Artillery price

Russian artillery kills Ukrainian civilians fleeing Kyiv suburbs

People dived for cover, clutching the ground. Frightened pets ran through the woods. A father, a mother and a child were killed. The bodies of the family lay close together near a memorial to local soldiers who died fighting Germany in World War II. Their gray suitcase stood nearby, untouched by the explosion.

The number of other civilian casualties was unclear, as the incessant shelling continued. A nearby house caught fire after receiving a direct hit. In the distance, plumes of gray smoke rose above Irpin, where Ukrainian forces fought to repel a Russian attack on what is a critical gateway to kyiv.

The Russian military insists it does not target civilians. But deaths are mounting due to Russian strikes on residential areas of cities across the country, and evacuation agreements from other cities have failed.

On Sunday, Ukrainian authorities said they must abandon efforts to evacuate civilians from the southern city of Mariupol for the second day in a row, saying Russia bombarded the southeastern port city as convoys of evacuation were gathering.

More than 200,000 civilians were due to start leaving Mariupol and nearby Volnovakha on Saturday under a deal overseen by the International Committee of the Red Cross. The deal was meant to be a test for similar humanitarian corridors from other Ukrainian cities, including Irpin.

In Irpin, residents have been flocking for days as Russian shelling increasingly hits civilian neighborhoods, with artillery shells crashing into high-rise apartment towers. Sunday was the first time Russia had directly attacked an escape route, as hundreds of civilians tried to escape.

“It’s a miracle that I’m still alive,” said Lyubov Tarasyk, his face flushed and his coat muddy. they said I was born with a shirt,” she added, using a Ukrainian expression for unbelievably lucky.

Russian and Ukrainian negotiators, due to hold their third round of talks on Monday, agreed in principle to open humanitarian corridors for civilians fleeing areas besieged by Russia or attacked by Russia.

Irpin is not covered by any humanitarian corridor agreement, but Ukrainian officials said they were trying to ensure evacuations from the nearby towns of Bucha and Hostomel.

Ukrainian forces struggling to maintain control of Irpin destroyed a column of Russian armor on Saturday evening. On Sunday, they fired long-range artillery barrages at Russian positions. The city remained contested, with large numbers of Ukrainian troops, including special forces armed with anti-tank missiles, trying to repel a Russian advance.

Caught in the middle of it are thousands of civilians, many too fragile to get out even without the shelling. Upon entering Kyiv from Irpin, a woman who only gave her name as Lesya was shaking as she spoke to a psychologist from the Ukrainian emergency service. His parents, in their eighties, stayed behind.

“There was an explosion to the left of my house, there was an explosion to the right of my house, and my parents are still there, in between, after a stroke, in their slippers,” she said. asked. “How, how can I get them out?”

On Sunday, just before the bombing of the escape route began, Ukrainian soldiers were helping women and children climb over the highway guardrail and onto buses, passing prams and suitcases. Some elderly people had to be carried, holding walking sticks.

The buses, organized by nearby charities, offered free rides to the western Ukrainian cities of Rivne and Lutsk. Every few minutes, civilian cars brought in people wounded in the shelling. They were loaded into waiting ambulances and taken to hospitals.

Maria Polianska, who was a real estate agent in Irpin before the war, had just gotten out and was waiting to see if her grandmother had also managed to escape. “We ran as fast as we could as the shells were falling all around us,” she said, breathing heavily.

She said she tripped and fell on the way. There was no electricity in the town because the electrical substation was damaged and Russian forces occupied the area, making repairs impossible, residents said.

A retired accountant who only gave his name as Ihor said eight houses next to his caught fire in Irpin overnight. “It was so scary, but mostly for him, he was shaking,” he said, pointing to Tip, the chihuahua he was carrying under his arm.

Ukrainian soldiers on the outskirts of kyiv said they expected a massive offensive in the next 24 hours as Moscow sought to improve its negotiating position ahead of Monday’s talks. “They’re going to come here with everything they’ve got,” said a Ukrainian Airborne Force sergeant who wanted to be identified by his call sign, Casper.

A career soldier, he leads a front-line detachment made up mostly of volunteers from the Ukrainian territorial defense force. He said he was confident that his position would hold. “Putin made a mistake,” he said. “He thought he would fight only with the Ukrainian army, but now he is fighting with all the Ukrainian people.”

This story was published from a news agency feed with no text edits

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