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Live Ukraine Updates: Russia Escalates Attacks on Civilian Areas

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An inspector examines the City Hall building following Russian shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 1, 2022. (AP/Pavel Dorogoy)
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The latest developments on the Russia-Ukraine war:

KYIV, Ukraine — Russian forces escalated their attacks on crowded urban areas Tuesday, bombarding the central square in Ukraine’s second-biggest city and Kyiv’s main TV tower in what the country’s president called a blatant campaign of terror.

“Nobody will forgive. Nobody will forget,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed after the bloodshed on the square in Kharkiv.

Ukrainian authorities said five people were killed in the attack on the TV tower, which is a couple of miles from central Kyiv and a short walk from numerous apartment buildings. A TV control room and power substation were hit, and at least some Ukrainian channels briefly stopped broadcasting, officials said.

Zelenskyy’s office also reported a powerful missile attack on the site of the Babi Yar Holocaust memorial, near the tower. A spokesman for the memorial said a Jewish cemetery at the site, where Nazi occupiers killed more than 33,000 Jews over two days in 1941, was damaged, but the extent would not be clear until daylight.

At the same time, a 40-mile convoy of hundreds of Russian tanks and other vehicles advanced slowly on Kyiv, the capital city of nearly 3 million people, in what the West feared was a bid by Russian President Vladimir Putin to topple the government and install a Kremlin-friendly regime.

The invading forces also pressed their assault on other towns and cities, including the strategic ports of Odesa and Mariupol in the south.

Day 6 of the biggest ground war in Europe since World War II found Russia increasingly isolated, beset by tough sanctions that have thrown its economy into turmoil and left the country practically friendless, apart from a few nations like China, Belarus, and North Korea.

Britain’s Defense Ministry said it had seen an increase in Russian air and artillery strikes on populated urban areas over the past two days. It also said three cities — Kharkiv, Kherson, and Mariupol — were encircled by Russian forces.

Many military experts worry that Russia may be shifting tactics. Moscow’s strategy in Chechnya and Syria was to use artillery and air bombardments to pulverize cities and crush fighters’ resolve.

The bombing of the TV tower came after Russia announced it would target transmission facilities in the capital used by Ukraine’s intelligence agency. It urged people living near such places to leave their home.

5,000 Russian Soldiers Captured or Killed: Intelligence Official

BRUSSELS — A senior Western intelligence official briefed by multiple intelligence agencies estimated Tuesday that more than 5,000 Russian soldiers have been captured or killed so far, and that Ukrainian forces have eliminated significant numbers of Russian aircraft and tanks and some air defense systems.

The official said that Russian forces have increased use of artillery north of Kyiv and around the eastern city of Kharkiv and northern city of Chernihiv, and have been using heavier weapons over the last 48 hours.

The official also said that Russian forces are bogging down in the Donbas region in the east, where most Ukrainian forces are concentrated after eight years fighting Russian-backed separatists there. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the intelligence assessment.

US Approves Sending Stinger Missiles to Ukraine

WASHINGTON — The U.S. for the first time has approved the direct delivery of Stinger missiles to Ukraine as part of a package approved by the White House on Friday.

The exact timing of delivery is not known, but officials say the U.S. is currently working on the logistics of the shipment. The officials agreed to discuss the development only if not quoted by name.

The decision comes on the heels of Germany’s announcement that it will send 500 Stinger missiles and other weapons and supplies to Ukraine.

The high-speed Stingers are very accurate and are used to shoot down helicopters and other aircraft. Ukrainian officials have been asking for more of the powerful weapons.

The Baltic states have also been providing Ukraine with Stingers since January, and in order to do that had to get U.S. permission.

352 Civilian Deaths, Including 14 Children

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s Interior Ministry says 352 Ukrainian civilians have been killed during Russia’s invasion, including 14 children. It says an additional 1,684 people, including 116 children, have been wounded.

he ministry’s statement Sunday does not give any information on casualties among Ukraine’s armed forces.

Russia has claimed that its troops are targeting only Ukrainian military facilities and says that Ukraine’s civilian population is not in danger.

Russia has not released any information on casualties among its troops. The Russian Defense Ministry acknowledged on Sunday only that Russian soldiers have been killed and wounded, without giving any numbers.

Family members hug as they reunite, after fleeing conflict in Ukraine, at the Medyka border crossing, in Poland, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. Since Russia launched its offensive on Ukraine, more than 200,000 people have been forced to flee the country to bordering nations like Romania, Poland, Hungary, Moldova, and the Czech Republic — in what the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, said will have “devastating humanitarian consequences” on civilians. (AP/Visar Kryeziu)

Russia Faces Challenges to Financial System

NEW YORK — Some early signs are emerging of significant economic consequences to Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. While official quotes for the Russian ruble were unchanged at roughly 84 rubles to the dollar, one online Russian bank, Tinkoff, was giving an unofficial exchange rate of 152 rubles over the weekend.

Videos from Russia showed long lines of Russians trying to withdraw cash from ATMs, while the Russian Central Bank issued a statement calling for calm, in an effort to avoid bank runs. Reports also showed that Visa and Mastercard were no longer being accepted for those with international bank accounts.

“Banks and credit card companies dealing with Russia are going into lockdown mode given the fast pace and increasing bite of the sanctions,” said Amanda DeBusk, a partner with Dechert LLP.

Russia may have to temporarily close bank branches or declare a national bank holiday to protect its financial system, analysts said.

“If there’s a full-scale banking panic, that’s a driver of crisis in its own right,” said Adam Tooze, a professor of history at Columbia University and Director of the European Institute. “A rush into dollars by the Russian general population moves things into an entirely new domain of financial warfare.”

Subsidiary of Russian Bank ‘Likely to Fail’

FRANKFURT, Germany — An Austria-based subsidiary of Russia’s state-owned Sberbank has been ruled likely to fail after depositors fled due to the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The European Central Bank said early Monday that the bank had 13.6 billion euros in assets at the end of last year, but has experienced “significant deposit outflows” due to “geopolitical tensions.”

The ECB says Vienna-headquartered Sberbank Europe AG “is likely to be unable to pay its debts or other liabilities as they fall due.” The bank is a fully owned subsidiary of Russia’s Sberbank, whose majority shareholder is the Russian government.

Europe’s bank resolution board separately says it has imposed a payments ban on money owed by the bank and a limit on how much depositors can withdraw. The board will decide on further steps, which could include restructuring, selling or liquidating the bank.

Sberbank Europe operates 185 branches and has more than 3,933 employees.

Belarus May Join Invasion

WASHINGTON — A senior U.S. intelligence official says Belarus is expected to send troops into Ukraine as soon as Monday to fight alongside Russian forces that invaded Ukraine last week.

Belarus has been providing support for Russia’s war effort, but so far has not taken a direct part in the conflict.

The American official has direct knowledge of current U.S. intelligence assessments and says the decision by Belarus’ leader on whether to bring Belarus further into the war depends on talks between Russia and Ukraine happening in the coming days. The official spoke anonymously to discuss the sensitive information.

Russian forces have encountered strong resistance from Ukraine defenders, and U.S. officials say they believe the invasion has been more difficult, and slower, than the Kremlin envisioned, though that could change as Moscow adapts.

Russia Squares Off Against Facebook

CLEVELAND — Russia has apparently rendered Facebook largely unusable across leading Russian telecommunications providers amid rising friction between Moscow and the social media platform.

The London-based internet monitor NetBlocks reports that Facebook’s network of content-distribution servers in Russia was so badly restricted Sunday that “content no longer loads, or loads extremely slowly making the platforms unusable.”

Russian telecoms regulator Roskomnadzor on Friday announced plans to “partially restrict” access to Facebook. That same day, Facebook’s head of security policy had said the company was barring Russian state media from running ads or otherwise profiting on its platform anywhere in the world.

Facebook says it has also refused a request by the Kremlin not to run fact checks related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the platform for users inside Russia.

NetBlocks reported earlier that access to Twitter was similarly restricted Saturday. That was a day after Twitter said it was temporarily halting ads in both Ukraine and Russia.

The Twitter and Facebook restrictions can be circumvented inside Russia using VPN software, just as users do in mainland China.

People walk down the bulevard ‘Strasse des 17. Juni’ ahead of a rally against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. (AP/Markus Schreiber)

Missiles Hit Radioactive Disposal Site

BERLIN — The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog says missiles have hit a radioactive waste disposal site in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, but there are no reports of damage to the buildings or indications of a release of radioactive material.

In a statement late Sunday, International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi says Ukrainian authorities informed his office about the overnight strike. He says his agency expects to soon receive the results of on-site radioactive monitoring.

The report came a day after an electrical transformer at a similar disposal facility in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv was damaged.

Such facilities typically hold low-level radioactive materials such as waste from hospitals and industry, but Grossi says the two incidents highlight a “very real risk.” He says if the sites are damaged there could be “potentially severe consequences for human health and the environment.”

Nations Agree to Release 60 Million Barrels of Oil

FRANKFURT, Germany— All 31 member countries of the International Energy Agency have agreed to release 60 million barrels of oil from their strategic reserves — half of that from the United States — “to send a strong message to oil markets” that there will be “no shortfall in supplies” after Russia invaded Ukraine, the group said Tuesday.

The board of the Paris-based IEA made the decision at an extraordinary meeting of energy ministers chaired by U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. She said in a statement that President Joe Biden approved a commitment of 30 million barrels and that the U.S. is ready to “take additional measures” if needed.

The group’s “decision reflects our common commitment to address significant market and supply disruptions related to President Putin’s war on Ukraine,” Granholm said.

Russia plays an outsized role in global energy markets as the third-largest oil producer. Its exports of 5 million barrels of crude per day amount to about 12% of the global oil trade. Some 60% goes to Europe and another 20% to China.

So far, U.S. and European sanctions have not barred oil or gas exports and have included exceptions for transactions to pay for oil and gas. Western leaders are reluctant to restrict Russian oil exports at a time when global energy markets are tight and high prices are fueling inflation in developed economies.

But the invasion has still shaken markets worldwide. On Tuesday, oil prices soared, with U.S. benchmark crude surpassing $100 per barrel — the highest price since 2014.

Britain Vows to Cut Off Oligarchs

LONDON — Britain is vowing to end London’s status as a haven for oligarchs and their ill-gotten gains with a law intended to prevent the real owners of businesses and properties being hidden from view.

The government said the Economic Crime Bill will force anonymous foreign owners of U.K. property to reveal their real identities ”to ensure criminals cannot hide behind secretive chains of shell companies.” Those who don’t comply face being unable to sell their property or a five-year prison sentence.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the measure, which has to be approved by Parliament, would help “tear back the facade that those supporting (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s campaign of destruction have been hiding behind for so long.”

Successive British governments have promised for years to end London’s status as a safe haven for dirty money, with little effect.

The anti-corruption group Transparency International says Russians linked to the Kremlin or accused of corruption own 1.5 billion pounds’ ($2 billion) worth of London property, and 90,000 properties in Britain are owned by shell companies.

Former Russia Ally Imposes Sanctions

PODGORICA, Montenegro — Montenegro, a former ally that turned its back on Russia to enter NATO in 2017, has joined Western sanctions imposed against Moscow because of the war in Ukraine.

Montenegro’s foreign ministry on Tuesday said that by joining the sanctions Montenegro continues with full harmonization of its policies with those of the European Union.

Additionally, “we are showing solidarity with Ukraine and determination to help … re-establish peace in Europe,” said the statement.

Montenegro is seen as the next in line in the Western Balkans to join the EU. The country is divided among those favoring pro-Western policies and the pro-Serbian and pro-Russian camps.

A pro-Serbian government recently fell in a parliamentary no-confidence vote with talks underway for the formation of a pro-Western one soon.

Turkish Official Calls for Ceasefire

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s defense minister has called for a ceasefire in the conflict in Ukraine during a telephone discussion with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, according to the Turkish defense ministry.

During their conversation, Hulusi Akar “emphasized the urgent need for a ceasefire” to improve the humanitarian situation and to allow the evacuation of people caught up in Russia’s military attacks on Ukraine, according to a ministry statement.

The Turkish minister also told Shoigu that Turkey would continue to work to restore peace in the region and to help provide humanitarian aid.

Holocaust Leader: Claim of Ukraine Jewish Genocide Is ‘Lie’

KYIV, Ukraine — The leadership of Ukraine’s main Holocaust memorial has asked the International Criminal Court to speak out against Vladimir Putin’s false claims of a genocide in separatist regions in eastern Ukraine.

In a letter to ICC prosecutor Karim Khan, the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial’s academic council said Putin’s claims that Ukraine committed genocide “is a lie.” Putin has sought to justify his invasion of Ukraine by claiming he is protecting residents in the Donbas region, where separatists have fought Ukrainian forces.

The letter asks Khan to make a “legal statement about this so-called genocide.”

“If President Putin wants to denounce genocide, he should reach out to those in the system of international justice, not begin a war against the people of Ukraine under false pretenses,” it says.

Babi Yar, a ravine in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, is where nearly 34,000 Jews were killed within 48 hours in 1941 when the city was under Nazi occupation. The killing was carried out by SS troops along with local collaborators.

The memorial was inaugurated at a ceremony last October attended by the leaders of Ukraine, Israel and Germany. One of the leading donors to the project is Mikhail Fridman, a Ukrainian-born Russian oligarch. Fridman has spoken out against the invasion of Ukraine.

Kosovo Wants Quicker NATO Membership

PRISTINA, Kosovo — Fearing Russia’s intervention through its regional ally Serbia, Kosovo leaders on Tuesday called on NATO to accelerate Kosovo’s membership into the alliance.

Kosovo has joined the United States, European Union. and other global powers in slapping ever-tougher sanctions on Russia, a move which has not been done by neighboring Serbia.

Defense Minister Armend Mehaj said that after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, “Kosovo’s accelerated membership to NATO is an immediate need to guarantee security and stability in the region and beyond,” adding that, “we should not wait for the worst to take decisions.”

Kosovo relations with Serbia are still tense despite an 11-year long EU-facilitated dialogue.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008 after a bloody conflict with Serbia years earlier left more than 10,000 people dead and triggered a NATO intervention. Pristina’s government is recognized by the U.S. and most EU nations, but Belgrade has refused to recognize its independence and relies on support from Russia and China in its bid to retain claims on the territory.

Refugees try to stay warm after fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, at the Medyka border crossing in Poland, Tuesday, March 1, 2022. (AP/Visar Kryeziu)

UN Expects Many More Refugees if Russians Continue War

GENEVA — The U.N.‘s refugees chief is warning that many more vulnerable people will begin fleeing their homes in Ukraine if Russia’s military offensive continues and further urban areas are hit.

Filippo Grandi told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday that his agency has so far recorded 677,000 people fleeing from Ukraine to neighboring countries, with about half of those currently in Poland.

Queues along the border are now tens of kilometers (miles) long and some people are having to wait days to cross.

“It is likely that if the military offensive continues and urban centers are hit one after the other, that we will see more and more people with less resources, with less connections, more vulnerable in every respect,” he said.

Grandi criticized instances where non-Ukrainians fleeing the country had reportedly suffered discrimination, but said this did not appear to be the result of government policies.

He spoke at the launch of the U.N.’s humanitarian appeal for Ukraine for $1.1 billion to help six million people in Ukraine over the next three months.

U.N. humanitarian coordinator Martin Griffiths said shelling and bombing have already damaged water pipes, electricity lines, basic services. “Hundreds of thousands of families are without drinking water,” he said.

Dutch Sending Weapons for Use Against Aircraft and Tanks

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The commander of the Dutch defense forces says that a shipment of anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons has been handed to Ukrainian forces so they can be used to defend the country against the Russian invasion.

Gen. Onno Eichelsheim told Dutch radio station NPO 1 on Tuesday that the 50 anti-tank systems and 200 Stinger anti-aircraft rockets “have been moved toward Ukraine and are at this moment being handed over to the Ukrainian armed forces.”

He did not elaborate on where the weapons were given to the Ukrainians but said he expected they would be immediately deployed.

Diplomats Protest Russian Invasion

GENEVA — Scores of diplomats have walked out of two meetings at the United Nations in Geneva in which Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was beamed in for a video statement, as a protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Lavrov spoke by video to the Conference on Disarmament and the Human Rights Council, which he had planned to attend before closure of airspace to Russian planes by several European countries prevented his travel to the Swiss city.

“What you have seen is strong support for Ukraine,” said Bonnie Jenkins, U.S. Undersecretary of State for arms control and international Security, after the walkout from the disarmament meeting.

Shortly afterward, in a conference room two floors higher, scores of diplomats — including Ukraine’s ambassador in Geneva and the foreign ministers of Canada and Denmark —poured out of the Human Rights Council chamber.

A spokesman for the council said about 100 people left the room.

Student From India Killed in Shelling

NEW DELHI, India — A 21-year-old Indian student died in shelling in Kharkiv on Tuesday morning, as Russian attacks intensified in Ukraine’s second-largest city, according to India’s foreign ministry.

Around 8,000 Indian nationals in Ukraine have made it back home in recent weeks, with nearly 1,400 of them evacuated on six special flights from border countries since last week’s invasion. An estimated 12,000 are believed to still be stuck as efforts continue to evacuate them.

India has sent a group of high-ranking ministers to Ukraine’s neighboring countries to help evacuate the thousands still stranded.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been in contact with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. But India has refrained so far from condemning Russia or acknowledging Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty. Last week, it abstained from voting on a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding Russia stop its invasion.

NATO Isn’t Elevating Nuclear Alert Status

LASK AIR BASE, Poland — NATO’s chief says the alliance sees no need to change its nuclear weapons alert level, despite Russia’s threats.

NATO’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, spoke to The Associated Press following talks on European security with Polish President Andrzej Duda an air base in Poland where NATO’s Polish and U.S. fighter jets are based.

“We will always do what is needed to protect and defend our allies, but we don’t think there is any need now to change the alert levels of NATO’s nuclear forces,” Stoltenberg said.

The Kremlin has raised the specter of nuclear war, reporting on Monday that its land, air, and sea nuclear forces were on high alert following President Vladimir Putin’s weekend order. NATO itself has no nuclear weapons, but three of its members, the United States, Britain and France, do.

Half-Billion Euros Pledged for for Humanitarian Relief

BRUSSELS — The president of the European Commission has committed at least half-billion euros of the bloc’s budget to deal with the humanitarian consequences of the unfolding war in Ukraine.

Ursula von der Leyen told a special session of the EU legislature on Tuesday that the $560 million in funds would be used to deal with the crisis both in Ukraine itself and the hundreds of thousands of refugees getting out of the country as they flee the Russian invasion.

Even if she had held out the perspective of EU membership to Ukraine, and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had signed an official application, she cautioned that “there still is a long path ahead. We have to end this war. And we should talk about the next steps.”

Any process from application to actually becoming an EU member takes many years as applicant nations must meet strict conditions and benchmarks including on trade, judicial independence and corruption.

Russians Shell Kharkiv

KYIV, Ukraine — Russian shelling has pounded the main central square in Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, and other civilian targets.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, a convoy 40 miles long of tanks and other vehicles threatened the capital, Kyiv, on the sixth day of the Russia invasion of its neighbor.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Moscow of resorting to terror tactics to press Europe’s largest ground war in generations.

In strategic Kharkiv, videos posted online showed explosions hitting the region’s Soviet-era administrative building and residential areas. A maternity ward moved to a shelter amid shelling.

Zelenskyy called the attack on Kharkiv’s main square “frank, undisguised terror,” blaming a Russian missile and calling it a war crime.

Russian Official Pushes Back on Sanctions

MOSCOW — A senior Russian official has launched a new stark warning over its sanctions against his country for its war in Ukraine.

Dmitry Medvedev, a deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, was retorting to a comment by French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Tuesday that the European Union was going to unleash an all-out economic and financial war against Russia.

“Today, some French minister has said that they declared an economic war on Russia,” said Medvedev, who served as placeholder president in 2008-2012 when Vladimir Putin had to shift into the prime minister’s post because of term limits. “Watch your tongue, gentlemen! And don’t forget that in human history, economic wars quite often turned into real ones.”Medvedev said on Twitter.

Boris Johnson Says Putin’s Tactics Are ‘Barbaric’

WARSAW — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Russian President Vladimir Putin is using “barbaric and indiscriminate tactics against innocent civilians” in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking on a visit to Poland, Johnson said Putin was prepared to “bomb tower blocks, to send missiles into tower blocks, to kill children, as we are seeing in increasing numbers.”

Johnson thanked Poland for taking in hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing the violence. He said the U.K. would send more humanitarian aid and would take in refugees “in considerable numbers.”

The British government has been criticized for not matching the European Union, which says it will let Ukrainians stay for up to three years without applying for asylum. Britain says it will allow Ukrainians in the country to bring their immediate family members to the U.K. That applies to partners and children, but not parents or siblings

French Nuclear Aircraft Carrier Docks in Cyprus

LIMASSOL, Cyprus — A French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier has docked in Cyprus’ main port of Limassol as part of a two-month deployment to the eastern Mediterranean. .

The Charles de Gaulle leads a strike group composed of two destroyers and a frigate tasked with anti-submarine and air defense duties, as well as a supply ship and a nuclear-powered submarine.

The French navy said the carrier’s deployment was intended to project France’s military might in the region and to support the fight against the remnants of the Islamic State group on Iraqi soil that “still constitute a threat.”

The carrier’s 20 Rafale marine fighter aircraft had been set to conduct flights over the Black Sea and hold joint air exercises with the Romanian Air Force. But it was unclear how the ongoing war in Ukraine could alter the strike group’s mission.

UN Calls for Release of Russian Protesters

GENEVA — The U.N. human rights office called Tuesday for the release of all peaceful protesters who were arrested after taking part in Russia in demonstrations protesting the war in Ukraine.

The Geneva-based office said reports suggested about 6,400 people have been arrested in Russia since last week for taking part in peace protests.

“We understand the vast majority are released within hours, many after paying an administrative fine, while some are given prison sentences ranging from seven to 25 days under various laws,” it said. “There are also reports of unnecessary and excessive use of force by police during and after the arrests.”

Separately, it also urged the release of some 744 people detained in neighboring Belarus, saying some had been arrested for chanting “no war” and expressing support for Ukraine.

Red Cross Says It Needs $272 Million for Ukraine Relief

GENEVA — The Red Cross is appealing for 250 million Swiss francs ($272 million) to help people affected by the war in Ukraine.

The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Red Cross federation said in a statement Tuesday they fear “millions of people face extreme hardship and suffering without improved access and a rapid increase in humanitarian assistance.”

“Casualty figures keep rising while health facilities struggle to cope,” said the head of the ICRC, Robert Mardini.

“We already see long-term disruptions in regular water and electricity supplies,” he added. “People calling our hotline in Ukraine are desperately in need of food and shelter.”

Kremlin Denies Use of Cluster Munitions

MOSCOW — The Kremlin has denied that the Russian military has used cluster munitions in Ukraine and insisted that the Russian forces only have struck military targets.

Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted Tuesday that “the Russian troops don’t conduct any strikes against civilian infrastructure and residential areas.” Peskov’s claim contradicts abundant evidence documented by the AP of indiscriminate shelling of homes, schools, and hospitals across Ukraine.

Peskov also rejected the accusations that the Russian military has used cluster munitions and devastating vacuum weapons, dismissing them as fabrications.

Speaking in a conference call with reporters, he wouldn’t respond to questions about whether the Kremlin is happy with the pace of the offensive and wouldn’t comment on Russian military casualties.

The Russian Defense Ministry said for the first time Monday that it has suffered losses but didn’t name any numbers.

 

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