Russia has escalated attacks in western Ukraine with a deadly airstrike on a military base where its troops had trained with NATO forces, bringing the conflict closer to Poland and other members of the bloc.
Meanwhile, police in the capital of Kyiv confirmed that a U.S. video journalist died Sunday and another American journalist was injured when they were attacked by Russian forces.
From Vatican City, Pope Francis decried the “barbarianism” of the killing of children and other defenseless Ukrainians and called for a stop to the attacks “before cities are reduced to cemeteries.”
“In the name of God, I ask: ‘Stop this massacre,’” Francis told about 25,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his customary Sunday noon appearance.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of trying to create new “pseudo-republics” to break his country apart. He called on Ukraine’s regions not to repeat the experience of two eastern areas where pro-Russian separatists began fighting Ukrainian forces in 2014.
Now in its third week, the war has forced more than 2.5 million people to flee Ukraine.
Here are some key things to know about the conflict:
WHAT’S HAPPENING ON THE GROUND IN UKRAINE?
Ukrainian officials said at least 35 people were killed and 134 wounded Sunday when more than 30 cruise missiles were fired at the Yavoriv military range, just 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the Polish border.
The training base appears to be the most westward target struck so far in the 18-day invasion. The facility, also known as the International Peacekeeping and Security Center, has long been used to train Ukrainian military personnel, often with instructors from the United States and other NATO countries.
The base has also hosted international NATO drills. As such, the site symbolizes what has long been a Russian complaint: That the NATO alliance of 30 member countries is moving ever closer to Russia’s borders. Russia has demanded that Ukraine drop its ambitions to join NATO.
The U.S. issued a swift warning after the attack. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that Russia will face a response from NATO should any of its attacks in Ukraine cross borders and hit members of the security alliance — even by accident.
Russian airstrikes also again hit the airport in Ivano-Frankivsk, another city in western Ukraine south of Lviv and 250 kilometers (155 miles) away from Ukraine’s border with NATO members Slovakia and Hungary. The city’s mayor, Ruslan Martsinkiv, said Russia’s goal was “to sow panic and fear.”
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE U.S. JOURNALISTS?
The Kyiv police force said Sunday that Russian troops opened fire on the car of Brent Renaud and another journalist in Irpin, near the capital. It said the injured journalist, Juan Arredondo, was taken to a hospital in the city.
A New York Times spokesperson said Renaud, 50, was a “talented filmmaker who had contributed to The New York Times over the years.” The spokesperson said he was not working for the publication at the time of his death.
The police force said: “Of course, the profession of journalism carries risks. Nonetheless, U.S. citizen Brent Renaud paid with his life trying to highlight the deceit, cruelty and ruthlessness of the aggressor.”
Journalist Annalisa Camilli told The Associated Press she was at a hospital in Kyiv where Arredondo was brought for treatment. In a video recorded by Camilli, Arredondo, lying on a stretcher, said he and Renaud had been filming refugees fleeing the area when Russian soldiers opened fire at a checkpoint.
The driver of their vehicle turned around, but soldiers continued firing, Arredondo said. Arredondo said an ambulance carried him away and Renaud, who was shot in the neck, was left behind.
Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, told CBS News that the U.S. government would consult with Ukraine to determine how the incident happened and would then “execute appropriate consequences.”
“This is part and parcel of what has been a brazen aggression on the part of the Russians, where they have targeted civilians, they have targeted hospitals, they have targeted places of worship, and they have targeted journalists,” Sullivan said on “Face the Nation.”
WHAT HAS THE AP DIRECTLY WITNESSED OR CONFIRMED?
An Associated Press journalist witnessed tanks firing on a 9-story apartment block in Mariupol and was with a group of medical workers who came under sniper fire on Friday. Conditions at a local hospital there were deteriorating, electricity was reserved for operating tables and the hallways were lined with people with nowhere else to go.
Anastasiya Erashova wept and trembled as she held a sleeping child. Shelling had just killed her other child as well as her brother’s child. “No one was able to save them,” she said.
In Irpin, on the northwest outskirts of Kyiv, bodies laid in the open in a park and on a street Saturday. Residents said they had no information about what or where was safe as shooting echoed.
Sergiy Stakhovsky, a recently retired professional tennis player from Ukraine, said he left his wife and three young children at home in Hungary to return to Ukraine and fight. He told The Associated Press that he would never have imagined to be in his home city with a gun in his hands.
WHAT IS THE LATEST ON UKRAINIAN REFUGEES?
While the number of people arriving in neighboring countries from Ukraine appears to have eased in the past week, the refugees’ harrowing accounts of destruction and death continue.
At the train station in Przemysl, Poland, refugees described traveling in packed trains and “people sleeping on each other” during their journeys to safety. Some heard explosions as they passed through a western region of Ukraine near Lviv, in the area where Russian missiles hit the military training base.
“The sky,” said Elizaveta Zmievskaya, 25, from Dnipro, “became red.”
More than 1.5 million refugees have arrived in Poland since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 — out of a total of around 2.7 million people that the United Nations say have fled so far.
Polish border guard spokeswoman Anna Michalska said the numbers of refugees arriving have eased in the past week with about 79,800 arriving on Saturday, compared to 142,000 a week earlier.