KIU, Ukraine (AP) – Ukrainian forces said they seized a strategically important suburb of Kyiv early Tuesday when Russian troops pressed other areas near the capital and their attack on the southern port of Mariupol, which is part of the battle, continues.

Explosions and queues shook Kyiv, and black smoke rose from the north. Increased artillery fire was heard from the northwest, where Russia sought to encircle and capture several suburban areas of the capital, the most important target.

Residents are at home or underground as part of a 35-hour curfew imposed by city officials that runs until Wednesday morning.

Russian troops also continued the siege of Mariupol after defenders of the southern port city refused to surrender, and fleeing civilians described ruthless bombings and corpses lying in the streets. But the Kremlin’s ground offensive in other parts of the country was progressing slowly or not at all, repulsed by deadly attacks by Ukrainians.

On Tuesday morning, Ukrainian troops after a fierce battle drove Russian troops from the suburbs of Kiev Makarov, according to the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. The rebuilt territory has allowed Ukrainian troops to regain control of a key highway and block Russian troops from encircling Kyiv from the northwest.

However, the Defense Ministry said Russian forces fighting towards Kyiv had been able to partially capture other northwestern suburbs, Bucha, Gostomel and Irpen, some of which had been under attack almost since the Russian military invasion nearly a month ago.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces are increasingly concentrating their aircraft and artillery on Ukrainian cities and civilians living there. The Moscow invasion expelled nearly 3.5 million people from Ukraine, according to the United Nations, and another 6.5 million were displaced. The UN has confirmed more than 900 civilian casualties, saying the actual number is probably much higher. Estimates of deaths among Russians vary, but even conservative figures number in the thousands.

US and British officials say Kyiv remains Russia’s main target. Most of Moscow’s forces remain miles from the center, but rockets and artillery destroyed apartment buildings and a large shopping mall, which remained a smoldering ruin after strikes on Sunday night that killed eight people, according to MOE officials.

A senior U.S. defense official, on condition of anonymity, to discuss the military’s assessment, said Russia had increased air strikes in the past two days, making 300 to the last 24 hours, and fired more than 1,100 missiles at Ukraine. from the beginning of the invasion.

U.S. President Joe Biden, who is heading to Europe over the weekend to meet with allies, suggested Monday night that even worse could be ahead.

“Putin has his back to the wall,” Biden said. “He did not foresee the scale and power of our unity. And the more his back to the wall, the more serious tactics he can use. ”

Biden reiterated accusations that Putin was considering using chemical weapons.

As Russian troops try to hold back Kyiv, talks to end the fighting continue on video, but have failed to bridge the gap between the two sides. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Ukrainian television late Monday that he would be ready to consider Ukraine’s refusal to make any statements to NATO – a key demand of Russia – in exchange for a ceasefire, withdrawal of Russian troops and security guarantees for Ukraine.

Zelensky also suggested that Kyiv would be open to future discussions on the status of Crimea, which Russia seized in 2014, and the regions of eastern Donbass held by Russian-backed separatists. But he said it was a topic for another time. Zelensky plans to speak with Italian lawmakers on Tuesday and Japanese lawmakers on Wednesday, as part of a series of appeals to foreign legislators if he seeks support.

In Mariupol, when communication is disrupted, traffic is restricted and many residents are in hiding, the fate of those at the art school on Sunday, as well as those destroyed four days earlier, was unclear. It is estimated that more than 1,300 people are in the theater, and 400 – in art school.

Located on the Sea of ​​Azov, Mariupol is an important port for Ukraine and lies in the area between Russia and Crimea. So this is a key target that has been under siege for more than three weeks and has suffered some of the worst suffering of the war.

It is not clear how close his capture may be. The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine said on Tuesday that their forces were still defending the city and had destroyed a Russian patrol boat and an electronic warfare complex.

Last weekend, Moscow offered a safe passage from Mariupol – one corridor leading east to Russia, another – to the west, to other parts of Ukraine – in exchange for the surrender of the city before dawn on Monday. Ukraine flatly rejected the offer long before the deadline.

Mariupol had a pre-war population of about 430 thousand people. It is estimated that about a quarter left in the early days of the war, and tens of thousands fled over the past week through humanitarian corridors. Other attempts were thwarted by fighting.

On March 15, Mariupol officials said at least 2,300 people had died during the blockade, some of whom were buried in mass graves. There has been no official estimate since then, but fears that after another six days of bombing this number will be much higher.

For those who remained, conditions became harsher. As a result of the storming of Mariupol, electricity, water and food were cut off, and communication with the outside world was cut off, which involved residents in the struggle for survival. Fresh commercial satellite imagery shows smoke rising from buildings recently lined up by Russian artillery.

Those who got out of Mariupol told about the destroyed city.

“There are no more buildings there,” said 77-year-old Maria Fedorova, who crossed the border into Poland on Monday after a five-day trip.

Olga Nikitina, who fled Mariupol to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, where she arrived on Sunday, said guns were broken in her windows and her apartment fell below zero.

“Fighting took place on every street. Every house has become a target, ”she said.

A long line of cars stood on the road in Bezymenny, east of Mariupol, as residents of the besieged city sought refuge in a temporary camp set up by Russian-backed separatists in the Donetsk region. About 5,000 people from Mariupol found refuge in the camp. Many arrived in cars with the words “children” in Russian.

A woman who named Julia said she and her family sought refuge in the Nameless after an explosion destroyed six homes outside her home.

“So we got into the car at our own risk and left in 15 minutes, because everything was destroyed, there are corpses,” she said. “We are not allowed everywhere – there is a shooting.”

In total, more than 8,000 people fled to safer areas on Monday through humanitarian corridors, including about 3,000 from Mariupol, Deputy Prime Minister Irina Verashchuk said.

Zelensky said that four children were injured in the Russian shelling of the corridor on the route from Mariupol.

Matthew Saltmarsh, a spokesman for the UN refugee agency, called the speed and scale of people fleeing danger in Ukraine “unprecedented in recent memory.”


This story was updated to correct what Zelensky plans to address Japanese lawmakers on Wednesday, not Tuesday.


Anna reported from Lviv, Ukraine. Associated Press writer Yuras Karmanov of Lviv and other AP journalists around the world contributed to the report.


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