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Battleground Ukraine: Day 27 of Russia's invasion

 Ukrainian servicemen stand guard at a military check point in Kyiv on March 21, 2022.
Ukrainian servicemen stand guard at a military check point in Kyiv on March 21, 2022.

Paris: Russia's invasion of Ukraine was largely stalled on the 27th day of the assault Tuesday, with no major advances in the north and east and minimal progress in the south. Western sources said Russian forces were consolidating their positions but Ukrainian forces were showing no sign of stopping resistance and were hitting back with counterattacks.


Here is a summary of the situation on the ground, based on statements from both sides, Western defence and intelligence sources, and international organisations. - The east - Although there was little movement around the mostly encircled city of Kharkiv, Ukraine's military general staff said heavy artillery was being moved up through a neighbouring region of Russia. That city would be a key link in the chain if Russia aims -- as many analysts believe -- to encircle Ukrainian forces in the country's east.


The city of Sumy further to the north and close to the Russian border is also encircled. - Kyiv and the north - Russians have been reinforcing their positions around the capital, which has not yet been fully surrounded. Ukraine has said the attackers were laying mines around their lines for the first time in the conflict. In Chernihiv meanwhile, which is encircled by Russian troops, the Ukrainian army accused the Russians of shelling civilian areas.


The south


Russia continued its siege of the port city of Mariupol, a key Russian target to link up the annexed Crimea and separatist-controlled Donbas regions. Hundreds of thousands of inhabitants are believed to remain in Mariupol, which has no running water or heating and where food is running short. But the British Defence Ministry said Ukrainian forces were continuing to repel Russian attempts to occupy the city. Russian forces earlier in the campaign took the city of Kherson just north of Crimea, the only major city they have captured so far.


Although Russian troops are trying to push west along Ukraine's Black Sea coast towards Odessa, they have so far failed to encircle the city of Mykolayiv that stands in the way. There is Russian naval activity in the Black Sea off Odessa but this does not mean that an amphibious assault on the city is imminent, according to the US Defense Department. - The west and centre - After deadly airstrikes in Ukraine's west last week, there have been no reports of significant military action in the region or around Dnipro.


The west of Ukraine, including the region's main city of Lviv, is still far from the ground offensive but has been the target of air strikes. Russia has claimed to have used Kinzhal hypersonic missiles in a strike in the Ivano-Frankivsk region on March 18 but Western officials are dubious. - Casualties - According to the office for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, at least 925 civilians have been confirmed killed in Ukraine, including 75 children. It warns this is likely an underestimate.


Moscow has given no toll for casualties among its armed forces since announcing on March 2 that 498 troops had been killed. Ukraine says around 15,000 Russian soldiers have been killed. Western sources generally give a lower figure but still numbering several thousand. Kyiv has also not given an update on the number of Ukrainian soldiers killed since President Volodymyr Zelensky announced a week ago that around 1,300 were dead.


Refugees


The UN says almost 3.6 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion, with more than two million of them heading to neighbouring Poland. A total of 10 million are believed to have fled their homes, according to the world body, representing over a quarter of the population in regions under government control.


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