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Where the fighting stands in Ukraine

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

All right. Now let's turn to NPR's Ryan Lucas, who's in Lviv, Ukraine.

Ryan, Zelenskyy has been making the call to the international community to establish a no-fly zone, but that's long been a non-starter. Will this expected new military aid make a difference in this fight?

RYAN LUCAS, BYLINE: Well, certainly Ukraine hopes so, and that's why we've heard this same message consistently from Zelenskyy in recent days in speeches that he's been delivering to Western capitols, including to the British Parliament and to the Canadian Parliament just yesterday. He has been saying Ukraine needs more support, and it needs it now - there's no time to lose. And that sense of urgency is something that we heard again from him today in this speech to Congress. And we've heard that - we heard, today, him appeal for air defense systems that would protect Ukrainian cities from Russian airstrikes, although, frankly, airstrikes are not the only problem here. The Russians are shelling cities. They've got missiles coming in. It's not just about airstrikes. But, more generally, the talk - the clock is ticking here. Ukraine has put up a remarkable fight over the past three weeks, certainly more of a fight than Western governments - and Russian President, Vladimir Putin, as well - expected. But, again, Ukraine says it needs more support to continue this fight because, even though Russia has struggled militarily so far in many ways, it still has superior firepower.

MARTINEZ: And Zelenskyy made this address from the capital of Kyiv. That city is under a curfew amid a bombardment from Russia. So what's the latest there this morning?

LUCAS: Well, Russian forces remain outside the city. That is a testament to Ukraine's defenses and what they've done over the past three weeks. But what the Russians have done consistently and continue to do is shell the city day and night. They've hit apartment buildings and glass office buildings and recently metro stations, and the shelling is getting closer to central Kyiv - to the city center. The worst place around Kyiv at the moment still remains the suburbs, though, particularly on the northwest, where that Russian column for a long time was stalled. Heavy fighting has been there. Civilians have been desperate to get out. But the situation is, of course, dangerous across the city because of this shelling. Kyiv's mayor, Vitali Klitschko, imposed a curfew, as you mentioned yesterday. That runs until tomorrow morning. All of this said, it's important to remember that Kyiv remains in Ukrainian government hands. It's still very much in control. And we saw that yesterday by a visit that leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia made to Kyiv, where they met with Zelenskyy and held talks about what the EU can do.

MARTINEZ: But around the country, though, Russia appears to be stepping up its attacks on cities such as Kharkiv, and the situation in Mariupol grows more dire by the minute. Can you give us an overview of where the fight stands at the moment?

LUCAS: Well, the main bit of fighting is around Kyiv. Kharkiv, as you mentioned, has just been pounded. City officials there recently said that the death toll is around 500 civilians. Across the east and south, Mariupol, the southern city in the south that you mentioned, remains under siege. The humanitarian situation there is dire. Residents have been desperate to get out. Food is running low - no heat, no electricity. There was a sliver of hope yesterday. Around 20,000 people were able to get out of Mariupol. That's the first time, I believe, since the beginning of the siege, that a humanitarian corridor has actually been open to get civilians out of Mariupol. But, again, the situation there remains dire, as it does across much of the country. Western Ukraine, for now, however, remains largely peaceful.

MARTINEZ: That's NPR's Ryan Lucas in Lviv, Ukraine.

Ryan, thank you.

LUCAS: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF ROHNE'S "TWELVE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.