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Russia-Ukraine War: Moscow extends its offensive to the west and seeks to encircle Kiev

Russian troops intensify their offensive in Ukraine, where they first bombed the city of Dnipro (centre) and two military airfields in the west countrywhile tightening the siege this Friday around Kiev, the capital, amid complaints about new attacks on civilians.

A huge Russian convoy stalled outside Kiev for days was looking for this Friday surround the capital.

The new airstrikes in western Ukraine were likely a message from Russia that no area was safe, and Western and Ukrainian officials say Russian forces have struggled with stronger-than-expected resistance and supply and morale problems. .

So far, they have made the most progress in southern and eastern cities while stalling in the north and around Kiev.

Civilians under fire

More than two weeks after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, hundreds of thousands of civilians remain trapped under bombardment, with more than 2.5 million fleeing the country, according to UN estimates.

Western countries have imposed heavy sanctions on Moscow and sent funds and military reinforcements to Ukraine, but they have failed to prevent the advance of Russia, which carried out multiple bombings in the early hours of Friday.

The bodies of civilians and soldiers lie on the floor of the morgue in Mykolaiv, Ukraine. Photo: AFP

The first high-level negotiations between the two sides on Thursday did not lead to any progress towards a ceasefire, but Russian President Vladimir Putin said that saw some “positive steps” in the talks.

According to him, the negotiations “now take place almost every day”.

On the ground, three missiles hit civilian buildings in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro early Friday, destroying a shoe factory and killing a security guard.

A Ukrainian high command next to the remains of a destroyed factory in Dnipro.  Photo.  AFP

A Ukrainian high command next to the remains of a destroyed factory in Dnipro. Photo. AFP

Until now, the city had suffered very few attacks, so it became a coordination center for humanitarian aid and reception of displaced people.

“Today we were supposed to take in people who need a lot of support … Now we can’t help anyone,” said Svetlana Kalenecheko, who lives and works in a clinic damaged by the attack.

The night bombardments also reached the cities of Chernihiv (north), Sumy (northeast) and Kharkov (east), heavily impacted by the Russian offensive. The attacks caused damage to residential buildings and water and electricity supply infrastructure.

Near Oskil, in the Kharkov region, an establishment for People with disabilities was the target of Russian bombing, a local official said Friday.

“The Russians again carried out a brutal attack on civilians,” Oleh Sinegubov lamented on Telegram, indicating that no casualties were recorded. There were 330 people in the center at the time of the attack, 73 of whom were able to be evacuated.

This attack came two days after the bombing of a pediatric hospital in Mariupol (south), which caused the death of three people, including a girl. In that city, on the shores of the Sea of ​​Azov, the situation is described as “apocalyptic”.

According to its mayor, Vadim Boishenko, more than 1,200 residents died in Mariupol after ten days of siege.

Fights over food The local representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Sasha Volkov, warned that some residents “have begun to fight over food” and that many were left without drinking water.

In addition, the Lutsk military airfield in the northwest was also bombed and four Ukrainian soldiers were killed, local authorities reported. Moscow said the airport was “out of service.”

The Ukrainian army warned in a report that “the enemy is trying to remove the defenses of Ukrainian forces” in numerous locations to the west and north of Kiev with the aim of “blockading the capital”.

This source did not exclude “an enemy movement to the east in the direction of Brovary”, at the gates of Kiev.

The mayor of the capital, the famous former boxer Vitali Klichkó, ​​said that half the population had left and that the city, previously with almost 3 million inhabitants, “had been transformed in a fortress.

“Every street, every building, every checkpoint has been fortified,” he said.

A missile crosses the sky of Kiev.  Photo: AP

A missile crosses the sky of Kiev. Photo: AP

Since the start of the offensive on February 24, the invading forces have surrounded at least four big ukrainian cities and they have sent armed vehicles to the northeast flank of Kiev, where suburbs like Irpin or Busha have been bombed for days.

Ukrainian soldiers described intense fighting to control the main highway leading to the capital.

The British Ministry of Defense indicated that this strategy of surrounding cities “will reduce the number of forces available to advance and slow down Russian progress.”

This Friday, the Kremlin pointed out that citizens of Syria and from elsewhere in the Middle East could be authorized to fight alongside Russian forces in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky accused Russia of hiring “assassins from Syria, a country where everything has been destroyed by the occupiers, something they are putting us through.”

In a recorded message outside the presidential office in Kiev, Zelensky also urged the European Union (EU) to “do more” to help Ukraine.

Western countries have so far offered military and humanitarian support to Ukraine, and are considering increasing sanctions against Moscow.

The head of diplomacy of the European Union (EU), Josep Borrell, said this Friday that he proposed to the leaders of the bloc, meeting at a summit in Versailles, France, an additional contribution of 500 million euros (548 million dollars). in military aid to Ukraine.

In addition, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, whose country presides over the EU this semester, warned that there will be new “massive sanctions” if the war continues.

In an interview with AFP, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stressed on Friday that the Alliance has “the responsibility to prevent this conflict from escalating beyond Ukraine’s borders and becoming an open war between Russia and NATO”.

humanitarian corridors

Still, there are areas where humanitarian corridors yes they are working. Nearly 100,000 people have been able to leave the northeastern city of Sumy, eastern Izium and northwestern areas of Kiev in the past two days, Ukrainian authorities said.

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Humanitarian corridors today

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DETAIL TO KIEV AND ZHYTOMYR

The Russian government promised to open daily humanitarian corridors for Ukrainians to flee the fighting and can get to Russia, but Ukraine refuses to evacuate its citizens to Russia and claims humanitarian corridors within its borders.

On Friday, the UN Security Council held an urgent meeting on this issue at the request of Russia.

On the other hand, Russia announced that it initiated actions against Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, “in the face of illegal calls for the murder of Russians” after the company relaxed its rules on violent messages.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern on Friday at Meta’s announcement to make exceptions to its rules regarding messages hostile to the Russian military and government.

AFP and AP

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