Photo: EMRE CAYLAK/AFP/Getty Images
Russia is intensifying its attack on Ukraine as its forces bombard cities across the country with planes and artillery. Satellite images showed that Russian troops appear to be regrouping for a possible assault on Kiev as they approached the Ukrainian capital, Reuters reported.
With the Russian assault in its third week, Zelenskiy, who rallied his people with a series of speeches from the capital Kiev, said Ukraine “had already reached a strategic turning point.”
CNN crews in Kiev reported hearing explosions in the early hours of Saturday morning, and Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward described “a continuous flurry … of loud explosions in the distance,” which continued for several minutes.
It is unclear whether the blasts were Russian or Ukrainian attacks, Ward said.
Air-raid sirens sounded in Kiev in the early hours of Saturday morning and there are reports of heavy shelling.
Zelenskiy accused Russia of hiring “assassins from Syria” after the Kremlin redoubled its efforts to bring in reinforcements from the Middle East. Syria’s army has begun recruiting troops from its own ranks to fight alongside Russian forces in Ukraine, promising payments of $3,000 a month.a sum of up to 50 times the monthly salary of a Syrian soldier.
European Union leaders plan to collectively rearm and become autonomous in food, energy and military equipment in a statement after their meeting in Versailles that described Russia’s war as “a tectonic shift in European history,” according to The Guardian.
The United States has warned of the possibility of Russia using chemical or biological weapons. Britain and the US have expressed fear that Russia may be setting the stage to use a chemical weapon in Ukraine and use their accusations of biological laboratories as a pretext. US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said: “Russia has a history of falsely accusing other countries of the same violations that Russia itself is perpetrating.”
Russian airstrikes hit three cities in Ukraine on Friday, including two in the west of the country, as the scope of its military offensive widened. The raids hit airfields in Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk, far from the main conflict areas, and residential buildings in the strategically important city of Dnipro.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians remain trapped and under fire in Ukrainian cities, but the situation in Mariupol is especially serious. Ten days after the Russian siege, its population has no access to electricity or mobile phone networks, and water and food are running out. 7,144 people were evacuated from four Ukrainian cities on Friday, Zelenskiy said in a televised address.
Ukraine today accused Russia of violating international law by kidnapping the mayor of Melitopol, a Ukrainian city that fell under Russian control during the invasion, Reuters reports. Ukrainian officials said Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov was kidnapped after being falsely accused of terrorism.
The central part of a nuclear research facility in Kharkiv was undamaged after a relentless round of shelling, the director of the scientific institute said in an interview with Reuters on Friday. The outside of the institute has been hit with “major destruction” by several projectiles launched from the Russian side, said Mykola Shulga, general of the Kharkiv National Science Center’s Institute of Physics and Technology. The facility is currently in working order and safe, Shugla said, and added a warning that if the nuclear fuel tank were physically damaged, it could leak radioactive elements and seriously harm the environment.
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