Russia is expanding its attack on the cities of Ukraine, hitting the western airports and the Dnieper

Russia is expanding its attack on the cities of Ukraine, hitting the western airports and the Dnieper

According to reports, the airport in Lutsk, about 70 miles from the Polish border, suffered from attacks. The governor of the Volyn Oblast said that four missiles were fired from a Russian bomber and two people were killed.

Smoke plumes also rose from the Ivano-Frankivsk military airfield, about 240 kilometers (150 miles) south of Lutsk. She was previously hit by rockets on the first day of the conflict.

“On the morning of March 11, high-precision long-range missiles attacked the Ukrainian military infrastructure. Military airports in Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk have been closed, the Russian Defense Ministry announced on Friday.

Three Russian air strikes also caused severe damage in and around the Dnieper center on Friday morning, killing one person, the Ukrainian State Emergency Service reported on the official Telegram channel. One strike took place near a kindergarten and apartment building, and another hit a shoe factory causing a fire, service said.

Many Ukrainians evacuated in recent days from other cities under Russian fire have been transported to the relatively safe Dnieper.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said Friday that it remains “gravely concerned about the rising death toll and human suffering in Ukraine” and called for “an immediate end to the attacks”.

“Civilians are being killed and maimed in what appear to be massive attacks, and Russian forces are using long-range explosive weapons in or near populated areas,” OHCHR spokeswoman Liz Throssell said in a statement.

OHCHR said it has so far recorded 549 civilian deaths and 957 injured since the launch of the invasion on February 24, “although the actual figure could be much higher.”

“Schools, hospitals and kindergartens have been hit – with very devastating consequences,” said Throssell. On March 3, 47 civilians were killed when Russian air strikes struck two schools and several apartment blocks in Chernihiv, and on March 9 a Russian air strike struck a hospital in Mariupol, injuring at least 17 civilians.

“We are still investigating reports that at least three civilians may have been killed in the raid,” she said. “We spoke to various sources in Mariupol, including local authorities, consistently pointing out that the hospital was both clearly identifiable and operational when it was hit.”

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Rescuers are examining a fire in the Dnieper in central Ukraine.

Throssell also said OHCHR has received “credible reports of several instances of use of cluster munitions by Russian forces, including in populated areas.” The use of cluster munitions in populated areas is “against international humanitarian law,” she said.

Elsewhere, in the southern city of Mykolaiv, heavy shelling broke out on Friday evening.

Videos on social media showed fires in the area, and Vitaliy Kim, head of the administration of the Mykolaiv Oblast, said that “active hostilities” were taking place near Guryivka, in the north of the city.

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In a series of news on his Telegram channel, Kim said the bombing amounted to “mass shooting at civilian targets”, including a cafe and apartment block.

And in the southeastern city of Melitopol, Mayor Ivan Fedorov was seen in a video pulled out by armed men from a government building on Friday.

The prosecutor’s office for the separatist, Russian-backed Luhansk region now says it is considering terrorist accusations against it. The arrest of Fedorov by armed men is the first known case of a Ukrainian political official being apprehended and investigated by Russian forces or forces backed by Russia since the invasion began.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry published a strongly worded statement on Facebook in which it called Fedorov’s arrest “an abduction” and a “war crime.”

Meanwhile, the number of people who have fled Ukraine continues to grow.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Friday that the number of people leaving the country had already reached 2.5 million.

Many others are still trapped in dire conditions as Russian forces bombard many cities. Ukrainian authorities said there had been limited success on Friday in ensuring the evacuation of civilians from the areas most affected by the fighting.

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The resistance lingers

In the east of Ukraine, there is more and more evidence that the city of Volnovach has finally surrendered to the Russian forces and their allies in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic. The city was surrounded almost from the beginning of the Russian invasion, but was fiercely defended by Ukrainian forces.

Some social media videos from the city showed Russian soldiers and vehicles in several neighborhoods, as well as abandoned Ukrainian tanks. Other films showed the extensive devastation at Volnovakha, and a spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Defense, Major General Igor Konashenkov, claimed that the city had been captured.

Russia has made additional progress in the rest of the country in the last 24 hours, a high-ranking US defender told reporters on Friday.

But the French government has provided less than a pink picture of the progress of the Russian army.

The Russian army was poorly prepared for the invasion of Ukraine and is now facing many difficulties on the ground, “especially in the field of logistics and intelligence,” French Armed Forces spokesman Pascal Ianni told France2 on Friday.

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“It is possible that the attack on Kyiv will take place in the next few days, but in fact taking control of Kiev is a completely different matter and will take a very, very long time,” he said. “The Russian army is also in a situation of premature spring,” he added, and the defrosting ground makes it difficult for the military to move around.

The British Defense Ministry said on Friday that Russian forces were still making “limited progress” in moving closer to Kiev – but may be preparing for a new attack on the Ukrainian capital in the coming days.

“It remains highly unlikely that Russia will successfully achieve the goals outlined in its plan before the invasion,” the minister said in an interview update. “The logistical issues that held back Russian progress continue, as does Ukraine’s strong resistance.”

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Fighting intensified northeast and east of the capital on Friday, after the Ukrainians successfully intercepted and attacked the advancing Russian tank column on Thursday.

According to Kiev authorities, the nighttime air raid on the Brovary district east of the capital did not cause any casualties. Ukrainian authorities also reported a rocket attack on Baryszówka on Friday night, about 45 miles east of the city.

According to Maxar Technologies, a satellite image taken near Berestianka, northwest of Kiev, appears to show supply trucks and the likely deployment of multiple rockets.The Russian column, which had been blocked for almost two weeks outside of Kiev, has now dispersed, according to Maxar’s satellite imagery on Thursday. The forces seem to be regrouping.Russia is using Belarus as the starting point for many air operations in Ukraine, says NATO

And a Western defense officer confirmed on Friday that a third Russian general had been killed by Ukrainian forces. He was appointed Major General Andrei Kolesnikov and was in command of the Eastern Military District, according to the website of the Russian Ministry of Defense. The official noted for context that three Russian general staff officers were killed during the entire Syrian conflict.

In Moscow, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday that the invasion was going well despite Western leaders’ claims that the military had encountered unplanned obstacles and resistance.

“Everything is going according to plan, we report here every day this week,” Shoigu told Russian President Vladimir Putin during a televised meeting of the country’s security council.

Shoigu claimed that the Russian army received over 16,000. applications from volunteers from the Middle East wanting to join the war in Ukraine. He also asked Putin for more weapons to arm the separatist Donbass regions in eastern Ukraine, including weapons that Shoigu claimed the Russian army had taken from the Ukrainians.

Putin supported both proposals.

Tim Lister from CNN reported from Kiev, Gianluca Mezzofiore and Laura Smith-Spark from London and Paul Murphy from New York. CNN’s Celine Alkhaldi, Lindsay Isaac, Camille Knight, Joseph Ataman, Amy Cassidy, Sarah Dean, Niamh Kennedy, Matilda Kuklish, Max Foster and Jake Kwon contributed to this report.