Western-led sanctions against Russia are increasing
Ukraine says 70 soldiers killed by artillery in Okhtyrka
Washington offers more weapons, rules out ‘no fly zone’
More than 70 Ukrainian servicemen were killed in a Russian rocket attack and dozens of civilians were killed in “barbarian” shelling, Ukrainian authorities said on Tuesday as a huge Russian military convoy approached the capital Kiev.
Violent ground resistance has so far denied Russian President Vladimir Putin decisive early victories after he launched the biggest attack on a European state since World War II last week.
Russia has been pushing for the capital and has amassed a convoy of armored vehicles, tanks and other military equipment stretching about 40 miles, US satellite company Maxar said late Monday.
A Russian column more than 40 miles (40 km) long is approaching Kiev, with US officials warning that the sheer number of Putin’s troops could overcome Ukraine’s resistance, the CNN reported.
“The Russian advance towards Kiev has made little progress in the past 24 hours, probably due to ongoing logistical problems,” the British Defense Ministry said in an update to military intelligence on Tuesday, adding that Russia had increased its use of artillery.
“The use of heavy artillery in densely populated urban areas greatly increases the risk of civilian casualties.” it said.
Russian forces attacked on several fronts and Ukrainian officials reported that a bombing raid on Kharkiv, the country’s second largest city, had killed dozens of civilians.
“Barbaric rocket attacks and MLRS (multiple launch rocket systems) of peaceful cities are proof that they are no longer able to fight armed Ukrainians,” Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Facebook.
Some 70 Ukrainian soldiers were killed Monday by Russian shelling at a base in the city of Okhtyrka, between Kharkov and Kiev, the regional governor said on Facebook.
Ukraine’s General Staff said Russian losses included 5,710 personnel, 29 destroyed and damaged aircraft and 198 tanks.
It was not possible to independently verify any of these figures.
The ceasefire talks between Russia and its southern neighbor on Monday have not led to a breakthrough and negotiators have not said when a new round will take place.
Putin faces mounting international pressure and the systemic impact of Western sanctions led to a ruble collapse of nearly 30% on Monday before central bank intervention rescued the currency from its lows.
The United States and its allies have imposed sanctions on the Russian central bank, its top companies, oligarchs and officials, including Putin himself, and have banned some Russian banks from the international SWIFT payment system.