Residential areas in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, were being pounded by Russian shells while satellite imagery showed a massive 40-mile convoy of Russian tanks and vehicles rolling toward the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on Tuesday as the Ukraine war roared into its sixth day.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called an attack on Kharkiv’s main square “frank, undisguised terror” and a war crime.
“Nobody will forgive. Nobody will forget,” Zelenskyy said. “This is state terrorism of the Russian Federation.”
Lengthy talks Monday aimed at stopping the war yielded only an agreement to keep talking. Zelenskyy said stepped-up shelling was aimed at forcing him into concessions.
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Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said Tuesday that his government remained under control but said the city is surrounded by Russian troops.
“Military equipment and armored vehicles are coming from different directions,” he told The Washington Post in a phone interview.
Terekhov said a government building and the opera and ballet theater were among building shelled. Transformer stations were also struck by artillery, cutting off power to much of the city, he said. The shelling had stalled efforts to supply the city with food and medical supplies, he said.
“There are casualties, and by now, there are certainly a lot more of them, after the night and morning shelling,” he told the Post. “The situation is pretty grave.”
►The Russian military’s movements have been stalled by fierce resistance on the ground and a surprising inability to dominate the airspace. Russia also finds itself increasingly isolated as a result of international condemnation and potentially backbreaking economic sanctions.
►Zelenskyy, in an address to the European parliament Tuesday, said his country is fighting “to be equal members of Europe,” saying, “We have proven that, as a minimum, we are the same as you.”
►The United States and European Union have taken steps to remove Russian banks from the SWIFT network, which allows for payments between financial institutions, and to restrict Russia’s use of its massive foreign currency reserves.
►The Russian currency plunged about 30% against the U.S. dollar, making the ruble worth less than a penny.
USA TODAY FACT CHECK ROUNDUP: What’s true and what’s false about the Russian invasion of Ukraine
More than 70 Ukrainian soldiers were killed after Russian artillery hit a military base in Okhtyrka, a city between Kharkiv and Kyiv, the head of the region wrote on Telegram. Dmytro Zhyvytskyy posted photographs of the charred shell of a four-story building and rescuers searching rubble. In a later Facebook post, he said many Russian soldiers and some residents also were killed during the fighting on Sunday. The report could not immediately be confirmed.
Earlier Monday, Russian forces shelled Ukraine’s second-largest city, rocking a residential neighborhood as they closed in on the capital, Kyiv, in a 40-mile convoy that included hundreds of tanks and other military vehicles.
— Celina Tebor
The Walt Disney Co., Sony Pictures Entertainment and Warner Bros. are joining the list of businesses retaliating against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. Disney is pausing the release of theatrical films in Russia, including the upcoming “Turning Red” from Pixar, in response to the attack, the company said in a statement Monday. The company said it is working with nongovernmental organizations to provide aid and other humanitarian assistance to refugees.
WarnerMedia is putting the release of The Batman on hold in Russia. The film starring Robert Pattinson had been set to open in Russia on Thursday. “We will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves,” Warner Bros. said in a statement. “We hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to this tragedy.”
Sony Pictures is also pausing planned theatrical releases in Russia, including the upcoming release of Morbius which is due out in early April,
“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been impacted and hope this crisis will be resolved quickly,” a Sony Pictures spokesperson told USA TODAY in a statement.
– Michael Collins
Mastercard announced Monday it was blocking “multiple financial institutions from the Mastercard payment network” as a result of sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. The U.S.-based financial services company said in a statement it will continue to work with regulators to stay in compliance and is actively monitoring and preparing to respond to cyberattacks. The financial corporation also said it would donate $2 million in humanitarian relief.
The U.S. and EU have sanctioned top Kremin officials and Russian elites as well as taken steps to remove Russian banks from the SWIFT network, which allows for payments between financial institutions.
— Celina Tebor
Contributing: The Associated Press