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Ukraine latest: Evacuations continue as Russia steps up bombardment of Kyiv

Here are the main developments today on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Firemen at a fire that broke out in an apartment building hit by shelling in Kyiv today.
Firemen at a fire that broke out in an apartment building hit by shelling in Kyiv today.
Image: Raphael Lafargue

RUSSIA STEPPED UP its bombardment of Kyiv on Tuesday, smashing apartments and a subway station, while 20,000 people fled Mariupol along a humanitarian corridor in what was believed to be the biggest evacuation yet from the besieged city.

On the diplomatic front, talks between Russian and Ukrainian representatives have become “more constructive”, according to Kyiv, and the leaders of three EU countries visited the embattled capital in a bold show of support.

With the number of people driven from the country by the war surpassed three million, large explosions thundered across Kyiv before dawn from what Ukrainian authorities said were artillery strikes, as Russia’s assault on the capital appeared to become more systematic and edged closer to the city centre.

Here are some other developments from Tuesday:

  • Tributes were paid to Irish citizen Pierre Zakrzewski who was killed while reporting for Fox News near Kyiv. 
  • Ukrainian journalist Oleksandra “Sasha” Kuvshynova was also killed in the same attack when their vehicle was struck by incoming fire in Horenka, outside of Kyiv, on Monday. Fox News colleague Benjamin Hall was wounded in the incident. 
  • A member of the Ukrainian delegation Mykhailo Podolyak said there are “fundamental contradictions” in talks aimed at ending Russia’s invasion but compromise is possible.
  • Zelenskyy said 97 children have been killed since Russia began the invasion.
  • The Ukrainian President also said his country should accept that it will not join NATO.
  • Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko warned of a “difficult and dangerous moment” for the city and announced a 35-hour curfew starting from tonight.
  • Russia said it would pull out of the Council of Europe after pressure mounted for Moscow to be expelled from the pan-European rights body over the war.
  • A Russian TV editor who protested against the war during a news broadcast yesterday evening was released with a fine
  • The EU imposed sanctions on Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Ambramovich. 
  • The Polish, Czech and Slovenian prime ministers went to Kyiv in the first visit by foreign leaders to the Ukrainian capital since the invasion began. 
  • Russia has drawn up lists of 40,000 fighters from the Syrian army and allied militias to be put on standby for deployment in Ukraine, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said. 
  • Poland has called for a NATO peace mission “protected by armed forces” to help Ukraine.

Attacks on Kyiv 

Strikes on the 20th day of Russia’s invasion targeted a western district of Kyiv, disrupting a relative calm that had returned after an initial advance by Moscow’s forces was stopped in the early days of the war.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said barrages hit four multi-storey buildings in Kyiv and killed dozens of people. The shelling ignited a huge fire in a 15-storey apartment building and spurred a frantic rescue effort.

A senior US defence source said the Russians were using long-range fire to hit civilian targets within Kyiv with increasing frequency but that their ground forces were making little to no progress around the country. The official said Russian forces were still about 14 kilometres from the centre of Kyiv.

russia-ukraine-war-day-in-photos A tram damaged by shelling in Kharkiv at the weekend. Source: AP/PA Images

Ukrainian presidential aide Ihor Zhovkva said Russia has stopped airing demands for Ukraine to surrender, and the Ukrainian representatives felt “moderately optimistic” after the latest talks. Discussions are expected to continue tomorrow.

In a statement that seemed to signal potential grounds for agreement with Moscow, Zelenskyy told European leaders gathered in London that he realises Nato has no intention of accepting Ukraine.

The UN said close to 700 civilians in Ukraine have been confirmed killed, but the true figure is probably much higher.

Humanitarian corridors

New efforts to take civilians to safety and deliver aid were underway around Ukraine today. The Red Cross said it was working to evacuate people from the north-eastern town of Sumy, near the Russian border, on about 70 buses.

One of the most desperate situations is in Mariupol, the southern city of 430,000 where officials say a weeks-long siege has killed more than 2,300 people and left residents struggling for food, water, heat and medicine.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, a deputy head of Zelenskyy’s office, said that 570 out of about 4,000 vehicles that left Mariupol have reached the city of Zaporizhzhia, about 257 kilometres to the north west, while others will spend the night in towns along the way.

Fighting has intensified on Kyiv’s outskirts in recent days, and air raid sirens wailed inside the capital. Mayor Vitali Klitschko announced a 35-hour curfew extending until Thursday morning.

ukraine-irpin-conflict-humanitarian-corridors-evacuation People evacuating in Irpin, Ukraine last week. Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Tuesday’s artillery strikes hit the Svyatoshynskyi district of western Kyiv, adjacent to the suburb of Irpin, which has seen some of the worst fighting of the war.

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Flames shot out of the 15-storey apartment building and smoke choked the air as firefighters climbed ladders to rescue people. The assault blackened several floors of the building, ripped a hole in the ground outside and blew out windows in neighbouring apartment blocks. Rescue workers said at least one person was killed.

In the east, Russian forces launched more than 60 strikes overnight on Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, according to regional administration chief Oleh Sinehubov. The strikes hit the city’s historical centre, including the main marketplace.

Ukraine’s parliament voted to extend martial law for another month, until April 24. Under the measure, requested by Zelenskyy, men between 18 and 60 are barred from leaving the country so they can be called up to fight.

Additional reporting by Orla Dwyer.

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