Russia threatens to strike at Ukrainian security facilities in Kyiv

Russia’s defense ministry said the strikes would be “to suppress information attacks against Russia”, according to a statement from Russia’s state-run media TASS, adding that Kyiv residents near the sites should leave their homes.

The threat comes as Russian forces attack Ukraine from several countries, sending a huge convoy of armored vehicles to Kyiv, the center of the country, while intensifying bombing against Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, in the northeast. Russian forces have also breached a heavily contested port city to the south.

Zelenski’s request

Russia’s army is far larger and more powerful than Ukraine’s in almost every measure, but Ukraine’s allies, including the European Union, are trying to send more weapons into the country to help defend it.

EU leader Ursula von der Leyen, left, applauds in Brussels as Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky delivers a speech.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a passionate request to European leaders on Tuesday to grant Ukraine immediate EU membership, saying his country is struggling to survive.

“We have proven our strength. We have proved that we are at least the same as you, “he told the European Parliament via video link. “So prove that you are with us. Prove that you will not let us go. Prove that you are truly European.”

Zelensky’s request came when Russia accelerated strikes on Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv. In the last two days, Russian attacks have hit civilians, suggesting a shift to far less restrained bombing. Earlier Russian attacks were more focused on military targets.

The UN says at least 102 civilians have been killed across the country and 304 injured, although those figures probably underestimate the actual number.

After a meeting on Capitol Hill on Monday, at which Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States requested more weapons, senior US Republican Sen. Jim Rich said Ukraine was in trouble. “This is David vs. Goliath,” he said.

US officials – who were previously surprised by fierce Ukrainian resistance who saw ordinary citizens taking up arms – now fear the situation is becoming “much more challenging” for Ukrainians.

U.S. officials said at a briefing Monday that Russia is likely to begin a siege of Kyiv, leading to ugly scenes of urban warfare, said one person familiar with the matter.

Kharkiv residents sleep dressed, ready to flee

On Tuesday, Kharkiv was rocked by a large explosion that burned cars, blew up windows and destroyed a large government building on Freedom Square.

Emergency services say at least 10 people have been killed and 24 injured in a Russian missile strike, which Zelenski described as a “terrorist act” against civilians in a Facebook post.

Late Monday, at least five separate residential areas in Kharkiv were hit by rockets, according to a CNN analysis of videos on social media.

During a trip to Poland on Tuesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the Russian invasion “worse than we expected”, citing attacks such as those seen in Kharkov’s neighborhoods.

“It is clear that Vladimir Putin is ready to use barbaric and indiscriminate tactics against innocent civilians to bomb towers, send rockets to towers, kill children, as we see in increasing numbers,” he said.

A 66-year-old Kharkiv resident named Tatiana told CNN that a shell hit her house early Tuesday morning, breaking her windows.

Tatiana – who has been sleeping in her shoes and coat since the beginning of the invasion – ran to her basement, where her relative Oleg told her that his car had burned down and “the school in the yard was completely destroyed”.

This school was destroyed in a battle near the center of Kharkiv on February 28th.

The day before, CNN confirmed that five residential areas in the city were affected by military strikes on Monday, using videos shared on social media.

A dramatic video taken by a surveillance camera in a residential complex on Velika Kiltseva Street shows multiple explosions from a single impact that fell on a parking lot and a path.

The intense shelling – at least eight explosions were seen but more were heard – lasted 20 seconds. While the ammunition is falling, people are seen fleeing while the explosions hit the ground: a man falls to the ground while the explosions surround him. A parked car explodes after a direct hit.

On Klochkovska Street, graphic videos show blood and body parts outside a small grocery store.

“It’s awful, boys,” says a voice in the video. “Right in my part of town. The boots and legs were taken off, here are parts of the brain.”

Walking around Kyiv

Two government facilities in Kyiv – a city believed to be Russia’s main target – will be hit by air strikes on Tuesday, the Russian Defense Ministry said, according to Russia’s state news agency TASS.

The Russian military has asked residents nearby to leave their homes, the statement said.

This comes as A massive 40-mile Russian military convoy – made up of armored vehicles, tanks, towed artillery and other logistics vehicles – has reached the outskirts of Kyiv, according to satellite images from Maxar Technologies. Maxar said he had seen streams of smoke rising from a number of homes and buildings near the roads the convoy was traveling on, although it was unclear what the reason was.

The Russian convoy is seen along with smoke rising from burning homes northwest of Invankov, Ukraine.

On Tuesday, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko warned that “the enemy is on the outskirts of the capital”, but the Ukrainian military “is preparing to defend Kyiv”.

“Fortifications and checkpoints have been built at the entrances to the city. I ask everyone to calm down. Do not go out unnecessarily and stay in shelters in case of alarm,” he said in a video message.

U.S. officials told lawmakers at secret briefings Monday that a second wave of Russian troops is likely to consolidate the country’s position in Ukraine and a huge number may be able to overcome Ukrainian resistance, according to two people familiar with the briefing.

“This part was discouraging,” an MP told CNN.

Russian forces enter the port city

Russian-backed forces have also succeeded in the south. In the port city of Kherson, west of Mariupol and north of the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014, Ukrainian defense lines appear to have fallen and Russian military vehicles have been spotted driving inside the city.

The armies of Ukraine and Russia are David and Goliath.  Here's how they compare

The leader of the self-proclaimed separatist region in Donetsk said he expects his forces to encircle the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol on Tuesday. The town of Volnovakha, halfway between Mariupol and Donetsk, was almost completely surrounded, Denis Pushilin added.

Ukraine has accused Russia of committing war crimes by targeting civilians, and the International Criminal Court said Monday it would launch an investigation into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a move welcomed by Kyiv.

In a speech late last night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday’s attacks on Kharkiv were “an obvious war crime”.

“Kharkov is a quiet city, there are quiet residential areas, no military facilities. Dozens of eyewitness accounts prove that this is not a fake volley, but a deliberate destruction of people. The Russians knew where they were shooting,” he said.

“No one in the world will forgive you for killing a peaceful Ukrainian people.”

The Kremlin has denied Zelensky’s allegations of war crimes in Ukraine, repeatedly saying it is not aimed at civilian areas.

A humanitarian crisis is looming

As fierce battles are being fought across the country, many Ukrainians are fleeing the country at a pace that could turn into “Europe’s biggest refugee crisis of the century”, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday.

There are more than 660,000 refugees who have fled to neighboring countries in the past six days, a UNHCR statement said.

Many of them are women who have had to make difficult decisions to abandon their fathers and husbands – men between the ages of 18 and 60 are barred from leaving Ukraine.
Foreigners are also desperately trying to leave the country, but some have found themselves waiting in the cold to get out. Some have suffered racism from border guards.

Other Ukrainians have chosen to stay and join the resistance. Volunteers flock to the capital, where many feel disobedience. Some collect bottles to make Molotov cocktails.

CNN’s Nathan Hodge, Olya Woitoich, Jeremy Herb, Lauren Fox, Ted Barrett, Claire Foren, Caitlan Collins, Ali Zaslav, Liam Riley, Puja Salhotra, Paul P. Murphy, Morgan Reamer, Richard Roth, Nick Peyton Walsh, Alexandra Walsh, Ale Tim Lister, Stephanie Busari, Nimi Princeville and Shama Nasinde, Arva Damon, Clarissa Ward, Hannah Richie and Thiel Rebain contributed to this report.