Mariupol's smashed buildings produce the 'caravan to death'

BAKHMUT (Ukraine) -- Workers pulled up to 100 bodies from every smashed building in Mariupol, a brutal effort described by one official as an "endless caravan death".

Mariupol's smashed buildings produce the 'caravan to death'

BAKHMUT (Ukraine) -- Workers pulled up to 100 bodies from every smashed building in Mariupol, a brutal effort described by one official as an "endless caravan death".

Fears of a global food shortage grew as a result of Ukraine's inability export millions of tonnes of grain through its blocked ports.

The battle for Sievierodonestk was a fierce one-sided struggle between Russian and Ukrainian forces Wednesday. This city is central to Moscow’s relentless campaign to seize Ukraine's eastern industrial center, the Donbas.

According to a mayoral assistant in Mariupol, many buildings in Mariupol house 50-100 bodies.

Petro Andryushchenko stated on Telegram that the bodies were being transported in an "endless caravan death" to a mortuary, landfills, and other locations. According to Ukrainian authorities, at least 21,000 civilians from Mariupol were killed in the Russian siege that lasted for weeks.

Because shipments of Ukrainian grain have been bottled up in Ukraine, the consequences of war are being felt all over Eastern Europe. This has led to an increase in food prices.

Ukraine, once known as "the bread basket of Europe", is one of the largest exporters of wheat, sunflower oil and corn in the world. However, much of this flow has been stopped by war and a Russian blockade on Ukraine's Black Sea coast. Ukraine still has 22 million tonnes of grain. It is threatening the food supply in many developing nations, particularly in Africa, by failing to ship it out.

Russia supported Wednesday's U.N. plan for creating a safe passageway at sea to allow Ukraine to resume grain shipping. The plan calls on Ukraine to remove all mines from waters around Odesa, a Black Sea port.

Russia insists that it is allowed to inspect incoming vessels for weapons. Ukraine is concerned that Russia could use the mines to attack its coast. Officials in Ukraine said that the Kremlin's promises that it would not do that were untruessable.

Charles Michel, President of the European Council, accused Wednesday of "weaponizing food supply and surrounding their actions by a web of lies Soviet-style."

Russia is a major source of grain for the rest of the globe. However, Russia has blamed the impending food crisis on Western sanctions against Moscow. The European Union strongly denied this and claimed that Russia was responsible for the war against Ukraine.

Michel stated that "these are Russian ships, Russian missiles and are preventing the export of crops or grain." "Russian tanks and bombs, as well as mines, are stopping Ukraine from planting and harvesting."

Turkey is keen to be involved in the negotiations to end the war and to broker the return of grain shipments. Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Turkish Foreign Minister, met with Sergey Lavrov, his Russian counterpart. The talks were not attended by Ukraine.

Moscow's troops carried out their meticulous campaign for the Donbas with intense fighting in and around Sievierodonetsk. The city had a population of 100,000 before the war. It is one the last cities that the Russians have not taken in Luhansk (one of two provinces that makes up the Donbas).

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian President, called Sievierodonetsk "epicenter" in the battle for Donbass and one of the most difficult battles in the war.

He stated that the Ukrainian army was defending its positions while inflicting serious losses to the Russian forces.

Zelenskyy stated that "In many ways it is there that our fate in Donbass is being decided," in his nightly video address. This was recorded on the street just outside his office in Kyiv.

According to Zelenskyy's adviser, Russian forces are now using a different strategy in battle. They have retreated from the city and pounded it with artillery as well as airstrikes.

Oleksiy Arestovych stated that the city's center was deserted and that the artillery had been fired at an empty spot.

He said that they are "hitting hard but not having any particular success" in a daily online interview.

Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai admitted the difficulties in battling Russian forces and said, "Maybe, we will have to withdraw, but right now, there are battles in the city."

He said that the Russian army had everything they needed, including artillery, mortars and tanks. They were using it in Sievierodonetsk to take over the entire city.

Like Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk are also caught between Russian forces in Luhansk. Valentyna, a Lysychansk resident, describes the moment her house was attacked.

"I was lying on the bed. She said that the shrapnel struck the wall and passed through her shoulder as she was being treated for her wounds.

Analysts believe Russia's continued encroachment on the territories could lead to a negotiated solution between the two countries, which could be possible more than three months after the start of the war.

Keir Giles, a Russia expert at Chatham House in London, said that Vladimir Putin "has the option to declare his objectives met at more than or less any moment in order to consolidate Russia’s territorial gains." Giles stated that the West could "pressure Ukraine into accepting their losses" in order to end the fighting.

Zelenskyy stated that Russia does not want to negotiate, as it feels strong.

He spoke via video link to U.S. corporate executives and called for more severe sanctions to reduce Russia's economic strength, as well as getting it "off of the global financial system entirely."

Zelenskyy stated that Ukraine is open to negotiations "to find a solution." However, a settlement can't be reached "at the cost of our independence."

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Karmanau reported in Lviv, Ukraine. This report was contributed by Sylvia Hui, Sylvia Hui, Andrew Katell, Oleksandr Stanislavskyi and John Leicester, all Associated Press journalists based in Kyiv (Ukraine), and David Keyton, both in New York.

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

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