Russian forces escalate attacks on civilian areas of Ukraine – Press Enterprise


Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) – Russian forces on Tuesday escalated their attacks on crowded urban areas, bombing the central square in Ukraine’s second-largest city and Kyiv’s main television tower in what the country’s president called a flagrant campaign of terror.

“No one will forgive. No one will forget it,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed after the bloodshed in Kharkiv Square.

Ukrainian authorities said five people were killed in the attack on the TV tower, which is a few kilometers from central Kyiv and a short walk from numerous apartment buildings. A television control room and a substation were hit, and at least some Ukrainian channels briefly halted broadcasts, officials said.

Zelenskyy’s office also reported a powerful rocket attack on the site of the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial near the tower. A spokesman for the memorial said a Jewish cemetery at the site where Nazi occupiers killed more than 33,000 Jews over two days in 1941 had been damaged, but the extent would not become clear until daylight.

At the same time, a 40-mile convoy of hundreds of Russian tanks and other vehicles was slowly advancing on Kyiv, the capital of nearly 3 million people, in what the West feared was a bid by Russian President Vladimir Putin to overthrow the government and a pro-Kremlin regime to use.

The invading forces also continued their attack on other towns and cities, including the strategic ports of Odessa and Mariupol to the south.

Day 6 of Europe’s biggest ground war since World War II found Russia increasingly isolated, beset by harsh sanctions that roiled its economy and left the country virtually friendless save for a few nations like China, Belarus and North Korea.

The total death toll from the fighting remained unclear, but a senior Western intelligence official estimated that more than 5,000 Russian soldiers had been captured or killed. Ukraine did not provide an overall estimate of troop losses.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said it had seen an increase in Russian air and artillery strikes on populated urban areas over the past two days. It also said three cities – Kharkiv, Kherson and Mariupol – had been encircled by Russian forces.

Many military experts worry that Russia may change tactics. Moscow’s strategy in Chechnya and Syria was to use artillery and airstrikes to pulverize cities and break the fighters’ resolve.

The TV tower bombing came after Russia announced it would attack transmitters in the capital used by Ukraine’s secret service. It urged people living near such places to leave their homes.

In Kharkiv, with a population of about 1.5 million, at least six people were killed when the region’s Soviet-era administrative building on Freedom Square was hit by what was believed to be a rocket.

The attack on Freedom Square – Ukraine’s largest square and the heart of the city’s public life – was seen by many Ukrainians as brazen proof that the Russian invasion was not just about hitting military targets, but also about destroying theirs breaking spirit.

The bombardment blew out windows and walls of buildings surrounding the massive 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.

“The people are among the ruins. We pulled out bodies,” said Yevhen Vasylenko, an emergency officer.

Zelenskyy described the attack on the square as “open, undisguised terror” and a war crime. “This is state terrorism by the Russian Federation,” he said.

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.”

He said 16 children were killed in Ukraine on Monday and he ridiculed Russia’s claim that it was only pursuing military objectives.

“Where are the kids? What military factories are they working at? What tanks are they targeting?” Zelenskyy said.

Human Rights Watch said it had documented a cluster bomb attack outside a hospital in eastern Ukraine in recent days. Local residents also reported the use of such weapons in Kharkiv and the village of Kiyanka, the Kremlin denied the use of cluster bombs.

If the allegations are confirmed, it would mean a new level of brutality in the war and could lead to even further isolation of Russia.

The first talks between Russia and Ukraine since the invasion took place on Monday, but ended only with an agreement to speak again. On Tuesday, however, Zelenskyy said Russia should stop bombing first.

“In terms of dialogue, I think so, but stop bombing people first and then start negotiating,” he told CNN.

Moscow again threatened escalation days after raising the specter of nuclear war. A senior Kremlin official has warned that the West’s “economic war” against Russia could become a “real one”.

In Russia, a top-ranking radio station critical of the Kremlin was taken down after authorities threatened to shut it down over its coverage of the invasion. Among other things, the Kremlin does not allow the fighting to be labeled “invasion” or “war.”

Around 660,000 people have fled the country, and countless others have sought refuge underground. Bomb damage has left hundreds of thousands of families without drinking water, said UN Humanitarian Assistance Coordinator Martin Griffiths.

“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 honestly it’s very scary.”

The UN human rights office said it had registered 136 civilian deaths. The actual toll is believed to be far higher.

A Ukrainian military official said Belarusian troops joined the war in the north’s 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.

In Kharkiv, explosions erupted one after another through a residential area in video verified by The Associated Press. Hospital workers moved a maternity ward to an air raid shelter. Amid mattresses piled against the walls, pregnant women paced the crowded space while dozens of newborns cried.

As for the Russian advance on the capital, the leading edge of the convoy was 17 miles (25 kilometers) from the center of the city, according to satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies.

A senior US defense official described the long convoy as “stalled” and said Russia appeared to be halting and regrouping to assess how it could regain momentum in the fighting.

Overall, the Russian military has been stalled by fierce resistance on the ground and a surprising inability to fully command Ukraine’s airspace.

The huge convoy of vehicles crammed along narrow roads would appear to be “a big fat target” for Ukrainian forces, the senior Western intelligence official said on condition of anonymity.

“But it also shows you that the Russians are quite comfortable being out in the open in these concentrations because they feel they are not going to come under air strikes or rocket or rocket attacks,” the official said.

The Ukrainians did everything they could to stop the Russian advance. On a highway between Odessa and Mykolayiv in southern Ukraine, local residents stacked tractor tires filled with sand and covered with sandbags to block convoys.


Isachenkov and Litvinova reported from Moscow. Mstyslav Chernov in Mariupol, Ukraine; Sergei Grits in Odessa, Ukraine; 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.


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