Russia’s invasion of Ukraine entered its sixth day on Tuesday, with a huge convoy of Russian tanks and armored vehicles on a route to the capitalKiev, and fighting is intensifying there and in other major cities.
Russia bombed several key sites in Kyiv and the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, killing at least 11 people and injuring dozens more, Ukrainian officials said. Among the sites affected were Kiev’s main television tower and the Holocaust memorial.
Although Ukrainian forces still control Kharkiv and the coastal cities of Kherson and Mariupol, all three are surrounded, according to the British Ministry of Defence.
Here are the key things to know about the conflict.
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE MAJOR CITIES OF UKRAINE?
Russian shelling hit Freedom Square in central Kharkiv just after sunrise on Tuesday, severely damaging a regional administration building and other structures, killing at least six people and injuring dozens. others, Ukrainian officials said.
It was the first time the Russian army had struck the center of the city of 1.5 million people, although shells have been hitting residential areas for days.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy blamed a Russian missile and called the attack a war crime: “It’s outright, undisguised terror. … No one will forgive. No one will forget. »
Hours later, Russian shelling hit Kiev’s main television tower and Holocaust memorial, killing five people and injuring five others, according to Ukrainian officials. The explosion interrupted television broadcasts for a short time.
WHERE IS THIS MASSIVE RUSSIAN CONVOY?
The Russian military convoy threatening Kiev and its nearly 3 million people is far larger than initially thought, with satellite images showing it taking up much of a 64 kilometer stretch of road north of the capital .
The convoy was no more than 17 miles (25 kilometers) from the city center on Monday, according to satellite imagery from Maxar.
WHAT IS THE BATTLE LIKE ON THE SOUTHERN FRONT OF UKRAINE?
Overwhelmed but determined Kyiv troops slowed Russia’s advance and clung to the capital and other key cities. The total death toll in the fighting remains uncertain, but the attacks have taken their toll.
Russian strikes on Mariupol, a key southern port on the Sea of Azov, seriously injured several people. Separatist forces in Donetsk said they had established two corridors for the evacuation of civilians from Mariupol, suggesting a major attack on the city could be imminent.
Russian forces have blocked the port city of Kherson, according to Ukrainian officials. And Russian artillery hit a military base in Okhtyrka over the weekend, killing more than 70 Ukrainian soldiers, the region’s chief wrote on Telegram.
UN humanitarian coordinator Martin Griffiths said on Tuesday that shelling and shelling had damaged pipelines, power lines and basic services in Ukraine, and hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian families had no ‘potable water.
WHAT DOES PUTIN WANT AND HOW ARE NATO ALLIES RESPONDING?
The sixth day of Europe’s biggest ground war since World War II has found Russia increasingly isolated. Western officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to overthrow the Ukrainian government and replace it with a docile regime, reviving Moscow’s Cold War-era influence.
The United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions on Russia’s biggest banks and its elite, froze the country’s Central Bank assets outside the country and excluded its financial institutions from the SWIFT banking messaging system – but largely allowed its oil and gas natural to continue to flow freely to the rest of the world.
Sanctions experts expect Russia to try to soften the impact of financial sanctions by relying on energy sales and relying on the country’s reserves of gold and Chinese currency. Putin is also expected to transfer funds through smaller banks and elite family accounts not covered by sanctions, trade in cryptocurrencies and build on Russia’s relationship with China.
With Russia playing an outsized role in global energy markets as the world’s third-largest oil producer, the 31 member nations of the International Energy Agency agreed on Tuesday to release 60 million barrels of oil from their strategic reserves – half that of the United States – “to send a strong message to the oil markets” that supplies will not run out due to the invasion.
Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said on Tuesday that her country would refer Russia to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and war crimes following the invasion of Ukraine. The decision will expedite an investigation by the court’s chief prosecutor.
HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE FLED FROM UKRAINE?
The UN refugee agency said on Tuesday that around 660,000 people have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries since the invasion began. The agency’s spokeswoman, Shabia Mantoo, said that “at this rate, the situation is expected to become the biggest refugee crisis in Europe this century”.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said the UN expects the total to reach 4 million in the coming weeks. Poland has taken in the most refugees, with Hungary, Romania and Moldova also accepting tens of thousands. The German national railway company has issued a special free ticket for Ukrainian refugees so that they can join their relatives.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE RUSSIAN ECONOMY?
The sanctions “will collapse the Russian economy,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told France Info radio on Tuesday. The nations have blocked some Russian banks from the SWIFT international payment system and are limiting Russia’s use of its huge foreign currency reserves.
The Russian central bank has taken drastic measures to support the ruble’s fall, but foreign investment is pouring in from the country.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on Tuesday that the government had prepared measures to temporarily prevent foreign investors from disposing of Russian assets, saying the move would help them make “a considered decision” rather than succumb to political pressure from foreign investors. penalties.
Oil companies such as BP and Shell have pulled out of their stakes in Russian energy companies. Norwegian Oil and Gas, an association of oil companies and suppliers to the world’s third largest exporter of natural gas, followed suit on Tuesday by suspending two Russian companies. And French energy conglomerate TotalEnergies has said it won’t finance any new projects in Russia, but it hasn’t given up its stakes there.
The world’s largest shipping company, AP Moller-Maersk, has announced that all new bookings to and from Russia “will be temporarily suspended, with the exception of food, medical and humanitarian supplies”. Britain and Canada have closed ports to Russian ships.
HOW DIFFERENTLY IS RUSSIA PUNISHED?
A day after its teams were suspended from all international hockey and football matches, including the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, Russia was banned from competition in international ice skating, skiing, basketball, track and field and some tennis events.
The decisions of the various sports organizing bodies follow the request of the International Olympic Committee to keep Russian athletes away from their events.
The International Skating Union’s decision to ban athletes from Russia and its ally Belarus means Olympic champion Anna Shcherbakova and her 15-year-old teammate Kamila Valieva, who were at the center of a still unresolved doping dispute at the Winter Olympics last month, will be excluded from this month’s world figure skating championships in France.
The backlash has also intensified in the entertainment world, with the Cannes Film Festival saying no Russian delegations would be welcome this year and the Venice Film Festival announcing free screenings of a film about the 2014 conflict in the eastern region of Donbass in Ukraine.
The announcements followed other high profile arts protests, including Hollywood’s decision to pull films slated for release in Russia.
The European Broadcasting Union announced last week that Russia would not be allowed to enter an act for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. On Tuesday, it emerged that the 2016 contest winner, Ukrainian singer Jamala, had fled Ukraine to Turkey with her two children.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE UNITED NATIONS?
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on the UN’s top human rights body to hold Russia accountable for the invasion.
In recorded remarks delivered to the Human Rights Council, the top US diplomat also urged him to send a message to Putin to unconditionally stop the ‘unprovoked attack’ and withdraw his forces from Israel. Ukraine.
The comments came as the United States returned to its seat on the council, which had been abandoned under President Donald Trump, who alleged the 47-member state body was too accepting of autocratic governments and too biased against Israel.
Meanwhile, the 193-nation UN General Assembly met on Tuesday for a second day of speeches about the war. Over 110 Member States have registered to speak. The assembly, which does not allow any veto power, is expected to vote later in the week on a resolution coordinated by EU envoys working with Ukraine.
The draft resolution, obtained by The Associated Press, demands that Russia immediately stop using force against Ukraine and withdraw all its troops.
Follow AP’s coverage of Russia-Ukraine tensions at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine