A 40-mile (64 km) Russian military convoy of armored vehicles, tanks, towed artillery and other logistical vehicles has reached the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital, according to satellite images from Maxar Technologies. Maksar said she saw plumes of smoke rising from a number of homes and buildings near the roads the convoy was traveling on, although it is unclear why.
The new images come as US officials told lawmakers in classified briefings Monday that a second wave of Russian forces is likely to bolster the country’s positions inside Ukraine and, through massive numbers, could be able to overcome Ukrainian resistance, according to two people familiar with the matter. on briefs. .
“This part was disheartening,” one lawmaker told CNN.
More than 400 civilians have been killed or wounded since Moscow’s unprovoked attack on its neighbor began Thursday, according to the United Nations, and Ukraine’s leader has accused Russia of committing war crimes by targeting civilians.
But US officials fear the worst is yet to come. US officials, previously surprised by the fierce Ukrainian resistance that saw ordinary citizens take up arms, fear the situation will become “much more difficult” for the Ukrainians.
US officials said at the press conference on Monday that Russia is likely to impose a blockade of Kyiv, leading to ugly scenes of urban warfare, a person familiar with the matter said.
In Kherson, where the Ukrainian army has resisted a Russian attack for days, Ukrainian defensive lines appear to have fallen and Russian military vehicles are now seen driving into the city.
After a meeting on Capitol Hill on Monday where Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States requested more weapons, senior US Republican Senator Jim Risch said Ukraine is struggling.
“It’s David versus Goliath,” he said.
Accusations of war crimes
The Russian attack also raises concerns for the safety of civilians, who have already been targeted by Russian forces, according to Ukraine.
Ukraine has accused Russia of committing war crimes by targeting civilians, and the International Criminal Court said Monday it would open an investigation into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – a move Kyiv welcomed.
The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim A.A. Khan, said in a statement that after an initial examination of the situation, there was reasonable grounds for believing that alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity had been committed in Ukraine.
Russia maintains that it is not targeting civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, and that there is no evidence that civilians have been killed by the Russian military. The outgoing Russian President of the UN Security Council, Vassily Nebenzia, reiterated the allegations on Monday, saying that “the wave of dirty lies repeated in the Western media has unfortunately become a dangerous sign of our time.”
But there is a growing body of evidence showing civilians have been targeted, and the United Nations said on Monday that 406 civilian casualties had been reported in Ukraine.
The city’s mayor, Ihor Terikov, said that Russian forces bombed a residential area in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, with missiles, on Monday, killing nine civilians, including three children, and wounding 37 others. CNN has reached out to Russian authorities for comment on the attack.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a late-night speech on Monday, said the attack on Kharkiv was a “clearly a war crime”.
“Kharkiv is a peaceful city, there are peaceful residential areas, no military installations. Dozens of eyewitness accounts prove that this is not one false strike, but a deliberate destruction of people. And the Russians knew where to shoot.
“No one in the world will forgive you for killing the peaceful Ukrainian people,” he added.
Russian bombing of Ukraine continued during negotiations between the two countries on Monday, with Zelensky saying the attacks “coincided” with the five-hour talks.
“There can be fair negotiations if one of the parties does not hit the other with rocket artillery at the time of negotiations,” he said in a Facebook message. “I think Russia with this simple way of thinking is trying to put pressure.”
Adviser to Ukrainian President Mikhailo Podolak told reporters that the two sides discussed “a ceasefire and an end to hostilities on Ukrainian territory.” He said without going into details that the two sides would return to their capitals to consult on whether to implement a number of “decisions”.
A country in crisis
With bitter fighting raging across the country, many Ukrainians are fleeing to safety.
There are already 520,000 refugees from Ukraine in neighboring provinces, with the number rising “steadily, hour by hour,” Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, told the UN Security Council on Monday.
Foreigners are also desperately trying to leave the country. In the Ukrainian village of Shehyni on the border with Poland, foreigners have to wait in the cold for hours to get out, some even lighting fires to keep warm.
Rachel Onigbul, a first-year Nigerian medical student in Lviv, told CNN in a phone call Sunday while waiting in line at the border to cross into Poland.
Some Ukrainians chose to stay and join the resistance. Volunteers flock to the capital, where a sense of challenge reigns among many. Some collect bottles to make Molotov cocktails.
“No one here says we will lose or cry,” Arieva, who is from Kyiv, told CNN. “Everyone here thinks we will win. It is only a matter of time. Therefore, I am very happy to see so many people, really ready to fight. Prepare to kill for their land. I have no doubts about our victory in this war.”
However, the picture for those in Ukraine is “bleak” — and could get worse, Martin Griffiths of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said Monday.
said Griffiths, OCHA’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief.
He said the true number of civilian casualties “could be much higher, as many of the reported casualties are not yet confirmed”.
As Russia’s brutal attack on Ukraine continues, Kyiv is desperately asking for more support from international powers.
Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, told a group of bipartisan lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Monday that her country needs more weapons and other aid in its existential war against Russia.
After the meeting, she said, “We are not asking anyone to fight for us, we are defending our country by ourselves. But we need all the support that the civilized world can give us to continue fighting effectively, as well as sanctions.”
In recent days, US President Joe Biden has instructed Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to release up to $350 million in support of Ukraine’s defense immediately — but officials have also privately acknowledged that it will be more difficult to get new aid to Ukraine than it used to be. When it can be transferred by plane directly to Kyiv.
Australia will send missiles as part of a $50 million lethal and non-lethal aid package to help Ukraine fend off Russian forces, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said at a press conference on Tuesday.
CNN’s Jeremy Herb, Lauren Fox, Ted Barrett, Claire Foran, Kaitlan Collins, Ali Zaslav, Liam Riley and Pooja Salhotra, Paul B. Murphy, Morgan Rimmer, Richard Roth, Nick Patton Walsh, Alexandra Ochman, Tim Lister, Stephanie Bussari, Niemi Brinkwell, Shama Nassinde, Arwa Damon, and Clarissa Ward contributed to this report.