Officials in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, surrounded by Russian forces, said they were delaying the evacuation of the civilian population, accusing Moscow troops of breaking a ceasefire.
“Due to the fact that the Russian side does not adhere to the ceasefire and has continued to shell Mariupol itself and its surroundings and for security reasons, the evacuation of the civilian population has been postponed”, city officials said in a statement on social media. media.
Mariupol, a southern city of around 450,000 people on the Sea of Azov, was due to begin evacuations at 9 a.m. Irish time after Russian forces agreed to a ceasefire to allow civilians to quit fighting.
“We ask all residents of Mariupol to disperse and move to places where they can take shelter. More information on the evacuation will be released soon,” city officials wrote.
“At the moment, negotiations are underway with Russia to establish a ceasefire and ensure a safe humanitarian corridor,” the statement added.
There is no water, heat or electricity and food is running out in Mariupol, Mayor Vadym Boychenko has warned.
The Russian Defense Ministry later accused Ukrainian nationalists in Mariupol and Volnovakha – a town of 20,000 near the rebel center of Donetsk – of preventing Ukrainians from leaving for Russia.
“The same is happening in Kharkiv and Sumy, as well as in a number of other settlements,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement, referring to two other eastern Ukrainian cities in the center fights.
He also said he had respected the ceasefire and accused Ukrainian forces of reinforcing defenses while the fighting stopped.
The Russian Defense Ministry said a broad offensive would continue in Ukraine, RIA reported as the invasion entered its tenth day.
The Ukrainian military said in a statement today that the armed forces are “fighting hard to liberate Ukrainian cities from Russian occupiers”, counterattacking in some areas and disrupting communications.
“The units of the invaders are demoralized, soldiers and officers of the occupation army continue to surrender, to flee, leaving weapons and equipment on Ukrainian soil,” he said, adding that at least 39 Russian planes and 40 helicopters had been destroyed. Reuters was unable to independently verify these accounts.
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“We are just destroyed,” he said.
Ukraine says Russian forces have focused their efforts on encircling Kyiv and Kharkiv, the second-largest city, while aiming to establish a land bridge to Crimea.
Kiev, in the path of a Russian armored column that had been stuck for days outside the Ukrainian capital, came under attack again, with explosions audible from the city center.
Ukrainian media outlet Suspilne quoted authorities in Sumy, about 300 km east of Kyiv, as saying there is a risk of fighting on the streets of the city, urging residents to stay in shelters.
A Ukrainian negotiator, Mykhailo Podolyak, said on Thursday that a second round of ceasefire talks with Russia had not yielded the results Kyiv had hoped for, but the two sides had reached an agreement on the creation of humanitarian corridors.
Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said 66,224 Ukrainian men had returned from abroad to join the fight against the Russian invasion. “That’s 12 more combat and motivated brigades! We Ukrainians are invincible,” Reznikov said in an online post.
President Vladimir Putin’s actions have drawn near universal condemnation, and many countries have imposed heavy sanctions as the West balances punishment with avoiding a widening conflict.
Moscow denies targeting civilians in Ukraine and says its aim is to disarm its neighbor, counter what it sees as NATO aggression and capture leaders it calls neo-Nazis.
Russia’s parliament yesterday passed a law imposing a prison sentence of up to 15 years for intentionally spreading “false” information about the military.
“This law will impose penalties – and very severe penalties – on those who have lied and made statements discrediting our armed forces,” said Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament.
Russia blocks Facebook for restricting state-backed channels and the websites of the BBC, Deutsche Welle and Voice of America.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was expected to press Washington for more help during a video call with the US Senate at 2pm Irish time today.
The United States is weighing cuts to Russian oil imports and ways to minimize the impact on global supplies and consumers as lawmakers fast-track a bill that would ban Russian energy imports.
Global oil prices jumped more than 20% this week on concerns over supply shortages, posing a risk to global economic growth.
President Vladimir Putin today said Western sanctions on Russia amounted to a declaration of war and warned that any attempt to impose a no-fly zone in Ukraine would be tantamount to entering the conflict.
At a meeting yesterday, NATO allies rejected Ukraine’s call for no-fly zones, saying they were increasing their support but that intervening directly could make the situation worse.
“We have a responsibility (…) to prevent this war from spreading beyond Ukraine, because that would be even more dangerous, more devastating and cause even more human suffering,” the secretary general said. of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg.
Mr Zelensky criticized the summit saying “It was clear that not everyone sees the battle for the freedom of Europe as the number one goal”.
Yesterday, thousands of people waited for hours outside the station in the western city of Lviv to board trains bound for Poland. The families arrived with few possessions. Some were in wheelchairs, others accompanied by pet dogs and cats, unsure of their fate.
Russian forces have made their biggest advances in the south, where they this week captured their first major Ukrainian city, Kherson.
Shelling has worsened in recent days in the northeastern cities of Kharkiv and Chernihiv.
Aid agencies have warned of an unfolding humanitarian disaster as food, water and medical supplies run out and refugees flood into western Ukraine and neighboring European countries.