Evacuation of Ukrainians Halted as Russian Forces Siege Coastal City, Attack Airport With Cruise Missiles
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A second attempt to evacuate Ukrainians from the port city of Mariupol on Sunday failed as Russia continues its assault.
The two countries had agreed to a temporary ceasefire Saturday allowing civilians to escape, but Ukrainian officials said Russia persisted with its attack. Russia then accused Ukrainian nationalists of provoking the fighting.
While speaking to Ukrainian TV, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko described the war-torn area on the 11th day since the invasion began.
"The city is in a very, very difficult state of siege," said Mayor Boychenko. "Relentless shelling of residential blocks is ongoing, airplanes have been dropping bombs on residential areas. The Russian occupants are using heavy artillery, including Grad multiple rocket launchers."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Sunday that Russian forces bombed the town of Vinnytsya. He called the town "peaceful" and urged the West to assist Ukraine with fending off Russian forces.
"Provide us with at least jets so that we can hit Russian missiles," Zelenskyy said. "If we will not receive help now I will be convinced that the West is also interested in elimination of Ukrainians."
In a video address, President Zelenskyy again requested that foreign protectors impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine. NATO maintains that a no-fly zone could incite widespread war in Europe with Russia.
"The world is strong enough to close our skies," Zelenskyy stated.
Zelenskyy and Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba also reported Sunday that Russian forces attacked an airport with eight cruise missiles.
"Against our city, against our peaceful Vinnytsia which never posed a threat to Russia in any way," Zelenskyy pointed out. "A brutal, cynical missile strike has completely destroyed the airport."
But, Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that Ukrainian leadership is the cause for war.
"If they continue to do what they are doing, they are calling into question the future of Ukrainian statehood," Putin said Saturday. "And if this happens, it will be entirely on their conscience."
Meanwhile, the number of refugees fleeing Ukraine into Poland is growing closer to one million.
Poland's border guard agency said more than 922,000 Ukrainians have entered the country since the start of Russia's invasion.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) warned that the crisis in Ukraine is just beginning and estimates that more than 4 million Ukrainians will become refugees and millions more will be displaced.
On Saturday, Mastercard and Visa announced that they were suspending operations in Russia.
"We don't take this decision lightly," Mastercard said in a statement, following discussions with customers, partners, and governments.
Visa said it's communicating with clients and partners in Russia to stop all Visa transactions over the next few days - a major hit to the country's financial system.
"We are compelled to act following Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and the unacceptable events that we have witnessed," Visa Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Al Kelly said in a statement.
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