A brief lull came in the early afternoon when the Ukrainians went on the offensive.
“We’re hitting them because they’re missing artillery shells,” Anatoly, a 19-year-old Ukrainian soldier, told BuzzFeed News. “We can say that Irpin’s. But now we cut them when people are out.
Kyiv has tried to get Moscow to agree on safe evacuation routes from cities surrounded by Russian forces that are heavily shelled. But the agreements have often not stuck, and civilians have been deliberately targeted by the Russian military as they try to flee.
There is no agreement between the fighting sides for a safe corridor from Irpin, near the capital of Kyiv in northern Ukraine.
Until Sunday, residents were able to leave town by train. But then the Russians bombed the tracks, destroying a safe and easy escape route. On Tuesday, the only way out was through the remains of a bridge blown up by the Ukrainian army to stop Russian troops from advancing with tanks and armored vehicles into Kyiv, just 15 miles east.
Ukrainian soldiers told BuzzFeed News that thousands of residents are being forced to leave immediately as Russian forces not only crush Irpin — stealing food, gas and other supplies — and occupy everything that’s left of it.
Anna, a woman in her 60s, told BuzzFeed News that if enemy soldiers hadn’t stormed her family home, “we wouldn’t have left.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin thought his military would roll through Ukraine within days and force Kyiv to surrender, but he underestimated the Ukrainians’ fierce resistance and resilience. Now their so-called “special military operation” terror aims to break the will of Ukrainians by besieging their cities and firing indiscriminately with rockets named after devastating weather events such as tornadoes, hurricanes and hail.
But in the face of the worst fighting Europe has seen in decades, Ukrainians are defiant.
Oleksandr Markushin, the mayor of Irpin, said Russian forces sent him a death threat and demanded he surrender the city to them on Monday.
“I’m surprised these monsters still don’t understand that Irpin won’t surrender, Irpin is not for sale, Irpin is fighting!” he wrote in a telegram on Tuesday.