Ukraine says Moscow forcibly takes civilians to Russia | News, Sports, Jobs

In this still from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks from kyiv, Ukraine, early in the day. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine today accused Moscow of forcibly removing thousands of civilians from the devastated port city of Mariupol to Russia so they could be used as “hostages” put pressure on kyiv to give up.

A month into the invasion, the two sides traded blows in what became a devastating war of attrition. The Ukrainian Navy said it sank a large landing ship near the port city of Berdyansk which had been used to supply Russian forces with armored vehicles. Russia claimed to have taken the eastern city of Izyum after heavy fighting.

At an emergency NATO summit in Brussels, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded with Western allies via video for planes, tanks, rockets, air defense systems and other weapons, saying that his country was “defend our common values. US President Joe Biden, in Europe for a series of summits, assured more help was on the way.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said alliance leaders had agreed to send equipment to help protect Ukraine from chemical attacks. Around the capital, Kyiv, and other areas, Ukrainian defenders appear to have fought Moscow’s ground troops to a stalemate, raising fears that a frustrated Russian President, Vladimir Putin, may resort to chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry accused Russian forces of taking 6,000 Mariupol residents to camps against their will. Russian troops are confiscating the identity documents of another 15,000 people in a Russian-controlled section of Mariupol, the ministry said.

Ukrainian military intelligence said that Ukrainian civilians are sent to a camp located in Russian-held territory and then through southern regions of Russia to economically disadvantaged parts of the country.

Some could be sent to the island of Sakhalin in the Pacific Ocean, Ukrainian intelligence services have said, and are offered jobs on the condition that they do not leave for two years.

The claims could not be independently verified. Russia said it was evacuating thousands of civilians voluntarily.

Photos and videos after the naval attack on Berdyansk showed flames and thick plumes of smoke. Russian TV reported earlier this week that the ship the Ukrainians claimed to have sunk, Orsk, was the first Russian warship to enter Berdyansk. The port was going to be used to deliver military equipment to the Russians, according to the report.

Ukraine said two other ships were damaged and a 3,000-tonne fuel tank was destroyed when the Orsk sank, sparking a fire that spread to nearby ammunition stores.

Sending a signal that Western sanctions have not brought it to its knees, Russia reopened its stock market but allowed only limited trading to prevent massive selling. Foreigners were not allowed to sell and traders were not allowed to sell short, otherwise betting prices would drop.

Millions of people in Ukraine have left the country, some pushed to the limit after trying to stay and cope.

At the central station in the western city of Lviv, a teenage girl stood in the doorway of a waiting train, a shivering white rabbit in her arms. She was on her way to join her mother and then leave for Poland or Germany. She was traveling alone, leaving other family members in Dnipro.

“At first I didn’t want to leave” she says. “Now I fear for my life.”

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