- Rockets fall near the port of Odessa
- New evacuation attempt planned in besieged Mariupol
- Russia says the draft agreement is not ready for high-level talks
- Ukrainian negotiator hints at talks between Zelensky and Putin
- Civilians dead lining the streets of the recaptured city near Kyiv
Odessa/Lviv, Ukraine, April 3 (Reuters) – (Editor’s note: offensive language in paragraph 21)
Missiles struck near the port of Odessa in southern Ukraine on Sunday and Russia said it destroyed an oil refinery used by the Ukrainian military, while attempts to evacuate people from the devastated city of Mariupol are set to continue.
There was little sign of a breakthrough in efforts to negotiate an end to the five-week-old war, although Russia’s chief negotiator said talks were due to resume on Monday.
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And in Odessa, the city council said “critical infrastructure facilities” were hit by missiles. There were no reports of injuries.
The Russian Defense Ministry said its military strikes destroyed an oil refinery and three fuel storage facilities near Odessa. It added that the facilities were used to supply Ukrainian forces near the city of Mykolaiv.
Odessa, located on the Black Sea, is the main base of the Ukrainian Navy. He was targeted by Russian forces seeking a land passage into Transdniestria, the breakaway Russian-speaking province of Moldova that hosts Russian forces.
“Smoke is visible in some areas of the city. All relevant systems and structures are working … No casualties have been reported,” Vladislav Nazarov, an officer in Ukraine’s Southern Operations Command, told Telegram.
Dmytro Lunin, governor of the central Poltava region, said the Kremenchug oil refinery, 350 km northeast of Odessa, was destroyed in a separate missile attack on Saturday. Read more
Evacuation efforts were to continue in Mariupol and nearby Berdyansk, both on Ukraine’s southern shores, with a convoy of buses being prepared for the operation with the help of the Red Cross.
“Seven buses will try to approach Mariupol, accompanied by the International Committee of the Red Cross,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshuk said in a video online.
The ICRC abandoned its previous attempts for security reasons. Russia blamed the ICRC for the delay. Read more
Mariupol is Russia’s main target in the Donbass region of southeastern Ukraine, and tens of thousands of civilians there are trapped with difficult access to food and water. Read more
Russia’s chief negotiator, Vladimir Medinsky, said the draft agreement was not ready for any meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Read more
On Saturday, Ukrainian negotiator David Arachhamiya raised hope for negotiations with Russia, saying that sufficient progress had been made for direct talks between the two countries.
Medinsky said that while Ukraine was showing more realism by agreeing to be neutral, giving up nuclear weapons, not joining a military bloc and refusing to host military bases, there was no progress on Russia’s other key demands.
“I repeat again and again: Russia’s position on Crimea and Donbass remains unchanged,” he said via Telegram, adding that video talks would continue on Monday.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and recognized declarations of independence by the self-proclaimed republics of Luhansk and Donetsk in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine that revolted against Kyiv’s rule.
destroy the boca
Ukraine said on Saturday its forces had retaken all areas around Kyiv, claiming full control of the capital region for the first time since Russia launched its invasion on Feb. 24.
Russia withdrew its forces that had threatened Kyiv from the north to regroup to fight battles in eastern Ukraine.
There was no Russian comment on the claim that the Kyiv region was entirely in the hands of Ukraine, which Reuters could not immediately verify.
The mayor of Bucha, a liberated town 37 kilometers (23 miles) northwest of the capital, said 300 residents were killed during the month-long Russian army occupation, with victims seen in a mass grave and still lying in the streets. . Read more
“Bastards!” Vasily, a 66-year-old man, cried angrily as he looked at more than a dozen bodies on the road outside his house. “I’m sorry. The tank behind me was shooting. Dogs!”
The Kremlin and the Russian Defense Ministry in Moscow did not immediately respond to requests for comment when asked on Saturday about the bodies found in Bucha.
Moscow denies targeting civilians and rejects allegations of war crimes.
Among the dead near Kyiv was Maxim Levin, a Ukrainian photographer and videographer who worked for a news site and was a long-time contributor to Reuters. Read more
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she was appalled by the atrocities in Bucha and expressed support for the International Criminal Court’s investigation into possible war crimes.
The emergency service of Ukraine said that more than 1,500 explosives were found in one day during a search operation in the village of Dmitrievka, west of the capital.
“They are digging in all these lands. Houses are mined, equipment is mined, even the bodies of the dead,” Zelensky warned in a video. He did not cite the evidence. Read more
The Russian Defense Ministry did not respond to a request for comment on the allegations about the mines. Reuters could not independently verify it.
Since launching what Putin calls a “special military operation” to disarm and “disarm” Ukraine, Russia has failed to capture a single major city and has instead imposed an urban blockade, uprooting a quarter of the country’s population.
British military intelligence said that Russian naval forces were laying siege to the Black and Azov seas, but that the option of an amphibious landing had become increasingly fraught with risks for Russia.
It said the reported mines, the provenance of which remains unclear and disputed, pose a serious risk to shipping in the Black Sea.
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Additional reporting by Simon Gardner, Zahra Bensemra and Abdelaziz Boumzar in Bucha, Ukraine Natalia Zinets in Mukachevo, Ukraine, Alessandra Prentice and Jay Faulconbridge in London, Reuters offices. Editing by Stephen Coates, William Mallard and Frances Kerry
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