Ukrainian defenders in Mariupol are taking what may be their last stand as Russian soldiers bombard a civilian hiding place, the Azovstal Steel Plant, strategic to Moscow's plans to take over the port city.
Over 200 civilians, including children, are reportedly trapped in the Azovstal steel plant. Heavy, bloody battles have made escape nearly impossible. Fresh attempts to rescue those trapped resumed Friday morning. If the Kremlin completes its capture of Mariupol, it would be Russia's biggest success so far in the war.
Vladimir Putin is pushing for a victory to showcase on Monday, which is Russia's "Victory Day." Historically, the holiday has featured pageantry in the form of a military parade celebrating the Soviet Union's triumph over Nazi Germany. Despite the war raging around them, volunteers in Mariupol cleaned up the streets and coated landmarks with a fresh coat of paint to give its citizens a chance to commemorate the holiday as well.
Back here at home, the Pentagon is responding to a New York Times report saying the U.S. is providing intelligence to Ukraine – including Russian troop movements and strategic locations – which has led to the death 12 Russian generals.
"We do not provide intelligence on the location of senior military leaders on the battlefield or participate in the targeting decisions of the Ukrainian military," said Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby.
Meanwhile, similar reports have surfaced that the U.S. also shared intelligence about the location of the Russian missile cruiser warship, the Moskva, which helped Ukraine successfully target and sink the ship in the Black Sea – a major failure for the Russian military.
The U.S. says Ukraine made the decision to sink that ship. The Pentagon says America supplies Kyiv's forces with military aid and intelligence solely "to help Ukrainians defend their country."
As the fighting continues, civilians are paying a heavy price for Putin's war. Approximately 6.5 million people have been displaced from their homes, seeking refuge somewhere in Ukraine, and 5.6 million have left for neighboring countries, with more than 3 million of them going to Poland.