Russian forces attack Ukrainian airfields as Zelensky pleads for fighter jets

Civilians were also killed on Sunday as they attempted to evacuate near a damaged bridge in Irpin, a town outside the capital, Kiev, visuals verified by The Washington Post showed.

More than 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees have fled to neighboring countries in the past 10 days, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said on Sunday. He tweeted that the mass exodus is “the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War”. Grandi recently predicted that more than 4 million people could be posted by the conflict in the coming days.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday that Russia would continue with its invasion unless Ukraine stopped fighting.

It was time for Ukraine to “demonstrate a more constructive approach that takes full account of emerging realities”, he said, according to the Kremlin, in an apparent reference to Ukraine’s military and territorial losses. since the Russian invasion. Speaking on the phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Putin said the war was “going as planned” and on time. He denied that Russia was responsible for the civilian death toll, according to a Russian reading of the appeal.

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said on Sunday that the military struck and disabled Ukraine’s Starokostiantyniv military airbase, about 150 miles southwest of Kiev, early on Sunday, using long-range weapons and high precision. The airport was among dozens of targets, including a Russian-made air defense system owned by Ukraine, the spokesman said.

Later on Sunday, in a video message, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said a missile strike on Vinnystia, about 70 miles southeast of the airbase, had “completely destroyed the airport”.

Zelensky reiterated his call for allied nations to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine. “We repeat every day: Close the sky over Ukraine. Close it for all Russian rockets. For all Russian military aviation. For all those terrorists. Create a humanitarian airspace. Without rockets, without aerial bombs. We are people and it is your humanitarian obligation to protect us.

Failing that, provide “planes so that we can protect ourselves”, he added.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that the United States was exploring how it could supply NATO fighter jets to Ukraine. “We are currently actively looking at the issue of aircraft that Poland could supply to Ukraine and considering how we might be able to replace if Poland chooses to supply these aircraft,” he told reporters during a briefing. visit to Chisinau, Moldova.

“I can’t speak to the schedule, but I can just tell you that we’re looking at it very, very actively,” Blinken said.

Russia warned on Sunday that foreign countries hosting Ukrainian fighter jets could be considered by Moscow as parties to the conflict.

“We know for a fact that Ukrainian fighter jets have flown before to Romania and other neighboring countries,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Sunday. “We would like to point out that the use of the airfield network of these countries for the stationing of Ukrainian combat aviation for further use against the Russian armed forces could be considered as the involvement of these countries in the armed conflict” , he added. noted.

In Irpin, outside Kyiv, video released on Sunday shows a man wearing a yellow armband, usually worn by Ukrainian forces, and carrying a gun over his shoulder as he stands in front of a church and a sidewalk crowded with people carrying suitcases. He takes a few steps toward an intersection before an explosion tears through the middle of the street.

The area is covered in smoke. Someone runs out of the building and drags the man with the yellow armband out of the street. Soldiers run through the intersection towards collapsed people on the ground, and someone shouts “Doctor!”

Associated Press photos of the aftermath show civilians killed in the attack. Lynsey Addarioa photographer working for the New York Times who witnessed the attack said in a post on Twitter that “at least three members of a family of four were killed in front of me.”

Fahim reported from Istanbul, Cahlan from Washington and Ryan from Tallinn, Estonia. Jennifer Hassan in London and Danielle Paquette in Dakar, Senegal, contributed to this report.


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