Russia increasingly relies on missiles and artillery to pressure Ukraine

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KYIV, Ukraine – Russian attacks have hit kyiv, Odessa and other places across Ukraine as Moscow appears to be changing its battle plan to coerce Ukraine into giving up its claims to its southern and eastern territory.

As its military offensive against Ukraine stalls, Russia increasingly bombs civilian areas in what turns into a war of attrition aimed at pressuring the government in kyiv to grant concessions and acquiesces to Moscow’s demands.

The apparent tactical shift comes as President Biden travels to Europe this week for meetings with allies and partners from NATO, the G-7 and European states, including Poland. They are expected to discuss deterrence efforts, humanitarian aid and the sanctions campaign against Russia.

The Russian Foreign Ministry warned on Monday that relations between Moscow and Washington were “on the brink of rupture”. Moscow summoned US Ambassador John Sullivan on Monday to deliver a note protesting Mr Biden’s comment that his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, is a “war criminal”.

Ukrainian government rejects Russia’s deadline for laying down arms in Mariupol; a security camera filmed the attack on a shopping center in kyiv; the United Nations said the war has forced 10 million people from their homes. Photo: Serhii Nuzhnenko/Reuters

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The United States imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia for its attack on Ukraine, helping to cut off the Russian economy from the global financial system. The United States has also provided Ukraine with a range of military assistance to combat Russian forces, including anti-tank weapons and anti-aircraft missiles which Ukrainian forces have used to exact a heavy toll on military invaders.

Near kyiv, where the fighting has settled into a stalemate, Russian forces appeared to degrade Ukrainian positions with artillery strikes and long-range missiles. On Monday, the rumble of artillery barrages was almost constant.


Russian strikes wreak havoc on Ukrainian cities

Residential neighborhoods continue to face heavy shelling as casualties mount in fourth week of conflict

People stand in the rubble of a shopping center in kyiv, Ukraine, on Monday.

Rodrigo Abd/Associated Press

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Overnight, Russia destroyed a shopping mall that Moscow said served as an arms depot. The strike gutted a 10-story building in the mall and smashed windows hundreds of meters away. Russia’s Defense Ministry on Monday released video of the strike and evidence it said showed Ukraine was using the facility to store weapons and using the parking lot to launch missiles at Russian frontline troops near Kyiv.

Ukrainian officials said at least eight people died in the attack.

The army cordoned off the mall, where soldiers could be seen Monday morning loading dead bodies into pickup trucks. A Ukrainian website said a photo of the mall circulated on social media before the strike, showing several Ukrainian military trucks parked there. The government has urged Ukrainians to refrain from posting pictures of the country’s military on social media that could betray their positions in Moscow.

Russian attacks around military areas have raised fears that the country has operatives working inside Ukraine scouting targets for Moscow.

The city’s mayor said he would impose a new curfew on the Ukrainian capital, lasting 35 hours from 8 p.m. local time on Monday.

The attacks came as Russia demanded that Ukraine return the beleaguered port city of Mariupol. Mikhail Mizintsev, head of the Defense Ministry’s National Defense Control Center, said Sunday that kyiv was expected to respond to Russia’s offer on Monday at 5 a.m. Moscow time, according to Interfax.

Areas no longer controlled by Ukraine since Friday

Directorate of the Invading Forces

Controlled by or allied with Russia

Main crossing points for refugees

Chernobyl

Not in operation

Ukrainian territory, recognized by Putin as independent

Controlled by

separatists

Areas no longer controlled by Ukraine since Friday

Directorate of the Invading Forces

Controlled by or allied with Russia

Ukrainian territory, recognized by Putin as independent

Main crossing points for refugees

Chernobyl

Not in operation

Controlled by

separatists

Areas no longer controlled by Ukraine since Friday

Directorate of the Invading Forces

Controlled by or allied with Russia

Main crossing points for refugees

Ukrainian territory, recognized by Putin as independent

Chernobyl

Not in operation

Controlled by

separatists

Areas no longer controlled by Ukraine since Friday

Directorate of the Invading Forces

Controlled by or allied with Russia

Main crossing points for refugees

Ukrainian territory, recognized by Putin as independent

Areas no longer controlled by Ukraine since Friday

Directorate of the Invading Forces

Controlled by or allied with Russia

Main crossing points for refugees

Ukrainian territory, recognized by Putin as independent

The Ukrainian government early Monday rejected the Russian request on Twitter. He quoted the country’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, as saying that turning over the city was not an option and that she demanded that Russia give civilians safe passage out.

The bombing strategy employed by Russia took a heavy toll on Mariupol, where the fighting spilled over to the streets. Ukrainian officials said an art school where around 400 people had taken refuge was bombed by Russia, trapping people under rubble. Their condition could not be determined. A few days earlier, a theater in the city where a large number of people had taken refuge had been bombed.

Mariupol is a strategic target for Moscow as it attempts to open a land corridor to Russia’s annexed Crimean Peninsula and alter the momentum of its three-week-old invasion. Russia has so far failed to capture any major Ukrainian cities since the start of its invasion.

On Sunday, people dug a grave in the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.


Photo:

ALEXANDRE YERMOCHENKO/REUTERS

Ukrainians who had fled Mariupol and Zaporizhzhia arrived in Lviv in western Ukraine on Sunday.


Photo:

Bernat Armangue/Associated Press

In the areas that Moscow has seized, he is trying to calm the unrest. On Monday, Russian troops injured one protester and dispersed others with flash grenades and tear gas in the southern city of Kherson.

Russia’s military operation took place on three fronts: north from the Crimean peninsula, south from Belarus to kyiv, and west from the occupied areas of southern Ukraine to Mykolaiv and , finally, the port city of Odessa.

Military analysts said Russia could increasingly seek an operational pause to regroup its forces and prepare for another offensive, leading to a temporary halt in fighting before a full ceasefire, which would require a breakthrough. in so far fruitless negotiations between kyiv and Moscow, or new bombardments of urban areas.

“We’ll probably see a lot more destruction and a lot less land swapping,” said Michael Kofman, a Russian military expert at CNA Corp, adding that Russia would likely continue to target cities. “If the Ukrainian forces are using urban areas to defend themselves and the urban environment is hugely favoring the defender, what would your strategy be?”

The latest Russian ultimatum came as senior US officials also expressed suspicions that the Kremlin is adopting a new strategy after nearly a month of fighting with stalled progress while inflicting a heavy humanitarian toll on the country. According to them, the new approach focuses on securing a so-called land bridge between western Russia and the Crimean peninsula, and expanding Russian control of the Donbass region in eastern Russia. Ukraine. The Kremlin also appears to be trying to force the Ukrainian government to accept neutrality between Russia and the West.

Ukrainian officials said at least eight people died in the attack on the kyiv shopping mall.


Photo:

Rodrigo Abd/Associated Press

Russia’s assault on Ukraine has forced more than 10 million people from their homes, the United Nations has said, with the scale of the humanitarian catastrophe showing little signs of abating as Moscow continues its onslaught with missile strikes and artillery fire. The UN estimates that around 3.5 million people have left Ukraine since the start of the Russian offensive on February 24.

The World Health Organization said the fighting was taking an increasingly heavy toll on Ukraine’s health system. The UN agency said on Monday it had recorded 14 deaths and 36 injuries in attacks on the health system linked to the offensive. The nature of the attacks ranged from kidnappings to heavy weapons to obstruction of medical professionals, the WHO said.

Russia said on Monday it seized a Ukrainian military command headquarters and took 61 Ukrainian prisoners of war, and reported a cruise missile attack on a suspected training center for foreign and Ukrainian fighters in the Rivne region of western Ukraine, which it says killed more than 80 Ukrainian and foreign fighters.

Ukraine confirmed the missile attack on the Rivne region training ground, while saying the intensity of Russian combat air operations had eased. He also said that Russia bombed Odessa.

On Monday, Ukrainian soldiers searched inside the destroyed shopping center in kyiv.


Photo:

Felipe Dana/Associated Press

The two sides swapped charges on Monday morning for damage to a chemical plant in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sumy where an ammonia gas leak was detected.

The Ukrainian and Russian sides agreed on eight humanitarian corridors for Monday, including some for Mariupol, Vereshchuk said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused Ukraine of obstructing those corridors. In the past, Ukraine has said that Russia has attacked such crossing lines.

Write to Matthew Luxmoore at [email protected] and Alan Cullison at [email protected]

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