LIVE UPDATES: Russian missiles hit Odessa oil plant

The Russian military said it attacked an oil processing plant and fuel depots around the strategic Black Sea port of Odessa.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj.-Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Russian ships and planes fired missiles on Sunday to hit facilities he said were used to supply Ukrainian troops with fuel near Mykolaiv.

Konashenkov also said Russian attacks destroyed ammunition depots in Kostyantynivka and Khresyshche.

In an audio message released by Italy’s ANSA news agency, Italian photographer Carlo Orlandi said Odessa was woken up at 5:45 a.m. Sunday by military sirens, immediately followed by the sounds of bombs falling on the port city from two planes.

He described a column of dark smoke rising from the targets and flames emanating from the buildings.

“What we can see is a dense layer of dark smoke and explosion after explosion,” Orlandi said.

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:

– Ukrainian blogger’s video feeds false information about the bombing of Mariupol

— Ukrainian troops retake territories near Kyiv for fear of traps

— Ramadan begins across much of the Middle East amid rising prices

– Russia’s space chief says sanctions could endanger the International Space Station

— Volunteer fighters of Ukraine from near and far: a photo gallery

— Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for more coverage

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

Kyiv, Ukraine — The regional governor in Kharkiv said Russian troops continued shelling the city in northeastern Ukraine.

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Kharkiv regional governor Oleh Synyehubov said Sunday that Russian artillery and tanks had carried out over 20 attacks on Kharkiv and its outskirts in the past 24 hours.

Synyyehubov said four people were injured in a Russian missile attack on Lozova in southern Kharkiv region.

He said that in the town of Balakliia, Russian tanks hit a local hospital, damaging the building and prompting authorities to evacuate patients.

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LVIV, Ukraine – President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukrainian troops retaking areas around Kyiv and Chernihiv would not allow the Russians to retreat without a fight, but would “fire” at them. They destroy everyone they can.”

Zelenskyy said in his video address to the nation on Saturday night that Ukraine knows Russia has the power to put even more pressure on eastern and southern Ukraine.

“What is the aim of the Russian troops? They want to conquer Donbass and southern Ukraine,” he said. “What is our goal? To defend ourselves, our freedom, our country and our people.”

He said a significant portion of Russia’s forces are tied around Mariupol, where the city’s defenders continue to fight.

“Thanks to this resistance, thanks to the courage and resilience of our other cities, Ukraine has gained invaluable time, time that allows us to thwart enemy tactics and weaken their capabilities,” Zelenskyy said.

Zelenskyi again appealed to the West for more modern weapons such as missile defense systems and aircraft.

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A Ukrainian beauty blogger accused by Russian officials of being a crisis actress when she was interviewed and photographed by The Associated Press at a bombed-out Mariupol maternity hospital has emerged in new videos fueling fresh misinformation about the attack.

A Twitter account linked to the Russian government shared an interview with Marianna Vishegirskaya on Friday, in which the new mother says the hospital wasn’t hit by an airstrike last month and that she told AP journalists she didn’t want to be filmed. But AP reports and records of AP journalists’ interactions with her contradict her claim.

In the interview, conducted by Russian blogger Denis Seleznev and filmed by Kristina Melnikova, Vishegirskaya is asked to provide details of what happened at the hospital on March 9, the day of the bombing. It is not clear where Vishegirskaya is or under what conditions the interview was filmed.

Russian officials have repeatedly tried to cast doubt on the attack on Mariupol, a key Moscow military target, as images were seen around the world and shed light on Russia’s attacks on civilians in Ukraine.

In the new videos, Vishegirskaya says those huddled in the hospital’s basement after the attack believed the explosions were caused by “barrage” rather than an airstrike because “no one” heard sounds that would indicate that bombs were dropped from planes.

But eyewitness accounts and video from AP journalists in Mariupol lay out evidence of an airstrike, including the sound of a plane before the blast, a crater outside the hospital that was at least two stories deep, and interviews with a police officer and a soldier at the scene, both of whom referred to the attack as an “air raid”.

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BUCHA, Ukraine — Ukrainian troops cautiously advanced on Saturday to retake territory north of Kyiv despite fears Russian forces had left behind booby-trapped explosives.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that withdrawing Russian troops would create a “catastrophic” situation for civilians, leaving mines around houses, abandoned equipment and “even the bodies of those killed”. His claims could not be independently verified.

Ukrainian troops took up positions in the city of Bucha and were stationed at the entrance to Antonov Airport in Hostomel after retaking territory from Russian forces.

In Bucha, AP reporters counted at least 6 bodies of civilians scattered along a street and in the front yard of a house. Ukrainian soldiers, supported by a column of tanks and armored vehicles, attached cables to the bodies and dragged them off the road, fearing they might be booby-trapped. Soldiers also cleared barricades and inspected suspicious objects, placing red rags on remains of duds to warn of the possibility of explosions.

Residents of the city said the civilians were killed by Russian soldiers without any apparent provocation.

Ukraine and its western allies reported mounting evidence that Russia is withdrawing its forces from the Kyiv area and building up its troop levels in eastern Ukraine. The visible shift did not mean that the country faced more than five weeks of respite from war or that the more than 4 million refugees who fled Ukraine will soon return.

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CAIRO — The Muslim holy month of Ramadan – during which believers fast from dawn to dusk – began at sunrise on Saturday in much of the Middle East, where Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed up energy and food prices.

The conflict casts a shadow over Ramadan, when large gatherings for meals and family celebrations are a tradition. Many had hoped for a happier Ramadan after the coronavirus pandemic kept the world’s 2 billion Muslims from many rituals over the past two years.

However, with Russia invading Ukraine, millions of people across the Middle East are wondering where their next meals will come from. The skyrocketing prices are hitting people whose lives have already been upended by conflict, displacement and poverty, from Lebanon, Iraq and Syria to Sudan and Yemen.

Ukraine and Russia account for a third of the world’s wheat and barley exports, which Middle Eastern countries rely on to feed millions of people who live on subsidized bread and cheap pasta. They are also top exporters of other grains and sunflower oil used in cooking.

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