On Day 11 of Russia’s war on Ukraine, Russian troops shelled encircled cities and a pro-Russian official said safe-passage corridors would open again for residents of the besieged port city of Mariupol.
The number of Ukrainians forced from their country grew to 1.4 million and the Kremlin’s rhetoric grew, with Russian President Vladimir Putin warning that Ukrainian statehood is in jeopardy. He likened the West’s sanctions on Russia to “declaring war.”
Here’s a look at key things to know about the conflict Sunday:
PROMISE OF SAFE PASSAGE FOR FROM TWO CITIES – AGAIN
A pro-Russian official said safe-passage corridors would open again for residents of Mariupol on Sunday, a day after a promised cease-fire in the besieged port city collapsed.
Ukrainian officials said Russian artillery fire and airstrikes had prevented residents from leaving before the agreed-to evacuations got underway. Putin accused Ukraine of sabotaging the effort.
Eduard Basurin, head of the military in separatist-held Donetsk territory, said safe passage corridors for residents would also be opened for residents of Volnovakha. He did not give any details on how long the corridors would remain open, nor whether there would be a cease-fire to facilitate the evacuation of the two cities. He made the comments on Russian state television.
WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING ON THE GROUND?
Russian forces launched hundreds of missiles and artillery attacks across the country, including dropping powerful bombs on residential areas of Chernihiv, a city north of the capital of Kyiv, Ukrainian officials said. But a mileslong Russian armored column threatening the capital was still stalled outside Kyiv.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukrainian forces were holding key cities in the central and southeastern part of the country, while the Russians were trying to block and keep encircled Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Chernihiv and Sumy.
Ukrainian forces were defending Odesa, Ukraine’s biggest port city, from Russian ships, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich said.
Russian troops took control of the southern port city of Kherson last week. Although they have encircled Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Chernihiv and Sumy, Ukrainian forces have managed to keep control of key cities in central and southeastern Ukraine, Zelenskyy said
DIRECTLY WITNESSED OR CONFIRMED BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
In Mariupol, Associate Press journalists witnessed doctors make unsuccessful attempts to save the lives of wounded children, pharmacies ran bare and hundreds of thousands of people faced food and water shortages in freezing weather.
In Irpin, near Kyiv, a sea of people on foot and even in wheelbarrows trudged over the remains of a destroyed bridge to cross a river and leave the city. Assisted by Ukrainian soldiers, they lugged pets, infants, purses and flimsy bags stuffed with minimal possessions. Some of the weak and elderly were carried along the path in blankets and carts.
Kyiv’s central train station remained crowded with people desperate to leave, and frequent shelling could be heard from the center of the capital city.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Moldova pledging America’s support to the small Western-leaning former Soviet republic. The country is coping with an influx of refugees from Ukraine and keeping an eye on Russia’s intensifying war with its neighbor.
A third round of talks between Russia and Ukraine will take place Monday, according to Davyd Arakhamia, a member of the Ukrainian delegation. He gave no additional details, including where they would take place.
Previous meetings were held in Belarus and led to the failed cease-fire agreement to create humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of children, women and older people from besieged cities.
Putin continued to blame the war on the Ukrainian leadership and slammed their resistance to the invasion. He said if they continued to resist, “They are calling into question the future of Ukrainian statehood.” His comments came after Zelenskyy made a “Desperate plea” on Saturday to the US Congress for more planes as Russian forces continued to batter strategic locations with missiles and artillery.
Meanwhile, Israel’s prime minister returned Sunday from a trip to Russia where he met Putin and discussed the war.
Naftali Bennett flew to Moscow on Saturday, where he met the Russian leader for three hours. Bennett spoke to Zelenskyy after his meeting with Putin.
Bennett’s trip was the latest attempt at diplomacy in the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Israel is one of the few countries that has good working relations with both Russia and Ukraine.
THE HUMANITARIAN SITUATION
The UN World Food Program says millions of people inside Ukraine, a major global wheat supplier, will need food aid “immediately.”
Ukrainian refugees continued to pour into neighboring countries, including Poland, Romania and Moldova. The number of people who have left Ukraine since fighting began has now reached 1.45 million.
Follow the AP’s coverage of the war between Russia and Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine