Ukraine pushes back Russian troops and retakes kyiv suburb, while Zelensky offers not to join NATO in exchange for peace
Photo: SERGEY BOBOK/AFP/Getty Images
Ukraine said it retook a strategically important suburb of kyiv on Tuesday, as Russian forces squeezed other areas near the capital. and pressed their attack against the besieged southern port of Mariupol.
Explosions and volleys of gunfire rocked kyiv, and black smoke rose from a point to the north.
Intensified artillery fire could be heard from the northwest, where Russia has sought to encircle and capture several suburban areas of the capital, a crucial target.
The Russian forces also continued the siege of Mariupol after defenders of the southern port city rejected surrender demands.and fleeing civilians described relentless shelling and bodies littering the streets.
But the Kremlin’s ground offensive in other parts of the country moved slowly or not at all, repulsed by lethal attacks by the Ukrainians.
Earlier Tuesday, Ukrainian troops expelled Russian forces from the kyiv suburb of Makariv after a fierce battle, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said.
Recovered territory allowed Ukrainian forces to retake control of a key highway and block Russian troops from encircling kyiv from the northwest.
Still, the Defense Ministry said Russian forces were able to partially take other northwestern suburbs, Bucha, Hostomel and Irpin, some of which had been under attack almost since the Russian army invaded nearly a month ago.
Facing unexpectedly strong resistance, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces are increasingly concentrating their air power and artillery on Ukraine’s cities and the civilians who live there.
A senior US defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the evaluation of the army, said Russia had increased its airstrikes, carrying out as many as 300 flights in a 24-hour period.
US and British officials say kyiv remains Russia’s main target.
The bulk of Moscow’s forces remain miles from the center, but missiles and artillery have destroyed apartment buildings and a large shopping mall, which was left in smoldering ruins after being hit Sunday night by attacks that killed eight. people, according to emergency officials.
US President Biden, who is due to travel to Europe later in the week to meet with allies, suggested on Monday night that the worst could be yet to come.
“Putin’s back is against the wall,” Biden said. “He was not anticipating the scope or strength of our unit. And the more his back is against the wall, the more severe the tactics he can employ.”
Talks to end the fighting continued via video but failed to bridge the gulf between the two sides.
the ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky told Ukrainian television on Monday night that he would be prepared to consider giving up any offer from Ukraine to join NATO, a key Russian demand, in exchange for a ceasefire.the withdrawal of Russian troops and a guarantee of Ukraine’s security.
Zelensky also suggested that kyiv would be open to further discussions on the status of Crimea, which Russia seized in 2014, and areas of the eastern Donbas region held by Russian-backed separatists. But he said that was a topic for another time.
Russia’s invasion has driven more than 10 million people from their homes, nearly a quarter of Ukraine’s prewar population, according to the United Nations.
Overall, more than 3.5 million people have fled Ukraine, while another 6.5 million have been displaced within the country.
Matthew Saltmarsh, a spokesman for the UN refugee agency, called the speed and scale of people fleeing danger in Ukraine “unprecedented in recent memory.”
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