President Zelensky slams Moscow for 'torturing' Mariupol's civilians

‘Our people are being tortured’: Zelensky vows to get food, water and medicine in to besieged Mariupol while Russia prepares to launch its all-out assault on Kyiv and the UK warns new attacks on western cities are indiscriminately shelling civilians

  • President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed that vital supplies will be delivered into the besieged city of Mariupol 
  • Vladimir Putin widened his onslaught on Ukraine after bombing new towns and cities in the war-torn nation
  • In Ivano-Frankivsk, a triple strike hit at first light, said to be targeting an airfield on the edge of the city
  • Shelling at 4am UK time yesterday left tower blocks and a factory ablaze in Dnipro, killing a security guard

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy slammed Moscow for ‘torturing’ civilians who have spent more than a week without vital supplies in besieged cities as Vladimir Putin widened his onslaught of Ukraine yesterday.

The Ukrainian premier accused Russia of refusing to allow evacuees to escape the city of Mariupol, which has been cut off from food, water and electricity, and defiantly insisted vital supplies would be delivered there tomorrow despite it being surrounded by Russian troops. 

The Kremlin-owned Tass news agency painted a damning picture for those stuck in the city after quoting Russian Colonel Mikhail Mizintsev as saying all bridge into the city were destroyed and roads had been laid with mines. 

‘Russian troops have not let our aid into the city and continue to torture our people… tomorrow [Saturday] we will try again, try again to send food, water and medicine’ Zelenskiy said. 

Ukrainian officials revealed on Friday that Russian soldiers had kidnapped Melitopol’s mayor Ivan Fedorov from the city’s crisis centre after he ‘refused to co-operate with the enemy’. 

‘This is obviously a sign of weakness of the invaders… They have moved to a new stage of terror in which they are trying to physically eliminate representatives of legitimate local Ukrainian authorities,’ President Zelensky said.

‘The capture of the mayor of Melitopol is therefore a crime, not only against a particular person, against a particular community, and not only against Ukraine. It is a crime against democracy itself… The acts of the Russian invaders will be regarded like those of Islamic State terrorists,’ he said.  

In hellish scenes not witnessed on the continent since the Second World War, residents have resorted to fighting one another for food and bodies are buried in mass graves as more than 1,500 people have now died in the city.  

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, tweeted: ‘Besieged Mariupol is now the worst humanitarian catastrophe on the planet. 1,582 dead civilians in 12 days, even buried in mass graves. Unable to defeat the Ukrainian army, Putin bombs the unarmed, blocks humanitarian aid. We need planes to stop Russian war crimes!’ 

A total of 7,144 people escaped four Ukrainian cities on Friday using humanitarian corridors, President Zelensky said in a televised address, a sharply lower number than managed to leave in each of the two previous days.  

It comes as Putin struck areas in central and western Ukraine, some hundreds of miles from the capital Kyiv and huge explosions illuminated the night sky in Dnipro and Lutsk as residents experienced Russian artillery attacks for the first time.

In Ivano-Frankivsk, a triple strike hit at first light, said to be targeting an airfield on the edge of the city. Indiscriminate shelling at 4am UK time yesterday left tower blocks and a factory ablaze in Dnipro, killing a security guard.

Meanwhile, the 40-mile convoy of tanks, troops and artillery that had been bearing down on Kyiv in recent days is understood to have moved into strategic firing positions ahead of an all-out assault on the capital.

Fears have been mounting that Moscow could attempt a repeat at the barbaric bombing used on besieged cities such as Mariupol, with Russian troops now just nine miles from the city.  

Satellite images showed howitzer weaponry and suspected rocket launchers being readied, prompting remaining Kyiv residents to take up arms and erect barricades. Mayor Vitali Klitschko warned Russia the city was a fortress. 

It comes as military experts say they are baffled by the ineptitude of the tactics displayed by Russia’s armies after drone footage yesterday showed a column of tanks getting picked off one-by-one in an ambush carried out by Ukraine’s forces.

Analysts have said Russian tank commanders allowed the Ukrainians to ambush their unit by driving down the middle of a main road leading into Kyiv – and straight into a death trap. By multiple counts, President Vladimir Putin’s forces have lost more tanks than are operational in the entire German army.

The crisis in Mariupol deepened yet further last night as the death toll passed 1,500 and the deputy mayor claimed his besieged city had been ‘totally destroyed’. Pictured: The aftermath of Russian artillery shelling on a residential area in Mariupol where a rocket hit a house

A Russian army tank moves on the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine today as the beseiged city is without water and electricity

An explosion is seen in an apartment building after Russian’s army tank fires in Mariupol, Ukraine today

Rescuers work at the scene of an airstrike in Dnipro during the first shelling of the Ukrainian city that killed a security guard

Service members of pro-Russian troops in uniforms without insignia are seen next to a tank with the pro-Russia letter ‘Z’ painted on it outside a damaged residential building in the separatist-controlled town of Volnovakha, Donetsk

A view of a destroyed building after airstrikes hit civil settlements as Russian attacks continue on Ukraine in Dnipro

Firefighters spray water on a destroyed shoe factory following an airstrike in Dnipro after civilian targets came under Russian shelling

Trenches are prepared by the side of the road as a precaution amid Russian attacks in the capital city of Kyiv

People taking refuge at the Kharkiv Metro Station in Kharkiv after shelling from Russian troops around the city

Russia attacked the Lutsk aircraft plant leading to large explosions in the Ukrainian city 

As there were no Ukrainian military facilities in the Dnipro district, the local prosecutor opened an investigation into a possible war crime.

Residents and shop owners worked thoughout the day to clear up broken glass and board up the open window frames as snow fell and temperatures dipped below zero.

Svetlana Kalenecheko, who works in a clinic next door to the factory in Dnipro, said: ‘We heard a loud explosion and the windows broke and bits of the ceiling started to fall.’

Dnipro had been considered a safe haven. Consequently, it has become a hub for the coordination of humanitarian aid and for those fleeing more severe fighting.

It was unclear last night what Putin thought he would achieve by bombing the city, as no invading troops were on the ground there yesterday. Other soft targets were hit, perhaps with the intention of spreading fear in areas previously unaffected by the invasion.

A psychiatric hospital in the eastern town of Izyum was bombed, causing 73 patients to be evacuated. Governor Oleg Sinegubov said the number of casualties was being established. He described it as ‘a brutal attack on civilians’.

A care home for the disabled was also struck in the village of Oskil, eastern Ukraine. There were 330 people inside including ten who required wheelchairs and 50 with reduced mobility – but there were no casualties.

Ukrainian airstrips were targeted yesterday at Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk, which are 260 miles and 380 miles respectively from Kyiv.

Last night it was considered unlikely that attacks on airstrips so far from the capital city would provide Russian forces with a much-needed impetus.

Western officials said the invaders were making ‘minimal ground’ because of logistical issues and ‘strong Ukrainian resistance’. 

A third Russian general has been killed in Ukraine in just eight days in another devastating blow to Vladimir Putin’s savage invasion of Ukraine.

Major General Andrei Kolesnikov of the 29th Combined Arms Army became the latest high profile casualty of the war today, Ukraine’s government announced.

There are believed to be 20 Russian generals taking part in the faltering invasion, which has also seen the loss of 173 tanks, 12 aircraft and 345 troop carriers. 

Western officials said the multiple general casualties suggest they are having to move to the front because Russia’s troops are either unable to make their own decisions or are fearful of moving forward.

Maj Gen Andrei Kolesnikov of the 29th Combined Arms Army became the latest high profile casualty of the war today in another blow to the Kremlin, Ukraine’s government announced

Kolesnikov’s death comes four days after the killing of Major General Vitaly Gerasimov, 45, the first deputy commander of Russia’s 41st army.

The general took part in the second Chechen war, the Russian military operation in Syria, and the annexation of Crimea, winning medals from those campaigns. 

According to reports, Gerasimov was the son of Valery Gerasimov – the Chief of General Staff of Russia’s armed forces. 

And last week, Major General Andrei Sukhovetsky, 47, deputy commander of the 41st Combined Arms Army of the Central Military District, was killed.

Sukhovetsky died during a special operation in Ukraine, his comrade-in-arms Sergey Chipilev wrote on social media. 

He was shot and killed by a sniper near Mariupol, which has been under a brutal siege by Russian forces for days. 

Experts have said they are baffled by the ineptitude of the tactics employed by Russia’s armies after drone footage yesterday showed a column of tanks getting picked off one-by-one in an ambush by Ukraine’s forces.

Analysts have said Russian tank commanders allowed the Ukrainians to gun down their unit by driving down the middle of a main road leading into Kyiv – and straight into a death trap. Putin’s forces have now lost more tanks than are operational in entire German army.

Ukraine’s masterful ambush in Brovary piled on the misery of Moscow’s invading forces, which has suffered more losses than expected and are now facing freezing temperatures in the coming days. Morale is said to be low.

While reports said Russia’s 6th tank regiment escaped with relatively minimal casualties, Russian commander Colonel Andrei Zakharov was reportedly killed, and his unit forced into a retreat. The smouldering wrecks of Russian tanks lay on streets after the fighting.

Defence experts have been left stunned by Russia’s military tactics.

Franz-Stefan Gady – an analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies – said the ‘fight shows the danger of not securing urban terrain with adequate infantry plus recon. assets when main elements of a force pass through urban terrain ideally suitable for ambushes.’  

Rob Lee, a Senior Fellow and military expert at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, commented on the ambush, saying the Russian armoured force displayed ‘very poor tactics’.

The Russian column was ‘on an obvious avenue of approach, and they still decided to bunch up like this, leaving them more vulnerable to indirect fire,’ he wrote on Twitter, while sharing drone footage of the strikes.

Of the Russian military activities in Ukraine, a former British army commander told The Daily Telegraph today: ‘This is not the Russian army we trained to fight’.

It comes as Russia continued their barbaric assault today by blowing up a disabled care home near the city of Kharkiv, Ukrainian officials have said, just 48 hours after shelling women as they gave birth in a maternity hospital 

One said: ‘Because of the challenges… they are reassessing how to prosecute military operations. Russia made assumptions [before the invasion] which led to tactical errors about moving forces and protecting forces.’

The failure to establish control of Kyiv could force Putin to negotiate a settlement sooner than expected.

Yesterday he said there had been ‘positive changes’ from the talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials as he welcomed Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko to Moscow.

It comes as Kyiv volunteers were seen digging trenches in the city outskirts to try to stop Russian troops.

Bracing themselves for a bloody fight, others joined soldiers in erecting makeshift barricades with old tyres and sandbags.

Around half of the city’s 3.5million residents are thought to have fled but Mr Klitschko and his brother Wladimir – both former heavyweight boxing champions – said many were returning to defend their country.

Some Russian units are now just nine miles from the city. 

There are fears they will attempt to repeat the barbaric tactics used on other cities including Mariupol, which is surrounded – with those inside suffering starvation and dehydration. Russian forces even bombed a maternity hospital there this week.

A convoy advancing through Brovary, a north-eastern suburb of Kyiv, was forced to retreat on Thursday after it became stuck in the town’s streets and was ambushed by Ukrainian troops with anti-tank missiles.

At least two vehicles including a tank were destroyed and a Russian commanding officer, said to be Colonel Andrei Zakharov, an associate of Vladimir Putin, was killed. 

Despite the setback, Russian forces continued to advance yesterday with armoured units seen in towns near the Antonov airport north of the city as well as in nearby forests.

The Ministry of Defence warned that Russia was looking to ‘reset and reposture’ its forces for ‘renewed offensive activity’. But officials noted the troops had made limited progress.

‘Logistical issues that have hampered the Russian advance persist, as does strong Ukrainian resistance,’ a spokesman said. ‘Russia is [probably] seeking to reset and reposture its forces for renewed offensive activity in the coming days. This will probably include operations against the capital Kyiv.’

Troops are approaching the capital from the north west and the east, engaging in firefights with Ukrainian soldiers in Kukhari – 56 miles from Kyiv – and Demydiv, 25 miles away.

The convoy initially stalled as it approached Kyiv amid reports of fuel and food shortages as well as resistance from the Ukrainian forces.

Speaking yesterday, Mayor Klitschko said his city had enough supplies to last a couple of weeks and had access to electricity, heating and gas.

Wladimir, who has enlisted in Ukraine’s reserve army, said citizens were prepared to engage in battle. ‘There are a lot of refugees who left west, but a lot are coming back,’ he added.

‘A lot of men and women … coming back to defend the country. This is our home. We are staying here. We are not going anywhere.’

At least 564 civilians have died in Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24. Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman Lyudmyla Denisova said at least 78 children were among the dead.

Defence specialists have repeatedly been stunned by Russia’s ‘bizarre’ military tactics.

Franz-Stefan Gady – an analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies – said the ‘fight shows the danger of not securing urban terrain with adequate infantry plus recon. assets when main elements of a force pass through urban terrain ideally suitable for ambushes.’

Rob Lee, a Senior Fellow and military expert at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, commented on the ambush, saying the Russian armoured force displayed ‘very poor tactics’.

The Russian column was ‘on an obvious avenue of approach, and they still decided to bunch up like this, leaving them more vulnerable to indirect fire,’ he wrote on Twitter, while sharing drone footage of the strikes.

Of the Russian military activities in Ukraine, a former British army commander told The Daily Telegraph today: ‘This is not the Russian army we trained to fight’.

Meanwhile, analysis by the Austrian military’s R&D department demonstrated the column was part of a larger Russian Battle Tactical Group (BTG).

The analysis highlighted different companies within the BTG seen in the drone footage, as it came under Ukrainian heavy artillery guided by an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

The full scale of losses suffered by Putin’s armies are unknown, but Ukraine has claimed it has destroyed over 12,000 troops, 350 tanks, 80 helicopters, 125 artillery units, 1,150 personnel carriers and almost 60 planes.

Figures based on visual confirmations by military tracking website Oryx suggest over 1,000 Russian vehicles have been destroyed, damaged, abandoned or captured in the war.

According to Oryx’s figures as of March 11, Russia has lost 1,034 vehicles, of which 424 were destroyed, 13 were damaged, 159 were abandoned by Russian troops and 438 were captured by Ukraine’s forces.

Is THIS proof that the Ghost of Kyiv is real? Ukraine’s military posts image of pilot ‘who has shot down 10 Russian jets during war’ warning: ‘Hello occupiers, I’m coming for your soul!’ 

A mysterious Ukrainian pilot who has shot down up to ten Russian jets had been thought to be a myth.

But now the general staff of the Ukrainian armed forces have released an image of the so-called Ghost of Kyiv, alongside his threat: ‘Hello occupier, I’m coming for your soul!’.

The general staff of the Ukrainian armed forces have released an image of the so-called Ghost of Kyiv, alongside his threat: ‘Hello occupier, I’m coming for your soul!'(pictured)

The image simply shows a figure in the cockpit of an MiG-29 fighter jet, with his face hidden behind a black visor and oxygen mask.

The Ghost is fast becoming a symbol of resistance against the massive, but stalled, invasion.  

While there is some discrepancy between figures detailing visually confirmed Russian vehicle losses released by Oryx and those released by Ukraine’s defence officials, both paint a grim picture for Moscow’s armies.

Oryx says its figures are based on ‘photo or videographic evidence. Therefore, the amount of equipment destroyed is significantly higher than recorded here.’

Tobias Schneider, a research fellow at the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin, said Russian losses visually confirmed by Oryx ‘now amount to approximately one Bundeswehr’ – the entire German army.

According to figures released by Germany, the country currently has 159 operational tanks in its entire military.

The drone footage posted online on Thursday captured the ‘Battle of Brovary’, named after the north-eastern Kyiv suburb in which it took place.

It showed explosions around the Russian tanks as they passed through the village of Skybyn, releasing plumes of black and grey smoke into the air, with suburban houses seen on either side of the road.

The column was shown in the footage driving down a main road into the Brovary suburb in a long line when it came under fire from artillery. 

Explosion were seen both on the road and in the fields in the distance.

Two tanks were shown pulled up on the side of the road, while others further into the suburb were shown bunched together in a traffic jam, as artillery fire began to rain down from above.

Amongst the tanks, Russian troops can be seen frantically running between the vehicles, which start to turn around to escape the death trap.

Yesterday smouldering shells of Moscow’s machinery sat abandoned by the road, after the survivors of the attack performed desperate U-turns to flee the deadly corridor and retreated back up the road.

In video released by Ukraine’s military, a Russian soldier could be heard saying: ‘Commander, the commander’s dead!’. The second voice asked for the message to be repeated – to which the first voice shouted: ‘He’s dead! The commander’s dead!’.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence named the dead Russian commander as Colonel Andrei Zakharov, of the 6th Tank Regiment of the 90th Tank Division, whom its statement describes as having been ‘liquidated’.

In 2016, he was awarded the Order of Courage by Vladimir Putin, and the two stood shoulder-to-shoulder in photographs.

Zakharov’s death, which could not immediately be verified, is another blow for Putin, as it follows those of Major General Vitaly Gerasimov, chief of staff of Russia’s 41st Army, reportedly killed in fighting in Kharkiv on Monday, and Major General Andrei Sukhovetsky, the 41st Army’s deputy commander, who perished early in the invasion.

‘Medieval horrors’ of Mariupol siege: Death toll passes 1,500 as deputy mayor says besieged Ukrainian port city is ‘totally destroyed’ by Russian shelling in hellish scenes

By Glen Keogh for the Daily Mail  

The crisis in Mariupol deepened yet further last night as the death toll passed 1,500 and the deputy mayor claimed his besieged city had been ‘totally destroyed’.

In hellish scenes not witnessed on European soil since the Second World War, residents have resorted to fighting one another for food while bodies are being buried in trenches before they pile high in the streets.

With Russia laying ruthless siege to the city, thousands of its inhabitants remained without food, water, electricity or heat as relentless shelling continued to blast shops and residential apartments.

Such is their desperation, many trapped residents have resorted to looting to provide for their families.

The crisis in Mariupol deepened yet further last night as the death toll passed 1,500 and the deputy mayor claimed his besieged city had been ‘totally destroyed’. Pictured: The aftermath of Russian artillery shelling on a residential area in Mariupol where a rocket hit a house

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, tweeted: ‘Besieged Mariupol is now the worst humanitarian catastrophe on the planet. 1,582 dead civilians in 12 days, even buried in mass graves. Unable to defeat the Ukrainian army, Putin bombs the unarmed, blocks humanitarian aid. We need planes to stop Russian war crimes!’

With temperatures dropping to -9C (15.8F), those who did not manage to escape before Russian troops encircled the perimeter run the risk of dying from thirst, starvation and the cold.

Mariupol has been a Russian target because of its port and strategic location on the Sea of Azov.

Last night all bridges and approaches to the city, in southern Ukraine, had been surrounded or destroyed.

A sapper of the State Emergency Service stands at the bottom of a bomb crater amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 9

Mariana Vishegirskaya walks downstairs in of a maternity hospital damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022

A view shows cars and a building of a hospital destroyed by an aviation strike amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Mariupol, Ukraine, in this handout picture released on March 9

Mariana Vishegirskaya lies in a hospital bed after giving birth to her daughter Veronika, in Mariupol, Ukraine today

Eight trucks carrying humanitarian aid poised to enter are thought to have been stopped. 

Stephen Cornish, from medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres, said: ‘Sieges are a medieval practice that have been outlawed by the modern rules of war for good reason.’

Sergei Orlov, Mariupol’s deputy mayor, said there was ‘no way out.’ He told Irish broadcaster RTE: ‘Russian troops do not allow us to leave our cities. We have no utilities, no electricity, no sanitary system.

‘Without water we had the awful [situation] when a child died of dehydration. So people collect snow to melt it to water. 

The city is totally destroyed by artillery and… aircraft bombing.’ Mr Orlov said 50,000 children including 3,000 babies and toddlers remain in Mariupol. 

He estimated that about 100,000 of its 450,000 citizens had managed to flee before the siege. He added: ‘Unfortunately, we have no opportunity to bury [the dead] in private graves. That’s why yesterday we buried 47 people in a mass grave.’

  • Ukraine’s foreign ministry last night accused Russian soldiers of abducting Ivan Fedorov, mayor of the south-eastern city of Melitopol, which fell nearly two weeks ago

Double danger at Chernobyl: Ukrainian hostage’s daughter warns plant is held by Russians who have ‘NO CLUE about nuclear security protocols’ – as Kyiv intelligence claims Putin’s forces will fake a terror attack at the site and try to blackmail the world

By Chris Jewers, Chris Pleasance and Lauren Lewis for MailOnline

The daughter of a overnight staffer being held hostage in Chernobyl has warned the plant is being held by Russian forces who ‘have no clue about nuclear security protocols’ after Kyiv’s intelligence agency claimed Putin’s forces are preparing to fake a terror attack at the site to try to blackmail the world. 

Natalia Ruemmele has warned that staffers who usually work 12 hour shifts have been maintaining the nuclear plant at gunpoint for more than two weeks since Russian forces seized control of the site as she pleaded with Moscow to agree to a ceasefire and allow a shift change. 

The Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and MailOnline UKRAINE REFUGEE APPEAL

Readers of Mail Newspapers and MailOnline have always shown immense generosity at times of crisis.

Calling upon that human spirit, we are now launching an appeal to raise money for refugees from Ukraine.

For, surely, no one can fail to be moved by the heartbreaking images and stories of families – mostly women, children, the infirm and elderly – fleeing from Russia’s invading armed forces.

As this tally of misery increases over the coming days and months, these innocent victims of a tyrant will require accommodation, schools and medical support.

All donations to the Mail Ukraine Appeal will be distributed to charities and aid organisations providing such essential services.

In the name of charity and compassion, we urge all our readers to give swiftly and generously.


Donate at 

To add Gift Aid to a donation – even one already made – complete an online form found here:

Via bank transfer, please use these details:

Account name: Mail Force Charity

Account number: 48867365

Sort code: 60-00-01


Make your cheque payable to ‘Mail Force’ and post it to: Mail Newspapers Ukraine Appeal, GFM, 42 Phoenix Court, Hawkins Road, Colchester, Essex CO2 8JY


US readers can donate to the appeal via a bank transfer to Associated Newspapers or by sending checks to HQ at 51 Astor Place (9th floor), New York, NY 10003

Ukrainian intelligence earlier warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his troops to create a ‘man-made catastrophe’ at Chernobyl which he plans to blame on Ukrainian ‘saboteurs’ in order to justify further escalating his war against the ex-Soviet country.    

Ukrainian spies say the ‘terrorist attack’ will be carried out by Russian operatives who moved in yesterday amongst a group of ‘specialists’ sent by Belarus to take over safety operations at the partially-destroyed nuclear power plant, which was seized by Russian forces in the opening days of the invasion.

Belarus sent the team in after Putin’s men disconnected Chernobyl from monitoring systems which report the status of its nuclear safety systems to UN watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and cut power to the plant – meaning water used to keep its fuel rods cooled will no longer automatically top itself up. 

Power to the plant was cut more than 40 hours ago leaving the reactors reliant on diesel generators that ‘have a 48-hour capacity’ before radiation leaks become ‘imminent, according to transmission system operator Ukrenergo. 

Nuclear safety experts say Chernobyl has diesel generators which should have automatically kicked in after the power was disconnected to keep pumps running, after which water which cools nuclear fuel rods at the plant will start to evaporate – exposing the rods which could then start to burn and create a cloud of radioactive ash. All that should be needed to prevent that is for Russians to top up the water manually, which could be done with a water truck. 

Ukraine told the International Atomic Energy Agency on Friday that technicians have started repairing damaged power lines at the decommissioned Chernobyl power plant in an effort to restore power supplies, the UN nuclear agency said. 

The Ukrainian nuclear regulator said Friday that workers repaired one section of the lines, but there still appears to be damage in other places. Repair efforts would continue despite ‘the difficult situation’ outside the plant, which was taken by Russian forces early in the invasion, the IAEA said.

The Ukrainian regulator said additional fuel was delivered for generators, but it remains important to fix the power lines as soon as possible. The IAEA reiterated that the disconnection ‘will not have a critical impact on essential safety functions at the site.’   

But Kyiv’s Main Intelligence Directorate believes Moscow’s actions show it is laying the ground for a manufactured nuclear catastrophe. They say Russian forces have been collecting the bodies of Ukrainian soldiers who died fighting at Hostomel airport – the site of clashes close to Kyiv – in refrigerated lorries so they can be taken to Chernobyl and posed up as saboteurs.

Putin’s motivation is to ‘blackmail the global community’ for sanctioning Russia and providing weapons to Ukraine, which have battled the Russian leader’s forces to a near-standstill with heavy losses. At the same time, the disaster – which would almost certainly cause radioactive fallout to land on Russia – would also be used to justify the use of further force against Ukraine.

Though Kyiv’s account cannot be independently verified, it comes against the backdrop of Russian attacks on other nuclear reactors in the country – at Zaporizhzhia in central Ukraine and Kharkiv in the east – which Ukraine has said are ‘nuclear terrorism’.

Zaporizhzhia power plant was attacked last week, sparking a fire near one of the reactors which Russian forces initially prevented fire crews from extinguishing. Kharkiv’s Institute of Physics, which houses a reactor, was also shelled this morning – though no damage was caused to the nuclear facility. 

Meanwhile the head of a nuclear research facility in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv said on Friday that the grounds of the institute had been struck by Russian shells during recent fighting, but the core housing nuclear fuel remains intact.

He warned, however, that any future damage to equipment in the core could pose a danger.

‘The facility, in working condition, doesn’t present any danger whatsoever,’ said Mykola Shulga, director general of the National Science Centre Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology. 

‘However, if there is physical damage, a nuclear fuel leak is possible, radioactive elements (could escape) outside,’ he said, speaking inside the facility. ‘This obviously would be a huge, huge problem for the environment. In other words, what would happen would be comparable to a similar situation at any nuclear power station.’

While the inner areas of the institute were unscathed, some of the outer walls of the building were damaged by shrapnel and windows were blown in.  

It comes against the backdrop of western governments saying Russia appears to be laying the groundwork to use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine – an attack that would also be blamed on Kyiv with the aim of justifying a further increase in violence.

Ukraine has also today accused fighter jets of staging a ‘false flag’ attack on Belarus as a pre-text to getting Alexander Lukashenko’s troops involved in the fighting.

Kyiv said two Su-25 bombers crossed the border from Belarus this afternoon, carried out attacks on Ukrainian soil, and then bombed Belarus itself. Defence minister Olexiy Reznikov said the attack was planned by Russia. 

‘The purpose of this provocation is to force the current leadership of Belarus into war against Ukraine. Moscow is trying to bind you with blood,’ he said. 

Lukashenko has so-far refused to get his men involved in the war, after commanders reportedly quit rather than join the fighting. The ‘false flag’ operation came immediately after the dictator met Putin in Moscow to discuss trade links, and agreed Russian would supply Belarus with modern military equipment.

Ukraine’s defence ministry later said it expects Belarusian forces to cross the border and join in the fighting at 9pm (7pm GMT) tonight – though is not yet any sign that Minsk has joined the invasion.  

But Russian forces continued pounding the city of Mariupol on Friday night and elsewhere Moscow’s men stopped some buses of people trying to flee the Kyiv region, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.   

In a video address, Vereshchuk said some planned evacuations were successful, including 1,000 people who were evacuated from the village of Vorzel in the Kyiv region. Ukraine says 1,582 civilians have died there in 12 days after the invasion.        

Chernobyl nuclear power plant, pictured on Thursday March 10 in a satellite image released today. The plant is currently under the control of Russian forces, who have disconnected it from international safety systems 

Russian forces took control of the power plant, which is located to the north of Kyiv, in the early days of fighting (pictured, Russian tanks at the site) and have since shut off the power which runs the cooling system, and disconnected  

Ukraine has warned that radioactive substances could be released from Chernobyl if power is not restored to the plant. Pictured: A still image taken from a handout video made available by the Russian Defence Ministry press service shows a general view of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Pripyat, Ukraine, March 7

Pictured: A graphic showing the series of events that led to the explosion in the reactor in Reactor 4 on the night of April 26, 1986

Dnipro, Lutsk and Ivan-Frankvisk came under Russian bombardment in the early hours of Friday having largely escaped attack so-far, while efforts to capture the cities of Kharkiv, Sumy and Mariupol resumed. Ukrainian commanders say the capital Kyiv will soon be surrounded as Putin’s men push into the outskirts 

An explosion in an apartment building in Mariupol, southern Ukraine, on Friday, March 11, after Russian tanks fired on the block during fierce fighting more than two weeks after Moscow invaded its neighbour

A Russian army tank marked with a Z moves through the outskirts of Mariupol, a city that continues to be pounded by shelling after Moscow widened its offensive in Ukraine

People cross the Irpin river as they evacuate from Irpin town next to a destroyed bridge more than two weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine

Hundreds of thousands are displaced inside Ukraine as well, after fleeing assaults on their hometowns. Irpin, (pictured) on the outskirts of Kyiv, has been one of the worst hit

Volunteers evacuate an elderly resident in Irpin, some 25 km (16 miles) northwest of Kyiv, where residents have been enduring Russian shellfire and bombardments for over a week

Civilians carry white flags as they navigate a crossing between Russian-controlled areas and Ukrainian-controlled areas in Bucha and Irpin on Friday, March 11

A woman walks in front of a residential building which was damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the separatist-controlled town of Volnovakha in the Donetsk region

The northwest suburbs, including Irpin (pictured) and Bucha, have already endured days of heavy bombardment but Russian armoured vehicles are also advancing on the northeastern edge

A service member of pro-Russian troops in uniform without insignia jumps off a tank with the letters ‘Z’ painted on it outside a residential building in Volnovakha in the pro-separatist Donetsk region

Service members of pro-Russian troops in uniforms without insignia gather around a fire outside a residential building in Volnovakha in the pro-separatist Donetsk region 

A satellite image shows a multispectral overview of artillery firing, in Ozera, near Antonov Airport, Ukraine, on Friday, March 11

Two men carry a body in a body bag to lay it next to others in a snow covered yard of a morgue in Mykolaiv, a city on the shores of the Black Sea that has been under Russian attack for days

Jen Psaki, spokesman for the White House, said Russia is engaged in an ‘obvious ploy’ to justify its own use of chemical weapons in Ukraine by pumping out disinformation that America is secretly developing the weapons in Ukraine in laboratories close to the Russian border.

‘Now that Russia has made these false claims, and China has seemingly endorsed this propaganda, we should all be on the lookout for Russia to possibly use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, or to create a false flag operation using them,’ she said earlier this week.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a similar statement yesterday, saying: ‘The stuff that you’re hearing about chemical weapons is straight out of their playbook.

‘They start saying that there are chemical weapons that have been stored by their opponents or by the Americans. And so when they themselves deploy chemical weapons, as I fear they may, they have a… fake story ready to go.

‘You’ve seen it in Syria. You saw it even in the UK. That’s what they’re doing. It is a cynical, barbaric government.’

Joe Biden warned Friday that Putin will pay a ‘severe price’ if he uses chemical weapons in Ukraine – but again repeated that American troops would not be sent into the country to prevent the outbreak of World War Three. 

‘The United States and our allies and partners continue to work in lockstep to ramp up the economic pressures on Putin and to further isolate Russia and the global stage,’ Biden said in his announcement from the White House.

Biden also said he will revoke Russia’s ‘most favored nation’ trade status over its invasion of Ukraine, another step in the series of harsh economic sanctions he and U.S. allies have imposed on Moscow.   

He noted that revoking the favored trade status ‘is going to make it harder for Russia to do business with the United States, and doing it in unison with other nations that make up half of the global economy will be another crushing blow to the Russian economy that’s already suffering very badly from our sanctions,’ he said.

He also reiterated that American troops will not fight in the Ukraine. 

‘We will not fight a war against Russia in Ukraine,’ adding that a ‘direct confrontation between NATO and Russia is World War III– something we must strive to prevent.’

Meanwhile civilian volunteers trained in Odessa on Friday, learning to use rifles and other defence techniques as the city’s mayor warned that Russian forces could soon surround the southern Ukrainian port city on three fronts. 

In a different part of the city, a group of women crafted camouflage nets by cutting up old pieces of cloth.  

It came a day after Russia’s deputy energy minister, Yevgeny Grabchak, said power had been restored to the decommissioned plant, after Ukraine said earlier this week that Putin’s forces had cut the electricity.

However, the intelligence update disputed this, and repeated an earlier warning that if the electricity is cut, the plant’s emergency diesel generators that provide back-up power to safety systems can only last 48-hours.   

Earlier this week, Ukraine pleaded with Russia to observe a ceasefire so engineers could go into Chernobyl and restore the power. This was refused, Ukraine said. 

‘The occupiers refused to grant access to the station to Ukrainian repairmen,’ the update continued.

‘Instead, ‘Belarusian specialists’ went there on the instructions of Alexander Lukashenko. Among them, under the guise of nuclear power plants, Russian saboteurs also come to organize a terrorist attack.’

On Wednesday, IAEA also said it had lost contact with the captured Zaporizhzhia power plant, just hours after warning of a potential unfolding disaster at Chernobyl. 

The agency said warning systems at Zaporizhzhia – Europe’s largest nuclear power plant – had stopped broadcasting updates in the days since Russian forces shelled the site, resulting in international condemnation.

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said Wednesday he was ‘concerned about the sudden interruption’ of the data flows to the watchdog’s Vienna headquarters.

He added that the reason for the disruption in updates from the power plants was not clear but the IAEA was still receiving data from other nuclear facilities in Ukraine, including three other operational nuclear power plants.

Also on Wednesday, Ukraine warned Chernobyl could be 48 hours away from leaking radiation, and the country’s nuclear company Energoatom warned that radioactive substances could be released if an electricity outage at the site continues any longer, as it makes it impossible to cool spent nuclear fuel. 

Energoatom has said that work to repair the connection and restore power to the plant – the site of the world’s biggest nuclear disaster in 1986 – has not been possible because fighting is under way in the region. 

Members of Ukraine’s territorial defence forces take part in military training in an underground garage in Kyiv as Russian troops advance on the capital

Soldiers patrol a street in Lviv, western Ukraine, as the Russian-waged war rages in the east and centre of the country for the sixteenth day on Friday, March 11

A Ukrainian woman with her baby embarks a train bound to Warsaw, at the Przemysl train station, southeastern Poland on Friday, March 11

Ukrainian forces have seized gas marks from Russian troops following warnings from the West that Vladimir Putin could use chemical weapons

Damage is seen at the Institute of Physics in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, north east Ukraine, which houses a nuclear reactor that Russian forces are accused of targeting

Ukraine has accused Russia of ‘nuclear terrorism’ after the Institute of Physics, in the north eastern city of Kharkiv, was shelled. The institute houses a nuclear reactor

Damage caused by Russian shelling is seen near the Institute of Physics, in the north eastern city of Kharkiv, 

Firefighters work to extinguish a blaze in the city of Dnipro, central Ukraine, after three airstrikes hit on Friday morning – destroying a shoe factory and killing at least one civilian

Emergency crews assess the damage on a residential street in Dnipro, central Ukraine, after it came under bombardment on Friday – having largely been spared attacks so far during the war

The company said there were about 20,000 spent fuel assemblies at Chernobyl that could not be kept cool amid a power outage.

Their warming could lead to ‘the release of radioactive substances into the environment. The radioactive cloud could be carried by wind to other regions of Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, and Europe,’ it said in a statement.

Without power, ventilation systems at the plant would also not be working, exposing staff to dangerous doses of radiation, it added.

Russia took control of the defunct atomic plant on the first day of the invasion and has since captured a second nuclear site – Zaporizhzhia – the biggest in Europe.

Energy operator Ukrenergo also said their power has been entirely cut to the plant and its security systems. 

The plant ‘was fully disconnected from the power grid,’ Ukrenergo said in a statement on its Facebook page, adding that military operations meant ‘there is no possibility to restore the lines’.

The recent developments have now added increasing concern about safety and security around the region. 

Last week staff at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant were captured on video pleading with Russian soldiers directing fire on the building before they overtook it. 

The nuclear power plant, which creates around 20 percent of Ukraine’s electricity, was captured after a fierce gun battle between Russian President Vladimir Putin’s men and Ukrainian defenders that sparked a fire in a six-story training building.

Eventually, emergency crews were allowed to go in and douse the flames at the Zaporizhzhia plant before Russian troops moved in and occupied the site.

The United Nation’s nuclear monitoring agency said that, fortunately, none of the site’s six reactors had been directly damaged and radiation levels remained normal.  

The IAEA said later on Wednesday it saw ‘no critical impact on safety’ from the power cut at the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine.

The Vienna-based U.N. nuclear watchdog said Wednesday that Ukraine had informed it of the loss of electricity and that the development violates a ‘key safety pillar on ensuring uninterrupted power supply.’ 

But it tweeted that ‘in this case IAEA sees no critical impact on safety.’

The IAEA said that there could be ‘effective heat removal without need for electrical supply’ from spent nuclear fuel at the site.

Speaking to MailOnline Claire Corkhill – Professor of Nuclear Material Degradation at Sheffield University – said that while power being cut at Chernobyl was concerning, the spent nuclear fuel would not lead to a nuclear ‘meltdown’.

Red Cross volunteers help an elderly Ukrainian couple escape town devastated by Russian shelling during ceasefire as life-saving emergency crews aid terrified civilians with the help of Mail readers’ donations, writes RICHARD PENDLEBURY 

By Richard Pendlebury and Jamie Wiseman in Irpin for the Daily Mail 

The town of Irpin is – or, rather, was – a residential satellite on the edge of Kyiv. 

Think of Borehamwood or Orpington in the context of London, or Sale outside Manchester; Morley in relation to Leeds. Not a military target, but now being targeted all the same by artillery and sniper fire.

Tens of thousands of its civilian population have found themselves trapped here. An unknown number have already died. But the survivors have not been abandoned.

And thanks to the incredible generosity of Daily Mail readers they will continue to get urgent help on the ground.

On Popovic Street – the main route out of town– across the bridge now collapsed into the Irpinka river, a white van is parked beside a burned out restaurant, next to a blast-shattered church.

On the side of the van is emblazoned perhaps the most iconic symbol of humanitarian relief in wartime. It tells you that the Red Cross is present in ruined Irpin.

Helping hand: A Red Cross worker assists with evacuation in Irpin

As we pass, a volunteer crew is helping an elderly couple who have run the gauntlet of a dubious ceasefire into the back of their vehicle.

This is neither the time nor place to stop and chat, so I don’t know the names of the Red Cross personnel concerned. But what courage, what fortitude.

Again and again, they drive their unarmoured van backwards and forward beyond the evacuation buses that are parked out in the forest, beyond the last Ukrainian military checkpoint on the edge of Irpin and into the firing line.

The road surface here is covered in debris. Heavy mortars had pounded this section of the escape route a few days earlier, killing Tatiana Perebeinis, the chief accountant of a Silicon Valley start-up with headquarters in London, her daughter, Alise, 9, and son, Nikita, 18, as well as the family’s pet dogs.

The images of the family lying dead on the pavement amid their belongings caused horror around the world.

But thousands of others have escaped, thanks to the local Red Cross evacuation teams, working in conjunction with the state emergency services.

Mercy mission: Irina and Katarina treat an injured man

Of the £6million raised so for by the Mail Force Ukraine Appeal, £500,000 is directly funding Red Cross work in this country.

This week, the Mail spent two days witnessing that work, both at the front line and at one of the major railway hubs that has been overwhelmed by the refugee exodus from the fighting.

By last night more than 2.5million Ukrainians had left the country, most of them women and children. Their journeys often begin in places like Irpin.

Once they reach the evacuation buses, they are driven several miles through the forest to a check point where volunteers serve them hot drinks and cakes.

Those who are obviously in distress are taken into a tent and checked by Red Cross medics. It is outside this tent that we come across one young family; dentist Oleks, his wife Marina and their three year old son Dimi, pale faced and red eyed, chewing on a pastry. They have just got out, but the trauma is still with them.

‘I was so scared,’ says Marina. ‘We live on the boundary of Irpin and Bucha and there was such heavy fire last night. My parents are still there. They cannot move because of their poor health. Thank goodness Dimi doesn’t understand what is happening.’

Symbol of hope: A Red Cross van outside shelled restaurant

Their next stop as new refugees will probably be Kyiv’s main railway station. And the Ukrainian Red Cross Society – the local branch of the international movement – will be there for them too.

Katarina is team leader for the organisation’s ‘first response’ team for this particular day shift that will last from 10am to 10pm. Their base is a small tent in a corner of one of the cavernous, Soviet-era waiting halls.

In peacetime, she is a theoretical physicist. She still is a wife and mother. But for the next twelve hours she will be responsible for providing help and comfort to the thousands of displaced who continue to pour through the capital towards the west and safety.

Among her team are two chemical scientists, Oleksa and Mikhail, Alina, a procurement manager and Irina, a nurse. A furniture designer, an IT specialist and medical students are in reserve.

‘It is a long day and a very long night,’ Katarina says. ‘Probably the worst times are when the evacuation buses or trains from the east arrive in the hours of darkness, unannounced. Then it’s like the apocalypse.

‘People are tired, frightened and disorientated and it is the elderly and disabled, and those women travelling alone with kids who suffer the most.’

She added: ‘We have had to deal with strokes, high blood pressure and people on the verge of collapse or in hysterics. A couple of days’ ago a woman had a heart attack and despite our best efforts we could not save her.’

A destroyed vehicle is seen at the border between Bucha and Irpin, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Irpin, Ukraine today

The main hall is very cold at night and refugees often stay here for many hours because of the city-wide curfew outside.

‘Sometimes a hot drink and a comforting word is just enough to keep them going,’ says Katarina. ‘Other people see the Red Cross sign and it is reassuring. They come over just to talk to someone they can trust.’

The volunteers carry their own burdens. ‘It is a very stressful for us. Today we helped a woman from Bucha whose husband had been shot in front of her. You hear a dozen stories like that each shift and they stay with you.’

A child and his father are evacuated from Irpin, Ukraine today

What do they still need? ‘We cannot have too much antiseptic solvents and bandages,’ she says. ‘And our front line evacuation people do not have any body armour or helmets. We also need more tourniquets. This is a war situation and we have evacuated a lot of people who had lost limbs.’

The Ukrainian Red Cross Society (URCS) has around 500 employees and 6,000 volunteers. While the Red Cross is a completely neutral humanitarian organization, that does not make it invulnerable.

Premises run by the URCS in Mariupol and a Kharkiv and a vehicle in Vyshhorod have been damaged by artillery fire, according to a local spokesman. But Katarina and her team soldier on.

She tells me: ‘Thank your readers so much for their generosity. We know that Britain is thinking of us. But we need more help. We’re on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe.’

A man and a woman wait to be evacuated from Irpin, Ukraine today

Thank you SIX MILLION times: That’s how much our amazing readers and others have raised through the Mail Force Ukraine refugees appeal in less than two weeks

By Sam Greenhill Chief Reporter for the Daily Mail

Cheques from kind-hearted Mail readers have taken the total raised in our Ukraine fundraising appeal to more than £6million in less than two weeks.

The amount contained in the torrent of envelopes arriving in the daily post has burst through the £2.5million barrier, accompanied by letters of compassion for refugees and rage at Vladimir Putin.

Horrified at the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine, some people have dug exceptionally deep, writing cheques for thousands of pounds, while others without so much to give have sacrificed small luxuries to help.

Cheques from kind-hearted Mail readers have taken the total raised in our Ukraine fundraising appeal to more than £6million in less than two weeks

Richard Halliday, of south-east London, sent £20 with a handwritten note included saying: ‘I have very little money. Every Saturday night, I treat myself to a nice steak and chips, but I will replace this meal with baked beans on toast.’

An anonymous reader accompanied their cheque with a handwritten note that read: ‘At the turn of the 20th century my grandfather left Ukraine to escape persecution from the Tsarist regime.

‘The British took him in and gave him a safe new life, but 120 years on nothing has changed. The Russian regime is still persecuting innocent people. This cheque is in memory of my grandfather.’

The Kilmarnock Burns Club sent £50, with club treasurer John McCracken saying simply that its members had felt the need to contribute towards ending ‘this humanitarian disaster’.

The amount contained in the torrent of envelopes arriving in the daily post has burst through the £2.5million barrier, accompanied by letters of compassion for refugees and rage at Vladimir Putin

Twice-married widow Doris Hanczaryk sent £20 in memory of her late husbands, both of whom were Ukrainian.

The 87-year-old, nee Wright, from Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, said: ‘I am English-born and still feel English but in many ways I feel Ukrainian.

‘I miss my menfolk so much – as many refugees will miss theirs in this terrible war. Both of my husbands fought to push Russia out of the Ukraine in the Second World War.

‘These people need all the help we can send for them.’

A farmer who spoke to the Mail on the phone said: ‘We have had Ukrainians on our farm in Carmarthenshire. They are honest hardworking people.

‘I feel so desperately sorry for them. I feel I had to give to the Daily Mail appeal.

‘Something must be done to stop this evil dictator. It cannot go on.’

Some four million are running away, making this the worst refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War. Pictured: Refugees in Moldova 

And Brenda Seaton, from Exmouth, Devon, gave £100 and said: ‘I have cried so many tears watching the TV coverage and I hope that my small donation will help a little.

‘My heart goes out to the brave men and women and I hugely applaud their wonderful leader.’

Animal campaigner Irene Davies sent £20 and saluted the ‘wonderful and brave people’ of Ukraine, adding: ‘They also saved their pets and didn’t think just of themselves.’

The Mail Force charity has also received generous donations via bank transfer and on the telephone, and through the Just Giving fundraising website.

At the request of Lord and Lady Rothermere, the Mail’s parent company DMGT has donated £500,000.

Mail Force does not take a penny in administration costs and is passing the money to good causes helping refugees on the ground in Ukraine and the countries they are fleeing to.

Some four million are running away, making this the worst refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War. 

Source: Read Full Article