Berliner TageBlatt - Battleground Ukraine: Day 15 of Russia's invasion

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Battleground Ukraine: Day 15 of Russia's invasion
Battleground Ukraine: Day 15 of Russia's invasion / Foto: © AFP

Battleground Ukraine: Day 15 of Russia's invasion

On the 15th day of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces were encircling at least four major cities Thursday and inched closer towards the city limits of Kyiv.

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The capital remains under Ukrainian control but is increasingly at risk of being surrounded, with many observers believing Russia is still aiming to capture the city.

Here is a summary of the situation on the ground, based on statements from both sides, Western defence and intelligence sources and international organisations.

- The east -

Kharkiv remains in Ukrainian hands despite increasingly intense Russian bombardment, according to Western sources, and the city is likely now surrounded.

Russian forces are also pressing an offensive through the separatist Donetsk and Lugansk regions that are backed by Russia and seeking to join up with Russian forces who entered from the north.

The city of Sumy in northeast Ukraine is now encircled by Russian troops but thousands have been able to leave through a humanitarian corridor.

- Kyiv and the north -

Kyiv remains under Ukrainian control despite heavy bombardments, though Western observers point to a Russian column of hundreds of vehicles outside the city.

An AFP team saw Russian armoured vehicles rolling up to the northeastern edge of Kyiv, edging closer in their attempts to encircle the Ukrainian capital.

But the British defence ministry said the column was suffering "continued losses" at the hands of Ukrainian forces.

Ukrainian forces also retain control of the northern town of Chernihiv, which has seen heavy civilian casualties in recent days and appears to be encircled.

- The south -

Russia has besieged the strategic city of Mariupol, and attempts to evacuate an estimated 200,000 civilians from the city have so far failed.

The children's and maternity hospital in Mariupol was attacked on Wednesday in what Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described as a Russian "war crime".

The major port city of Odessa remains under Ukrainian control and has so far been spared fighting. But the US Defence Department said Russian ground forces appeared primed to attack the city, possibly in coordination with an amphibious assault.

Russian forces last week took the southern city of Kherson, just north of Crimea, and there is now heavy fighting for control of the city of Mykolayiv to the northwest. Some sources believe Russia could bypass Mykolayiv and head direct for Odessa.

- The west and centre -

The west of Ukraine remains largely spared from the fighting. The main city of Lviv has become a hub for foreign diplomatic missions and journalists as well as Ukrainians seeking safety or wanting to leave the country.

- Casualties -

The United Nations said Thursday that it had recorded 549 civilian deaths in Ukraine, including 41 children, though the actual toll could be far higher.

Ukraine and Western sources claim that the Russian death toll is far higher than Moscow has so far admitted to.

Ukraine says more than 12,000 Russian soldiers have been killed, though US estimates put the number of Russians killed at 2,000 to 4,000.

Russia's only official toll, announced last week, said 498 Russian troops had been killed in Ukraine.

- Refugees -

Around 2.3 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the invasion began, more than half going to Poland, according to the UN refugee agency.

K.Brown--BTB