The mass evacuation of Mariupol began Monday with Ukrainian authorities hoping thousands more residents would escape the devastated city that once was home to 500,000 people.
Mayoral adviser Petro Andryushchenko told Radio Svoboda that buses were rolling toward Zaporizhia, about 140 miles west of Mariupol. People were also encouraged to join the exodus in their own cars.
“We hope that thousands of our Mariupol residents… will get to Zaporizhia tonight or tomorrow morning,” Andryushchenko said Monday.
Several hundred civilians remained at a sprawling steel plant that is the last major holdout in the Russian-occupied city – along with nearly 500 wounded soldiers and an unknown number of dead bodies. More than a hundred women, children and the elderly were evacuated from the Azovstal plant Sunday before Russian shelling forced a temporary halt to the evacuation effort.
According to some estimates, about 100,000 people may still be trapped in the port city, with little food, water and utilities.
USE TODAY ON TELEGRAM:Join our Russia-Ukraine war channel to receive updates straight to your phone
►European Union energy ministers are meeting Monday to discuss Russia’s decision to cut gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland and to consider additional sanctions.
►Germany says it’s making progress on weaning itself off Russian fossil fuels and expects to be fully independent of Russian crude oil imports by late summer.
Resolution would authorize military intervention if Russia uses chemical, biological or nuclear weapons
Rep. Adam Kinzinger is introducing a joint resolution that would authorize President Joe Biden to use US military force in Ukraine if Russia uses chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. The legislation the use of force, if necessary, to “protect the national security interests of the United States with respect to Ukraine and assist in defending and restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine.” The authority would terminate when “the territorial integrity of Ukraine has been restored,” according to the resolution.
“Putin must be stopped,” the Illinois Republican, an Air Force veteran, said. “Accordingly, the commander in chief to the world’s greatest military should have the authority and means to take the necessary actions to do so.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed gratitude to the Polish people Monday for their humanitarian aid and other support for Ukraine. Pelosi and a half dozen US lawmakers met with Poland’s President Andrzej Duda and Polish lawmakers in Warsaw on Monday. The visit followed a weekend visit to Kyiv where they met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, pledging support until Russia is defeated. Pelosi called Duda “a valued partner.”
“Further informed and deeply moved by our experiences throughout our engagements in Poland, our delegation will return to Washington ready to continue our work until victory is won, and Ukraine has defended Democracy for their nation and the world,” Pelosi said in a statement.
High-ranking visits:Pelosi visits Kyiv, meets with Ukraine president
Ukrainian authorities over the weekend admitted that the fighter pilot dubbed the “Ghost of Kyiv,” whose single-handed conquests against Russian forces made the then-unnamed pilot the stuff of legends, is a myth.
“The Ghost of Kyiv is a superhero legend whose character was created by Ukrainians!” Ukraine’s air force said in Ukrainian on Facebook.
The statement came after published reports identified Maj. Stepan Tarabalka as the man behind the moniker. Tarabalka was a real pilot who died on March 13 during air combat and was posthumously awarded the title Hero of Ukraine, Ukraine’s air force said last month. But he was not the “Ghost of Kyiv,” the force said in Saturday’s statement.
“The information about the death of the Ghost of #Kyiv is incorrect,” Ukraine’s air force wrote in a separate post Saturday on Twitter. “The #GhostOfKyiv is alive, it embodies the collective spirit of the highly qualified pilots of the Tactical Aviation Brigade who are successfully defending #Kyiv and the region.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of trying to exterminate his people, pointing out Sunday in his nightly address that Russian shelling had hit food, grain and fertilizer warehouses, as well as residential neighborhoods in the Kharkiv, Donbas and other regions.
“The targets they choose prove once again that the war against Ukraine is a war of extermination for the Russian army,” Zelenskyy said, adding that Russia will gain nothing from the damage but will further isolate itself from the rest of the world.
“What could be Russia’s strategic success in this war?” Zelenskyy said. “Honestly, I don’t know.”
Contributing: The Associated Press
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism