Ukraine says Sunday was ‘difficult time’ for its armed forces

Ukrainian service members collect unexploded shells in Kyiv. (AFP photo)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces described Sunday as “a difficult time” for the military, as Russia continues attacking the country.

In an English-language post on Facebook, the general staff said Russian troops “continue shelling in almost all directions”, according to Reuters.

The general staff added that defense force members in the Vasylkiv military air base south west of Kyiv were resisting artillery strikes and Russian attacks.

After weeks of warnings from Western leaders, Russian President Vladimir Putin unleashed a three-pronged invasion of Ukraine from the north, east and south on Thursday, in an attack that threatened to upend Europe’s post-Cold War order.

Putin has cited the need to “denazify” Ukraine’s leadership as one of his main reasons for invasion, accusing it of genocide against Russian-speakers in eastern Ukraine. Kyiv and its Western allies dismiss the accusations as baseless propaganda.

Ukrainians voted overwhelmingly for independence at the fall of the Soviet Union and Kyiv hopes to join NATO and the EU – aspirations that infuriate Moscow.

Putin says Ukraine, a democratic nation of 44 million people, is an illegitimate state carved out of Russia, a view Ukrainians see as aimed at erasing their more than thousand-year history.

Blasts were heard before dawn on Monday in the capital of Kyiv, breaking a few hours of quiet, and in the major city of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection said, according to Reuters.

Putin put Russia’s nuclear deterrent on high alert on Sunday in the face of a barrage of Western-led reprisals for his war on Ukraine, which said it had repelled Russian ground forces’ attempts to capture urban centers.

The United States said Putin was escalating the war with “dangerous rhetoric” about Russia’s nuclear posture, amid signs Russian forces were preparing to besiege major cities in the democratic country of about 44 million people.

As missiles rained down, nearly 400,000 civilians, mainly women and children, have fled into neighboring countries, a U.N. relief agency said.

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