Mar 9, 2022 - World

Two weeks into the Ukraine invasion, Russian forces face resistance in key areas

A serviceman of Ukrainian Military Forces looks out from his tank prior to the battle with Russian troops and Russia-backed separatists in Lugansk region on March 8.
A Ukrainian solider looks out from his tank before a battle with Russian troops and Russia-backed separatists in the Lugansk region on Tuesday. Photo: Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty Images

Ukraine's military said it is strengthening defenses in several cities Wednesday as Russian forces were thwarted in key areas two weeks into the unprovoked invasion, according to Ukrainian and British officials.

Driving the news: The U.K. Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence update Wednesday that Ukrainian air defenses "appear to have enjoyed considerable success against Russia's modern combat aircraft, probably preventing them achieving any degree of control of the air."

  • "Fighting northwest of Kyiv remains ongoing with Russian forces failing to make any significant breakthroughs," the Defense Ministry said.
  • The general staff of Ukraine's armed forces said in a statement Wednesday it is bolstering defenses in northern, southern and eastern Ukraine and that its forces near Kyiv were repelling Russian attacks with strikes of their own and "holding the line."

Yes, but: The Defense Ministry said the cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol "remain encircled by Russian forces and continue to suffer heavy Russian shelling."

  • Local officials said Mariupol was facing a "humanitarian crisis" and an "attempt to evacuate civilians and deliver badly needed food, water and medicine through a designated safe corridor failed" after Russia's military "fired on the convoy" before it could reach the city of 430,000, per AP.

State of play: Air raid sirens rang out in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities on Wednesday morning, as Russia's military said it would this time hold fire in Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and Mariupol to enable civilians to safely leave the cities.

  • Russia's military has made similar pledges previously that it would ensure the safe passage of civilians through humanitarian corridors, but Ukrainian officials have reported these were breached by shelling along several routes.
  • Ukrainian officials said they had agreed to a ceasefire from 9am to 9pm (2am-2pm ET) in the five cities affected by the Kremlin's evacuation announcement, per Reuters.

Zoom in: The only humanitarian corridor that has been in operation was for the northeastern city of Sumy. Some 5,000 residents had been evacuated since it opened Tuesday, said regional Governor Dmytro Zhyvytskyi.

  • Zhyvytskyi said in a later Telegram post that Russian forces had bombed a residential area overnight, killing 22 people.

What they're saying: Vadym Denysenko, an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister, said in a statement on Wednesday that Russian forces needed a victory in a key city like Kyiv or Mariupol.

  • "Therefore our task is to [withstand pressure] for the next 7-10 days," Denysenko added.

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Editor's note: This article has been updated with more details, including on Sumy, air raid sirens and the ceasefire pledges.

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