Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said Russian forces have seized a humanitarian convoy on its way to the besieged city of Mariupol.
In his nocturnal speech, Zelensky said 100,000 people remained under “inhuman” conditions in the port city, without access to food, water or medicine.
MariupoI have been subjected to relentless Russian bombing since the February 24 invasion, in which Mr Zelensky said there was “nothing left” of the city.
Humanitarian efforts to evacuate people from the besieged city faced “shelling or deliberate terror”, with drivers on an emergency convoy captured by Russian forces near Mangush, about 12 miles from Mariupol, the Ukrainian president said.
Zelensky said: “Unfortunately, almost all of our efforts have been sabotaged by Russian residents, by [their] shelling or deliberate terror.
“Today, one of the humanitarian convoys was seized by occupants on an arranged route near Mangush.
»Employees in the State Emergency Management Agency and bus drivers have been captured. We are doing everything we can to set our people free and free the humanitarian movement. “
Despite the fighting raging around the city, about 7,000 Mariupol residents were rescued on Tuesday, Mr Zelensky said in his nightly Facebook address.
There would be a new wave of Western sanctions against Russia this week, Mr Zelensky said with Joe Biden ready to announce new measures at a NATO conference in Brussels.
And he insisted that Ukrainian representatives involved in “very tough” negotiations would continue to “push Russia towards peace”.
Civilians fleeing Mariupol have spoken of horrific conditions, and officials say 80 percent of the buildings have been damaged or destroyed.
A survivor who escaped said children are die of dehydration with desperate residents now starving and forced to melt snow to use as drinking water.
It told the woman, Victoria, 27 BBC Radio 5 Live: “They bomb so hard that they even destroy these basements,” she said. “[People there] have no food, they have no water.
“Three children I know died of dehydration. It’s the 21st century. Children are dying of dehydration in my city. They are starving now.”
A report by Human Rights Watch this week said Mariupol residents had described the city as a “hell landscape”.
Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin’s top spokesman has refused to rule using nuclear weapons, and the Pentagon has labeled the comments as “dangerous”.
Putin’s official told CNN that nuclear weapons would only be used if there was an “existential threat” to Russia.