KABUL (BNA) – Russian forces pounded Ukrainian cities including the capital Kyiv with artillery and cruise missiles on Saturday for a third day running and Russia’s Interfax news agency said they had captured the southeastern city of Melitopol.
Ukrainian officials were not immediately available to comment on the fate of Melitopol and Britain’s armed forces minister James Heappey cast doubt on the report, saying the city of some 150,000 people was still in Ukrainian hands.
Western intelligence sources say Russian forces have encountered far stronger Ukrainian resistance than they had expected and this was significantly slowing their advances since their invasion began on Thursday. Reuters Reporting
The situation is very tense indeed. On our way to this checkpoint we saw trenches being dug and what looked like civilian defence forces setting up along with the army to defend bridge positions. This city is of huge significance, it has a massive hydroelectric plant in it – so very important civilian infrastructure,” added Stratford.
Dozens of residents have made their way to Mariupol’s hospital to donate blood, as Ukrainian forces are blocking the southeastern city’s main roads with trees to stave off Russian forces from entering.
“Heavy fighting is taking place near Mariupol,” Mykhailo Podolyak, Zelenksyy’s adviser, told a briefing earlier. “But there is no chance that Mariupol will surrender or be captured.”
Ukraine’s health minister said 198 civilians, including three children, have been killed so far by Russian forces.
Masses of people poured into Kyiv’s train stations to escape the city as Russian forces continue their assault on Ukraine.
Russia’s communications regulator accused 10 local media outlets of falsely depicting what Russia calls a special military operation in Ukraine and distributing false information about events there.
President Zelenskyy has called for his country to be admitted to the European Union.
“It is a crucial moment to close the long-standing discussion once and for all and decide on Ukraine’s membership in the EU,” Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter.
Zelenskyy said he had discussed “further effective assistance” as well as “the heroic struggle of Ukrainians for their free future” with European Council President Charles Michel.
Bakhtar News Agency