Battle rages as Russian forces try to capture Kyiv
By Stefan J. Bos
Ukrainian forces desperately tried to hold back Russian forces in this village near Kyiv. “Continue to attack, hold the checkpoint,” a soldier shouted.
But it isn’t easy. Footage showed Ukrainian troops maneuvering through a forest, trying to escape apparent sniper fire and other attacks. “Two tanks are coming in,” a soldier radioed to fellow fighters.
The battle in this Kyiv region village isn’t an isolated incident. Intelligence sources say Russian forces are within 10 miles, some 25 kilometers, away from the center of Kyiv.
Shootings, sirens, and explosions have also been heard in many other cities across Ukraine as Russian troops try to encircle critical targets.
The besieged cities of Kharkiv, Mariupol, Mykolaiv, and Sumy have been enduring relentless shelling as well as freezing temperatures. Many residents are without power and have little food or water. Dead bodies have been seen lying on the streets.
Ukrainian authorities say Russian forces shelled a mosque in Mariupol, where more than 80 adults and children were sheltering. It was not clear how many casualties there were.
Despite setbacks, hundreds of residents risked their lives in the south-eastern city of Melitopol to protest against the abduction of its mayor by invading Russian forces. Ukraine's President Zelensky demanded his immediate release and accused the Russians of "moving to a new terror stage."
Moscow has defended what it calls “a special military operation” in Ukraine to protect Russian interests and called Ukraine’s pro-Western government Nazis.
Amid the ongoing fighting, the leaders of France and Germany have been holding another round of phone talks with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in an attempt to reach a ceasefire.
But there are no signs of peace returning soon to this devastated land. The conflict has now sent 2.5 million Ukrainians fleeing to neighboring countries. Among the arrivals are children left alone by family members in Ukraine who cannot care for them.
Poland said some 1.6 million refugees arrived on its territory alone. In contrast, Moldova, one of Europe’s poorest nations, said it was near the “breaking point” as it copes with a massive influx of fleeing people.
Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians and others escaping the war have also entered Hungary and nearby nations.