Russian paratroopers stormed a military hospital in Kharkiv overnight – as forces close in on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
Fighting was ongoing overnight in Kharkiv and Kherson, while a long convoy of Russian military vehicles is now about 20 miles northwest of the capital, Kyiv.
Russia’s defence ministry said on Wednesday morning that its armed forces had captured the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, RIA news agency reported.
In Kharkiv, Russian paratroopers launched an airborne assault on a military hospital in the early hours of Wednesday and it is understood that fighting was still underway at 4am GMT.
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Kharkiv Region Police Chief Volodymyr Tymoshko said no Ukrainian troops were killed in the gunfight.
He said: “Currently the situation near the hospital is under control, security has been strengthened.”
Meanwhile, at least 21 people were killed and 112 injured in rocket strikes on the centre of Kharkiv, Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko said.
Two buildings in the northeastern city have also been struck by missiles this morning.
Попадання російської ракети в будівлю Національної поліції в місті Харків.
❌Ось так і виглядає “русскій мір”❌ pic.twitter.com/E5QFw3f384
— Defence of Ukraine (@DefenceU) March 2, 2022
Sky News has verified a video showing the attack in central Kharkiv, damaging Karazin National University and an adjacent police building.
Similar strikes that killed and wounded dozens in Ukraine’s capital in previous days involved cluster bombs, experts have said.
Troops close in on Kyiv, residents urged to flee
Russia’s defence ministry urged Kyiv residents to flee the capital, saying it would strike unspecified areas used by Ukraine’s security services and communications.
A long convoy of Russian armoured vehicles is understood to be within 20 miles of Kyiv, as an attack on the Ukrainian capital looks imminent.
But a US official said that the forces had not escalated in the past 24 hours due to being frozen by logistics problems, short on fuel and food, and perhaps pausing to reassess tactics.
Yesterday, five were killed in an attack on the Kyiv TV tower.
“Nobody will forgive. Nobody will forget,” Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed after the bloodshed on the central square in Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, and the deadly bombing of a TV tower in the capital.
In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Mr Zelenskyy condemned Russia for indiscriminately attacking Ukrainian citizens and historical landmarks.
He said: “As you can see, no one is being very careful about the targets. We see the children are being killed… We are defending our right for life.”
He added that Moscow is “launching their missiles against the ancient old Kyiv, the heart of Kyiv.”
The Ukraine leader, who confirmed he hadn’t seen his family for three days, said of Russian soldiers: “They have no idea what they [are] doing. They don’t know our streets. They don’t know this people. They don’t understand our philosophy. Our mentality, our aspirations, what kind of people here they have, they know nothing.
“They’re just sent to kill and die.”
Russia’s unrestrained bombing actions on Tuesday raised concerns that more civilians could be killed in strikes.
The UN claims at least 660,000 Ukrainians have fled their homes.
In the city of Zhytomyr, four people, including a child, were killed on Tuesday by a Russian cruise missile, a Ukrainian official said.
US President Joe Biden said that Russian President Vladimir Putin must “pay a price” for his invasion of Ukraine as he announced the closure of US airspace to Russian flights.
In a State of the Union address, Mr Biden told Americans to “draw inspiration from the iron will of the Ukrainian people”.
Occupation of Kherson
Russian armed forces have taken full control of the regional centre of Kherson after entering the city overnight, the Russian defence ministry has said.
The southern city is now “completely surrounded” by Russian troops, according to the city’s mayor.
Earlier, Igor Kolykhayev said Moscow had taken control of the city’s railway station and port overnight.
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Witnesses claim Russian troops are on the streets, though the exact situation in the city remains unclear.
The Russian military is currently active in several Ukrainian cities, with Ukraine’s south-eastern port of Mariupol under constant shelling and unable to evacuate the injured.
“We are fighting, we are not ceasing to defend our motherland,” Mariupol mayor Vadym Boichenko said live on
Elsewhere, Ukraine’s defence forces said on Wednesday morning that Russian troops are attempting to continue their attack on the outskirts of Horenychi, Hostomel and Demidiv “in the direction of Kyiv in order to block the capital from the northern and northwestern directions”.
Ukraine says that up to 17 BTGs are attempting to block Kyiv from the northeast “despite the loss of manpower and equipment”.
The country’s defence forces added that Russian troops were stopped in Kozelets, Bobrovytsia and Makiiv, while Moscow reportedly “lost their offensive potential” in parts of Svitilnya, Peremoha and Hostroluchcha.
Ukrainian officials believe that Belarus is preparing to join Russia in the fighting, with satellite imagery showing Belarussian aircraft assembling near the border.