Russia strikes Ukraine’s second-largest city as convoy approaches Kyiv

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Across the country, many Ukrainian civilians spent another night huddled in shelters, basements or hallways.

KYIV, Ukraine — Russian shelling again pounded civilian targets in Ukraine’s second-largest city on Tuesday and a 40-mile convoy of tanks and other vehicles threatened the capital — the beleaguered President’s tactics Ukraine were designed to force him to make concessions in Europe’s biggest land war in generations.

With the Kremlin increasingly isolated by harsh economic sanctions that sent the ruble plummeting, Russian troops attempted to advance on Ukraine’s two largest cities. In the strategic city of Kharkiv, an eastern city with a population of around 1.5 million, videos posted online showed explosions hitting the region’s Soviet-era administrative building and residential areas.

Across the country, many Ukrainian civilians spent another night huddled in shelters, basements or hallways.

The death toll rose as Ukraine faced the sixth day of a Russian invasion that rocked the 21st century world order. Hopes for a negotiated solution to the war have faded after a five-hour first round of talks between Ukraine and Russia failed to stop the fighting, although both sides agreed to another meeting in the next few days.

As Western powers send weapons to Ukraine and drive global pressure on Russia’s economy, President Vladimir Putin’s options have narrowed as he seeks to redraw the world map – and bring Ukrainian democracy back to normal. Western trend in Moscow’s orbit.

“I believe that Russia is trying to put pressure (on Ukraine) with this simple method,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Monday evening in a video address, referring to the intensified shelling. He did not give details of talks between Ukrainian and Russian envoys, but said Kiev was not ready to make concessions “when one side hits another with artillery rockets.”

As talks along the Belarusian border wound down, several explosions could be heard in the capital and Russian troops advanced on the city of nearly 3 million people. The convoy of armored vehicles, tanks, artillery and support vehicles was 25 kilometers (17 miles) from the center of the city and stretched for about 65 kilometers (40 miles), according to Maxar satellite images Technologies.

“They want to smash our national identity, that’s why the capital is under constant threat,” Zelenskyy said, saying it was hit by three missile strikes on Monday and hundreds of saboteurs roamed the city.

Kharkiv, near the Russian border, is another key target. One after another, explosions erupted in a residential area of ​​the city in video verified by AP. In the background, a man begged a woman to leave and a woman cried.

Determined to keep life going despite the bombing, hospital workers moved a Kharkiv maternity ward to an air-raid shelter. Amid makeshift electrical outlets and mattresses stacked against the walls, pregnant women paced the crowded space, accompanied by the cries of dozens of newborn babies.

The Russian military has denied targeting residential areas despite widespread evidence documented by AP journalists around Ukraine of bombings of homes, schools and hospitals.

Regional administration head Oleh Sinehubov said the administration headquarters in the city center was also shelled by the Russians. Images posted online showed the facade and interior of the building badly damaged by a powerful blast that also blew off part of its roof. The state emergency agency said the attack injured six people, including a child.

Sinehubov said at least 11 people were killed and dozens more injured in the shelling of the city on Monday.

Meanwhile, flames erupted from a military base northeast of Kiev, in the suburb of Brovary, in footage filmed from a car driving past. In another video verified by AP, a passenger begs the driver, “Misha, we have to drive fast because they’re going to knock again.”

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

Faced with this resistance, the Kremlin raised the specter of nuclear war twice in as many days and put an arsenal including intercontinental ballistic missiles and long-range bombers on alert. Strengthen your rhetoricPresident Vladimir Putin has denounced the United States and its allies as an “empire of lies”.

Western nations have increased arms deliveries to Ukraine to help its forces defend themselves, but have so far ruled out sending troops. Yet the embattled country has decided to solidify its ties with the West by applying to join the European Union – a largely symbolic move for now, but one that will not sit well with Putin, already exasperated by Ukraine’s desire to join NATO. Alliance.

Messages for advancing Russian soldiers appeared on billboards, bus stops and electronic signs across the capital. Some used profanity to encourage the Russians to leave. Others appealed to their humanity.

“Russian soldier – Stop! Remember your family. Go home with a clear conscience,” it 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 reportedly bombed in the eastern city of Sumy.

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

“Scared children, scared looks. They want to eat,” Konstantin Maloletka, who runs a small shop, said by phone. He said the soldiers entered a supermarket and took canned meat, vodka and cigarettes.

“They ate straight from the store,” he said. “Looks like they haven’t been fed for the past few days.”

For many, Russia’s announcement of a high nuclear alert raised fears that the West could be drawn into a direct conflict with Russia. But a senior US defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the US had yet to see any appreciable change in Russia’s nuclear stance.

As far-reaching Western sanctions against Russian banks and other institutions took hold, the ruble fell, and Russia’s Central Bank moved quickly to shore it up, as did Putin, signing a decree restricting foreign currencies.

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

Economic sanctions, ordered by the United States and other allies, have been just one of the factors contributing to Russia’s growing status as a pariah country.

Russian airliners are banned from European airspace, Russian media are restricted in some countries, and some high-tech products can no longer be exported to the country. On Monday, international sports bodies decided to exclude Russian athletes and officials international eventsincluding the FIFA World Cup.

The UN human rights chief said on Monday that at least 102 civilians had been killed and hundreds injured – warning that figure is likely a vast undercount.

More than half a million people fled the country since the invasion, another UN official said, with many traveling to Poland, Romania and Hungary.

Among the refugees in Hungary was Maria Pavlushko, 24, an IT project manager from a town west of Kiev. She said her father stayed to fight the Russians.

“I’m proud of him,” she said, adding that many of her friends were also planning to fight.

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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 reporters around the world contributed to this report.



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