Fighting raged outside Kyiv Saturday as Russian forces appeared to make fresh progress in their slow advance on Ukraine’s capital and continued to bombard cities already under siege across the country.
Britain’s defense ministry said in an intelligence briefing that Russian forces were around 15 miles from the city center. It added that a larger Russian column north of the city had dispersed, which might be part of an attempt to encircle Kyiv.
Elsewhere, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video post that Russian forces had captured Ivan Fedorov, the mayor of the southern city of Melitopol. “It is a crime against the democracy itself,” he said.
The country launched a fresh effort to open humanitarian corridors from several cities, including besieged Mariupol where civilians are trapped without water or food, although previous attempts have been disrupted by Russian shelling.
Meanwhile, U.S. soldiers are continuing to deploy to Europe, joining thousands already sent overseas to support NATO allies. About 130 soldiers gathered Friday at Hunter Airfield in Savannah, Georgia and departed on a chartered flight.
Follow our full coverage on the conflict here.
Ukraine launches fresh humanitarian corridor effort for Mariupol, other areas
Ukraine launched a fresh effort to open humanitarian corridors from several areas, including the besieged city of Mariupol where residents are trapped without water or food.
Previous attempts have been disrupted by Russian shelling.
Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, said in a video posted to Telegram that she hoped civilians could be evacuated from several cities, towns and villages that have faced heavy Russian bombardment.
The routes included one between Mariupol and Zaporizhzhia, with authorities once again hoping to get thousands of people out and aid into the strategic port city.
They also included a number of areas around Kyiv, where heavy fighting has been taking place as Russian forces step up their attempts to encircle the capital.
Russian forces around 15 miles from center of Kyiv, U.K. defense ministry says
Russian forces northwest of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv were around 15 miles from the city center and fighting was continuing, the United Kingdom’s defense ministry said Saturday.
The British assessment said that a larger Russian column north of the city had dispersed, which might be part of an attempt to encircle it. It could also be an attempt to reduce vulnerability to counterattacks, the ministry said.
Elsewhere, the cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol remained encircled and continue to be shelled by Russian forces, the U.K. said.
Over 600 Indian students stranded in Ukraine used social media to make it home
Hundreds of Indian students have made it home from Ukraine after being stranded at their schools for days with little food or water. Students from universities in Sumy and Odessa told NBC News that inaction from the Indian Embassy led them to take matters into their own hands.
“We decided ourselves that we should leave,” Ovais Choudhary, a medical student at Odessa National University, said in an interview translated from Hindi. “The more you wait, the more critical and tense the situation becomes.”
Choudhary traveled with a group of 50 students who left their school housing on foot Feb. 24 as tanks rolled through Odessa. They all moved into a set of three apartments where they spent two sleepless nights trying to figure out what to do.
Read the full story here.
Shelling damages cancer hospital, Ukraine says
Ukrainian officials accused Russia damaging a cancer hospital and several residential buildings in the southern city of Mykolaiv with shelling from heavy artillery.
The hospital’s head doctor, Maksim Beznosenko, said several hundred patients were in the hospital during the attack but that no one was killed. The assault damaged the building and blew out windows.
Russian forces have stepped up their attacks on Mykolaiv, located 292 miles south of Kyiv, in an attempt to encircle the city.
Ukrainian and Western officials earlier accused Russia of shelling a maternity hospital in the southern city of Mariupol on Wednesday. Three people died in that attack.
More U.S. soldiers deploy to Europe to support NATO allies
SAVANNAH, Ga. — U.S. soldiers are continuing to deploy to Europe, joining thousands already sent overseas to support NATO allies amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
About 130 soldiers from the 87th Division Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Division Sustainment Brigade gathered Friday at Hunter Airfield in Savannah, Georgia and departed on a chartered flight.
The soldiers are in addition to the estimated 3,800 soldiers from the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division who deployed recently from nearby Fort Stewart.
A division commander said that soldiers are being told to prepare for about six months overseas. The Pentagon has ordered roughly 12,000 total service members from various U.S. bases to Europe.
The soldiers’ mission is to train alongside military units of NATO allies in a display of force aimed at deterring further aggression by Russia. The Pentagon has stressed U.S. forces are not being deployed to fight in Ukraine.