Hike sentence

Russian state TV cuts Putin’s speech mid-sentence, Kremlin blames technical glitch

Soldiers, officials and residents of the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol desperately pleaded for help from the West as Russian troops invaded deeper into the city center amid fierce fighting that has already shuttered a huge factory steel industry.

The fighting came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called for further talks with Moscow more than three weeks after Russia invaded his country and the Kremlin said it had used for the first time in combat hypersonic missiles in western Ukraine.

While the invasion is said to have bogged down much of the country and caused heavy losses in troops and military equipment, Russian forces continue to bomb Ukrainian cities amid international condemnation and calls for a ceasefire. -immediate fire.

The Russian army destroyed major cities, including military and civilian sites, and besieged urban areas. British intelligence says an increasingly frustrated Kremlin has begun an attrition strategy and is preparing for a protracted battle.

In the strategic city of Mariupol, “children and old people are dying. The city is destroyed and it is wiped off the face of the earth,” Mariupol police officer Mykhaylo Vershnin said in a video addressed to Western leaders and authenticated by the Associated Press. .

Russia’s heavy shelling of the city, including a strike on a theater where hundreds of civilians were sheltering, led to allegations that Russia was committing war crimes.

On March 18, Zelenskiy said 130 people had been rescued from the theater but “hundreds” more are still trapped under the rubble. No other details were available as of the end of March 19.

Some 350,000 people remain inside the city in horrific conditions, according to aid workers.

In the aftermath of the airstrike on the Mariupol Drama Theatre, the word “children” written on the ground outside in Russian is still visible.

Vadym Denysenko, adviser to the Ukrainian interior minister, said in televised remarks that Ukrainian and Russian forces were fighting on March 19 at the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol.

“One of Europe’s biggest metallurgical plants is being destroyed,” he said.

Russian forces appear determined to cut the city off from the Sea of ​​Azov and connect the Crimean peninsula – which was seized by Moscow in 2014 – with territory controlled by Kremlin-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine .

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said it had “temporarily” lost access to the Sea of ​​Azov as a result of Russian military operations.

In another Black Sea port city, Mykolaiv, local authorities and witnesses reported on March 19 that dozens of Ukrainian soldiers had been killed in a Russian airstrike on a military barracks.

A 22-year-old Ukrainian soldier, quoted by AFP, was quoted as saying that “no less than 200 soldiers were sleeping in the barracks” when Russian forces struck.

The regional governor also said an attack had taken place but did not provide details. The reports could not immediately be independently confirmed.

Ukraine announced on March 19 that 10 humanitarian corridors had been set up with Moscow’s agreement to allow civilians to escape fighting in cities across the country, including Mariupol, the capital, Kyiv, and for the evacuation of civilians in the eastern region of Luhansk.

The open-source investigative group Bellingcat has released an interactive map of civilian facilities destroyed by Russia during the war, based on videos and photographs documenting several hundred incidents that potentially injured or affected civilians.

RFE/RL’s Ukrainian service reported that Russian troops were concentrating their bombardment on eastern and southern Ukraine and regrouping near the capital, kyiv.

Most regions sounded aerial alarms on the night of March 18-19, according to the service, but those bombardments had become less intense in areas other than Mariupol, Mykolaiv and areas adjacent to breakaway parts of the eastern regions of Luhansk and from Donetsk.

Zelenskiy remained highly visible amid the invasion of his country.

In a video posted to Facebook on March 19, Zelenskiy accused Russia of trying to destroy Ukraine and starve its cities into submission, but called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to agree to direct talks to avoid unnecessary loss of life.

“Now is the time to meet, to talk, the time to renew territorial integrity and fairness for Ukraine. Otherwise, Russia’s losses will be such that several generations will not recover,” did he declare.

Russia has provided only limited information on casualties, giving an early toll of 498 soldiers, but Ukrainian and Western officials put the figure at several thousand, with several thousand injured.

WATCH: A Ukrainian special search group collected the corpses of Russian soldiers in hopes they could be exchanged for Ukrainian prisoners of war.

Ukrainian casualty figures are also difficult to confirm.

In his video, shot in the streets of kyiv, Zelenskiy denounces a huge March 18 rally in Moscow that Putin attended.

Zelenskiy said the roughly 100,000 people who reportedly gathered outside the Luzhniki stadium, as well as the 95,000 who were inside the stadium itself, roughly matched the number of Russian troops who invaded the Ukraine.

Live briefing: Russia invades Ukraine

RFE/RL Ukraine live briefing brings you all the latest news on Russia’s unprovoked invasion of its neighbour, kyiv’s response, the plight of civilians and the Western reaction. The Live Briefing presents the latest developments and analysis, updates throughout the day.

Referring to Ukrainian estimates of Russian troop losses since the war began on February 24, Zelenskiy said: “And now imagine 14,000 corpses in this stadium, plus tens of thousands more wounded and maimed.”

“The war must end, Ukraine’s proposals are on the table,” he added.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24, has led millions of civilians to flee the country. The Polish Border Guard Service reported that more than 2 million refugees had entered Poland, while the United Nations said more than 3 million had fled fighting in Ukraine overall.

The World Health Organization said it verified 43 attacks on hospitals and health facilities in Ukraine, killing 12 people and injuring 34.

the UN noted at least 847 civilians have been killed and 1,399 injured in Ukraine up to March 18. The real toll would be much higher because the UN has not yet been able to verify casualty reports from several badly affected towns, he said.

On March 19, Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office said 112 children had been killed and 140 injured.

According to the UN human rights office, most casualties in Ukraine are due to explosive weapons such as heavy artillery fire and multiple rocket launcher systems, as well as missile strikes and aerial.

The Russian military said it used its latest hypersonic missile for the first time in combat. He said the Kinzhal missiles destroyed an underground site storing Ukrainian missiles and ammunition in the Ivano-Frankivsk region, less than 150 kilometers north of Romania and 250 kilometers from Hungary.

Russia has long boasted of its arsenal of Kinzhals, which are carried by MiG-31 fighter jets, have a range of up to 2,000 kilometers and fly 10 times the speed of sound.

On March 19, the Pentagon said it could not confirm whether Russia used a hypersonic missile in the attack.

With reporting from Reuters, AP and AFP