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Russia: 180 foreign mercenaries killed in attack on Ukraine training facility

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A badge is pictured on a uniform of a foreign fighter from the UK as they are ready to depart towards the front line in the east of Ukraine following the Russian offensive, at the main train station in Lviv, Ukraine, March 5, 2022. (File photo by Reuters)

Russia says up to 180 “foreign mercenaries” have been killed in an attack it conducted against the Yavoriv training facility in western Ukraine, adding that the attack also destroyed a large amount of weapons that came from other countries.

Speaking at a press briefing on Sunday, Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said high-precision long-range weapons were used to strike the training centers of the Ukrainian armed forces at Yavoriv and a separate facility in the village of Starichi.

“As a result of the strike, up to 180 foreign mercenaries and a large cache of foreign weapons were destroyed,” Konashenkov said, according to the Moscow-based RIA news agency.

“At these facilities, the Kiev regime deployed: a point for the training and combat coordination of foreign mercenaries before being sent to the areas of hostilities against Russian military personnel, as well as a storage base for weapons and military equipment coming from foreign countries.”

Konashenkov added that Moscow would continue its attacks against the foreign mercenaries.

Ukrainian regional governor Maksym Kozytskyy said 35 people were killed and 134 wounded in the attack.

Russia has repeatedly warned Western countries against supplying Ukraine with weapons and mercenaries, saying the move would lead to a “global collapse.”

“I wish to make an official statement that none of the mercenaries the West is sending to Ukraine to fight for the nationalist regime in Kiev can be considered as combatants in accordance with international humanitarian law or enjoy the status of prisoner of war,” Konashenkov said on March 4.

“At best, they can expect to be prosecuted as criminals. We are urging all foreign citizens who may have plans to go and fight for Kiev’s nationalist regime to think a dozen times before getting on the way.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova also said last week that the sending of mercenaries and military equipment to Ukraine by Western countries would cause a catastrophic development of the situation there.

On Saturday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow considered convoys of Western arms shipments to Ukraine to be legitimate targets.

125,000 people evacuated via humanitarian corridors: Zelensky

In a video address on Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said nearly 125,000 people have been evacuated via humanitarian corridors from conflict zones in the country.

“We have already evacuated almost 125,000 people to the safe territory through humanitarian corridors,” Zelensky said, adding, “The main task today is Mariupol. Our convoy with humanitarian aid is two hours away from Mariupol. Only 80km [left].”

“We’re doing everything to counter occupiers who are even blocking Orthodox priests accompanying this aid, food, water, and medicine. There are 100 tons of the most necessary things that Ukraine sent to its citizens,” he added.

Days earlier, Moscow said it would open daily humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians fleeing fighting in Ukraine to Russian territory, despite Kiev insisting that no evacuation routes should lead to Russia.

“Humanitarian corridors towards the Russian Federation will now be opened, without any agreements, every day from 10:00 am,” Russian Defense Ministry ministry official Mikhail Mizintsev said on Thursday.

Mizintsev also accused Ukrainian forces of blocking the evacuation of civilians in Mariupol.

US journalist shot dead in northwest of Kiev

Also on Sunday, a US journalist was shot dead in Irpin, a frontline northwest suburb of Kiev, while another was injured, medics and witnesses said.

According to AFP, Danylo Shapovalov, a surgeon volunteering for the Ukrainian territorial defense, said one of the US journalists died instantly and he had treated the other.

A third victim, a Ukrainian who had been in the same car as the Americans, was also injured.

“The car was shot at. There were two journalists and one of ours (a Ukrainian),” Shapovalov told AFP.

“Our guy and the journalist are wounded, I provided them first aid, the other one received a wound in the neck, he died immediately.”

Papers found on the American reporter's body identified him as 50-year-old video documentary shooter Brent Renaud, of New York.

A New York Times identity card was among the papers, leading to reports he worked for the paper, but the US daily said he was not working for it at the time of his death.

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