Huge armored column approaches Kiev as ‘barbaric’ missile strikes continue | Ukraine

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A huge armored column rolls towards Kiev, raising fears that Russia may pulverize civilian areas in its bid to seize the Ukrainian capital after missiles killed at least 18 civilians in the country’s second city and five others died in a strike against the Kiev TV tower.

Russia’s Defense Ministry on Tuesday urged Kyiv residents and those “involved by nationalists in provocations against Russia” to leave the city ahead of what it called “high-precision strikes” which it said would would aim at targets of the security services, even as officials in Moscow. said further ceasefire talks would take place on Wednesday.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of “murdering innocent civilians” as he tweeted video of a huge explosion in Freedom Square in Kharkiv, calling it a “barbaric missile strike” resulting from Putin’s failure to “break Ukraine”.

Officials said the Freedom Square strike on a regional government building killed 10 civilians and Ukrainian emergency services said a subsequent missile strike on a residential building in Kharkiv killed another eight people .

Missile hits central building in Kharkiv as Russian attacks continue – video
Missile hits central building in Kharkiv as Russian attacks continue – video

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said repeated Russian missile strikes on Kharkiv constitute state terrorism and a war crime. “No one will forgive. No one will forget,” he said, calling the strikes “frank and undisguised terror”.

The Kyiv TV tower attack, which left five dead and five injured, was close to the memorial site which commemorates the victims of Babyn Yar, the ravine where Nazi soldiers massacred up to 150,000 people during the second World War – including more than 30,000 Jews. Zelensky tweeted“What’s the point of saying ‘never again’ for 80 years, if the world remains silent when a bomb falls on the same site of Babyn Yar? At least five killed. The story repeats itself…”

The Israeli World Holocaust Remembrance Center Yad Vashem expressed its “vehement condemnation” of the Russian attack. “We call on the international community to take concerted action to protect civilian lives as well as these historic sites because of their irreplaceable value for Holocaust research, education and remembrance,” he said.

Five people killed in the Russian attack on the Kiev TV tower – video
Five people killed in the Russian attack on the Kiev TV tower – video

In a very moving address to the European Parliament on Tuesday that was met with a standing ovation, Ukraine’s president said at least 16 children were killed around Ukraine on Monday and mocked Russia’s claim that it was aimed only at military targets.

“Where are these children, in what kind of military factories do they work? Which tanks are they heading towards, launching cruise missiles? He reiterated his country’s wish to join the EU, saying that Ukraine “has a desire to see our children alive – I think that’s right. We are fighting for survival. We fight to be equal members of Europe. We are just like you.

‘Everything has changed’: Ukrainian president speaks after Kharkiv missile attack – video

More than 70 Ukrainian soldiers were also killed in the eastern town of Okhtyrka, between Kharkiv and Kiev, in a Russian missile strike on a military base, local officials said, giving conflicting accounts of when the attack took place.

On the sixth day of fighting since Russia’s full invasion of Ukraine, the failure of its armed forces, amid continued fierce resistance, to capture a single major city has led Western countries to warn that the commanders could increasingly bombard civilian areas.

International sanctions and global financial isolation, which had a sudden and devastating impact on the Russian economy, with the ruble plummeting and long queues at banks, could further increase Kremlin frustration, observers said.

Soldiers dig through rubble in Okhtyrka after apparent Russian shelling – video
Soldiers dig through rubble in Okhtyrka after apparent Russian shelling – video

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that the Russian strikes “hit schools, hospitals and residential buildings”, with “reports of violations of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law in Russia which are increasing hour by hour”. ”.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence update on Tuesday that the Russian advance on Kiev had “made little progress over the past 24 hours, likely due to continuing logistical difficulties”, warning that a change apparent in Russian tactics would inevitably put Ukrainian civilians in far greater peril.

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At least 136 civilians have been killed, including 13 children, and 400 injured since the invasion began last week, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) said on Tuesday, adding that the the actual toll would almost certainly be much higher.

A resident of Okhtyrka, Igor, said the town had been attacked every day since February 24, with not only military but also civilian targets being fired at, sometimes with thermobaric rockets. “It’s awful – I feel angry and desperate,” he told the Guardian.

The key southeastern city of Mariupol, which the separatists said they wanted to encircle within 24 hours, was without power after multiple missile attacks by advancing Russian forces, while reports said the southern city of Kherson was encircled.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in Warsaw with his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki that it was clear Putin was “ready to use barbaric and indiscriminate tactics”, later describing the Kharkiv attack as “absolutely sickening” and reminiscent of massacres. of civilians in Sarajevo in the 1990s.

Boris Johnson stresses need to prepare for millions of Ukrainian refugees – video
Boris Johnson stresses need to prepare for millions of Ukrainian refugees – video

The major eastern city had already come under heavy fire on Monday, with at least nine people – including three children – killed and 37 injured by missile strikes on civilian areas. “It’s not just a war, it’s a massacre of the Ukrainian people,” Mayor Ihor Terekhov said.

Human rights groups and Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States have accused Russia of using cluster bombs and vacuum bombs, weapons that are normally banned in civilian areas. The United States said it had no confirmation of their use.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said allegations of Russian strikes on civilian targets and the use of cluster and vacuum bombs were false, adding that it was “out of the question ‘that sanctions’ would force us to change our position” on the invasion, which Russia calls a “special operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine.

Unarmed Ukrainians try to repel Russian troops – video
Unarmed Ukrainians try to repel Russian troops – video

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on Russia to end the war, calling it “totally unacceptable”, but added that “as a defensive alliance” the organization would not send no troops or fighter planes to avoid becoming part of the conflict.

Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have abandoned their homes to escape the Russian advance and more than 660,000 have fled the country, according to the UN refugee agency, with thousands waiting to cross Europe’s borders.

Ukraine’s General Staff said on Tuesday that Russian losses since the attack included 5,710 men, 29 destroyed and damaged aircraft and 198 tanks. The figures could not be verified.

The escalation of shelling and missile strikes in Ukrainian urban areas came as a Russian military column gathering north of Kiev was estimated to be 40 miles (64 km) long, more than double the size it three days ago.

A Russian military convoy north of Ivankiv on February 28. Photography: Maxar Tech/AFP/Getty Images

Satellite photos also showed deployments of ground forces and ground-attack helicopter units in southern Belarus, although the country’s pro-Russian president, Alexander Lukashenko, said on Tuesday he would not had no intention of joining the invasion.

Ground forces, field deployments and convoy in Khilchikha, Belarus on February 28.
Ground forces, field deployments and convoy in Khilchikha, Belarus on February 28. Photography: Maxar Tech/AFP/Getty Images

As an unprecedented array of international sanctions began to weigh in, including crippling measures against Russia’s central bank preventing it from using its $630 billion in foreign exchange reserves to prop up the rouble, oil company Shell became the latest Western company to announce it is pulling out of Russia.

BP and Norway’s Equinor also said they were leaving the country, which depends on oil and gas for its export earnings, while several major banks, airlines and carmakers ended partnerships, halted shipments and denounced the Russian invasion.

Shipping group Maersk followed other international shipping groups on Tuesday in saying it was suspending all container shipments to and from Russia except those containing food, medical and humanitarian supplies.

In the cultural sphere, three major film studios, Sony, Disney and Warner Bros, have said they are suspending cinema releases in Russia, and YouTube is in the process of blocking Russian news channels RT and Sputnik in Europe.

Russia has also been barred from most major sporting competitions, while World Taekwondo stripped Putin himself, a fan of martial arts and his athletic prowess, of his honorary black belt because of the invasion.

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