Possible Last Chance Seen To Exit Kiev

A Russian missile reportedly struck the Kiev TV tower, leaving five dead and disrupting broadcasts throughout Ukraine. 

A roadblock on the approach to central Kiev February 28, 2022. AP/Emilio Morenatti

Day six of the war in Ukraine began with fire and ended with fire, with lots of fighting and fleeing in between. The Guardian reported late Tuesday evening that “it might be the last chance” for citizens to get out of Kiev as the Russian assault on the capital intensifies. 

Earlier Russian forces fired rockets at the heart of Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, killing at least 10 people and injuring dozens more. In the capital, Russian rockets bombarded the Holocaust memorial site Babi Yar, which includes a Jewish cemetery. Another Russian missile struck the 1,263-foot-tall Kiev TV tower, leaving five dead, according to the Deutsche Welle website, and disrupting broadcasts throughout Ukraine. 

The assault on Babi Yar drew swift condemnation from almost all quarters, including President Zelensky and the chairman of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Advisory Board, Natan Sharansky, who said President Putin is “seeking to distort and manipulate the Holocaust to justify an illegal invasion of a sovereign democratic country is utterly abhorrent,” the Jerusalem Post reported. “It is symbolic that he starts attacking Kiev by bombing the site of the Babyn Yar, the biggest of Nazi massacres.” 

According to Israel’s Ynet News, the Israeli foreign minister, Yair Lapid, condemned the attack on a major Holocaust memorial site carried out by Russian forces, “but neglected to blame Russia directly.”

Indication are that the rockets struck Babi Yar shortly before sunset Tuesday. The attack on Kharkiv’s Freedom Square occurred earlier in the day, with the fireball engulfing an elegant government building in Freedom Square flashing across television screens as nightly news broadcasts across Europe gave blanket coverage to the hellfire Russia seems intent on unleashing across all parts of embattled Ukraine. 

As if in cinematic counterpoint, there was an impassioned plea for action — yes, you could call it a speech — that Mr. Zelensky delivered via video link to the European Parliament on the same day that his country was taking fire and licking wounds that may be only a foretaste of what may yet come.

“Do prove that you are with us. Do prove that you will not let us go. Do prove that you indeed are Europeans, and then life will win over death and light will win over darkness. Glory be to Ukraine,” he said. Before the standing ovation that followed, the tireless Mr. Zelensky also said, “Nobody is going to break us. We’re strong. We’re Ukrainians.”

As nightfall obscures smoke from the day’s fires, what Russia’s “tactical shift to targeting civilian areas,” as the Wall Street Journal neatly put it, will mean for the besieged citizens of Kiev and what they may yet have to endure remains to be seen. 

The international ostracism of the Russian regime continued apace — starting in high places. Euronews and other European channels showed hundreds of diplomats walking out of a speech given (via video link) by Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov  at the U.N.’s Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Tuesday. Euronews noted that Lavrov “was unable to attend the Human Rights Council due to what he called ‘outrageous measures by the European Union’” — a reference to the EU’s closure of its airspace to Russian aviation. 

Economic sanctions sanctions against Russia are beginning to bite in ways big and small. The Daily Beast reported that a sanctioned Russian state TV host, Vladimir Soloviev, cried on the air about losing a villa he owns (or owned) in Italy. There have been calls to confiscate the New York properties of some Russian oligarchs, as reported by New York’s Daily News. 

On a cultural note, the renowned Musée Grévin wax museum in Paris is pulling a wax figure statue of Vladimir Putin from its display space. Le Parisien reports that the move is unprecedented: “For the first time in the museum’s history,” its director, Yves Delhommeau, said, “we’re taking someone down because of historic elements they’re causing at this very moment.” The Putin statue had become the target of attacks by visitors, and in its place a statue of Mr. Zelensky may, Mr. Delhommeau added, be put in.

The New York Sun

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