- The European Union imposes new sanctions on Russia
- Biden calls for an end to normal trade
- Satellite images show the Russians redeploying north of Kyiv
- Civilians gather underground while Russia bombs cities
Lviv, Ukraine (March 11) (Reuters) – President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday that Ukraine had reached a “strategic turning point” in the conflict with Russia, but Russian forces had bombed cities across the country and appeared to be regrouping for a possible attack. on Russia. The capital is Kyiv.
The governor of the Kharkiv region, on the Russian border, said a psychiatric hospital had been hit, and the mayor of the city of Kharkiv said about 50 schools had been destroyed there.
In the besieged southern city of Mariupol, the city council said at least 1,582 civilians were killed as a result of Russian bombing and a 12-day siege that left hundreds of thousands trapped without food, water, heat or electricity.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the Black Sea port was now completely encircled, and Ukrainian officials accused Russia of deliberately preventing civilians from leaving and entering humanitarian convoys.
A new attempt to evacuate civilians along a humanitarian corridor from Mariupol appears to have failed, with Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Irina Verychuk saying Russian bombing prevented them from leaving.
“The situation is critical,” said Vadim Denisenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry.
Meanwhile, Western countries have taken more steps to try to force Russian President Vladimir Putin to end his offensive.
US President Joe Biden said the G7 would rescind Russia’s “most favored nation” trade status. He also announced a US ban on imports of Russian seafood, alcohol and diamonds.
European Union leaders meeting in France said they were ready to impose tougher economic sanctions on Russia and might give Ukraine more money to buy weapons. But they rejected Ukraine’s request to join the bloc.
In a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Putin said there were “some positive shifts” in talks with Kyiv, but did not elaborate.
With the Russian offensive now entering its third week, Zelensky, who rallied his people with a series of speeches, said Ukraine had “already reached a strategic turning point”.
“It is impossible to say how many days we still have to liberate Ukrainian lands. But we can say that we will,” he said. “We are already moving toward our goal, our victory.”
Russia’s main offensive force stumbled on the roads north of Kyiv after failing what Western analysts described as a preliminary plan for a misguided attack.
But images released by private US satellite company Maxar showed armored units maneuvering in and through towns near an airfield on the northwest outskirts of Kiv, the site of the fighting since Russia parachuted there in the early hours of the war.
Maksar said other elements were repositioned near Lubyanka, just to the north, with howitzers in firing positions.
The British Ministry of Defense said that Russia appeared to be preparing for new offensive activity in the coming days, possibly including operations against Kyiv.
However, it said in an intelligence update that Russian ground forces were still making limited progress, hampered by logistical problems and Ukrainian resistance.
The Ukrainian General Staff said that the Russian forces had regrouped after incurring heavy losses. She added that Ukrainian forces had pushed some back to “unfavorable positions” near the Belarus border at the back of the main Russian column.
The mayor of Kyiv, former heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, said the capital had enough basic supplies to last two weeks. The supply lines have remained open so far.
Ukrainian authorities said a psychiatric hospital near the eastern town of Izyum was hit. Emergency services said no one was hurt because patients were already sheltering in the basement. Read more
Kharkiv Governor Ole Senegubov described the attack as a war crime. Reuters was unable to verify the authenticity of the news.
Moscow denies it was targeting civilians in what it describes as a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine and “de-Nazification”. Ukraine and its allies say this was a baseless excuse for Russia to invade a democratic country of 44 million people.
Three air strikes near a kindergarten in the central city of Dnipro killed at least one person on Friday, state emergency services said.
The mayor of Lutsk said four people were killed and six wounded in an attack on an air base, in a rare strike on a target deep in western Ukraine, far from the battlefields in the north, east and south.
In Kharkiv, hundreds of people took shelter in metro stations. Nastya, a young girl lying on a makeshift bed on the floor of a train carriage, said she had been there for more than a week, unable to move much and sick with a virus.
“I’m afraid for my house, for my friends’ houses, and I’m very afraid for the whole country, and of course I’m afraid for myself,” she said. Read more
Moscow said its separatist allies in the southeast had captured the town of Volnovakha, north of Mariupol.
But Matthew Poleg, an expert at London think tank Chatham House, said Moscow may not have enough forces to achieve its goals.
“You can’t invade a country on a one-to-one ratio (of troops). Nobody has done that which means either something was wrong or they have very wrong assumptions to go into this war,” he told Reuters.
Ukraine has also raised the possibility of Moscow’s ally Belarus throwing its troops into the war, accusing Russia of launching “false flag” air strikes on Belarus from Ukraine to provide a pretext for an attack.
Belarus served as a staging post for Russian forces before and after the invasion on February 24. The Kremlin did not respond to a request for comment.
Putin and Lukashenko agreed on Friday that Moscow would provide its smaller neighbor with modern military equipment and mutual support against Western sanctions, including energy prices, the official Russian news agency BELTA said.
No EU membership
Away from the battlefields, European Union leaders gathered near Paris agreed to spend more on defense and reduce dependence on Russian energy supplies by 2027. But, fearing to anger Moscow further, they rejected Ukraine’s call for speedy accession to the EU.
Western countries moved quickly to isolate Russia from the global financial system.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the bloc will on Saturday suspend Moscow’s privileged trade and economic treatment; suppression of the use of crypto-assets; And banning the import of iron and steel products from Russia, as well as the export of luxury goods in the other direction. Read more
“Tomorrow we will take a fourth package of measures to further isolate Russia and drain the resources it uses to finance this barbaric war,” she said in Brussels.
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Reporting by Reuters offices. Written by Peter Graf, Angus McSwan, and Matt Spitalnick; Editing by Tomasz Janowski, Kevin Levy and Daniel Wallis
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