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The latest on the attacks in Ukraine

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

This is the sixth day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and Russia's move on Kyiv has stalled as a long line of Russian combat vehicles and tanks idles about 20 miles north of the city. But Russian forces appear to be escalating attacks on urban areas. There's been shelling in Ukraine's second-largest city, Kharkiv, and more shelling just a few miles from Kyiv's city center. Ukraine's airspace appears to still be contested. About 680,000 people have fled their homes. Meanwhile, the sanctions pile up and the West is supplying more military hardware and other equipment to Ukraine.

NPR's Tim Mak is in western Ukraine, near the city of Lviv, and he's on the line. Hi, Tim.

TIM MAK, BYLINE: Hey there.

PFEIFFER: Tim, could you first tell us the latest on the developments in the Russian invasion, this bombardment? What's been happening?

MAK: So over the last 24 hours, we're seeing more and more reports regarding attacks on sites that have no apparent military value. So we're seeing these violent videos and photos that are streaming out of places all across Ukraine. In particular today, there was an attack on a television tower in central Kyiv. Smoke was seen billowing from the scene of this attack.

And both the location of the strike and the TV tower are on the grounds of the Babyn Yar Holocaust memorial site, which was built at a location of Nazi massacres during World War II. So Nazis killed between 70,000 and 100,000 people between 1941 and 1943 right there at Babyn Yar, a ravine. According to the memorial center, they killed almost the entire Jewish population of Kyiv at that location.

So if the TV tower, rather than the memorial, was the target of Russian forces, they appear to have failed in their objective. The tower remains standing, and some of the broadcasts in Kyiv have already restored their signals, according to the spokesperson for the owner of the tower.

PFEIFFER: So that's Kyiv, the capital, major capital city. What's the latest on fighting outside of the capital?

MAK: Well, a lot of eyes are on these images of bombardment coming out of Kharkiv. That's a city in the northeast of the country, very close to the border with Russia. So in one video from the embattled city, a series of explosions are seen in a northeast residential area. NPR has geolocated that as a residential area, and there's another video. It shows a missile, a rocket, causing a massive explosion near a government building in the center of the city.

Kharkiv's mayor said it was an attempt to kill leading government officials in the city and that dozens of civilians have been injured. There have been at least nine deaths. Meanwhile, Russia overall appears to have made some gains in the south along the Black Sea coast and more gains there than it has in the north.

PFEIFFER: This shelling, this bombing in densely populated, urban areas, obviously, as you've said, puts civilians massively at risk. How are civilians on the ground faring amid all this?

MAK: Well, the UN Refugee Agency now estimates that some 677,000 have left Ukraine, and many more are struggling to find a way out. Meanwhile, logistical issues are putting pressure on food supplies across the country.

Ivan Palchevskiy, he's the spokesperson for Fozzy Group. That's a major supermarket chain in Ukraine. And he said that while basics are stable for now, critical items being brought in from abroad will face a squeeze.

IVAN PALCHEVSKIY: (Through interpreter) Right now, we have the kind of a big problem with baby food because it's - most of it is imported.

MAK: Well - so that could make a very difficult situation with refugees. They're piling into various cities in western Ukraine trying to get out. It's a hub for people trying to head north and west towards Poland. They're already facing incredible challenges here that could make it even more difficult.

PFEIFFER: That's NPR's Tim Mak in western Ukraine. Tim, thank you for covering this.

MAK: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tim Mak
Tim Mak is NPR's Washington Investigative Correspondent, focused on political enterprise journalism.