•   Saturday, 24 Feb, 2024
Ukraine round up: Beauty blogger row and UK sweets to refugees

Ukraine round-up: Beauty blogger row and UK sweets to refugees

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Russia has all but gained control of Mariupol as hundreds of Ukrainian fighters holed up at the city's steelworks plant for more than two months have now been evacuated.

More than 260 fighters were on Monday taken to hospitals held by Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine - but a number of soldiers, the city's last defenders, are still trapped in underground bunkers.

On Tuesday, Ukraine's Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said Kyiv was doing "everything possible and impossible" to save the remaining fighters with the hope of exchanging them for captured Russian soldiers.

However, Russian lawmakers already plan to declare some of the evacuated fighters "Nazi criminals" who must not be part of any prisoner swap with Ukraine.

On the battlefield, Russian troops continued their offensive in the eastern Donbas region - but Ukraine said Moscow had no success.

Away from Mariupol, both Ukraine and Russia admitted that peace talks aimed at ending the war that Russian President Vladimir Putin launched on 24 February were currently on hold, blaming each other for this impasse.

After more than 80 days of fierce fighting, the strategic port is almost entirely in Russian hands - with only the Azovstal industrial complex still under Ukrainian control.

Capturing Mariupol would give Russia a strategic advantage: a land bridge to Crimea and full control of the Sea of Azov, cutting off Ukraine's maritime trade. It would also deliver a propaganda coup for President Putin.

But this has come at an enormous cost to the city. From the start of Russia's invasion, Mariupol has been shelled relentlessly, leaving the city almost totally levelled, despite fierce resistance.

We've divided it down move-by-move to see how Russian forces secured victory in a military campaign that shocked the world.

Almost 13 million people are believed to have fled their homes in Ukraine since the conflict began, according to the UN.

More than six million have left for neighbouring countries and at least another 6.5 million people are thought to be displaced inside the war-torn country itself.

So, where are Ukraine's refugees going and what help are they getting abroad.

A photo of a heavily pregnant woman fleeing a bombed maternity hospital in Mariupol has become one of the most iconic images of the war.

But after surviving the attack, Marianna Vyshemirsky, 29, was then targeted by a Russian disinformation campaign, receiving hate from both sides.

A beauty blogger before the war, Ms Vyshemirsky was falsely accused of "acting" and using make-up to fake the blood on her face - falsehoods which were repeated and amplified by senior Russian officials and state media.

She told the specialist disinformation reporter, Marianna Spring, what happened next.

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