Two Russian soldiers die after eating poisoned 'pies' given as gifts by Ukrainian citizens

3 April 2022, 11:28 | Updated: 3 April 2022, 18:42

Russian soldiers have been poisoned after accepting gifts from Ukrainian people
Russian soldiers have been poisoned after accepting gifts from Ukrainian people. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Two Russian soldiers have died and 28 more are in intensive care after being 'poisoned' by gifts given to them by Ukrainian citizens, according to Ukraine's intelligence agency.

Two soldiers from Russia's 3rd Motor Rifle Division died immediately after eating the delicacies served by the citizens of Izium near Kharkiv, according to the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine.

It said that locals "treated" Russians from the 3rd motorized rifle division with "poisoned pies".

"As a result, two occupiers died at once, another 28 were taken to the intensive care unit," the service said.

"Their current state is being clarified. Another 500 servicemen of the 3rd motorized rifle division of the Russian federation are in hospitals due to severe alcohol poisoning of unknown origin.

Read more: Ukraine retakes whole Kyiv region as direct Putin/Zelenskyy peace talks 'possible'

"The Russian command attributes these cases to so-called "non-combat losses", the update reads.

Desperate people in Ukraine's besieged south-eastern coast are still hoping for evacuation today as the country's president said Russia's obsession with capturing a key port city has left it weakened and created opportunities for his troops.

Two loud explosions were heard in Odesa on the Black Sea early on Sunday and black smoke was seen rising above the city, Ukraine's largest port and headquarters of its navy.

"Odesa was attacked from the air. Some missiles were shot down by air defence," the city council said in a brief statement on Telegram.

It said fires were reported in some areas but gave no indication what was hit in the attack.

With Mariupol, to the east of Odesa, squarely in Russia's crosshairs, Ukraine insists it has gained a leg up elsewhere in the country, leading to troops retaking territory north of the capital, Kyiv, as Russian forces departed.

"Ukraine has gained invaluable time, time that is allowing us to foil the enemy's tactics and weaken its capabilities," President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday.

However, inside Mariupol, which has been surrounded by Russian forces for more than a month and suffered by some of the war's worst attacks, conditions remain dire and prospects for escape uncertain.

About 100,000 people are believed to remain in the Sea of Azov city, less than a quarter of its pre-war population of 430,000, and dire shortages of water, food, fuel and medicine persist.

Many still in Mariupol await fulfilment of promises to help them reach safety. Among those trying to get residents out was the International Committee of the Red Cross, which still had not reached the city on Saturday, a day after local authorities said it had been blocked by Russian forces.

Some residents escaped on their own, including Tamila Mazurenko, who reached Zaporizhzhia, a city still under Ukrainian control that has served as a hub for other evacuations.

"I have only one question: Why?" she said of her city's ordeal.

"Our normal life was destroyed. And we lost everything. I don't have any job, I can't find my son."

Mariupol is in the mostly Russian-speaking Donbas region, where Moscow-backed separatists have fought Ukrainian troops for eight years. Its capture would create an unbroken land corridor from Russia to Crimea, which Moscow seized from Ukraine in 2014.

As Ukrainian troops moved cautiously to retake territory north of Kyiv, the country and its Western allies said Russia is building strength in eastern Ukraine.

Where Russian troops recede, Ukraine said it will continue its attacks, shelling and targeting them as they pull out.

"Peace will not be the result of any decisions the enemy makes somewhere in Moscow. There is no need to entertain empty hopes that they will simply leave our land. We can only have peace by fighting," President Zelensky said.