Russo-Ukrainian War: Latest News and Updates

Credit…Laetitia Vancon for The New York Times

MYKOLAIV, Ukraine – The mayor of this busy southern port city, which has been under attack by Russian troops since the start of the war, has called on “all those who want to survive” to leave, because “no It’s clear when this will all end. “

The mayor, Oleksandr Senkevych, said in an interview with Radio Liberty that the city is under daily shelling and that “about 80% of it is cluster bombs” fired from multiple launch rocket systems of Russia.

A major exodus from Mykolaiv, once a major Soviet shipbuilding center, occurred. About 230,000 people remain in the city, less than half of the peacetime population of 480,000. Many are older, and about 80% of them survive on food and clothing distributed by relief organizations.

The strategic importance of the city is key. Nearly overwhelmed during the first weeks of fighting, Mykolaiv’s defenders pushed back the Russian forces to at least 20 miles at their closest point. However, the Russian army was close enough to inflict casualties and damage at will with missiles and artillery.

The mayor’s statement is somewhat surprising, in that Mykolaiv’s fighting spirit, never to die, has become a symbol of the Ukrainian resistance. The city was quieter than it was in March, when the bombardment was relentless. Departures have slowed to a trickle.

Among those who remained in Mykolaiv were tens of thousands of people who had moved once, from surrounding villages, or were immediately captured or threatened by the Russians.

Vitaliy Kim, the head of the regional military administration, has become a national idol through his consistent bravery in videos and other messages, calling the Russian military “stupid,” among other rebuttal comments.

Mykolaiv lies between the Russian invaders and Odesa, Ukraine’s largest maritime city, 70 miles to the west. A landlocked Ukraine stripped of its access to the Black Sea, through which most of its grain and other exports go, would be a seriously compromised power. Russian President Vladimir V. Putin has made no secret of his covetousness for Odesa, founded by a Russian queen, as part of his imperialist plans.

Credit…Laetitia Vancon for The New York Times
Credit…Laetitia Vancon for The New York Times

“The shelling was from the Kherson region,” the mayor said in an interview with Radio Liberty, referring to the city about 40 miles east that Russian forces captured early in the war. “That’s why it’s not possible to turn on the siren in advance. Bullets explode in the city and sirens go off.” He added that the “high-precision” cruise missile had destroyed the city’s infrastructure.

Mayors in other regions of Ukraine have warned residents not to actively participate in resistance efforts to leave the cities under attack. But Mr. Senkevych’s claim seems far-reaching. The interview was announced on Friday, but it is unclear when it will be conducted.

At least 111 civilians have been killed in Mykolaiv since late February. Military casualties are not known.

A Russian missile hit a residential area of ​​Mykolaiv more than a week ago, killing one person and injuring 20. At the same time, however, Ukrainian forces counterattacked in the Kherson area; they say they have recaptured some villages.

In a separate interview this week with The New York Times, Senkevych, 40, said he expected the fight to continue “at least until next April or May.” He describes those still living in the city as elders “who are ready to die here”, comparing them, in a seemingly odd analogy, to the Pharaohs “who did not want to leave the pyramids.” their”.

The mayor said that at the beginning of the war it operated at four to eight buses a day, but has now reduced to one or two a week. There was no suggestion in the The Times interview that the mayor, who has a wife and two children left Mykolaiv within “2.5 hours of the first bombardment”, thought anyone who wanted to survive should leave. Go.

Senkevych said in the interview that he had received messages from Russian forces urging him to surrender. “Mayor, you have to give up, you don’t want to end up like Mariupol,” one of the messages said, referring to the Ukrainian city on the Sea of ​​Azov that Russia had besieged, razed and eventually captured.

“They think the mayor might decide to surrender!” he said dismissively.

Marc Santora Reporting contributions from Warsaw.

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