Russia said its forces were “tightening the noose” around the besieged Ukrainian port of Mariupol on Friday and concern grew over mass civilian casualties as the United States again warned China against aiding Moscow in its invasion.
Russia’s advance in Ukraine has largely stalled, and its troops, frustrated by fierce Ukrainian resistance, have blasted residential areas to rubble. On Friday, missiles landed near Lviv, a western city where thousands have fled for refuge.
In Mariupol, the scene of heavy bombardment, officials estimated 80% of the city’s homes had been damaged and that 1,000 people may still be trapped in makeshift bomb shelters beneath a destroyed theatre.
Nearly 5,000 Ukrainians were evacuated from Mariupol on Friday, officials said, and residents reported seeing dead bodies along the roadside as they fled the city.
“We were careful and didn’t want the children to see the bodies, so we tried to shield their eyes,” said Nick Osychenko, the CEO of a Mariupol TV station who fled the city with six members of his family.
Ukraine said it had rescued 130 people from the basement of a Mariupol theatre that was flattened by Russian strikes two days ago. Russia denied hitting the theatre and says it does not target civilians.
China is the one big power that has yet to condemn Russia’s assault, and Washington fears Beijing may be considering giving Moscow financial and military support, something that both Russia and China deny.
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