MARIUPOL/PARIS: A mosque in the southeastern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, where 80 civilians were taking shelter, has been shelled by Russian forces, Ukraine’s foreign ministry said on Saturday.
“The mosque of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and his wife Roxolana (Hurrem Sultan) in Mariupol was shelled by Russian invaders. More than 80 adults and children are hiding there from the shelling, including citizens of Turkey,” the ministry wrote on its Twitter account.
Fighting also raged in the outskirts of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and Russia kept up its bombardment of other resisting cities.
There was no immediate word of casualties from the shelling of Mariupol’s elegant, city-center mosque. The encircled city of 446,000 people has endured some of Ukraine’s worst misery since Russia invaded, with unceasing barrages thwarting repeated attempts to bring in food, water and medicine, evacuate trapped civil- ians and even bury the dead.
“They are bombing it (Mariupol) 24 hours a day, launching missiles. It is hatred. They kill children,” Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said during a video address.
A journalist in Mariupol witnessed tanks firing on a nine-story apartment building and was with a group of hospital workers who came under sniper fire on Friday.
A worker shot in the hip survived, but conditions in the hospital were deteriorating. Electricity was reserved for operating tables, and people with nowhere else to go lined the hallways.
Meanwhile, French and German leaders spoke on Saturday with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a failed attempt to reach a ceasefire. According to the Kremlin, Putin laid out terms for ending the war, including Ukraine’s demilitarization and its ceding of territory, among other demands.
Ukraine’s military said that Russian forces captured Mariupol’s eastern outskirts, tightening the armed squeeze on the strategic port. Taking Mariupol and other ports on the Azov Sea could allow Russia to establish a land corridor to Crimea, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.
Britain, France and Germany warned against moves to “exploit” the Iran nuclear negotiations — a tacit warning to Russia which is accused of delaying an agreement to gain leverage in its invasion.
Negotiators in Vienna said on Friday they had halted talks despite having almost sealed a deal to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to contain Iran’s nuclear activities.
The setback came after Russia said it was demanding guarantees that the Western sanctions imposed on its economy following its invasion would not affect its trade with Iran.
“Nobody should seek to exploit JCPOA negotiations to obtain assurances that are separate to the JCPOA,” said a statement from the spokespersons for the British, French and German foreign ministries — the three European parties to the negotiations.