Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of kidnapping the mayor of the southern port city of Melitopol, equating him with the actions of so-called Islamic State “terrorists”.
“They have moved to a new stage of terror, in which they are trying to physically liquidate the representatives of Ukrainian legal local authorities,” Zelensky said in a video address.
Kirill Timoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office, posted a video on social media site Telegram which he said showed a group of armed men carrying Mayor Ivan Fedorov through a square.
The People’s Republic Prosecutor’s Office in Luhansk, a Moscow-backed rebel region in eastern Ukraine, said on its website that there was a criminal case against Mr Fedorov.
The prosecution accused him of “terrorist activities” and of financing the nationalist Right Sector militia to “commit terrorist crimes against civilians in Donbass”. The office said it was looking for Mr Fedorov and called on anyone with information about his whereabouts to contact them.
Meanwhile, authorities have warned of a humanitarian disaster in the port city of Mariupol, which has been surrounded by Russian forces and cut off from food and medicine deliveries.
Mariupol officials said Friday that 1,582 people had been killed in the 12 days since the siege began.
“There is a humanitarian catastrophe in the city and the dead are not even buried,” the Mariupol mayor’s office said in a statement calling on Russian forces to lift the siege.
Ukrainian authorities have accused Russian forces of bombing escape routes and preventing civilians from fleeing the city of 430,000.
It came as US troops continued to deploy to Europe, joining thousands already sent overseas to support NATO allies amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
About 130 soldiers from the 87th Division Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Division Sustainment Brigade gathered Friday at Hunter Airfield in Savannah, Ga., and departed on a charter flight.
The soldiers join the roughly 3,800 troops from the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division who recently deployed from nearby Fort Stewart.
And YouTube announced on Friday that it had begun blocking global access to channels associated with Russian state-funded media. He had previously blocked them – especially RT and Sputnik – across Europe.