Russian troops landed this Wednesday in Kharkiv (east), the second Ukrainian city, and claimed to have taken Kherson (south) on the seventh day of the invasion launched by Vladimir Putin, whom Joe Biden described as a “dictator” and whose country is the target of strong sanctions by the West.
“Russian airborne troops have landed in Kharkiv (…) and attacked a hospital”the Ukrainian army reported in a statement on Telegram. “There is a fight going on between the invaders and the Ukrainians”he added.
This eastern city of 1.4 million inhabitants, located near the border and with a large Russian-speaking population, was the target of bombing launched the day before, causing civilian casualties and which Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky described as “war crimes”. .
“There are practically no areas left in Kharkov where artillery shells have not hit”, An adviser to the Ministry of the Interior, Anton Gerashchenko, noted on Telegram.
In the south, the Russian army claimed the capture of Kherson, a city of 290,000 inhabitants at the mouth of the Dnieper River in the Black Sea that they had surrounded in the previous hours.
The offensive, which since its inception seven days ago has left hundreds of civilian victims, unleashed a wave of sanctions against Russia on all fronts – financial, sports, cultural or business – that have shaken its economy but have not made its president back down. Vladimir Putin.
“A Russian dictator, who invades a foreign country, has costs throughout the world”, US President Joe Biden said in his first State of the Union address, focused in part on the conflict in Ukraine.
The Democratic leader assured that the leader of the Kremlin was wrong to underestimate the response of the West to his invasion and that now “It is more isolated from the world than ever.”
In addition, he announced that he will prohibit the access of Russian planes to US airspace and the creation of a special body to investigate the Russian oligarchs, who will be left without “their yachts, their luxury apartments, their private planes.”
But despite his criticism of “premeditated and wholly unprovoked” aggression, Biden insisted he would not deploy troops in the ground.
-Fear in Kiev-
In the capital Kiev, an attack hit the television tower, leaving five dead and five injured. Local authorities fear a major assault following the release of satellite images of a Russian convoy more than 60 kilometers long north of the city.
Ukrainian media reported new explosions overnight in the capital and in Bila Tserkva, some 80 km to the south. In addition, the emergency service reported a bombardment of residential areas in Yítomir (266,000 inhabitants), west of Kiev, with two dead and three wounded.
In the south, in addition to the capture of Kherson, the Russian army indicated the day before that it had established contact between the troops advancing from the annexed Crimean peninsula and the militias of the pro-Russian separatists in Donbas, information that could not be verified. but that it would be a strategic achievement for his forces.
In the middle of these two territories, the port city of Mariúpol resists, which was left without electricity due to the bombings that, according to its mayor, left more than a hundred injured.
For Kiev, a new danger looms to the north, in Belarus, an ally of Moscow, which has ordered the deployment of additional troops to the border with Ukraine. According to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, these troops could “to support the Russian invaders in the future.”
Ukraine denounced Russia before the International Court of Justice, which convened hearings on March 7 and 8 to study the allegations of Kyiv of alleged war crimes. According to the Ukrainian authorities, more than 350 civilians were killed in the conflict, including 14 children.
In addition, around 677,000 people have fled and another million were displaced inside Ukraine, according to the UN, which called for an urgent collection of 1.7 billion dollars, estimating that in the coming months 16 million people will need help in Ukraine and in the neighbor countries.
-Sanctions of all kinds-
Subject to sports bans, boycotts and sanctions of all kinds, Russia defends its offensive as a move to protect the population of pro-Russian rebel territories in eastern Ukraine and topple its pro-Western government.
The European Union, United States and its allied countries have activated an unprecedented arsenal of measures against Moscow: closing the airspace to its aircraft, exclusion from the Swift interbank messaging system, asset freezing, trade restrictions, among others.
Due to these measures, the main Russian bank Sberbank announced its exit from the European market, noting that its subsidiaries face “irregular outflows of funds and threats to the security of their employees and branches.”
The rain of sanctions also came from sports, culture and business.
Among the latest companies to separate from the Russian market are Apple, the oil companies ExxonMobil and Eni or the aviation giant Boeing, which suspended its support services to Russian airlines.
However, the president Zelensky asked more of Western countries. In a call with Biden he stressed the need to “stop” the invasion “as soon as possible” and in a video conference in the European Parliament he reiterated his request to enter the European Union immediately.
The crisis caused the ruble and the Russian stock markets to sink, and oil prices shot up, with a barrel of Brent and WTI above 110 dollars.