Fighting rages outside Kyiv, Ukraine reports, with evacuations once again imminent.
On Saturday, conflict erupted northwest of Kyiv, encircling neighboring cities, with Ukrainian officials claiming that intense shelling and threats of Russian air raids jeopardized attempted evacuations.
Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk previously stated that the government intended to use previously agreed humanitarian corridors to evacuate the beleaguered southern port city of Mariupol, as well as towns and villages in the Kyiv, Sumy, and other regions.
However, the governor of the Kyiv area stated that fighting and threats of Russian air assaults continued during evacuation operations, while the governor of the Donetsk region stated that persistent shelling made delivering help into Mariupol more difficult.
According to the UN humanitarian agency, the residents of Mariupol were desperate.
"There have been allegations of looting and violent clashes between locals over the city's scant remaining basic commodities," the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned. "Medications for life-threatening conditions are rapidly depleting, hospitals are operating at a reduced capacity, and food and water are in limited supply."
According to a presidential adviser, 79 evacuation buses and two trucks carrying humanitarian supplies left for Sumy on Saturday. Buses and trucks also left Zaporizhzhia for Mariupol, according to a video shared on social media by the Ukrainian presidential administration's deputy head.
At least 1,582 citizens have been killed in Mariupol as a result of Russian bombardment and a 12-day blockade, the municipal council announced Friday in an online statement. Verification of casualty figures was not possible.
On Saturday morning, air raid sirens wailed across the majority of Ukrainian cities, advising residents to seek shelter, local media reported.
Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion on Feb 24 in an operation that has been widely criticised worldwide and has prompted Russia to face strong Western sanctions.
Thousands of people have been stuck in besieged cities, and 2.5 million Ukrainians have fled to neighboring countries as a result of the bombardment.
The exhausted-looking governor of Chernihiv, located approximately 150 kilometers (100 miles) northeast of Kyiv, presented a video update in front of the remains of the Ukraine Hotel, which he said was hit on Saturday.
"Such a hotel no longer exists," Viacheslav Chaus replied, wiping away tears from his eyes. "However, Ukraine still exists and will overcome."
On Saturday morning, Russian rockets destroyed a Ukrainian airbase and struck an ammo storage near the town of Vasylkiv in the Kyiv region, Interfax said. Ukraine Natalia Balasynovych, Vasylkiv Mayor, was reported as stating.
Ukraine's foreign ministry reported a mosque in Mariupol was shelled, but did not specify whether anyone was killed or injured.
Moscow has denied targeting civilians in what it refers to as a special operation to demilitarize Ukraine and depose officials dubbed neo-Nazis. It has made no response to Ukrainian requests for evidence.
Ukraine warned of a new wave of attacks on areas surrounding the capital Kyiv, the country's second largest city Kharkiv, and the eastern Donbass region, where Russian-backed rebels have increased their authority.
The British defence ministry indicated on Friday that Russian soldiers could start an onslaught against the Ukrainian capital in the coming days. It stated in a Saturday update that battle continued northwest of the capital, with the bulk of Russian ground forces about 25 kilometers (16 miles) from the center.
Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, and Mariupol remained besieged by Russian artillery, the statement stated.
Economic isolation efforts against Russia have intensified, with the US placing additional penalties on senior Kremlin officials and Russian oligarchs on Friday.
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen announced on Saturday that the EU would suspend Moscow's preferential trade and economic treatment, crack down on its use of crypto-assets, and prohibit the import of iron and steel products from Russia, as well as the export of luxury goods in the opposite direction.
Moscow warned the European Union on Saturday that it would wind up paying at least three times as much for oil, gas, and power.
"I believe the European Union would not gain from this – our supplies are more lasting and our nerves are stronger," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nikolai Kobrinets told Interfax.
On Friday, as the Russian invasion reached its third week, its forces continued to pound cities across the country. They were firing artillery as they pushed towards Kyiv, according to satellite pictures.
While hundreds sought refuge in Kharkiv's metro stations, Nastya, a young girl laying on a makeshift bed on the floor of a train carriage, said she had been there for more than a week, unable to move much and suffering from a sickness.
"I'm terrified for my home, for the homes of my friends, for the entire country, and, of course, for me," she explained.