Deadly blast at Kyiv TV tower as Russia warns Ukrainian capital

Ukrainian officials accuse Russia of attack on TV tower after Moscow warned it would carry out ‘high-precision strikes’ on Kyiv.

A fireman runs after Russian airstrike hit Kyiv's main television tower in Kyiv
A firefighter runs after a blast at the main television tower in Kyiv [Sergei Supinsky/AFP]

At least five people have been killed after Russian forces fired at the main television tower in Kyiv and the city’s main Holocaust memorial, Ukrainian officials said, after Russia warned it would launch “high-precision” strikes on the Ukrainian capital.

Ukrainian authorities said five people were killed and five others wounded in the attack on the TV tower, located a couple of miles from central Kyiv and a short walk from numerous apartment buildings.

A TV control room and a power substation were hit, and at least some Ukrainian channels briefly stopped broadcasting, officials said.

Later, the head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office, Andriy Yermak, said on Facebook that a “powerful missile attack on the territory where the (Babi) Yar memorial complex is located” was under way.

“To the world: what is the point of saying ‘never again’ for 80 years, if the world stays silent when a bomb drops on the same site of Babi Yar,” Zelenskyy wrote in a tweet.

There was no immediate comment on the allegations from Russia. The country’s defence ministry said earlier that Russian troops would carry out an attack on what they said was the infrastructure of Ukraine’s intelligence services in Kyiv and urged residents living nearby to leave.

A blast is seen in the TV tower, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine
A blast is seen in the TV tower, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine March 1, 2022 [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

“In order to suppress information attacks on Russia, the technological infrastructure of the SBU [Ukraine’s Security Service] and the 72nd main PSO [Psychological Operations Unit] centre in Kyiv will be hit with high-precision weapons,” defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

“We call on … Kyiv residents living near relay nodes to leave their homes,” Konashenkov added.

Attack on Kharkiv

In the country’s northeast, a residential area in the city of Kharkiv lay in ruins after a building was struck. The second-largest city in Ukraine was came under heavy bombardment throughout the Monday night and into Tuesday morning.

Russian shelling struck central Kharkiv’s Freedom Square just after sunrise Tuesday, badly damaging a regional administration building and some other structures, and killing at least six people and injuring dozens of others, Ukrainian officials said.

It was the first time the Russian military hit the centre of the city of 1.5 million people, though shells have been hitting residential neighborhoods in Kharkiv for days.

The Ukrainian emergency service said it had put out 24 fires in and around Kharkiv caused by shelling, and it had disabled 69 explosive devices.

Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons, reporting from the city of Lviv, in western Ukraine, says there is a sense of “dread” sweeping across the country.

“We are hearing of a lot of fighting in the south, in the area near Mariupol, and that is getting fiercer all the time,” Simmons said.

“And people are dealing with a massive explosion, and a number of rocket attacks, in Kharkiv,” he added.

The UN estimates that 12 million people in Ukraine will need relief and protection, while it projected that more than four million Ukrainian refugees may need help in neighbouring countries in the coming months.

A view of the central square following shelling of the City Hall building in Kharkiv, Ukraine
A view of the central square following the shelling of the City Hall building in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 1, 2022 [Pavel Dorogoy/AP Photo]

Advance on Kyiv

In Kyiv, Russia warned residents to flee their homes as satellite images taken on Monday showed a Russian military convoy north of Kyiv that stretches for about 40 miles (64 kilometres), substantially longer than the 17 miles (27 km) reported earlier in the day.

However, a US defence official said the Russian advance on the capital has stalled as its forces struggle with basic logistics challenges, including shortages of food and fuel, with some units appearing to be gripped by low morale.

“One reason why things appear to be stalled north of Kyiv is that the Russians themselves are regrouping and rethinking and trying to adjust to the challenges that they’ve had,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, the Reuters news agency reported.

Ukrainian servicemen ride on top of an armored personnel carrier speeding down a deserted boulevard during an air raid alarm, in Kyiv
Ukrainian servicemen ride on top of an armoured personnel carrier speeding down a deserted boulevard during an air raid alarm, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 1, 2022 [Vadim Ghirda/AP Photo]

The official told reporters that it was unclear whether the convoy itself had stalled, but it was not making much progress.

Meanwhile, in the southern port city of Mariupol, Russian attacks seriously wounded several people, the AP news agency reported.

Amid heavy Russian shelling, women in a maternity hospital were forced to stay in the improvised bomb shelter in the basement.

Negotiations prospects

Speaking in a heavily guarded government compound in Kyiv, Ukraine President Zelenskyy said Russia must “first stop bombing people” before peace talks could make any headway.

Setting out his conditions for further talks with Russia, Zelenskyy told Reuters and CNN in a joint interview, “It’s necessary to at least stop bombing people, just stop the bombing and then sit down at the negotiating table.”

Talks began on Monday with Ukraine calling for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian forces.

Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari speaking from Moscow said there was no clear confirmation from Ukraine if it will attend talks scheduled on Wednesday at the Belarus border, according to Russia.

“There hasn’t been huge expectations out of these talks to begin with,” she said.

“But many analysts here [in Moscow] believe as long as the two sides are able to sit down together, there is a possibility that they could find a way out of it,” Jabbari added.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies