Russia escalates shelling
Russian forces stepped up their offensive early Tuesday with bombs raining down on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, as the 40-mile-long convoy of tanks and other military equipment forged forward towards Kyiv. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said he believed Russia was trying to force Ukraine into surrendering by ramping up the shelling across Ukraine following a peace summit between the two nations in Belarus on Monday which did not lead to an immediate ceasefire.
‘Putin kills children’ – Zelensky
President Zelensky has told an extraordinary plenary of the EU Parliament, on video link, that “Putin talks about operations against military infrastructures, but he kills children; yesterday they were not military targets that the Russians hit but he killed 16 children with his missiles”. Zelensky said, “This has been a tragic morning. We are giving our lives for freedom.” He called for the Parliament to “prove you are together with us”, prove they will not repel Ukraine and prove they are “real Europeans”. He was given a standing ovation.
Belarus army appears to join Russian invasion
Belarus has reportedly joined the invasion of Ukraine with President Alexander Lukashenko’s troops thought to have entered the Chernihiv region in the north of the country this morning. Belarusian soldiers have stepped onto Ukrainian soil, according to a statement from the Ukrainian Parliament. According to local reports, a Belarusian column of 33 tanks entered the region north of Kyiv before lunchtime on Tuesday.
Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has been snubbed by Western diplomats while addressing a UN disarmament meeting in Geneva by video link. They all walked out when he began to speak. They stood in a circle outside the meeting for the duration of Lavrov’s speech, holding a Ukrainian flag. He later accused Europe of “an anti-Russian frenzy”. In his speech, Lavrov blamed Kyiv for the crisis, warning it was trying to assemble nuclear weapons. “Ukraine still has Soviet technologies and the means of delivery of such weapons… and we cannot fail to respond to this real danger”, he said.
NATO will strengthen defence of its allies
NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said that during a video-conference of western allies, held by US President Joe Biden, the allies “decided to take further measures to ensure the security and defence of all allies and will continue to adapt to a ‘new normal’ in European security”. They reiterated “the call for Russia to immediately stop the war, withdraw all its forces from Ukraine and return to the path of dialogue.
EU bans ‘Russia Today’ and ‘Sputnik’
European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, has said that the EU has today banned ‘Russia Today’ and ‘Sputnik’ on the EU market on all media: television, satellite, streaming, apps, IPTV and Isp”. He said this was an unprecedented sanction to stop the Kremlin’s media machine from acting.
‘Russia used thermobaric vacuum bomb’
Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States has accused Russia of using a thermobaric vacuum bomb on Monday – an immensely devastating and powerful weapon – in a plea from the US Congress for more help in defending against the Russian invasion. “They used the vacuum bomb, which is prohibited by the Geneva convention,” Ambassador Oksana Markarova said after a meeting with legislators. “A vacuum bomb is a deadly explosive fueled by oxygen from the surrounding air, generating a high-temperature blast that typically produces a blast wave of a significantly longer duration than that of a conventional explosive. It’s not clear where the bomb was detonated.
Zelensky gives Johnson ‘shopping list’ of weapons
The Ukrainian president has presented British Prime Minister Boris Johnson with a “shopping list” of arms needed to defeat Putin’s troops – with more British anti-tank missiles shipped over almost daily. Johnson said the latest batch of weapons would be flown out to Poland and driven into Ukraine within “hours and days”.
Russian sanctions hit sports, cultural activities
Russian football teams have been banned from all European and world tournaments and matches over Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Both FIFA and UEFA agreed to suspend all Russian teams until further notice. The ban applies to club teams and to the Russian national side. The ban puts further significance for the future of Russian representation across all sporting competitions, as sports federations and event organisers have been told by the International Olympic Committee that Russian and Belarusian athletes should not be allowed to participate in international competitions. And in a move likely to disappoint martial arts fan Vladimir Putin, World Taekwondo said it was stripping Russia’s leader of the honourary 9th dan black belt it awarded him in 2013. German football club Schalke has decided to end its long-standing partnership with Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom while Manchester United is the latest to distance itself from Russia, announcing it had abandoned Aeroflot as a sponsor after the government banned all its aircraft from landing on UK soil. Cultural events have also been hit: The Royal Opera House in London has cancelled the world-famous Bolshoi Ballet’s planned summer tour while Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre and Northampton’s The Royal & Derngate Theatre have axed the Russian State Ballet’s tour in the wake of the Ukraine attacks.