The wreck of the helicopter, which cost around $36million (£29million), was pulled out of the Kyiv Sea reservoir to the north of the Ukrainian capital. It had been destroyed using Stinger MANPADS on the first few days of the full-scale invasion. It is reported Russia has lost at least 155 helicopters since February 24.
It comes as Russian forces battled on Wednesday for control of the last stronghold in Ukraine’s besieged city of Mariupol, Ukrainian officials said, and the European Union proposed tough new sanctions against Moscow including a phased oil embargo.
Mariupol authorities say some 200 civilians, as well as Ukrainian fighters, are still holed up in a vast network of underground bunkers in the Azovstal steel plant, which has suffered repeated bombardment from encircling Russian troops.
Civilians who were evacuated to safety this week under a United Nations-led deal voiced fear for those still trapped inside.
“God forbid more shells hit near the bunkers where the civilians are,” said evacuee Tetyana Trotsak, who was among dozens of Ukrainians who reached the Ukraine-controlled town of Zaporizhzhia on Tuesday.
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After failing to capture the capital Kyiv in the early weeks of an assault that has killed thousands and flattened cities, Russia has accelerated attacks on Ukraine’s south and east, where the Azov Sea port of Mariupol is its main target.
Russia declared victory over Mariupol on April 21 after weeks of siege and shelling.
The city is key to Moscow’s efforts to cut Ukraine off from the Black Sea – vital for grain and metals exports – and link Russian-controlled territory in the south and east.
Ukrainian fighters inside Azovstal are fighting “difficult, bloody battles” against Russian troops, said Denis Prokopenko, a commander with Ukraine’s Azov regiment.
A Ukrainian parliamentarian said Russian forces were inside the plant.
Russia’s military said it would pause military activity at Azovstal during Thursday daytime and the following two days to allow civilians to evacuate.
Humanitarian corridors will be opened “for the evacuation of civilians (working personnel, women and children) whose presence in the underground facilities of the plant (has) been announced by the Kyiv authorities,” Russia’s military said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to help rescue more people from the plant.
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“The lives of the people who remain there are in danger.
Everyone is important to us. We ask for your help in saving them,” Zelenskiy said.
Over 300 civilians were evacuated from Mariupol and other areas in southern Ukraine as part of a joint UN-Red Cross operation that concluded on Wednesday, U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine Osnat Lubrani said.
“While this second evacuation of civilians from areas in Mariupol and beyond is significant, much more must be done to make sure all civilians caught up in fighting can leave, in the direction they wish,” Lubrani said.