Russia escalated its attack on Ukraine, including civilian areas of the country’s biggest cities, on Wednesday (March 2), marking the seventh day of the Vladimir Putin-led invasion.
Igor Terekhov, mayor of the northeastern city Kharkiv, said in a television address that Russian rocket strikes have caused “massive destruction” in the city. Local officials are currently working to distribute food, medicine and other supplies to civilians and provide heat, as thousands have lost their utilities amidst freezing temperatures.
So far, the United Nations’ human rights office has reported at least 136 civilian deaths due to the crisis. However, Ukrainian emergency services estimate that more than 2,000 Ukrainian civilians have been killed.
Witnesses of the destruction told USA Today that Russian military forces have killed hundreds of Ukrainian civilians, including over a dozen children, with assaults on apartment buildings and neighborhoods.
A U.N. refugee agency also reported that more than 847,000 people have fled Ukraine since the fighting began and that number is expected to surpass one million. A majority of people fleeing the country are women and children, as Ukrainian government officials previously announced that men ages 18 to 60 years old are not allowed to leave.
President Joe Biden addressed the crisis in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday evening (March 1). The POTUS asked lawmakers to salute Ukrainians as he began the address, saying Congress is joined by “an unwavering resolve that freedom will always triumph over tyranny.”
“Throughout our history we’ve learned this lesson: when dictators do not pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos,” Biden warned of Putin. “They keep moving and the costs and threats to America and the world keep rising.”
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