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Ukraine's Zelenskiy presses Israel for missile defence help as fighting rages in Mariupol




On Sunday, Russian and Ukrainian forces fought for control over Mariupol, local authorities reported. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy appealed for Israel's assistance in resolving the Russian attack on his country.

Zelenskiy, in a video link address to Israel's parliament, questioned Israel’s unwillingness to sell its Iron Dome missile defense system to Ukraine. This was his latest appeal for assistance from abroad.

Zelenskiy, a Jew, stated that "everybody knows that your missile defense systems are the best...and that you can certainly help our people, save lives of Ukrainians and of Ukrainian Jews,"

In recent weeks, Naftali Bennett, Israeli Prime Minister, has made numerous calls to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Zelenskiy to discuss the end of the conflict.

Mariupol has been the victim of some of the most severe bombardment since Russia invaded it on February 24th. Many of its 400,000 inhabitants remain in Mariupol without food, water, or power.

The fighting continued in the city on Sunday, Pavlo Kyrylenko, regional governor, said without explanating.

Russian forces would be able to capture Mariupol and secure a land corridor to Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014 from Ukraine.

On Saturday night, the city council announced on Telegram that several thousand people had been "deported to Russia" in the last week. Russian news agencies reported that buses have been carrying hundreds of people Moscow considers refugees from Mariupol, Russia, in the past few days.


Mariupol's council stated that Russian forces attacked an art school in which 400 people were staying. However, the exact number of casualties is not known.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the claims.

Russia denies targeting civilians.

Zelenskiy stated that the siege at Mariupol was war crimes.

He said that he had done this to "a peaceful a terror that will last for centuries" in a speech late Saturday.

Putin claims Russia's "special operations" are aimed at disarming Ukraine, and removing people he considers dangerous nationalists. It is being called an aggressive war of choice by the West and they have imposed severe sanctions to cripple Russia's economy.

According to the Western backers of Ukraine, Russian ground forces have not made any significant progress in the past week. They are instead focusing their efforts on missile strikes and artillery.

Oleksiy Arestovych, Zelenskiy’s advisor, said that there was a relative lull over the conflict in the last 24 hours with "practically no rocket attacks on (Ukrainian] cities". He stated that front lines were "practically frozen".

According to the U.N. human rights officer, at least 902 civilians were killed in the conflict as of Saturday night. However, it believes the true number is likely much higher. According to Ukrainian prosecutors, 112 children were killed.

Margarita Morozova (87), who was a survivor of Nazi Germany's Leningrad siege in World War Two, and has been living in Kharkiv for 60 years, said, "I want the war over. I want them [Russian forces] to leave Ukraine in peace."

"Ukraine is an independent nation. What are they doing?

Russia's defense ministry stated that cruise missiles were launched from ships at the Black Sea and Caspian Seas, as well hypersonic missiles fired from Crimean airspace.

Hypersonic missiles travel at five times the speed sound, and are difficult to track or intercept due to their speed, maneuverability and altitude.

Russia deployed them in Ukraine for the first time on Saturday, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported. Moscow claimed that they destroyed an underground missile depot and ammunition depot.

The spokesperson for the Ukrainian Air Force Command confirmed that the attack took place in the western IvanoFrankivsk area, but did not provide any details about the missiles used by the Ukrainian side.

A video clip taken by Reuters shows dozens of protesters in the southern city Kherson, who are all dressed in Ukraine's blue-and-yellow national flag and chanting "Go Home" in Russian to two Russian-marked military vehicles. The vehicles turned around and fled the area.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavrusoglu said that Russia and Ukraine were closer to an agreement on "critical issues". Turkey, like Israel, has attempted to mediate in this conflict.

Moscow and Kyiv reported progress last week in negotiations toward a political formula to guarantee Ukraine's security while keeping it out of NATO. This was a key Russian demand, though both sides accused the other for dragging things out.

Russian forces also suffered heavy losses during the war. Long columns of troops that attacked Kyiv's capital have been stopped in the suburbs. According to the Ukrainian military, Moscow suffered combat losses of 14,700 soldiers and 476 tanks on Sunday.

Russia acknowledged that almost 500 of its soldiers were killed when it last admitted this on March 2. Reuters was not able to verify the death count.

According to Zelenskiy's office, Ukraine is concerned about a possible attack by Belarus on the Volyn Region in western Belarus. This region lies north of Lviv. It wasn't clear whether Ukraine saw such an assault coming from Russian forces or Belarusian forces.

Although Belarus is an ally of Putin and has been used as a staging area for Russian forces, it has not yet publicly committed troops to Russia.

Reporting from Reuters bureaus Written by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Dominic Evans Edited by William Mallard, Frances Kerry

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