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Explosions reported near Kyiv and Lviv; Mariupol’s fate in balance

A local resident walks with a bicycle in Mariupol on Friday. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

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Officials in Kyiv and the western city of Lviv reported explosions Saturday, after Russia warned it would step up strikes on Ukraine’s capital in retaliation for purported Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory. Russian officials claimed to have hit a military hardware facility in Kyiv.

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The attack comes after Ukrainian forces sank the Moskva, the premier warship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, with Ukrainian-made anti-ship missiles, a senior U.S. defense official told The Washington Post on Friday. Moscow disputes Kyiv’s account, maintaining that the ship was lost in a fire that detonated munitions onboard.

Meanwhile, Russia appears to be on the verge of capturing the devastated port city of Mariupol, which is strategically important to the Kremlin because it would connect Russian-annexed Crimea with Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Saturday that the situation is “difficult” and warned that if Mariupol is found to have suffered atrocities on the scale of those uncovered in Bucha and other cities, it could be the end of any negotiations with Russia. The Kremlin has given Mariupol a deadline of 6 a.m. Sunday Moscow time (11 p.m. Saturday Eastern time) to surrender, according to a Russian state news site.

Here’s what to know

  • Another Russian general, Maj. Gen. Vladimir Frolov of the 8th Army, died in battle in Ukraine, the governor of St. Petersburg said — the latest in a string of deaths involving high-ranking Russian commanders.
  • Aiming to exert greater pressure on Moscow, Zelensky asked President Biden to designate Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, one of the most powerful and far-reaching sanctions in the U.S. arsenal.
  • The director of the U.N. World Food Program warned that the disruption of grain exports from Ukraine could cause a global grain shortage and, consequently, a hunger crisis.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel for updates.