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Vladimir Putin's war on Ukraine has yielded unceasing pictures of horror across much of the country, as Russia's scorched-earth campaign against civilians and non-military targets came into focus in the face of dogged resistance from Ukraine's military and its citizenry. That campaign has also compelled the largest refugee flight within Europe since World War II. Nick Schifrin reports from Lviv.
"The worst is yet to come" — those ominous words today from a French official after President Emmanuel Macron held a 90-minute call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Day eight of Putin's war on Ukraine yielded unceasing pictures of horror from the north, south, and east of the country, this as the Russian scorched-earth campaign against civilians and non-military targets came into focus, in the face of dogged resistance from Ukraine's military and its citizens.
That campaign has also compelled the largest refugee flight within Europe since the Second World War. More than one million Ukrainians have now fled their homes for the safety of neighboring nations to the west.
From Lviv in Ukraine's west, Nick Schifrin again begins our coverage.
The ruins of a residential building in a suburb of Kyiv now Moscow's battlefield of choice. Ukraine won the two-day battle for Borodyanka. Russian vehicles still line the main road, but victory earned at appalling cost; 15,000 people used to live in a neighborhood best known for an airfield and skydiving club, now reduced to rubble by indiscriminate Russian shelling on civilian targets and those filming the targeters.
Farther north from Kyiv, Chernihiv also under siege by Russian airstrikes, the targets clearly a neighborhood of homes. The regional governor said, in addition to houses, Russian airstrikes hit two schools. Dozens died. First responders try to save who they can, and salvage what's left.
Elsewhere, Russians have rolled in. The southern city of Kherson is the largest and most strategic city under Russian control.
Zainish Hussain filmed Russian soldiers outside of his apartment. He knew it was risky.
Zainish Hussain, Resident of Ukraine: I think I should stop recording before somebody shoots me on my hand.
The Russians are trying to take over more cities, including the Northeastern city Konotop, 150 miles east of Kyiv. The mayor is Artem Semenikhin.
Artem, can you tell us what happened when Russian troops came into your office?
Artem Semenikhin, Mayor of Konotop, Ukraine (through translator): They were demanding I recognize their authority and allow them to patrol the streets, de-arm those who have weapons, and detain those who resist. In the end I told them, just as Ukrainian soldiers told a Russian warship, "Go (EXPLETIVE DELETED) yourself."
The rejected Russians walked out holding grenades in their hands. Semenikhin actually escorted them and made sure they drove away.
And do you fear they will come back and either occupy or try and destroy the city?
Artem Semenikhin (through translator):
Yes, of course, we are concerned. And this concern is not groundless. There's a big unit near our town. And using the weapons they have, they could destroy our town. But we are not afraid. We are ready to fight until the end, until the victorious end, to defeat these Russian cockroaches.
After the Russians left he rallied his, troops, civilians, ready to resist.
All of our cities are like this. All of our Ukraine is like this. We have weapons in our hands, we have armed up, and we are ready to kill occupiers. And thanks to the United States of America for supporting Ukraine with weapons.
My weapon is American. And I think the occupiers will be pleased that we're killing them with American weapons.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin today doubled down. After a call between Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron, a French official warned — quote — "The worst was yet to come."
Putin didn't disagree.
Vladimir Putin, Russian President (through translator):
The special military operation is proceeding strictly in line with the timetable, all according to plan.
But a senior U.S. defense official said today the offensive on Kyiv has been stalled for three days, although officials fear Moscow is still planning to encircle the capital.
In the southwest, Russian troops could move past Kherson to Odessa, Ukraine's third largest city. In the southeast, Moscow is advancing in multiple directions towards Mariupol, where Russian bombardments have been so relentless, officials couldn't collect the dead or injured.
In the east, in Kharkiv, the U.S. believes Russian forces are now just outside the city. Yesterday, a Russian missile struck near the historic Assumption Cathedral. In response, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia would not escape judgment.
Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukrainian President (through translator):
They enjoy the fact that God does not give an instant rebuff. But he sees. There is no bunker to survive God's response. Even if you destroy all our cathedrals and churches, you will not destroy our faith in God, in Ukraine, and our people.
This evening Zelensky, speaking in Russian, appealed for direct talks with Putin.
Volodymyr Zelensky (through translator):
You don't want to leave. Sit down with me at I'm available. Sit with me, but not at 30 meters, like you welcomed Macron and Scholz. I'm your neighbor. I don't bite. What are you afraid of?
Earlier today, the two sides held their second meeting. They agreed to meet again, but there was no movement toward a cease-fire.
Until then, Ukrainian civilians are preparing for battle. They call themselves the territorial defense, just one battalion in a national army of volunteers; 23-year-old Markiyan Paranyak graduated from a military academy, and is now an officer in the reserves.
Today, he hit the streets. Lviv is usually packed, since the invasion, more tense and anxious.
Markiyan Paranyak, Lviv Volunteer (through translator):
We and other guys who have guns and know how to use them decided to patrol the neighborhood. This is my land. And whoever comes here will go to hell.
Do you like, right now, every Ukrainian is a kind of soldier facing off against Russia, just in whatever way they can?
Markiyan Paranyak (through translator):
Yes, absolutely. This is the task of every Ukrainian right now, to defend our country. Even women and children are trying to stop tanks with their bare hands.
Last Sunday, they detained Chechnyans they called saboteurs. Lviv's mayor confirmed to us that 10 people entered the city with the intention of blowing up a power substation.
Back in the garage, among the Ukrainian blue and yellow, a patch of red white and blue; 54-year-old Kurt Kimble says he's a retired Army master sergeant who moved to Ukraine three years ago. He's one of 16,000 foreign volunteers.
Why is this your war?
Kurt Kimble, Lviv Volunteer:
Because this is my home now. My family is here. My friends are here. And so I'm going to defend my home.
The military runs through Kimble's veins. He says his father served in World War II, Korea, and, in his 50s, Vietnam. Kurt says he served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He calls these his new band of brothers.
I never wanted to go to war again. I have seen enough of it. I will admit, after I came home, just like most veterans, we had some troubles. I have seen a lot of bad things. And now I thought that was in the past, and now I'm seeing it again.
So, I can tell it's feeling hard for you right now.
It's bringing up memories. Why are you willing to take on a different enemy that isn't fighting America?
I could have left right away. I could gotten on a plane and took my family back to the United States, and returned when it was over with.
But how could I return and look at my friends? I just couldn't do it and I won't do it. I'm here until the very end with them.
With all due respect to you and your team, you're just one guy, shotgun, small team. What can you do against the Russian army?
Our national resistance is a serious and dangerous thing for the Russian army. I think we are capable of stopping them. All of us are united. You can see me and my small group of friends, but there are thousands like us.
And fighting runs in Markiyan's family. His grandfather resisted Soviet occupation, just one story, Judy, of so many Ukrainians who are proud of their history and of themselves.
As Zelensky put it today: "We do not fill the world with oil and gas, but we have our people and our land. And, for us, that is gold."
Just remarkable courage.
Nick Schifrin, thank you for your reporting.
Nick is in Lviv in western Ukraine.
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