4 weeks, still defiant: Ukraine fights into 2nd month of war

4 weeks, still defiant: Ukraine fights into 2nd month of war

Kyiv: One month of war, still defiant. With its government still standing and its outnumbered troops battling Russian forces to bloody stalemates in multiple places, Ukraine is scarred, wounded, mourning its dead but far from beaten as it braces for a second month of bombing, combat, casualties and resistance.

When, on Feb. 24, Russia unleashed its Ukraine invasion force in Europe's biggest offensive since World War II and floated the prospect of nuclear escalation if the West intervened, a lightning-swift toppling of Ukraine's democratically elected government seemed possible.

But with Wednesday marking four full weeks of fighting, Russia is instead bogged down in an increasingly attritional, costly and uncertain military campaign, with untold numbers of dead, no immediate end in sight, and encircled by western sanctions biting hard on its economy and currency.

Repeatedly pushed back by hit-and-run Ukrainian units armed with Western-supplied weapons, Russian troops are shelling targets from afar, falling back on tactics they previously used in reducing cities to ruins in Syria and Chechnya. Major Russian strategic objectives remain unfulfilled: The capital Kyiv has been repeatedly hit but not taken or even encircled.

More shelling and gunfire shook the city again Wednesday, with plumes of black smoke rising from the western outskirts, where the two sides battled for control of multiple suburbs. A shopping mall and buildings were hit, injuring four people, the city administration reported.

In the south, the port city of Mariupol has seen the worst devastation of the war, under weeks of siege and bombardment. So far, the Ukrainian forces' defense has prevented its fall. That is thwarting the Russian aim of opening up another permanent and secured land link from the Crimean peninsula, seized from Ukraine in 2014, to Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says 100,000 civilians remain in the shattered city that has been struck from the air, land and sea. Repeated efforts to get desperately needed food and other supplies to those trapped have often failed.

They bombed us for the past 20 days, said 39-year-old Viktoria Totsen, who fled from Mariupol into Poland. During the last five days, the planes were flying over us every five seconds and dropped bombs everywhere on residential buildings, kindergartens, art schools, everywhere.

Zelenskyy, speaking Tuesday in his nightly video address to his nation, said efforts to establish stable humanitarian corridors for Mariupol residents are almost all being foiled by the Russian occupiers, by shelling or deliberate terror.

He accused Russian forces of seizing one humanitarian convoy. Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said the Russians were holding captive 11 bus drivers and four rescue workers along with their vehicles. The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross traveled Wednesday to Moscow for expected discussions with Russian foreign and defense officials on prisoners of war, the conduct of hostilities, aid delivery and other humanitarian issues.

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