Efforts to evacuate more civilians from the devastated Ukrainian port city of Mariupol ran into delays on Monday and hundreds of people remained trapped in the Azovstal steel works, the last stronghold of resistance to the Russian siege.
It was not clear what was causing the hold-up of a convoy made up of civilians from the city itself.
Russian forces had on Sunday resumed shelling the steel works after an earlier convoy of buses had successfully left from that location, an aide to the mayor said.
The plight of civilians trapped in Mariupol, which endured weeks of bombardment before Russian forces captured most of it, has been a focus of humanitarian concern as the war has ground on into a third month.
Thousands are believed to have been killed and those still stuck in the besieged Azovstal complex, whose network of bunkers and tunnels has provided shelter, were running out of water, food and medicine.
“The situation has become a sign of a real humanitarian catastrophe,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.
On other fronts, towns in eastern Ukraine were coming under intense Russian bombardment, a regional governor said.
Putin warns of retaliation to any interference in Ukraine:
A Russian rocket strike hit a main bridge across the Dniester estuary just west of the port city of Odesa in southwest Ukraine, authorities said.
EU energy ministers were due to hold emergency talks in Brussels on Moscow’s demand that European buyers pay for Russian gas in roubles or face their supply being cut off.
While the EU has imposed heavy economic sanctions on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine, the issue of Russian energy supplies has posed a dilemma that threatens to crack the united front.