Russia has blocked exits from the occupied Ukrainian city of Melitopol for the second day in a row, according to mayor Ivan Fedorov.
Fedorov, who is not in Melitopol, said the Russian army was “so afraid of a counteroffensive by the Ukrainian armed forces that they used thousands of civilians as human shields to cover themselves”.
The entire city is being held hostage,” he added.
Fedorov said the Russians had closed the checkpoint in Vasilevka — the main crossing point for civilian traffic trying to reach the rest of Ukraine.
On Monday, Fedorov said the Russians had sealed off the western part of Melitopol, trapping “tens of thousands of residents of the neighbourhood.”
Like parts of the neighbouring Kherson region, Melitopol has seen Ukrainian troops launch attacks behind the front lines in recent days.
Yevgeniy Balitskiy, the Russian-appointed head of the Melitopol regional administration, said on his Telegram channel on Tuesday that the Ukrainian government “has become the Islamic State: they blow up bridges, Attacks on public figures”, which is an apparent reference to the report. Assassination attempt on pro-Russian local official Andriy Siguta, whose car was blown up.
“It’s not going to change anything,” Baritsky said. “The people of the Zaporozhye region have made a choice… The liberated part of the Zaporozhye region will become [the Russian Federation] through a referendum. “
Fedorov claimed that the Ukrainian attack on the Russian garrison in Melitopol on Saturday night resulted in a large number of casualties, adding that the occupying forces “do not know where to put the bodies of the killed Russian soldiers”.
“The forensic doctors don’t want to cooperate and they don’t want to issue death certificates because they don’t want to cooperate with the Russians,” Fedorov said.
Last week, Fedorov said a military base outside the city had been attacked more than 30 times.
CNN could not confirm the extent of damage or casualties caused by Ukraine’s attack on Russian troops in the region.