Russian forces appeared to make progress from northeast Ukraine in their slow fight to reach Kyiv while heavy shelling continued elsewhere in the country on Saturday. The bulk of Russian ground forces now lie about 25 kilometers (16 miles) from the center of the Ukrainian capital, according to British intelligence. “Elements of the large Russian column north of Kyiv have dispersed,” the UK Defense Ministry said. “This is likely to support a Russian attempt to reduce its vulnerability to Ukrainian counter attacks, which have taken a significant toll on Russian forces.” Elsewhere in Ukraine the cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol remained encircled and continued to come under artillery bombardment, according to the UK ministry.

Around 70% of the Luhansk region is now occupied by Russian troops, according to Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Luhansk Oblast. Areas that remained under the control of Kyiv faced an artillery bombardment, resulting in the deaths of dozens of civilians, while many more have been wounded. Haidai posted on Facebook that there were no humanitarian corridors for people to safely leave the region in eastern Ukraine.

Efforts by Russian forces to launch an offensive to the northeast of the capital Kyiv have been “partially successful,” the Ukrainian military says. The comments were published on Facebook early on Saturday. Russian units are attempting to blockade the city of Chernihiv from the southwest, and, as part of their efforts, are attempting to capture the towns of Shestovytsya and Mykhailo-Kotsiubynske. However, the message from the Armed Forces of Ukraine was generally positive. Ukrainian troops were said to be repelling their enemy and “inflicting losses on Russian invaders in manpower and military equipment, which significantly reduces their will to continue the confrontation.” The briefing also noted that anti-invasion demonstrations were being held in “temporarily occupied territories.”

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