Ukraine. The attack on kyiv was Putin’s “middle finger” at the UN

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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of trying to humiliate the United Nations by raining missiles on kyiv during a visit to the city by the UN chief, a deadly attack that shattered weeks of relative calm in the capital .

Ukrainian forces, meanwhile, fought to repel Russian attempts to advance in the south and east, Zelenskyy reported. And UN-backed efforts to organize safe passage for residents trapped in the ruins of Mariupol have continued. Many previous attempts to evacuate civilians have failed.

Russia pounded targets across Ukraine on Thursday, hitting a residential skyscraper and another building in Kyiv as life appeared to be getting a little closer to normal. The US-funded television station Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty said one of its journalists had been killed.

Separately, a former US Marine was killed while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces, relatives said what would be the first known death of an American in combat in the war. The United States has not confirmed the report. At least two other foreigners fighting on the Ukrainian side, one from Britain and the other from Denmark, were also killed.

In an apparent reference to the kyiv attack, the Russian military said it destroyed “production buildings” at the Artem defense factory.

The shelling came barely an hour after Zelenskyy held a press conference with UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who toured some of the destruction in and around Kyiv and condemned the attacks on civilians.

“It says a lot about Russia’s true attitude towards global institutions, about Russian leaders’ attempts to humiliate the UN and everything the organization stands for,” Zelenskyy said Thursday night in his nightly video address to the nation. “Therefore, it requires an equally powerful response.”

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said the attack was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s way of giving António Guterres “his middle finger”.

The strikes were the boldest Russian attack on the capital since Moscow forces withdrew weeks ago after failing to take the city. Russia is now pushing into the Donbass, the eastern industrial region of the country, which the Kremlin says is its main target.

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Volodymyr Fesenko, a Ukrainian political analyst and head of the Kyiv-based think tank Penta Center, said the Kyiv attack carried a message: “Russia is sending a clear signal that it intends to continue the war despite pressure international”.

Getting a full picture of the battle unfolding in the east has been difficult as airstrikes and artillery barrages have made it extremely dangerous for journalists to travel. Ukraine and Moscow-backed rebels fighting in the east have also introduced strict restrictions on reporting from the combat zone.

But so far Russian troops and separatist forces appear to have made only minor gains, and the British Ministry of Defense said these were achieved at significant cost to Kremlin forces.

One of the purposes of Guterres’ visit was to ensure the evacuation of people from the emptied southern port of Mariupol.

Around 100,000 people are thought to be trapped in the city with little water, food, heat or electricity. An estimated 2,000 Ukrainian defenders and 1,000 civilians were locked up in a destroyed steelworks in the city’s last major stronghold of resistance.

The Soviet-era steelworks has an extensive underground network of bunkers that can withstand airstrikes. But the situation worsened after the Russians dropped “bunker breakers” and other bombs.

“Residents who manage to leave Mariupol say it’s hell, but when they leave this fortress they say it’s worse,” Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said. “They are begging to be saved,” he said, adding, “It’s not a matter of days, it’s a matter of hours.”

Ukraine attributed the failure of previous evacuation attempts to continued Russian shelling.

This time, “we hope there is a slight touch of humanity in the enemy,” Boichenko said.

Two towns in the Dnipropetrovsk region of central Ukraine were hit by Russian rockets on Friday, the regional governor said. There was no immediate word on casualties or damage.

Sirens, artillery fire and explosions could be heard from Kramatorsk to Sloviansk, two towns some 18 kilometers (11 miles) apart in the Donbass. Columns of smoke rose from the Sloviansk region and neighboring towns. At least one person was reportedly injured in the shelling.

The governor of Russia’s Kursk region said a border crossing came under mortar fire from Ukraine and Russian border forces returned fire. He said there were no casualties on the Russian side.

Former US sailor Willy Joseph Cancel, 22, was killed Monday while working for a military company that sent him to Ukraine, his mother, Rebecca Cabrera, told CNN.

“He wanted to go there because he believed in what Ukraine was fighting for,” she said, “and he wanted to be part of it to contain it there so that it doesn’t come here, and that maybe our American soldiers wouldn’t.” there is no need to be involved in it.

The Marine Corps said Cancel served four years but was acquitted of misconduct and sentenced to five months in custody for violating orders. No details of the offense were given.

In the aftermath of Thursday’s missile attack in Kyiv, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty said the body of Vira Hyrych, a journalist who lived in one of the buildings, was found in the rubble. Ten people were injured, including at least one who lost a leg, according to the emergency services.

Radio Free Europe chairman Jamie Fly said the organization was “shocked and angered by the senseless nature of her death at home, in a country and city she loved”.

Kyiv has been relatively unscathed in recent weeks, and cafes and other businesses have started to reopen, as increasing numbers of people walk around, enjoying the spring weather.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces are cracking down on those accused of helping Russian troops. In the Kharkiv region alone, nearly 400 people were detained under anti-collaboration laws enacted after the February 24 Russian invasion.

In Russia, the international sanctions imposed on the Kremlin following the invasion are compressing the country. The Russian Central Bank has said the Russian economy is expected to contract by up to 10% this year, and the outlook is “extremely uncertain”.

The terrible human cost of the war, which has driven more than 11 million Ukrainians from their homes, continues to mount.

In Lyman, a city in Donbass, shells rained this week on the house of Tatiana Matsegora. Matsegora’s 14-year-old grandson, Igor, was pronounced dead after paramedics took him to hospital. Her daughter was in serious condition and her son-in-law was also killed.

“‘Grandma, will I live?” she said, Igor asked her when they were in the basement, waiting for help. “I said he would live. But look what happened: I betrayed him.

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This story has been updated to correct that Thursday’s strike on kyiv was the boldest attack since the retreat from Moscow, not necessarily the first, and also to correct the spelling of the woman’s last name who lost his grandson to Matsegora.

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Associated Press reporters Jon Gambrell and Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Mstyslav Chernov in Kharkiv, Yesica Fisch in Sloviansk, and AP staff around the world contributed to this report.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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