Russia intensifies attacks on Ukraine as refugee numbers rise

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Russia intensifies attacks on Ukraine as refugee numbers rise

KYIV, Ukraine — Settling international outrage, Russia on Tuesday deepened its offensive inside Ukraine, bombing civilian areas in two of its largest cities, gathering a mile-long convoy near the capital’s gates, and economic Warned not to let the outside world intent on vengeance. Very far.

Russian attacks hit a hospital in Kharkiv – the second day in a row of deadly Russian attacks on the civilian population of that eastern city – and a deadly explosion struck a broadcast tower in the capital Kyiv, knocking down television and radio stations. A famous Holocaust monument nearby was damaged.

The rise comes amid rumors in Moscow and other Russian cities that the government may increase recruitment to increase the strength of its forces in Ukraine, where, surprisingly, rebel resistance has disappointed the Kremlin’s hopes of a quick victory. Now, the conflict in Ukraine looks like it could become a more drawn out battle that could plunge Europe into its worst refugee crisis of this century as hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians seek protection elsewhere.

The Russian economy is already grappling with a series of sanctions, with allies of President Vladimir V. Putin reacting sharply to an announcement by France’s finance minister that Europe would wage a “total economic and financial war” against Russia.

“Watch your tongue, gentlemen!” Former Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry A. Medvedev announced on Twitter. “And don’t forget that throughout human history, economic wars often turn into real wars.”

On Tuesday, the sixth day of the invasion, satellite images showed a one-mile-long Russian military convoy making its way down a road north of Kyiv, as several homes and buildings were torched nearby. It is unclear when it will take steps to enter the capital.

The Kyiv transmission tower was hit after the Russian Defense Ministry warned civilians to evacuate. Moscow said its military was engaged in “high-precision” strikes to “prevent information attacks against Russia”.

But damage from the strike also extended to Kyiv’s Babin Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, built in a ravine where tens of thousands of Jews were killed by the Nazis during World War II. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish, condemned the strike, which he said had killed five people.

“What’s the point of saying ‘never again’ for 80 years, if the world keeps silent when the bombs fall on the same site of Babin Yar?” He said Twitter.

In Kharkiv’s main square, an apparent rocket attack destroyed a large administrative building, igniting a fireball and killing seven people, officials said. The city’s mayor said another rocket attack on a residential neighborhood destroyed a hospital and left many dead or crippled.

The Kremlin’s most powerful critic, President Biden, was about to deliver his first State of the Union speech in Washington, just hours before the Russian attacks came.

“What we’re seeing is basically Phase II, a shift to a much more brutal, tactless, unrestricted war that would lead to many more civilian casualties and bloodier fighting,” said Matthew Bouleng, a Russian warfare specialist at Chatham House. Said, a research group in London.

Mr Zelensky, who has spoken to Mr Biden several times since the invasion, accused Russia of war crimes that deliberately targeted civilians in the bombing of his country.

Now regarded in the West as a hero for his defiance of Russian bullying, Mr Zelensky, in an emotional speech to European lawmakers made via video link, also reiterated Ukraine’s plea to join the European Union . The probabilities of that outcome are considered unrealistic.

“We have proved our strength,” he said through his English-language interpreter, who cried as he translated the words. “So prove that you are with us. Prove that you will not let us go. Prove that you are really European.”

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Overnight, many of the capital’s 2.8 million residents were engulfed in bomb shelters as air raid sirens sounded. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine released a video Children in the bunker singing the city anthem on Tuesday morning.

Many people spent their time preparing, anticipating a worst-case scenario. In a six-story Kyiv building, dozens of men in military uniform, Kalashnikov leaned on their shoulders, working with civilian volunteers to sort donations from Ukrainians who wanted to support the military. “We have received a lot of donations of medicine and hygiene equipment,” said Maria Pyasarenko, a volunteer. “What we need most is a helmet and a bulletproof vest.”

Mr Zelensky said 16 Ukrainian children were killed by Russian shelling in the first four days of fighting.

The slow pace of Russian progress since the invasion began on 24 February surprised some outside experts, who expected an invasion and quick capture of major cities. But Moscow was clearly tightening its grip.

Videos showed Russian soldiers patrolling Kherson, in the south of Ukraine, although Ukrainians were still in control of the city, according to Jens, the Defense Intelligence Research Group. And in Mariupol, an important port city, the mayor said residents lacked electricity and heat after several days of intense fighting. The capture of Mariupol would allow Russian forces in the south to join forces with Russian-backed separatists in the east, isolating Ukrainian troops in the region.

The UN refugee agency warned that Europe would soon face “the biggest refugee crisis of this century”. In just the last 24 hours, it said, more than 150,000 were flooded across Ukrainian borders, bringing the total number to about 660,000 so far.

In Palanka, Moldova, near Ukraine’s southwest border, a tent camp was growing to house Europe’s newest refugees.

“We don’t know where we are going,” said 34-year-old Anna Rogachova, a housewife from Odessa. “And we don’t know when we’re going to be back.”

While the fleeing Ukrainians were generally warmly welcomed, anger grew in the Middle East and Africa, which critics saw as a double standard, as seen in the hostile European reception, which many Syrians There were those who had fled from the war of their country. And there were several reports among Africans trying to leave Ukraine of harsh treatment by Ukrainian emigration officials who let Ukrainians out first.

A second round of Russian-Ukrainian talks aimed at stopping the conflict was scheduled for Wednesday, but the news was obscured by other events that pointed to more fighting and Russia’s less international status.

The top court of the Council of Europe, an organization that includes Russia, ordered Moscow to “abstain from military attacks against civilians and civilian objects” and to “immediately ensure the safety of medical installations, personnel and emergency vehicles”.

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At a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, about 100 diplomats, many of them from Western countries, withdrew from a speech by Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei V. Lavrov, in protest against the invasion. He left the hall largely empty to hear Mr. Lavrov.

He had planned to attend the session in person, but instead spoke by video link, saying the European ban on flights from Russia had put his travel on hold.

Russia’s growing isolation was seen in other ways as well. The world’s most valuable company, Apple, suspended sales in Russia, joining other multinational businesses in protesting the invasion.

Andrei Kozyrev, a former Russian foreign minister known for his pro-Western outlook, called on all Russian diplomats to resign in protest of his country’s “bloody brotherly war in Ukraine”, calling them “professionals”. urged to act, not as cheap preachers.”

Some of Russia’s staunch allies in Latin America have not particularly supported the invasion. And on Tuesday, even China, which has refrained from condemning the attack unlike many countries, draws some distance between itself and Russia. China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, who spoke to his counterpart in Ukraine, Dimitro Kuleba, called on Russia and Ukraine to negotiate a settlement and expressed concern about harm to civilians.

In Russia, as public alarm appeared to grow over how sanctions imposed by the West would affect the country’s financial stability, people rushed to withdraw cash from banks for a second day. And some took to the streets to protest the invasion – a remarkable display of defiance in a country where prosecutors sometimes demand prison sentences for protesters.

An activist group, OVD-Info, said on Monday police detained at least 411 people in 13 cities. So far since the invasion began, it said, at least 6,435 people have been detained.

For all the damage the sanctions can paint for Russia, they are a double-edged sword, their effect rippling through the world economy.

With oil prices rising above $100 a barrel, the International Energy Agency said on Tuesday that member states have agreed to release 60 million barrels of oil from emergency reserves. The agency said it aimed to “send a unified and strong message to global oil markets that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will result in no shortage.”

While hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians were fleeing, some migrants were choosing another route: on their way back home.

“We have to rebuild Ukraine,” 23-year-old Daria Kliuyeva said on Tuesday after arriving in the Polish border town of Medica, ready to return to her homeland. Nearby was a long line of people, mostly men, also waiting to return.

Ms. Kliuyeva pulled out her phone to show her a picture of four young cousins ​​bundled up in jackets and blankets in the bunker back home. Six months ago, she took a job cleaning a hotel in Gdansk, hoping to save enough money to buy an apartment back home in Kharkiv.

“It doesn’t matter now,” she said.

Andrew E. Creme And Valerie Hopkins Kyiv, Ukraine, and . reported from Nick Cumming-Bruce from Geneva. Reporting was contributed by nadav gavrilov from New York; Patrick Kingsley And letitia vancon from Palanka, Moldova; Anatoly Kurmanev from Mexico City; Ruth McLean from Dakar, Senegal; Steven Lee Myers, Megan Specia And Stanley Reed from London; Masik Nabradalik from Medica, Poland; Ivan Nechepurenko from Sochi, Russia; jack out from Rio de Janeiro; And Monica Pronzuk from Brussels.

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