Russia continued to shell Kyiv on Saturday, fulfilling Moscow’s promise to renew its bombardment of the Ukrainian capital.
The scattered attacks came after a Russian attack hit a missile factory in Kyiv on Friday, and as the Kremlin vowed to resume bombing so-called “military installations” in the city and surrounding areas after retreating early in the war had withdrawn heavy losses.
Smoke rose from the city’s south-eastern Darnytski district, but it was not immediately clear what was hit. The sprawling neighborhood includes apartment buildings and large retail stores as well as industrial sites and railroad yards. The Russian Defense Ministry said it was targeting an armored vehicle plant there.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko warned residents who fled the city when it faced intensified attacks early in the war not to return.
Local officials continue to uncover the bodies of civilians in the suburbs and towns that Russia occupied in the first month of the war.
“You sometimes forget that you’re still afraid of every sound, even if it comes from your neighbor’s house or if someone slams a car door,” Anna Budko, a local resident, told the BBC. “You’re shaking and trying to get over it. No words can describe how scary it is.”
The governor of the Lviv region in western Ukraine also reported attacks by Russian planes in an area generally considered safe.
Russia also continued shelling Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, in eastern Ukraine, where a missile is believed to have struck an open-air market and residential and industrial buildings, killing at least one person and wounding 18.
And fighting continued in the besieged port city of Mariupol, which first struck Russia with a long-range Tu-22М3 bomber, according to Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Defense Ministry.
The southern city of Mykolaiv was also hit by rockets again, Ukrainian Armed Forces officials reported on Facebook.
“The enemy is trying to take the life of the [people] as miserable as possible and sowing panic,” the post reads. “The Russians are unsuccessful in their groundbreaking operations, using destructive ‘scorched earth’ tactics from the skies.”
The developments came like Ukrainian defense officials said Saturday that Russian combat casualties exceeded 20,000, a number that could not be independently verified. Russia is asking for a far lower toll but last gave an exact figure on March 25 when it said it had lost 1,351 military personnel.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told CNN on Friday that “all countries in the world” should be prepared for the possibility that Russian President Vladimir Putin could use tactical nuclear weapons as the war progresses.
He said Putin could turn to either nuclear or chemical weapons because he didn’t value Ukrainians’ lives.
The increased attacks came after Russia officially mourned the sinking of the Moskva, the 12,500-ton Black Sea flagship that sank during a Ukrainian missile attack on Thursday while being towed to port in troubled waters.
Dozens of people gathered in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, to pay tribute “to the ship and the sailors” as a wreath was laid at the local memorial to the founding of the Russian Navy in 1696.
It is unclear what happened to the more than 500 crew members on the Moskva. Russia has claimed the “entire crew” was rescued but has not released photos of a rescue operation.
Reuters reported that a number of people serving on the ship attended the memorial ceremony but did not say if they were with the crew when it was struck.
“The loss of every ship, especially a flagship, is a tragedy for all the tens of thousands of people who have served there for over 20 years,” said Father Georgiy Ployakov at the ceremony.
Moscow has claimed the ship sank during a fire caused by a munitions explosion, but the US has confirmed Ukraine’s claim that it hit the guided missile cruiser with two Neptune anti-ship missiles.
CNN reported that Ukraine’s military stockpiles are a cause for concern. US officials say there is a growing need to supply more ammunition, particularly artillery ammunition, to the Ukrainian armed forces. The US is delivering 18 155mm towed howitzers and 40,000 artillery shells to Ukraine as part of an $800 million aid package approved this week, but there are concerns it will only last a few days.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley make daily calls to allies in Europe to urge them to move more arms and supplies to Ukraine as soon as possible.
Separately, Ukrainian officials said global humanitarian donations from citizens and businesses to Ukraine have now reached $924 million.
Meanwhile, locals in Mariupol said they saw Russian troops digging up bodies hastily buried in courtyards and other makeshift places around the city and would not allow new burials “of people killed by them.
“Why the exhumation is being carried out and where the bodies are being taken is unknown,” the Mariupol City Council said via messaging app Telegram.
Ukrainian officials have said they expect to find evidence of atrocities in Mariupol similar to that found in Bucha and other communities in the Kyiv region following Russian withdrawals. More than 900 bodies have already been found in the Kyiv area. The mayor of Mariupol said this week the death toll in the city could surpass 20,000.
In the Kharkiv region, local officials said Russian strikes had damaged a number of memorials, including one dedicated to the victims of totalitarianism, and cemeteries, including one where more than 4,300 Polish prisoners of war were buried
The United Nations has reported 1,982 civilian deaths since the war began but warns the figure is an underestimate.
Zelenskyy said on Saturday that 2,500 to 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and up to 10,000 injured in the war so far
With post wires
https://nypost.com/2022/04/16/russia-renews-kyiv-attack-mayor-warns-evacuees-not-to-return/ Russia repeats attack on Kyiv, mayor warns evacuees against returning