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Boris Johnson tells Ukraine’s President Zelensky that UK is ‘pursuing more options’ to help Ukraine

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday that the UK will continue to pursue more options for bolstering Ukraine’s self-defence against Russian troops.

Mr Johnson added that Britain will work will its partners, including at Tuesday’s meeting of the Joint Expeditionary Force countries in London, to help Ukraine in their fight against Russia.

The PM said during the call that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ‘barbaric actions’ were ‘testing not just Ukraine but all of humanity’.

It comes as American freelance journalist, Brent Renaud, 50, was shot dead by Russian troops on Sunday while filming refugees in Irpin, a suburb of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. 

Renaud was in a car with other journalists in Irpin, near Kyiv, when Russian troops opened fire. He was shot dead and one of his colleagues was injured. 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace (2ndL) visit the Cammell Laird shipyard in Merseyside, UK, on March 10

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday that the UK will continue to pursue more options for bolstering Ukraine's self-defence against Russian troops

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday that the UK will continue to pursue more options for bolstering Ukraine’s self-defence against Russian troops

A Ukrainian mayor was also abducted by invading Russian forces on Sunday, the second such kidnapping in days, bringing strong condemnation from the UK, EU and Zelensky. 

Dmytro Kuleba, Minister of Foreign Affairs in Ukraine, said Yevhen Matveyev, the mayor of Dniprorudne in southern Ukraine, was taken days after Ivan Fedorov, the mayor of the nearby city of Melitopol, was also kidnapped. 

During their call on Sunday, Johnson and Zelensky ‘condemned the murders of Brent Renaud and countless innocent Ukrainians, and the abduction of the mayors of Dniprorudne and Melitopol’.

‘The Prime Minister commended the president and the Ukrainian people on their fortitude. The Prime Minister said Putin’s barbaric actions were testing not just Ukraine but all of humanity,’ a Downing Street spokesman said. 

‘The Prime Minister outlined the support the UK continues to deliver to Ukraine. He said the UK would continue to pursue more options for bolstering Ukraine’s self-defence, working with partners including at Tuesday’s meeting of the Joint Expeditionary Force in London.

‘The Prime Minister said the UK would continue to stand behind Ukraine in all their efforts to bring an end to this disastrous conflict.’ 

This is the badge freelance journalist Brent Renaud was carrying when he was shot and killed in Irpin, Ukraine, today while filming refugees

Brent Renaud, 51, was in a truck with other journalists in Irpin when Russian troops opened fire.

This is the badge freelance journalist Brent Renaud was carrying when he was shot and killed in Irpin, Ukraine, today while filming refugees 

Meanwhile, Zelensky said he had held talks with Johnson and and Petr Fiala, the prime minister of the Czech Republic.

He tweeted: ‘Held talks with (UK) PM @BorisJohnson and (Czech Republic) PM @P-Fiala. Talked about (Ukrainian) people’s struggle against Russian aggression, about Russia’s criminal attacks on civilians.

‘Thanked the partners for their important support. We appreciate it. Stop Russia.’

Meanwhile, Russian missiles today also hit a large Ukrainian base near the border with NATO member Poland on Sunday, killing 35 people and wounding 134, a local official said, in an escalation of the war

The International Center for Peacekeeping and Security served as a crucial hub for cooperation between Ukraine and the NATO countries supporting it in its defence against Moscow’s grinding assault.  

More than 30 Russian cruise missiles targeted the sprawling facility, which has long been used to train Ukrainian military personnel, often with instructors from the U.S. and other countries in the western alliance.

Poland is also a transit route for Western military aid to Ukraine, and the strikes followed Moscow’s threats to target those shipments. 

An attack so close to the border was heavy with symbolism in a conflict that has revived old Cold War rivalries that gave birth to NATO and threatened to rewrite the current global security order.

A man wounded in this morning's air strikes at a nearby military complex is assisted by medical staff outside Novoiavorivsk District Hospital on March 13, 2022 in Novoiavorivsk, Ukraine

A man wounded in this morning’s air strikes at a nearby military complex is assisted by medical staff outside Novoiavorivsk District Hospital on March 13, 2022 in Novoiavorivsk, Ukraine

A man wounded in this morning's air strikes at a nearby military complex is assisted by medical staff outside Novoiavorivsk District Hospital on March 13, 2022 in Novoiavorivsk, Ukraine. A series of Russian missiles struck the International Center for Peacekeeping and Security at the nearby Yavoriv military complex

A man wounded in this morning’s air strikes at a nearby military complex is assisted by medical staff outside Novoiavorivsk District Hospital on March 13, 2022 in Novoiavorivsk, Ukraine. A series of Russian missiles struck the International Center for Peacekeeping and Security at the nearby Yavoriv military complex

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister told Zelensky that Putin’s ‘barbaric actions’ were ‘testing not just Ukraine but all of humanity’.

The Prime Minister spoke to the Ukrainian president on Sunday afternoon, according to No 10.

‘He commended the president and the Ukrainian people on their fortitude. The Prime Minister said Putin’s barbaric actions were testing not just Ukraine but all of humanity,’ a Downing Street spokesman said.

‘The leaders condemned the murders of Brent Renaud and countless innocent Ukrainians, and the abduction of the mayors of Dniprorudne and Melitopol.

‘The Prime Minister outlined the support the UK continues to deliver to Ukraine. He said the UK would continue to pursue more options for bolstering Ukraine’s self-defence, working with partners including at Tuesday’s meeting of the Joint Expeditionary Force in London.

‘The Prime Minister said the UK would continue to stand behind Ukraine in all their efforts to bring an end to this disastrous conflict.’

A view of damaged buildings and streets due to the ongoing Russian shelling and missile strikes in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Sunday

A view of damaged buildings and streets due to the ongoing Russian shelling and missile strikes in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Sunday 

Since Russia’s invasion more than two weeks ago, at least 596 civilians have been killed, according to the U.N., though it believes the true toll is much higher. Millions more have fled their homes amid the largest land conflict in Europe since World War II.

Despite its superior firepower, Russia has struggled in its advance across Ukraine, in the face of stiffer than expected resistance, bolstered by Western weapons support. 

Instead, Russian forces have besieged several cities and pummeled them with strikes, hitting two dozen medical facilities and leading to a series of humanitarian crises.

Many civilians have been caught in the barrage, and Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s office said Sunday that at least 85 children have been killed. 

An American journalist was killed and another wounded when their car was fired upon at a Russian checkpoint Sunday, police said. 

Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden is sending his national security adviser to Rome to meet Monday with a Chinese official amid concerns that country is amplifying Russian disinformation, and Pope Francis called for peace.

In this handout video grab taken from a footage released by the Ukrainian Presidency, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks face camera in a street of Kyiv on March 11

In this handout video grab taken from a footage released by the Ukrainian Presidency, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks face camera in a street of Kyiv on March 11

The attacked training base near Yavoriv is less than 15 miles from the Polish border and appears to be the westernmost target struck during Russia’s 18-day invasion.

The base has hosted international NATO drills and a senior NATO official, Admiral Rob Bauer, previously hailed it as embodying ‘the spirit of military cooperation’ between Ukraine and international forces. 

As such, the site is a potent symbol Russia’s longstanding concerns that the 30-member Western military alliance is a threat to Moscow by operating so close to its territory.

NATO denies that it poses any threat, but Russia has repeatedly demanded Ukraine drop its ambitions of joining the alliance as a pre-requisite for ending the war.

Lviv governor Maksym Kozytskyi said most of the Russian missiles fired Sunday ‘were shot down because the air defense system worked.’ Those that got through killed at least 35 people and wounded 134, he said.

Russian fighters also fired at the airport in the western city of Ivano-Frankivsk, which is less than 94 miles north of Romania and 155 miles from Hungary, countries that also are NATO allies.   

Ukraine Army troops dig in at frontline trench positions to continue repelling Russian attacks, in sub-zero temperatures, east of the strategic port city of Mykolaiv,

Ukraine Army troops dig in at frontline trench positions to continue repelling Russian attacks, in sub-zero temperatures, east of the strategic port city of Mykolaiv,

Footage released by Russia Ministry of Defense on Saturday March 5 shows Russian soldiers took control of a military base near the village of Radensk, Kherson region

Footage released by Russia Ministry of Defense on Saturday March 5 shows Russian soldiers took control of a military base near the village of Radensk, Kherson region 

NATO said Sunday that it currently does not have any personnel in Ukraine, though the U.S. has increased the number of American troops deployed to Poland. 

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the West would respond if Russia’s armaments travel outside Ukraine and hit any NATO members, even accidentally.

Biden ‘has been clear, repeatedly, that the United States will work with our allies to defend every inch of NATO territory and that means every inch,’ Sullivan said on CBS News’ ‘Face the Nation.’ 

Lviv itself so far has been spared the scale of destruction unfolding to its east and south. The city’s population of 721,000 has swelled during the war with residents escaping bombarded population centers and as a waystation for the nearly 2.6 million people who have fled the country.

Ukrainian and European leaders have pushed with limited success for Russia to grant safe passage to civilians trapped by fighting, though Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said authorities have managed to evacuate nearly 125,000 people from combat zones.

Ukrainian authorities said more than 10 humanitarian corridors would open Sunday, with agreement from Russia, including from the battered and besieged port city of Mariupol, where the city council said 2,187 people have been killed.

The suffering in the port city is ‘simply immense,’ the International Committee of the Red Cross said Sunday, noting that hundreds of thousands of its residents are ‘facing extreme or total shortages of basic necessities like food, water and medicine.’

‘Dead bodies, of civilians and combatants, remain trapped under the rubble or lying in the open where they fell,’ the Geneva-based organization said in a statement. ‘Life-changing injuries and chronic, debilitating conditions cannot be treated.’

Zelenskyy said in a video address that a convoy carrying 100 tons of humanitarian aid was headed to the city, whose capture could help Russia establish a land corridor to Crimea, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.

Meanwhile, continued fighting on multiple fronts heaped further misery on the country Sunday and provoked renewed international outrage.

In the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv, near the Black Sea, authorities reported nine people killed in bombings. Meanwhile, they said Russian airstrikes on a monastery and a children’s resort in the eastern Donetsk region hit spots where monks and others were sheltering, wounding 32 people.

Around the capital, Kyiv, a major political and strategic target for the invasion, fighting also intensified, with overnight shelling in the northwestern suburbs and a missile strike Sunday that destroyed a warehouse to the east.

Kyiv Region police said on its official website that Russian troops opened fire on a car carrying two American journalists. The force said Brent Renaud died and Juan Arredondo was wounded.

Chief regional administrator Oleksiy Kuleba said Russian forces appeared to be trying to blockade and paralyze the capital with day and night shelling of the suburbs.

He vowed that any all-out assault would meet stiff resistance, saying: ‘We’re getting ready to defend Kyiv, and we’re prepared to fight for ourselves.’

Zelenskyy also alleged that Russians were using blackmail and bribery in an attempt to force local officials in the southern Kherson region to form a ‘pseudo-republic’ like those in the two eastern regions where Russian-backed separatists began fighting Ukrainian forces in 2014.

Zelenskyy reported Saturday that 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers had died in the war. The Russians said days ago that several hundred of their forces have died but have not given a recent updated count.

The war has repeatedly raised the specter of nuclear accidents, as fighting occurred around nuclear power plants. 

On Sunday, Ukraine said it restored a broken power line to the decommissioned Chernobyl plant, scene of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986. The plant was knocked off the grid last week and relying on generators. That raised concerns about its ability to keep spent fuel cool, though the International Atomic Energy Agency played down those worries.

In some of his strongest denunciations yet of the war in Ukraine, Pope Francis on Sunday decried the ‘barbarianism’ of the killing of children and other civilians and pleaded for the attacks to end ‘before cities are reduced to cemeteries.’ 

Francis said Mariupol, which ‘bears the name’ of the Virgin Mary, has ‘become a city martyred by the heartbreaking war that is devastating Ukraine.’

In Mariupol, which has endured some of the worst punishment since Russia invaded, efforts to bring food, water and medicine into the port city of 430,000 and to evacuate civilians, were prevented by unceasing attacks.

More than 1,500 people have died in the city during the siege, according to the mayor’s office, and the shelling has even interrupted efforts to bury the dead in mass graves.

‘They are bombing [Mariupol] 24 hours a day, launching missiles. It is hatred. They kill children,’ Zelensky said during a video address. 

Ukraine’s military said on Saturday that Russian forces captured Mariupol’s eastern outskirts, tightening the armed squeeze on the strategic port.

Taking Mariupol and other ports on the Azov Sea could allow Russia to establish a land corridor to Crimea, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.

Zelensky encouraged his people to keep up their resistance, which many analysts said has prevented the rapid offensive and military victory the Kremlin likely expected while planning to invade Russia’s ex-Soviet neighbor.

‘The fact that the whole Ukrainian people resist these invaders has already gone down in history, but we do not have the right to let up our defense, no matter how difficult it may be for us,’ he said.

Zelensky again deplored Nato’s refusal to declare a no-fly zone over Ukraine and said Ukraine has sought ways to procure air defense assets, though he did not elaborate.

The president also accused Russia of employing ‘a new stage of terror’ with the alleged kidnapping of the mayor of Melitopol, a city 119 miles west of Mariupol.

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