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The Russian invasion of Ukraine enters its 10th day


The Russian assault on Ukraine continues into its 10th day. The convoy outside of Kyiv continues to be stalled, but an attempted cease-fire elsewhere in the country has already been broken. Joining us now with the latest is NPR's Lauren Frayer, who's inside Ukraine near Lviv in the west of the country. Lauren, thank you for being with us.

LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: Thanks for having me, Scott.

SIMON: Lauren, I understand the cease-fire has already ceased.

FRAYER: Well, this cease-fire was not what it seemed. It was very short lived. Russia said it would allow safe passage of civilians from two cities that have been under heavy attack, Mariupol and Volnovakha. But less than three hours after the cease-fire started, Ukrainian officials say Russia resumed shelling.

I managed to talk to Petro Andrushenko (ph). He's a city official in Mariupol. He was one of those organizing the evacuation. And when we spoke, he was in a bomb shelter.

PETRO ANDRUSHENKO: When the people were organized in evacuation point, they started attack evacuation point - not all the city, just evacuation point.

FRAYER: Now, he says Russian forces attacked the evacuees themselves, civilians. NPR could not independently confirm his account. But Andrushenko told me trust is completely destroyed now. He doesn't have electricity. He says he has one day of food left. He says people are trying to get water by melting snow in Mariupol. And he hasn't been able to reach his family.

SIMON: And, of course, the world had a scare this week over Russian attacks at a big nuclear power plant in the southeast of Ukraine. What do we know of the situation there this weekend?

FRAYER: Well, the fire is out there. Radiation levels appear to be normal. Ukrainian workers are still inside doing their jobs, but Russian forces are in control of the facility. Now, this plant is not only the largest in Ukraine. It's the largest nuclear power plant in all of Europe. It provides a quarter of Ukraine's electricity. This country's infrastructure is already strained by war. Already, we're seeing blackouts across Ukraine. There are three other nuclear power complexes in Ukraine. One of them is just 200 miles east of Zaporizhzhia, the one that the Russians took over. So there are concerns that the Russians could go after that one next. I mean, that's how you take over a country. You try to control its infrastructure. It's also a way to sow fear, especially when it comes to nuclear material.

SIMON: And, Lauren, President Zelenskyy gave a particularly pointed and impassioned speech overnight. Tell us about that, please.

FRAYER: Yeah. I mean, I don't know when President Zelenskyy sleeps. Honestly, every morning we wake up to videos he has issued overnight. His eyes are red, he's in a T-shirt, but he has a steady voice. He uses forceful language. He gives information. He dispels disinformation. And he's rallying his people. And these videos have become a fixture in Ukrainians' otherwise absolutely horrible, uncertain days. They're for domestic consumption, but they're also aimed at an international audience, which is what we saw last night. President Zelenskyy, in his latest message, lashed out at NATO for not imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine. Here he is.


PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY: (Non-English language spoken).

FRAYER: He says, "people who die from this day going forward will die in part because of you," he says directly at NATO. NATO has said a no-fly zone could provoke a wider war in Europe, and it's one step farther than they're willing to go.

SIMON: NPR's Lauren Frayer, who's reporting from Lviv in Ukraine, stay safe. Thank you, Lauren.

FRAYER: Thanks, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Lauren Frayer covers India for NPR News. In June 2018, she opened a new NPR bureau in India's biggest city, its financial center, and the heart of Bollywood—Mumbai.