LVIV: Ukraine accused Russian forces on Saturday of killing seven civilians in an attack on women and children trying to flee fighting near Kyiv, and France said Russian President Vladimir Putin had shown he was not ready to make peace.
The Ukrainian intelligence service said the seven, including one child, were killed as they fled the village of Peremoha and that “the occupiers forced the remnants of the column to turn back.”
Reuters was unable immediately to verify the report and Russia offered no immediate comment. Moscow denies targeting civilians since invading Ukraine on February 24 and blames Ukraine for failed attempts to evacuate civilians from encircled cities.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said earlier that Moscow was sending in new troops after Ukrainian forces put 31 of Russia’s battalion tactical groups out of action in what he called Russia’s largest army losses in decades. It was not possible to verify his statements.
He also said about 1,300 Ukrainian troops had been killed so far and urged the West to get more involved in peace negotiations. The president suggested Russian forces would face a fight to the death if they sought to enter the capital.
“If they decide to carpet bomb (Kyiv), and simply erase the history of this region … and destroy all of us, then they will enter Kyiv. If that’s their goal, let them come in, but they will have to live on this land by themselves,” he said.
Zelenskiy discussed the war with Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Emmanuel Macron, and the German and French leaders then spoke to Putin by phone and urged the Russian leader to order an immediate ceasefire.
A Kremlin statement on the 75-minute call made no mention of a ceasefire and a French presidency official said: “We did not detect a willingness on Putin’s part to end the war”.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov accused the United States of escalating tensions and said the situation had been complicated by convoys of Western arms shipments to Ukraine that Russian forces considered “legitimate targets”.
In comments reported by the Tass news agency, Ryabkov made no specific threat, but any attack on such convoys before they reached Ukraine would risk widening the war.