Ukraine claims retaking key Kyiv suburb; Mariupol braves bombing

Published March 23, 2022
A Ukrainian service member walks, as the Russian invasion continues, in a destroyed village on the front line in the east Kyiv region, Ukraine. — Reuters
A Ukrainian service member walks, as the Russian invasion continues, in a destroyed village on the front line in the east Kyiv region, Ukraine. — Reuters

KYIV: Ukraine claimed on Tuesday it had retaken a strategically important suburb of Kyiv on Tuesday, while its forces battled Russian attempts to occupy the encircled southern port city of Mariupol.

Civilians fleeing Mariupol said the city was under rele­ntless bombardment, with blo­ck after block of destroyed buildings and corpses in the streets.

Perched on the Sea of Azov, Mariupol is a crucial port for Ukraine and lies along a stretch of territory between Russia and Crimea. The siege has cut the city off from the sea and allowed Russia to establish a land corridor to Crimea.

In their last update, Mariupol officials said on March 15 that at least 2,300 people, among them 117 children, had died in the siege.

Thousands have managed to flee Mariupol, where the bombardment has cut off electricity, water and food supplies and severed communication with the outside world.

The city council said on Tuesday that more than 1,100 people who had escaped the siege were in a convoy of buses heading to a city northwest of Mariupol.

But the Red Cross said a humanitarian aid convoy trying to reach the city with desperately needed supplies still had not been able to enter.

Ukraine’s defence ministry said its forces were still defending the city and had destroyed a Russian patrol boat and electronic warfare complex.

Britain’s defence ministry said Ukrainian forces “continue to repulse Russian atte­m­pts to occupy Mariupol”. Those who have made it out of Mariupol spoke of a devastated city.

“They bombed us for the past 20 days,” said 39-year-old Viktoria Totsen, who fled into Poland.

“During the last five days the planes were flying over us every five seconds and dropped bombs everywhere on residential buildings, kindergartens, art schools, everywhere.”

Advance slows down

But Russia’s ground offensive in other parts of the country advanced slowly or not at all, knocked back by lethal Ukrainian hit-and-run attacks.

Explosions and bursts of gunfire shook Kyiv, and heavy artillery fire was heard from the north-west, where Russia has sought to encircle and capture several suburban areas of the capital, a crucial target.

According to Ukraine’s def­ence ministry, its troops had driven Russian forces from the Kyiv suburb of Makariv after a fierce battle.

The regained territory allo­w­ed Ukrainian forces to ret­ake control of a highway and block Russian troops from surrounding the capital from the north-west.

Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2022

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