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Ukraine’s Zelenskiy vows revenge on Russian forces after fleeing family killed in shelling of Irpin | Ukraine

Volodymr Zelenskiy has vowed to punish “every bastard’” who committed atrocities during the invasion of Ukraine amid outrage at Russia’s shelling of civilians as they tried to flee a town on the outskirts of Kyiv, killing a young family.

The president of Ukraine said in a video address on Sunday night: “They were just trying to get out of town. To escape. The whole family. How many such families have died in Ukraine. We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will punish everyone who committed atrocities in this war.”

To the Russian forces behind the attack, in the town of Irpin on the western edge of the capital, Zelenskiy said: “There will be no quiet place on this earth for you. Except for the grave.”

Hundreds of civilians had gathered near the bridge at Irpin on Sunday, seeking to escape the capital, with only a dozen Ukrainian soldiers there, mostly helping them with their luggage, according to the New York Times, whose team were filming at the time of the shelling.


The mortar fire from the Russians began some distance away from the bridge, before coming nearer to the street where the civilians were caught out in the open, the Times reported. Eight died in the attack, including a woman, her teenage son and a primary school-age daughter, plus a family friend. Their belongings lay scattered around the street. In footage of the attack a group of fighters could be seen trying to help the family.

The mayor of Irpin described seeing the four killed “in front of my eyes” when a shell hit them. “It is impudence, they are monsters. Irpin is at war, Irpin has not surrendered,” Oleksandr Markushyn said on Telegram, adding that part of the city was in Russian hands. Markushyn said another evacuation effort would begin on Monday morning.

Civilians cross amid rubble of a damaged bridge in Irpin
Civilians cross amid rubble of a damaged bridge in Irpin Photograph: Oleksandr Ratushniak/EPA

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has triggered the fasting-growing refugee crisis in Europe since the second world war, according to the head of the UN’s refugee agency. Vast numbers of Ukrainian civilians continue to flee cities under bombardment, including the besieged coastal city of Mariupol where Russian forces agreed again to allow a second urgent evacuation that ended in a fresh bombing.

“It’s murder, deliberate murder,” Zelensky said in his address as he warned of more shelling to come on Monday.

It had been hoped that 200,000 of the 430,000 residents in Mariupol – where medicines and food are running short and people are living in freezing conditions with no heating – would be able to escape during an agreed nine-hour ceasefire on Sunday, but only a few hundred people are believed to have made it out before shelling resumed.

The International Committee of the Red Cross implored the two sides to renegotiate, saying there were “devastating scenes of human suffering in Mariupol”.

refugee map

A third round of Russian-Ukrainian talks aimed at finding a way out of the bloody conflict is set for Monday.

During a tense call with Putin in which Macron had also emphasised the need to avoid disaster at Ukraine’s nuclear power sites after the shelling of the Zaporizhzhia plant by Russian forces last week, France’s president reiterated the west’s demand that civilians be given safe passage.

“The [humanitarian] situation is difficult” in Mariupol, a French official said. “Our demands remain the same: we want Russia to respond to these demands … very quickly and clearly.”

Very few refugees from the strategic city on the Azov Sea made it out on Saturday, but one family, who did not give their names, arrived in the central city of Dnipro and recounted their harrowing experience.

“We stayed in the basement for seven days with no heating, electricity or internet and ran out of food and water,” one of them said.

“On the road, we saw there were bodies everywhere, Russians and Ukrainians … We saw that people had been buried in their basements.”

The Kremlin said Putin had pinned the blame for the failure of the ceasefire to hold in Mariupol and neighbouring Volnovakha on “Ukrainian nationalists”.

Putin “drew attention to the fact that Kyiv still does not fulfil agreements reached on this acute humanitarian issue”, the Kremlin said. “And the pause in hostilities was again used only to build up forces and means in their positions.”

Rejecting Moscow’s denials, US secretary of state Antony Blinken told CNN: “We’ve seen very credible reports of deliberate attacks on civilians, which would constitute a war crime.”

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