Wednesday in Ukraine: Russian troops destroy theater used as shelter
Ukrainian officials say Russian forces destroyed a theater in the city of Mariupol where hundreds of people were sheltering.
There was no immediate word on deaths or injuries in what the Mariupol city council said was an airstrike on the theater Wednesday.
The Maxar satellite imagery firm said images from Monday showed the word “children” had been written in large white letters in Russian in front of and behind the building.
The Russian defense ministry denied bombing the theater, or anywhere else in Mariupol on Wednesday.
Nowhere has suffered more than the encircled city of Mariupol, where local officials say missile strikes and shelling have killed more than 2,300 people. The southern seaport of 430,000 has been under attack for almost all of the three-week war in a siege that has left people struggling for food, water, heat and medicine.
Residences shelled near Kyiv city center
Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko says Russian shelling damaged several residences in the city’s Podil neighborhood, just north of the city center and about 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) from the so-called “government quarter” that holds the presidential palace, president’s office and other significant offices.
Officials did not immediately release additional details about the attack, including whether there were any casualties.
Kyiv residents have been huddled in homes and shelters amid a citywide curfew that runs until Thursday morning, as Russia shelled areas in and around the city. Earlier, a 12-story apartment building in central Kyiv erupted in flames after being hit by shrapnel.
Mayor of Melitopol freed
The mayor of the southeastern Ukrainian city of Melitopol has been freed after he was seized by Russian forces five days ago, a Ukrainian official said Wednesday.
Andriy Yermak, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, announced the news but did not share details about how Ivan Fedorov became free.
Surveillance video last week showed Fedorov being marched out of city hall apparently surrounded by Russian soldiers.
Prior to the start of the invasion, U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration had warned of Russian plans to detain and kill targeted people in Ukraine, with Zelenskyy himself likely top target.
Putin claims operation unfolding "successfully"
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that the operation in Ukraine is unfolding “successfully, in strict accordance with pre-approved plans” and decried Western sanctions against Russia, describing them as “aggression and war with economic, political, information means.”
At the same time Putin said that the West has failed to wage “an economic blitzkrieg” against Russia.
“In effect these steps are aimed at worsening the lives of millions of people,” Putin said of the sanctions that have delivered a crippling blow to Russia’s economy.
“One should clearly understand that the new set of sanctions and restrictions against us would have followed in any case, I want to emphasize this. Our military operation in Ukraine is just a pretext for the next sanctions,” Putin told a government meeting Wednesday.