The Russian military is continuing to advance on Kyiv in what a senior U.S. defense official has called an apparent attempt to encircle the Ukrainian capital, fueling concerns the Kremlin will adopt the same siege tactics there that have been seen in Kharkiv — the country’s second-largest city — which was bombarded Monday with some of the heaviest shelling since the invasion began.
Five hours of talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations near the Belarus border Monday failed to yield a breakthrough, with the two sides agreeing only to continue their discussions in coming days. Meanwhile, satellite images showed a massive convoy of Russian ground forces making its way toward Kyiv, drawing within 20 miles of the center of the capital on Monday.
Ukrainian officials say at least 11 people were killed and dozens hospitalized in Kharkiv, home to 1.5 million people, after Russia launched rocket strikes on Monday morning. Suspected cluster munitions struck buildings in residential parts of the city, raising fears that as Russia escalates attacks in urban areas it could use tactics similar to those it used in Chechnya and Syria, where it has been accused of widespread wartime abuses.
Here’s what to know
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a video posted late Monday, called the shelling of Kharkiv a “war crime” and the “deliberate destruction of people” in areas where there are no military facilities.
- Russia is careening toward an economic crisis, with the value of the ruble plunging after several nations severed the Kremlin’s access to its foreign currency reserves in the West and cut off some Russian banks from the international SWIFT financial messaging system.
- Fissures appear to be forming between Russian President Vladimir Putin and members of the oligarch class who made billions of dollars while showing fealty to the autocratic leader but now see their fortunes threatened by Western sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine.
UNDERSTANDING THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE CONFLICT