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U.S. sends aid to Ukraine, and civilians flee to Poland, as Russia widens offensive

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, HOST:

We begin this hour with the war in Ukraine.

(SOUNDBITE OF TANKS SHELLING)

ELLIOTT: That's the sound of Russian tanks shelling buildings and street fighting in the coastal city of Mariupol yesterday. Russians also targeted a military base in the west of the country overnight. At least 35 people were killed in that attack, according to local officials. This is part of a widening Russian offensive as the invasion enters its third week. The international response has mostly focused on targeted sanctions. The U.S. announced limited bans on Russian imports aimed at pressuring Russian President Vladimir Putin. On Friday, President Joe Biden said there's more to come.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOE BIDEN: And we're going to continue to squeeze Putin. The G-7 will seek to deny Russia the ability to borrow from leading multilateral institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

ELLIOTT: Last night President Biden approved an additional $200 million in security aid for Ukraine, which includes funding for anti-aircraft weapons and small arms. That brings the total amount of U.S. security assistance provided to Ukraine to more than a billion dollars. Russia has warned that it will target weapons shipments. Meanwhile, the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine continues to worsen. Millions are trapped in besieged cities, where hospitals are overwhelmed with wounded people.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Crying). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR National Correspondent Debbie Elliott can be heard telling stories from her native South. She covers the latest news and politics, and is attuned to the region's rich culture and history.

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