Explosion rocks Kiev train station as Russia advances to a standstill

A Russian airstrike hit near Kiev’s southern railway station on Wednesday, where thousands of women and children were being evacuated, Ukraine’s state-owned railway company said, as the UN General Assembly demanded that Moscow end his invasion.

The railway company, Ukrzaliznytsya, said there was no immediate news of the casualties and the station building suffered minor damage. The trains were still running.

Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, also came under heavy shelling on the seventh day of the war, but Ukrainians denied Russia’s claim that its forces had taken the Black Sea port of Kherson.

A US official also said control of Kherson remained contested and Russian forces appeared to be becoming more aggressive in targeting infrastructure inside Kyiv as its advances slowed in the face of fierce Ukrainian resistance.

The invasion has yet to achieve Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goal of overthrowing Ukraine’s government, but it has sent more than 870,000 people fleeing to neighboring countries and rattled the global economy as governments and businesses line up to isolate Moscow.

Firefighters work to contain a blaze at a building complex in Kharkiv that was damaged in a bombardment by Russian forces on Wednesday. | AFP-JIJI

The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to deplore the invasion “in the strongest terms”. He demanded that Russia withdraw its forces in a resolution supported by 141 of the 193 members of the assembly.

Although the General Assembly resolutions are not binding, they carry political weight, with Wednesday’s vote representing a symbolic victory for Ukraine and furthering Moscow’s international isolation.

French President Emmanuel Macron hailed the courage of Ukrainians in the face of a war he says is Putin’s sole responsibility.

“The days ahead will probably be increasingly difficult,” Macron said in a nationally televised address.

Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko said Wednesday night’s explosion near Kyiv’s train station may have cut off the city’s central heating supply in freezing temperatures.

A Reuters witness said the blast shook the ground. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

After failing to quickly take major cities and subdue the Ukrainian military, US officials said for days they believed Russia would instead seek to encircle cities, cut off supply and evacuation routes , then to attack with a combined force of armor, ground troops and engineers. .

The most intensive bombardment hit Kharkiv, a city of 1.5 million people to the east, turning the center into a bombarded wasteland of crumbling buildings and debris.

“The Russian ‘liberators’ have arrived,” lamented a Ukrainian volunteer sarcastically, as he and three others struggled to carry the corpse of a man wrapped in a sheet out of the ruins of a main square.

At least 25 people have been killed by shelling and airstrikes in Kharkiv in the past 24 hours, authorities said.

Firefighters are trying to put out a blaze on Wednesday at Kharkiv National University, which city officials say was damaged by recent Russian shelling.  |  Reuters
Firefighters are trying to put out a blaze on Wednesday at Kharkiv National University, which city officials say was damaged by recent Russian shelling. | Reuters

Pavel Dorogoy, 36, a photographer who lives near the city center, said Russian forces targeted the council building, which was empty at the time, a telephone exchange and a television tower.

“Most people have been hiding in basements for most of the day today and last night. … The Russians can’t get into the city so they just attack us from afar, they just want to destroy what they can,” he said.

Moscow denies having targeted civilians and says it wants to disarm Ukraine as part of a “special military operation”.

Hopes for a diplomatic way out of the crisis continued to dim. Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said a Ukrainian delegation left for a second round of talks with Russian officials on a ceasefire after a first round made little progress on Monday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said Russia must stop bombing if it wants to negotiate.

According to Washington’s assessment, the US official said, there has been no significant change on the ground in Ukraine since Tuesday despite the launch of more than 450 Russian missiles against Ukrainian targets.

Russia said it had captured Kherson, a southern provincial capital of about 250,000 people strategically placed where the Dnipro River empties into the Black Sea.

Zelenskyy’s adviser Oleksiy Arestovych denied that Kherson was fully under Russian control, saying: “The city has not fallen, our side continues to defend itself.”

A train full of evacuees prepares to leave a Kiev train station on Wednesday.
A train full of evacuees prepares to leave a Kiev train station on Wednesday.

Apple, Exxon, Boeing and other companies have joined an exodus of international companies from Russian markets that has isolated Moscow financially and diplomatically.

The European Union and the United States also imposed new sanctions on Belarus for its supporting role in the invasion.

Amid calls to face sanctions, Russian businessman Roman Abramovich has said he will sell London’s Chelsea Football Club and donate the proceeds to help war victims.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was still seeking the “demilitarization” of Ukraine and said there should be a list of specific weapons that could never be deployed on Ukrainian territory. Moscow opposes Kiev joining NATO.

Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova received a standing ovation at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday, in stark contrast to Tuesday’s walkout by more than 100 diplomats during a speech by Lavrov.

The Russian Defense Ministry said 498 Russian soldiers had died in Ukraine and 1,597 others had been injured since the start of the invasion. It was the first time that Moscow put a figure on its victims. He said more than 2,870 Ukrainian soldiers and “nationalists” had been killed, the Interfax news agency reported.

Ukraine said more than 7,000 Russian soldiers had been killed so far and hundreds taken prisoner, including senior officers.

The figures given by Moscow and Kyiv could not be independently verified.

Nearly 875,000 people have fled Ukraine during the seven days of conflict, the UN refugee agency said on Wednesday, and the number is expected to rise.  |  AFP-JIJI
Nearly 875,000 people have fled Ukraine during the seven days of conflict, the UN refugee agency said on Wednesday, and the number is expected to rise. | AFP-JIJI

Russia’s main advance on the capital – a huge armored column, stretching for miles along the road from Kiev – was largely frozen in place for days, according to Western governments.

The Kremlin’s decision to go to war – after months of denials of such plans – has shocked Russians accustomed to seeing Putin, their 22-year-old leader, as a methodical strategist.

The Russian ruble plunged to a new all-time high on Wednesday, a drop that will hit Russians’ living standards, and the stock market remained closed. The central bank, itself under sanctions, doubled interest rates to 20%.

Echoing the post-Soviet economic collapse of the 1990s, Russians lined up at banks to save their savings.

Ukraine said more than 1,000 volunteers from 16 countries were on their way to fight alongside Ukrainian forces and that this would free any Russian prisoners whose mothers come to pick them up at the border.

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