Ukraine’s Foreign Minister calls Kharkiv missile attack a “war crime” against civiliansReading Time: 2 minutes
As a massive Russian military convoy continued its approach toward the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, on Tuesday, the city of Kharkiv suffered Russian missile attacks, one of which hit the centre of Ukraine’s second-largest city, including residential areas and the regional administration building – 18 civilians were killed.
“Such attacks are genocide of the Ukrainian people, a war crime against the civilian population,” said Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. The mayor of Mariupol reported that the southern port city was under constant shelling, killing civilians and damaging infrastructure. More than 70 Ukrainian soldiers were killed after Russian shells hit a military base between Kharkiv and Kyiv, and by evening Al Jazeera’s reported that Russia had attacked a TV tower in Kyiv, killing five people.
In an address to the European Parliament via video conference on Tuesday Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky implored European leaders to “prove that you are with us”. The EU said it would consider Ukraine’s symbolic request to become a bloc member, according to European Council President Charles Michel, who said it would be difficult given the lack of unity among member states.
Although representatives from Ukraine and Russia are set to meet for talks on Wednesday, in an interview with international press, President Zelensky commented: “It’s necessary to at least stop bombing people, just stop the bombing and then sit down at the negotiating table.” Meanwhile, the Kremlin said that Western sanctions would never make Russia change its position on Ukraine.
On Tuesday night the EU approved cutting off seven Russian banks from the Swift banking system, and the Financial Times reported that the company behind the controversial Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline had filed for bankruptcy and laid off all of its employees due to US sanctions.
Developments in CEE
In the rest of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), Politico reported that in coordination with the EU’s attempt to deliver military aid to Ukraine, Poland said it would not send fighter jets to Ukraine; Bulgaria and Slovakia also recently ruled out the delivery of military aircraft to Ukraine. On Sunday, the EU had said it would apply EUR 450 million to help funnel weapons and other military equipment from member states to Ukraine.
The German air force said that its warplanes are flying armed air patrols “safeguarding the skies over Poland”, according to Reuters. Germany is also refuelling allied jets over Romania and supporting a multinational refuelling mission over Poland. Flying patrols for NATO, six of Germany’s Eurofighters have also been deployed to Romania. Berlin will also be sending Tornado warplanes and a maritime patrol aircraft to the Baltic Sea area.
The Guardian reported that after meeting Polish president Andrzej Duda, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday called on Russia to end the war in Ukraine and withdraw all its forces. He said the alliance will not be involved in the conflict and would not send troops or combat jets to support Kyiv. “We do not seek conflict with Russia,” he said, but said Russia should stop fighting and come to the negotiating table in good faith.