Amid fresh bombings, Ukraine is now being seen as a war of attrition

Moscow cannot hope to rule the country, he added, given Ukrainians’ hostility towards Russian forces.

The art school strike was the second time in less than a week that officials reported an attack on a public building where Mariupol residents had taken shelter. On Wednesday, a bomb hit a theater where more than 1,000 people were sheltering.

There was no direct information about victims at the school, which The Associated Press has not been able to independently verify. Ukrainian officials have not given an update on the search of the theater since Friday, when they said at least 130 people were rescued and another 1,300 were trapped by debris.

City officials and aid groups say Mariupol is running out of food, water and electricity and the fighting has kept humanitarian convoys away. The communication is interrupted.

The strategic Azov Sea port has been bombed for over three weeks and has endured some of the worst horrors of the war. City officials said at least 2,300 people have died, some buried in mass graves.

Some who managed to escape Mariupol tearfully hugged relatives as they arrived by train in Lviv, some 1,100 kilometers (680 miles) west, on Sunday.

“Fighting took place on every street. Every house became a target,” said Olga Nikitina, who was hugged by her brother as she got off the train. “Shots were fired from the windows. The apartment was below freezing.”

Maryna Galla narrowly escaped with her 13-year-old son Daniil. She said she huddled in the basement of a cultural center with about 250 people for three weeks without water, electricity or gas.

“We went (home) because shells hit the houses across the street. There was no roof. There were injuries,” Galla said, adding that her mother, father and grandparents stayed behind and “don’t even know we left.”

Unexpectedly strong Ukrainian resistance has dashed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hopes of a quick victory after he ordered the invasion of his neighbor on February 24. In recent days, Russian forces have entered Mariupol, cutting it off from the sea and ravaging a huge steel mill. But taking the city could prove costly.

“The block-by-block fighting in Mariupol itself is costing the Russian military time, initiative and fighting power,” the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said in a briefing.

In a blunt assessment, the think tank concluded that Russia has failed in its first campaign to quickly seize the capital Kyiv and other major cities, and its stalled invasion is creating conditions for a “very violent and bloody” standoff.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the Ukrainian resistance meant that Putin’s “forces on the ground have essentially come to a standstill.”

“It had the effect of moving his troops into a wood chipper,” Austin told CBS on Sunday.

Hundreds of men, women and children have been killed in Russian bombing raids in Ukraine’s major cities. Millions have moved to underground shelters or fled the country.

At least 20 babies being carried by Ukrainian surrogates are stuck in a makeshift bomb shelter in Kyiv, waiting for parents to enter the war zone to pick them up. The infants – some just days old – are being cared for by nurses who are trapped in the shelter from constant fire from Russian troops trying to encircle the city.

In the hard-hit northeastern city of Sumy, authorities have evacuated 71 orphans through a humanitarian corridor, regional governor Dmytro Zhyvytskyy said on Sunday. He said the orphans, most of whom are in constant need of medical attention, are being taken out of the country.

Russian shelling killed at least five civilians, including a 9-year-old boy, in the eastern city of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city.

Britain’s MoD said Russia’s failure to gain control of Ukrainian airspace “has significantly hampered their operational progress” and forced them to rely on Russian-launched weapons.

At least 40 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in a Russian missile attack on their barracks in the Black Sea port of Mykolayiv on Friday, Mayor Oleksandr Senkevich said in a televised address. The missiles were fired from the neighboring Kherson region, leaving little time to react, he said.

Separately, the Russian Defense Ministry said a Kinzhal hypersonic missile hit a Ukrainian fuel storage facility in Kostyantynivka, a town near Mykolaiv. The Russian military said Saturday it used a Kinzhal for the first time in combat to destroy an ammunition depot in the Carpathian Mountains of western Ukraine.

Russia has said the Kinzhal, carried by MiG-31 fighter jets, has a range of up to 2,000 kilometers (about 1,250 miles) and flies at 10 times the speed of sound. The Pentagon says it has not yet confirmed its deployment to Ukraine.

Western analysts downplayed the importance of the hypersonic weapon, saying it was “not a turning point” but a “message of intimidation and deterrence” to Ukraine and the West, said Valeriy Akimenko, senior research fellow at the Conflict Studies Research Center in England.

Major General Igor Konashenkov said Kalibr cruise missiles fired by Russian warships in the Caspian Sea were also involved in the attack on the Kostyantynivka fuel depot.

The United Nations has confirmed 902 civilian deaths in the war but concedes the real number is likely much higher. According to this, almost 3.4 million people have fled Ukraine.

Estimates of Russian deaths vary, but even conservative numbers are in the low thousands.

Russia would need 800,000 troops – almost all of its active-duty military – to control Ukraine for any length of time, according to Michael Clarke, former head of the UK-based Royal United Services Institute, a defense think tank.

“Unless the Russians intend to carry out a full-scale genocide – they could raze all the big cities, and the Ukrainians will rise up against the Russian occupation – there will just be constant guerrilla warfare,” Clarke said.

Ukraine and Russia have held several rounds of negotiations but are at odds on several issues. Zelenskyy has said he is ready to drop Ukraine’s bid to join NATO, but is demanding security guarantees from Russia. Moscow is pushing for the complete demilitarization of Ukraine.

Mariupol authorities said nearly 40,000 people had left the city despite last week’s bombing, most in their own vehicles. That alone is almost 10% of the city’s pre-war population of 430,000.

Mariupol City Council said on Saturday that Russian soldiers had forcibly relocated several thousand residents, mostly women and children, to Russia. AP could not confirm the claim.

Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine said Sunday that 2,973 people have been evacuated from Mariupol since March 5, including 541 in the past 24 hours.

Some Russians have also fled their country amid widespread crackdowns on dissidents. Russia has arrested thousands of anti-war protesters, muzzled independent media and blocked access to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

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Associated Press writer Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Ukraine, and other AP journalists around the world contributed.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

https://www.kob.com/news/zelenskyy-says-siege-of-mariupol-involved-war-crimes/6423513/?cat=500 Amid fresh bombings, Ukraine is now being seen as a war of attrition

Brian Lowry

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