Russians seize Ukraine ports; refugee count reaches 1 million

According to the United Nations, 1 million people fled Ukraine after Russia invaded. This was the fastest refugee exodus in the past century. Russian forces continued their bombardment of Kharkiv,

Russians seize Ukraine ports; refugee count reaches 1 million

Ukraine's second largest city, and laid siege at two strategic seaports.

According to the U.N. refugee agency, more than 21% of Ukraine's population were forced from their country within a matter of days. Kharkiv was a prime example of the mass evacuation. Residents desperate to escape falling bombs and shells crowded into Kharkiv's train station, trying to squeeze onto trains without knowing where they were going.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian president, called for Ukrainians to continue resisting in a taped address. He promised that the invaders would not have "one quiet moment" and called Russian soldiers "confused children who've been used."

Moscow's isolation grew as the rest of the world backed it at the United Nations, demanding that it leave Ukraine. The International Criminal Court prosecutor opened an investigation into possible war crime.

The fighting is ongoing on several fronts throughout the country. Britain's Defense Ministry stated that Mariupol (a large city on Azov Sea) was being encircled and occupied by Russian forces. However, the status of Kherson, a 280,000-strong Black Sea shipbuilding port, remained uncertain.

Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that his forces had taken full control of Kherson. This would have made it the largest city to be sacked in the invasion. However, a senior U.S. defense officer disputed this claim.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity, saying that "our view is that Kherson's is very much a litigated city."

The Associated Press was told by Zelenskyy's bureau that they could not comment on Kherson's situation while fighting is still ongoing.

Igor Kolykhaev (the mayor of Kherson) said that Russian soldiers had entered the city and arrived at the city's administration building. He stated that he requested them to not shoot civilians and allow the crews to collect the bodies from the streets.

He said that he had simply asked them to not shoot at people. "We don’t have any Ukrainian forces within the city. Only civilians and those who wish to LIVE here."

Vadym Boychenko, Mariupol Mayor, said that the attacks were relentless.

Interfax quoted him as saying, "We cannot even remove the wounded from streets, houses, and apartments today, because the shelling doesn't stop."

Russia has reported its first military casualties since the invasion started last week. It said that nearly 500 troops were killed and nearly 1,600 were wounded. Ukraine didn't disclose its military losses, but claimed that more than 2000 civilians had died. This claim could not independently be verified.

Zelenskyy, in a video address to his nation on Thursday morning, praised the country's resistance.

He said, "We are a people that in a week has destroyed the plans of enemy." They will not have peace here. They won't have food. They won't be able to sleep for one minute."

He stated that the fighting was affecting the morale of Russian soldiers who "go to grocery stores and try find something to eat."

He said, "These aren't warriors of superpower." These are children who have been misunderstood.

According to a senior U.S. defense official, a massive column of hundreds of tanks and vehicles was stalled approximately 25 km (16 miles) from Kyiv. It had not made any real progress over the past few days.

Official said that the convoy, which appeared to be poised for an attack on the capital earlier in the week, has been plagued by fuel shortages and food shortages. They also have faced strong resistance from the Ukrainian authorities.

Volunteer fighters in their 60s stood guard at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Kyiv to stop the Russian advance.

Andrey Goncharuk (68) said that "in my old age, it was necessary for me to take up arms." He stated that fighters need more weapons but that they would kill the enemy and take their guns.

Others crowded into train stations around Ukraine carrying blanket-wrapped children and wheeling suitcases to new homes as refugees. Shabia Mantoo (UNHCR spokesperson) said Wednesday that Ukraine's exodus could lead to "the largest refugee crisis of the century" at this rate.

On Wednesday night, a large explosion rocked central Kyiv in what was described by the president's office as a missile strike close to the capital's southern railway station. No immediate information was available about any injuries or deaths. Many thousands of Ukrainians fled the city via the sprawling railway network.

In another round of aerial strikes that destroyed buildings and lit up the skyline, Russian forces attacked Kharkiv in Ukraine, which is Ukraine's second-largest city after Kyiv. Oleg Sinehubov of the Kharkiv region administration said that at least 21 people had been killed and 112 were injured in the last day.

According to Oleksiy Arkestovich (a top Zelenskyy adviser), several Russian planes were downed over Kharkiv.

Arestovich declared, "Kharkiv today, is the Stalingrad the 21st Century," referring to what is considered one the most heroic episodes of Russian history, the five month defense of the city against the Nazis during World War II.

Igor Terekhov, Kharkiv Mayor, said to the BBC from his basement bunker: "The city has united and we will stand firm."

According to videos and photos taken by the Ukrainian State Emergency Service, Russian missile attacks landed on Kharkiv's five story regional police building. They also set fire to the top floor. Officials claimed that residential buildings were also affected, but did not provide any details.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog agency's head warned that fighting could pose a threat to Ukraine's nuclear reactors.

Rafael Grossi, International Atomic Energy Agency, noted that this war was "the first time that a military conflict has taken place amid the facilities and established nuclear power programs," and he expressed concern.

Russia has already seized control over the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant. This was the site of the worst nuclear accident in history, which occurred in 1986.

New York's U.N. General Assembly voted in favor of Russia stopping its offensive and withdrawing all troops immediately. Both world powers as well as small island states condemned Moscow. The vote was 141-to-5 with 35 abstentions.

Although they are not legally binding, Assembly resolutions can influence the world's opinion.

After the emergency session of its 193 members, the vote was held. Only Russia, Eritrea, Syria, North Korea, and Belarus voted with Russia. Cuba supported Moscow, but eventually abstained.

Ukraine's U.N. Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya stated that Russian forces had "come to Ukraine's soil, not just to kill some of our people... but to deprive Ukraine the very right of existence."

Russia stepped up its rhetoric. Sergei Lavrov, Russia's Foreign Minister, reminded the world of the country’s nuclear arsenal in an interview with Al-Jazeera. He said that "a third world conflict could only be nuclear."

Two cruise missiles struck a hospital in Chernihiv's northern city. According to UNIAN, the Ukrainian news agency. It quoted Serhiy Pivovar as saying that authorities were trying to determine the casualty count.

Other developments

The second round of talks to end the fighting was scheduled for Thursday. However, there seemed to be very little agreement between the sides.

Oil prices rose to $112 per barrel, their highest level since 2014.

Russia was made even more isolated economically when Airbus and Boeing announced that they would cease technical support and spare parts to their country's airlines. This was a huge blow. Russia's largest passenger fleet is made up of Boeing and Airbus jets.

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