Russian military forces closing in on major Ukrainian cities

As the fourth day of fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces in Ukraine continues, Ukrainian fighters are continuing to put up a strong resistance, but Russian troops are on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv as well as Kharkiv, a city of 1.4 million that is 20 kilometres south of the Russian border.

In the early morning, explosions lit the sky in Kyiv and an oil depot 37 kilometres south of the capital was heavily damaged.  Videos have shown Russian tanks and vehicles moving across Kharkiv and troops are roaming the city.

Meanwhile, the European Union has moved to remove Russia from the Swift banking system. That would put a hurt on the Russians’ ability to move money or export their goods across 200 countries.

The United Nations said over 20,000 Ukrainians have arrived in neighbouring countries since the invasion a few days ago and estimates there might be up to 4 million refugees if the conflict in Ukraine continues for a long time.

The Russians have offered to have peace talks in the Russian-friendly country of Belarus.

Russian president Vladimir Putin’s goal is believed by experts in the area to be the removal of the Ukrainian government and replacing them with people much more sympathetic to Putin. Putin’s forces have cut off much of Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea, which would be a huge strike against the Ukrainian economy as well as creating a land bridge to the Crimean territory, which Putin claimed in 2014.

While invading the Crimean territory, Putin removed the Crimean government, including president Anatolii Mohyliov and replaced him with Sergey Aksyonov, a member of the Russian Unity party that had received four per cent of the vote in the previous election.

Now, Putin wants Ukraine to abandon its desire to join NATO, but Ukraine leadership is unwilling to meet in Belarus, which has been accused of firing arms into Ukraine and has provided easy access for Russian forces to move in to Ukraine.

“Warsaw, Bratislava, Budapest, Istanbul, Baku, we offered all of them to the Russian side and we will accept any other city in a country that hasn’t been used for launching missiles,” said Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy. “Only then the talks could be honest and put an end to the war.”

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