KYIV/KHARKIV, Ukraine — Russian troops have been within the heart of the Ukrainian port of Kherson on Thursday after a day of conflicting claims over whether or not Moscow had captured a significant city heart for the primary time in its eight-day invasion.
Russia’s protection ministry mentioned it had captured Kherson on Wednesday however an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky responded that Ukrainian forces continued to defend the Black Sea port of about 250,000 folks.
“We are a people who broke the enemy’s plans in a week,” Mr. Zelensky mentioned in a video handle. “These plans had taken years to write — they are mean, with hatred for our country, for our people.”
The seize of the strategic southern provincial capital, the place the Dnipro River flows into the Black Sea, can be the primary vital city heart to fall since Moscow launched its invasion on Feb. 24.
Russian forces have but to overthrow the federal government in Kyiv however 1000’s are reported to have died or been injured and greater than 1,000,000 folks have fled Ukraine amid the most important assault on a European state since 1945.
“For many millions more, inside Ukraine, it’s time for guns to fall silent, so that life-saving humanitarian assistance can be provided,” UN Excessive Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi mentioned in a tweet.
Russia’s assault has led to a barrage of worldwide sanctions that threaten the worldwide financial restoration from the COVID pandemic, and stoked fears of wider battle as Western international locations ship arms to assist the Ukrainian army.
Kherson Mayor Igor Kolykhayev mentioned late on Wednesday that Russian troops have been within the streets and had entered the council constructing. He referred to as on civilians to stroll by means of the streets solely in daylight and in ones and twos.
“There were armed visitors in the city executive committee today,” he mentioned in an announcement. “I didn’t make any promises to them… I just asked them not to shoot people.”
The US State Division referred to as on Mr. Putin and the Russian authorities to “immediately cease this bloodshed” and withdraw forces from Ukraine. It additionally accused Moscow of launching a “full war on media freedom and the truth” by blocking unbiased information shops and social media to forestall Russians from listening to information of the invasion of Ukraine.
Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” that’s not designed to occupy territory however to destroy its neighbor’s army capabilities and seize what it regards as harmful nationalists.
It denies focusing on civilians though there have been widespread reviews of civilian casualties and the shelling of residential areas.
Bombing in Kharkiv, a metropolis of 1.5 million folks, has left its heart a wasteland of ruined buildings and particles.
Russians have shelled town of Izyum, about 120 kms southeast of Kharkiv, killing six adults and two kids, Ukraine’s parliament mentioned. Reuters was unable to confirm the casualties.
The U.N. Human Rights Workplace has confirmed the deaths of 227 civilians and 525 accidents in the course of the battle as of midnight on March 1, cautioning that the actual toll can be a lot increased as a consequence of reporting delays.
An explosion additionally rocked the Kyiv railway station the place 1000’s of ladies and youngsters have been being evacuated. The blast was brought on by wreckage from a downed Russian cruise missile, a Ukrainian inside ministry adviser mentioned, and there have been no instant reviews of casualties.
An investigation into attainable struggle crimes will instantly be opened by the Worldwide Felony Courtroom, following requests by 39 of the court docket’s member states, an unprecedented quantity.
A U.N. decision reprimanding Moscow was supported by 141 of the meeting’s 193 members, a symbolic victory for Ukraine that will increase Moscow’s worldwide isolation.
“More is at stake even than the conflict in Ukraine itself. This is a threat to the security of Europe and the entire rules-based order,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken mentioned.
Russian Overseas Minister Sergei Lavrov mentioned Moscow nonetheless sought Ukraine’s “demilitarization” and that there needs to be a listing of specified weapons that would by no means be deployed on Ukrainian territory. Moscow opposes Kyiv’s bid to hitch NATO.
For Russians, the fallout has included queues exterior banks, a plunge within the worth of the ruble which threatens their residing requirements, and an exodus of Western companies who refuse to do enterprise within the nation. — Reuters