Russian airstrikes killed 35 people at a military base outside Lviv in western Ukraine, local officials said Sunday.
Another nine people were killed in an airstrike on the southern city of Mykolaiv while the capital Kyiv was preparing for a possible Russian encirclement, the local governor said.
In a video address posted on social media on Saturday night, President Volodymyr Zelensky said adamantly that Russia would not occupy Ukraine.
“Russian invaders cannot conquer us. They don’t have that kind of power.
They don’t have that spirit. They only hold on to violence. “Only for terrorism,” he said.
For the first two weeks after the February 24 invasion, Russian forces concentrated on eastern and southern Ukraine, especially the strategically heavily besieged port of Mariupol.
Recently, they have moved centrally and attacked the city of Dnipro, and are now moving west, bordering the EU and NATO member Poland.
Maxim Kosicky said the missiles attacked a military training ground in Javoriv near Lviv, about 20 kilometers from the Polish border, overnight.
He said 35 people were killed and 134 injured in an attack on a base that used to be a training camp for Ukrainian forces with foreign instructors, including the United States and Canada.
In the Black Sea city of Mykolaiv near Odessa’s strategic port, regional governor Vitaliy Kim said nine people were killed in Russian airstrikes.
The city of about 500,000 was attacked by Russian troops for several days. AFP The reporter said there was a fire at a cancer treatment hospital and an eye clinic there on Saturday.
Meanwhile, aid agencies are facing a humanitarian disaster and are continuing their efforts to seek help in the strategic southern port city of Mariupol, according to aid groups.
Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Irina Bereshchuk, said the aid convoy to Mariupol was blocked at a Russian checkpoint but hoped to arrive on Sunday.
Ukraine’s nearly two-week siege killed more than 1,500 civilians, leaving the city without water or heating and running out of food.
Attempts to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people have repeatedly failed.
A French military source said: “Mariupol is still under siege…
A senior Russian officer described the situation in cold language.
“Unfortunately, the humanitarian situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate rapidly, reaching catastrophic levels in some cities,” said Mikhail Mijinchev, director of the Russian Defense Control Center.
Russian forces have advanced enough to arouse fears that Kyiv will face an impending siege.
Other cities have already been captured or besieged, and civilians have warned that it could be a UN-warranted war crime.
In his video speech, Zelensky appealed for further assistance.
“I keep emphasizing my allies and friends abroad. They must continue to do more for Ukraine and for Ukraine. Because it’s not just for Ukraine, it’s for the whole of Europe,” he said.
He said “about 1,300” Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since February 24, making it the first official Ukrainian death toll.
He claimed that Russia had lost about 12,000 troops and that Moscow had only suffered 498 deaths, released on 2 March.
Also read: Five scenarios for Ukraine after the invasion
At least 579 civilians have been killed, according to United Nations figures, stressing that the figure is likely to be much lower.
The United Nations estimates that nearly 2.6 million people have fled Ukraine since the invasion of Ukraine, the worst refugee crisis in Europe since World War II, mostly to Poland.
According to the President of Ukraine, in Kyiv, only the road to the south is open, and the city is preparing for a “ruthless defense”.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said the capital was stockpiling food and medicine while bringing civilians by bus from the bombed-out suburbs.
The British Ministry of Defense estimated on Saturday that Russian forces were about 25 kilometers from Kyiv and that the dispersed columns to the north of the city reinforced signs of a siege.
But Russia is said to be facing resistance from Ukrainian troops both east and west of the capital. AFP reporters on the spot.
On the demolished bridge between the northwest suburbs of Irpin and Kyiv itself, AFP A reporter on Sunday saw Ukrainian troops carrying the bodies of three fellow soldiers on stretchers across a river from a makeshift boardwalk.
Ukrainian soldiers said they believe that the Russians overestimated their resources in terms of troops and equipment and underestimated the resources of the enemy.
“You have to camp in a village where the temperature is close to minus 10 degrees at night. They run out of food and have to raid their homes,” said one soldier Ilya Berezenko, 27.
light of hope
Efforts to a diplomatic resolution of the conflict continued, with French President Emmanuel Macron and German President Olaf Scholz meeting again with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday.
They urged him to end the fatal blockade on Mariupol, the French president said.
Faced with growing international condemnation, Putin tried to turn the situation around, accusing Kyiv of what he described as a “clear violation of international humanitarian law” and accusing the Ukrainian military of executing opponents and using civilians hostage.
The French president called his accusations “a lie” during a meeting between Macron and Scholz.
But in a glimmer of hope, Zelensky said on Saturday that Russia has taken a “fundamentally different approach” at recent talks to end the conflict.
He told reporters that Moscow had only “issued an ultimatum” and that it was in contrast to previous talks that “we’re glad we got a signal from Russia”.
Putin said last week he had seen “some positive changes” in their nearly daily conversations.
As Russia expanded its artillery fire, Zelensky’s call for help became more and more urgent.
Washington and its EU allies have sent money and military aid to Ukraine and acted on Russia’s economy and oligarchy. The cultural and sports boycott further isolated Moscow.
At Irpin on Saturday, a Ukrainian soldier who only named Viktor showed off a warped remnant of a British anti-tank missile system and a Russian vehicle it destroyed.
“I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my British comrades who have helped us,” he said.
Russia’s space agency Roscosmos warned on Saturday that the International Space Station could crash if it is affected by a Russian spacecraft, as international sanctions against Moscow continue to tighten and take a serious blow to the Russian economy.
But Washington added more sanctions on Friday, this time ending normal trade relations and announcing a ban on Russian vodka, seafood and diamonds.
And on Saturday, US President Joe Biden approved up to $200 million in new weapons and other aid to Ukraine.
But he ruled out direct action against nuclear-armed Russia and warned that it would lead to “World War III”.