Scores of Ukrainian soldiers who were asleep in a barracks are feared dead, with victims buried under rubble in sub-zero conditions after a Russian missile strike on Mykolaiv.
Around 200 troops are reported to have been in the military quarters. Some 57 injured are thought to be in hospital and one survivor was uncovered from the ruins in the southern city on the Black Sea.
Rescue operations are underway with shovels and bare hands but one survivor told international media he believed most of the soldiers would be dead.
In a separate attack, Russia has boasted deploying a ‘hypersonic’ missile for the first time in the invasion to destroy a large weapons depot in Ukraine’s western Ivano-Frankivsk region.
Vladimir Putin claims his country is the global leader in the missiles that can go further and travel more than five times the speed of sound, or Mach 5, making them difficult to track and intercept.
The Kinzhal missiles are part of an array of weapons unveiled in 2018.
In other news over the last 24 hours:
- Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for meaningful talks with Russia to stop its invasion, as Moscow said it was “tightening the noose” around the key port of Mariupol.
- Street fighting has intensified in Mariupol which has stopped rescuers reaching civilians trapped in the rubble of a bombed theatre.
- Ukraine is hoping to evacuate civilians through 10 humanitarian corridors from cities and towns on the front line
- Ukraine’s defence ministry says it has “temporarily” lost access to the Azov Sea, which connects to the Black Sea and would be a major loss for Ukraine.
- Russia’s space agency has dismissed reports its cosmonauts joining the International Space Station (ISS) had chosen to wear yellow suits with a blue trim in support of Ukraine
- Volodymyr Zelensky has urged Switzerland to crack down on Russian oligarchs who he said were helping to wage war on his country from the safety of “beautiful Swiss towns”
- The Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office says 112 children have been killed so far in the war.
- The UN rights office says at least 816 civilians have been killed and 1333 wounded in Ukraine through to March 17.
- The UN says 3.27 million people have fled the fighting, with two million displaced inside the country
President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for comprehensive peace talks with Moscow, saying Russia would otherwise need generations to recover from losses suffered during the war.
Mr Zelensky said Ukraine had always offered solutions for peace and wanted meaningful and honest negotiations on peace and security without delay.
“I want everyone to hear me now, especially in Moscow. The time has come for a meeting, it is time to talk,” he said in a video address.
“The time has come to restore territorial integrity and justice for Ukraine.
“Otherwise, Russia’s losses will be such that it will take you several generations to recover.”
The two sides have been involved in talks for weeks with no sign of a breakthrough.
Mr Zelensky said Russian forces were deliberately blocking the supply of humanitarian supplies to cities under attack.
“This is a deliberate tactic … This is a war crime and they will answer for it, 100 per cent,” he said.
Mr Zelensky said there was no information about how many people had died after a theatre in the city of Mariupol, where hundreds of people had been sheltering, was struck on Wednesday.
More than 130 people had been rescued so far, he said.
Russian space men in yellow
Russia’s space agency has dismissed Western media reports suggesting Russian cosmonauts joining the International Space Station (ISS) had chosen to wear yellow suits with a blue trim in support of Ukraine.
“Sometimes yellow is just yellow,” Roscosmos’ press service said on its Telegram channel on Saturday.
“The flight suits of the new crew are made in the colours of the emblem of the Bauman Moscow State Technical University, which all three cosmonauts graduated from … To see the Ukrainian flag everywhere and in everything is crazy.”
Roscosmos Director-General Dmitry Rogozin was more acerbic, saying on his personal Telegram channel that Russian cosmonauts had no sympathy for Ukrainian nationalists.
In a live-streamed news conference from the ISS on Friday, veteran cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev, the mission commander, was asked about the suits.
“Every crew picks a colour that looks different. It was our turn to pick a colour,” he said. “The truth is, we had accumulated a lot of yellow fabric, so we needed to use it up. That’s why we had to wear yellow flight suits.”