A huge Russian military convoy was massing on the outskirts of Ukraine’s capital Tuesday as fears grew the invading forces were set to launch devastating assaults aimed at taking control of Kyiv and other major cities.
Satellite images showed a long build-up of armoured vehicles and artillery starting 29 kilometres (18 miles) north of the city, as Moscow defied mounting global pressure and a wave of international sanctions that have smashed Russia’s economy.
Initial ceasefire talks between Moscow and Kyiv on Monday failed to secure a breakthrough, with Russia shelling residential areas in Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv and other areas of the country after the negotiations.
The Russian army has been regrouping and massing its forces over the past 24 hours “primarily to encircle and take control of Kyiv and other major cities,” the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces wrote on Facebook.
The column is more than 65 kilometres long and covers the entire road from near Antonov airport outside Kyiv to the town of Prybirsk, US satellite imaging company Maxar said.
“Some vehicles are spaced fairly far apart while in other sections military equipment and units are traveling two or three vehicles abreast on the road,” Maxar said.
The images also showed “additional ground forces deployments and ground attack helicopter units” in southern Belarus near the Ukraine border.
Eastern city Kharkiv’s mayor Igor Terekhov, quoted by Ukrainian media, warned that Moscow’s armoured vehicles and tanks are “everywhere around the city”.
Russian forces killed several civilians including children late Monday, he said.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk