Evacuations from Ukraine's besieged cities proceeded Saturday along eight of 10 humanitarian corridors, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said, with a total of 6,623 people were evacuated, including 4,128 from Mariupol who were taken northwest to Zaporizhzhia.
Russian forces pushed deeper into the besieged and battered port city of Mariupol, where heavy fighting on Saturday shut down a major steel plant and local authorities pleaded for more Western help.
The fall of Mariupol, the scene of some of the war's worst suffering, would mark a major battlefield advance for the Russians, who are largely bogged down outside major cities more than three weeks into the biggest land invasion in Europe since World War II.
“Children, elderly people are dying. The city is destroyed and it is wiped off the face of the earth,” Mariupol police officer Michail Vershnin said from a rubble-strewn street in a video addressed to Western leaders that was authenticated by The Associated Press.
The Mariupol city council claimed Russian soldiers have forced several thousand city residents to be relocated to Russia.
“The occupiers are forcing people to leave Ukraine for Russian territory," the council's statement said. "The occupiers illegally took people out of the Levoberezhny district and a shelter in the building of a sports club, where more than a thousand people (mostly women and children) were hiding from constant bombing.”
KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:
— Ukraine's leader warns that the war will cost Russia for generations
— Even if Russia is denied an easy victory, Putin can keep pounding Ukraine for months
— Putin rallies behind Russian troops while lethal shelling rains down on Ukraine
— Ukraine's cultural capital finds that it is no longer distant from the war
— Minister: Clearing the live ordnance now scattered across Ukraine will take years and outside help
Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for more coverage
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS TODAY:
Washington -- When three Russian cosmonauts arrived at the International Space Station wearing yellow flight suits with blue accents, some saw a message in them wearing the colors of the Ukrainian flag. They shot that down on Saturday.
Cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev said each crew picks the colors about six months before launch because the suits need to be individually sewn. And since all three graduated from Bauman Moscow State Technical University, they chose the colors of their prestigious alma mater.
“There is no need to look for any hidden signs or symbols in our uniform,” Artemyev said in a statement on the Russian space agency's Telegram channel. “A color is simply a color. It is not in any way connected to Ukraine. Otherwise, we would have to recognize its rights to the yellow sun in the blue sky.
“These days, even though we are in space, we are together with our president and our people!”
Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the space agency Roscosmos, tweeted a picture of the university's blue and gold coat of arms.
Shortly after their arrival at the orbiting station on Friday, Artemyev had a different answer about the flight suits, saying there was a lot of the yellow material in storage and “that's why we had to wear yellow.”
Warsaw -- Hoping to restore some normalcy after fleeing the war in Ukraine, thousands of refugees waited in long lines Saturday in the Polish capital of Warsaw to get identification cards that will allow them to get on with their lives — at least for now.
Refugees started queuing by Warsaw's National Stadium overnight to get the coveted PESEL identity cards that will allow them to work, live, go to school and get medical care or social benefits for the next 18 months. Still, by mid-morning, many were told to come back another day. The demand was too high even though Polish authorities had simplified the process.
“We are looking for a job now,” said 30-year-old Kateryna Lohvyn, standing in the line with her mother. She said it has taken some time to recover from the shock of the Russian invasion.
“We don't yet know (what to do),” she added. “But we are thankful to the Poles. They fantastically welcome us.”
Maryna Liashuk said the warm welcome from Poland has made her feel at home already. If the situation worsens, Liashuk said she would like to stay permanently in Poland with her family.