The salvoes of artillery fire are so intense, at times, that they are indistinguishable from each other. The noise is like a continuous rumble, and it becomes difficult to discern the explosions. A deluge of fire falls on the combatants of the first line. Clouds of black smoke obscure the horizon. The fronts north-west of kyiv have flared up again in recent days, and the Ukrainian capital was, for the first time, Wednesday, March 23, hit by Russian artillery – the bombardments being so far due to air raids and missile attacks.
At the last checkpoint before the Irpin front line – closed to the press since the death of three journalists in the sector – the Ukrainian soldiers quietly smoke cigarettes. The paramedics and civilian volunteers, for their part, cautiously left the crossroads, very exposed, at the edge of the forest, and took shelter between two buildings. The Ukrainian artillery, located slightly to the rear, took part in the fighting: shells and rockets whistled overhead and flew towards the Russian positions.
The Ukrainian army claims to be carrying out counter-offensive operations at the gates of kyiv. Two pieces of information seem to converge in this direction. First, on the eastern front, the Russian forces that had reached the approaches to Brovary were pushed back. Second, on the western front, the town of Makariv, near the road to Zhytomyr, was reconquered. Concerning the towns of Irpin, Boutcha and Hostomel, in the immediate vicinity of the north-west of kyiv, the situation remains confusing. Reports from various unofficial Ukrainian sources that Russian forces would be surrounded there are by no means confirmed, with no indication that they have been cut off from their rear in the north.
Seventy-three dead and 297 injured
In kyiv, the approach of the Russian army is even more felt than before. For, apart from the fact that missiles are now regularly falling in the northern and western districts of the city, Russian artillery struck the Nyvky district (about 10 kilometers from the front) on Wednesday. Buildings were pockmarked with shrapnel and shop windows shattered. Traces of mortar shells were visible on the asphalt of the surrounding streets. This artillery salvo injured four people, according to the mayor of kyiv. The Shevchenko district was also hit by rocket fire on Wednesday. The official toll of civilians affected in the Ukrainian capital is now 73 dead and 297 injured.
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