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Russian strike killed 300 in Mariupol theater, Ukraine says

Russian strike killed 300 inside Mariupol theater, Ukraine says

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — About 300 people were killed by the Russian airstrike last week that blasted not shut a Mariupol theater that was actuality used while a shelter, Ukrainian authorities said, marking what could exist the war's deadliest known assault on civilians yet.

The demise toll announced Friday fueled allegations that Moscow is committing war crimes by killing civilians, whether deliberately or by indiscriminate fire.

Russia, meanwhile, seemed to signal an important shift inside its war objectives. U.S. officials 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 gaining jurisdiction of the Donbas neighbourhood inside the country's southeast — a shift the Kremlin seemed to confirm.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on one occasion additional appealed to Russia to discuss terms an extremity to the war, nevertheless pointedly said he would not present with up some Ukrainian territory for the sake of peace.

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"The territorial integrity of Ukraine should exist guaranteed," he said inside a nightly video address to the nation. "That is, the conditions must exist fair, for the Ukrainian people will not receive them otherwise."

For days, the Mariupol management 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. In an try to ward off such an attack, the word "CHILDREN" was printed inside Russian inside enormous white letters on the ground outside.

The city management cited eyewitnesses when it announced the demise toll on its Telegram channel. 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 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" inside the besieged port city.

The Ukrainian Parliament's anthropoid rights commissioner said in a short time following the assault that additional than 1,300 people had taken protection inside the theater, numerous of them since their homes were 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."

Ukrainian officials continued to push for additional military support. Zelenskyy's leader of staff, Andriy Yermak, on Friday called for a lend-lease program, referring to U.S. policy of laboriously supplying its World War II allies.

Ukraine needs real-time military intellectual capacity with every one other accompanied by heavy weapons, Yermak said inside an address.

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, a 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.

In comments that seemed to corroborate a alter inside Moscow's military goals, 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, the liberation of Donbas."

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 wish near ties to Moscow.

Its coal-mining with every one other accompanied by manufacturing Donetsk with every one other accompanied by Luhansk regions are recognized by Russia while independent. Mariupol is too inside the Donbas, although external outside of the territories controlled by separatists since 2014.

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.

In fact, the Russians are no indeed longer inside filled jurisdiction of Kherson, the earliest greatest city to let fall to Moscow's forces, the 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 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 the separatists 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 occupied it earlier inside the week appeared to have been pushed not here while small portion of a counteroffensive by Ukrainian forces.

The village church's tower was damaged by a blast, with every one other accompanied by houses on the main crossroads lay inside ruins.

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

In Kyiv, ashes of the deceased are piling up at the main crematorium 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 fleeing 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. 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.

As for Mariupol, "nothing remains of Mariupol," said Evgeniy Sokyrko, who was among those waiting for an evacuation train inside Zaporizhzhia, a way stopping place for refugees from the shattered port city. "In the last week, there have been explosions exist fond of I've never heard before."

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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

Russian strike killed 300 inside Mariupol theater, Ukraine says

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