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Sorting fact, disinformation amid Russian war on Ukraine

A man left Poland to fight in Ukraine, at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland, on March 2, 2022.Markus Schreiber/Associated Press

Associated Press journalists around Ukraine and beyond are documenting military activity during Russia’s invasion. With disinformation rife and social media amplifying military claims and counterclaims, determining exactly what is happening can be difficult. Here’s a look at what could be confirmed Wednesday as Russia’s military assault on Ukraine was in its seventh day.

DIRECTLY WITNESSED

— Three boys wounded Wednesday by apparent Russian shelling while they were playing near a school were rushed to a hospital in the besieged port city of Mariupol. One of the boys died soon after arrival, according to an AP reporter at the scene. The other two were rushed into surgery. A woman with severe wounds to her face from the same strike was also brought to the hospital.

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— Videos circulated online of an apparent attack Wednesday on the regional police and intelligence headquarters in Kharkiv, showing a building with its roof blown off and its top floor on fire. The Ukrainian state emergency service said residential buildings were also hit. It said four people died and nine were wounded. Kharkiv resident Marina Boreiko told the AP she heard children crying and saw bodies in rubble.

ANNOUNCED BY UKRAINIAN AUTHORITIES

— Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office reported a powerful explosion Wednesday night in Kyiv in the area of a main railway station. The Ukrainian Railway Service said thousands of people were being evacuated from the Southern Railway Station at the time of the strike. The building of the station suffered minor damage and the train traffic continued. It wasn’t immediately clear if anyone was killed or wounded.

— An adviser to Zelenskyy claimed Wednesday evening several Russian planes were shot down over Kharkiv. The adviser said the advance of Russian troops in the city has been stopped, but the Russians in response shelled resistance with rocket launchers and air attacks. A Kharkiv official said 21 people have been killed and at least 112 wounded over the past 24 hours.

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— Ukrainian UNIAN news agency quoted the health administration chief of the northern city of Chernihiv, Serhiy Pivovar, as saying Wednesday two cruise missiles hit a hospital there. Authorities were working to determine the casualty toll.

— Ukrainian police said Wednesday they arrested a man who brought explosives hidden in a children’s toy to one of the Kyiv subway stations where thousands of people have been sheltering. The police also said four other suspected saboteurs were arrested, including two who were carrying weapons.

— The mayor of Irpin, located about 25 kilometers (15 miles) west of Kyiv, said a rocket hit a multi-story residential building Wednesday morning.

— An advisor to Zelenskyy’s office told reporters Wednesday there is no evidence that Belarusian forces are also involved in the fighting, but said “there are signals.” Belarusian troops were concentrated close to the countries’ border early Wednesday, officials said.

— Ukraine’s State Emergency Service said Wednesday more than 2,000 civilians have died, though it was impossible to verify that claim.

ANNOUNCED BY RUSSIAN AUTHORITIES

— Vladimir Medinsky, Russia President Vladimir Putin’s aide, told reporters the Ukrainians are expected to arrive to Belarus for talks Thursday. He said they agreed to meet in the Brest region of Belarus, which borders Poland. Zelenskyy’s office confirmed to the AP the delegation is on its way.

— A spokesman of the Russian Defense Ministry said Wednesday in the country’s first report of deaths that 498 Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine and 1,597 more sustained wounds. Ukrainian officials have estimated a much higher death toll. Neither countries’ claims could be corroborated.

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— Russia Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov claimed the airstrike Tuesday on a TV tower in the capital of Kyiv did not hit any residential buildings. Konashenkov did not address allegations that the strike damaged the neighboring Babi Yar memorial to Kyiv’s Holocaust victims. Ukraine’s State Service for Emergency Situations said the strikes killed five people and left five more wounded.

— Moscow made new threats of escalation, days after raising the specter of nuclear war. A top Kremlin official warned that the West’s “economic war” against Russia could turn into a “real one.”

ANNOUNCED BY OFFICIALS ELSEWHERE

— The United Nations Refugee Agency reported 1 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict, an exodus without precedent in this century for its speed.

— The Pentagon announced Wednesday it’s postponing a nuclear missile test launch scheduled for this week to avoid any possible misunderstanding in light of Putin’s recent decision to put his nuclear forces on high alert.

— The Pentagon’s press secretary said the U.S. assessment of Kherson is that the city is still contested. Russian authorities have claimed the city is under their “complete control.” Ukrainian authorities say that’s not the case.

— U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit six European countries this week. The State Department said Blinken will travel Thursday to Belgium for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers before heading to the Polish border with Ukraine to meet refugees, and then Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

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— Sweden’s armed forces reported four Russian fighter jets flew over its airspace Wednesday. The armed forces said photographs of the planes confirmed the violation, which was brief and took place east of the island Gotland, over the sea.

— A senior U.S. defense official said Wednesday the Russian convoy still appears to be stalled about 25 kilometers (15 miles) outside the center of Kyiv and hasn’t made much progress in the last couple days. The official said the convoy is plagued with fuel and food shortages and logistical problems, as well as facing continued fierce resistance from Ukrainians. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly, said there has been an increase in the number of missiles and artillery targeting Kyiv.

— Russians have not been able to achieve air superiority and Ukrainian air defenses remain operable, the U.S. defense official said.

— The spokesman for the French Ministry of Armed Forces, Hervé Grandjean, said Wednesday on France Info news a Russian offensive “seems imminent” in Kyiv despite “slower move than what Russian forces had probably anticipated.”

— Russia claimed Wednesday afternoon its military has taken control of the area around Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant. That’s according to the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

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— Human Rights Watch said it documented a cluster bomb attack outside a hospital in Ukraine’s east in recent days. Residents also reported the use of such weapons in Kharkiv and Kiyanka village. The Kremlin denied using cluster bombs.