Russia shelled a square in the center of Ukraine’s second-largest city and other civilian targets on Tuesday, and a 40-mile military convoy of tanks and other vehicles threatened the capital, as the embattled Ukrainian president accused Moscow of of resorting to terror tactics to push Europe’s biggest ground war in generations.
With the Kremlin increasingly isolated by harsh economic sanctions that have sunk the ruble, Russian troops advanced on the country’s two main cities.
In strategic Kharkiv, located to the east and with around 1.5 million inhabitants, videos posted online showed explosions in a Soviet-era administrative building and in residential areas. A maternity ward was moved to a shelter amid the attacks.
RUSSIAN BOMBING DESTROYED AN ADMINISTRATIVE BUILDING BUILT IN THE SOVIET ERA
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the attack on Kharkiv’s central square, which he blamed on a Russian missile, an act of “direct and undisguised terror” and a war crime. “No one will forgive. Nobody will forget (…) This is state terrorism of the Russian Federation”.
As the fighting expanded beyond military targets on the sixth day of the Russian invasion that has shaken the 21st-century world order, reports have emerged that Moscow has used cluster bombs in three inhabited areas. If confirmed, this would mean that the war has reached a worrying new level.
The Kremlin denied on Tuesday the use of such ammunition and again insisted that its forces have only attacked military targets, despite evidence documented by The Associated Press of bombing homes, schools and hospitals.
The Russian defense minister pledged on Tuesday to press ahead with the offensive until Moscow achieves its goals, after a first round of contacts between Ukraine and Russia failed to stop the fighting. Both sides agreed to meet again in the coming days.
Across the country, many civilians spent another night crammed into shelters, basements and hallways. More than half a million people have fled the country and the United Nations human rights office said Tuesday it has confirmed 136 civilian deaths, including 13 minors. The true figure could be much higher, he warned.
“This is a nightmare, it grabs you from the inside with great force. It cannot be explained in words,” said Ekaterina Babenko, a Kharkiv resident who took refuge in a basement with her neighbors for the fifth day in a row. “We have young children, elderly people, and honestly, this is very scary.”
A Ukrainian military official said Belarusian troops joined the war on Tuesday in the Chernihiv region, but gave no further details. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said that he did not plan to enter the conflict.
With Western powers sending weapons to Ukraine and mounting global pressure on the Russian economy, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s options diminished in his bid to redraw the global map and lure Ukraine’s Western-leaning democracy of new to the orbit of Moscow.
“We are also fighting to be equal members of Europe,” Zelenskyy said in a speech to the European Parliament. “I think we’re showing the whole world that that’s who we are… We’ve shown that, at the very least, we’re equal to you.”
On Monday, he said that Kiev was not ready to make concessions “when one of the parties hits the other with artillery.”
As talks on the Belarusian border drew to a close, several explosions rocked Kiev and Russian soldiers advanced on the city of nearly 3 million people.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.