Putin celebrates Soviet WW2 victory as Ukraine denounces school bombing

  • Putin leads celebrations of Soviet victory in WW2
  • 60 killed after Russian shell hits a school in eastern Ukraine
  • G7 says Putin’s actions ‘disgrace Russia’
  • Residents of Mariupol evacuate, soldiers hold their ground in steel factory

ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine, May 9 (Reuters) – Russian forces bombed a village school in eastern Ukraine killing about 60, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said as Russia prepared for Monday’s anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

The governor of the Luhansk region said about 90 people were hiding in the school in Bilohorivka on Saturday when it was bombed.

“As a result of a Russian attack on Bilohorivka in the Luhansk region, about 60 people were killed, civilians, who simply hid in the school, shelter from shelling,” Zelenskiy said in his overnight video speech.

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There was no response from Moscow to the news.

In the southern port of Mariupol, which has endured the most devastating fighting of the 10-week war, the deputy commander of the Azov regiment, entrenched in the Azovstal steel factory, begged the international community for help in evacuating wounded soldiers.

“We will continue to fight as long as we live to fend off the Russian occupiers,” Captain Sviatoslav Palamar said at an online press conference.

Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) industrial nations vowed Sunday to deepen Russia’s economic isolation and “elevate” a campaign against Kremlin-affiliated elites. read more

The G7 said it was determined to phase out or ban Russian oil and denounced Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

“His actions bring disgrace to Russia and the historic sacrifices of its people,” the G7 said in a statement, referring to Soviet Russia’s role in defeating Nazi Germany 77 years ago.

Putin has repeatedly compared the war in Ukraine — which he casts as a battle against dangerous Nazi-inspired nationalists in Ukraine — to the challenge the Soviet Union faced when Adolf Hitler invaded in 1941.

Ukraine and its allies reject the accusation of Nazism and the claim that Russia is fighting for survival against an aggressive West, saying that Putin unleashed an unprovoked war in an attempt to rebuild the Soviet Union.

In a video speech filmed in front of charred Ukrainian apartment buildings showing footage of Russian missile strikes, Zelenskiy said evil had returned, but his country would prevail. read more

Zelenskiy, who greeted the G7’s response, said in his overnight video address: “The most important thing I felt today was the world’s even greater willingness to help us … it is clear to the entire free world that Ukraine is the party of good in this war.”

“And Russia will lose, because evil always loses.”

Putin will preside over a parade of troops, tanks, missiles and intercontinental ballistic missiles in Moscow’s Red Square on Monday, and deliver a speech that could provide clues to the future of the war. read more

‘CAN’T LEAVE’

More than 170 civilians were evacuated from the Mariupol area on Sunday, bringing the total to about 600 who were allowed safe passage during a week-long rescue operation, the United Nations said.

In the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhya, about 230 km (140 miles) northwest of Mariupol, dozens of people who had fled the city and nearby occupied territories waited to register in a parking lot set up for evacuees.

“There are still a lot of people in Mariupol who want to leave but can’t,” said history teacher Viktoria Andreyeva, 46, who said she had only just reached the city after leaving her bombed-out house in Mariupol with her family in mid-April.

“The air feels different here, free,” she said in a tent where volunteers offered food, basic supplies and toys to the evacuees, many who were traveling with small children.

Mariupol is key to Moscow’s efforts to connect the Crimean peninsula, occupied by Russia in 2014, with parts of the eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk that have since been controlled by Russian-backed separatists.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin said on Telegram that he was visiting Mariupol, the top Russian head of government who set foot in the city after weeks of bombardment by his troops.

A number of Western officials, including US First Lady Jill Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a German head of parliament and the Norwegian Foreign Minister arrived in Ukraine on Sunday to show support. read more

The frontman of Irish rock group U2 Bono and his bandmate The Edge gave a 40-minute concert at a Kiev metro station on Sunday, praising Ukrainians who fought for their freedom.

“Tonight, May 8, shots will ring in the Ukrainian skies, but you will finally be free. They can take your life, but they can never take your pride,” Bono said.

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Additional reporting by Pavel Polityuk in Kiev, Oleksandr Kozhukhar in Lviv and Reuters bureaus; Written by James Oliphant, Lincoln Feast and Himani Sarkar

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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