Ukraine says it has retaken territory in Kyiv as Russian forces grind on in other cities | #government | #hacking | #cyberattack

Ukraine says it has retaken a strategically important suburb of Kyiv, as Russian forces squeezed other areas near the capital and their attack on the embattled southern port of Mariupol raged unabated.

Explosions and bursts of gunfire shook Kyiv, and black smoke rose from a spot in the north.

Intensified artillery fire could be heard from the north-west, where Russia has sought to encircle and capture several suburban areas of the capital, a crucial target.

Residents sheltered at home or underground under a 35-hour curfew imposed by city authorities that runs to Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Melitopol says he was released in exchange for nine Russian soldiers after Ukraine accused Russia of abducting him on March 11.

Ivan Fedorov was detained for six days and was released on March 16.

He said it was too dangerous for him to return to Melitopol as it had been occupied by the Russian army.

On his release, Mr Fedorov received an award for bravery.

Ground offensive grinds on

Russian forces also pressed their siege of Mariupol after the southern port city’s defenders refused demands to surrender, with fleeing civilians describing relentless bombardments and corpses lying in the streets.

Multiple explosions and rising smoke are seen around an industrial compound in Mariupol.(Reuters: AZOV/Handout)

However, the Kremlin’s ground offensive in other parts of the country advanced slowly or not at all, knocked back by lethal hit-and-run attacks by Ukrainians.

Early on Tuesday, Ukrainian troops forced Russian forces out of the Kyiv suburb of Makariv after a fierce battle, Ukraine’s Defence Ministry said.

Video from scene, verified by the Reuters news agency, showed a destroyed police station and damaged government buildings.

An official could be seen in the video carrying a damaged Ukrainian flag near a building.

The regained territory allowed Ukrainian forces to retake control of a key highway and block Russian troops from surrounding Kyiv from the north-west.

Food crisis brewing

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned of a possible world food crisis on Tuesday, following the disruption of grain exports from Ukraine.

During a video link addressed to the Italian parliament, Mr Zelenskyy said that Ukraine — which is one of the world’s major food exporters — would struggle to export its agricultural goods.

Ukrainian President Zeleskyy speaks via video link from Kyiv, March 21.
The Ukrainian President is warning of a food crisis if Russian forces are not stopped.(AP: Ukrainian Presidential Office/Handout)

“How should we sow under shelling of Russian artillery?” Mr Zelenskyy asked. “How should we sow when the enemy is deliberately placing mines in fields and destroying fuel bases?”

Mr Zelenskyy said he was not hopeful that Ukraine would manage to export any potential harvest either if ports were captured or blocked.

Peace Prize auctioned for refugees

Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, a co-winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, said on Tuesday he would donate his Nobel medal to be auctioned to raise funds for Ukrainian refugees.

The Novaya Gazeta newspaper — where Mr Muratov is editor-in-chief — in early March said it would remove material on Russia’s military actions in Ukraine from its website because of censorship, in response to threats of criminal prosecution of journalists and citizens who veer from the government’s official line. 

Russian investigative journalist Dmitry Muratov, who auctioned his Nobel Peace Prize, October 8, 2021.
Russian newspaper editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov, one of 2021’s Nobel Peace Prize winners.(Reuters: Maxim Shemetov/File)

Russia rejects accusations it is planning to target US businesses

The Kremlin on Tuesday rejected US warnings that it may be preparing to conduct cyber attacks in response to Western sanctions, and said it did not engage in “banditry”.

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