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As families continue to flee the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Putin’s military has stepped up its violence against civilians seeking safety. On Sunday, Russian soldiers advancing on Kyiv fired mortar shells at a bridge that evacuees were using to escape in Irpin, leaving a mom, her teenage son, and her young daughter dead on the ground as others ran for cover. There had only been a dozen or so Ukrainian soldiers in the area, according to the New York Times, helping people carry luggage.
Russian shelling also thwarted efforts for a second day in a row to evacuate families from Mariupol, a southern port city, leaving more than 200,000 residents stuck in areas under bombardment, according to the Washington Post. Heat, electricity, and water have been cut off for days there. And as Russian soldiers prepared to attack the port city of Odesa, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned on Sunday that even more lives would be lost. “This will be a war crime,” he said in an emotional video.
The United Nations estimates there have been hundreds of civilian casualties in Ukraine so far, likely an undercount, as the death toll remains unknown. More than 1.5 million refugees have fled the country since Russia invaded on February 24. The UN high commissioner for refugees on Sunday cited “the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II,” even as many others have been unable to get out.