Zelenskyy says mines after Russian retreat threaten Kyiv
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned Saturday that Russian troops are creating a “catastrophic” situation for civilians by leaving mines around homes, abandoned equipment and the bodies of those killed.
“It’s still not possible to return to normal life, as it used to be, even at the territories that we are taking back after the fighting,” the president told his nation in a nightly video message.
“We need to wait until our land is demined, wait till we are able to assure you that there won’t be new shelling,” he said.
Ukraine and Western allies have reported mounting evidence of Russia withdrawing its forces from around Kyiv and sending troops to eastern Ukraine.
Officials said Ukraine’s fighters had reclaimed several areas near its capital city, including the city of Brovary.
However, the shift does not mean the country faces a reprieve from the war.
The New York Times reported Saturday that Russian forces moved to crack down on protesters in the southeastern of city Enerhodar, which is home to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
Ukraine’s state nuclear agency, Energoatom, reported about the attacks on its official Telegram channel, posting an accompanying video clip that featured what appeared to be loud blasts and flying debris.
“As protesters began to disperse, the invaders arrived in police vehicles, and began to force local residents into them,” the post read. “A few minutes later, the city was rocked by massive explosions and shelling.”
The agency said four people were injured and received medical assistance.
Energoatom also claimed that Russian forces jammed phone and internet communications throughout Enerhodar, although the agency’s claims could not be immediately verified.
At least three Russian ballistic missiles were fired late Friday at the Odesa region – though the Ukrainian military said the Iskander missiles did not hit the critical infrastructure they targeted.
Zelenskyy said he expected towns to receive airstrikes and shelling from afar and for eastern fighting to be intense.
In Mariupol, a southern port city located in the mostly Russian-speaking Donbas region, the International Committee of the Red Cross planned Saturday to get emergency supplies into the besieged city and evacuate residents.
City authorities said Russians blocked access to the city on Friday and the Red Cross said it was unable to carry out the operation then because it did not receive assurances the route was safe.
About 100,000 people are believed to remain in the city and officials said around 2,000 made it out by themselves on Friday.
While several agreements have been made to allow residents to evacuate – with one reportedly set for “coming days” – they have previously been breached.
Residents there are in dire need of water, food, fuel and medicine.
“Europe doesn’t have the right to be silent about what is happening in our Mariupol,” Zelenskyy said. “The whole world should respond to this humanitarian catastrophe.”
There was no word Saturday on Friday’s round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators.
On Friday, the Kremlin accused Ukraine of launching a helicopter attack on a fuel depot on Russian soil.
Ukraine has denied responsibility for the Belgorod blast and Zelenskyy would not tell Fox News’ Bret Baier if Ukraine was behind the attack in an interview on “Special Report.”
The U.S. Department of Defense said Friday that it would provide an additional $300 million in arms to Ukrainian forces.