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 has died and another American journalist was injured when they were attacked by Russian forces.
The Ukrainians said that at least 35 people were killed and 134 wounded when over 30 cruise missiles were fired at the Yavoriv military range, just 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the Polish border.
No further information on the casualties was immediately available.
A day earlier, a senior Russian diplomat said Moscow had warned the United States that it considered foreign shipments of military equipment to Ukraine “legitimate targets.”
The U.S. swiftly ordered a warning Sunday, with White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” saying 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.
The strike comes a day after Russia bombarded cities across Ukraine, pounding Mariupol and the outskirts of the capital, Kyiv.
From Vatican City, Pope Francis on Sunday decried the “barbarianism” of the killing of children and other defenseless Ukrainians and called 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.
As Russian units fanned out to prepare for an assault on Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv, Zelenskyy said Russia would need to carpet-bomb the city and kill its residents to take it.
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 HAPPENED TO THE U.S. JOURNALISTS?
The police force said Sunday on its official website 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 has told The Associated Press she was at a hospital in Kyiv where wounded 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 at a checkpoint opened fire.
The driver of their vehicle turned around, but soldiers continued to fire, Arredondo said.
Arredondo said an ambulance carried him away and Renaud, who was shot in the neck, had been left behind.
Asked about the reports, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told CBS News that the U.S. government would be consulting with the Ukrainians 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’S HAPPENING IN BESIEGED MARIUPOL AND WESTERN UKRAINE?
Russian shelling of this Ukrainian port city of 430,000 has been relentless, and the mayor’s office says more than 1,500 have died since the siege began.
Russian forces hammered the city’s downtown on Saturday as residents hid.
In some of his strongest denunciations yet of the war, Francis said the southern Ukrainian city bearing the name of the Virgin Mary has “become a city martyred by the heartbreaking war that is devastating Ukraine.”
The training base hit in Yavoriv 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.
Russian airstrikes also again hit the airport in Ivano-Frankivsk, another city in western Ukraine south of Lviv and 250 kilometers away from Ukraine’s border with NATO members Slovakia and Hungary.
The city’s Mayor Ruslan Martsinkiv, who reported the strikes on the airport on Sunday, said Russia’s goal was “to sow panic and fear.”
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 HAPPENING WITH THE 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 pounded the military training base, killing at least 35 people.
“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 that 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. – AP.