Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Sunday Russia is planning to bombard Odessa. Zelenskyy said in a televised statement that if that occurs, it “will be a war crime … a historic crime.”
Zelenskyy spoke in Russian for part of the statement, urging Russians to choose between life and slavery in “the time when it is still possible to defeat evil without irreparable losses.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday that Ukrainian statehood is at risk if the country continues its current path.
During a meeting with Aeroflot workers, Putin added that any "no-fly zone” over Ukraine would have “colossal and catastrophic consequences not only for Europe but also the whole world.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has criticized NATO for not imposing a no-fly zone, which the Western alliance says could escalate the conflict with Russia.
U.S. President Joe Biden spoke Saturday night with the Ukrainian president. They talked about the work the United States, its allies, partners and private industry are doing to raise the cost of the war for Russia.
Biden said his administration is ramping up security, economic and humanitarian aid to Ukraine and is working with Congress for more funding.
Zelenskyy himself met virtually earlier Saturday with more than 300 people, including senators, some House members and aides, delivering a “desperate plea” to send more planes to help the country fight the Russian invasion, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken conferred Saturday with Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau in Rzeszow, on the border with Ukraine.
Blinken crossed into Ukraine briefly to meet Foreign Minister Dymtro Kuleba, who asked for more military assistance to defeat Russia.
After the meeting with his Polish counterpart, Blinken reiterated at a news conference that the United States “will defend every inch of NATO territory" and announced the Biden administration is preparing to allocate an additional $2.75 billion in humanitarian aid for Ukrainian refugees.
Blinken also praised Poland for assisting hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians who have fled their home country, saying, “The people of Poland know how important it is to defend freedom.”
Rau said, “Poland will never recognize territorial changes brought about by unprovoked, unlawful aggression."
While Zelenskyy has criticized NATO for not imposing a no-fly zone, Putin said during a meeting Saturday with Aeroflot workers that such a zone would have “colossal and catastrophic consequences not only for Europe but also for the whole world.”
Additionally, Putin said he currently has no plans to declare martial law in Russia because “martial law should be only introduced in cases where there is external aggression,” adding, “we are not experiencing that at the moment, and I hope we won’t.”
Blinken flew on to Moldova Saturday night to show support to the small country, which has its own breakaway region, as it takes in tens of thousands of refugees from Ukraine.
On the ground
The Russians are dropping large bombs on the city of Chernihiv, north of the capital, Kyiv, a regional official said.
“Usually, this weapon is used against military-industrial facilities and fortified structures,” regional head Vyacheslav Chaus told The Associated Press. “But in Chernihiv, against residential areas.”
He posted a photo of what he said was an undetonated, a Soviet-designed 500-kilogram bomb.
Ukraine says Russian forces are shelling evacuation routes from Mariupol, as well as the city itself, breaking a cease-fire that was to have gone into effect Saturday at 7 a.m. UTC, as the southern coastal city continued to endure days of relentless aerial attacks.
“We are simply being destroyed,” Mayor Vadym Boichenko said of his city of nearly 450,000 people on his Telegram channel.
Volnovakha, a southern city of about 21,000, also was targeted with Russian “heavy artillery” attacks during the temporary cease-fire, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Saturday in a broadcast video.
Russia’s Defense Ministry, however, accused Ukrainian “nationalists” of preventing civilians from fleeing Mariupol, according to RIA, Russia’s state-owned news agency. It cited no evidence to substantiate these claims.
Despite its heavy shelling of Mariupol and Volnovakha, there were fewer Russian aerial and artillery attacks in Ukraine over the past 24 hours compared with previous days, the British Defense Ministry tweeted Saturday on day 10 of Russia’s attack on its western neighbor.
The ministry said Ukraine continued to control the northern cities of Kharkiv and Chernihiv, as well as Mariupol in the southeast. The ministry cited reports of street fighting in the northeastern city of Sumy and said “it is highly likely that all four cities are encircled by Russian forces” as they advance toward the southwestern city of Odesa.
President Zelenskyy urged Ukrainians in areas occupied by Russian forces to take the battle to the invaders in a televised address Saturday night. "We must go outside and drive this evil out of our cities," he said.
A shipment of satellite-internet equipment arrived Saturday in Kyiv, from Starlink. Mayor Vitali Klitschko showed off the equipment, which will help Ukrainian cities whose internet has been knocked out by Russian shelling.
The number of Ukrainians seeking refuge in other countries could reach 1.5 million by the end of the weekend, the head of the U.N. Refugee Agency said Saturday, an increase from the 1.3 million who have fled.
Amin Awad, U.N. crisis coordinator for Ukraine, who is meeting in Ukraine with local and international officials, said in a statement Saturday that efforts are underway “to urgently find operational modalities to scale up operations across lines and from outside into areas impacted by the conflict.”
VOA State Department Bureau chief Nike Ching, National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin, Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb, Istanbul foreign correspondent Heather Murdock, White House correspondent Anita Powell, and senior diplomatic correspondent Cindy Saine contributed to this report.
Some information for this report came from The Associate Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.