Ukraine: Putin’s middle finger ‘on UN attack on Kiev

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) – President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zhelensky Russia has accused the United Nations of trying to humiliate the United Nations by launching a missile rain on Kiev during a visit to the city, a deadly attack that has disrupted weeks in the capital.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces fought to thwart Russian efforts to advance in the south and east, Zelenskyy said. UN-sponsored efforts to secure a safe passage for residents trapped in the Mariupol ruins continued. Several previous attempts to evacuate the public failed.

On Thursday, Russia hit targets across Ukraine, attacking a residential high-rise building and another building in Kiev just as life was getting a little closer to normal. Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, an American-funded broadcaster, claimed that one of its journalists had been killed.

Separately, a former U.S. Marine was killed Relatives have suggested what could be the first death of an American in the war while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces. The United States has not confirmed the report. At least two foreigners fighting on the Ukrainian side have been killed, one from Britain and the other from Denmark.

In a blatant reference to the attack in Kyiv, the Russian military claimed to have destroyed “production buildings” at the Artem defense factory.

The bombing came an hour after Zelenskyy held a press conference with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who went to some of the devastation in and around Kiev and condemned the attacks on civilians.

“It says a lot about Russia’s real attitude towards global institutions, and the Russian leadership’s attempts to discredit everything the UN and the organization represent,” Zhelensky said in his nightly video address to the nation late Thursday. “Therefore, it requires a correspondingly powerful response.”

Kiev Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said the attack was a way of giving Russian President Vladimir Putin “his middle finger” to Guterres.

The strikes are the latest in a series of Russian strikes on the capital, since Moscow’s forces withdrew weeks ago following a failed attempt to capture the city. Russia is now pushing the eastern industrial part of the country into the Donbas, which the Kremlin says is its main purpose.

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Volodymyr Fesenko, a Ukrainian political analyst and leader of the Kyiv-based Penta Center think tank, carried a message: “Russia sends a clear signal of its intention to continue the war despite international pressure.”

It is difficult to get a full picture of the war unfolding in the East because airstrikes and artillery attacks are too dangerous for reporters to get around. Pro-Moscow rebels fighting in Ukraine and the east have also introduced stricter restrictions on reporting from the war zone.

But so far Russian troops and separatist forces appear to have made only small gains, and they have been achieved at considerable expense to the Kremlin’s forces, the British Defense Ministry said.

One purpose of Guterres’ visit was to evacuate people from the southern port of Mariupol.

About 100,000 people are believed to be trapped in low water, food, heat or electricity in the city. An estimated 2,000 Ukrainian guards and 1,000 civilians are being held in a broken steel plant, the city’s last major stronghold.

The Soviet-era steel plant had a vast underground network of bunkers that could withstand airstrikes. But the situation worsened after the Russians dropped “bunker busters” and other bombs.

“Locals who manage to leave Mariupol say it’s hell, but when they leave this fort, they say it’s bad,” said Mariupol Mayor Vadim Poichenko. “They beg to be saved,” he said: “There, it’s not a few days, it’s an hour thing.”

Ukraine has blamed previous evacuation efforts for Russia’s shelling.

At this point, Boichenko said, “we believe that the enemy has the slightest touch of humanity.”

Two cities in the Dnipropetrovsk region of central Ukraine were hit by Russian rockets on Friday, the regional governor said. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Sirens, artillery shells and explosions were heard from Gramadorsk to Sloviansk, two towns about 18 kilometers (11 miles) across the Donbass. Columns of smoke rose from the Sloviansk region and neighboring cities. At least one person was reported injured in the shelling.

Russia’s governor of the Kursk region says a border post from Ukraine has been hit by a mortar attack and repulsed by Russian border forces. He said there were no casualties on the Russian side.

His mother, Rebecca Cabrera, told CNN on Monday that former U.S. Marine Willie Joseph Cancel, 22, was killed while working for a military contracting company sent to Ukraine.

“He wanted to go up because he believed what Ukraine was fighting for, and he wanted to be a part of it to control it, so it didn’t come here, maybe our American soldiers would not come ‘to get involved in it.”

Marine Corps, Cancel served four years, but was given a misconduct discharge and sentenced to five months in prison for violating orders. No details of the crime were reported.

Following the missile attack in Kiev on Thursday, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty reported that the body of journalist Veera Heirich, who lived in a building, was found in the rubble. Ten people were injured and at least one leg was lost, according to emergency officials.

Jamie Fly, head of Radio Free Europe, said the organization was “shocked and outraged” by the meaninglessness of his death in the country and city he loved.

Kyiv has been relatively unaffected in recent weeks, and cafes and other businesses have begun to reopen, while growing crowds are flocking out and enjoying the spring weather.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces are cracking down on people accused of aiding Russian troops.. In the Kharkiv region alone, nearly 400 people have been detained under anti-cooperation laws enacted after Russia’s February 24 invasion.

In Russia, international sanctions imposed on the Kremlin over the invasion are pressing the country. The Russian central bank expects the Russian economy to shrink by 10% this year, and the outlook is “very uncertain.”

The horrific human cost of the war, which drove more than 11 million Ukrainians out of their homes, continues to rise.

In the town of Lyman in Donbass, bombs exploded on the home of Tatiana Matsekora this week. Matsegora’s 14 – year – old grandson Igor was pronounced dead at the scene after rescue workers rushed him to hospital. Her daughter was in critical condition and her nephew was killed.

“‘Grandma, can I live?’ ‘She said, and as they waited for help, Igor asked her. “I said he would live. But look what happened: I betrayed him.


The story was updated to correct the fact that Thursday’s strike was the most courageous attack since Moscow’s retreat.


Associated Press journalists John Campbell and Yuvraj Karmanov of Lviv, Mystislav Chernov of Kharkiv, Jesika Bish of Slovenes and AP staff around the world contributed to the report.


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