Russian marines prepare to land on the Black Sea coast to take Odesa

The Russians continued to attack piecemeal, committing a few battalion tactical groups at a time, rather than concentrating overwhelming force to achieve decisive results.

In the south, a Ukrainian spokesman charged on Saturday that continuing Russian shelling was holding up the brief ceasefire to evacuate civilians from Mariupol and Volnovakha that was agreed in talks last week. Russian media claimed from the defense ministry that the firing was aimed at Russian positions. Kyrylo Tymoshenko speaking from President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office, added: “Talks with the Russian Federation are ongoing for setting up a ceasefire and ensuring a safe humanitarian corridor.”

In the southwest, the Russians are battering the besieged town of Mykolayiv in a battle to seize the bridge linking Russian-held Crimea to the key port of Odesa. Marines on Russian warships in the Black Sea were seen poised for amphibious landings on the Odesa coast. Other units are advancing on Ukraine’s second largest nuclear power plant at Rivne in the west, after seizing the first.

Russia is reported to be mobilizing reinforcements from the Pacific Ocean arena, suggesting that the Russian General Staff has concluded that the strength initially committed to the Ukraine invasion is insufficient to finish the job of attaining the objectives set by President Vladimir Putin.

Putin warned on Saturday that any third party declaring a no-fly zone over Ukraine “would be considered a participant in the armed conflict.” He said, “Any such intervention would pose a threat to our service members.” The NATO chief conceded that a no-fly zone would have to be policed by sending alliance fighter planes into Ukrainian airspace, and shooting down Russian planes,” leading to a full-fledged war in Europe with nuclear power Russia.

The Ukraine president lashed out against NATO for turning down this step. He said, “All the people who die from this day forward will also die because of you.”

The UN human rights office said Friday that at least 351 civilians had been killed so far during the conflict, while Ukraine’s emergency services put the number of civilian fatalities much higher, at more than 2,000. Nearly 1.4 million people have been evacuated since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. Russia said Wednesday 498 of its troops had been killed and has not updated since.

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