Russia’s invasion enters second week as an apparent tactical failure
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine entered its second week an apparent tactical failure so far, with its main assault force stalled for days on a highway north of Kyiv and other advances halted at the outskirts of cities it is bombing into wastelands.
The number of refugees who have fled Ukraine rose to more than 1 million, the United Nations said. Hundreds of Russian soldiers and Ukrainian civilians have been killed, and Russia itself has been plunged into isolation never before experienced by an economy of such size.
Despite an initial battle plan that Western countries said was aimed at swiftly toppling the Kyiv government, Russia has captured only one Ukrainian city so far - the southern Dnipro River port of Kherson, which its tanks entered on Wednesday.
“The main body of the large Russian column advancing on Kyiv remains over 30 km from the centre of the city having been delayed by staunch Ukrainian resistance, mechanical breakdown and congestion,” Britain’s defence ministry said in an intelligence update.
“The column has made little discernible progress in over three days,” it said. “Despite heavy Russian shelling, the cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol remain in Ukrainian hands.”
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has remained in Kyiv, releasing regular video updates to the nation. In his latest message, he said Ukrainian lines were holding. “We have nothing to lose but our own freedom,” he said.
In Borodyanka, a tiny town 60 km northwest of Kyiv where locals had repelled a Russian assault, burnt out hulks of destroyed Russian armour were scattered on a highway, surrounded by buildings blasted into ruins. Flames from one burning apartment building lit up the pre-dawn sky. A dog barked as emergency workers walked through the rubble in the darkness.
“They started shooting from their APC towards the park in front of the post office,” a man recounted in the apartment where he was sheltering with his family. “Then those bastards started the tank and started shooting into the supermarket which was already burned. It caught fire again.
“An old man ran outside like crazy, with big round eyes, and said ‘give me a Molotov cocktail! I just set their APC on fire!... Give me some petrol, we’ll make a Molotov cocktail and burn the tank!’.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov characterised the Western response to Russia’s actions as “hysteria”, which he said would pass. He said he expected a second round of peace talks with a Ukrainian delegation would take place on Thursday. A first meeting on Monday in Belarus yielded no progress.