The Malta Independent 25 September 2022, Sunday
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Live updates: Ukraine says it hit Russian command post

Associated Press Sunday, 24 April 2022, 07:06 Last update: about 6 months ago

KYIV, Ukraine — The Ukrainian military said Saturday it destroyed a Russian command post in Kherson, a southern city that fell to Russian forces early in the war.

The Ukrainian military intelligence agency posted a statement saying the command post was hit on Friday and two generals were killed and one was critically wounded.

Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said in an online interview that 50 senior Russian officers were in the command center when it came under attack. He said their fate was unknown.

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The Russian military did not comment on the claim, which could not be confirmed.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said new evidence is emerging that shows Russian troops killed tens of thousands of civilians in Mariupol and then tried to cover it up. He said Ukraine has intercepted Russian conversations about “how they are concealing the traces of their crimes.” Satellite images have shown what appear to be mass graves dug in towns to the west and east of Mariupol.

Zelenskyy said the Russians set up “filtration camps” near Mariupol for those trying to leave the city, which has largely been reduced to rubble. He said those who survive these camps are sent to areas under Russian occupation or to Russia itself, often as far as Siberia or the Far East. Many of them, he said, are children.

He said he spoke with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday about the situation in Mariupol and the general course of the war.

Zelenskyy promised to find and punish those responsible for the missile attack on Odesa, which he said killed eight people and wounded 18.

Zelenskyy urged Ukrainians to observe a curfew and not attend Orthodox Easter services overnight. The lengthy services traditionally begin late Saturday and run through Sunday morning. “But starting from 5 a.m. you may go to the church in your city, town or community,” he said.

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SLOVIANSK, Ukraine — The sound of outgoing artillery and air raid sirens were heard Saturday in Sloviansk, a town in northern Donbas that had come under Russian attack the day before.

Two servicemen were brought to a hospital from a nearby town, but one of them was mortally wounded and could not be saved.

The Russian strike early Friday had damaged several buildings, including a school.

The war has brought back painful memories for residents of Sloviansk, where in 2014 Ukrainian government forces repulsed Russia-backed separatists after a fierce battle. In the years since, the separatists maintained control over part of the Donbas, and Moscow has now set out to capture the entire region.

Anna Direnskaya, 70, said she and her son and daughter-in-law decided to remain in Sloviansk.

“I lived through 2014. I was also here. I didn’t go anywhere and I don’t want to go anywhere. I am not hiding from myself,” she said while sitting in a wheelchair outside her damaged apartment building. “I want peace.”

Direnskaya, who like many in eastern Ukraine is a native Russian speaker, said she wishes the Russians would understand that Ukrainians are not bad people and there is no enmity between them.

“Why did this happen? Why is this happening? I don’t know. Tell everyone I want peace and quiet,” she said.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s president says he will meet Sunday in Kyiv with the U.S. secretary of state and secretary of defense.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke of the plans Saturday during a press conference. He did not immediately share more detail about the visit from Antony Blinken and Lloyd Austin.

The White House declined to comment on Saturday. The U.S. State Department also declined comment.

Zelenskyy has for weeks urged Western allies to send Ukraine more weapons to counter the Russian invasion.

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WARSAW, Poland — Poland and Ukraine have signed an agreement increasing cooperation in the railway transport sector, aiming to help Ukraine maintain its trade exchange with foreign countries as the Russian invasion affects its ports.

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and Poland’s premier, Mateusz Morawiecki, met on Saturday in Krakow, Poland.

Morawiecki said on Facebook that they both agreed that current sanctions on Russia are insufficient, which can be seen by the condition of the “Russian currency, bonds or inflation.” They appealed to the international community for tougher steps that would stop Russia’s aggression on Ukraine and for more military aid to help Ukraine.

Morawiecki drew special attention to the plight of civilians seeking protection in a steel plant in Mariupol, as he called for the assistance.

“In Mariupol soldiers – or rather Russian criminals want to make women and children starve to death. They are waiting until they run out of water. What kind of strategy is that? This is not war. This is genocide.”

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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s top diplomat says Ankara has closed the Turkish airspace to Russian civilian and military flights between Russia and Syria.

Mevlut Cavusoglu told a group of Turkish journalists during a visit to Uruguay that Russia had permission to use the Turkish airspace for flights to Syria until April.

But Haberturk television reported that Cavusoglu said Saturday that he asked Moscow to stop using the airspace during a visit there in March, and that Moscow agreed to the Turkish request.

Cavusoglu did not elaborate and it was not clear if the move aimed to prevent the possible transfer of Syrian fighters to Ukraine.

NATO-member Turkey has been trying to balance its close relations with Moscow and Kyiv and has positioned itself as a mediator between the two. It has not joined international sanctions against Russia but has closed the straits at the entrance of the Black Sea to some Russian warships.

The country has hosted a meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers as well as talks between the two countries’ negotiating teams.

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BERLIN — Germany’s former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has rejected criticism of his work as a lobbyist for Russian energy companies since leaving office in 2005, telling the New York Times: “I don’t do mea culpa.”

In an interview with the newspaper published Saturday, Schroeder also claims that his long-time friend President Vladimir Putin of Russia is interested in ending the war with Ukraine.

Schroeder reportedly blasted German officials who now criticize his efforts to procure Russian energy supplies for Germany, saying that “they all went along with it for the last 30 years.”

In the interview, he called the war in Ukraine “a mistake” and said atrocities need to be investigated, but added that he did not believe Putin himself ordered killings of civilians such as those allegedly committed by Russian troops in Bucha.

Schroeder, who met with Putin in Moscow last month on a private mission to broker peace with Ukraine, claimed the Russian president “is interested in ending the war.”

“But that’s not so easy. There are a few points that need to be clarified,” the New York Times quoted him saying, without elaborating.

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LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said he promised more defense weaponry is on the way to Ukraine while speaking with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy by phone on Saturday afternoon, the latest chat between the two leaders who talk to each other regularly.

The British leader told Zelenskyy that the United Kingdom is sending more weaponry including vehicles, drones and anti-tank missiles.

Johnson also confirmed to Zelenskyy that the U.K. would reopen its embassy in Kyiv next week. He also updated the Ukrainian leader on new U.K. sanctions designations against members of the Russian military and told him the British government was helping to collect evidence of war crimes.

The two also discussed the U.K.’s work on long term security solutions and financial support with international partners.

“The Prime Minister ended by reiterating the UK’s unwavering support for the people of Ukraine and committed to continue working with international partners to provide the assistance necessary to help Ukraine defend itself,” Downing Street said in a statement.

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KYIV, Ukraine — An adviser to Ukraine’s president says five people including a three-month-old infant were killed in a missile attack in the Black Sea port city of Odesa.

Ukraine presidential chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, provided the information Saturday.

An adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister earlier said Russian forces fired at least six cruise missiles at the city.

Anton Gerashchenko said in a Telegram post on Saturday that Ukrainian forces were able to shoot down several missiles, but at least one landed and exploded.

“Residents of the city heard explosions in different areas,” Gerashchenko wrote. “Residential buildings were hit.”

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HELSINKI — Hundreds of protesters belonging to Latvia’s sizable Russian-speaking community have taken part in a large-scale demonstration in the Baltic nation’s capital, Riga, condemning the Kremlin regime and Moscow’s aggression on Ukraine.

Participants of Saturday’s rally entitled “The Russian Voice Against War” waved Ukrainian flags and posters with inscriptions such as “Stop the genocide in Ukraine” and “Complete Russian gas and oil embargo” at the central Freedom Monument, Latvia’s public broadcaster LSM reported.

Organizers said the protest aimed to demonstrate that many of Latvia’s Russian-speakers are not aligned with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In a statement, they called Moscow’s actions “criminal.”

Ethnic Russians make up around 25% of the 1.9 million population in Latvia, a former Soviet republic. Adding other national groups, like Belarusians and Ukrainians, the share of Russian-speakers is about 30% of the all citizens.

Earlier this week, Latvia’s Parliament unanimously declared killings of civilians in areas of Ukraine occupied by Russian forces, including Bucha, Irpin and Mariupol, to be acts of genocide.

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KYIV, Ukraine — A top Ukrainian official has announced a country-wide curfew for the night of the Orthodox Easter.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office, said in a video address Saturday that in the regions most affected by the invasion -- Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Kherson -- the curfew will run from 7 p.m. Saturday until 5 a.m. Sunday.

In others regions, including Kyiv, Odesa, Chernihiv and Lviv, the curfew will run from 11 p.m. Saturday until 5 a.m. Sunday.

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