Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) – Ukraine said it regained a strategically important suburb of Kyiv on Tuesday when Russian troops pressed other areas near the capital and pushed for an attack on the southern fighting port of Mariupol.

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, at the beginning of a fierce battle, Ukrainian troops drove Russian troops out of 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 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.

According to the UN, the Russian invasion has driven more than 10 million people from their homes, almost a quarter of Ukraine’s pre-war population. The UN has confirmed 953 deaths among civilians, saying the actual number is probably much higher.

Estimates of the Russian military in a difficult war are difficult and different, but even conservative figures of Western officials are considered small thousands. Russia did not say it had said on March 2 that 498 servicemen had been killed in fighting in Ukraine. Russia’s pro-Kremlin newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, citing the Defense Ministry, briefly reported on Monday that nearly 10,000 Russian soldiers had been killed. The report was quickly removed and the newspaper accused the hackers. The Kremlin declined to comment on Tuesday.

In addition to the horrific human casualties, the war has shaken the global consensus on post-Cold War security, jeopardized global supplies of major crops, including wheat, and has repeatedly raised concerns that could lead to a nuclear accident. The Minister of Natural Resources of Ukraine stated that the forest fires near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant have been extinguished, and the level of radiation in the area is within normal limits. Fires in the area are not uncommon, but are concerned about possible releases of radiation as a result of an explosion and fire at a nuclear power plant in 1986.

Since the capture by Russian troops last month, security concerns have been expressed at the decommissioned station. Power was temporarily cut off amid fighting earlier this month, and Ukraine’s nuclear regulatory agency said Monday that radiation monitors around the station had stopped working.

Faced with unexpectedly fierce resistance, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces are increasingly concentrating their aircraft and artillery on Ukrainian cities and civilians living there. A senior U.S. defense official, on condition of anonymity, to discuss the military’s assessment, said Russia had increased air strikes to 300 in a 24-hour period.

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.

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 the use of chemical or biological weapons, although Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday that the United States had seen no evidence that the use of such weapons was “inevitable.”

Negotiations to end the fighting continued on video, but 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 rejection of any application to join 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 areas of the eastern Donbass that are in the hands of Russian-backed separatists. But he said it was a topic for another time.

As part of a series of appeals to foreign legislatures to enlist Ukraine’s support, Zelensky spoke with Italian lawmakers on Tuesday, telling them that the besieged port of Mariupol had been completely destroyed by the Russian offensive. He also spoke with Pope Francis.

“Imagine Genoa completely burned down,” he told enthusiastic lawmakers, referring to an Italian port city of similar size. On March 15, Mariupol officials said at least 2,300 people had died during the blockade, and they have not reported since. Zelensky said that 117 children died in the war.

Some people managed to escape from Mariupol, where several weeks of Russian bombing cut off electricity, water and food and cut off communications to the outside world. On Tuesday, the city council said more than 1,100 people fleeing the besieged city were heading in a convoy of buses to another city northwest of Mariupol.

But the Red Cross said a humanitarian convoy trying to reach the city in battle, with desperate supplies, was still unable to enter.

Located on the Sea of ​​Azov, Mariupol is an important port for Ukraine and lies in the area between Russia and Crimea. The siege of Mariupol cut off the city from the sea and allowed Russia to create a land corridor to the Crimea.

But it is unclear what part of the city it occupies, and fleeing residents say fighting continues street by street. 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. The UK Ministry of Defense said its intelligence showed that “Ukrainian forces continue to repel Russia’s attempts to occupy” the city.

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

“Mariupol is almost 99% destroyed,” said 39-year-old Victoria Totzen, who managed to escape from the city and cross into Poland. “They have been bombing us for the last 20 days. For the past five days, planes have been flying over us every five seconds, dropping bombs everywhere – on homes, kindergartens, art schools, everywhere. ”

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.

In total, more than 3.5 million people fled Ukraine, and another 6.5 million were displaced.

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


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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