Ukraine HELL: Russians shell peaceful protestors and kidnap children

Ukraine: Russia laying mines around Kyiv in desperation

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The port city of Odesa was attacked for the first time with naval forces in the Black Sea shelling residential suburbs as the Kremlin’s killers continue to pound ­civilian targets to rubble. Vladimir Putin has been accused of deporting nearly 2,500 children from Donetsk and Luhansk to Russia in scenes just like Nazi transportations. Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned it was “a gross violation of ­international humanitarian law”.

Hours earlier Kyiv’s intelligence agency accused Moscow of forcibly moving adult Ukrainians to remote Siberian towns after confiscating phones and documents.

President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed his country will never bow to demands from Russia and cities such as Kyiv, Mariupol or Kharkiv will not accept Russian occupation.

He said: “We have an ultimatum with points in it – ‘follow it and then we will end the war’. Ukraine cannot fulfil the ultimatum.”

He said any compromises with Russia need to be put to a referendum for his people.

A Russian tabloid last night said Moscow had lost 9,861 troops – a far higher figure than the 498 the Kremlin admitted on March 2. But the claim was soon deleted from the website.

Ukraine defence minister Oleksii Reznikov, speaking on a visit to London, said ­several small cities “have simply been wiped off the face of the Earth”. He said the Kremlin is committing a “genocide” against Mariupol as 400,000 citizens have been surrounded without food and water.

Captain Svyatoslav Palamar, the leader of the far-right Azov ­regiment which is ­defending the port city, said bombs are ­falling “every ten minutes”.

Demonstrators in Kherson, the first major city to fall to Russia since the invasion began, had been out on the streets chanting “go home” when loud shots were heard and ­people screamed as they fled the onslaught.

Stun grenades were also used to disperse crowds. President Zelensky has hailed protesters for their courage in confronting the Russian troops. He said: “We saw slaves shooting at free people, slaves of propaganda that replaced their conscience. There is no need to organise resistance. Resistance for Ukrainians is part of their soul.”

He added that the war has turned ordinary Ukrainians into heroes and “the enemy doesn’t believe it’s all real”.

Ukrainian authorities also said Russia shelled a chemical plant in the north-east, causing an ammonia leak, and hit a military training base in the west with cruise missiles. Separatists in the Donetsk region warned the brutal assault on Mariupol is likely to continue for at least another week.

Denis Pushilin, head of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, said: “I am not so optimistic that two or three days or even a week will close the issue. The city is big.”

The besieged city on the Sea of Azov has seen some of the worst horrors of the war.

Strikes hit an art school sheltering some 400 people. Mr Reznikov, speaking at the Ministry of Defence in London, said: “Moscow is afraid of our army so they are fighting civilians. This is state terrorism.”

Russia said it had unloaded a military ­supply ship at the Ukrainian port of Berdyansk, raising the ­prospect of an intensified assault on Mariupol with fresh armour and supplies. Mr Reznikov said he was grateful to Britain for “real actions”. He added: “We must work together to stop the evil that is trying to destroy Europe.”

In Kyiv, eight people were killed by ­shelling in the Podil ­district not far from the centre. It devastated a shopping centre, leaving a flattened ruin.

Rockets landed in the Retroville commercial area’s car park and fitness centre leaving a crater metres wide. Security camera footage showed a massive explosion and a mushroom cloud, followed by smaller blasts.

Firefighters rescued at least one man from the bombed-out building and soldiers ­cordoned the site, warning of danger from unexploded munitions.

British intelligence believes Kyiv remains Russia’s primary objective and Putin’s men are likely to prioritise encircling the city.

Ukrainian MP Lesia Vasylenko said Russian troops are “running rogue, shooting civilians point blank” in the capital. Deputy PM Iryna Vereshchuk said the assault on Mariupol is personal for Putin – because he failed to capture it when Moscow seized Crimea in 2014. She said: “It’s ­collective punishment for their refusal of Russian tutelage.”

Some who were able to flee Mariupol tearfully hugged relatives as they arrived on Sunday in Lviv, about 680 miles to the west.

Olga Nikitina, who was embraced by her brother as she got off the train, said: “Battles took place over every street. Every house became a target. Gunfire blew out the windows. The apartment was below freezing.”

President Zelensky’s adviser, Alexander Rodnyansky, said Russia is not serious about peace talks. He added: “You don’t look for peace and bombard ­cities at the same time.”

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