A Russian armoured column bore down on Ukraine’s capital Kyiv on Tuesday and invasion forces fired rocket barrages into the centre of the country’s second largest city, on the sixth day of Russia’s assault on its western neighbour.
Rocket strikes on the centre of Kharkiv killed at least 10 people and wounded 35, Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko said. Similar strikes killed and wounded dozens in the city the previous day.
“The rubble is being cleared and there will be even more victims and wounded,” he said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the artillery barrages on Kharkiv amounted to state terrorism.
Nearly a week since Russian troops poured over the border, they have failed to capture a single major Ukrainian city after running into fierce resistance. The civilian deaths of the last 48 hours were an ominous sign that frustrated Russian commanders could be resorting to more devastating tactics.
Russia still has more forces to throw into the fight even though President Vladimir Putin faces worldwide condemnation and international sanctions for his actions, which have shattered the post-Cold War peace in Europe.
Oil company Shell became the latest Western firm to announce it was pulling out of Russia. The sanctions and global financial isolation have already had a devastating impact on Russia’s economy, with the rouble in freefall and queues outside banks as Russians rush to salvage their savings.
Zelenskiy’s government remained in control of Kyiv on Tuesday, with soldiers and civilians ready to fight the invaders street by street.
But pictures released by U.S. satellite company Maxar showed Russian tanks, artillery and fuel trucks stretching for 40 miles (60 km) along a highway to the north.
“For the enemy, Kyiv is the key target,” Zelenskiy, who has remained in the capital rallying Ukrainians, said in a message overnight. “We will neutralise them all.”
Russian troops fired artillery at Kyiv, Kharkiv and the southern port city of Mariupol overnight while the Ukrainian side shot down Russian military planes around the capital, presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said in a briefing.
Ukrainian authorities also reported 70 soldiers killed in a rocket attack in a town between Kyiv and Kharkiv.
Zelenskiy, addressing the European Parliament by video link a day after he signed an official request to join the European Union, urged the bloc to prove that it sided with Ukraine.
“Do prove that you will not let us go. Do prove that you are indeed Europeans and then life will win over death and light will win over darkness. Glory be to Ukraine,” he said in an emotional speech.
RISK TO CIVILIANS
In Moscow, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said the Kremlin would press its military operation in Ukraine until it achieves its goals. It aimed to protect itself from threats created by the West, and Russia was not occupying Ukraine’s territory, the Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.
Britain’s defence ministry said in an intelligence update that the Russian advance on Kyiv had made little progress in the past 24 hours, probably due to logistical problems. But it also warned of a shift in Russian tactics that could worsen the plight of civilians.
“The use of heavy artillery in densely populated urban areas greatly increases the risk of civilian casualties,” it said.
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