Philadelphia man fears for wife, son stuck in war-torn Ukraine

The humanitarian crisis in Ukraine deepened Monday as Russian forces intensified their shelling and food, water, heat and medicine grew increasingly scarce, in what the country condemned as a medieval-style siege by Moscow to batter it into submission.

A third round of talks between the two sides ended with a top Ukrainian official saying there had been minor, unspecified progress toward establishing safe corridors that would allow civilians to escape the fighting. Russia’s chief negotiator said he expects those corridors to start operating Tuesday.

Meanwhile, many families with loved ones trapped in Ukraine are praying for their safety as intense battles continue. A Philadelphia man spoke with FOX 29 about his wife and son who are trapped in Odesa, an important seaport on Ukraine's southern coast. 

"Given Odesas's size and its importance on the Black Sea as a major trading seaport, it will probably be a furious battle," the Philadelphia man identified as Joe told FOX 29's Joann Pileggi. 

Joe fled their native Liberia in 1996 and moved to Ukraine where he lived and worked as a professor. He left his Ukrainian wife and adult son behind and came to Philadelphia in 2015 seeking political asylum.

"If I had gotten my green card my family wouldn't be over there, I would have gotten them here before Putin could strike," Joe said.

Joe manages to keep in constant contact with his with who said they have no way of escaping the near-constant shelling from Putin's army. 

The U.N. human rights office reported 406 confirmed civilian deaths but said the real number is much higher. The invasion has also sent 1.7 million people fleeing Ukraine.

On Monday, Moscow again announced a series of demands to stop the invasion, including that Ukraine recognize Crimea as part of Russia and recognize the eastern regions controlled by Moscow-supported separatist fighters as independent. It also insisted that Ukraine change its constitution to guarantee it won’t join international bodies like NATO and the EU. Ukraine has already rejected those demands.

The Associated Press contributed to this report




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