Mariupol besieged as Russians prepare to ‘bombard cities into submission’

Zelensky said the NATO gathering was “weak” and “confused” and said the alliance knew that further Russian aggression was likely. He accused the body of having blood on its hands.

“All the people who die starting today will also die because of you. Because of your weakness, because of your disconnection,” Zelensky said.

“Today the leadership of the alliance gave the green light for further bombing of Ukrainian cities and villages, refusing to make a no-fly zone.”

Zelensky – who has been the subject of several foiled assassination attempts from Russian-back mercenaries – posted a video on his official Instagram refuting suspected Kremlin-backed reports he had fled the country.

Zelensky posts another video: I haven’t fled Kyiv

“Every two days information comes out that I have fled somewhere — fled from Ukraine, from Kyiv, from my office. As you can see, I am here in my place… Nobody has fled anywhere. Here, we are working,” he said.

“We like jogging, but now we don’t have time for that, for various cardio exercises,” he joked. “Working. Glory to Ukraine.”

An attack at Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s largest nuclear facility, was condemned by Western leaders and raised the prospect of widening the war. No army has previously attacked an active nuclear facility.

Less than 100km from the power plant, life was eerily normal in Ukraine’s fourth-largest city Dnipro.
The city was once one of the world’s most important centres of Jewish culture and civilisation, and still has a significant proportion of the population have Jewish ancestry.

Despite war raging just 200km north in Karkiv and 85km south where the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is located, snow-covered Dnipro has yet to be attacked.

A reserve major in Ukraine’s armed forces said he wasn’t sure whether Russia would attack Dnipro in the coming days, but the city and the military were prepared to defend it.

But he feared for the civilians in the city who had no training in how to fight.

“Today the problem is… the enemy could be from the sky because there could be bombing or missiles,” he said. “Here in the city, there are my friends and family who are not military – they have no helmet or ballistic vests.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said more support in the form of military hardware was on its way, for but said the West’s responsibility was to prevent the war from escalating beyond Ukraine.

“Because that would be even more dangerous, more devastating and would cause even more human suffering,” Stoltenberg said.

“Here in the city, there are my friends and family who are not military – they have no helmet or ballistic vests.”

Ukrainian major, Dnipro

More than 22 NATO nations and a handful of others have said they will send military assistance to Ukraine, including antitank missiles, artillery ammunition and Stinger surface-to-air missiles

But the delivery of weapons donated by the West across the borders has been slowed in recent days, with Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania providing the only access but east-west roads that can handle truck transport are clogged with refugees fleeing the country.

Amid evident fears that a wider world war might be triggered accidentally, the Pentagon on Friday confirmed that it had established a new hotline with Russia’s ministry of defence to prevent “miscalculation, military incidents and escalation” in the region.

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Hours before Mairupol was given a chance to evacuate civilians, Boychenko said the city of 400,000 residents was without water, heat or electricity and was running out of food.

“We are simply being destroyed,” he said in a televised appeal. “They want to wipe Mariupol and Mariupol residents off the face of the Earth.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that “radioactive clouds” could spread over Europe if the West does not act following Russia’s unprecedented assault on a nuclear power plant.

Russia has claimed it had retaken Hostomel airport, a strategic target for the Kremlin since the war began, but a British defence intelligence update said there was “renewed fighting” around the airfield at the front end of the 60-km long Russian armoured convoy that has become bogged down en route to the capital. The intelligence briefing said the column had made “little discernible progress in over four days”.

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Western intelligence officials told American broadcaster CNN there was a continued shift in Russian strategy from military targets to civilians, with more attacks becoming focused on population centre. They fear a pickup in the pace and strength of strikes, could include a significant increase in the number of civilian casualties.

“It’s a very crude approach,” the official said. “The heavier weapons are not just heavier in the weight, they’re also heavier in terms of the damage that they can inflict. And they’re far less discriminant.”

with agencies



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