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As fighting rages in Mariupol, Ukraine's Zelenskiy appeals for help from Israel

Published 03/19/2022, 11:28 PM
Updated 03/20/2022, 08:04 PM
© Reuters. A general view of market Barabashovo after a fire caused by shelling, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Kharkiv, Ukraine March 19, 2022. REUTERS/Oleksandr Lapshyn

(Adds report of shelling from Kyiv mayor; U.S. defense secretary on hypersonic missiles)

By Pavel Polityuk

LVIV, Ukraine (Reuters) - Russian and Ukrainian forces fought for the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol on Sunday, where residents are trapped with little food, water and power, while Ukraine's president appealed to Israel for help in pushing back Russia's assault.

In the capital, Kyiv, shellfire hit several homes and a shopping centre in the Podil district late on Sunday, killing at least one person, the city's mayor said.

In his latest appeal for help from abroad, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addressed the Israeli parliament by video link and questioned Israel's reluctance to sell its Iron Dome missile defence system to Ukraine.

"Everybody knows that your missile defence systems are the best... and that you can definitely help our people, save the lives of Ukrainians, of Ukrainian Jews," said Zelenskiy, who is of Jewish heritage.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has held numerous calls with both Zelenskiy and Russian President Vladimir Putin to try to end the conflict.

Mariupol has suffered some of the heaviest bombardments since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Many of its 400,000 residents remain trapped with little if any food, water and power.

Burying his neighbours in a makeshift grave by the roadside, a man who identified himself as Andrei said they had died not by shelling but of ailments, stress and cold after weeks without access to medical help.

Fighting continued inside the city on Sunday, regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said, without elaborating.

Russia called on Ukrainian forces in Mariupol to lay down their arms, saying a "terrible humanitarian catastrophe" was unfolding.

It said defenders who did so were guaranteed safe passage out of the city and humanitarian corridors would be opened from 1000 Moscow time (0700 GMT) on Monday.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said over 7,000 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Sunday, more than half of them from Mariupol. She said the government planned to send nearly 50 buses to Mariupol on Monday for further evacuations.

Russia and Ukraine have made agreements throughout the war on humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians, but have accused each other of frequent violations of those.

Mariupol city council said on Telegram on Saturday that several thousand residents had been "deported" to Russia over the past week. Russian news agencies said buses had carried hundreds of refugees from Mariupol to Russia in recent days.

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told CNN the deportation accounts were "disturbing" and "unconscionable" if true, but said Washington had not yet confirmed them.

Russian forces bombed an art school on Saturday in which 400 residents were sheltering, but the number of casualties was not yet known, Mariupol's council said.

Reuters could not independently verify the claims. Russia denies targeting civilians.

On Saturday, Zelenskiy called the siege of Mariupol a war crime and "a terror that will be remembered for centuries to come."

Greece's consul general in Mariupol, the last EU diplomat to evacuate the city, said it was joining the ranks of places known for having been destroyed in wars.

"What I saw, I hope no one will ever see," he said.


Capturing Mariupol would help Russian forces secure a land corridor to the Crimea peninsula that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

Putin says Russia's "special operation" is aimed at disarming Ukraine and rooting out dangerous nationalists. Western nations call it an aggressive war of choice and have imposed punishing sanctions aimed at crippling Russia's economy.

Ukraine and its Western backers say Russian ground forces have made few advances in the last week, concentrating instead on artillery and missile strikes.

Zelenskiy's adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said on Sunday there had been a relative lull over the past 24 hours, with "practically no rocket strikes on cities". He said front lines were "practically frozen".

Later on Sunday, however, Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko reported several explosions in the capital's Podil district and said rescue teams were putting out a large fire at the shopping centre. He said at least one person was killed.

Reuters was not able to immediately verify the report.

The U.N. human rights office said at least 902 civilians had been killed as of midnight Saturday, though the real toll was probably much higher. Ukrainian prosecutors said 112 children had been killed.

The U.N. refugee agency said 10 million Ukrainians have been displaced, including some 3.4 million who have fled to neighbouring countries such as Poland. Officials in the region said they were reaching capacity to comfortably house refugees.

Russia said it had launched cruise missiles from ships in the Black Sea and Caspian Sea, as well as hypersonic missiles from Crimean airspace. Hypersonic missiles travel faster than five times the speed of sound and their speed, manoeuvrability and altitude make them difficult to intercept.

Russia deployed them for the first time in Ukraine on Saturday in a strike it said destroyed an underground depot for missiles and aircraft ammunition.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told CBS News' "Face the Nation" program on Sunday Putin could have resorted to such weapons "because he's trying to reestablish some momentum", but said he didn't see them as a game-changer.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu of Turkey, which like Israel has tried to mediate, said the sides were getting closer to agreement on "critical" issues.

Kyiv and Moscow reported some progress last week toward a political formula that would guarantee Ukraine's security, while keeping it outside NATO - a key Russian demand - though each side accused the other of dragging things out.

© Reuters. A child sits on the shoulders of a man near a building damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine March 20, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

In the southern city of Kherson, video seen by Reuters showed dozens of protesters, some wrapped in Ukraine's blue-and-yellow flag, chanting "Go home" in Russian at two military vehicles with Russian markings. The vehicles turned and left.

"I want the war to be over, I want them (Russian forces) to leave Ukraine in peace," said Margarita Morozova, 87, who survived Nazi Germany's siege of Leningrad in World War Two and has lived in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, for the past 60 years.

Latest comments

question Putin and his kremlin butchers. are they war criminals, thieves liars and guilty of their murderous attacks on churches hospitals and children's schools or just plain stupid and ignorant and incompetent.. one thing is for sure they are psychopathic and cold blooded butchers. they are a danger to the world; they have destroyed the Russian economy. they need to pay for their crimes. they need to be removed and jailed.
The irony.. russia is to ukraine as israel is to palestine. Only israel’s worse
These fools love tyrants and kings
There is no justification for causing humanitarian crisis, denying rights and making palestine a jail with no roof. I pray for people of Ukrainian and palestine
  Compare the Ukrainians w/ the Palentinians:  who attacks the occupier's land & civilians?  who won't recognized the occupier as a state and calls for the occupier's destruction?  who is a democracy?  who is more willing/reasonable w/ negotiations & compromises?  whose occupier lies and break treaties/agreements?  whose occupier bombs buildings w/out giving warning to civilians to leave?
Those claiming russia would not have invaded, had Ukraine ruled out NATO, are deluded. putler started this war 8 years ago, invading Crimea, and annexing Donbas by proxy. This is all part of putlers failing plan to restore the russian empire. Ukraine has in any case ruled out NATO, still the bombing and fighting continues..
Maybe the strategy is weaken Russia enough by making this war harder than expectex, and then find a reason to carry out a NATO attack ? OMG all the best to all and hopefully non of that materializes
"NATO attack" --  It'll be a NATO defensive action
Nato has zero interest in attacking russia
why would any major power want the economic mess o Putin's Russia...nato was formed to stop Russian dreams European conquest....
hard sell with *****symbols on uniforms.
It's time for Ukraine to start hitting targets inside USSR.
The russian military has is coming
If you want to test if you are a putin slave take a piece of paper and write stop the war and go to your local town square and show this to other people. If you get arrested you are a putin slave.
"Reuters could not independently verify the claims." Yet you write a definitive statement that Russia bombed an art school. What was the military interest in this alleged attack? In war every strike is highly risk/reward calculated.
"In war every strike is highly risk/reward calculated." -- Russia has no history of that.
It was not the Ukranians who bombed it!
the strike on museum, hospitals schools, civilian bomb shelters, was part of a typical Russian tactic ...they used it in Syria. it is a form of terror directed at the civilian deny them any recourse but to surrender or die.
Ukraine need to pace the peace talk. We know the Country cannot win against Russia. Why should other Countries be giving war resources to Ukraine, it is like a total waste of of money. The war will likely end with the west running away like it happened in Afghanistan. The good thing is that the West are not even interested in any 3rd World War that the Ukrainian president is talking about!!!
Maybe the strategy is weaken Russia enough by makkng this war hard, and then find a reason to carry out a NATA attack ? OMG all the best to all and hopefully non of that materializes
this is literally the definition of the 3rd Workd War 😳😳😳
Its same as anything other country west tried to help, give them arms to fight their battle. Ukraine is getting used here,
Hristo as a putin slave you should know the difference between living in Russia and the free world in the western countries. Here we allowed to say that russia is invading ukraine without getting 15 years in prison. You live as a slave of putin where you are not allowed to speak whatever you want and call putin for what he is a tyrant that surpresses his own people and attack neighbouring soverign countries just because they want democracy and free speech.
Very sorry for young russian soldiers in Ukraine Nobody asked them to be in Ukraine just Perpetual Dictator sent them to be killed
Russian soldiers are putins slaves he does not care if they die he will just send more slaves
Who is attacking Syria every other day. Why no one see it 😕
Russia is??? Aleppo?
Putin's puppet Syrian gov't is attacking Syria.
Russian and Iranian troops in Syria are messing up Why you dont see
Why only zelenski words are shared here ? Whatever happens in Ukraine is Russia fault. But no one count what the Ukrainian army does in the past and now . They used civilians as them shield. They bombing theaters and building too and then said that Russia did it. They killed them out people just to blame Russia. And the western countries believed Whatever the media said. And everyone knows how medias are independent. They blocked all Russian news channels jus people to listen western propaganda
Ukrainians "bombing theaters and building too" --  Could be true in some cases.  Could be accidental friendly fire.  Who cares.  Ukrainians have right to demolish their own buildings.  Russians don't.
"They blocked all Russian news channels jus people to listen western propaganda" -- Which independent Russian media is blocked in the west?  Which independent Russian media is NOT blocked in Russia or China?
Hristo you are a putin slave with no right to speak about the war in ukraine if your master finds out you get 15 years
Israel's in charge of the world?
Russia doing their best ********impression
I wish and pray for common and innocent people of Ukraine with blame to Ukraine Govt for its audacity.
It's time for the UN or some type of European coalition sends troops in
Ukraine is not ready to abandon EGO. EU and USA are fingering Ukraine to fight at the cost of Ukraine's people. Zelensky Govt has its own agenda not beneficial for their Citizens. Insane ......
Ukraine is not ready to abandon EGO. EU and USA are fingering Ukraine to fight at the cost of Ukraine's people. Zelensky Govt has its own agenda not beneficial for their Citizens. Insane ......
What agenda?
Russia denies having an army in the Ukraine
To all putins slaves and Orcs I hope you feel good about the killings of innocent women and children in Maripol…..the west remembers….and you will all pay a terrible price. Your fortunes will be lost your rubels converted to toiletpaper and your society will be set back 100 years.
Deporting innocent people to call them nazis, Russia will claim it's a victory.
Russia is short on soap.
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