Russia-Ukraine conflict
Soldiers walk on a path as smoke billows from the town of Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, March 12, 2022. Image Credit: AP

Russian military continues to target sites ringed around Ukraine's capital Kyiv and intense fighting has been reported. Over 2.5 million Ukrainians have fled the country, with a majority crossing over to Poland. Follow live updates:

Ukraine mayor kidnapped

A Ukraine mayor was abducted by Russian forces on Sunday, Ukrainian officials claimed on Sunday, becoming the second such reported kidnapping in days, bringing strong condemnation from the European Union.

"The army of the Russian Federation captured the mayor of the city of Dniprorudne," in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast region of southeast Ukraine, the regional administration head Oleksandr Starukh said on Facebook.

"The EU strongly condemns the kidnapping of the mayors of Melitopol and Dniprorudne by Russian armed forces," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a post on Twitter. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called Saturday on the leaders of France and Germany to help secure the release of the mayor of Melitopol.

More than 2.6 million flee Ukraine war: UN

The number of refugees fleeing Ukraine since February 24 is now nearly 2.7 million, the UN said on Sunday.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said there were 2,698,280 refugees who had fled Ukraine so far, according to its dedicated webpage at around 1100 GMT.

The figure was more than 100,700 higher than the last count on Saturday.

This is the largest exodus of refugees in Europe since World War II, according to UN refugee agency chief Filippo Grandi.

Four million people could leave Ukraine to flee the war, according to initial UN estimates. That figure is likely to be revised upwards, the UN refugee agency said.

US journalist shot dead in Ukraine: medic, witnesses

Head of Kyiv region police said one New York Times journalist killed, and another was wounded by Russian forces in Irpin town.

A US journalist was shot dead and another wounded on Sunday in Irpin, a frontline northwest suburb of Kyiv, medics and witnesses told AFP.

Danylo Shapovalov, a surgeon volunteering for the Ukrainian territorial defence, said one of the Americans died instantly and he had treated the other.

AFP reporters in Irpin saw the body of the victim. A third victim, a Ukrainian who had been in the same car as the Americans, was also wounded.

35 dead in air strike on Ukraine military base near Poland

Thirty-five people died and more than 130 were injured when Russian troops launched air strikes on a military training ground outside Ukraine's western city of Lviv, near the border with Poland, local officials said Sunday.

Russia "launched an air strike on the International Centre for Peacekeeping and Security", the head of the Lviv regional administration, Maksym Kozytsky, said on his verified Facebook page.

"I have to announced that, unfortunately, we have lost more heroes: 35 people died as a result of the shelling of the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre," Kozytsky later wrote on Telegram, updating an initial toll of nine.

"134 more with injuries of varying severity are in a military hospital," he added, saying the information on the toll was still being updated.

Fires at the base have been almost fully extinguished and pyrotechnics experts were examining the debris, the governor said.

The military base in Yavoriv, located some 40 kilometres (25 miles) northwest of the city, was a training centre for Ukrainian forces with foreign instructors, including from the United States and Canada.

It was also a hub for joint exercises involving Ukrainian soldiers and NATO allies.

Russia strikes Ukraine military target near Polish border

Russian air strikes killed nine people at a military base outside Ukraine's western city of Lviv, local officials said Sunday, in an attack that brings the conflict dangerously close to the Polish border.

Nine killed by bombing in southern city of Mykolaiv: regional governor

Nine people have been killed in a Russian airstrike in a southern city of Mykolaiv near the Black Sea port of Odessa, the regional governor Vitaliy Kim, said on Sunday.

Russia strikes military base outside Ukraine's Lviv: local official

Russian troops launched multiple air strikes on a military training ground outside Ukraine's western city of Lviv, near the border with Poland, a local official said Sunday.

Russia encircling Kyiv

Russian forces advance ever closer to the capital from the north, west and northeast. Russian strikes also destroy an airport in the town of Vasylkiv, south of the city.

Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak says Kyiv is already effectively "under siege" as the army and volunteers prepare to defend the city, street by street.

‘Humanitarian catastrophe' in Mariupol

The leaders of France and Germany urge Russian President Vladimir Putin in a call to end the siege of Mariupol, where residents have been trapped without running water and power for 11 days and there are reports of people starving.

The mayor says more than 1,500 civilians have been killed. Corpses are lying uncollected in the streets.

Both Ukrainian and Russian officials have described the quickly worsening humanitarian situation as "catastrophic".

UN to hold more meetings this week on Ukraine war

The United Nations will have multiple meetings this week about Russia's war in Ukraine, though it is unclear if they will lead to the adoption of an official text, diplomats said.

On Monday, the Security Council will discuss the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Polish foreign minister Zbigniew Rau is expected to speak during the session, one of the diplomatic sources told AFP on Saturday.

Although this is an annual meeting, it will place special focus on the war in Ukraine and will likely see fresh calls for peace.

Zelenskiy says talks with Moscow show signs of becoming more substantive

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says talks with Moscow show signs of becoming more substantive, and one of his top advisers said that "continuous" discussions with Russia are under way by video. Russia said convoys of military aid from the West are "legitimate targets" as the US and Europe steps up the movement of supplies into Ukraine.

Ukraine bars export of essential foods to conserve resources

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that while his country has all basic food products for coming months, the government has banned or restricted the export of essential foods - such as wheat, buckwheat, meat, eggs, oil and sugar.

The nation received 40,000 tonnes of humanitarian cargo over the March 2-12 period, Shmyhal said in a briefing posted on Facebook. It has gas reserves of about 9.5 billion cubic meters, he said, with gas imports continuing to flow from Hungary, Slovakia and Poland.

US adds $200 million in military aid

President Joe Biden's administration authorized another $200 million in military aid for Ukraine, including "further defensive assistance" to help the country "meet the armored, airborne, and other threats it is facing," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

The latest package increases the Biden administration's security assistance for Ukraine to more than $1.2 billion, Blinken said in a statement.

UK to Offer $456 monthly to refugee hosts

UK households will be paid 350 pounds ($456) per month to host Ukrainians fleeing war under a government plan to allow people in Britain to sponsor the refugees, the Telegraph reported. Ukrainians admitted under the plan could remain in the U.K. for as long as three years, according to the newspaper, which cited a government source.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government has faced criticism, including from French President Emmanuel Macron, that its refugee stance is too restrictive.