Ukraine: Russian forces bomb mosque housing 80 people in Mariupol
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More than two weeks have now passed since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The Kremlin’s forces have so far struggled to make significant gains in the war, facing up to stubborn resistance from Ukraine’s military. However, the past week has seen a number of key cities come under heavy shelling while an armoured Russian convoy has gradually moved closer to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
Russian advances have so far been the most successful in Ukraine’s southern regions.
Forces who used the annexed peninsula of Crimea as an invasion launch pad have step by step taken further ground, capturing the cities of Kherson and Melitopol.
On Saturday, Ukrainian authorities accused Russia of abducting the mayor of Melitopol after he was seen being taken to an unknown location with a bag over his head.
Meanwhile, in Mariupol, large residential areas have been decimated after shelling from Russian artillery.
Forces from Moscow surrounded the port city more than a week ago and have now cut off electricity and mobile phone networks while water and food are running out for the besieged residents.
A number of attempts to open up humanitarian corridors from the city have all failed.
Should Mariupol fall into Russian hands, it will provide a clear link between its forces in Crimea and the eastern republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Mykolaiv, a city to the west of Mariupol, has also come under attack in recent days.
The city stands between what could end up being Ukraine’s last major settlement on the Black Sea, Odessa.
Forces from the Kremlin have also been successful at making in-roads to Ukraine’s north.
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Like Mariupol, Russia’s military has been able to besiege Ukraine’s second-largest city Kharkiv.
The city is located very close to the Russian border and in the Kremlin’s version of history is portrayed as the place that demonstrates the folly of Ukraine trying to live apart from Russia.
Elsewhere, troops that invaded Ukraine from Russia’s ally Belarus have captured the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
On Friday Ukraine reported to the United Nations (UN) nuclear watchdog that all contact with the power plant had been lost “the day after the Russian-controlled site lost all external power supplies”.
More than a week ago, an estimated 40-mile-long Russian convoy was pictured heading south towards Kyiv.
Initially, supply issues seemed to hamper the progress of the military armour, but new satellite images showed on Friday that the convoy looked to be re-deploying.
The bulk of Russia’s forces are now thought to be 25km from Kyiv according to UK defence intelligence.
Strategically, the city is located on the Dnieper River, which effectively dissects Ukraine in half.
Assuming control of Kyiv for Russia would likely involve the capture or dismissal of Ukraine’s Government and represent a watershed moment in the war.
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