As Russian forces intensify their attacks in western Ukraine, the capital, Kyiv, is increasingly surrounded and the southeastern port city of Mariupol remains under siege. The fighting would have claimed more than 2,100 victims there, according to the town hall.
In Kyiv, only the roads to the south remain clear and the nearby Vassylkiv airport has been destroyed.
” Kyiv. A city under siege,” an adviser to the Ukrainian president tweeted, as residents stocked up on food and medicine and authorities set up barricades.
Vladimir Putin is frustrated that his forces are not progressing as he thought in major cities, including Kyiv. […] He gets wild and […] tries to cause damage in every part of the country.
Jake Sullivan, US National Security Advisor, on CNN
The Ukrainian army is still resisting to the east and west of the capital, according to journalists from Agence France-Presse on the spot.
Ukrainian soldiers felt that the invaders were demoralized. “They have to camp in villages by -10°C at night. They lack provisions and have to loot the houses,” rejoiced a 27-year-old soldier, Ilya Berezenko.
On the outskirts of Kyiv, in Irpin, an American journalist, Brent Renaud, was shot dead on Sunday, and another was injured. They were driving with a Ukrainian civilian, also injured, said Danylo Shapovalov, a doctor who treated the victims.
Brent Renaud, a 50-year-old freelance photographer and filmmaker, is the first foreign journalist killed since the start of the war. A Ukrainian journalist died in the Russian bombing of the Kyiv TV tower.
The Ukrainian authorities quickly accused their Russian enemies of having fired on the American journalists, but the origin of the shots remained unclear.
In Mariupol, the situation remains critical.
“The occupants are cynically and deliberately hitting residential buildings, densely populated areas, destroying children’s hospitals and urban infrastructure,” denounced the town hall of this strategic city located between Crimea and Donbass. “In 24 hours, we have experienced 22 bombings of a peaceful town. About 100 bombs have already been dropped on Mariupol,” the mayor said.
The Red Cross fears a “worst case scenario”
In the absence of an urgent humanitarian agreement, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned on Sunday of “a worst-case scenario” in Mariupol. Hundreds of thousands of city residents face shortages of basic necessities such as food, water and medicine, the ICRC has warned.
According to the organization, the bodies of killed civilians and soldiers remain where they fall.
“History will judge with horror what is happening in this city if no agreement is reached as soon as possible between the parties”, insists the ICRC.
Several UN agencies on Sunday demanded an end to attacks on health personnel and infrastructure in Ukraine, acts of “unacceptable cruelty”.
According to UNICEF, “31 attacks on health care have been documented”, leaving “at least 12 dead and 34 injured”.
Several attempts to deliver humanitarian aid have failed: a new convoy accompanied by Orthodox priests with 100 tons of water, food and medicine turned around on Sunday afternoon because of incessant Russian fire. A new attempt was scheduled for Monday.
The pope on Sunday urged an end to the fighting, calling Mariupol “a martyr city in the atrocious war that is devastating Ukraine”.
Moscow recognizes that the situation “in some cities” has taken on “catastrophic proportions”, in the words of General Mikhail Mizintsev, quoted on Saturday by Russian news agencies. But the military accused Ukrainian “nationalists” of mining residential areas and destroying infrastructure.
More difficult than expected for Russia
The Ukrainian authorities have announced that the Russians have given their agreement to the opening, on Sunday, of 10 humanitarian corridors, in particular from Mariupol. But such promises made in the past have already failed, and there was no confirmation as late as Sunday that those escape corridors were really in place.
Since the start of the invasion more than two weeks ago, the advance of Russian forces seems more difficult than expected, in the face of unexpected resistance, supported by weapons delivered by the West. The Russian army lays siege to several towns and pound them with fire.
Strikes on a large monastery in the Donetsk region left around 30 injured overnight from Saturday to Sunday, according to the Ukrainians.
In the south, at least 11 people were killed in Russian attacks on the port city of Mykolaiv, near Odessa, according to the Ukrainians.
According to the police chief of Popasna, a town located about a hundred kilometers west of Luhansk, the Russians used phosphorus bombs on his locality. This information was immediately unverifiable.
The Russians seem to have switched from precision ammunition to less precise weapons, which cause significant collateral damage. It is certain that we are dealing with a dirty war that targets civilians.
Michel Fortmann, professor at the University of Montreal and specialist in international security between great powers
According to Mr. Fortmann, the Russian forces risk however being very cautious in their bombardments near Poland. “The Russians know very well that there is a red line not to cross, and this line is an attack against a NATO country,” he said. This would mean that NATO would be forced to engage collectively. »
“Progress” in discussions
In this context, a Russian negotiator has yet reported “significant progress” in talks with Ukraine, which will resume on Monday.
“My personal expectation is that this progress will lead very soon to a common position between the two delegations and to documents to be signed,” added Leonid Sloutski, quoted by Russian news agencies.
On the Ukrainian side, Mykhailo Podoliak, one of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s advisers, tweeted that Moscow had stopped issuing “ultimatums” to Kyiv and started to “listen carefully [ses] proposals”.
For their part, senior American and Chinese officials are to meet this Monday in Rome, announced the White House, which is concerned about possible assistance from Beijing to Moscow, targeted by Western sanctions.
With Agence France-Presse and the Associated Press