Russia hammers Ukraine’s No. 2 city while massive military convoy nears Kyiv

by mcardinal

Chris Lange, FISM News


Unrelenting and indiscriminate rocket fire shook Ukraine’s second-largest city overnight, destroying entire neighborhoods in Kharviv as well as a school and city administrative building. Civilian casualties in the area are estimated to be in the dozens.

Russian artillery also struck a military base in Okhtyrka, a city between Kharkiv and Kyiv, killing at least 70 Ukrainian soldiers, according to an AP report. 

Meanwhile, Russian forces continue to close in on the capital. Satellite imagery has revealed a chilling 40-mile-long column of infantry, armor, and weaponry coming south from the Belarus border toward Kyiv while attack helicopters and infantry are positioning themselves from the north.

Russia thus far has been unable to dominate the skies as its war on Ukraine enters its sixth day, while Ukrainian fighters continue to put up a fierce resistance.

Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelenskyy said last night’s stepped-up shelling was meant to force him into concessions following Monday’s failed ceasefire talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegates. Both sides have agreed to meet again.

“I believe Russia is trying to put pressure [on Ukraine] with this simple method,” Zelenskyy said late Monday in a video address. While he did not provide details of the talks, Zelenskyy said he won’t make any concessions “when one side is hitting each other with rocket artillery.”

Vladimir Medinsky, a top Putin aide who led the Russian delegation, said talks between the two sides lasted five hours and that the envoys “found certain points on which common positions could be foreseen.” As the meeting came to a close, several blasts were heard in Kyiv as Russian troops continued their advance.

Meanwhile, Russia is becoming increasingly isolated as international condemnation and punishing sanctions continue to pile up against the Kremlin, forcing Russia’s stock market to close Monday as its rouble currency collapsed. While Western nations continue tightening the thumbscrews on Moscow through intense economic pressure, 19 countries have committed to sending additional military aid to Ukraine, which began arriving over the weekend. 

In another development, Switzerland broke with its longstanding tradition of neutrality with the announcement that it will adopt EU sanctions against Moscow and immediately freeze any assets belonging to Putin, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, according to a statement released Monday. The country is also closing its airspace to flights from Russia and placing entry bans on individuals with ties to Switzerland who are close to Putin.

“We are in an extraordinary situation,” President Ignazio Cassis told reporters on Monday, according to Reuters. 

Meanwhile, Zelenskyy’s repeated calls for the establishment of a no-fly zone over Ukraine have been rebuffed by NATO allies, with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki saying that doing so would amount to the U.S. declaring war on Russia.

“Well, the president has been very clear that he is not intending to send U.S. troops to fight a war with Russia,” she said during a Monday press briefing, adding that implementing a no-fly zone would require “deploying a military force” and “would be a direct conflict and potentially a war with Russia.”

The West continues to weigh the risks of its united response against Russia amid the specter of nuclear war following Putin’s statement that Moscow had put its nuclear forces on “high alert.” The Russian president stepped up his rhetoric again Monday, denouncing the U.S. and its allies as an “empire of lies.” 

President Biden was asked about growing fears that Putin intends to launch a nuclear attack.

“Should Americans be worried about nuclear war?” a reporter asked the president Monday following a Black History Month event at the White House.

“No,” Biden curtly replied.