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War in Ukraine: We are holding on, say Mykolaiv residents

There is shelling every day in Mykolaiv. The Russians are on the outskirts to the east and south, pummelling surrounding villages and forcing thousands to flee.

The wail of the air raid siren is a prelude to a thud to our right as our car makes its way through the suburbs of this major port.

A plume of smoke a few kilometres away confirms the hit - another rocket.

We are following a Ukrainian Red Cross van as they try to rescue some of those coming under regular shelling: yet another busload to add to the already historic human exodus from this country.

These farewells have become a familiar sight across Ukraine over the last 100 days, but they are no less heartbreaking to watch.

Liudmyla has decided it is time for her youngest children to leave. She can't let them play outside as the bombardment continues and she wants them to be somewhere safe.

She holds on to them as long as she can, one under each arm, until it is time to go. Then it is too much. She turns her back and sobs as they leave.

"I will see them again when the bombing stops," she tells me. But no-one knows when that will be.

Mykolaiv was one of the first cities attacked when the invasion began. Russian forces came close to the city limits but were pushed back.

This region is key to Russian's strategy to cut off the entire southern coast. A breakthrough here would allow the Kremlin's forces to approach Odesa - the country's largest civilian port, 130 km (80 miles) to the west.

Vladimir Putin could then complete his land bridge up to Transnistria, the breakaway republic of Moldova.


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