A man walks by a Russian tank destroyed by Ukrainian Forces in Vilhivka, Ukraine, on Friday. On Monday, Ukrainian officials ended its combat mission in Mariupol and ordered its fighters to evacuate from a besieged steel plant. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo
May 17 (UPI) -- Russian forces struck a building in the town of Bakhmut in Donetsk on Tuesday, killing at least one person and injuring a child, Ukrainian military sources said.
The shelling hit and destroyed a five-story residential building, and damaged a school and multiple infrastructure facilities, State Emergency Service and regional military administration head Pavlo Kyrylenko said, according to Kyiv Post.
"Russians are extensively shelling the entire front line, from Vuhledar to Bakhmut," he wrote in a post on Telegram.
Among the injured was a 9-year-old child.
"The exact number of victims is being clarified," a police source said, according to CNN.
Bakhmut, formerly known as Artemivsk, is located about 85 miles north-northeast of Mariupol and serves as a hub for the Ukrainian military. A hospital used to treat injured military service members i located in the city that has a population of about 100,000.
The Ukrainian military has ended its combat mission in the war-torn key port city of Mariupol and ordered its remaining units stationed at a besieged steel plant to evacuate.
The general staff of the Ukrainian armed forces announced that military command had ended the weeks-long mission in a statement on Telegram late Monday, stating a rescue operation for an unknown number of fighters at the Azovstal steel plant was underway.
"Defenders of Mariupol are the heroes of our time," it said. "They are forever in history."
Urkainian Deputy Defense Minister Anna Malyar said in a statement that 53 "seriously injured" servicemen were taken to a medical facility in Russian-controlled Novoazovsk with another 211 evacuated through a humanitarian corridor to Lenivka before being returned to Ukrainian-controlled territory through an "exchange procedure."
"Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes alive," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address Monday about the situation in Mariupol. "This is our principle. I think that every adequate person will understand these words.
"The operation to rescue the defenders of Mariupol was started by our military and intelligence officers. To bring the boys home, the work continues, and this work needs delicacy. And time."
Malyar explained the fighters in Mariupol had performed their task "in full" but they could no longer hold the plant.
"The most important joint task of all Ukraine and the world is to save the lives of Mariupol defenders," she said.
Russia surrounded Mariupol and attacked it and its steel plant where Ukrainian fighters and some civilians had sought refuge for weeks, having declared the city captured last month. Moscow had set its sights on the key port city to gain access from the Crimea Peninsula, which it annexed from Kyiv in 2014, to separatist-controlled Donbas in eastern Ukraine.
The Ukrainian military said by holding the plant for as long as they did, the Ukrainians denied Russia access to Donetsk, one of its main targets located in eastern Ukraine, and prevented Russia from capturing Zaporizhzhia city.
"Binding the main forces of the enemy around Mariupol gave use the opportunity to prepare and create defensive lines, where our troops are today and give a decent rebuff to the aggressor. We received critical time to form reserve, regroup forces and receive assistance from partners," it said.
Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 as a so-called special mission to denazify and demilitarize the country. However, experts have said the Kremlin's mission has taken longer than it expected due to strong Ukrainian pushback that has been supported by democratic nations, resulting in Russia losing likely a third of its ground troops.
British intelligence has said Moscow is now trying to annex the Donbas region with Zelensky stating on Monday that it along with Severodonetsk city in Luhanskis region are main targets they are defending from Russian forces.
"We do everything to protect our land and our people," he said.
Priest Andrii Gavalin presides over the funeral of Eugene Bogdanov, 35, in Bucha, Ukraine, on May 10. Bogdanov went missing two months ago. His wife, Natalia Bogdanova, was searching for him throughout the Kyiv and Bucha regions when his body was found at a morgue in Belaya Tserkov on May 9. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo