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Russia widens assault with deadly strike on military base and killing of American journalist

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Russia has targeted military bases near the Ukraine-Poland border,  claiming the strike has killed “up to 180 foreign mercenaries” and destroyed weapons supplied by outside nations.

Ukraine’s regional governor Maksym Kozytskyy, however, put the death toll at 35. At least 134 people were wounded, he said.

The British government said the attack – not far from a border crossing used by refugees – represented a significant escalation in the war.

Adding to the fears Russian forces are willing to break the rules of war by firing on civilians, it has been confirmed a foreign journalist has been shot dead near Kyiv.

The ABC reports that Ukraine’s intelligence service has also claimed Russians killed another seven civilians – including one child – as the group of refugees fled the village of Peremoha.

American man among war casualties

Brent Renaud was reporting on the ongoing attacks on the suburb of Irpin, northwest of the capital, when he was killed by Russian forces.

Brent Renaud’s colleague said he was shot in the neck. Photo: Getty

It is the first confirmed death of a foreign journalist covering the war in Ukraine.

Kyiv’s police chief Andriy Nebytov said Mr Renaud and two other journalists had been targeted by Russian soldiers.

One of the surviving journalists, fellow American Juan Arredondo, told an Italian reporter that he was with Brent Renaud when they came under fire.

“We were across one of the first bridges in Irpin, going to film other refugees leaving, and we got into a car”, he said in a video published on Twitter.

“Somebody offered to take us to the other bridge and we crossed a checkpoint, and they start shooting at us. So the driver turned around, and they kept shooting.

“My friend is Brent Renaud, and he’s been shot and left behind… I saw him being shot in the neck.”

Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, said in a statement that the 50-year-old Mr Renaud had “paid with his life for attempting to expose the insidiousness, cruelty and ruthlessness of the aggressor.”

PBS Newshour reporter Jane Ferguson was nearby when Mr Renaud was killed.

She tweeted: “Just left roadside spot near Irpin where body of American journalist Brent Renaud lay under a blanket. Ukrainian medics could do nothing to help him by that stage. Outraged Ukrainian police officer: ‘Tell America, tell the world, what they did to a journalist.’”

Mr Renaud was an award-winning journalist and filmmaker who had reported for HBO, NBC and The New York Times.

He and his colleagues had been attempting to film refugees fleeing a suburb under siege.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the US would impose “appropriate consequences” on Russia as a result of the “shocking and horrifying” murder.

Earlier in the week, Reporters Without Borders said that at least four journalists had already been shot and wounded.

“Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates its call to the Russian and Ukrainian authorities to comply with their international obligations to guarantee the safety of reporters in the field, and urges the latter to take the utmost care,” it said.

Military bases hit

Russian general Igor Konashenkov said Russia had used high precision long range weapons to strike the Yavoriv military base and a separate facility in the village of Starichi.

The regional governor, Mr Kozytskyy, said Russia had fired at least 30 rockets.

Video of the aftermath of the attack, verified by the BBC, showed a huge crater at the site and thick smoke billowing from a massive fire nearby.

Local teenager Dukhnych Vitalii told the BBC “the night sky turned red”.

“We can’t hear the air raid sirens in this area. We woke up when we heard the sound of the first explosion. We went to the bunker,” Mr Vitalii said.

He said his family was trying to contact his 25-year-old cousin who had been training at the base.

The attack came one day after Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow considered convoys of Western arms shipments to Ukraine to be legitimate targets.

Ukraine said foreign military instructors have previously worked at the Yavoriv International Center for Peacekeeping and Security, but a NATO official said there were no personnel from the alliance there.

The ABC reported that it was not clear whether any non-NATO states might have representatives there.

Russia talks ‘constructively’

Earlier on Sunday, Russian and Ukrainian officials gave their most upbeat assessments yet of progress in their talks on the war in Ukraine, suggesting there could be positive results within days.

“We will not concede in principle on any positions. Russia now understands this. Russia is already beginning to talk constructively,” Ukrainian negotiator and presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said in a video posted online.

“I think that we will achieve some results literally in a matter of days.”

RIA news agency quoted a Russian delegate, Leonid Slutsky, as saying the talks had made substantial progress.

“According to my personal expectations, this progress may grow in the coming days into a joint position of both delegations, into documents for signing,” Mr Slutsky said.

Neither side indicated what the scope of any agreement might be.

-with AAP

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