Russia hits Ukraine’s second city and convoy approaches Kyiv – Press Enterprise


Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) – Russian attacks on Tuesday hit the central square in Ukraine’s second largest city and other civilian targets, and a 40-mile convoy of tanks and other vehicles threatened the capital. Ukraine’s embattled president accused Moscow of resorting to terror tactics to fuel Europe’s biggest ground war in generations.

With the Kremlin increasingly isolated from harsh economic sanctions that have weakened the ruble currency, Russian troops advanced on Ukraine’s two largest cities on the sixth day of an invasion that has shattered the 21st-century world order. In Kharkiv, a strategic eastern city of about 1.5 million people, explosions ripped through the region’s Soviet-era administration building and residential areas. A maternity ward was moved to an underground emergency shelter.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the targeted attack on Kharkiv’s main square “open, undisguised terror”, blamed a Russian missile and called it a war crime. “No one will forgive. Nobody will forget. … This is state terrorism by the Russian Federation.”

In an emotional appeal to the European Parliament, Zelenskyj later said: “We are fighting to be equal members of Europe. I believe that today we are showing everyone what we are… We have proved that we are at least as much as you.”

In addition to the strikes in cities, reports have surfaced that Moscow has used cluster bombs on three populated areas. If confirmed, it would represent a worrying new level of brutality in war – and could lead to even further isolation in Russia.

With Western powers sending arms to Ukraine and putting pressure on Russia’s economy worldwide, President Vladimir Putin’s options have narrowed as he seeks to redraw the global map — putting Ukraine’s Western-leaning democracy back into orbit to pull Moscow’s.

The Kremlin on Tuesday denied using such ammunition and again insisted its forces had hit only military targets – despite evidence documented by AP reporters of shelling of homes, schools and hospitals.

Unbowed by Western condemnation, Russian officials stepped up their escalation threats days after raising the specter of a nuclear attack. Russia’s defense minister on Tuesday vowed to press ahead with the offensive until it meets its goals, while a senior Kremlin official warned that the West’s “economic war” against Russia could become a “real one.”

A first round of talks between Ukraine and Russia on Monday brought no end to the fighting, although both sides agreed to meet again in the coming days.

Across the country, many Ukrainian civilians spent another night huddled in makeshift shelters, basements or corridors. More than half a million people have fled the country and the UN human rights office said on Tuesday it had registered the deaths of 136 civilians, including 13 children. The actual toll is likely to be much higher.

“It’s a nightmare, and it’s really gripping from the inside. It can’t be explained in words,” said Ekaterina Babenko from Kharkiv, who took refuge in a neighbor’s basement for the fifth straight day. “We have young children, elderly people and to be honest it’s very scary.”

A Ukrainian military official said Belarusian troops joined the war in the Chernihiv region on Tuesday, without giving details. But shortly before that, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said his country had no plans to join the fight.

The precision bombing of Kharkiv’s Freedom Square – Ukraine’s largest square and the heart of the city’s public life – was a turning point for many Ukrainians, brazen proof that the Russian invasion was not just about hitting military targets, but also about breaking their spirit.

The strike blew or shattered windows and walls of buildings surrounding the massive central plaza, which was piled high with debris and dust. Chunks of plaster were strewn about in one building and doors blown off their hinges lay across the hallways.

“People are lying under the rubble, we pulled out bodies,” said Yevhen Vasylenko, representative of the Ministry of Emergency Situations in the Kharkiv region. He said at least six were killed and 20 injured in the strike.

The head of the regional administration, Oleh Sinehubov, said that at least 11 people were killed and many others injured when the city was shelled the previous day. According to the authorities, more people were injured on Tuesday.

Explosion after explosion erupted through a residential area of ​​Kharkiv, video confirmed by the AP. In the background a man asked a woman to leave and a woman was crying.

Determined to live on despite the attacks, hospital workers moved a maternity ward in Kharkiv to an air raid shelter. Between makeshift electrical outlets and mattresses piled against the walls, pregnant women strode through the crowded space, accompanied by the screams of dozens of newborns.

Russia’s objectives in attacking central Kharkiv were not immediately clear. Western officials speculated that they are attempting to use Ukrainian forces to defend the city while a larger Russian force encircles Kyiv. They believe that Putin’s ultimate goal is to overthrow the Ukrainian government and install a friendly one.

Zelenskyy said Russia was using the strikes to put pressure on its government. He gave no details on the talks between Ukrainian and Russian envoys, but said on Monday evening that Kyiv was not ready to make concessions “if one side hits the other with rocket artillery”.

Meanwhile, Russian troops were advancing towards Kyiv, a city of nearly 3 million people. The convoy of armored vehicles, tanks, artillery and support vehicles was 25 kilometers (17 miles) from the center of the city and stretched about 65 kilometers (40 miles), according to satellite imagery provided by Maxar Technologies.

In a worrying development, Human Rights Watch said it had documented a cluster bomb attack outside a hospital in eastern Ukraine in recent days. Local residents have also reported the use of the munitions in Kharkiv and the village of Kiyanka near the northern city of Chernihiv, although there was no independent confirmation.

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has announced that it will initiate investigations in Ukraine and monitor the conflict.

Flames shot into the air from a military base northeast of Kyiv in the Brovary suburb, recorded by a passing car. In another video verified by AP, a passenger begs the driver, “Misha, we have to drive fast or they’ll hit you again.”

And Ukrainian authorities on Sunday released details and photos of an attack on a military base in Okhtyrka, a town between Kharkiv and Kyiv, and said more than 70 Ukrainian soldiers were killed along with some local residents. The attack could not be immediately confirmed.

Russian military movements were stalled by fierce resistance on the ground and a surprising inability to command Ukraine’s airspace.

Ukrainians used ingenuity to try to stop the Russian advance: on a highway between Odessa and Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine, local residents piled sand-filled tractor tires and covered with sandbags to block Russian military convoys. Sandbags were piled in front of the doors and windows of the city hall in Kyiv.

Faced with this Ukrainian resistance and crippling Western sanctions, Putin has placed Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert – including ICBMs and long-range bombers – as a stark warning to the West and a sign of his willingness to escalate tensions to a frightening new level. However, a senior US defense official said on condition of anonymity that the United States had not yet detected any significant change in Russia’s nuclear stance.

Western nations have increased arms supplies to Ukraine to help its armed forces defend it – but have so far ruled out sending troops.

As sweeping Western sanctions took hold on Russian banks and other institutions, the ruble plummeted and Russia’s central bank struggled to prop it up, as did Putin by signing a decree restricting foreign exchange transactions.

But that did little to calm Russian fears. In Moscow, people queued to withdraw cash as sanctions threatened to skyrocket prices and lower the living standards of millions of ordinary people.

The economic sanctions ordered by the US and other allies only added to Russia’s growing status as a pariah country.

Russian planes are banned from European airspace, Russian media is restricted in some countries, and some high-tech products can no longer be exported to the country. International sports federations have tried to ban Russian athletes — in the latest blow on Tuesday, Russians were banned from international skating events.


Isachenkov and Litvinova reported from Moscow. Robert Burns and Eric Tucker in Washington; Francesca Ebel, Josef Federman and Andrew Drake in Kyiv; Lorne Cook in Brussels; and other AP journalists from around the world contributed to this report.


Follow AP’s coverage of the Ukraine crisis at


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