New towns awoke to smoldering ruins on Friday as Russia further extended their strikes and increased their pressure on the big crosses held at gunpoint.
• Read also: Ukraine: Russian forces surround Kyiv and block Mariupol
• Read also: Ukraine: several hospitals hit by bombings in Mykolaiv
From now on, “there is no longer a safe city here”. This is what Inna Sovsun, elected to the Ukrainian Parliament, told the BBC on Friday, imploring “the world to intervene”.
Adding its procession of images of desolation to those of Kharkiv, in the northeast of Ukraine, Mariupol, in the southeast, and Irpin, next to Kyïv, the city of Dnipro, in the east, woke up dazed, in a setting of charred and gutted buildings on Friday.
On Wednesday, victims were placed in a mass grave in Mariupol, which was also hard hit by the bombardments.
In the morning, missiles hit near a day care center, a block of flats and a shoe factory, causing the death of at least one person. Since the beginning of the invasion, this key city which would allow the Russians to claim the east of the country had however been spared.
“Unable to achieve success, the enemy continues its attacks with missiles and bombs on cities deep in the territory of Ukraine,” the Ukrainian military said on Friday.
But after several days of immobility, the convoy of Russian tanks and artillery of more than 60 km, which waited on the borders of the capital, dissolved to regroup elsewhere, according to satellite images. Several of them left the road to hide in the woods, and thus avoid attacks by drones or Ukrainian anti-tank missiles.
In several localities neighboring Kyiv, Russian forces are seeking to eliminate the defenses to encircle and “block” the capital, according to the Ukrainian general staff.
“Kyiv is a symbol of resistance” which is preparing for a “relentless defense”, proclaimed Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the Ukrainian president.
The pressure also intensified in Mykolaiv, where Russia opened fire on civilian areas, including a cafe, a house and the parking lot of a shopping center, according to the New York Times. In the morgue, corpses have been piling up for days.
Refusing to cooperate, Ivan Fedorov, mayor of the southern city of Melitopol, was kidnapped, according to the Ukrainian parliament.
And after Wednesday’s attack on a pediatric hospital in Mariupol, a facility for the disabled near Kharkiv was hit by a strike on Friday.
So far, the Russian invasion has claimed the lives of more civilians than soldiers, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told Reuters news agency on Friday.
The Russian army should restart its offensive soon, after its moderate progress in recent days, estimates the British Ministry of Defense.
The sanctions that have been imposed are “not enough” if Russia can continue its campaign, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky insisted on Friday.
He asked the mothers of Russian soldiers to prevent their sons from going to war.
His Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, has also given the green light to sending “volunteer” fighters, particularly from Syria.
About 2.5 million refugees have fled the country, and about 2 million have been displaced within the country, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
– With Roxane Trudel