Ukraine Slams Kyiv Attack Amid New Mariupol Rescue Effort

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Ukraine Slams Kyiv Attack Amid New Mariupol Rescue Effort
An estimated 100,000 people are believed to still be in the city of Mariupol.

Ukraine’s leader accused Russia of trying to humiliate the United Nations by raining missiles on Kyiv during a visit by Secretary-General António Guterres, an attack that shattered the capital's tentative return to normality as the focus of the war moved east.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine’s forces were holding off Russia's attempted advance in the south and east, as efforts continued to secure safe passage for residents trapped in Mariupol, which has been largely reduced to rubble in a 2-month-long siege.

Russia pounded targets all over Ukraine on Thursday, including the attack on Kyiv that struck a residential high-rise and another building. U.S.-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty said its journalist Vira Hyrych, who lives in one of the buildings hit, died. Her body was found in the rubble on Friday.

Ten people were wounded in the attack, including at least one who lost a leg, according to Ukraine's emergency services.

In an apparent reference to the same strike, Russia's Defense Ministry said Friday that it had destroyed "production buildings" at the Artem defense factory in Kyiv.

The attack on Kyiv came barely an hour after Zelenskyy held a news conference with Guterres, who toured some of the destruction in and around Kyiv and condemned attacks on civilians during his visit.

"This says a lot about Russia's true attitude towards global institutions, about attempts of Russian authorities to humiliate the U.N. and everything that the organization represents," Zelenskyy said in an overnight video address to the nation. "Therefore, it requires corresponding powerful reaction."

One aim of Guterres' visit was to secure the evacuation of people from the ruined southern port city of Mariupol, including a shattered steelworks where Ukrainian defenders are holed up and hundreds of civilians are also sheltering, Previous evacuation attempts have collapsed.

“I cannot confirm the exact details of the operation to make sure it is done with safety for our people and for civilians stranded in Mariupol” said Saviano Abreu, a spokesperson for the U.N.’s humanitarian office. 

An official in Zelenskyy’s office said negotiations were underway with U.N. mediation, and did not rule out an evacuation of the plant happening Friday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Mariupol has seen some of the most dramatic suffering of the war. Under siege since the early days of the invasion, many of its residents became trapped with scarce access to food, water, medicine or electricity. 

An estimated 100,000 people are believed to still be in the city, and the city council warned Thursday that a lack of safe drinking water or a working sewer system could lead to outbreaks of deadly diseases such as cholera and dysentery. It added that bodies lay decaying under the rubble. 

Russian forces largely control the city, but some 2,000 Ukrainian fighters are holed up at the steel plant, the last known pocket of resistance. About 1,000 civilians are with them, and the fighters said recent concentrated bombings killed and wounded people. 

 Additional reporting by The Associated Press.