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Eyewitness News | Liubov Abravitova, Ukraine's ambassador to South Africa, believes that African countries' backing can help put an end to Russia's invasion of her homeland.

On Friday, Abravitova met with Western Cape Premier Alan Winde and Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen, urging South Africa to take a more active role in de-escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

Abravitova, speaking to the Cape Town Press Club, offered a bleak vision of further devastation if Russia's invasion of Ukraine is not stopped.

During Tuesday's debate on the topic in Parliament, Steenhuisen said the DA would press the government on its genuine position.

Abravitova emphasized that countries should act quickly to help make the world a safer place for future generations.

Meanwhile, the Russian military advanced closer to Kyiv on Friday and bombed civilian areas in other Ukrainian cities, prompting predictions of "unimaginable disaster" as the US and EU tightened the economic noose around the Kremlin.

Sixteen days after Russia stunned the world by invading Ukraine, the UN and others have warned that Moscow may be committing war crimes in places like Mariupol, which has been besieged by Vladimir Putin's army for days.

More than 1,500 people were killed in 12 days of attacks, officials in the southern port reported on Friday.

Survivors have been attempting to avoid Russian bombardment in a frigid city without running water or heat, as well as a lack of food. A Doctors Without Borders spokesperson described the situation as "dire."

In an interview with AFP, Stephen Cornish, one of the leaders of the medical charity's Ukraine program, said, "Hundreds of thousands of people... are for all intents and purposes surrounded."

"Sieges are a medieval tactic that the current rules of war have forbidden for good reason."

Ukraine's President Volodymr Zelensky's appeals for NATO intervention have grown increasingly frantic as Russia intensifies its bombardment and discussions between Moscow and Kyiv appear to be deadlocked.

On Friday, US Vice President Joe Biden ruled out military action against nuclear-armed Russia, warning that it would result in "World War III."

Instead, Washington piled on more sanctions on top of those already doing havoc on Russia's economy, halting normal economic contacts and placing a ban on key Russian exports such as vodka, seafood, and diamonds.

The export of luxury items to Russia has also been halted by the United States and the European Union.

"Putin will have to pay the price. He can't fight a war that jeopardizes international peace and stability and then beg for assistance from the international community "From White House, Biden stated.

He said as the UN reported that 2.5 million people had fled Ukraine and another two million had been internally displaced as a result of the conflict.

'NOBODY BURIES THEM,' says the narrator.

Yulia, a 29-year-old teacher who fled Mariupol, claimed her mother-in-law remained in the city and warned them that "the attacks don't end."

"There are a lot of bodies on the street, and no one buries them," she told AFP.

Zelensky called to the mothers of Russian soldiers in a video address published Saturday to prevent their sons from being deployed to war.

"I'd like to emphasize this to Russian women, particularly mothers of conscripts. Do not send your children to a foreign country to fight in a conflict "he stated

Doctors at a hospital in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second city, detailed pumping ash from the stomach of an eight-year-old child whose home had been bombarded by a Russian missile for two days.

Dima Kasyanov's doctor told AFP that cinders were still in his lungs.

When three missiles hit civilian buildings in Dnipro, a one-million-strong industrial powerhouse, the city's image as a reasonably safe sanctuary was destroyed.

Images of its burnt or damaged buildings, including a kindergarten with blown-out windows, have now been added to those from Kharkiv and Mariupol as evidence of the conflict's brutality.

Svetlana Kalenecheko, who lives and works in a clinic that was damaged, said, "Today, we were meant to host people who need a lot of help."

"At this point, we can't help anyone."

The assaults on civilians sparked a new round of warnings from the Hague and the UN on Friday, accusing Russia of war crimes.

"We are truly on the verge of an unfathomable disaster," Doctors Without Borders' Cornish cautioned, adding that "there is still time to avoid it, and we must see that it is avoided."


In the meantime, the Kremlin is gradually encircling Kyiv, which Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak has described as a "city under siege."

"Kyiv will stand till the end," he tweeted, adding that the city was "ready to fight," with checkpoints set up and supply lines in place.

The Ukrainian military has said that Russia is attempting to breach Kyiv's northern and western defenses, where areas such as Irpin and Bucha have already been subjected to days of severe bombing.

Russian armored vehicles are also making their way towards the capital's northeast.

The influx of refugees has increased as the cautious but steady progress continues.

According to Ukrainian officials, some 100,000 people have been able to escape the northeastern city of Sumy, the eastern city of Izyum, and territories northwest of Kyiv in the previous two days.

Living circumstances, Zelensky noted, were rapidly deteriorating.

"There is no electricity in the Sumy, Kyiv, and Donetsk areas. Yes, there are issues with the heating system. There is no electricity, no gas, and no water "he stated

"This is a humanitarian disaster."


So yet, little progress has been made in putting an end to the violence.

Putin has stated that talks are occurring "nearly daily," and US and European financial markets gained on Friday as a result of his remarks that "some positive movements" have occurred.

However, US Vice President Kamala Harris remarked in Bucharest that Russian President Vladimir Putin had given "no sign of real diplomacy."

After Moscow's envoy told diplomats that America and Ukraine had investigated using bats to commit biological warfare, Western countries accused Russia of propagating "wild" conspiracy theories at the United Nations.

The assertions were made as part of a "false flag campaign" by Russia to justify its own use of chemical weapons in Ukraine, according to the US envoy.

If Russia employed chemical weapons, Biden said, it would pay a "heavy price."

But he shied clear of any suggestion that such an attack would be a red line that would prompt direct military action from the US.

"We will not conduct a war in Ukraine against Russia," he declared.

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