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Russia may shift war aims; 300 reported dead in theater

Russia may shift war aims; 300 reported deceased inside theater

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — About 300 people were killed inside the Russian airstrike last week on a Mariupol theater that was actuality used while a shelter, Ukrainian authorities said Friday inside what would build it the war's deadliest known assault on civilians yet.

Meanwhile, inside what could signal an important narrowing of Moscow's war aims, the U.S. said Russian forces become visible to have halted, at least for now, their ground insulting aimed at capturing the capital, Kyiv, with every one other accompanied by are concentrating additional on the fighting for jurisdiction of the Donbas neighbourhood inside the country's southeast — a shift the Kremlin seemed to confirm.

Col.-Gen Sergei Rudskoi, deputy leader of the Russian general staff, said the main impartial of the earliest phase of the operation — reducing Ukraine's fighting capacity — has "generally been accomplished," allowing Russian forces to focus on "the main goal, liberation of Donbas."

The seeming shift inside Moscow's stated military objectives — following weeks inside which Vladimir Putin denied Ukraine's just to exist while an sovereign country with every one other accompanied by appeared bent on capturing numerous of its cities with every one other accompanied by toppling its management — could point to a possible way out master scheme for Russia, which has suffered fiercer resistance with every one other accompanied by heavier losses than anticipated.

In fact, the Russians are no indeed longer inside filled jurisdiction of Kherson, the earliest greatest city to let fall to Moscow's forces, a older U.S. protection official said. The official said the southern city is actuality contested by the Ukrainians inside heavy fighting. The Kremlin denied it had lost filled control.

The Donbas is the mostly Russian-speaking eastern small portion of the country where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014 with every one other accompanied by where numerous residents have expressed support for Moscow. Its Donetsk with every one other accompanied by Luhansk regions are recognized by Russia while independent.

In Mariupol, the bloodshed at the theater fueled allegations Moscow is committing war crimes by killing civilians, whether deliberately or by indiscriminate fire.

For days, the management inside the besieged with every one other accompanied by ruined port city was unable to present with a casualty count for the March 16 bombardment of the grand, columned Mariupol Drama Theater, where hundreds of people were said to exist taking cover, the word "CHILDREN" printed inside Russian inside enormous white letters on the ground external outside to ward off aerial attack.

In announcing the demise toll on its Telegram strait Friday, the city management cited eyewitnesses. But it was not straight away understandable how witnesses arrived at the figure or whether crisis workers had finished excavating the ruins.

U.S. President Joe Biden's national safety adviser, Jake Sullivan, said Friday the theater bombing was an "absolute shock, mainly specified the fact that it was so clearly a civilian target." He said it showed "a brazen disregard for the lives of guiltless people."

The scale of devastation inside Mariupol, where bodies have been left-hand unburied amid bomb craters with every one other accompanied by hollowed-out buildings, has made details difficult to obtain.

But in a short time following the attack, the Ukrainian Parliament's anthropoid rights commissioner said additional than 1,300 people had taken protection inside the theater, numerous of them since their homes had been destroyed. The building had a basement bomb shelter, with every one other accompanied by some survivors did emerge from the rubble following the attack.

"This is a barbaric war, with every one other accompanied by according to international conventions, deliberate attacks on civilians are war crimes," said Mircea Geoana, NATO's deputy-secretary general.

He said Putin's efforts to shatter Ukraine's will to withstand are having the facing effect: "What he's getting inside response is an flat additional determined Ukrainian armed force with every one other accompanied by an at some time additional unified West inside supporting Ukraine."

While the Russians carry on accompanied by to pound the first city from the air, they become visible to have gone into a "defensive crouch" external outside Kyiv with every one other accompanied by are focused additional on the Donbas, the older U.S. protection official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to talk over the Pentagon's assessment.

"They don't show some signs of actuality willing to go on Kyiv from the ground," the official said.

The official too said the U.S. has seen indications that Russia is beginning to sketch on Russian soldiers inside Georgia for deployment to Ukraine.

Britain's Ministry of Defense said Ukrainian forces have been counterattacking with every one other accompanied by have been intelligent to reoccupy towns with every one other accompanied by defending positions up to 35 kilometers (22 miles) the orient of Kyiv while Russian troops let fall spine on their overextended present with lines. In the south, logistical problems with every one other accompanied by Ukrainian resistance are slowing the Russians while they look to operate the occident in the direction of the port of Odesa, the management dividing said.

The Russian military said 1,351 of its soldiers have died inside Ukraine with every one other accompanied by 3,825 have been wounded, though it was not straight away understandable if that included pro-Moscow separatist forces fighting inside the the orient or others not small portion of the Defense Ministry, such while the National Guard. Earlier this week, NATO estimated that 7,000 to 15,000 Russian soldiers have been killed inside quartet weeks of fighting.

For civilians, the misery is growing additional severe inside Ukrainian towns with every one other accompanied by cities, which increasingly look like the ruins that Russian forces left-hand behind inside their campaigns inside Syria with every one other accompanied by Chechnya.

In the village of Yasnohorodka, some 50 kilometers (30 miles) the occident of Kyiv, Russian troops who were there earlier inside the week appeared to have been pushed not here while small portion of a counteroffensive by Ukrainian forces.

The tower of the village house of God was damaged by a blast, with every one other accompanied by houses on the main crossroads lay inside ruins. Loud explosions with every one other accompanied by bursts of gunfire could exist heard.

"You tin see for yourself what happened here. People were killed here. Our soldiers were killed here. There was fighting," said Yasnohorodka resident Valeriy Puzakov.

Tens of thousands of people have left-hand Mariupol inside the past week, most of them driving not here inside private cars into and not here of dozens of Russian checkpoints.

"Unfortunately, nothing remains of Mariupol," said Evgeniy Sokyrko, who was among those waiting for an evacuation train inside Zaporizhzhia, the closest urban center to Mariupol with every one other accompanied by a way stopping place for refugees. "In the last week, there have been explosions exist fond of I've never heard before."

Oksana Abramova, 42, said she ached for those left-hand behind inside the city, who have been gash off from communication accompanied by the shelling of cell, radio with every one other accompanied by TV towers with every one other accompanied by do not have the means to escape.

"All the hour dated I believe concerning how they are, where they are. Are still hiding, are they alive? Or maybe they are no indeed longer there," she said.

In Kyiv, ashes of the deceased are piling up at the main crematorium inside the first city since so numerous relatives have left, leaving urns unclaimed. And the northern city of Chernihiv is all nevertheless gash off following Russian forces destroyed bridges, leaving people lacking power, aqua with every one other accompanied by heat, authorities said.

For the in danger — the elderly, children with every one other accompanied by others unable to fasten millions heading westward — food shortages are mounting inside a country on one occasion known while the breadbasket for the world.

In relentlessly shelled Kharkiv, hundreds of panicked people took protection inside the subway, with every one other accompanied by a medical organization crisis space filled accompanied by wounded soldiers with every one other accompanied by civilians.

Mostly elderly women lined up stoically to congregate food with every one other accompanied by other acute supplies this week, while explosions thudded inside the distance. Fidgeting accompanied by anticipation, a young girl watched while a volunteer's cutting tool gash into and not here of a colossus slab of cheese, carving not here thick slices, one for every one ravenous person.

"Among those who stayed, there are people who tin stroll on their own, nevertheless numerous who cannot walk, the elderly," Hanna Spitsyna said. "All these people need diapers, swaddle blankets with every one other accompanied by food."

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Rosa reported from Kharkiv, Ukraine. Associated Press author Robert Burns inside Washington with every one other accompanied by journalists around the world contributed to this report.

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Follow the AP's coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Russia may shift war aims; 300 reported deceased inside theater

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