The Russian army today began shelling Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, whose TV tower was hit by a missile, although the worst part was taken by this nation’s second city, Kharkiv, where Russian artillery hit the country’s largest square.
“It’s our land and we’ll be here. We have no other home because Kyiv is our home,” Ruslan Stefanchuk, the chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, told Efe news agency today during an interview in the Parliament air-raid shelter.
The attack on Kyiv, of which the Russian Defense Ministry was warned in advance, took place after the alarm was raised by the publication of images of a gigantic convoy of Russian tanks dangerously approaching the city.
“Putin’s Nazis just bombed the TV tower,” wrote Anton Geraschenko, an advisor to the Interior Ministry, on his Telegram channel.
One missile hit the tower itself and another fell near a subway station close by, strikes that damaged the electrical substation that powers the building and the hardware of the facility itself.
As a result, five civilians were killed and five other people were injured, according to preliminary data.
Several television channels immediately stopped broadcasting.
Authorities highlighted that the tower is located in the territory of Babyn Yar, the location of one of the biggest crimes committed by the Nazis during World War II.
“On September 29-30, 1941, Nazis killed over 33 thousand Jews here. 80 years later, Russian Nazis strike this same land to exterminate Ukrainians. Evil and barbaric,” Geraschenko denounced.
Shortly before, Russia had warned people in Kyiv of imminent shelling of their city, which had not experienced anything like this since the Nazi invasion in 1941, and urged those living nearby to leave their homes.
The mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, then advised his fellow citizens to spend the night in air-raid shelters.
The defense of Kyiv
In anticipation of a Russian assault, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, appointed a general, Nikolai Zhirnov, head of the Kyiv military administration.
“Many cities in our country are under attack. We cannot lose the capital,” he explained.
He stressed that at the moment Kyiv and Kharkiv are the priorities of Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin, who uses “terror” to break Ukraine’s resistance.
“They advance on the capital in the same way as on Kharkiv. This is why the defense of the capital today is the key priority for the state. Kyiv is special. If we protect Kyiv, we will protect the state. This is the heart of our country, and it must keep beating,” he said.
As the hours progressed, security measures and defense lines were strengthened in Kyiv. Trucks deposited sand in several strategic places to make sandbags, which already cover the doors and windows of the main government buildings.
According to satellite images of Maxar Technologies, the Russian convoy is 64 kilometers long, consists of armored cars, artillery pieces, and other vehicles, and on Monday it was about 30 kilometers from the center of the capital.
The European Union
For all these reasons, the speaker of the Rada assured that joining the European Union “is very important now” that the country is at war, although “the government, the parliament and the banking system continue to function.”
“It would also be a big step for the world. The Ukrainian people are fighting for European values. I don’t know if there is another country that has shed so much blood in its aspiration for EU membership,” he argued.
He recalled that 67% of Ukrainians want their country to join the EU.
“I hope that the European parliaments will help us to join. I have talked to many presidents of parliaments and they tell me that they are with us. We are ready. Now it is their decision,” he noted.
Stefanchuk admitted that the situation “is not easy” and, in fact, stressed that on Tuesday he had descended seven times to the basement of the Legislative.
Attack on Kharkiv
Kyiv may be the ultimate target of the enemy military campaign, but Kharkiv is now taking almost all the blows of the Russian war machine.
In the most serious attack on civilians since the beginning of the invasion, a shell hit this morning in front of the regional government building.
Images released show how the shell hit several cars driving or parked in the square, killing ten people and injuring 35.
“We woke up in a new reality. The center of Kharkiv, the largest square in Europe, under attack. Horrible!” explained Stefanchuk.
He recalled that Kharkiv is a university city, where the majority of its population speaks Russian, even though they feel Ukrainian.
“I don’t understand, what are they doing to Kharkiv?” he wondered.