Survivors walk out of Ukrainian theater bombed in Russian airstrike
LVIV, Ukraine – Mariupol rescuers evacuated 130 people from the wreckage of a theater hit by an airstrike this week and searched for other survivors, as Russia expanded its aerial assault on western Ukraine, hitting an aircraft repair plant near the Polish border, officials mentioned.
“Hundreds of Mariupol residents are still under the rubble,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said during an address to the nation. “Despite the bombardments, despite all the difficulties, we will continue the relief efforts.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has pledged to continue his invasion of ukraine in a rare public appearance before a crowd of tens of thousands of flag-waving supporters at a Moscow stadium, and President Biden warned Chinese leader Xi Jinping during a call on Friday that Beijing would face repercussions if he was aiding Russia in its military assault.
In Mariupol, around 1,300 people remained trapped in the basement of the theater where residents had sought refuge from Russian shelling, said Lyudmyla Denisova, Ukraine’s human rights commissioner, adding that it was difficult to be certain of the number of survivors. She confirmed no casualties.
“We hope they will be alive but at the moment we have no information about them,” she said in an interview on local television. The building was hit in an attack on Wednesday.
Efforts to sort out the wreckage and rescue the survivors are hampered as the rescue services were nearly wiped out by the attack on the southern port city.
Getting medical attention for the injured could be difficult as “many doctors have been killed”, former governor Sergiy Taruta said overnight.
More than 9,000 people have been evacuated from Mariupol, Zelensky said in his overnight address. He said more than 180,000 Ukrainians have been rescued and tons of essential supplies delivered. Yet, he said, aside from seven humanitarian corridors that have been opened, Russian forces “continue to block the delivery of humanitarian aid to besieged towns in most areas.”
Mr Zelensky called on Russia to negotiate and said that in the coming days he would reach out to other nations like Switzerland, Israel, Italy and Japan, just as he did with states United States, Canada and Germany. “It’s time to meet. It’s time to talk. It is time to restore territorial integrity and justice for Ukraine. Otherwise, Russia’s losses will be so huge that several generations will not be enough to bounce back,” he said. “Ukraine’s proposals are on the table.
Russian missiles struck an aircraft repair factory in the west of the country on Friday in a long-range strike away from the fiercest fighting, while attacks continued on other towns.
The Ukrainian Air Force said Russia fired six cruise missiles from the Black Sea. Two were intercepted, preventing them from reaching their target near the airport in the western city of Lviv, about 80 km from the Polish border.
Polish immigration authorities said on Friday that the number of people who have fled Ukraine for Poland has now exceeded two million. More than three million Ukrainians have fled the country since the start of the war, according to the UN refugee agency.
A building at the aerial facility was destroyed, according to Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi, who said work at the facility had been suspended before the strike. One person was injured and rescue workers were on hand to put out a fire, said Maksym Kozytskyi, head of Lviv’s regional military administration.
Friday’s strike on the Lviv facility followed an airstrike Sunday on a similar site in Lutsk, also in western Ukraine. Workers at each site repair and modernize Ukrainian combat aircraft of various types. Oleg Zhdanov, a reserve colonel in the Ukrainian army and a military analyst, said the strikes showed Ukraine’s modest and aging air fleet continued to thwart the Russian war machine.
“It can only mean that our aviation becomes a big problem for Russia,” he said.
Most of the fighting between the invading Russian forces and Ukrainian troops was concentrated further east and south. In the eastern city of Kramatorsk, at least one missile hit a residential building overnight, killing two people and injuring 16, said Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the regional military administration of the eastern Donetsk region.
The thud of artillery exchanges and small-arms fire was audible in the outskirts of the capital, Kyiv, overnight. A Russian rocket, believed to have been shot down by Ukrainian Air Defense Forces, landed in a downtown area, injuring half a dozen people who were cut by shards of glass.
Standing near the crater next to burnt buildings, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said one person had been killed and four children were among the injured. “These are the results of this horrible situation,” he said.
Mr Zelensky said Ukrainian forces took Russian conscripts prisoner on the battlefield. Russia has made no effort to recover its prisoners of war, he said, and some of them are refusing to return. In his evening speech, Mr. Zelensky said he would not publicly discuss his strategy on the ceasefire talks.
“To work more quietly than on TV, radio or Facebook…I think that’s fair,” he said.
Mr Putin spoke to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday, saying Ukraine’s leaders were doing all they could to delay talks on a ceasefire by ‘putting forward increasingly unrealistic proposals’, according to the account. from the Kremlin on the phone call.
“Nevertheless, the Russian side is ready to continue the search for solutions in line with its well-known principled approaches,” the Kremlin said.
The call, which lasted just under an hour, focused on efforts to end the war in Ukraine, according to the German government. During the call, Mr. Scholz stressed the urgency of a ceasefire, an improvement in the humanitarian situation and progress in the search for a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
In Russia, celebrations marking the eighth anniversary of Moscow’s capture of Crimea from Ukraine took place Friday in central squares of cities across the country, Russian state television showed. Mr Putin addressed fans at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, which hosted the men’s World Cup final in 2018 and has a capacity of 81,000.
Russian television showed Mr Putin on a stage in the center of the stadium standing against the background of reading, ‘For Russia’ and ‘For a world without Nazism’ – a reference to his false claim that Ukraine’s leadership is led by a cabal of neo-Nazis. Mr. Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, is Jewish.
Even though Russia’s assault has met stiff resistance from Ukrainian forces and has stalled in recent days, with Russian fatalities reaching as high as 7,000, according to Western intelligence estimates, M Putin showed defiance to the crowded stadium.
“We will certainly implement all the expected plans,” Putin told the crowd to cheers and applause.
Mr. Biden spoke with Mr. Xi in a nearly two-hour videoconference on Friday in an effort to dissuade Beijing from getting more involved with Moscow in its war effort.
“President Biden has made clear the implications and consequences of China’s material support” for Russia, a senior US official said after the call.
Mr. Xi has sought to portray China as a peacemaker. “The Ukraine crisis is something we don’t want to see,” he told Biden, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency. “Conflict and confrontation are in no one’s interest.”
Australia also expanded its sanctions against Russia on Friday to include 11 additional banks and government entities, as well as billionaires Oleg Deripaska and Viktor Vekselberg. Foreign Secretary Marise Payne said the majority of Russia’s banking assets were now covered by sanctions, along with all entities that handle Russia’s sovereign debt.
—Alan Cullison and Evan Gershkovich contributed to this article.
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