Russian Invasion of Ukraine – AP Sorts Facts from Disinformation – Day 4 Saturday 27 Feb

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Image: India Times

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Associated Press journalists around Ukraine and beyond are documenting military activity during Russia’s invasion. With disinformation rife and social media amplifying military claims and counterclaims, determining exactly what is happening is difficult. Here’s a look at what could be confirmed Saturday (Sunday Samoa time).

DIRECTLY WITNESSED:

— Many checkpoints were seen on the drive into Kyiv from the east, manned by uniformed servicemen and police and sometimes backed up with men in civilian clothes, who appear to be in their late teens and are carrying automatic rifles.

— Low-flying planes that appeared to be Su-25 fighter jets have been spotted patrolling the skies over Kyiv, but it couldn’t be discerned if they were Russian or Ukrainian.

— Eerie quiet on the streets of Mariupol, an Azov Sea port city and industrial center that is seen as a key target for Russia to seize. Police are frequently patrolling the streets. Air or artillery strikes can be heard in the distance. Soldiers are guarding bridges and blocking people from the seashore area.

— Explosions heard from central Kyiv, about 800 meters (half a mile) from the president’s headquarters.

— A tall apartment building in Kyiv hit by shelling, with major damage, on the eastern side of the Dneiper River that cuts through the capital, 13 kilometers (8 miles) southeast of the government quarter.

— Shooting near a main thoroughfare leading into central Kyiv from the south.

— Ukrainian soldiers evacuating an unmarked military vehicle damaged by gunfire in Kyiv, in the Obolon district about 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of the government quarter.

— Ukrainian military establishing defensive positions at bridges around Kyiv. Armored personnel carriers driving through Kyiv streets. Ukrainian authorities have placed snowplows at some spots along Kyiv roads to force traffic to slow down.

— Russian missile launcher seen on the edge of the northeastern city of Kharkiv, shelling heard in the distance.

— A bridge destroyed at Ivankiv, some 60 kilometers (40 miles) northwest of Kyiv.

ANNOUNCED BY RUSSIAN AUTHORITIES:

— In Moscow, the Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered a break in action by troops when he accepted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s proposal a day earlier to hold talks about the possibility of a nonaligned status for Ukraine, and that the Russian troops resumed their advance after the talks didn’t happen. But AP journalists in various areas of Ukraine witnessed that Russia never stopped its offensive.

— Russia’s military said it has taken over Melitopol, a city in the Zaporizhzhia region in southern Ukraine 50 kilometers (about 30 miles) off of the Azov Sea coast. The claim could not be independently verified.

— The Russian military said it took control of an airport outside the Ukrainian capital. The airport in Hostomel, a town 7 kilometers (4 miles) from Kyiv, has a runway long enough to receive all types of aircraft, including the biggest cargo planes. Control would allow Russia to airlift troops directly to Kyiv’s outskirts.

— The Russian Defense Ministry said its forces sealed the cities of Sumy and Konotop in northeastern Ukraine. It said they have knocked out 211 military infrastructure facilities. The claims couldn’t be independently confirmed.

ANNOUNCED BY UKRAINIAN AUTHORITIES:

— The Armed Forces of Ukraine tweeted that Russians had lost 11 helicopters, seven aircraft including three Su-30 CM, a column of equipment and a fuel train.

— Ukraine’s military said it shot down a Russian military transport plane carrying paratroopers near Vasylkiv, a city 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Kyiv, an account confirmed by a senior American intelligence official. It was unclear how many were on board. Transport planes can carry up to 125 paratroopers. Russia has not commented on the incident.

— Zelenskyy said Saturday that Russian attempts to push into Kyiv have been repelled and that Russian forces have hit civilian areas and infrastructure.

— Ukraine’s health minister said Saturday that 198 people, including three children, have been killed and more than 1,000 others wounded but didn’t specify whether those figures included civilians and military forces. Russia hasn’t released any casualty figures. A day earlier, the Ukrainian military said it has killed over 1,000 Russian troops while fending off Moscow’s invasion. Neither claim about human losses could be independently verified.

— Ukraine’s nuclear energy regulator said higher than usual gamma radiation levels have been detected in the area around the Chernobyl nuclear plant, site of the world’s worst nuclear accident, after it was seized by the Russian military. The International Atomic Energy Agency said the reported levels don’t pose any danger to the public. The Russian Defense Ministry said radiation levels in the area have remained normal.

— Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said gunfire and explosions in several parts of the city came as Ukrainian troops were fighting groups of Russian saboteurs. He also said five explosions hit an area near a major power plant on the city’s eastern outskirts. No electricity outages were immediately reported.

— Authorities in Donetsk, the largest city in the separatist-held territories, said hot water supplies to the city of about 900,000 were suspended Saturday because of damage to the system by Ukrainian shelling. The claim could not immediately be independently verified.

ANNOUNCED BY OFFICIALS ELSEWHERE:

— A senior U.S. Defense official says advancing Russian forces were roughly 30 kilometers (about 19 miles) outside Kyiv as of Saturday, and that an unspecified number of Russian military “reconnaissance elements” had entered the capital.

— The U.K. Ministry of Defense said that the speed of the Russian advance temporarily slowed, probably because of logistics and strong Ukrainian resistance. Overnight clashes in Kyiv likely involved limited numbers of prepositioned Russian sabotage groups, the ministry said.

— Two American officials with direct knowledge of conditions on the ground in Ukraine said Russian Airborne Forces attacked Ukrainian units on the outskirts of Kyiv early Saturday on three sides. Ukrainian forces repelled some of the assaults.

— Moldova’s national naval agency said a Moldovan-flagged ship was hit by a missile in “neutral waters” in the Black Sea, leaving two crew members seriously injured.

— A U.S. defense official said a Russian amphibious assault was underway, and thousands of Russian naval infantry were moving ashore from the Sea of Azov, west of Mariupol. The official said Ukrainian air defenses have been degraded but are still operating, and that about a third of the combat power that Russia massed around Ukraine is now in the country.

Follow AP’s coverage of the Ukraine crisis at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine