KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine said it retook a strategically important suburb of Kyiv on Tuesday, as Russian forces squeezed other areas near the capital and pressed their attack on the embattled southern port of Mariupol.
Explosions and bursts of gunfire shook Kyiv, and black smoke rose from a spot in the north. Intensified artillery fire could be heard from the northwest, where Russia has sought to encircle and capture several suburban areas of the capital, a crucial target.
Residents sheltered at home or underground under a 35-hour curfew imposed by city authorities that runs to Wednesday morning.
Russian forces also continued their siege of Mariupol after the southern port city’s defenders refused demands to surrender, with fleeing civilians describing relentless bombardments and corpses lying in the streets. But the Kremlin’s ground offensive in other parts of the country advanced slowly or not at all, knocked back by lethal hit-and-run attacks by the Ukrainians.
Early Tuesday, Ukrainian troops drove Russian forces out of the Kyiv suburb of Makariv after a fierce battle, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said. The regained territory allowed Ukrainian forces to retake control of a key highway and block Russian troops from surrounding Kyiv from the northwest.
Still, the Defense Ministry said Russian forces were able to partially take other northwest suburbs, Bucha, Hostomel and Irpin, some of which had been under attack almost since Russia’s military invaded almost a month ago.
Russia’s invasion has driven more than 10 million people from their homes, almost a quarter of Ukraine’s pre-war population, according to the United Nations. The U.N. has confirmed 953 civilian deaths while saying the real toll is probably much higher.
Cease-Fire Must Be Focus of Meeting: Turkish Official
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says this week’s meeting between NATO leaders should be focused on ways of securing a cease-fire in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and not just on sanctions and deterrence.
“Everyone’s first aim should be a cease-fire,” Cavusoglu told Turkish journalists on the sideline of an Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Pakistan on Tuesday. “It should be to stop the war that is going on right now. Everyone should act responsibly and constructively.”
Cavusoglu continued: “Of course, we need to show unity and solidarity within NATO, we need to show deterrence. But who is paying the price of the ongoing war?”
U.S. President Joe Biden and other NATO leaders are scheduled to meet Thursday in Brussels. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the meeting is intended not just to show NATO’s “support to Ukraine, but also our readiness to protect and defend all NATO allies.”
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International News Channel Blocked in Russia
BRUSSELS — International news channel Euronews says it has been blocked from broadcasting in Russia due to its Ukraine war coverage.
“We firmly condemn this intolerable restriction imposed on millions … in Russia who relied on us to get impartial news,” Euronews said, adding that Russian authorities pulled the channel off air and blocked its websites in Russia.
Euronews said it might launch legal action to continue to freely broadcast in the country. Euronews is broadcast in 160 countries.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has intensified a crackdown on media and individuals who fail to toe his line on Russia’s war in Ukraine, blocking Facebook and Twitter and signing into law a bill that criminalizes the intentional spreading of “fake” reports.
Euronews said it strongly rejected Russian claims it spread “fake news” and that it allegedly called on Russians to protest the war. It said it faced an “unacceptable threat of criminal liability” due to the new Russian law.
Greek Official Will Personally Escort Humanitarian Aid
ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s foreign minister says he intends to personally escort humanitarian aid into the besieged southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, in coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said Tuesday he had sent an official request to the Ukrainian side to facilitate the sending of humanitarian aid into the city, and an official request to the Russian side to let the delivery in. A sizeable Greek community lives in the Mariupol area.
Dendias did not provide any details on a possible date for the delivery or what the humanitarian aid would consist of.
He made the announcement after meeting with the Greek consul general in Mariupol, Manolis Androulakis, who arrived in Athens last Sunday after being evacuated from the city on March 15.
Androulakis was the last European Union diplomat to leave the city, which has been pummeled by Russian forces for weeks. Living conditions in the city are dire.
Polish President Compares Russian Tactics to Hitler’s
WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s president has compared the conduct of Russian forces in Ukraine to that of Adolf Hitler’s infamous SS troops during World War II.
“Today, the Russian army is behaving in exactly the same way … as the German SS,” President Andrzej Duda said during a visit to Bulgaria on Tuesday.
Duda, whose country suffered a brutal Nazi occupation during World War II, noted that Russia had already violated international law when it attacked Georgia in 2008 and first invaded Ukraine in 2014.
He said he hoped that those responsible for attacks on civilians in Ukraine would be brought before international courts.
Serbia Stands With Russia
BELGRADE, Serbia — A senior Serbian official says Belgrade will never impose sanctions or join the Western “hysteria” against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
Serbia’s Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin said Tuesday: “Serbia will never be part of the anti-Russian hysteria in which the property of Russian citizens and the property of the Russian Federation is stolen, just as we will not ban Russian media.”
The Balkan country is a staunch ally of Russia, though it has condemned its invasion of Ukraine.
Serbia is seeking membership of the European Union, but it is the only European country that has refused to join international sanctions against the Kremlin.
Kremlin Refuses to Comment on Russian Military Deaths
MOSCOW — The Kremlin has refused to comment on a newspaper’s reporting of Russian military casualties in Ukraine.
The pro-Kremlin Komsomolskaya Pravda reported Monday that 9,861 soldiers have been killed in action in Ukraine and another 16,153 have been wounded. It cited the Russian defense ministry.
The newspaper quickly removed the article from its website, describing it as the work of hackers.
Asked about the report, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to comment on it at Tuesday’s conference call with reporters, referring questions about the military casualties to the defense ministry.
On March 2, the defense ministry reported 498 soldiers had been killed and hasn’t released any casualty numbers since then.
Children With Cancer Evacuated to Paris
PARIS — A group of 20 Ukrainian children with cancer and leukemia has arrived in Paris as part of a rescue plan coordinated by French First Lady Brigitte Macron and Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska.
The children are accompanied by their parents as they flee the war with Russia. They arrived at Orly airport near the French capital on Monday evening.
Speaking to Le Parisien newspaper in an interview, Zelenska said “when it became clear that it was impossible to treat children with cancer in the bomb shelters, we immediately sought a solution.”
She said some of the evacuated children will remain in Poland, while others are heading to France, Italy, Germany, the United States, and Canada.
Refugee Count Rises to 3.5 Million
GENEVA — The U.N. refugee agency says more than 3.5 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, passing another milestone in an exodus that has led to Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II.
UNHCR reported Tuesday that 3.56 million people have left Ukraine, with Poland taking in the lion’s share — more than 2.1 million — followed by Romania with more than 540,000 and Moldova with more than 367,000.
Shortly after the invasion on Feb. 24, UNHCR predicted that some 4 million refugees might leave Ukraine, though it has been re-assessing that prediction. The outflows have been slowing in recent days after peaking at more than 200,000 each on two straight days in early March.
The International Organization for Migration estimates that nearly 6.5 million people are internally displaced within Ukraine, suggesting that some if not most of them might to flee abroad if the war continues.
The World Health Organization, meanwhile, says it has confirmed 62 attacks on health care assets in Ukraine since the conflict began and through last Friday. The attacks caused 15 deaths and 37 injuries. The assets include hospitals and medical facilities, transport of medical supplies, warehouses, and healthcare workers.
Russian Wants to Auction Peace Prize Medal to Help Ukraine
MOSCOW — Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov says he wants to auction off his 2021 Nobel Peace Prize medal to raise funds for Ukrainian refugees.
Muratov called Tuesday in the independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper, which he edits, for people to “share with refugees, the wounded and children who need urgent treatment what is dear to you and has a value for others.”
Muratov is asking auction houses about the possibility of organizing a sale.
Muratov said last year he was giving away his share of the Nobel prize money to causes including independent media, a Moscow hospice, and care for children with spinal problems. He said he wouldn’t keep any himself.