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Missiles hit near Odesa in Ukraine as new Mariupol evacuation bidding plan According to Reuters

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© Reuters. Members of the Ukrainian army walk near a Ukrainian flag, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in the village of Kozarovychi, in the Kyiv region, Ukraine April 2, 2022. REUTERS / Gleb Garanich

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By Issam Abdallah and Pavel Polityuk

ODESA/LVIV, Ukraine (Reuters) – Missiles struck near Ukraine’s southern port of Odesa on Sunday with Russia’s announcement that it destroyed an oil refinery used by the Ukrainian military, amid efforts to evacuate people people from the devastated city of Mariupol continued.

There is 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 Odesa, the city council said “critical infrastructure” had been hit by rockets. No casualties were reported.

The Russian Defense Ministry said that Russian military strikes destroyed an oil refinery and three fuel storage facilities near Odesa. It said the facilities used to supply the Ukrainian army near the city of Mykolaiv.

Odesa, 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 is home to Russian troops.

“Smoke is visible in some parts of the city. All associated systems and structures are operational… No casualties reported,” said Vladyslav Nazarov, an officer of the Combat Command. Southern translation of Ukraine, said on Telegram.

Dmytro Lunin, governor of the central Poltava region, said the Kremenchug oil refinery, 350 kilometers (220 miles) northeast of Odesa, was destroyed in a separate missile attack on Saturday.

Evacuation efforts in nearby Mariupol and Berdyansk, both on Ukraine’s southern coast, were due to continue with a convoy of buses prepared for the operation with help from the Red Cross.

“Seven buses will try to get closer to Mariupol, together with the International Committee of the Red Cross,” Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in an online video post.

The ICRC abandoned previous efforts due to security concerns. Russia has blamed the ICRC for the delay.

Mariupol is Russia’s main target in Ukraine’s southeast Donbas region, and tens of thousands of civilians there are stuck with scant food and water.

Speaks of Peace

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 Zelenskiy.

On Saturday, Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia raised hopes for talks with Russia, saying there had been enough progress for direct talks between the two sides.

Medinsky said that although Ukraine is showing more realism by agreeing to neutrality, giving up nuclear weapons, not joining a military bloc and refusing to build military bases, there is no progress developments to other important Russian requirements.

“I repeat again and again: Russia’s position on Crimea and Donbas remains unchanged,” he said on Telegram, adding that videoconference talks would resume on Monday.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and has recognized the independence claims of the self-proclaimed republics of Luhansk and Donetsk in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, which have rebelled against Kyiv rule.

BUCHA DESTRUCTION

Ukraine on Saturday said its forces had recaptured all areas around Kyiv, declaring full control of the capital region for the first time since Russia launched its invasion on February 24. .

Russia has withdrawn forces that once threatened Kyiv from the north to regroup for battles in eastern Ukraine.

There was no Russian comment on the claim that the Kyiv region is entirely in Ukrainian hands, which Reuters could not immediately verify.

The mayor of Bucha, a liberated town 37 kilometers (23 miles) northwest of the capital, said 300 residents had been killed during the month-long Russian military occupation, the victims seen found in a mass grave and still lying on the street. .

“The bastards!” Vasily, a 66-year-old man, cried with anger as he looked at more than a dozen bodies on the street outside his house. “I’m sorry. The tank behind me was shot. The dogs!”

The Kremlin and the Russian Defense Ministry in Moscow did not immediately respond to requests for comment when asked Saturday about the bodies found in Bucha.

Moscow denies targeting civilians and denies war crimes charges.

Among those killed near Kyiv was Maksim Levin, a Ukrainian photographer and videographer working for a news website and a longtime contributor to Reuters.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she was appalled by the atrocities in Bucha and voiced support for the International Criminal Court’s investigation of potential war crimes.

Ukraine’s emergency services said more than 1,500 explosives were found in a single day during a search for the village of Dmytrivka, west of the capital.

Zelenskiy warned in a video address: “They are mining this whole territory. Homes are mined, equipment is mined, even the bodies of dead people.” 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.

Since launching what Putin calls a “special military operation” to demilitarize and “denuclearize” Ukraine, Russia has been unable to capture a single major city and has instead besieged urban areas, robbing a quarter of the country’s population.

British military intelligence says Russian naval forces are maintaining blockades along the Black Sea and Sea of ​​Azov, but the amphibious option is becoming increasingly risky for Russia.

It said the reported mines, whose origins are still unclear and disputed, pose serious risks to shipping in the Black Sea.

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