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‘Kyiv will be Putin’s Stalingrad’: Russia’s assault on capital is doomed to fail, officials say

Russia has made dire threats to the West that any military shipments to Ukraine will be seen as ‘legitimate targets’, prompting fears there could be an escalation of conflict that could suck in other countries. 

It comes as Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of shooting children and said Vladimir Putin’s forces will  only take Kyiv if they ‘raze the city to the ground’, with Kremlin troops inching closer to the capital and conflict raging nearby today, endangering attempted evacuations.

Deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov warned the US ‘that pumping weapons from a number of countries it orchestrates isn’t just a dangerous move, it’s an action that makes those convoys legitimate targets’, after Joe Biden personally intervened to stop a shipment of Polish MiG fighter jets to Kyiv, fearing the move could lead to ‘World War Three’.

But Volodymyr Zelensky has slammed the West for its inaction, saying today he ‘doesn’t see any bravery from NATO’ as he pleaded for more involvement from allies in peace negotiations and offered to pay for more anti-missile systems. In response, the US made lukewarm promises of taking ‘diplomatic steps’ to help the Ukrainian government. 

Zelensky, who claimed 1,300 Ukrainian troops have been killed so far and 500 Russians surrendered yesterday, added: ‘If they decide to carpet bomb (Kyiv), and simply erase the history of this region, the history of the Kyivan Rus, the history of Europe, and destroy all of us, then they will enter Kyiv. If that’s their goal, let them come in, but they will have to live on this land by themselves.’

Senior Russian officials incredulously flipped the narrative on its head on Saturday, warning that the humanitarian situation was deteriorating because of the actions of the country’s armed forces – and even accusing Ukraine of shelling its own people.

‘The humanitarian situation in Ukraine, unfortunately, continues to rapidly worsen, and in some cities has reached catastrophic proportions,’ RIA quoted Mikhail Mizintsev, head of the Russian National Defence Control Centre, as saying.

Mizintsev, who said Russian forces were observing ceasefires, said Ukrainian forces had mined residential neighbourhoods and destroyed bridges and roads.

Ukraine has complained repeatedly that Russian forces do not always respect ceasefires so civilians can leave through evacuation corridors. 

Moscow’s troops continue to use indiscriminate shelling to encircle key Ukrainian cities and are said to be bearing down on Kyiv for an ‘all-out assault’ in the coming days.   

But there appear to be signs of slight progress in negotiations, with Zelensky saying the warring countries have begun discussing ‘concrete’ proposals rather than just ‘exchanging ultimatums’, although he said any negotiations must begin with a ceasefire.

The conciliatory tone was not resonating in the Kremlin though, with Putin raging after a 75-minute call with Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz that Ukraine was guilty of ‘extrajudicial reprisals against dissidents, taking civilians hostage, using them as human shields, [and] putting heavy armaments in civilian areas near hospitals, schools, kindergartens’.

Scholz and Macron implored Putin to end the war and stop the brutal siege of Mariupol but a French official said he did not show any willingness for calling off his inhumane invasion. 

Russian armoured vehicles are still slowly advancing on Kyiv’s northeast after being stalled for days, and a military airfield south of the city in Vasylkiv has been hit by missiles, destroying the runway, a fuel depot and an ammunition store. 

A despondent father plays with his daughter before she boards a Lviv-bound train in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine on Saturday

A man walks into a crater created by the impact of an aerial bomb that destroyed a cultural center and an administration building in the village of Byshiv outside Kyiv

A man walks into a crater created by the impact of an aerial bomb that destroyed a cultural center and an administration building in the village of Byshiv outside Kyiv

A member of the Ukrainian forces takes position behind a car in Irpin, a neighbouring city of Ukraine which has seen intense bombardment

A member of the Ukrainian forces takes position behind a car in Irpin, a neighbouring city of Ukraine which has seen intense bombardment

A view of a destroyed shoe factory in the aftermath of a missile attack, amid Russia's invasion, in Dnipro

A view of a destroyed shoe factory in the aftermath of a missile attack, amid Russia’s invasion, in Dnipro

A Ukrainian soldier holds a Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapon (NLAW) that was used to destroy a Russian armoured personal carrier (APC) in Irpin,

A Ukrainian soldier holds a Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapon (NLAW) that was used to destroy a Russian armoured personal carrier (APC) in Irpin,

Ukrainian servicemen carry a dead body on stretcher in the town of Irpin near Kyiv as Russian forces close in on the capital

Ukrainian servicemen carry a dead body on stretcher in the town of Irpin near Kyiv as Russian forces close in on the capital

A tram depot in Kharkiv was destroyed by Russian shelling in the city which has faced incessant attacks for days

A tram depot in Kharkiv was destroyed by Russian shelling in the city which has faced incessant attacks for days 

A resident examines a destroyed tram depot in Kharkiv today with Ukraine's second biggest city facing continued shelling

A resident examines a destroyed tram depot in Kharkiv today with Ukraine’s second biggest city facing continued shelling 

A person is carried on a stretcher next to an upturned car by a destroyed bridge as people are evacuated from Irpin near Kyiv

A person is carried on a stretcher next to an upturned car by a destroyed bridge as people are evacuated from Irpin near Kyiv

Anastasiya Erashova wept and trembled as she held a sleeping child. Shelling had just killed her other child as well as her brother's child, Erashova said, her scalp crusted with blood

Anastasiya Erashova wept and trembled as she held a sleeping child. Shelling had just killed her other child as well as her brother’s child, Erashova said, her scalp crusted with blood 

Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol remained encircled under heavy Russian shelling

Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol remained encircled under heavy Russian shelling

Plumes of smoke billow from a building in the strategic port city of Mariupol which has endured 11 days of intense bombardment

Plumes of smoke billow from a building in the strategic port city of Mariupol which has endured 11 days of intense bombardment

A Ukrainian serviceman exits a damaged building after shelling in Kyiv with Russians closing in on the city

A Ukrainian serviceman exits a damaged building after shelling in Kyiv with Russians closing in on the city

A column of smoke rises from burning fuel tanks that locals said were hit by five rockets at the Vasylkiv Air Base near the capital

A column of smoke rises from burning fuel tanks that locals said were hit by five rockets at the Vasylkiv Air Base near the capital

Russian rocket attacks destroyed a Ukrainian airbase and hit an ammunition depot near the town of Vasylkiv in the Kyiv region on Saturday morning

Russian rocket attacks destroyed a Ukrainian airbase and hit an ammunition depot near the town of Vasylkiv in the Kyiv region on Saturday morning

Cars line the streets out of Kyiv as desperate residents try to flee the city which is bracing itself for an imminent onslaught from Russia

Cars line the streets out of Kyiv as desperate residents try to flee the city which is bracing itself for an imminent onslaught from Russia

Russia's defence ministry shared footage of its forces appearing to seize a Ukrainian airfield in an undisclosed location today

Russia’s defence ministry shared footage of its forces appearing to seize a Ukrainian airfield in an undisclosed location today

Deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov has warned the US and NATO that deliveries of weapons to Ukraine will be seen by Russia as legitimate targets

Deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov has warned the US and NATO that deliveries of weapons to Ukraine will be seen by Russia as legitimate targets

A Russian KA-52 gunship helicopter is seen on a mission in Ukraine in footage shared by the Kremlin's defence ministry

A Russian KA-52 gunship helicopter is seen on a mission in Ukraine in footage shared by the Kremlin’s defence ministry

Five newborn babies are evacuated from a clinic in Kyiv in bags and suitcases as desperate civilians try to flee from the invading Russians

Five newborn babies are evacuated from a clinic in Kyiv in bags and suitcases as desperate civilians try to flee from the invading Russians

Anti-tank barriers line a main street in Odessa, a strategic port city which is seen as a likely battleground in the coming days

Anti-tank barriers line a main street in Odessa, a strategic port city which is seen as a likely battleground in the coming days

Eight-year-old Dima struggles between life and death in intensive care after being injured in the Russian attacks in Kharkiv

Eight-year-old Dima struggles between life and death in intensive care after being injured in the Russian attacks in Kharkiv

A view of the damage in a cafe after shelling in Kharkiv with its windows destroyed and glass covering the floor

A view of the damage in a cafe after shelling in Kharkiv with its windows destroyed and glass covering the floor

Deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov warned the US 'that pumping weapons from a number of countries it orchestrates isn't just a dangerous move, it's an action that makes those convoys legitimate targets'

Deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov warned the US ‘that pumping weapons from a number of countries it orchestrates isn’t just a dangerous move, it’s an action that makes those convoys legitimate targets’

People stand in front of a destroyed shoe factory today in the aftermath of a missile attack in Dnipro, the latest city targeted by Russia

People stand in front of a destroyed shoe factory today in the aftermath of a missile attack in Dnipro, the latest city targeted by Russia

A warehouse storing frozen products is seen on fire after shelling, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in the village of Kvitneve in Kyiv region today

A warehouse storing frozen products is seen on fire after shelling, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in the village of Kvitneve in Kyiv region today

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

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

Firefighters extinguish a fire on a house after shelling in Kyiv but Russian ground forces are yet to enter the capital

Firefighters extinguish a fire on a house after shelling in Kyiv but Russian ground forces are yet to enter the capital

A monument of Odessa's founder Duke de Richelieu is seen covered with sand bags for protection, amid Russian attacks

A monument of Odessa’s founder Duke de Richelieu is seen covered with sand bags for protection, amid Russian attacks

A man walks past as a strike hits a car park in the southern city of Mykolaiv near a residential complex

A man walks past as a strike hits a car park in the southern city of Mykolaiv near a residential complex 

A building in Mariupol is seen today after it was destroyed by a Russian airstrike. The city has seen incessant bombardment for nearly two weeks

A building in Mariupol is seen today after it was destroyed by a Russian airstrike. The city has seen incessant bombardment for nearly two weeks

The bulk of Russian ground forces are now around 15 miles from the centre but elements of the large column have dispersed in a bid to encircle the city, after pummelling the northwest suburbs including Irpin and Bucha.

A column of thick black smoke was seen rising from the eastern suburbs of Kyiv this morning, but there is still no sign of ground forces moving into the outskirts. 

But a former NATO official said she is ‘sceptical’ that Russian forces will ‘gain much success’ from an expected brutal onslaught of Kyiv, as Ukrainians warned Putin to prepare for his own Stalingrad battle. 

Former deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller says she believes current tactics betray a sign of weakness from Putin’s forces, saying she is ‘sceptical’ of any success in the capital. 

She slammed their poor logistics saying she does not believe they have enough fuel supply for battle in the city which has faced constant shelling but is still bracing for an all-out assault.

Three Russian generals out of 20 have been killed so far in Putin’s botched invasion, which has also seen the loss of 173 tanks, 12 aircraft and 345 troop carriers.  

In an address to the nation today, Zelensky said Ukraine has inflicted Russia’s heaviest losses in decades, claiming 31 battalion tactical groups have been rendered incapable of combat.

The president also demanded the release of the kidnapped mayor of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov, who was seized after he ‘refused to cooperate with the enemy’, sparking protests of 2,000 people in the southern city. 

It comes as Russian attacks are continuing throughout the county today despite a supposed ceasefire to allow trapped citizens to escape in evacuation routes.

Donetsk governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said: ‘Humanitarian cargo is moving towards Mariupol, we will inform you how it develops… The situation is complicated, there is constant shelling.’

Putin’s troops have also shelled a mosque housing 86 people including 34 children in the besieged city of Mariupol, whose eastern outskirts have now fallen into Russian hands. It is not yet known if there are any casualties. 

A convoy loaded with 90 tonnes of food and medicine left the town of Zaporizhzhia for Mariupol on Saturday, according to local officials, with hopes that it will be able to evacuate civilians on the way back. Ukraine’s emergency services said 487,000 people had been evacuated over the past 24 hours, including 102,000 children.

Mykolaiv remains under heavy bombardment, while new artillery and air attacks have targeted Dnipro and Kropyvnytskyi.  

People from Kyiv rest in a temporary accommodation after fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Rzeszow, Poland

People from Kyiv rest in a temporary accommodation after fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Rzeszow, Poland

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks during a news conference in Kyiv today as he hailed Russia's biggest losses in decades

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks during a news conference in Kyiv today as he hailed Russia’s biggest losses in decades

A Ukrainian soldier examines a destroyed Russian armoured personal carrier (APC) in Irpin, north of Kyiv, today

A Ukrainian soldier examines a destroyed Russian armoured personal carrier (APC) in Irpin, north of Kyiv, today

A hotel in central Chernihiv is destroyed after an air strike carried out by Russians who say they are only targeting military sites

A hotel in central Chernihiv is destroyed after an air strike carried out by Russians who say they are only targeting military sites

A woman holds a child as refugees queue for further transport at the Medyka border crossing into Poland

A woman holds a child as refugees queue for further transport at the Medyka border crossing into Poland

Bloodied civilians and children cross the Irpin river near a destroyed bridge as they evacuate the town on the outskirts of Kyiv

Bloodied civilians and children cross the Irpin river near a destroyed bridge as they evacuate the town on the outskirts of Kyiv

Former deputy Secretary General of NATO, Rose Gottemoeller, says she believes Russia will fail in Kyiv

Former deputy Secretary General of NATO, Rose Gottemoeller, says she believes Russia will fail in Kyiv

A wounded man is evacuated as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in the town of Irpin outside Kyiv

A wounded man is evacuated as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, in the town of Irpin outside Kyiv

Pictured: A graphic showing Russian army equipment that has been visually confirmed as destroyed by Oryx - a military blog that is tracking Moscow's losses during its invasion of Ukraine. Oryx says its figures are based on 'photo or videographic evidence. Therefore, the amount of equipment destroyed is significantly higher than recorded here'

Pictured: A graphic showing Russian army equipment that has been visually confirmed as destroyed by Oryx – a military blog that is tracking Moscow’s losses during its invasion of Ukraine. Oryx says its figures are based on ‘photo or videographic evidence. Therefore, the amount of equipment destroyed is significantly higher than recorded here’

In captured Kherson, which is under Russian control, a pseudo ‘referendum’ will be held on the creation of a new breakaway Kherson People’s Republic, but few expect the vote to be legitimate.

Meanwhile Ukraine intelligence officials have warned that Russia is stockpiling the bodies of dead soldiers to stage a false flag attack at Chernobyl, releasing radioactive waste in a ‘man-made catastrophe’ that would amount to a ‘terrorist attack’. 

Ex-NATO chief Gottemoeller told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I think frankly, the Russians threw at Kyiv some of their most elite forces to begin with, they were hoping for a lightning strike to basically assassinate President Zelensky, take out the Government in Kyiv and have a quick victory.

‘But it didn’t work out that way and they ended up stalling on the highway outside of Kyiv. 

‘Now we’ve seen those forces disperse and disperse into the woods but I’m wondering frankly if they have the ability to regroup at this point because their logistics are in such bad shape, they don’t really have the fuel supplies they need for a push on to Kyiv. 

‘So at the moment, I have to tell you that I’m rather sceptical that they will gain much success in an assault on Kyiv, at least with those forces.’

Meanwhile Ukraine’s youngest ever MP and a former adviser to Zelensky says Kyiv could be Russia’s new Stalingrad.

The bloodiest battle of World War II was a major turning point, costing the German army a quarter of everything it possessed by way of material – guns, tanks and munitions.

Sviatoslav Yurah said: ‘It’s a massive town of millions and if the Russians try to come in they will have quite a fight on their hands – this will be their Stalingrad if they want to make it so.

‘Nobody is going to surrender – I can definitely guarantee you that.’

Air raid sirens are continuing to ring out across the capital region and artillery barrages sent residents scurrying for shelter. 

Fighting erupted in multiple areas around Kyiv last night and artillery pounded its outskirts.

To the city’s southwest, two columns of smoke – one black and one white – rose in the town of Vaslkyiv after a strike on an ammunition depot. 

The strike on the depot caused hundreds of small explosions from detonating ammunition.

In a multi-front attack on the capital, the Russians’ push from the north east appeared to be advancing, a US officials said. 

The UK’s Ministry of Defence said fighting north west of Kyiv has continued with the bulk of Russian ground forces now around 15 miles from the centre of the city.

A daily intelligence update said elements of the large Russian military column north of Kyiv have dispersed. 

It said this is likely to support a Russian attempt to encircle the capital, and could also be an attempt by Russia to reduce its vulnerability to Ukrainian counter attacks, which have taken a significant toll on Russian forces.

New commercial satellite images appeared to capture artillery firing on residential areas that stood between the Russians and the capital. 

The images from Maxar Technologies showed muzzle flashes and smoke from big guns, as well as impact craters and burning homes in the town of Moschun, 20 miles from Kyiv, the company said.

Military experts say they are baffled by the ineptitude of the tactics displayed by Russia’s armies after drone footage 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.

Meanwhile in besieged Mariupol, which has endured two weeks without food, power or water amid a brutal blockade, is facing continuing shelling as a mosque housing 80 civilians including children was targeted today, and barrages have thwarted attempts to bring supplies to the strategic port city. 

A cancer hospital in Mykolaiv was also hit with hundreds of patients inside undergoing chemotherapy but no one was killed in the latest monstrous attack which comes after a maternity hospital and care home were destroyed. 

A ceasefire should be in place today to allow trapped residents in Mariupol, Kyiv and Sumy evacuate through humanitarian corridors, but Russia has repeatedly failed to observe them, as Ukrainian officials pleaded with Russian forces to allow the citizens to escape. 

Meanwhile Zelensky slammed Moscow for ‘torturing’ civilians who have spent more than a week without vital supplies in besieged cities. 

A Kharkiv cafe is destroyed with shattered glass and broken tables on the floor as Ukraine's second biggest city remains under constant bombardment

A Kharkiv cafe is destroyed with shattered glass and broken tables on the floor as Ukraine’s second biggest city remains under constant bombardment

A burning storage factory releases smoke over Brovary after a rocket attack in the early hours of this morning

A burning storage factory releases smoke over Brovary after a rocket attack in the early hours of this morning

The debris of damaged houses cover the ground near a cultural center and an administration building that were destroyed during aerial bombing

The debris of damaged houses cover the ground near a cultural center and an administration building that were destroyed during aerial bombing

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

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

Local singers and musicians gather for a rendition of the Ukrainian national anthem in Odessa today

Local singers and musicians gather for a rendition of the Ukrainian national anthem in Odessa today

Emergency rescue work is seen underway after an attack, where a residential building was reportedly hit by a rocket in Kharkiv

Emergency rescue work is seen underway after an attack, where a residential building was reportedly hit by a rocket in Kharkiv

Civilians erect barricades of tires topped with bags of sand as a precaution amid Russian attacks on Kyiv

Civilians erect barricades of tires topped with bags of sand as a precaution amid Russian attacks on Kyiv

A destroyed tank is seen after battles between Ukrainian and Russian forces on a main road near Brovary, north of Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 10, 2022

A destroyed tank is seen after battles between Ukrainian and Russian forces on a main road near Brovary, north of Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 10, 2022

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy slammed Moscow for 'torturing' civilians who have spent more than a week without vital supplies in besieged cities. Pictured: Russian tanks in Donetsk

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy slammed Moscow for ‘torturing’ civilians who have spent more than a week without vital supplies in besieged cities. Pictured: Russian tanks in Donetsk

Shelling continues across the country with a school reduced to rubble in Kharkiv (pictured). Ukraine's emergency services reported Saturday that the bodies of five people - two women, a man and two children - were pulled from an apartment building that was struck by shelling in the city

Shelling continues across the country with a school reduced to rubble in Kharkiv (pictured). Ukraine’s emergency services reported Saturday that the bodies of five people – two women, a man and two children – were pulled from an apartment building that was struck by shelling in the city

An empty children's playground stands in front of a destroyed school after Russians targeted Kharkiv in the latest barbaric strike

An empty children’s playground stands in front of a destroyed school after Russians targeted Kharkiv in the latest barbaric strike

A gas station, a heating station and the main heating pipe network were damaged and destroyed after being bombed in Zhytomyr

A gas station, a heating station and the main heating pipe network were damaged and destroyed after being bombed in Zhytomyr

A view of a building that housed a school, which was destroyed as a result of clashes between Ukrainian and Russian soldiers, in Kharkiv

A view of a building that housed a school, which was destroyed as a result of clashes between Ukrainian and Russian soldiers, in Kharkiv

Satellite image shows damaged buildings and burning fuel storage tanks at Antonov Airport in Hostomel, northwest of the capital

Satellite image shows damaged buildings and burning fuel storage tanks at Antonov Airport in Hostomel, northwest of the capital

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

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

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.

TO MAKE A DONATION ONLINE 

Donate at www.mailforcecharity.co.uk/donate 

To add Gift Aid to a donation – even one already made – complete an online form found here: mymail.co.uk/ukraine

Via bank transfer, please use these details:

Account name: Mail Force Charity

Account number: 48867365

Sort code: 60-00-01

TO MAKE A DONATION VIA CHEQUE

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

TO MAKE A DONATION FROM THE US

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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.    

Today, Zelensky compared the kidnappers to ISIS terrorists as he appealed for help from world leaders to free him.

‘They have transitioned into a new stage of terror, in which they try to physically liquidate representatives of Ukraine’s lawful local authorities,’ Zelenskyy said in a video address Friday evening.

Kirill Timoshenko, the deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office, posted a video on the social media site Telegram which he said showed a group of armed men carrying Fedorov across a square.

Zelensky says he understands the mayor is alive but is being tortured in Russian captivity.

In hellish scenes not witnessed on the continent since the Second World War, residents of Mariupol 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!’  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What happened at the Battle of Stalingrad?

The battle for Stalingrad was the turning point of the Second World War. After the German invasion of Russia — codenamed Operation Barbarossa, which began in June 1941 — the Wehrmacht continued to head eastward, destroying whole Soviet armies and capturing two million prisoners, most of whom they starved to death.

In Washington and London, leaders wondered gloomily how long the Russians could stave off absolute defeat. 

In the spring of 1942, Hitler’s legions drove deeper into the Russian heartland, besieging St Petersburg, over-running the Crimea, and threatening the oilfields of the Caucasus. 

The Fuhrer was convinced the Russians were at their last gasp. He was exultant when in June ‘Operation Blue’ enabled his armies to occupy new swathes of central Russia.

Scenting final victory, Hitler deputed General Friedrich Paulus, a staff officer eager to prove himself as a fighting commander, to lead a dash for the city on the Volga that was named after Stalin, and secure a symbolic triumph, while another German army group swung southwards to grab the oilfields.

Hitler’s top soldiers were appalled by the perils of splitting the Wehrmacht merely to capture Stalingrad, which was strategically unimportant. Their protests were ignored: the Fuhrer insisted.

Likewise in Moscow, when the German objective became plain, Russia’s dictator Josef Stalin gave the order that ‘his’ city must be held at any cost. Thus the stage was set for one of history’s most terrible clashes of arms, in which on the two sides more than a million men became locked in strife between the autumn of 1942 and the following spring.

On September 12, the first German troops entered Stalingrad. From the Kremlin came a new order to the Red Army: ‘Not a step back . . . The only extenuating circumstance is death.’

The first German air attacks killed between 10,000 and 40,000 people — almost as many as died in the entire London blitz. Shellfire and bombs rained down on the city, day after day and week upon week. 

Stuka pilot Herbert Pabst wrote: ‘It is incomprehensible to me how people can continue to live in that hell, but the Russians are firmly established in the wreckage, in ravines, cellars, and in a chaos of twisted skeletons of factories’.

General Vasily Chuikov, commanding Stalin’s 62nd Army in the city, wrote: ‘The streets of the city are dead. There is not a single green twig on the trees; everything has perished in the flames.’ 

The Russians initially held a perimeter 30 miles by 18, which shrank relentlessly as Paulus’s men thrust forward to within a few hundred yards of the Volga. 

Each night, up to three thousand Russian wounded were ferried eastward from the city, while a matching stream of reinforcements, ammunition and supplies reached the defenders.

New units were thrust into the battle as fast as they arrived, to join duels in the ruins that often became hand-to-hand death grapples.

Both sides were chronically short of food and water. The few surviving civilians suffered terribly, eking a troglodyte existence in cellars. 

Some soldiers were reduced to cannibalism in order to stay alive in the ruins of the city as the mercury plunged to -40C.

The bloodiest battle in Second World War came to an end on January 31, 1943 when Field Marshall Paulus surrendered, disobeying the orders of his Fuhrer to kill himself. 

Of the 110,000 Germans who surrendered, only 5,000 would survive Stalin’s gulags to return to a defeated Germany. 

The battle cost the German army a quarter of everything it possessed by way of material – guns, tanks and munitions. It was a defeat from which it never recovered and for days afterwards in Berlin all shops and restaurants were closed as a mark of respect.

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.  

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’. 

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.’

Civilians erect barricades of tires topped with bags of sand as a precaution amid Russian attacks on Kyiv

Civilians erect barricades of tires topped with bags of sand as a precaution amid Russian attacks on Kyiv

A Ukrainian soldier hides from a helicopter airstrike amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine near Demydiv

A Ukrainian soldier hides from a helicopter airstrike amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine near Demydiv

A destroyed tank is seen after battles between Ukrainian and Russian forces on a main road near Brovary, north of Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 10, 2022

A destroyed tank is seen after battles between Ukrainian and Russian forces on a main road near Brovary, north of Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 10, 2022

Third Russian general ‘killed’ in Ukraine in eight days: Commander of armoured unit is the latest senior officer to be claimed dead by Ukrainian forces 

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, 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 in another blow to the Kremlin, Ukraine's government announced

Maj Gen Andrei Kolesnikov of the 29th Combined Arms Army became the latest high profile casualty of the war 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: ‘This is not the Russian army we trained to fight’.

It comes as Russia continued their barbaric assault 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 

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: ‘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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.’ 

‘Kyiv will be Putin’s Stalingrad’: Russia’s assault on capital is doomed to fail, officials say Source link ‘Kyiv will be Putin’s Stalingrad’: Russia’s assault on capital is doomed to fail, officials say

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