1 million flee Ukraine as Russian assault on Kyiv stalls

Residential areas of several cities came under attack early Thursday, according to an update from the Ukrainian military posted on Facebook.

Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, and surrounding towns came under particularly heavy shelling on Wednesday and into Thursday. In the last 24 hours, 34 people died and 285 were injured in the region, including 10 children, the interior ministry said in a statement.

Russia has consistently denied targeting civilians.

The strategic port city of Mariupol remained in Ukrainian hands, according to the Ukrainian military statement, despite days of intense Russian attacks.

The statement did not mention Kherson, further along the coast on the Dnieper river, where it was unclear who was in control of the city.

In the latest update from the city’s mayor late Wednesday, he said there had been “armed visitors in the city council building,” but insisted the Ukrainian flag was still flying.

Nearly 20 miles outside Kyiv, Russia’s military column stood largely in place, with both mechanical breakdowns and the Ukrainian defense delaying its advance, according to British military intelligence. “The column has made little discernible progress in over three days,” the country’s defense ministry said on Twitter.

“The enemy is trying to break through to the capital. But Ukrainian defenders hold the defense and stop the occupiers on the outskirts of the capital,” Mayor Vitali Klitschko said in an update on Telegram. 

Shells landed overnight in residential areas damaging homes and cars, but not causing any casualties, he said.

Russia reported military casualties for the first time since it launched the invasion of its democratic neighbor last week, saying nearly 500 of its troops had been killed and almost 1,600 wounded.

In line with Ukrainian estimates, two Western officials told NBC News that about 5,800 Russians have been killed. One U.S. official, however, cautioned that the estimates are extremely difficult to pin down in the fog of war and have ranged from as low as 500 to more than 5,000.

NBC News has not confirmed the numbers of any deaths from the conflict.

Anastasiia Parafeniuk contributed.

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