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Surrogate babies cared for in basements as Russia's onslaught on Kyiv continues

The strict 35-hour curfew imposed on the Ukrainian capital did nothing to stop the strikes against its residents.

They were woken early once again with more missile strikes tearing into the city.

This has gone on for days now. CCTV captured the impact of one substantial strike and another less than a minute later against two targets in Kyiv.

One took the top floors off a high-rise apartment block, sending its remaining residents scurrying to safety as fire swept through sections.


Putin lashes out at West, but hopes over peace talks grow – live updates

Residential building damaged by Russian shelling

Russia continues to deny it’s targeting civilians but the evidence on the streets of Ukraine and its capital city, suggests otherwise.

There may be hints of a breakthrough in the peace negotiations but it’s not being translated into anything other than sheer terror on the ground.

More on Russia

The Chief of Staff in the President’s Office, Andrey Yermak told Sky News there are certain red lines the Ukrainians are not prepared to cross and seemed to suggest relinquishing territory like Donbass was one of them – something not up for negotiation.

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The Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the so-called Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics in eastern Ukraine as independent just before he began his military offensive.

“We don’t discuss our freedom, our independence, our territorial integrity, our sovereignty,” Mr Yermak told us.

“All other issues, we can sit and discuss… and my president is ready to sit any day, any places… in any place.

“But you’re not prepared to give up any territory,” I asked him.

“No,” came the reply.

That may prove the toughest sticking point for both parties, especially as the Ukrainian President, his staff and the people have faced three weeks of terrifying military attacks which have killed women, children, and elderly people as well as the country’s soldiers.

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Vitali Klitschko on Kyiv spirit

As the city’s Mayor Vitali Klitschko so succinctly put it: “We did not invade anyone but our women, children and men are being killed.”

There’s growing anger and resentment at the idea that the aggressor may somehow be “rewarded”‘ with territory in return for his deadly attacks.

The mayor believes events have reached a dangerous and difficult point – and he said the curfew was imposed because they’re concerned about increased Russian activity in the capital over the next few days.

The Ukrainians are also using the time to try to track down Russian saboteurs who they fear may have infiltrated the capital and are acting as guides, leaving markers or tags to pinpoint areas for attack.

In other developments:

President Zelenskyy tells US Congress to ‘remember’ Pearl Harbor and 9/11 attacks
Parts of possible peace deal with Russia close to being agreed, as Putin ‘ready’ for talks
Russian journalist who staged on-air protest fears for her safety, but won’t flee country
No guarantee Abramovich allowed back and UK to impose more sanctions, Liz Truss warns

Before the curfew, we filmed the arrest of men suspected of being saboteurs. The soldiers appeared to have picked two men up from Irpin, the town on the fringes of Kyiv which has been heavily fought over for about two weeks now.

The soldiers returned with their suspects on the bombed out bridge which was once the main route linking Irpin to Kyiv. At least one of the men was protesting loudly at the arrest but both clasped their hands behind their heads as they were chaperoned under guard, surrounded by several soldiers.

The Ukrainians have so far slowed the advance of the Russian troops but they continue to inch closer into the capital with military manoeuvres which suggest they intend to circle it.

Among those who face being trapped inside Kyiv are scores of surrogate babies.

Nurses look after surrogate-born babies inside a special shelter owned by BioTexCom clinic in a residential basement, as Russia's invasion continues, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine March 15, 2022. Picture taken March 15, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
Nurses look after surrogate-born babies inside a special shelter

Ukraine is an international surrogate hub – one of the global centres for surrogate mothers to legally birth babies for foreigners.

But with heavy fighting around the capital, it has meant many of the babies’ parents who are from abroad have been unable to get into Kyiv to pick them up.

A much-reduced staff of “babysitters” has moved more than 20 children into a basement which has been turned into an underground shelter.

The women looking after the babies around-the-clock have moved in so there’s 24-hour care.

The babies are lined up in cots with bits of paper in each cot denoting their last bottle feed.

Nurses look after surrogate-born babies inside a special shelter owned by BioTexCom clinic in a residential basement, as Russia's invasion continues, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine March 15, 2022. Picture taken March 15, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
‘We couldn’t leave them,’ one babysitter says

The underground nursery is a hubbub of crying and gurgles and constant activity as the ‘babysitters’ work non-stop feeding, cleaning, burping and changing nappies. They are all that stands between the babies and the bombs above.

“You have to understand, this is war,” one of the babysitters says. “Not everyone is able to come…the airports are all closed so their parents just can’t pick them up.”

The babysitters are a mixture of nurses as well as cleaning and cooking staff who have stepped in to help. Many of the centre’s staff left with their own families to safety elsewhere.

Read more: Newborn’s body in Mariupol hospital lies on floor of makeshift morgue

“We couldn’t leave them,” says another babysitter. “We have to look after them. We love them like our own family.”

In the still of the curfew quiet, in between the small arms fire and distant artillery shellings, outside our accommodation right in the heart of the capital, a soldier plays his flute to listening colleagues who are filming him.

It’s the national anthem which incorporates the lines: “We will not allow others to rule in our Motherland.”

He could have been speaking for so many of his countrymen and women.

Additional reporting by Jake Britton, Chris Cunningham, Jake Jacobs and Oleksandre Piskun.


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