Russia warned Kyiv residents to flee their homes yesterday and rained rockets down on Kharkiv, as Russian commanders who have failed to achieve a quick victory shifted their tactics to intensify the bombardment of Ukrainian cities.
With an armoured column miles long bearing down on the capital, Russia’s defence ministry said it was planning to strike targets in Kyiv used by Ukraine’s security service. Residents near such sites should evacuate their homes, it warned, while giving no information about where in the city of 3 million people those targets were located.
An apparent Russian airstrike hit Kyiv’s main television tower yesterday, knocking out some state broadcasting but leaving the structure intact, Ukraine’s interior ministry said.
Earlier, rocket strikes on Kharkiv killed at least 10 people and wounded 35. Ukrainian authorities also reported 70 soldiers killed in a rocket attack in Okhtyrka, a town between Kyiv and Kharkiv.
Nearly a week since Russian troops poured over the border, they have failed to capture a single major Ukrainian city after running into far fiercer resistance than they expected.
Russia still has more forces to throw into the fight even though President Vladimir Putin faces worldwide condemnation and international sanctions.
Oil company Shell became the latest big Western firm to announce it was pulling out of Russia.
Russia’s TASS news agency reported new peace talks would be held today. Talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials held on Monday at the Belarus border failed to reach a breakthrough. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Kyiv was ready to talk but would not just follow Russian ultimatums.
Zelensky’s government remained in control of Kyiv with soldiers and civilians ready to fight invaders street by street.
Pictures released by US 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,” Zelensky, who has remained in the capital rallying Ukrainians, said in a message overnight. “We will neutralise them all.”
He called in a live video address to the European Parliament for the EU to “prove” it is with Ukraine as the invasion targeted civilians, reports AFP.
Some Kyiv residents have been sheltering in underground metro stations at night. There are long lines for fuel and some products are running out in shops, but by day the city is still holding out, with a semblance of ordinary life on the streets.
In the south of the country, Russia claimed to have completely encircled Ukraine’s Azov Sea coast. If confirmed, that would mean Russian forces invading from Crimea had joined up with separatists in the east and had cut off Ukraine’s main eastern port, Mariupol.
Meanwhile, the office of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said it will seek court approval to open an investigation into alleged war crimes in Ukraine.
More than 660,000 people have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries, the UN refugee agency said yesterday.