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President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged Ukrainians to hold on and fight as he delivered his latest speech following a hospital visit to see wounded soldiers.

The president described Sunday as ‘the 18th day of our war for life, for Ukraine, for independence’ and condemned the latest attack near the Polish border.

He warned NATO Monday that its member states would soon be attacked by Russian forces after an air strike hit a Ukrainian military base less than 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the Polish border.

Zelenskyy said in his nightly address on Sunday that Russia fired 30 rockets at the Yavoriv military base. He said the attack killed 35 people and injured 134 injured others. 

Meanwhile, the death toll in the strategic southern port city of Mariupol, facing acute deprivation amid a prolonged siege, has topped 2,000, officials there said. 

‘If you do not close our sky, it is only a matter of time before Russian missiles fall on your territory, on NATO territory, on the homes of NATO citizens,’ Zelensky said in a video address released shortly after midnight, urging NATO to impose a no-fly zone over his country.

Zelenskyy said that Ukraine feels the support of other countries, naming Bulgaria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Romania, Poland, and Britain.

Regarding efforts to arrange a meeting between him and Russian president Vladimir Putin, he said this is ‘a hard path, but this path is needed’.

He said some humanitarian corridors had been successful during the day, with the notable exception of Mariupol, which was disrupted by Russian troops.

‘But we will try again until we can help our people,’ he said. ‘Because they are ours. Our Mariupol. Heroic Mariupol. Ukrainians!’

He concluded: ‘We are going through the worst ordeal in our history. In our lives.

‘We protect the most precious thing we have. We must hold on. We must fight. And we will win. I know that. I believe in that.’

Washington and its EU allies have sent funds and military aid to Ukraine and imposed unprecedented economic sanctions on Russia. 

Further east, the latest fighting in Kyiv’s suburbs left a US journalist dead – the first foreign reporter killed since Russia’s invasion of its neighbour on February 24.

Mr Zelensky called it ‘deliberate attack by the Russian military’. 

Meanwhile, efforts continued to get help to Mariupol, which aid agencies say is facing a humanitarian catastrophe.

A humanitarian column headed there had to turn back again on Sunday, a city official said, after the Russians ‘did not stop firing’.

Pictured: President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged Ukrainians to hold on and fight as he delivered his latest speech following a hospital visit to see wounded soldiers earlier today

Pictured: President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged Ukrainians to hold on and fight as he delivered his latest speech following a hospital visit to see wounded soldiers earlier today

Pictured: President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged Ukrainians to hold on and fight as he delivered his latest speech following a hospital visit to see wounded soldiers earlier today

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky visits an injured Ukrainian serviceman in a military hospital in Kiev on Sunday

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky visits an injured Ukrainian serviceman in a military hospital in Kiev on Sunday

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky visits an injured Ukrainian serviceman in a military hospital in Kiev on Sunday

Zelensky takes a photo with the injured soldier at the military hospital in Kiev on Sunday as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues

Zelensky takes a photo with the injured soldier at the military hospital in Kiev on Sunday as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues

Zelensky takes a photo with the injured soldier at the military hospital in Kiev on Sunday as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues

A total of 2,187 residents have now died in days of relentless Russian bombardment, the city council said Sunday.

‘The enemy is holding the city hostage by performing real acts of genocide,’ said Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov.

Zelensky has accused Moscow of both blocking and attacking humanitarian convoys, although he said Sunday that another 125,000 people had been evacuated that way across Ukraine.

‘Russians are bombing the city even during official negotiations,’ Defence Minister Reznikov said. ‘They have no dignity, no honor, no mercy.’

Talks between the two sides have yet to yield a ceasefire, but Ukrainian and Russian representatives will meet via video-conference Monday, a Zelensky adviser and a Kremlin spokesman both said.

‘And our goal is that in this struggle, in this difficult negotiating work, Ukraine will get the necessary result… for peace and for security,’ Zelensky said early Monday.

‘We see significant progress,’ Leonid Slutsky, a senior member of Russia’s negotiating team, told state-run television network RT Sunday.

It comes after the Ukrainian President visited wounded soldiers at a military hospital in Kiev on Sunday to boost their morale and award them medals for their bravery.

‘Guys, get well soon. I believe that the best gift for your statement will be our common victory!’ said Zelensky, according to an English translation of a tweet posted by the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine.

He awarded 106 servicemen of the armed forces in Ukraine the title of ‘Heroes of Ukraine’, 17 of which were awarded posthumously. 

Among them was Senior Lieutenant Hutsul Volodymyr Olesksandrovych, who received the title for his actions in the Kherson region destroying 25 units of enemy equipment and ‘about 300 invaders’. 

Before visiting the military hospital, Zelensky warned against the formation of a 'pseudo-republic' in the south of his country

Before visiting the military hospital, Zelensky warned against the formation of a 'pseudo-republic' in the south of his country

Before visiting the military hospital, Zelensky warned against the formation of a ‘pseudo-republic’ in the south of his country

Kiev is becoming surrounded by Russian forces as analysts warn the worst days of the war in Ukraine could lie ahead

Kiev is becoming surrounded by Russian forces as analysts warn the worst days of the war in Ukraine could lie ahead

Kiev is becoming surrounded by Russian forces as analysts warn the worst days of the war in Ukraine could lie ahead

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (left) listens to a chief of Medical Forces Command Brigadier General Tetiana Ostashchenko (centre)

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (left) listens to a chief of Medical Forces Command Brigadier General Tetiana Ostashchenko (centre)

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (left) listens to a chief of Medical Forces Command Brigadier General Tetiana Ostashchenko (centre)

In a speech on Sunday, Zelensky warned against the formation of a ‘pseudo-republic’ in the south of his country.

Zelensky said Russians were using blackmail and bribery in an attempt to force local officials to form a break-away region in the south, much like those in Donetsk and Luhansk – which Putin declared as ‘independent’ at the start of the war.

Protection for the two eastern regions where pro-Russian separatists began fighting Ukrainian forces in 2014 was used as a pretext by Russia to start the invasion.

Kherson, a vital Black Sea port of 290,000 residents, was the first major city to fall earlier this month.

‘Ukraine will stand this test. We need time and strength to break the war machine that has come to our land,’ Zelensky said in his address.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky address the nation on March 12 after Russian air strikes killed 35 people at a military base outside Ukraine's western city of Lviv

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky address the nation on March 12 after Russian air strikes killed 35 people at a military base outside Ukraine's western city of Lviv

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky address the nation on March 12 after Russian air strikes killed 35 people at a military base outside Ukraine’s western city of Lviv

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy listens to a chief of the National military medical clinical centre Major General Anatolii Kazmirchu

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy listens to a chief of the National military medical clinical centre Major General Anatolii Kazmirchu

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy listens to a chief of the National military medical clinical centre Major General Anatolii Kazmirchu

Ukrainian officials on Sunday also accused Russia of organizing a ‘fake referendum’ in the south of the country now partially under control by Russian forces. 

‘Following 2014 playbook, Russians now desperately try to organize a sham ‘referendum’ for a fake ‘people’s republic’ in Kherson,’ said Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s minister of foreign affairs.

‘Given zero popular support, it will be fully staged. Severe sanctions against Russia must follow if they proceed. Kherson is & will always be Ukraine.’  

Russia bombarded cities across Ukraine on Saturday, pounding Mariupol in the south, shelling the outskirts of the capital, Kyiv, and thwarting the efforts of people trying to flee the violence.

Moscow expanded its offensive on Sunday, as waves of Russian missiles pounded a military training base in western Ukraine, killing 35 people. 

The International Center for Peacekeeping and Security, which lies not far from the border with NATO member Poland, served as a crucial hub for cooperation between Ukraine and the NATO countries supporting it in its defence against Moscow’s grinding assault.  

More than 30 Russian cruise missiles targeted the sprawling facility, which has long been used to train Ukrainian military personnel, often with instructors from the U.S. and other countries in the western alliance.

Poland is also a transit route for Western military aid to Ukraine, and the strikes followed Moscow’s threats to target those shipments. 

An attack so close to the border was heavy with symbolism in a conflict that has revived old Cold War rivalries that gave birth to NATO and threatened to rewrite the current global security order.

A man wounded in this morning's air strikes at a nearby military complex is assisted by medical staff outside Novoiavorivsk District Hospital on March 13, 2022 in Novoiavorivsk, Ukraine

A man wounded in this morning's air strikes at a nearby military complex is assisted by medical staff outside Novoiavorivsk District Hospital on March 13, 2022 in Novoiavorivsk, Ukraine

A man wounded in this morning’s air strikes at a nearby military complex is assisted by medical staff outside Novoiavorivsk District Hospital on March 13, 2022 in Novoiavorivsk, Ukraine

A man wounded in this morning's air strikes at a nearby military complex is assisted by medical staff outside Novoiavorivsk District Hospital on March 13, 2022 in Novoiavorivsk, Ukraine. A series of Russian missiles struck the International Center for Peacekeeping and Security at the nearby Yavoriv military complex

A man wounded in this morning's air strikes at a nearby military complex is assisted by medical staff outside Novoiavorivsk District Hospital on March 13, 2022 in Novoiavorivsk, Ukraine. A series of Russian missiles struck the International Center for Peacekeeping and Security at the nearby Yavoriv military complex

A man wounded in this morning’s air strikes at a nearby military complex is assisted by medical staff outside Novoiavorivsk District Hospital on March 13, 2022 in Novoiavorivsk, Ukraine. A series of Russian missiles struck the International Center for Peacekeeping and Security at the nearby Yavoriv military complex

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister told Zelensky that Putin’s ‘barbaric actions’ were ‘testing not just Ukraine but all of humanity’.

The Prime Minister spoke to the Ukrainian president on Sunday afternoon, according to No 10.

‘He commended the president and the Ukrainian people on their fortitude. The Prime Minister said Putin’s barbaric actions were testing not just Ukraine but all of humanity,’ a Downing Street spokesman said.

‘The leaders condemned the murders of Brent Renaud and countless innocent Ukrainians, and the abduction of the mayors of Dniprorudne and Melitopol.

‘The Prime Minister outlined the support the UK continues to deliver to Ukraine. He said the UK would continue to pursue more options for bolstering Ukraine’s self-defence, working with partners including at Tuesday’s meeting of the Joint Expeditionary Force in London.

‘The Prime Minister said the UK would continue to stand behind Ukraine in all their efforts to bring an end to this disastrous conflict.’

A view of damaged buildings and streets due to the ongoing Russian shelling and missile strikes in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Sunday

A view of damaged buildings and streets due to the ongoing Russian shelling and missile strikes in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Sunday

A view of damaged buildings and streets due to the ongoing Russian shelling and missile strikes in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Sunday 

A Ukrainian firefighter drags a hose inside a large food products storage facility which was destroyed by an airstrike in the early morning hours on the outskirts of Kyiv on Sunday

A Ukrainian firefighter drags a hose inside a large food products storage facility which was destroyed by an airstrike in the early morning hours on the outskirts of Kyiv on Sunday

A Ukrainian firefighter drags a hose inside a large food products storage facility which was destroyed by an airstrike in the early morning hours on the outskirts of Kyiv on Sunday

Since Russia’s invasion more than two weeks ago, at least 596 civilians have been killed, according to the U.N., though it believes the true toll is much higher. Millions more have fled their homes amid the largest land conflict in Europe since World War II.

Despite its superior firepower, Russia has struggled in its advance across Ukraine, in the face of stiffer than expected resistance, bolstered by Western weapons support. 

Instead, Russian forces have besieged several cities and pummeled them with strikes, hitting two dozen medical facilities and leading to a series of humanitarian crises.

Many civilians have been caught in the barrage, and Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s office said Sunday that at least 85 children have been killed. 

An American journalist was killed and another wounded when their car was fired upon at a Russian checkpoint Sunday, police said. 

Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden is sending his national security adviser to Rome to meet Monday with a Chinese official amid concerns that country is amplifying Russian disinformation, and Pope Francis called for peace.

In this handout video grab taken from a footage released by the Ukrainian Presidency, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks face camera in a street of Kyiv on March 11

In this handout video grab taken from a footage released by the Ukrainian Presidency, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks face camera in a street of Kyiv on March 11

In this handout video grab taken from a footage released by the Ukrainian Presidency, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks face camera in a street of Kyiv on March 11

The attacked training base near Yavoriv is less than 15 miles from the Polish border and appears to be the westernmost target struck during Russia’s 18-day invasion.

The base has hosted international NATO drills and a senior NATO official, Admiral Rob Bauer, previously hailed it as embodying ‘the spirit of military cooperation’ between Ukraine and international forces. 

As such, the site is a potent symbol Russia’s longstanding concerns that the 30-member Western military alliance is a threat to Moscow by operating so close to its territory.

NATO denies that it poses any threat, but Russia has repeatedly demanded Ukraine drop its ambitions of joining the alliance as a pre-requisite for ending the war.

Lviv governor Maksym Kozytskyi said most of the Russian missiles fired Sunday ‘were shot down because the air defense system worked.’ Those that got through killed at least 35 people and wounded 134, he said.

Russian fighters also fired at the airport in the western city of Ivano-Frankivsk, which is less than 94 miles north of Romania and 155 miles from Hungary, countries that also are NATO allies.   

Ukraine Army troops dig in at frontline trench positions to continue repelling Russian attacks, in sub-zero temperatures, east of the strategic port city of Mykolaiv,

Ukraine Army troops dig in at frontline trench positions to continue repelling Russian attacks, in sub-zero temperatures, east of the strategic port city of Mykolaiv,

Ukraine Army troops dig in at frontline trench positions to continue repelling Russian attacks, in sub-zero temperatures, east of the strategic port city of Mykolaiv,

Footage released by Russia Ministry of Defense on Saturday March 5 shows Russian soldiers took control of a military base near the village of Radensk, Kherson region

Footage released by Russia Ministry of Defense on Saturday March 5 shows Russian soldiers took control of a military base near the village of Radensk, Kherson region

Footage released by Russia Ministry of Defense on Saturday March 5 shows Russian soldiers took control of a military base near the village of Radensk, Kherson region 

NATO said Sunday that it currently does not have any personnel in Ukraine, though the U.S. has increased the number of American troops deployed to Poland. 

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the West would respond if Russia’s armaments travel outside Ukraine and hit any NATO members, even accidentally.

Biden ‘has been clear, repeatedly, that the United States will work with our allies to defend every inch of NATO territory and that means every inch,’ Sullivan said on CBS News’ ‘Face the Nation.’ 

Lviv itself so far has been spared the scale of destruction unfolding to its east and south. The city’s population of 721,000 has swelled during the war with residents escaping bombarded population centers and as a waystation for the nearly 2.6 million people who have fled the country.

Ukrainian and European leaders have pushed with limited success for Russia to grant safe passage to civilians trapped by fighting, though Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said authorities have managed to evacuate nearly 125,000 people from combat zones.

Ukrainian authorities said more than 10 humanitarian corridors would open Sunday, with agreement from Russia, including from the battered and besieged port city of Mariupol, where the city council said 2,187 people have been killed.

The suffering in the port city is ‘simply immense,’ the International Committee of the Red Cross said Sunday, noting that hundreds of thousands of its residents are ‘facing extreme or total shortages of basic necessities like food, water and medicine.’

‘Dead bodies, of civilians and combatants, remain trapped under the rubble or lying in the open where they fell,’ the Geneva-based organization said in a statement. ‘Life-changing injuries and chronic, debilitating conditions cannot be treated.’

Zelenskyy said in a video address that a convoy carrying 100 tons of humanitarian aid was headed to the city, whose capture could help Russia establish a land corridor to Crimea, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.

Meanwhile, continued fighting on multiple fronts heaped further misery on the country Sunday and provoked renewed international outrage.

In the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv, near the Black Sea, authorities reported nine people killed in bombings. Meanwhile, they said Russian airstrikes on a monastery and a children’s resort in the eastern Donetsk region hit spots where monks and others were sheltering, wounding 32 people.

Around the capital, Kyiv, a major political and strategic target for the invasion, fighting also intensified, with overnight shelling in the northwestern suburbs and a missile strike Sunday that destroyed a warehouse to the east.

Kyiv Region police said on its official website that Russian troops opened fire on a car carrying two American journalists. The force said Brent Renaud died and Juan Arredondo was wounded.

Chief regional administrator Oleksiy Kuleba said Russian forces appeared to be trying to blockade and paralyze the capital with day and night shelling of the suburbs.

He vowed that any all-out assault would meet stiff resistance, saying: ‘We’re getting ready to defend Kyiv, and we’re prepared to fight for ourselves.’

Zelenskyy also alleged that Russians were using blackmail and bribery in an attempt to force local officials in the southern Kherson region to form a ‘pseudo-republic’ like those in the two eastern regions where Russian-backed separatists began fighting Ukrainian forces in 2014.

Zelenskyy reported Saturday that 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers had died in the war. The Russians said days ago that several hundred of their forces have died but have not given a recent updated count.

The war has repeatedly raised the specter of nuclear accidents, as fighting occurred around nuclear power plants. 

On Sunday, Ukraine said it restored a broken power line to the decommissioned Chernobyl plant, scene of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986. The plant was knocked off the grid last week and relying on generators. That raised concerns about its ability to keep spent fuel cool, though the International Atomic Energy Agency played down those worries.

In some of his strongest denunciations yet of the war in Ukraine, Pope Francis on Sunday decried the ‘barbarianism’ of the killing of children and other civilians and pleaded for the attacks to end ‘before cities are reduced to cemeteries.’ 

Francis said Mariupol, which ‘bears the name’ of the Virgin Mary, has ‘become a city martyred by the heartbreaking war that is devastating Ukraine.’

In Mariupol, which has endured some of the worst punishment since Russia invaded, efforts to bring food, water and medicine into the port city of 430,000 and to evacuate civilians, were prevented by unceasing attacks.

More than 1,500 people have died in the city during the siege, according to the mayor’s office, and the shelling has even interrupted efforts to bury the dead in mass graves.

‘They are bombing [Mariupol] 24 hours a day, launching missiles. It is hatred. They kill children,’ Zelensky said during a video address. 

Ukraine’s military said on Saturday that Russian forces captured Mariupol’s eastern outskirts, tightening the armed squeeze on the strategic port.

Taking Mariupol and other ports on the Azov Sea could allow Russia to establish a land corridor to Crimea, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.

Zelensky encouraged his people to keep up their resistance, which many analysts said has prevented the rapid offensive and military victory the Kremlin likely expected while planning to invade Russia’s ex-Soviet neighbor.

‘The fact that the whole Ukrainian people resist these invaders has already gone down in history, but we do not have the right to let up our defense, no matter how difficult it may be for us,’ he said.

Zelensky again deplored Nato’s refusal to declare a no-fly zone over Ukraine and said Ukraine has sought ways to procure air defense assets, though he did not elaborate.

The president also accused Russia of employing ‘a new stage of terror’ with the alleged kidnapping of the mayor of Melitopol, a city 119 miles west of Mariupol.

After residents of the occupied city demonstrated for the mayor’s release on Saturday, the Ukrainian leader called on Russian forces to heed the calls.

‘Please hear in Moscow!’ Mr Zelensky said. ‘Another protest against Russian troops, against attempts to bring the city to its knees.’

In multiple areas around the capital, artillery barrages sent residents scurrying for shelter as air raid sirens wailed.

A picture shows damages after the shelling by Russian forces of Constitution Square in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-biggest city, on March 2

A picture shows damages after the shelling by Russian forces of Constitution Square in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-biggest city, on March 2

A picture shows damages after the shelling by Russian forces of Constitution Square in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-biggest city, on March 2

Russia claimed control of the southern port city as street battles raged

Russia claimed control of the southern port city as street battles raged

Russia claimed control of the southern port city as street battles raged

Britain’s Defence Ministry said Russian ground forces that had been massed north of Kyiv for most of the war had edged to within 15 miles of the city center and spread out, likely to support an attempted encirclement.

As artillery pounded Kyiv’s north-western outskirts, black and white columns of smoke rose south-west of the capital after a strike on an ammunition depot in the town of Vasylkiv caused hundreds of small explosions.

Thousands of soldiers on both sides are believed to have been killed along with many civilians.

At least 2.5 million people have fled the country, according to the United Nations refugee agency.

The Ukrainian chief prosecutor’s office said on Saturday at least 79 children have been killed and nearly 100 have been wounded.

Most of the victims were in the Kyiv, Kharkiv, Donetsk, Sumy, Kherson and Zhytomyr regions, the office said, noting that the numbers are not final because active fighting continues.

Source: dailymail

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