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

Attack on civilians in town on the outskirts of Kyiv comes as vast numbers of Ukrainian civilians attempt to flee cities under bombardment

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.

Russia’s defence ministry said on Monday morning it would cease fire to allow civilians in the cities of Kyiv, Kharkiv and Sumy to leave, but only for Russia or Belarus.

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. “Instead of humanitarian corridors, they can only ensure bloody ones.”

Amid reports of increasingly indiscriminate attacks, the UK’s ministry of defence released its latest intelligence report, speculating that Russian forces had made “minimal ground advances” over the weekend, while a “high level of Russian air and artillery strikes” continued to hit military and civilian sites across the cities of Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol.

Ukraine will ask the international court of justice, the United Nations’ top court, on Monday to issue an emergency ruling requiring Russia to stop its invasion, arguing that Moscow’s justification for the attack is based on a faulty interpretation of genocide law.

The UN security council is also expected to hold an emergency meeting for an update on the humanitarian crisis the war has created.

In Russia, Vladimir Putin’s invasion has caused further outcry, with more than 4,300 people arrested after demonstrations in 21 cities. The jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny had called for protest across the country and the world.

Oil prices have soared more than 10% and are closing in on their all-time high levels on global markets as the US and Europe considered a ban on Russian crude and the geopolitical impact of the invasion spread.

With a humanitarian crisis spiralling inside Ukraine, 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”.


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.”


Peter Beaumont in Lviv, Daniel Boffey in Brussels, and Graham Russell

The GuardianTramp

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