By Oleksandr Kozhukhar and Pavel Polityuk
LVIV/Kyiv (Reuters) – Russia said on Monday it had hit hundreds of military targets in Ukraine overnight and destroyed command posts with aerial missiles, while authorities in the western city of Lviv, which escaped a heavy bombardment, a missile attack said six killed.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement it had destroyed 16 Ukrainian military installations in the Kharkiv, Zaporizhia, Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk regions and in the port of Mykolayiv in the south and east of the country.
It added that the Russian air force had launched attacks against 108 areas where Ukrainian forces were concentrated, and Russian artillery hit 315 Ukrainian military targets overnight.
Pushed back by Ukrainian resistance in the north, the Russian military has refocused its ground offensive in the two eastern provinces known as Donbass, while launching long-range strikes on other targets, including the capital Kyiv.
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It is now seeking full control of the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, which has been under siege for weeks, which would be a huge strategic asset as it would link pro-Russian separatist areas to the east with the Crimean region annexed by Moscow in 2014.
Ukrainian authorities said rockets hit military installations and a car tire service station in Lviv, just 60 km (40 miles) from the Polish border. Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadoviy said seven people were killed and 11 injured. The blast shattered windows of a hotel housing Ukrainians evacuated from other parts of the country, he added.
Russia denies attacking civilians and dismisses what Ukraine says is evidence of atrocities, saying Ukraine staged them to undermine peace talks. Moscow is calling its action, launched nearly two months ago, a special military operation to demilitarize Ukraine and root out what it calls dangerous nationalists.
Western capitals and Kyiv have accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of unprovoked aggression.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said troops in the pulverized port of Mariupol were still fighting on Sunday despite a Russian call for surrender.
“The city still hasn’t fallen,” he told ABC’s This Week program, adding that Ukrainian soldiers continued to control some parts of the southeastern city.
Russia said on Saturday it was in control of urban areas, although some Ukrainian militants remained at the Azovstal Steelworks, one of Europe’s largest steelworks, which stretches over more than 11 km² (4.25 sq mi) and overlooks the Azov Sea.
On the eve of the war, Mariupol was the largest city in Donbass still occupied by Ukrainian authorities, which Moscow ceded from Ukraine to pro-Russian separatists.
Taking Mariupol would unify Russian forces on two of the main axes of the invasion, freeing them to join an expected new offensive against the main Ukrainian force to the east.
Small groups of corpses were lined up under brightly colored blankets on the streets of Mariupol, surrounded by torn trees and burned buildings.
Local residents, some on bicycles, made their way around wrecked tanks and civilian vehicles while Russian soldiers checked motorists’ documents.
One resident, Irina, evacuated with a niece who was wounded in the shelling.
“I hope they (Mariupol) will rebuild. The most important are supply systems. Summer will pass quickly and winter will be tough,” she said.
Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, said street fighting between Ukrainian and Russian troops had started and he reiterated requests for people to evacuate.
Russian forces advanced overnight and took Kreminna, he said in a televised address, adding that authorities could no longer get people out of the city.
He said four civilians were shot while trying to flee Kreminna by car. Reuters could not independently verify the information.
Ukraine and Russia failed to agree on humanitarian convoys to evacuate civilians from war zones on the second day, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.
“For security reasons, it was decided not to open humanitarian corridors today,” Vereshchuk said on the Telegram app.
About 4 million Ukrainians have fled the country, cities have been destroyed and thousands have died since the invasion began on February 24.
The economic damage is significant. Shmyhal said Ukraine’s budget deficit is about $5 billion a month, urging Western governments for more financial aid.
(Reporting by Reuters journalists in Kyiv and Lviv; Additional reporting by Reuters offices worldwide; Writing by Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Edmund Blair)
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