Missiles hit nearby Ukrainethe southern port of Odessa on Sunday with Russia saying it had destroyed an oil refinery used by the Ukrainian military, while attempts to evacuate people from the devastated city of Mariupol would continue.
There was little sign of a breakthrough in efforts to negotiate an end to the five-week war, although Russia’s chief negotiator said talks would resume on Monday.
In Odessa, the city council said “critical infrastructure facilities” were hit by missiles. No casualties were reported.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said its military strikes destroyed an oil refinery and three fuel storage facilities near Odessa. He said the facility was used to supply Ukrainian troops near the town of Mykolaiv.
Odessa, on the Black Sea, is the main base of the Ukrainian navy. It has been targeted by Russian forces seeking a land corridor to Transdniestria, a Russian-speaking breakaway province of Moldova that hosts Russian troops.
“Smoke is visible in some areas of the city. All relevant systems and structures are working… No casualties were reported,” Vladyslav Nazarov, an officer with Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command, said on Telegram.
Dmytro Lunin, governor of the central Poltava region, said the Kremenchug oil refinery, 350 kilometers (220 miles) northeast of Odessa, had been destroyed in another rocket attack on Saturday.
Evacuation efforts in Mariupol and nearby Berdyansk, both also on Ukraine’s southern coast, were due to continue with a bus convoy being prepared for the operation with the help of the Red Cross.
“Seven buses will try to approach Mariupol, accompanied by the International Committee of the Red Cross,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in an online video post.
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The ICRC abandoned earlier attempts for security reasons. Russia blamed the ICRC for the delays.
Mariupol is Russia’s main target in the Donbass region of southeastern Ukraine, and tens of thousands of civilians are trapped there with little access to food and water.
Russia’s chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said a draft agreement was not ready for any meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
On Saturday, Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia expressed hope for negotiations with Russia, saying enough progress had been made for direct talks between the two.
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Medinsky said that while Ukraine was showing more realism by agreeing to be neutral, giving up nuclear weapons, not joining a military bloc and refusing to host military bases, there had been no progress on other key Russian demands.
“I repeat again and again: Russia’s position on Crimea and Donbas remains UNCHANGED,” he said on Telegram, adding that the videoconference talks would continue on Monday.
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Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and has recognized declarations of independence by the self-proclaimed republics of Luhansk and Donetsk in the Donbas area of eastern Ukraine that rebelled against the kyiv government.
Destruction of Bucha
Ukraine said on Saturday that its forces had retaken all areas around kyiv, claiming full control of the capital region for the first time since Russia launched its invasion on February 24.
Russia withdrew forces that had threatened kyiv from the north to regroup for battles in eastern Ukraine.
There was no Russian comment on the claim that the kyiv region was completely in Ukraine’s hands, something Reuters could not immediately verify.
The mayor of Bucha, a liberated town 37 km (23 miles) northwest of the capital, said 300 residents had been killed during a month-long occupation by the Russian army, with the victims seen in a mass grave and still lying on the streets. .
“The bastards!” Vasily, said a 66-year-old man, crying with rage as he looked at more than a dozen bodies on the road in front of his house. “Sorry. The tank behind me was firing. Dogs!”
The Kremlin and the Russian Defense Ministry in Moscow did not immediately respond to requests for comment when asked about the bodies found in Bucha on Saturday.
Moscow denies targeting civilians and rejects accusations of war crimes.
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Among those killed near kyiv was Maksim Levin, a Ukrainian photographer and videographer who worked for a news website and was a longtime Reuters contributor.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she was shocked by the atrocities in Bucha and expressed support for the International Criminal Court’s investigation into possible war crimes.
Ukraine’s emergency service said more than 1,500 explosives were found in one day during a search in the town of Dmytrivka, west of the capital.
Zelenskyy warned in a video address: “They are mining all this territory. Houses are mined, equipment is mined, even the bodies of the dead.” He did not cite evidence.
The Russian Defense Ministry did not respond to a request for comment on the mine allegations. Reuters could not independently verify them.
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Since launching what Putin called a “special military operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine, Russia has failed to capture a single major city and instead has laid siege to urban areas, uprooting a quarter of the country’s population. country.
British military intelligence said Russian naval forces were maintaining a blockade along the Black Sea and Sea of Azov, but the option of amphibious landings was becoming increasingly risky for Russia.
He said the reported mines, the origin of which remains unclear and in dispute, pose a serious risk to shipping in the Black Sea.
(Additional reporting by Simon Gardner, Zohra Bensemra and Abdelaziz Boumzar in Bucha, Ukraine Natalia Zinets in Mukachevo, Ukraine, Alessandra Prentice, Guy Faulconbridge in London and Reuters offices Writing by Simon Cameron-Moore and William Schomberg; editing by Stephen Coates, William Mallard and Frances Kerry)