A top US official said that Russia plans to take a lot of eastern Ukraine later this month. A day after the first people were evacuated, the Mariupol steel mill, which has become the last stand of resistance in the city, was attacked again.
Michael Carpenter, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, says that the Kremlin also plans to recognize the southern city of Kherson as its own country.
He said neither action would be accepted by the US or its allies.
Carpenter talked about reports that Russia is setting up fake referendums in the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics to make them seem more democratic and legitimate and to tie them to Russia.
He also said that there were indicators that Russia was planning to stage an independence referendum in Kherson.
There have been kidnappings of mayors and city legislators, as well as internet and phone service being cut off. A new Russian school curriculum will soon be used, he said.
According to the Ukrainian government, Russia has also set up the ruble as a currency in Ukraine.
According to authorities and video released by both sides, more than 100 people in bombed-out Mariupol, including elderly women and mothers with small children, left the rubble-strewn Azovstal steelworks on Sunday and set out in buses and ambulances for the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia, about 140 miles (230 kilometers) to the northwest.
The refugees were making poor progress, according to Mariupol Deputy Mayor Sergei Orlov.
The delay was not explained by the authorities.
At least some of the people who lived there were moved to a village run by separatists who were backed by Russia.
Russian soldiers say that some people stayed in areas controlled by separatists, but a lot of people fled to areas controlled by Ukraine.
Ukraine has previously accused Russian troops of abducting individuals and transporting them to Russia or Russian-controlled territories against their will. It has been disputed by the Kremlin.
Afterward, Russia continued to attack the huge complex with air and tank attacks. Ukraine’s Azov Battalion, which is assisting in its defense, says this.
Orlov claimed that high-level talks between Ukraine, Russia, and international organizations were taking place about evacuating more people.
If successful, the steel-plant evacuation would be a rare step forward in reducing the human toll of the nearly 10-week battle that has wreaked havoc in Mariupol.
In the past, attempts to open safe routes out of the southern port city and other places have failed. Ukrainian officials say Russian forces have shelled and fired on agreed-upon evacuation routes.
Approximately 1,000 civilians and 2,000 Ukrainian defenders were expected to be in the factory before the weekend evacuation, which was monitored by the UN and the Red Cross. The fighters have been ordered to surrender by Russia, but they have refused.
Mariupol, which had a prewar population of more than 400,000 people, could have as many as 100,000 people still living there.
Much of the city has been razed by Russian forces, trapping residents without food, water, heat, or medication.
Some Mariupol inhabitants drove themselves out of the city, typically in damaged private vehicles.
Yaroslav Dmytryshyn, a Mariupol resident, drove up to a Zaporizhzhia reception center in a car with a rear seat full of children and two signs pinned on the back window: “Children” and “Little ones.”
A woman named Anastasiia Dembytska was leaving with her daughter, nephew, and dog when she looked out her window during a truce. She said that she could see the steelworks from there.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Greek state TV that the steel plant’s surviving workers were afraid to get on buses because they thought they would be sent to Russia.
He said the UN told him that they could go to places under his government’s control.
According to TASS, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced Monday that over one million individuals, including about 200,000 children, have been deported from Ukraine to Russia since the Russian invasion began.
A Defense Ministry official said the number includes 11,550 people in the last 24 hours, including 1,847 minors, without the help of Ukraine.
According to the report, those residents were evacuated to Russian Federation territory from the dangerous regions of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, as well as other parts of Ukraine. There were no specifics supplied.
Since the war began, the Russian army has killed at least 220 Ukrainian children, according to Zelenskyy, and 1,570 educational facilities have been demolished or damaged.
After failing to take Kyiv, Russia’s capital, President Vladimir Putin has turned his attention to the Donbas, Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland, where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014.
People, weapons concentrations, and an ammo dump at Chervone in the Zaporizhzhia district, west of the Donbas, were hit by Russian airstrikes.
Officials from Ukraine and the West claim Moscow’s troops are firing indiscriminately, killing a large number of civilians while making modest progress.
On Telegram, Maksym Marchenko, the governor of the Black Sea Coast district of Odesa, said that a Russian missile strike on an Odesa infrastructure target on Monday killed and hurt people.
He did not provide any other information. The attack, according to Zelenskyy, damaged a dormitory and killed a 14-year-old child.
According to Ukraine, Russia also struck a major road and rail bridge west of Odesa. The bridge had been bombed by the Russians before, and its destruction would cut off a supply line for guns and other supplies from Romania.
The attack on Odesa came eight years to the day after deadly riots in Ukraine’s east between pro-government supporters and pro-autonomy protestors. In 2014, supporters of the government bombed a trade union building that was used by pro-autonomy activists, killing about 40 people.
In the Black Sea, Ukraine claimed to have sunk two small Russian patrol vessels.
Mariupol, in the Donbas, is crucial to Russia’s eastern operation. It would cut Ukraine off from a vital port, allow Russia to build a land corridor to the Crimean Peninsula, which it annexed from Ukraine in 2014, and free up soldiers for new battles.