(NEW YORK) — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” into neighboring Ukraine began on Feb. 24, with Russian forces invading from Belarus, to the north, and Russia, to the east. Ukrainian troops have offered “stiff resistance,” according to U.S. officials.
The Russian military last month launched a full-scale ground offensive in eastern Ukraine’s disputed Donbas region, attempting to capture the strategic port city of Mariupol and to secure a coastal corridor to the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
May 05, 6:19 am
Mariupol men are being ‘forcibly detained’ in Russian ‘filtration camps,’ deputy mayor claims
The deputy mayor of embattled Mariupol claimed Thursday that some of the city’s residents are being “forcibly detained in appalling conditions” in Russian “filtration camps” in a nearby village.
“Filtration camps in the village of Bezymyanne have been turned into a real ghetto for Mariupol residents,” Mariupol Deputy Mayor Petro Andryushchenko said in a statement via Telegram. “This is the most horrible story that needs to be told to the whole world. Without exaggeration, this is a new page in Russia’s war crime that is happening right now.”
Andryushchenko alleged that, about a month ago, Russian forces took thousands of men from several Mariupol neighborhoods, confiscated their passports and placed them in filtration camps in Bezymianny, about 20 miles from Mariupol. As for the women who were left behind, they don’t leave their homes because they fear being raped by Russian troops who have settled in the area, according to the deputy mayor.
“All this once again shows the realities of the occupation,” he said.
Andryushchenko posted videos on Telegram alongside his statement, purportedly showing a school in Bezymianny that he alleged Russian force are using as a filtration camp. He claimed that the detainees are forced to sleep on the floor, don’t have access to medical care and can only wash themselves in a single sink with cold water. He alleged that all detainees, including the sick and those with disabilities, are forced to do landscaping work in the village. He also claimed that at least one man has died because he was refused medical assistance and another has been diagnosed with tuberculosis.
The deputy mayor alleged that the Russian military is planning to dress the detainees in the uniform of the Ukrainian military and parade them as “prisoners” during a celebration in Mariupol on Monday to coincide with Moscow’s Victory Day Parade, which celebrates Russia’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.
The Russian military claimed Wednesday to have taken complete control of Mariupol, a strategic port city in eastern Ukraine’s war-torn Donetsk Oblast that has been under heavy Russian bombardment since the start of the invasion on Feb. 24. Ukrainian fighters and civilians who remain in Mariupol are holed up inside the sprawling Azovstal Iron and Steel Works plant, which has a network of underground tunnels and bunkers.
ABC News recently spoke to Denys Prokopenko, a commander of the Azov Regiment, a far-right group now part of the Ukrainian military that was among the units defending Mariupol. Prokopenko is now trapped inside the Azovstal plant with others and said the fighters there have tried to initiate a cease-fire with Russian force to create conditions that would allow people to flee. But he said there are grave concerns about where those who choose to leave will end up because Russian authorities have said that all civilians will be allowed to choose to go to either Ukrainian- or Russian-controlled territory, but only after processing through Russian filtration camps.
“If our people are captured against their will and forcefully, forcibly relocated to the Russians, it’s unacceptable,” Prokopenko told ABC News.
May 05, 4:39 am
Russian shelling on residential areas of Kramatorsk injures 25, officials say
At least 25 civilians were injured by Russian shelling on residential areas and the central part of Kramatorsk on Wednesday night, according to the local city council.
Six of the wounded required hospitalization, and at least nine homes, a school as well as various civilian infrastructure sustained damaged, the Kramatorsk City Council said in a statement via Telegram.
Kramatorsk Mayor Oleksandr Honcharenko confirmed in a statement via Facebook that a kindergarten was seriously damaged.
Kramatorsk is a city in eastern Ukraine’s war-torn Donetsk Oblast.
May 05, 3:50 am
Over 300 civilians evacuated from Mariupol, surrounding areas
More than 300 civilians have been evacuated from the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol and surrounding areas, officials said late Wednesday.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said it facilitated the safe passage of the civilians in coordination with the United Nations and both sides of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The evacuees arrived Wednesday in Zaporizhzhia, a Ukrainian government-controlled city about 140 miles northwest of Mariupol.
“We are relieved that more lives have been spared,” Pascal Hundt, the ICRC’s head of delegation in Ukraine, said in a statement Wednesday night. “We welcome the renewed efforts of the parties with regards to safe passage operations. They remain crucial and urgent in light of the immense suffering of the civilians.”
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk confirmed that 344 people were evacuated to Zaporizhzhia from the Mariupol area, Manhush, Berdyansk, Tokmak and Vasylivka.
The evacuation did not include civilians trapped inside the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works plant, the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol.
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