As Russian troops advanced closer to the Ukrainian capital from the north, west and northeast, fears were raised of Kyiv becoming encircled completely, while multiple air strikes rained down on a military base near the western city, Lviv, on Sunday.
Here are the latest developments in the Russia-Ukraine war:
- Thirty-five have been reported dead, and 57 injured after Russian troops launched eight air strikes onto a military training ground outside western Ukraine’s Lviv, in a major escalation near the Polish border, officials said Sunday.
- As Kyiv faces possible encirclement, Russian troops shot at a group of women and children evacuees who were leaving a village near the capital, killing seven, including a child, Ukraine’s military said on Saturday.
- Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak says Kyiv is already effectively “under siege” as the army and volunteers prepare to defend the city, street by street.
- Meanwhile, the southern port city of Mariupol continues to be incessantly bombarded by Russian forces. The strategic port, in particular, is facing what Ukraine says is a “humanitarian catastrophe”, with more than 1,500 civilians killed. Attempts to evacuate hundreds of thousands of civilians have repeatedly failed.
- Most recently, a mosque in Mariupol, where 80 civilians were taking shelter, was shelled by Russian forces, Ukraine’s foreign ministry said on Saturday. Latest satellite images showed extensive damage to civilian infrastructure and residential buildings throughout Mariupol.
- This comes after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said the mayor of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov, was kidnapped by Russian soldiers who forcefully invaded and occupied the southeastern Ukrainian city.
- Around 13,000 people were evacuated from a number of Ukrainian cities on Saturday, the deputy prime minister said, almost twice the number who managed to get out on Friday, as nine of the 14 humanitarian corridors opened have been successful.
- Intense efforts at diplomacy continued, with the leaders of France and Germany, Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz, urging Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during a three-way phone conversation on Saturday to end the deadly blockade.
- In a small glimmer of hope, Ukraine’s Zelensky said Saturday that Russia — after appearing unbudging for days — had adopted a “fundamentally different approach” in the latest talks to end the conflict. He said the approach was in contrast to earlier talks at which Moscow only “issued ultimatums”.
- “Around 1,300” Ukrainian troops have been killed since the start of the invasion, President Volodymyr Zelensky says, making it the first time he has given a death count for Ukraine’s forces. Russia said on March 2 it had lost 498 soldiers, but Zelensky has said it is closer to 12,000. Almost 2.6 million people have fled the country, says the UN — more than half to Poland.