Russia intensifies offensive in the east as Russian military convoy of more than 60 kilometers advances towards Kiev | International

Russian President Vladimir Putin intensifies his offensive against Ukraine. As Moscow’s troops face resistance from the military and civilian militias, the Kremlin has moved to launch more aggressive attacks on civilian infrastructure. In an attempt to isolate Donbas and gain control of all of eastern Ukraine, Putin this morning launched another intense attack on the city of Kharkiv, the second largest in population in the country and with a Russian-speaking majority. The huge explosion has hit the center of the town, besieged for three days and with the Ukrainian forces repressing the offensive, and has reached the building of the Regional Administration, according to the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Ukraine.

Video from a security camera in front of the building shows the impact of the attack around eight in the morning, shortly after the curfew was lifted in the city. After the impact of a missile, a large ball of fire engulfs the cars parked in front of the building, next to the symbolic Plaza de la Libertad. The adviser to the Ministry of the Interior Anton Geraschenko assures that the intention of the bombing was to end the life of the governor and the leadership of the city.

There is still no information on deaths or injuries from this new bombing in Kharkov (1.4 million inhabitants), but this Monday, in another attack on civilian infrastructure, ten people died in a bombing of a residential neighborhood in the city, according to the Mayor Igor Terekhov. The explosion killed three children and their parents who were traveling in a car in the area. In addition, there are dozens of injured, with which the fatalities could increase.

Monday’s attack, the most destructive of Putin’s war against Ukraine, makes visible the change in strategy in this conflict, the largest in Europe since World War II. “Today it has been shown that this is not just a war, it is a murder of our people, the Ukrainian people,” Terejov said yesterday in a video message posted on social media.

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Nearly 90 apartment buildings in Kharkov, Ukraine’s capital in the 1920s and 1930s and a major educational center, have been damaged by bombing. Many parts of the city are without power, water or heat in the dead of winter and a good number of people spend their nights huddled in bomb shelters.

”This is not a random wrong attack, but a conscious extermination of people. The Russians knew what they were shooting at,” Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky said Monday night. “This is, without a doubt, a military crime. A peaceful city. Quiet residential neighborhoods. Not a single military object in sight”, remarked the Ukrainian leader, who has denounced Russia’s war crimes before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Kiev denounces that 16 children have died in the country as a result of different attacks and that hospitals and other civilian structures have been bombed or have been damaged by attacks in residential areas.

A Ukrainian military man approaches a vehicle in Kharkov.
A Ukrainian military man approaches a vehicle in Kharkov.VYACHESLAV MADIYEVSKYY (REUTERS)

The bombing of this Monday in Kharkov also occurred at the time that a Ukrainian and a Russian delegation were negotiating in Belarus, next to the Ukrainian border, to try to reach a ceasefire. The dialogue table had no concrete achievements, although the teams from both countries have agreed to talk again “in the coming days.” The meeting could be this time on the border between Ukraine and Poland, according to Zelensky government sources.

Meanwhile, very close to Kiev, a huge caravan of Russian military vehicles that stretches 60 kilometers northwest of the city, according to AFP reports, threatens to increase hostilities in the Ukrainian capital, according to satellite images captured by the American company Maxar. The UK Defense Minister has warned that Russia has “long columns of armored vehicles and logistics vehicles” lined up just a few kilometers from the border and ready to join the offensive and support its troops on the ground. Satellite images from the company Maxar Technologies also show the convoy. Putin has most of his ground forces more than 30 kilometers north of Kiev, which continues to be in the sights of the Russian president, who wants to extreme the offensive against the capital, of 2.8 million inhabitants, to force Zelensky to capitulate

With the intense attacks on besieged Kharkiv and the advance of Russian troops from the south, where they have managed to gain control of Berdiansk, on the Sea of ​​Azov, and are launching a harsh offensive against the port city of Mariupol, where the resistance is standing up to Putin’s forces, the Kremlin is trying to make a pincer to encircle Donbas. In Mariupol, most neighborhoods are without electricity or heating. Several attacks have reached its supply points and electrical substations, say local authorities.

With these wickers, the perspective of building a corridor from the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014 with an illegal referendum, with the Donetsk and Lugansk regions is also advancing.

That corridor would allow a connection between the strategic peninsula, which has been experiencing water supply problems since annexation. In addition, Putin intensifies his attack against the city of Kherson, on the left flank of Crimea, a key point that would allow launching a harsh offensive against Odessa and gain control of all access to the Black Sea, where three passes of the NATO: Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria. Russian forces surrounded Kherson overnight and have set up checkpoints around it, according to local authorities.

Vladimir Putin’s offensive to “denazify” Ukraine and “protect” its citizens has already caused hundreds of deaths and half a million refugees. The Ukrainian Army is managing to contain for now the attack in the most important cities of the country. But the bombings have continued this Tuesday and the Russian forces advance.

“For the enemy, Kiev is the key target. They want to destroy our state, and that is why the capital is under constant threat,” warned Zelensky, who has assured that Putin is trying to blow up the city’s main power plant to leave the capital, where 2.8 million people live. people and there are already supply problems, without electricity.

The Ukrainian security forces have also raised their warnings about paramilitary infiltrators in the pay of Russia. The army claims that they are trying to penetrate Kiev and that they are wearing the uniforms of the Ukrainian armed forces or police.

In Kharkov, Maria Avdeeva, a Ukrainian analyst who lives in that city, says that the bombings are being very intense. Avdeeva was in the street this Monday, with a group of media, when one of the bombings has reached a residential area of ​​the city. “It was terrible,” she explains over the phone. “We were in open space with nowhere to hide. The attacks have continued for 15 minutes. That residential area, with apartments and shops, without thousands of objects that could be the target of these attacks, ”she says Avdeeva, by phone. The expert believes that the attack on Kharkov, 30 kilometers from the Russian border, is Putin’s demonstration that he can attack civilians and will not tremble in doing so, as in the wars in Chechnya, where he applied a land policy burned.

The Kremlin has not seemed to mind the tide of international sanctions on its Russian companies, people and banks. This Monday, Moscow has responded to the reprisals that have closed European airspace to Russian airlines and private planes that are often used by businessmen from the Kremlin’s orbit, with the closure of its own airspace to 36 airlines, including those of the 27 member countries of the EU. Russia has also threatened the EU with further retaliation. “There will be a harsh response to the EU’s actions. Russia will continue to ensure the achievement of vital national interests, regardless of sanctions or their threat,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement in which it has also threatened harsh reprisals against EU citizens and entities involved in the delivery of weapons, fuel and defense supplies to Ukraine.

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