Russia escalates shelling of cities as land advance stalls

Russian forces intensified their shelling of key Ukrainian cities as they didn’t make “any noteworthy progress” in seizing territory, the US mentioned on Monday amid indicators Ukrainian non-combatants had been discovering it more and more troublesome to flee bombardment of civilian neighbourhoods.

John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesperson, mentioned whereas Russian troops had been making progress in southern Ukraine, together with tightening their grip round Mariupol and transferring nearer to the southern port of Odesa, they continued to be largely stymied within the north, the place they’re trying to encircle Kyiv.

“As they proceed to get pissed off, they proceed to rely extra on what we’d name long-range fires . . . missile strikes, long-range artillery into metropolis centres that they aren’t in but,” Kirby mentioned.

At a gathering of the UN Safety Council on Monday, assist officers mentioned the southern metropolis of Mariupol gave the impression to be the toughest hit, with tons of of 1000’s of residents trapped with out meals or water beneath close to fixed bombardment. Kharkiv and Melitopol had been additionally being intensively shelled.

The dangers to civilians from the escalating bombing marketing campaign has risen to the highest of the worldwide agenda after Ukrainian authorities rejected as “immoral and unacceptable” a proposal from Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, for so-called humanitarian corridors out of frontline cities.

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Moscow supplied to droop assaults on Kharkiv, Kyiv, Sumy and Mariupol on Monday morning and create transport corridors out of the cities, however many of the routes ended up in Russia. The Kremlin mentioned it will do the identical on Tuesday morning, Russian information company Tass reported.

Moscow claimed its supply of a ceasefire adopted “a private request” from Emmanuel Macron, president of France — a suggestion denied by Paris. Regardless of the supply, Ukrainian officers mentioned bombing continued after the supposed begin of the ceasefire.

Macron condemned the Kremlin’s supply as “ethical and political cynicism” and mentioned “I don’t know many Ukrainians who need to take refuge in Russia” in an interview with LCI tv, including he had failed to influence Putin of the necessity for a ceasefire.

Ukrainian officers deal with such Russian affords with scepticism. Earlier Russian ceasefires have failed to carry, with each side buying and selling accusations that the opposite has violated their phrases.

The authorities in Mariupol, a port metropolis on the Sea of Azov which is totally encircled by Russian forces, tried on Saturday and Sunday to evacuate residents to security after Moscow mentioned it had referred to as a halt to shelling — and each occasions needed to abandon their makes an attempt when Russia resumed firing.

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With concern rising over the humanitarian state of affairs in Ukraine, US President Joe Biden hosted a two-hour name with Macron and their British and German counterparts in an try to boost stress on Putin and co-ordinate a response.

“The main target was considerations over additional Russian escalation and the query of humanitarian provides within the battle zones,” mentioned a spokesperson for Germany’s authorities. “It was agreed that the safety of the civilian inhabitants ought to have utmost precedence.”

The Russian shelling got here as negotiators for Kyiv and Moscow held a 3rd spherical of peace talks with none vital breakthroughs. Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, mentioned there had been some “small optimistic developments in bettering the logistics of humanitarian corridors”.

However Vladimir Medinsky, head of the Russian delegation to the talks, advised Interfax that they “weren’t simple”, “fell wanting [Russia’s] expectations” and that it was “too quickly to speak of one thing optimistic”.

Regardless of Russian advances within the south, US defence officers mentioned there was rising proof of morale issues amongst Russian troops, with Kirby saying the Pentagon believed many had been mislead concerning the objective of their deployments.

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“It isn’t clear to us that the entire troopers that Russia has put into Ukraine realised that that’s what they had been doing, that they had been really going to invade,” Kirby mentioned.

“They’re having morale issues, they’re having provide issues, they’re having gasoline issues, they’re having meals issues,” Kirby added. “They’re assembly very stiff and decided Ukrainian resistance, and we nonetheless preserve that they’re a number of days behind the place they in all probability thought they had been going to be by way of their progress.”

The Pentagon on Monday mentioned practically 100 per cent of the Russian troops that had amassed on the border earlier than the invasion had now moved into Ukraine, a rise from 95 per cent on Sunday.

The Pentagon mentioned Russia had launched greater than 625 missile strikes in Ukraine for the reason that invasion started. It accelerated the variety of launches from the weekend, after a tempo of roughly 20 a day on the finish of final week.

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