(CN) — The war in Ukraine entered a decisive phase on Tuesday as Russia moved a miles-long convoy of tanks, armored vehicles and rocket launchers onto Kyiv and told the capital's residents to leave the city.
In its sixth day, Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine was poised to become even more brutal over the next days as his army surrounds Ukrainian cities and fires missiles, including one that struck the television tower in Kyiv on Tuesday, temporarily knocking out TV channels in Ukraine, and another struck a government building in the main square in Kharkiv, the country's second largest city, reportedly killing at least 10 people and wounding dozens of others.
Video showed the Kharkiv missile strike the front of the region's governmental headquarters in Freedom Square as cars drove by, causing extensive damage. The strike on the massive television tower came shortly after Russia’s Defense Ministry warned that it was preparing to strike sites used by Ukraine’s intelligence and it told Kyiv residents to leave their homes. The television tower strike killed at least five people.
Videos and images showed firefighters and first responders carrying the dead and wounded out of the wrecked administrative building in Kharkiv. Similarly horrible images of charred bodies, wounded people, frantic first responders and dazed residents were released by Ukrainian officials after the blast on the Kyiv television tower.
Ukrainian interior ministry officials are providing a stream of apocalyptic videos from other towns and cities where residential buildings and streets have been turned into blackened wastelands by shelling. Ukraine is accusing Russia of intentionally bombing civilians while the Kremlin accuses Ukrainian forces of placing military equipment inside residential areas.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke defiantly in a speech via video to the European Parliament on Tuesday and vowed to keep up the fight. The actor-turned-politician is being hailed as a hero in Western Europe and his country's plight has dramatically shifted the political discourse in the European Union, which is now confronting Russia economically and militarily and considering to fast-track Ukraine’s accession to the 27-member union. Kyiv’s push to join the EU bloc and become a NATO member are root causes of the war because Moscow sees a NATO-armed Ukraine as an existential threat.
“There were no military facilities there to be targeted,” Zelenskyy said about the bombing of the Kharkiv state building. “The strike on Freedom Square is a crime that will not be forgotten.”
He received a standing ovation from the European Parliament in Brussels, where the chamber’s members donned the yellow and blue colors of the Ukrainian flag and pledged their unwavering support for the besieged country.
The EU is becoming a leader on confronting Russia, a step welcomed by the United States which has for years tried to get the bloc to ramp up its military spending. This conflict has put the EU on an unprecedented war footing, led by Germany after it pledged to make large increases in defense spending and lift a ban on arms shipments to Ukraine.
“This is an international act of terror from the Russia Federation,” Zelenskyy said. “We call on all countries of the world to react to this act of aggression and to announce that Russia is carrying out terrorist actions.”
The EU is sending about $555 million worth of arms to Ukraine, it is cutting off Russian banks and companies from doing business in the West, kicking Russia and Russians out of international sporting and cultural events and opening its borders to hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees. On Tuesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU will set aside a half billion euros (about $550 million) to help Ukrainian refugees.