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Women and children evacuated from Mariupol steel mill after weeks of confinement – NBC10 Philadelphia

Dozens of Ukrainians were feared dead on Sunday after a Russian bomb destroyed a school whose basement housed about 90 people while Moscow’s invading forces maintained their barrage on towns and villages in eastern and southern Ukraine.

The governor of Luhansk province, one of two areas that make up the eastern industrial heartland known as Donbass, said the school in the village of Bilohorivka caught fire after Saturday’s bombing. Rescuers found two bodies and rescued 30 people, he said.

“Most likely all 60 people who remained under the rubble are now dead,” Gov. Serhiy Haidai wrote on the Telegram messaging app. Russian shelling also killed two boys, aged 11 and 14, in the nearby town of Pryvillia, he said.

Since Russia failed to capture Ukraine’s capital, it has focused its offensive on the Donbass, where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting and occupying some areas since 2014. The largest European conflict since the Second World War has developed into a grueling war of attrition at the hands of the Ukrainian military unexpectedly effective defense.

Russian forces continued their barrage on southern Ukraine, hitting the major Black Sea port of Odessa with cruise missiles and bombing the coastal steelworks in Mariupol, where Ukrainian fighters remained trapped underground.

Moscow wanted to complete its capture of Mariupol in time Victory Day celebrations On Monday. But his forces continued to face stubborn resistance from defenders in the bunkers beneath the factory. Civilians were evacuated.

In a sign of unexpectedly effective defenses that have continued fighting into the eleventh week, the Ukrainian military has attacked Russian positions on a Black Sea island that was captured in the first days of the war and has become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance.

Western military analysts also said that a Ukrainian counter-offensive around the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, is progressing. The Ukrainian military said retreating Russian forces destroyed three bridges on a road northeast of the city to try to slow the Ukrainian advance.

The greatest European conflict since World War II has evolved into a punitive war of attrition killed thousands of peopleforced millions to flee and destroyed large parts of some cities.

For years, Ukraine has expressed serious interest in joining the alliance of mainly European countries, while Russia has specifically demanded that Ukraine should never do so. This is why Ukraine would have such a tough road to become the next member of NATO.

Ukrainian leaders warned that the attacks would only get worse ahead of Victory Day, when Russia celebrates the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945 with military parades. Russian President Vladimir Putin probably wants to announce some kind of triumph in Ukraine when he addresses the troops in Red Square on Monday.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Saturday that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his people “embody the spirit of those who were victorious during World War II.” He accused Putin of trying to “twist history to justify his unprovoked and brutal war on Ukraine.”

“As war rages once again in Europe, we must reinforce our resolve to oppose those who are now attempting to manipulate historical memory to further their own ambitions,” Blinken said in a statement, while the United States and the United Kingdom to commemorate Allied victory in Europe.

The most intense fighting in recent days has taken place in eastern Ukraine, where both sides have entrenched themselves in a bitter struggle to capture or recapture territory. There, Moscow’s offensive is focused on the Donbass, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting since 2014.

The governor of the Luhansk region, one of two that make up the Donbass, said a Russian strike destroyed a school in the village of Bilogorivka, where 90 people were sheltering in the basement. Gov. Serhiy Haidai, who posted images of the burning debris to the Telegram messaging app, said 30 people had been rescued. rescue work was underway.

Haidai also said two boys, aged 11 and 14, were killed by Russian shelling in the town of Pryvillia, while two girls, aged 8 and 12, and a 69-year-old woman were injured.

In neighboring Moldova, Russian and separatist troops are “on full alert,” the Ukrainian military warned on Sunday. The region has increasingly become the focus of concern that the conflict could spread beyond Ukraine’s borders.

In 1992, pro-Russian troops broke off Moldova’s Transnistria section, and Russian troops have been stationed there, ostensibly as peacekeeping forces, ever since.

These forces are “on full combat readiness,” Ukraine said, without giving details of how the assessment came about.

Moscow has attempted to sweep across southern Ukraine to cut off the land from the sea and create a corridor to Transnistria. But it has struggled to meet those goals.

According to the UN refugee agency, more than five million people have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries since the war with Russia began

On Saturday, six Russian cruise missiles fired from planes hit Odessa, where a curfew is in place until Tuesday morning. Videos posted to social media showed thick black smoke billowing over the Black Sea port city as sirens wailed.

Odessa City Council said four of the rockets hit a furniture company, with the shockwaves and debris severely damaging high-rise apartment buildings. The other two missiles hit Odessa Airport, whose runway had already been destroyed in a previous Russian attack.

The city administration announced that air raid sirens sounded several times early on Sunday.

Satellite photos analyzed by The Associated Press showed Ukraine attacking the Russian-controlled island of Snake to hamper Russia’s efforts to control the Black Sea.

A satellite image taken Sunday morning and analyzed by The Associated Press showed smoke billowing from two locations on the island. A fire smoked alongside debris on the southern edge of the island. That was according to video released by Ukraine’s military early Sunday, showing its attack on a Russian helicopter that had flown to the island, possibly to help troops wounded in attacks the previous day.

A picture taken by Planet Labs PBC early Saturday showed most of the island’s buildings had been destroyed by Ukrainian drone strikes, as well as what appeared to be a Serna-class landing craft off the island’s north beach.

In Mariupol, Ukrainian militants put up a last-ditch stand against a full Russian takeover of the strategically important city that would give Moscow a land bridge to the Crimea peninsula, annexed by Ukraine during a 2014 invasion.

Satellite photos taken by Planet Labs PBC on Friday showed enormous devastation at the sprawling seaside Azovstal Steelworks, the last center of the Ukrainian resistance in the city. Buildings had gaping holes in the roofs, including one that held hundreds of fighters underneath were probably hiding.

After rescue workers had evacuated the last civilians on Saturday, Zelenskyy said in his nightly speech that the focus would be on rescuing the wounded and paramedics: “Of course, if everyone fulfills the agreements. Of course, if there are no lies.”

He added that work will continue on Sunday to secure humanitarian corridors for residents of Mariupol and nearby towns.

The situation at the factory has drawn world attention, with the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross desperately trying to organize evacuations.

But Russian forces have been increasing fire on the mill with mortars, artillery, truck-mounted missile systems, airstrikes and shelling from the sea, complicating evacuation operations.

Three Ukrainian militants were reportedly killed and six others wounded in an evacuation attempt on Friday. Captain Sviatoslav Palamar, the deputy commander of the Azov regiment, said his troops waved white flags and he accused Russian forces of firing an anti-tank weapon at a vehicle.

It remains unclear what will happen to the estimated 2,000 fighters in Azovstal, both those still fighting and the hundreds believed to have been wounded. In recent days, the Ukrainian government has approached international organizations to try and provide them with safe transit. The fighters have repeatedly vowed not to surrender.

Zelenskyy said officials were trying to find a way to evacuate them. He acknowledged the difficulty but said: “We’re not losing hope, we’re not stopping. Every day we look for a diplomatic option that could work.”

According to Ukrainian officials, Russian forces have probed the facility and even penetrated its maze of tunnels.

Western military analysts, however, said Ukrainian forces were making progress in securing positions in the city. Ukraine’s military said it regained control of five villages and part of a sixth.

A Washington-based think tank, the Institute for the Study of War, said that in the coming days Ukraine may be able to push Russian forces out of Kharkiv’s artillery range, giving the city breathing space and an opportunity building the momentum of the defenders “into a successful, broader counteroffensive.”

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine drags on, the endgame has become less clear. NBCLX storyteller Clark Fouraker spoke to Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Philip Wasielewski about the possible outcomes of the war, which hinge on a key question: Will Russia fight — or find a way out?

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Gambrell reported from Lviv, Ukraine. Yesica Fisch in Bakhmut, David Keyton in Kyiv, Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Mstyslav Chernov in Kharkiv, Lolita C. Baldor in Washington, and AP collaborators around the world contributed to this report.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine:

https://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/national-international/last-women-and-children-evacuated-from-ukrainian-steel-mill/3231871/ Women and children evacuated from Mariupol steel mill after weeks of confinement – NBC10 Philadelphia

Sarah Y. Kim

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