Zelenskiy signs law restricting dissemination of Ukrainian military information

The mayor of the beleaguered strategic city of Mariupol described a devastated city in which “thousands” died and around 90% of the 2,600 residential buildings were destroyed or damaged during the month-long Russian invasion.

Meanwhile, a deputy prime minister for the occupied territories said on March 27 that the agreed humanitarian corridors included residents fleeing this southeastern city in private vehicles, marking promising progress after a stalemate the day before.

Mayor Vadym Boychenko said Russian forces controlled some neighborhoods and penetrated “deeper into the city” of almost half a million people before the war, but Mariupol remains “under the control of the Ukrainian Armed Forces”.

“Mariupol needs a complete evacuation,” Boychenko told local news agency UNIAN in an interview published overnight.

Boychenko said about 40% of affected residential buildings in Mariupol are now uninhabitable.

In a reference to the Russian forces surrounding the city, Boychenko said that “there are suburbs of the city which, of course, they have taken over”, adding that “the city is surrounded and this circle is of course shrinking “.

On March 27, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine and Minister for the Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine Iryna Vereshchuk complained that while 10 of the 11 “humanitarian corridors” agreed between the warring parties were functioning, stops at a checkpoint in Vasylivka prevented Mariupol residents in private vehicles from escaping to Zaporizhzhya.

But later she said two corridors had been agreed for residents to flee from frontline cities, including Mariupol.

There was no immediate confirmation if the residents were making their way down the hall.

Boychenko cited a Ukrainian government estimate that “20,000 to 30,000” residents of Mariupol were forcibly sent to territory under Russian control.

In western Ukraine, a fire continued to rage at an oil storage facility in Lviv following several Russian airstrikes the previous day that marked the largest attack on the city since the start of the full-scale invasion of Russia on February 24.

Meanwhile, a Ukrainian government adviser has warned Russian troop movements suggest Putin’s war planners may be preparing another push with new troops days after Ukraine’s defenders reported pushing back forces Russians in a number of fields.

Live briefing: Russia invades Ukraine

RFE/RL Live briefing gives you all the major developments on the invasion of Russia, how kyiv is fighting back, the plight of civilians and the Western reaction. For all of RFE/RL’s coverage of the war, click here.

And British intelligence said Russian advances in the east of the country suggested Moscow was hoping to encircle Ukrainian forces fighting in and near areas held by Kremlin-backed separatists in the Donbass region.

Local officials said four missiles hit the outskirts of Lviv and another strike damaged infrastructure, injuring at least five people but leaving no one dead in a city that has become a haven for hundreds of thousands. Ukrainians displaced about 60 kilometers from the Polish border.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on March 27 that it had hit what it called military targets in Lviv with high-precision cruise missiles.

He said he hit a fuel depot and a factory in Lviv used to carry out military repairs.

“The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation continue their offensive actions within the framework of the special military operation,” he added, using the term that Russian officials use – and insist that the Russians also use – on pain of imprisonment or fines – to describe the full-scale invasion launched against its neighbor on February 24.

At the time of the bombings, US President Joe Biden was visiting Poland to show his support for Ukrainian defenders and refugees and to underscore NATO’s determination to defend territory from alliance members.

Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “butcher” and warned of “a long fight ahead”.

He also said in seemingly off-the-cuff remarks about Putin that “For the love of God, this man can’t stay in power.”

A Putin spokesman said afterward that the direction of Russia “is not for Biden to decide.”

“The president of Russia is elected by the Russians,” added spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Despite his strident condemnation of Putin’s full-scale war on Ukraine, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Jerusalem on March 27: “We don’t have a regime change strategy in Russia, or anywhere else. Besides “.

The top US diplomat said Biden’s statement was meant to emphasize that “Putin cannot be empowered to wage war or engage in aggression against Ukraine or anyone else.”

This reading of Biden’s comments during his March 26 visit to Poland echoed earlier unattributed statements from the White House suggesting the unscripted remark was misunderstood.

Analysts say Biden’s comment could be seized on by the Kremlin to further tighten the screws on the opposition and rally support for Putin, who has repeatedly accused the US of seeking ‘regime change’ in Russia .

French President Emmanuel Macron, who continues to hold talks with Putin to end the fighting, called on leaders to be careful in their words and actions when discussing the war in Ukraine. “I wouldn’t use that kind of wording,” Macron said March 27 on French television.

“We want to stop the war that Russia has launched in Ukraine without escalation – that’s the goal. If that’s what we want to do, we must not make it worse – neither with words nor with actions” , did he declare.

Biden also called Putin a “butcher”, a “war criminal” and a “murderous dictator”.

Putin imposed an unprecedented post-Soviet crackdown on criticism and dissent inside Russia as the Ukrainian invasion was met with fierce Ukrainian resistance and the international community imposed financial, trade and , travel and massive diplomatic.

Ukraine’s military general staff said early on March 27 that Russia’s “large-scale armed aggression” continues.

And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has urged NATO to supply his country “only 1%” of its weapons and wondered if the alliance is being bullied by Russia.

“We’ve been waiting 31 days already,” said a visibly frustrated Zelenskiy, who regularly streamed video addresses from Kyiv throughout the fighting.

An adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, Vadym Denysenko, said on March 27 that Russia had begun destroying Ukrainian fuel and food storage facilities.

The Ukrainian government will therefore have to disperse these stocks, he said.

He also said Russia was bringing troops to the Ukrainian border on a rotational basis, suggesting that Moscow may be planning new offensives to advance its invasion.

The British Ministry of Defense said in an assessment released early March 27 that Russian forces advancing south from the Kharkiv region and north from Mariupol appeared to be attempting to encircle Ukrainian forces in the east of the country.

Parts of this region – known as Donbass – have been in separatist hands since 2014, when Russia invaded and annexed Crimea and armed separatists took control of some regional administrative facilities.

British intelligence analysis said Ukrainian counterattacks in northern Ukraine left those battlefields “largely static”.

He said Russia relied heavily on “remote” missiles launched from Russian territory to reduce risk to its own forces. The British have warned that limited stocks of such weapons could prompt Russian planners to “revert to less sophisticated missiles or [accept] more risk to their planes.”

Western intelligence has warned that Russian forces involved in the largely stalled offensive have become more reliant on indiscriminate shelling instead of major ground operations, in a shift that could lead to more Ukrainian civilian deaths.

WATCH: Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, all public hospitals in the country have been operating under martial law and operating 24/7. Some medical workers moved their families to hospitals with them, while volunteers arrived to help.

Efforts to evacuate civilian populations have continued and Ukrainian forces have reported counter-offensives to repel Russian troops in certain southern areas, in particular.

Nearly 4 million Ukrainians have fled the country since the invasion began on February 24, about half of them to Poland, and many more are displaced.

Yuriy Fomichev, the mayor of Slavutych, near the closed Chernobyl nuclear power plant in northern Ukraine, announced on March 26 that the town had been occupied by Russian troops after its defenses were overcome.

In the besieged northern city of Chernihiv, local officials and residents expressed fears that the Russian blockade and long-range bombardment could turn it into the “next Mariupol”.

A resident told AP from a switched off mobile phone that the town was without electricity, running water or heating and running out of medicine daily.

With reports from the Ukrainian service of RFE / RL, Reuters and AP
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