Ukraine war: Reports of civilian casualties increase as new curfew is instated
Kyiv, Ukraine – Fighting and shelling continued across Ukraine this weekend, as the war in Ukraine continued into its 25th day.
After a Russian rocket attack on a barracks in Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine, helpers recovered at least 50 bodies from the rubble on Saturday. A total of around 200 soldiers had been sleeping in the building when the missiles struck, the Ukrayinska Pravda newspaper reported, adding that nearly 60 wounded people were taken to surrounding hospitals.
Mayor Olexander Senkevich said the attack on Friday had come from close proximity to Mykolayiv, so it had not been possible to sound the alarm in time. The information on the number of victims could not be independently verified.
A group of 100 Ukrainian soldiers and foreign fighters is dead after a Russian attack on a training center near the central Ukrainian city of Schytomyr, according to unconfirmed Russian reports. The news comes as Russia's military reported its second day of using Kinshal hypersonic rockets in its invasion of its western neighbor, in an attack on a military facility in the Mykolaiv region, according to Russian Defence Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov. Moscow said the facility was critical for providing fuel to Ukrainian tanks. It also reported bombing repair stations for those tanks. It was not clear what armaments were used in the Schytomyr attack.
The mayor of Chernihiv said on Saturday that his northern Ukrainian city, which is encircled by Russian troops, was experiencing a humanitarian disaster.
"Indiscriminate artillery shelling of residential areas continues, killing peaceful people," Vladislav Atrashenko said, according to the UNIAN news agency. "There is no electricity, no water, no heating. The city's infrastructure is completely destroyed."
The city hospital has also been repeatedly shelled, which is why medical care has collapsed, Atrashenko said. In his appeal, he said that no escape corridor had yet been established for the city's 300,000 inhabitants.
Two countries go back and forth over escape corridors
Elsewhere, seven civilians were killed by shelling on Friday in the town of Bucha north-west of the capital Kyiv, police in the region said.
And in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk, local police said dozens of people were killed and injured in attacks on Friday.
In the central city of Zaporizhzhia, residents have been placed under a curfew lasting a day and a half, until 6 AM local time on Monday. The city's railway station has also halted train traffic until that time, Ukraine's national rail operator said. In recent days, many people have fled to Zaporizhzhia from other parts of the country, including Mariupol. The Zaporizhzhia curfew follows a similar measure in Kyiv earlier in the week.
According to city mayor Vitali Klitschko, Kyiv has now recorded more than 200 civilians killed. About two million residents remained in the city, he said.
At least 266 civilians have meanwhile been killed in the Kharkiv area since fighting began, local judicial authorities said. Multiple people died in the city this weekend after shelling of a multiple-story dwelling near an industrial area, according to military sources. One of them was a 9-year-old boy.
Ten escape corridors were set up for Ukrainians desperate to flee contested areas, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Saturday. Kyiv and Moscow later both reported the evacuation of thousands of civilians from embattled areas of Ukraine.
Over 4,100 people were flown out of the port city of Mariupol, said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential office. Almost 2,500 others were brought to safety from the regions of Kiev and Luhansk via so-called escape corridors.
The Russian side said that almost 16,400 people had been evacuated to Russia from Ukraine's self-proclaimed people's republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as from other parts of the country.
The Defense Ministry in Moscow also said that hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians had expressed their wish to be able to flee to Russia.
The Mariupol city council, on the other hand, accused Moscow of bringing thousands of civilians - women and children in particular - to Russia against their will.
Moscow accuses Kyiv of planning attacks on Western embassies
Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council decided to ban the work of 11 political parties considered pro-Russia, eurosceptic or anti-liberal on Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced.
Meanwhile, Belarusian rail workers reportedly halted train connections between Ukraine and Belarus. Ukrainian Railways chief Oleksander Kamyshin said there was no rail traffic between the two countries and thanked the Belarusian workers, UNIAN agency reported. He said this would stop Russian troops in Ukraine receiving reinforcements or supplies via those routes.
Moscow accused Kyiv late Saturday of planning a false-flag attack on facilities for Western diplomats in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov claimed that the Ukrainian leadership intended to portray attacks on diplomatic sites of the United States and other Western countries as a "targeted attack by Russian armed forces." This would put pressure on NATO to provide more arms deliveries and to agree to a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
Later, Moscow also said that Kyiv was planning chemical attacks on civilians in the Sumy and Mykolaiv regions.
There was no evidence to back up the claims. Ukraine repeatedly accuses Russia of spreading misinformation about alleged provocations in order to justify Moscow's own attacks.
Several Western nations moved their diplomatic staff out of the Ukrainian capital Kiev and to Lviv further west even before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. More than three weeks into the war, several countries still have diplomats in Lviv.
Cover photo: imago/ITAR-TASS