RUSSIA INVADES UKRAINE

Russia pummels Ukraine’s No. 2 city and convoy nears Kyiv

Mar 1, 2022, 5:25 AM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 3:39 pm
Residents leave the house in 6A Lobanovsky Avenue which was hit with a missile on February 26, 2022...
Residents leave the house in 6A Lobanovsky Avenue which was hit with a missile on February 26, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. A residential building is damaged from a missile strike in the morning in Kyiv, as Russiaâs military intervention in Ukraine continues on February 26, 2022. (Photo by Anastasia Vlasova/Getty Images)
(Photo by Anastasia Vlasova/Getty Images)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian shelling pounded the central square in Ukraine’s second-largest city and other civilian targets Tuesday and a 40-mile convoy of tanks and other vehicles threatened the capital — as Ukraine’s embattled president accused Moscow of resorting to terror tactics to press Europe’s largest ground war in generations.

With the Kremlin increasingly isolated by tough economic sanctions that have tanked the ruble currency, Russian troops advanced on Ukraine’s two biggest cities. In strategic Kharkiv, an eastern city with a population of about 1.5 million, videos posted online showed explosions hitting the region’s Soviet-era administrative building and residential areas. A maternity ward relocated to a shelter amid shelling.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the attack on Kharkiv’s main square “frank, undisguised terror,” blaming a Russian missile and calling it a war crime. “Nobody will forgive. Nobody will forget. … This is state terrorism of the Russian Federation.”

As the fighting reached beyond military targets on Day 6 of a Russian invasion that has shaken the 21st century world order, reports emerged that Moscow has used cluster bombs on three populated areas. If confirmed, that would mean the war has reached a worrying new level.

The Kremlin denied Tuesday that it has used such munitions and insisted again that its forces only have struck military targets — despite evidence documented by AP reporters of shelling of homes, schools and hospitals.

The Russian defense minister vowed Tuesday to press the offensive until it achieves its goals, after a first round of talks between Ukraine and Russia yielded no stop in the fighting. Both sides agreed to another meeting in coming days.

Throughout the country, many Ukrainian civilians spent another night huddled in shelters, basements or corridors. More than a half-million people have fled the country, and the U.N. human rights office said Tuesday that it has recorded the deaths of 136 civilians, including 13 children. The real toll is likely far higher.

“It is a nightmare, and it seizes you from the inside very strongly. This cannot be explained with words,” said Kharkiv resident Ekaterina Babenko, taking shelter in a basement with neighbors for a fifth straight day. “We have small children, elderly people and frankly speaking it is very frightening.”

A Ukrainian military official said Belarusian troops joined the war Tuesday in the Chernihiv region, without providing details. But Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said he had no plans to join the fight.

With Western powers sending weapons to Ukraine and driving a global squeeze of Russia’s economy, President Vladimir Putin’s options diminished as he seeks to redraw the global map — and pull Ukraine’s western-leaning democracy back into Moscow’s orbit.

“We are fighting also to be equal members of Europe,” Zelenskyy said in an address to the European parliament. “I believe that today we are showing everybody that is what we are. … We have proven that, as a minimum, we are the same as you.”

On Monday, he said Kyiv was not prepared to make concessions “when one side is hitting another with rocket artillery.”

As the talks along the Belarusian border wrapped up, several blasts could be heard in the capital, and Russian troops advanced on the city of nearly 3 million. 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 from Maxar Technologies.

“They want to break our nationhood, that’s why the capital is constantly under threat,” Zelenskyy said, saying that it was hit by three missile strikes on Monday and that hundreds of saboteurs were roaming the city.

Kharkiv, near the Russian border, is another key target. One after the other, explosions burst through a residential area of the city in one video verified by AP. In the background, a man pleaded with a woman to leave, and a woman cried.

Determined for life to go on despite the shelling, hospital workers transferred a Kharkiv maternity ward to a bomb shelter. Amid makeshift electrical sockets and mattresses piled up against the walls, pregnant women paced the crowded space, accompanied by the cries of dozens of newborns.

On the city’s main square, the administration headquarters came under Russian shelling, regional administration chief Oleh Sinehubov said. Images posted online showed the building’s facade and interior badly damaged by a powerful explosion that also blew up part of its roof. The state emergencies agency said that attack wounded six people, including a child.

Sinehubov said that at least 11 people were killed and scores of others were wounded during Monday’s shelling of the city.

Russia’s goals in hitting central Kharkiv were not immediately clear. Western officials speculated that it is trying to pull in Ukrainian forces to defend Kharkiv while a larger Russian force encircles Kyiv. They believe Putin’s overall goal is to overthrow the Ukrainian government and install a friendly one.

In a worrying development, Human Rights Watch has said it documented a cluster bomb attack outside a hospital in Ukraine’s east 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, though there was no independent confirmation.

The International Criminal Court chief prosecutor has said he plans to open a Ukraine investigation and is monitoring the conflict.

Meanwhile, flames shot up from a military base northeast of Kyiv, in the suburb of Brovary, in footage shot from a car driving past. In another video verified by AP, a passenger pleads with the driver, “Misha, we need to drive quickly as they’ll strike again.”

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

The Russian military’s movements have been stalled by fierce resistance on the ground and a surprising inability to dominate Ukraine’s airspace.

In the face of that Ukrainian resistance and crippling Western sanctions, Putin has put Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert — including intercontinental ballistic missiles and long-range bombers — in a stark warning to the West and a signal of his readiness to escalate the tensions to a terrifying new level. But a senior U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States had yet to see any appreciable change in Russia’s nuclear posture.

Western nations have increased weapons shipments to Ukraine to help its forces defend themselves — but have so far ruled out sending in troops.

Messages aimed at the advancing Russian soldiers popped up on billboards, bus stops and electronic traffic signs across the capital. Some used profanity to encourage Russians to leave. Others appealed to their humanity.

“Russian soldier — Stop! Remember your family. Go home with a clean conscience,” one read.

Fighting raged in other towns and cities. The strategic port city of Mariupol, on the Sea of Azov, is “hanging on,” said Zelenskyy adviser Oleksiy Arestovich. An oil depot was reported bombed in the eastern city of Sumy.

In the seaside resort town of Berdyansk, dozens of protesters chanted angrily in the main square against Russian occupiers, yelling at them to go home and singing the Ukrainian national anthem. They described the soldiers as exhausted young conscripts.

“Frightened kids, frightened looks. They want to eat,” Konstantin Maloletka, who runs a small shop, said by telephone. He said the soldiers went into a supermarket and grabbed canned meat, vodka and cigarettes.

“They ate right in the store,” he said. “It looked like they haven’t been fed in recent days.”

As far-reaching Western sanctions on Russian banks and other institutions took hold, the ruble plummeted, and Russia’s Central Bank scrambled to shore it up, as did Putin, signing a decree restricting foreign currency.

But that did little to calm Russian fears. In Moscow, people lined up to withdraw cash as the sanctions threatened to drive up prices and reduce the standard of living for millions of ordinary Russians.

The economic sanctions, ordered by the U.S. and other allies, were just one contributor to Russia’s growing status as a pariah country.

Russian airliners 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 bodies moved to exclude Russian athletes — in the latest blow Tuesday, Russians were barred from international ice 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 the AP’s coverage of the Ukraine crisis at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Russia invades Ukraine

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - OCTOBER 13: Defence ministers and delegates are seen at the start of the North ...
STEPHEN McGRATH, LORNE COOK and ELLEN KNICKMEYER, Associated Press

NATO renews membership vow to Ukraine, pledges arms and aid

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says war-torn Ukraine will one day become a member of the world’s largest security alliance
4 days ago
US russia arms control...
MATTHEW LEE AP Diplomatic Writer

US says Russia abruptly postpones arms control talks

The Biden administration said Monday that Russia has abruptly and without explanation postponed the scheduled resumption of arms control talks this week.
5 days ago
KHERSON, UKRAINE - NOVEMBER 24: A man looks at smoke rising from a Russian strike in the Kherson sh...
SAM MEDNICK and JAMEY KEATEN, Associated Press

Civilians escape Kherson after Russian strikes on freed city

Fleeing shelling, civilians have streamed out of the southern Ukrainian city whose recapture they had celebrated just weeks earlier.
6 days ago
Russia President Vladimir Putin (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota - Pool/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

Putin decries media ‘lies’ at meeting with soldiers’ mothers

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday hit out at what he said were skewed media portrayals of Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine as he met with mothers of Russian soldiers fighting there.
7 days ago
Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg speaks with personnel after observing Ukrainian troops b...
LORNE COOK, Associated Press

NATO vows to aid Ukraine ‘for as long as it takes

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the military organization stands ready to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia “for as long as it takes.”
8 days ago
CONSTANTA, ROMANIA - JUNE 21: An oil platform is seen in the Black Sean from on board of Romanian N...
DAVID McHUGH, AP Business Writer

EXPLAINER: What’s the effect of Russian oil price cap, ban?

The deadline is looming for Western allies to agree on a price cap on Russia oil
9 days ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Russia pummels Ukraine’s No. 2 city and convoy nears Kyiv