Kyiv keeps pressure on West to do more
KYIV/BUZOVA, Ukraine — Ukraine said on Sunday it was seeking another round of European Union sanctions against Moscow and more military aid from its allies as Russian forces destroyed an airport and other targets in the east of the country.
Russia has failed to take any major cities since it launched its invasion on Feb. 24, but Ukraine says it has been gathering its forces in the east for a major assault and has urged people to flee.
Russian forces fired rockets into Ukraine’s Luhansk and Dnipro regions on Sunday, officials said. Missiles had completely destroyed the airport in the city of Dnipro, said Valentyn Reznichenko, governor of the central Dnipropetrovsk region.
The strike had wounded five staffers of Ukraine’s state emergency service, said the head of the Dnipro region council, Mykola Lukashuk.
Russia’s defense ministry said on Sunday that high-precision missiles had destroyed the headquarters of Ukraine’s Dnipro battalion in the town of Zvonetsky.
Reuters could not immediately confirm the reports.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Twitter he had spoken on the phone with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz about additional sanctions, as well as more defense and financial support for his country. Zelensky also discussed with Ukrainian officials Kyiv’s proposals for a new package of EU sanctions, his office said.
In a video address late on Saturday, Zelenskiy renewed his appeal for a total ban on Russian energy products and more weapons for Ukraine.
The EU on Friday banned Russian coal imports among other products but has yet to touch oil and gas imports from Russia.
Mounting civilian casualties have triggered widespread international condemnation and new sanctions.
A grave with at least two civilian bodies has been found in Buzova village near Kyiv, Taras Didych, head of the Dmytrivka community that includes Buzova, the latest such reported discovery since the Russian withdrawal from areas north of the capital.
Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, told Sky News that bodies of 1,222 killed Ukrainians had been found in the Kyiv region.
Reuters was not immediately able to confirm the report.
US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday that he expected Russia’s newly appointed general overseeing Ukraine to orchestrate crimes and brutality against Ukrainian civilians. He did not cite any evidence.
Moscow has rejected accusations of war crimes by Ukraine and Western countries. The Russian Investigative Committee said on Sunday that Ukrainian soldiers were preparing “another provocation” to accuse Russia of allegedly carrying out mass killings of civilians in Irpin, in the Kyiv region.
It claimed — without providing any evidence — that Ukrainian security service officers were planning to move bodies of locals who died in shelling by Ukraine’s own armed forces from a morgue in order to stage alleged war crimes by Russia.
Moscow has repeatedly denied targeting civilians in what it calls a “special operation” to demilitarise and “denazify” its southern neighbor. Ukraine and Western nations have dismissed this as a baseless pretext for war.
Some cities in the east were under heavy shelling, with tens of thousands of people unable to evacuate.
Calls by Ukrainian officials for civilians to flee gained more urgency after a missile strike hit a train station on Friday in the city of Kramatorsk, in the Donetsk region, that was full of people trying to leave.
Ukrainian officials said more than 50 people were killed. Russia has denied responsibility, saying the missiles used in the attack were only used by Ukraine’s military.
Reuters was unable to verify the details of the attack.
Residents of the region of Luhansk would have nine trains on Sunday to get out on, the region’s governor, Serhiy Gaidai, wrote on the Telegram message service.
In a Palm Sunday homily, Pope Francis called for an Easter truce in Ukraine and, in an apparent reference to Russia, questioned the value of planting a victory flag “on a heap of rubble”.
At a sermon in Moscow, Patriarch Kirill, the head of Russia’s Orthodox Church and a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, on Sunday called on people to rally around the authorities.
Russia’s invasion has forced about a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million people from their homes, turned cities into rubble and killed or injured thousands.
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