‘Kyiv Independent’ quotes the head of Energoaton, the Ukrainian nuclear company, that Russian occupiers have announced to the staff of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, that the plant no longer belonged to Ukraine. They told them and that from now on it would operate under the control of Moscow and in compliance with the rules of Rosatom, the Russian state atomic energy company. There did nt seem to be any respite on the seventeenth day of the war in Ukraine. Russia attacked the US and the West, saying, “They have declared an economic war on us” as Russian troops continued their attacks in Kyiv, Mykolaiv on the Black Sea and Mariupol. Ukrainian President Zelensky, in a video message, launched yet another appeal: “Russian mothers, do not send your children to war against Ukraine.”.
Russians continue pushing towards Kyiv
Russian forces appeared to make headway in their slow push toward Kyiv on Saturday, while continuing to pound the capital and other Ukrainian cities with aircraft and artillery assaults. Air raid sirens were heard across most Ukrainian cities early Saturday morning, urging people to seek shelters in Kyiv, as well as the western city of Lviv, Kharkiv, Cherkasy and the Sumy region in the northeast of the country. Local media reported that the massive 40-mile convoy that had stalled on its way to the capital had begun to spread out around Kyiv, with forces now within 25 km of the city’s centre from the northeast. Satellite photos by Maxar Technologies showed howitzers newly set up in firing position, and armoured units staged near the Antonov Airport north of the city. The British Ministry of Defence, in its latest update of the intelligence service, said the members of the long column north of the capital “spread out” in the surrounding area and this “could mean the Russians attempt to encircle the city”, adding that “it could also be an attempt to reduce vulnerability in the face of Ukrainian counter-attacks, which have caused numerous losses in Russian forces”. Russian airstrikes targeted a Ukrainian military base outside of Kyiv on Saturday morning. A warehouse, where frozen food was stored, caught fire following Russian shelling.
Rockets destroy Ukraine Air Force base
A Ukrainian Air Force base was targeted in an early morning attack Saturday in Vasylkiv. Russia launched eight missiles in the ambush, destroying the airfield. Vasylkiv Mayor Natalia Balasynovych said an ammunition depot and oil depot were struck, according to BuzzFeed News. Vasylkiv’s oil depot was engulfed in the flames. The 40th Tactical Aviation Brigade is stationed at the Vasylkiv base, located in central Ukraine. Vasylkiv was the site where Ukrainian forces shot down a Russian Il-76 heavy transport plane carrying paratroopers in February.
Russian attacks continue despite evacuations
The governors of Kiev and Donetsk have said the Russian army is continuing to attack in areas where Ukraine is trying to evacuate people and bring them help through international corridors. The governor of Donetsk, Pavlo Kyrylenko, told local media that “the humanitarian cargo is moving towards Mariupol… the situation is complicated, there are constant bombings”.
Military aid convoys could become ‘legitimate targets’ for Russia
Russia has issued a warning to the United States regarding its potential military aid to Ukraine. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said convoys transporting weapons to areas throughout Ukraine would become “legitimate targets” for Russia’s military, labeling it a “dangerous” move, according to The Kyiv Independent. Ryabkov is prepared to continue arms control discussions with the US as long as Washington is prepared to open dialogue. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has pleaded with the Biden Administration to provide additional military assistance. On Thursday, the US Senate passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill that includes $14 billion in aid to Ukraine.
Mariupol mosque bombed with civilians inside
Russian forces have shelled a mosque in the southern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, where more than 80 adults and children, including Turkish citizens, had taken refuge, Ukraine’s foreign ministry said on Saturday. It did not say if there were any people killed or wounded. Ukraine has accused Russia of refusing to allow people out of Mariupol, where a blockade has left hundreds of thousands trapped. Russia blames Ukraine for the failure to evacuate people. Moscow has denied targeting civilian areas in what it calls a special military operation in Ukraine.
Elderly Ukrainian couple confront armed Russian soldiers
An elderly Ukrainian couple stood up to Russian soldiers who had broken onto their property – earning praise from the US Embassy for their remarkable bravery. Surveillance camera footage of the tense encounter was shared on social media by the embassy in Kyiv on Friday. “Today we salute this elderly couple, who stood up to three Russian soldiers,” the embassy wrote, along with the hashtag #UkrainianHeroes. In the clip, three armed Russian soldiers in combat gear approach the front of the couple’s gated driveway and begin breaking in. They force the gate open and move forward with their weapons drawn as dogs bark in the background.
UK considering seizure of London home of Lavrov’s “stepdaughter”
The British government is considering the seizure of an apartment in London, bought for cash in 2016 and linked to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. This is a £4.4 million (€5.24 million) property located in the elegant Kensington neighbourhood. The property belongs to 26-year-old Polina Kovaleva, daughter of the minister’s alleged companion, Svetlana Polyakova. Their two names could also be part of the growing list of Kremlin-related figures targeted by British sanctions after the invasion of Ukraine. The apartment with swimming pool, spa, gym and cinema is located not far from the luxurious residence of Roman Abramovich, whose UK assets have been frozen due to his ties to Putin.