The Russian military threatened to carry out strikes with “high-precision weapons” on the facilities of Ukraine’s State Security Agency and the country’s psychological operations unit in the capital Kiev, as it was stepping up its assaults in key regions of Ukraine on Tuesday.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said the strikes would be “to quell information attacks against Russia”, according to a statement reported by Russian state media TASS, adding that Kyiv residents near the sites should leave. Their houses.
The threat comes as Russian forces attack Ukraine from multiple sides, sending a massive convoy of armored vehicles towards Kiev in the center of the country, while stepping up its bombardment of Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, in the North-east.
Russian forces also broke through a heavily contested port city in the south.
Here’s what you need to know
- Russia shifts to aggressive bombing campaign, hitting more and more civilians
- Freedom Square in Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, is hit by rockets, killing more than 10 people
- The defensive line of the southern city of Kherson has fallen and Russian troops are driving
- Russian-backed separatists plan to encircle the port city of Mariupol
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pleads for Ukraine’s immediate EU membership
Russia’s military is much larger and more powerful than Ukraine’s in almost every way, but Ukraine’s allies, including the European Union, are scrambling to send more weapons into the country to help in his defence.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday made an impassioned plea to European leaders to grant Ukraine immediate EU membership, saying his country was struggling for survival.
“We have proven our strength. We have proven that at the very least we are exactly like you,” he told the European Parliament via video conference. “So prove that you are with us. Prove that you won’t let us go. Prove that you are, indeed, Europeans.”
Zelensky’s call comes as Russia steps up strikes against Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv. Over the past two days, Russian attacks have hit civilians, suggesting a move towards a much less restrained bombing campaign. Early Russian attacks were more focused on military targets.
The UN says at least 102 civilians have been killed across the country and 304 injured, although these figures likely underestimate the true toll.
After a meeting on Capitol Hill on Monday, in which Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States called for more weapons, top Republican Senator Jim Risch said Ukraine was in trouble.
“It’s David versus Goliath,” he said.
US officials – who were previously taken aback by fierce Ukrainian resistance that saw ordinary citizens take up arms – now fear the situation will become “much more difficult” for Ukrainians.
US officials said at the briefing on Monday that Russia would likely besiege Kiev, resulting in nasty scenes of urban warfare, one of the people familiar with the matter said.
Kharkiv residents sleep dressed, ready to run
On Tuesday, Kharkiv was rocked by a large explosion, which incinerated cars, blew out windows and destroyed a large government building in the main Freedom Square.
Emergency services say at least 10 people were killed and 24 injured in a Russian rocket strike, in what Zelensky described as an “act of terror” against civilians in a Facebook post.
Late Monday, at least five separate residential areas of Kharkiv were hit by rockets, according to a CNN analysis of social media videos.
During a trip to Poland on Tuesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the Russian invasion “worse than we expected”, pointing to attacks like those seen in Kharkiv neighborhoods.
“It is clear that Vladimir Putin is ready to use barbaric and indiscriminate tactics against innocent civilians to bomb towers, send missiles into towers, kill children, as we see in increasing numbers,” he said. declared.
A Kharkiv resident named Tetyana, 66, told CNN a shell hit her home early Tuesday morning, smashing her windows.
Tetyana – who has been sleeping in her shoes and coat since the invasion began – ran to her basement where her relative Oleg told her that her car had burned down and “the school in the yard was totally destroyed”.
A day earlier, CNN had confirmed that five residential areas in the city were hit by military strikes on Monday using videos shared on social media.
Dramatic video, taken by a surveillance camera in an apartment complex on Velyka Kil’tseva Street, shows repeated explosions from a strike that landed in a parking lot and a walkway.
The intense bombardment – at least eight explosions are seen but more are heard – lasts 20 seconds. As munitions rain down, people are seen running as explosions dot the ground: one individual falls to the ground as explosions surround them. A parked car explodes after receiving a direct hit.
In Klochkivska Street, graphic videos show blood and body parts outside a small grocery store.
“This is awful, guys,” a voice says in the video. “Right in my part of town. The boots and the leg have been removed, here are parts of the brain.
Go around Kyiv
Two government facilities in Kyiv – a city seen as Russia’s main target – will be hit by airstrikes on Tuesday, the Russian Defense Ministry said according to Russian state news agency TASS.
The Russian military asked nearby residents to leave their homes, in the statement.
It comes as a huge 40-mile-long Russian military convoy – made up of armored vehicles, tanks, towed artillery and other logistical vehicles – reached the outskirts of Kiev, according to satellite images from Maxar Technologies.
Maxar said he saw plumes of smoke rising from a number of houses and buildings near the roads where the convoy is moving, although the cause is unclear.
On Tuesday, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko warned that “the enemy is on the outskirts of the capital”, but the Ukrainian army “is preparing to defend Kiev”.
“Fortifications and checkpoints have been built at the entrances to the city. I ask everyone to keep calm. Do not go out unnecessarily and stay in shelters in case of an alert,” he said in a statement. video message.
U.S. officials told lawmakers in classified briefings on Monday that a second wave of Russian troops would likely shore up the country’s positions within Ukraine and could outnumber Ukrainian resistance, according to two people familiar with the briefings.
“That part was disheartening,” one lawmaker told CNN.
Russian forces enter the port city
Russian-backed forces have also made gains in the south. In the port city of Kherson, west of Mariupol and north of the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014, Ukrainian defensive lines appear to have fallen and Russian military vehicles have been seen inside the city.
The head of the self-proclaimed breakaway region of Donetsk said he expects his forces to encircle the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol on Tuesday. The town of Volnovakha, halfway between Mariupol and Donetsk, was almost completely surrounded, Denis Pushilin added.
Ukraine has accused Russia of committing war crimes by targeting civilians, and on Monday the International Criminal Court said it would open an investigation into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a move welcomed by Kiev .
In a late-night address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday’s attacks on Kharkiv were “clearly a war crime”.
“Kharkiv is a peaceful city, there are peaceful residential areas, no military facilities. Dozens of eyewitness accounts prove that this is not a single fake robbery, but a deliberate destruction of people The Russians knew where they were shooting,” he said.
“No one in the world will forgive you for killing peaceful Ukrainians.”.
The Kremlin has denied Zelensky’s war crimes charges in Ukraine, repeatedly saying he did not target civilian areas.
Looming humanitarian crisis
As fierce fighting rages across the country, many Ukrainians are fleeing the country at a rate that could turn into “Europe’s biggest refugee crisis of this century”, the UN High Commissioner said on Tuesday. for Refugees (UNHCR).
More than 660,000 refugees have fled to neighboring countries in the past six days, UNHCR said in a statement.
Many of them are women who had to make difficult decisions to leave their fathers and husbands – men between the ages of 18 and 60 are not allowed to leave Ukraine.
Foreigners are also desperately trying to leave the country, but some have found themselves waiting in the cold to get out. Some have experienced racism from border guards.
Other Ukrainians chose to stay and join the resistance. Volunteers are pouring into the capital, where there is a sense of defiance among many. Some collect bottles to make Molotov cocktails.
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CNN’s Nathan Hodge, Olya Voitoych, Jeremy Herb, Lauren Fox, Ted Barrett, Clare Foran, Kaitlan Collins, Ali Zaslav, Liam Reilly, Pooja Salhotra, Paul P. Murphy, Morgan Rimmer, Richard Roth, Nick Paton Walsh, Oleksandra Ochman, Tim Lister, Stephanie Busari, Nimi Princewill and Shama Nasinde, Arwa Damon, Clarissa Ward, Hannah Ritchie and Teele Rebane contributed to this report.