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Putin’s paratroopers land in Kharkiv


Fierce fighting is underway in Ukraine’s second city of Kharkiv this morning after Russian paratroopers dropped in and attacked a military hospital before airstrikes targeting police, state agencies and the security service. 

Part of Karazin National University was on fire early Wednesday with the building partially collapsed after a missile – seemingly intended for the neighbouring police headquarters or interior ministry building – struck the college’s department of sociology instead.

At least 21 people have been killed an 112 wounded in shelling on Kharkiv in the last 24 hours, governor Oleg Synegubov said, as an interior ministry official added: ‘There are practically no areas left in Kharkiv where an artillery shell has not yet hit.’

It came as the Russian army renewed its assault on Ukraine after punishing losses in the early days. Putin’s forces captured the centre of Kherson, in the south, overnight though Ukraine retained overall control of the city, while Mariupol, also in the south, came under renewed shelling.

Ukraine war: The latest 

  • Russian paratroopers land in Ukraine’s second city amid heavy fighting
  • ‘There are practically no areas left in Kharkiv where an artillery shell has not yet hit’: Interior Ministry official 
  • Joe Biden brands Vladimir Putin a ‘dictator’ in his annual State of the Union address as he bans Russian aircraft from US airspace
  • Russia steps up its bombing campaign and missile strikes, hitting Kyiv’s main television tower, two residential buildings in a town west of the city and the city of Bila Tserkva to the south of the capital
  • Russian forces push into the besieged Black Sea city of Kherson in the south
  • Russian attacks leave Mariupol, another Black Sea port further to the west without electricity
  •  More than 677,000 people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion, the UN’s refugee agency says
  • The UN’s International Court of Justice says it will hold public hearings on March 7 and 8 over Ukraine’s allegations of ‘genocide’ by Russia
  • Russia blocks an independent television channel and a liberal radio station, tightening a virtual media blackout
  • A string of Western companies announce they are freezing or scaling back business with Russia
  • Russians race to withdraw cash after the introduction of capital controls and as the ruble hits record lows 
  • Russian-owned Nord Stream 2 goes insolvent after Germany halts the pipeline following Moscow’s invasion
  • Oil prices soar past $110 a barrel, despite agreements to release 60 million barrels from stockpiles
  • The World Bank prepares a $3-billion aid package for Ukraine, including $350 million in immediate funds  

In Zhytomyr, a city to the west of Kyiv, airstrikes hit the headquarters of the 95th Ukrainian armed forces brigade while also damaging a hospital, leaving two people dead. The city of Bila Tserkva, some 50 miles south of Kyiv, was also hit overnight. 

Ukraine’s armed forces said Wednesday morning that Russia is ‘trying to advance in all directions’ but are ‘being resisted everywhere and suffering losses’. It estimates that 5,840 Russian troops have been killed so far – though that figure cannot be verified.

President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has become a symbol of fierce resistance in recent days, decried Russia‘s escalation of attacks on crowded urban areas as a blatant campaign of terror.

Despite the near-universal condemnation of the war internationally, a new state poll in Russia taken over the weekend showed support for Putin has risen from around 60 per cent to 70 per cent since the week before.

Since Russian troops rolled into Ukraine last week to achieve Putin’s mission of overthrowing Zelensky’s pro-Western government, hundreds of civilians have been reported killed.

Russian forces have carried out a massive bombing campaign and encircled urban centres, but Ukraine insists no major city has yet been overtaken.

‘Russian airborne troops landed in Kharkiv… and attacked a local hospital,’ the Ukrainian army said in a statement on messaging app Telegram. ‘There is an ongoing fight between the invaders and the Ukrainians.’

Russia hit a residential building in the city on Tuesday killing eight people, drawing comparisons to the massacres of civilians in Sarajevo in the 1990s and condemnation for what Zelensky called a ‘war crime’.

A fire broke out on Wednesday in the barracks of a flight school in Kharkiv following an airstrike, according to Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Minister.

‘Practically there are no areas left in Kharkiv where an artillery shell has not yet hit,’ he was quoted as saying in a statement on Telegram.

Kharkiv, a largely Russian-speaking city near the Russian border, has a population of around 1.4 million.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden branded Vladimir Putin a ‘dictator’, warning the sanction campaign to cripple Russia’s economy would escalate and its oligarchs were being targeted.

In Biden’s first State of the Union address, he hailed the resolve of the Western alliance and voiced solidarity with Ukraine as lawmakers in the US Congress gave a standing ovation to the Ukrainian people.

‘A Russian dictator, invading a foreign country, has costs around the world,’ Biden told lawmakers in his annual State of the Union address, promising ‘robust action to make sure the pain of our sanctions is targeted at Russia’s economy.’  

Biden, who had earlier spoken with Zelensky on the phone, announced new measures against Russia and its wealthy elite with a new task force to go after the ‘crimes’ of Russian oligarchs.

‘We are coming for your ill-begotten gains,’ he said, prompting the rare sight of members of both parties standing to applaud.

‘And tonight I am announcing that we will join our allies in closing off American air space to all Russian flights – further isolating Russia and adding an additional squeeze on their economy.’

The US leader said Putin’s aggression was ‘premeditated and totally unprovoked’ – but hailed the resolve of the Western alliance in responding with brutal sanctions.

‘(Putin) thought he could divide us here at home,’ Biden said. ‘But Putin was wrong. We are ready.’

He repeated his commitment that no American troops would be sent to Ukraine to confront the invading forces.

A lack of will to send foreign troops into battle has given Russia space to press on with its assault on Ukrainian cities.

Part of the Karazin National University campus in the city of Kharkiv is destroyed after being struck by a Russian missile which was seemingly intended for a nearby police or interior ministry building

Part of the Karazin National University campus in the city of Kharkiv is destroyed after being struck by a Russian missile which was seemingly intended for a nearby police or interior ministry building

Firefighters battle to put out a blaze in Kharkiv as the city came under renewed airstrikes today, with an official saying there is almost no area of the city left that has not been hit

Firefighters battle to put out a blaze in Kharkiv as the city came under renewed airstrikes today, with an official saying there is almost no area of the city left that has not been hit

Firefighters attempt to put out the burning sociology department of Karazin National University which was hit by a strike seemingly intended for nearby government buildings

Firefighters attempt to put out the burning sociology department of Karazin National University which was hit by a strike seemingly intended for nearby government buildings

Russian armoured vehicles and trucks are pictured rolling through the centre of Kherson, as Moscow claimed to be in control of the city but Ukraine said it still holds key government buildings

Russian armoured vehicles and trucks are pictured rolling through the centre of Kherson, as Moscow claimed to be in control of the city but Ukraine said it still holds key government buildings

Russian trucks are pictured parked up in the centre of Kherson, in Ukraine's south, after Moscow's forces rolled into the city

Russian trucks are pictured parked up in the centre of Kherson, in Ukraine’s south, after Moscow’s forces rolled into the city

The remains of a destroyed Russian military convoy are seen on a street in Bucha, to the south of Kyiv, on Wednesday morning

The remains of a destroyed Russian military convoy are seen on a street in Bucha, to the south of Kyiv, on Wednesday morning

An armed man stands by the remains of a Russian military vehicle in Bucha, close to the capital Kyiv, Ukraine

An armed man stands by the remains of a Russian military vehicle in Bucha, close to the capital Kyiv, Ukraine

Ukrainian emergency service personnel carry a body of a victim out of the damaged City Hall building following shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine

Ukrainian emergency service personnel carry a body of a victim out of the damaged City Hall building following shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine

This photograph taken on February 26, 2022 shows a Russian Armoured personnel carrier (APC) burning during fight with the Ukrainian armed forces in Kharkiv

This photograph taken on February 26, 2022 shows a Russian Armoured personnel carrier (APC) burning during fight with the Ukrainian armed forces in Kharkiv

A strike on the main TV tower in Kyiv killed five people Tuesday and knocked out some state broadcasting, Ukrainian officials said, but left the structure intact.

Fresh explosions were heard late Tuesday in Kyiv and Bila Tserkva, 50 miles (80 kilometres) to the south, according to local media.

News outlets also reported Russian missiles damaging residential buildings and a hospital in Zhytomyr, citing the major transport hub’s mayor Sergei Sukhomline.

The International Criminal Court has opened a war crimes investigation against Russia. Ukraine says more than 350 civilians, including 14 children, have been killed in the conflict. 

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defence also said overnight that it feared an attack from Belarus over its northern border.

‘Belarusian troops have been put on high alert and are concentrated in areas closest to the border with Ukraine,’ the ministry said Tuesday in a statement on Facebook.

Ukrainian intelligence noted ‘significant activity’ of aircraft in the border area, it said.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said Tuesday he had ordered more troops to the south of the country, the Belta news agency reported.

But forces of Belarus, a close ally of Russia, would not be taking part in the attack on Ukraine, he added.

In southern Ukraine, the city of Mariupol on the Azov Sea was left without electricity after Russian bombardment, while Kherson on the Black Sea reported Russian checkpoints encircling the city.

In a key victory for Moscow, Russia’s defence ministry said its troops had linked up with pro-Moscow rebel forces from eastern Ukraine along the Azov Sea coast. 

Russia has defied international bans, boycotts and sanctions to press ahead with an offensive it says is aimed at defending Ukraine’s Russian speakers and toppling the leadership.

In response, more Western companies have withdrawn from projects in Russia, deepening the economic toll on Moscow that saw the ruble collapse this week.

Apple, ExxonMobil and Boeing announced Tuesday in rapid succession steps to withdraw or freeze business in Russia.

The moves followed earlier announcements by Disney, Ford and Mastercard among others.

The invasion has sent global markets into a spiral, with crude surging past $110 a barrel Wednesday and equities sinking.

On top of sanctions, Germany has promised arms for Ukraine, while the EU said, in a first, that it will buy and supply arms to the country.

Zelensky has reiterated an urgent appeal for Ukraine to be admitted to the European Union. 

More than 660,000 people have fled abroad, the UN refugee agency said, and as battles rage for control of major cities many more are expected to follow.

Residents of capital Kyiv are crammed into makeshift bomb shelters awaiting their own fight, with a massive Russian military convoy stationed just north of the city.

Teacher Irina Butyak, 38, has spent two days in the basement of her apartment block sheltering with some 20 people.

‘We have train tickets for western Ukraine for tomorrow,’ she told AFP as air raid sirens blared directly overhead.

‘I don’t think we will make the train.’

The subsequent explosion as Kharkiv, Ukraine's former capital, faced a sixth day of bombardment from Russia

The subsequent explosion as Kharkiv, Ukraine’s former capital, faced a sixth day of bombardment from Russia

A view of the square outside the damaged local city hall of Kharkiv after the central square of Ukraine's second city was shelled by advancing Russian forces

A view of the square outside the damaged local city hall of Kharkiv after the central square of Ukraine’s second city was shelled by advancing Russian forces

People help a wounded woman in the aftermath of a Russian shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday morning after Ukrainian President Zelensky declared Russia a 'terrorist state' over the attack

People help a wounded woman in the aftermath of a Russian shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday morning after Ukrainian President Zelensky declared Russia a ‘terrorist state’ over the attack

This image, posted by the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, shows the square outside the administrative building covered in rubble following the rocket attack

This image, posted by the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, shows the square outside the administrative building covered in rubble following the rocket attack

A view shows the regional administration building following the Russian rocket attack in central Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 1, 2022

A view shows the regional administration building following the Russian rocket attack in central Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 1, 2022

Rescue workers and medics are pictured close to the regional administration building in central Kharkiv, picking their way through the debris following the explosion

Rescue workers and medics are pictured close to the regional administration building in central Kharkiv, picking their way through the debris following the explosion

The bombardment of Kharkiv continued Tuesday morning with a rocket landing just in front of the civilian public administration building, destroying the road outside and blowing the windows out of the building itself. Footage from inside shows the building was heavily damaged, with ceilings collapsing and rubble strewn around

The bombardment of Kharkiv continued Tuesday morning with a rocket landing just in front of the civilian public administration building, destroying the road outside and blowing the windows out of the building itself. Footage from inside shows the building was heavily damaged, with ceilings collapsing and rubble strewn around

Kharkiv and Ukraine flags are pictured hanging from a blown out window of the administrative building after the Russian rocket attack in a symbol of defiance

Kharkiv and Ukraine flags are pictured hanging from a blown out window of the administrative building after the Russian rocket attack in a symbol of defiance

Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of war crimes on Monday after Vladimir Putin's forces launched what were believed to be cluster and vacuum bomb attacks on the fifth day of their invasion. Above: Kharkiv, Ukraine's second city, coming under heavy attack on Monday

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of war crimes on Monday after Vladimir Putin’s forces launched what were believed to be cluster and vacuum bomb attacks on the fifth day of their invasion. Above: Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, coming under heavy attack on Monday



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