The Government of Volodímir Zelenski assures that Russia is planning a great “psychological operation” to convince the Ukrainians to capitulate and is pointing its missiles at civilians to try to demoralize the population.
The brutal attack in Kharkov against civilians: “We will never forgive the Russians”
In Kiev, two Russian missiles have hit the television tower on Tuesday, interrupting access to news and radio and television broadcasts. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said the Kremlin was preparing a cutoff that would leave much of Ukraine without the Internet and without communications.
“Their goal is to end the resistance of the people and the Army, they can interrupt the connection, and after that, massively spread false messages saying that the country’s leadership has surrendered,” Reznikov posted on Twitter. “There is no surrender! Only victory.”
Ukrainian authorities say that Russia will not be able to cut off Internet access throughout the country. Instead, the Kremlin is likely to set its sights on the south and east of the country, where Russian forces are trying to take Kharkov, Ukraine’s second city; and the surrounded city of Mariúpol, on the coast.
Second round of talks
The media operation of “capitulation” coincides with the second round of negotiations between Russian and Ukrainian authorities, which, according to some sources, is scheduled for this Wednesday. The first meeting, held on Monday at the border with Belarus, did not give positive results.
Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko confirmed that the TV tower was out of service due to damage to the substation and hardware. He also said that engineers would try to fix the tower to resume broadcasts as soon as possible.
Andriy Yermak, President Zelensky’s chief of staff, has said the missiles had landed near Babi Yar, a ravine where 30,000 Jews killed by the Nazis were buried. “These barbarians are once again murdering the victims of the Holocaust,” he wrote on Twitter.
Israel’s Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center has expressed “vehement condemnation” of the Russian attack near the site. “We call on the international community to take coordinated action to safeguard civilian lives, as well as these historic sites, due to their irreplaceable value for Holocaust research, education and commemoration.”
Vladimir Putin last week assured the start of a “special operation” in Ukraine to supposedly demilitarize and “denazify” the country. Six days after the start of the invasion, Russia has largely given up pretending it will only attack military targets. Instead, it has caused a new massacre of civilians.
Objectives without military value
At least seven people have been killed and 24 injured in a series of missile attacks on homes and offices in Kharkov. One of the projectiles was a long-range rocket that hit the main regional administrative building in the city, a symbol of the Ukrainian state.
A video shows how the rocket crashed into the government office at 8:00 a.m., leaving behind debris and clouds of dust. Several civilian cars passed by. Authorities say the attack was an attempt by Moscow to kill the Kharkov governor and wipe out his entire team.
Governor Oleg Sinegubov has led the defense of Kharkiv, which on Sunday repelled an incursion by Russian forces trying to take control. In what seems like a change of strategy, the Kremlin has intensified its bombing of Kharkov, where 1.4 million people live, since Monday.
Russian missiles hit numerous targets with no military value on Tuesday, according to residents. Among them, the opera and ballet theater, the newly opened Kharkov zoo, next to an area of the central park, and hospital number three, which was split in two. The city’s aviation factory has been hit for the third time.
“All our dreams have been destroyed,” says Galina Padalko, head of communications for a Ukrainian publishing house. “Today it was the administration building and the zoo, yesterday it was our neighborhood, the bombing started five days ago, this has not stopped.”
Padalko says the central Kharkiv flat she shares with her husband, Dmytro, is 700 meters from where the street a Russian missile landed on Monday, killing a woman who had gone out shopping. “We don’t leave our flat, we use the hallway as a bomb shelter.”
Rescue teams have searched through the rubble in Liberty Square, where the regional administration building is located. Bodies have been recovered and ten survivors have been pulled from the rubble. One of the dead was a student from India. A child has been injured. Nearby were burned-out cars and slabs of masonry.
According to city authorities, another airstrike has hit a five-story residential building, killing eight people and injuring six others. Firefighters have unearthed two survivors and put out a fire on the roof of the opera house.
“This is terrorism against Kharkov, terrorism against Ukraine, there was no military target in the square, the missile in the central square is pure terror, undisguised. No one will forgive, no one will forget. This attack on Kharkov is a war crime Zelensky said in a video message. The president has also assured that the Kremlin was now targeting Kiev and Kharkov in an attempt to “break our resistance”.
“It’s a planned attack”
Faced with the difficulty of obtaining a military victory and the continued resistance of the Ukrainian Army, Putin seems to have redoubled his efforts by sending new troops. More soldiers were on their way to Kiev, including a convoy of Belarusian armored vehicles. They entered from the north through the Ukrainian region of Chernigov, according to the Ukrainian authorities, in the first military operation in which Belarus has joined Russia.
The attacks against the civilian population appear to have become a deliberate policy. Former Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Zagorodnyuk says: “The missile launched at the administration building was a planned attack.” “The idea is to psychologically break Kharkiv so that they can enter the city. Of course, that doesn’t work with the Ukrainians. They don’t know it yet.”
“Of course people are worried, people are anguished, thinking they could be next, but that doesn’t change the desire to fight and protect,” he says.
With the war entering a new and brutal phase, the Ukrainian Army has suffered heavy losses. More than 70 Ukrainian soldiers have died after Russian artillery hit a military base in the city of Okhtirka, between Kharkiv and Kiev.
Russian advance in the south
In the south, Russian forces have continued to tighten their hold. The port city of Mariupol was surrounded by enemy troops, with Russian regular forces to the north and west, and separatist rebels to the east. After multiple missile attacks, the city has been left without electricity.
In Kherson, which had resisted the invasion since last week, armored vehicles and Russian infantry have already entered. Hennadiy Lahuta, head of the Kherson regional administration, has said that the Russians have penetrated the city. Air raid sirens and loud explosions have been heard.
A crowd of unarmed civilians has stopped in front of a Russian convoy in the southern city of Melitopol, now occupied by Russia. “Fascists, are you going to shoot us peacefully? We have no weapons, go home,” they chanted. And also: “Go to hell.” Nervous, a Russian soldier has fired into the air.
At oblast of Sumy, located in the northeast of Ukraine and close to the Russian border, the first exchange of prisoners of the conflict has taken place. According to a report by the Reuters agency, the regional governor of Sumy, Dmytro Zhyvytskyy, has written on social networks that five members of the territorial defense have been exchanged for a Russian agent and that it is the first such exchange in the area. He has also posted a video of a blond man handcuffed and wearing a green camouflage jacket who the governor said was born in 1997 in the Russian city of Omsk.
Six days at war: the resistance diary recorded by Igor and Oksana, in ‘An issue a day’
Translated by Francisco de Zarate.