Heavy fighting around Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv is threatening those attempting to evacuate the area, Ukraine officials said on Saturday.

“Conflict raged near Kyiv on Saturday and Ukrainian officials said heavy shelling and threats of Russian air attacks were endangering attempted evacuations of desperate civilians from encircled towns and cities elsewhere,” Reuters reported. “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russia was sending in new troops after Ukrainian forces had put 31 of its battalion tactical groups out of action in what he called Russia’s largest army losses in decades. He gave no details and it was not possible to verify either statement.”

“Zelenskiy also said he had spoken to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron about pressuring Russia to release the mayor of the city of Melitopol, who Ukraine says was kidnapped on Friday by Russian forces,” the outlet added.

Melitopol is now under Russian control, but 2,000 residents protested outside the city administration building this week demanding that Mayor Ivan Federov be released after he was allegedly kidnapped by Russian military falsely claiming terrorism. Russia so far has not commented on the situation, Reuters reported.

“Zelenskiy said his country could not stop fighting but was upholding a ceasefire around an agreed humanitarian corridor out of the southern port of Mariupol, which has been under an almost two-week siege, and called on Russia to do the same,” the outlet added.

The governor of the Kyiv region said that continued fighting and additional threats of air attacks from the Russian military continued, while the governor of the Donetsk region added that the attacks were making it difficult for evacuees to use human corridors from Mariupol and areas around Kyiv, Reuters reported.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs added that “There are reports of looting and violent confrontations among civilians over what little basic supplies remain in” Mariupol. “Medicines for life-threatening illnesses are quickly running out, hospitals are only partially functioning, and the food and water are in short supply,” the U.N. added.

The inability to evacuate is not the only worrisome development in Ukraine. The World Health Organization (WHO) “said on Thursday that it advised Ukraine to destroy dangerous pathogens in the country’s public health laboratories to prevent any of them from getting out amid Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.”

“Biosecurity experts say Russia’s movement of troops into Ukraine and bombardment of its cities have raised the risk of an escape of disease-causing pathogens, should any of those facilities be damaged,” Reuters reported. “Like many other countries, Ukraine has public health laboratories researching how to mitigate the threats of dangerous diseases affecting both animals and humans including, most recently, COVID-19. Its labs have received support from the United States, the European Union and the WHO.”

The WHO also said it had been working with labs in Ukraine for years in an attempt to prevent dangerous pathogens from being released, whether accidentally or deliberately.

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