churchill gave pronounced in the darkest days of World War II. .
An evacuation attempt on Tuesday appeared at least partially successful: A bus convoy full of people fleeing the fighting moved along a snowy road from Sumy, a northeast city of a quarter of a million people. inhabitants, according to a video of the Ukrainian communication agency.
The Russian military said 723 people had been evacuated from Sumy to the Ukrainian city of Poltava. He identified them as mostly Indian citizens, with the rest hailing from China, Jordan and Tunisia. He made no mention of Ukrainians among the evacuees.
Hours before the convoy reached Sumy, night strikes killed 21 people there, including two children, Ukrainian authorities said.
Ukrainian officials also said a safe corridor had been opened from the besieged town of Irpin, outside Kyiv, but it was unclear how long it remained open and how many people there. have used.
Meanwhile, buses emblazoned with the red cross symbol carried water, medicine and food to Mariupol, the scene of one of the worst despairs. Vereshchuk said the vehicles would then ferry the civilians out of town.
But shortly after authorities announced buses were on the way, Ukrainian officials said they learned of shelling on the escape route.
It was unclear whether the supply convoy had arrived at Mariupol. And it seemed unlikely that civilians would be able to board the buses to exit them.
Mariupol’s deputy mayor told the BBC that Russian forces continued to shell areas where people were trying to congregate before being taken away. He said some roads were blocked, while others were mined.
“So we cannot establish a lasting ceasefire and a safe path at the moment,” Serhiy Orlov said. “So we still have…a city under blockade.
US defense officials said Mariupol had been isolated but not yet taken by the Russians, amid stiff resistance from Ukrainian forces.
Taking Mariupol could allow Moscow to establish a land corridor to Crimea, which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014. More broadly, the battle appeared to be part of a Kremlin campaign to cut off access from Ukraine to the sea, how to deal a blow to its economy. Mariupol is on the Sea of Azov, which opens into the Black Sea.
The city is without water, heat, sewage system or telephone service. Authorities planned to start digging mass graves for all the dead.
With the electricity out, many people rely on their car radios for news, picking up news from stations broadcast from areas controlled by Russian forces or Russian-backed separatists.
Theft has become widespread for food, clothing and even furniture, with locals referring to the practice as “getting a discount”.
Goma Janna cried as she sat by an oil lamp in a Mariupol basement crowded with people, mostly women and young children. Outgoing artillery fire could be heard in the background.
“Why shouldn’t I cry? I want my house, I want my job. I am so sad for the people and for the city, the children,” she said.
Elsewhere in the city, Ludmila Amelkina walked along an alley littered with rubble and walls riddled with gunfire, describing the destruction.
“We don’t have electricity, we don’t have anything to eat, we don’t have medicine. We have nothing, she said looking up at the sky.
Nearly two weeks after the fighting began, Russian forces captured parts of southern Ukraine and the coast. But they saw their advances halted in many areas – including around the capital Kyiv – by nimble Ukrainian fighters targeting armored columns from Moscow.
Thousands of people are believed to have been killed, both civilians and soldiers, although the actual number remains unknown.
Western countries have sent arms to Ukraine and decided to impose sanctions on Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
In a further effort to punish Russia, US President Joe Biden decided to ban imports of Russian oil, calling it a “powerful blow” against Russia’s ability to fund the offensive. He warned that Americans would see a rise in prices, saying: “Defending freedom is going to be expensive.”
Other financial dominoes fell during the day, with Shell announcing it would stop buying natural gas and oil from Russia, while Adidas and McDonald’s said they were closing operations in Russia but would continue to pay their employees.
The exact status of the humanitarian corridors that the two sides negotiated was unclear. The Russian military said it offered safe corridors from Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and Mariupol – two for each city, one leading into Russia and the other west.
He said that the Ukrainian side accepts only one of these 10 corridors – from Sumy to Poltava. Ukrainian officials rejected the idea of sending civilians to Russia, but it was not immediately clear if they had refused these other corridors.
Oleksiy Kuleba, governor of the Kyiv region, said Ukraine was also making arrangements to move people out of the suburbs of Irpin.
Late Tuesday, Zelenskyy posted a video showing him standing near the presidential offices in Kyiv. Behind him were piles of sandbags, a snow-covered fir tree, and a few cars.
It was the second video in 24 hours showing him near the country’s seat of power, apparently intended to dispel any doubts about whether he had fled the city.
“The snow has fallen. It’s that kind of spring,” he said softly. “See, it’s that kind of wartime, that kind of spring. Rough. But we’ll win.”
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