Russia hammers key port cities, cuts electricity, water and supplies to residents | United States and world

Russia continued its all-out assault on Ukraine on Wednesday afternoon, beating the port city of Mariupol for 15 hours while attacking several others, including Kharkiv, the country’s second city, and Kyiv, its capital.

Russia has carried out more than 450 missile launches since its invasion of Ukraine six days ago, a senior US defense official told reporters at a briefing. Missiles launched cover the full range and include “short-range, medium-range surface air missiles, [and] cruise missiles.”

The mayor of Mariupol told the BBC that his city was “close to a humanitarian disaster”.

“The Russian army is working with all its weapons here – artillery, multiple rocket launch systems, aircraft, tactical rockets,” Serhiy Orlov said. “They are trying to destroy the city.”

UKRAINE RAISES $270 MILLION IN WAR BOND SALES TO FUND ARMY

Orlov said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s army surrounded the city before launching strikes on key infrastructure. He also cut off the water and electricity. A residential area on the left bank of the city had almost been demolished.

“We cannot count the number of victims here, but we believe that at least hundreds of people died,” Orlov said. “We can’t go in to collect the bodies. My father lives there. I can’t reach him. I don’t know if he’s alive or dead.”

Russian paratroopers landed near Kharkiv, leading to street fighting on the outskirts of the city. Local officials said a cruise missile struck a city council meeting, blowing off the roof of the building and injuring three people.

“It’s exhausting and terrifying to live under this pressure,” resident Iryna Ruzhynska told the BBC. The 40-year-old was staying there with her family.

“We put tape on the windows and pillows by the windows,” she said. “We don’t turn on the lights, only the torches on our phones. We made it to the store yesterday, but we waited in line for four hours, and there was hardly any food left.”

There was still uncertainty in Kherson, with Russia saying it had captured the strategically important port city near the Black Sea and the mayor saying it remained under Ukrainian control.

In a statement on Facebook, the Russian Defense Ministry said its forces had taken downtown Kherson “under full control”, adding that “civilian infrastructure, life support facilities for the population and urban transport are functioning daily”. He said the city “is not experiencing shortages of food and essential goods”.

People look at the gutted remains of Russian military vehicles on a road in the town of Bucha, near the capital kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 1, 2022. Russia on Tuesday stepped up shelling of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city Ukraine, hammering civilian targets there. Casualties have mounted and reports have emerged that more than 70 Ukrainian soldiers were killed after Russian artillery recently hit a military base in Okhtyrka, a town between Kharkiv and the capital Kyiv. (AP Photo/Serhii Nuzhnenko) Serhii Nuzhnenko/AP

Russia’s claim has not been independently verified.

If true, it would be the first major Ukrainian city to fall to Moscow.

Ukrainian officials have said that although the city of 300,000 in northwestern Crimea is surrounded, the battle for it continues.

“It’s hard to say this morning is good, but let’s try,” Kherson Mayor Ihor Kolykhaev said, according to a translation by NBC News. Kolykhaev said he was in City Hall when the building was shelled by Russian forces, but everyone inside the building was alive. It was a different story outside.

“Today I will work to find a way to recover the dead, to restore light, gas, water and heat to where it is damaged,” he said. “But I warn you: to accomplish these tasks today is to perform a miracle. We are all waiting for a miracle now. We need it.”

In Kyiv, thousands of people rushed out as the city braced for Russian air and ground strikes. Over the past 48 hours, a 40-mile-long line of tanks has closed in on the capital.

An adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said a powerful explosion was heard near a train station where thousands of people were seeking shelter.

As fighting intensified in Ukraine, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with 141 countries voting in favor and five voting against, including North Korea, Syria, Belarus and the tiny East African nation of Eritrea. Thirty-five countries abstained from voting, including China, India, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq.

Russia Ukraine War
Territorial Defense member Andrey Goncharuk, 68, right, talks to a man in the backyard of a house damaged by a Russian airstrike, residents say, in Gorenka, outside the capital kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) Vadim Ghirda/AP

Although General Assembly resolutions are not binding, they carry political weight.

UKRAINE RAISES $270 MILLION IN WAR BOND SALES TO FUND ARMY

“It’s an extraordinary moment,” said US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield. “Now, more than at any other time in recent history, the United Nations is being questioned. Vote ‘yes’ if you believe UN member states, including your own, have a right to sovereignty and territorial integrity. Vote ‘yes’ if you believe Russia should be held accountable for its actions.”

Thomas-Greenfield also warned that banned weapons were being used by Russia.

“We have seen videos of Russian forces moving exceptionally lethal weapons into Ukraine, which has no place on the battlefield. This includes cluster munitions and vacuum bombs, which are prohibited under the Geneva Convention We saw the deadly 40-mile-long convoy charging towards kyiv President Putin continues to escalate, putting Russian nuclear forces on high alert, threatening to invade Finland and Sweden “At every step, Russia has betrayed the United Nations. Russia’s actions go against everything that body stands for,” she said.

Russia’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia denied that Moscow was targeting civilians and warned that passing the resolution would make matters worse.

Hundreds of people have been killed since Russian soldiers forced their way into neighboring Ukraine six days ago.

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said 498 Russian soldiers were killed and 1,597 injured. Major General Igor Konashenkov dismissed reports that Moscow suffered deadly defeats and “incalculable losses” as “disinformation”. He also claimed that Ukrainian troops had lost more than three times the number of soldiers. He said 2,870 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed, 3,700 wounded and 572 captured.

Ukrainian officials have yet to comment on the numbers.

Russia Ukraine War
Smoke rises from a damaged armored vehicle at a checkpoint in Brovary, outside Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 1, 2022. Russian shelling pounded civilian targets in the second-largest city of Ukraine on Tuesday and a 40-mile convoy of tanks and other vehicles threatened the capital – the embattled Ukrainian president’s tactics said they were designed to force him to make concessions in Ukraine’s biggest ground war Europe for generations. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky) Efrem Lukatsky/AP

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The European Union, for the first time, has opened a hub in Poland to ship weapons to Ukraine, New York Times reported.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said earlier that she would finance the purchase and delivery of weapons and other military equipment to Ukraine. Polish authorities declined to comment.

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