A massive convoy outside the Ukrainian capital split and fanned out in towns and forests near kyiv, with artillery pieces raised into firing position in a potentially worrying move by the military Russian, appeared to show new satellite photos.
The photos emerged amid international efforts to isolate and sanction Russia, particularly after a deadly airstrike on a maternity hospital in the port city of Mariupol that Western and Ukrainian officials decried as a war crime.
The United States and other nations were set to announce on Friday the revocation of Russia’s “most favored nation” trade status, which would allow tariffs to be imposed on Russian imports.
Sanctioned Russia continued its bombardment of Mariupol as kyiv prepared for an assault, its mayor boasting that the capital had become virtually a fortress protected by armed civilians.
NEW: The Russian military has placed several apparent rocket launchers in firing positions within 30 miles of kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.
Supply trucks likely from Russia’s dispersed 40-mile-long convoy which stalled last week are also seen at Berestyanka.
— Jack Detsch (@JackDetsch) March 11, 2022
Satellite images from Maxar Technologies showed the 40-mile convoy of vehicles, tanks and artillery fragmented and redeployed, the company said.
Armored units were seen in towns near Antonov Airport north of the city. Some of the vehicles moved through the forests, Maxar reported, with howitzers towed nearby in position to open fire.
The convoy had massed outside the town early last week, but its advance appeared to stall as reports of food and fuel shortages circulated.
US officials said Ukrainian troops also targeted the convoy with anti-tank missiles.
Russian forces continued their offensive towards kyiv from the northwest and east, trying in particular to break through Ukrainian defenses from Kukhari, 90 km to the northwest, to Demidov, 40 km north of kyiv, a the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a statement. statement.
He said Russian troops had been halted in their efforts to take the northern city of Chernihiv, including by Ukraine’s recapture of the town of Baklanova Muraviika, which Russian troops could use to move towards kyiv.
Russian forces blockade Kharkiv and push their offensive south around Mykolaiv, Zaporizhzhia and Kryvyi Rih, the birthplace of President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Bad weather on the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea has stalled Russian ships’ efforts to land, the general staff said.
NEW: Russian military attacks have set fire to an industrial zone in Cherniv, less than 80 miles from Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.
US officials said today that Russia had surrounded Cherniv, as part of a plan to “encircle” major cities like kyiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol.
— Jack Detsch (@JackDetsch) March 11, 2022
Three Russian airstrikes hit the major industrial city of Dnipro in eastern Ukraine on Friday, killing at least one person in strikes near a kindergarten and apartment buildings, according to the Interior Ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko.
A strike hit a shoe factory, starting a fire, he said. He posted a video showing flashes over the city’s residential areas, which are home to almost a million people.
Still, the imminence of the threat against Kyiv was unclear.
A US defense official said Russian forces moving towards kyiv had advanced about five kilometers in the past 24 hours, with some elements within nine kilometers of the city.
The official gave no indication that the convoy had dispersed or repositioned significantly, saying some vehicles had been seen running off the road into the tree line in recent days.
In Mariupol, a southern seaport of 430,000 people, the situation grew increasingly dire as civilians trapped inside the city searched for food and fuel.
More than 1,300 people died during the 10-day siege on the city, according to Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk.
Residents have no heating or telephones, and many have no electricity. Nighttime temperatures are regularly below freezing, and daytime temperatures are normally just above freezing. The bodies are buried in mass graves. The streets are littered with burnt-out cars, broken glass and splintered trees.
“They have a clear order to hold Mariupol hostage, mock him, bomb him and bomb him constantly,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly video address to the nation.
Repeated attempts to send food and medicine and evacuate civilians were thwarted by Russian shelling, Ukrainian authorities said.
The number of refugees fleeing the country has exceeded 2.3 million and some 100,000 people have been evacuated in the past two days from seven Russian-blockaded towns in the north and center of the country, including the suburbs of kyiv, Mr. Zelensky said.
He told Russian leaders that the invasion would backfire because their economy was being strangled.
Western sanctions have already dealt a severe blow, causing the ruble to fall, foreign companies to flee and prices to rise sharply.
“You will definitely be prosecuted for complicity in war crimes,” Mr. Zelensky said in a video address, warning that “you will be hated by Russian citizens.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed the remarks, saying the country had already suffered sanctions.
“We will overcome them,” he told a televised meeting of government officials. He acknowledged, however, that the sanctions create “certain challenges”.
In addition to those who have fled the country, millions of people have been driven from their homes inside Ukraine. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said around two million people, half the population of the metropolitan region, have left the capital.
“Every street, every house…is fortified,” he said. “Even people who in their life never intended to change their clothes, now they are in uniform with machine guns in their hands.”
Western officials said Russian forces had made little progress on the ground in recent days and were seeing heavier casualties and firmer Ukrainian resistance than Moscow had apparently expected. But Mr Putin’s forces have used air power and artillery to strike at Ukrainian cities.