Ukraine says Russia targeting civilians as missiles hit Kyiv TV tower

Defence minister says Moscow aims to cut off communications to ‘break the resistance of the people’

Russia is planning a major psychological operation to try to persuade Ukrainians to capitulate, and is targeting civilians with missile strikes in an attempt to demoralise the population, the government in Kyiv, Ukraine, has said.

Two Russian missiles struck the TV tower in the Ukrainian capital, knocking out some access to news and broadcasts. Late in the evening more explosions were reported in residential neighbourhoods in Kyiv and Kharkiv.

Ukraine’s defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov, said the Kremlin was preparing to cut off a large part of Ukraine from the internet and communications. “Its goal is to break the resistance of the people and the army. They can arrange a breakdown of connection. After [that] the spread of massive fake messages that the country’s leadership has given up,” Reznikov posted on Twitter. He added: “No surrender! Only victory!”

Ukrainian officials said Russia would not be able to switch off internet access for the entire country. Instead it was likely to target the south and east, where Russian forces are seeking to take control of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, and the encircled port city of Mariupol.

  • Ukraine was expected to be a focus of Tuesday night’s state of the union presidential address in the United States, where Joe Biden will condemn “Putin’s war” as “premeditated and unprovoked” and tout the importance of Nato and American diplomacy.

  • Biden was set to vow that Vladimir Putin would “pay a price” for his invasion of Ukraine, according to excerpts of his address. “He rejected efforts at diplomacy. He thought the west and Nato wouldn’t respond. And he thought he could divide us here at home … Putin was wrong. We were ready.”

  • In Ukraine, at least two people were reported dead and three injured in a strike on a military base in Zhytomyr in the north-west, which also reportedly affected nearby homes, with 10 damaged and some of them on fire.

  • The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund released a joint statement saying that they “stand with the Ukrainian people” and condemning the “horrifying” attacks they have endured. They promised hundreds of millions of dollars in rapid support to Ukraine, and billions over the next months.

  • The list of American companies announcing they were suspending sales of their products or other operations in Russia grew to include Apple, Nike, Ford Motor Company, and Boeing.

In a highly emotional address to the European parliament that was greeted with a standing ovation, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said at least 16 children had been killed on Monday and mocked Russia’s claim that it was going after only military targets. “Where are these children, what kind of military factories do they work at? What tanks are they going at, launching cruise missiles?”

The Russian drive to force a Ukrainian capitulation coincides with a second round of negotiations between Russian and Ukrainian officials, scheduled for Wednesday. The first round, held on the Belarus border, yielded no positive results.

Five people were killed and five others injured in the attack on the Kyiv TV tower. Kyiv’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, confirmed that the tower was offline, its substation and hardware having been damaged. Engineers would try to fix the tower and broadcasts would restart as soon as possible, he said.

⚡️Ворог атакує столицю! Київська телевежа пошкоджена внаслідок потрапляння, двох, за попередньою інформацією, ракет.

Пошкоджена трансформаторна підстанція, яка живить електроенергією телевежу, а також апаратна на самій телевежі.

— Віталій Кличко (@Vitaliy_Klychko) March 1, 2022

Andriy Yermak, the chief of staff to Zelenskiy, pointed out that the missiles landed close to Babyn Yar, a ravine and burial place for 30,000 Jews killed by the Nazis. “Once again these barbarians are murdering the victims of Holocaust,” he tweeted.

Israel’s Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Centre voiced its “vehement condemnation” of the Russian attack near the site. “We call on the international community to take concerted measures to safeguard civilian lives as well as these historical sites because of their irreplaceable value for research, education and commemoration of the Holocaust,” it said.

🇷🇺is preparing to launch an info&psycho operation.Its goal is to break the resistance of🇺🇦ppl&army. At 1st,they can arrange a breakdown of connection.After-the spread of massive FAKE messages that 🇺🇦country leadership has agreed to give up.We’re in Kyiv!No surrender!Only victory!

— Oleksii Reznikov (@oleksiireznikov) March 1, 2022

Last week Putin claimed he was launching what he called a “special operation” in Ukraine to demilitarise and “denazify” the country. Six days after the start of the invasion, Russia has mostly given up on the pretence that it is exclusively wiping out military targets. Instead it has inflicted further civilian carnage.

At least 10 people were killed and 35 wounded by a series of missile strikes on homes and offices in Kharkiv. They included a long-range rocket fired at the city’s main regional administrative building, a symbol of Ukrainian statehood.

Video showed the rocket smashing into the government office at 8am, sending clouds of dust and debris into the air. Several civilian cars were driving past. The strike was an attempt by Moscow to kill Kharkiv’s governor and to wipe out his leadership team, officials said.

The governor, Oleh Synyehubov, has led the defence of the city, which saw off a raid on Sunday by Russian forces trying to seize control. Since Monday the Kremlin has stepped up its bombardment of Kharkiv, home to 1.4 million people, in an apparent shift in tactics.


Russian missiles on Tuesday struck numerous targets with zero military value, residents said. They included the opera and ballet theatre; Kharkiv’s recently opened zoo, next to a central park area; and hospital No 3, torn in half. The city’s aviation factory was hit for the third time.

“All of our dreams have been destroyed,” said Galina Padalko, a communications manager for a Ukrainian publishing house. “Today it was the administration building and zoo. Yesterday it was our neighbourhood. The bombing started five days ago. It hasn’t stopped.”

Padalko said the central Kharkiv flat she shared with her husband, Dmytro, was 700 metres from where a Russian missile landed in a street on Monday, killing a woman who had gone out for shopping. “We don’t leave our flat. We use the corridor as a bomb shelter,” she said.

Rescuers picked through the rubble on Freedom Square, where the regional administration building is located. They retrieved bodies and extracted 10 survivors from the rubble. One of the dead was an Indian student. A child was wounded. Nearby were incinerated cars and giant slabs of masonry.

Another airstrike hit a five-storey residential building, killing eight people and injuring six, city officials said. Firefighters dug out two survivors. They also put out a fire on the opera theatre’s roof.

In a video message, Zelenskiy said: “This is terror against Kharkiv, terror against Ukraine. There was no military target on the square. The rocket to the central square is outright, undisguised terror. No one will forgive. Nobody will forget. This strike on Kharkiv is a war crime.”

Zelenskiy said the Kremlin was now deliberately targeting Kyiv and Kharkiv in an attempt “to break our resistance”.

With military victory elusive and Ukrainian’s army still fighting, Putin appears to be doubling down by sending in additional forces. More troops were heading to Kyiv, including a convoy of Belarusian armoured vehicles. They entered Ukraine’s Chernihiv region from the north as Belarus joined Russia in its war for the first time.

Strikes against civilians now appear to be deliberate policy. Ukraine’s former defence minister Andriy Zagorodnyuk said: “The rocket fired at the administration building was a planned attack. The idea is to break Kharkiv psychologically so they [the Russians] can get into the city. Obviously that doesn’t work with Ukrainians. They don’t know that yet.

“Of course people are worried. They are concerned. They think they could be next. But that doesn’t influence the desire to fight and protect.”

With the war entering a new, brutal phase, Ukraine’s military took heavy losses. More than 70 Ukrainian soldiers were killed as Russian artillery hit a military base in Okhtyrka, a city between Kharkiv and Kyiv.

In the south, Russian forces continued to consolidate their grip. The port city of Mariupol was surrounded by Russian troops, with regular forces in the north and west and separatist rebels to the east. The city was without electricity after multiple rocket attacks.

Armoured vehicles and Russian infantry entered Kherson, which had been holding out since last week’s invasion. Hennadiy Lahuta, the head of the Kherson regional administration, said Russians had penetrated the city. Air raid sirens and loud explosions could be heard.

In the southern city of Melitopol, now under Russian occupation, a crowd of unarmed civilians stood in front of a Russian convoy. They chanted: “Fascists. Are you going to shoot us peacefully? We don’t have weapons. Go home.” And: “Fuck off.” One nervous Russian soldier fired shots into the air.


Luke Harding in Lviv

The GuardianTramp

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