Authorities in the strategically important southern city of Kherson on the Black Sea have denied Russian claims that its forces have captured what would be their first large city of the invasion, saying only the port and station have fallen.
Russian paratroopers landed in Ukraine’s second city, Kharkiv, at 3am, security chiefs said, following several days of bombardment that have killed or wounded dozens of civilians. Four more people died on Wednesday, local authorities said, adding the city was still under their control.
The capital, Kyiv, has come under more heavy shelling as Russian invasion forces step up their offensive and move forces closer towards the capital in an apparent attempt to encircle it.
The strategically important Sea of Azov port city of Mariupol is also reportedly surrounded by Russian troops.
Ukraine is set to receive more Stinger and Javelin missiles from abroad, as well as another shipment of Turkish drones, according to the defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov.
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said nearly 6,000 Russian troops had been killed in the first six days of Moscow’s invasion, and the Kremlin would not take his country with bombs and airstrikes. Russia aimed to “erase Ukraine, its history and its people”, he said.
A second round of ceasefire talks will take place later on Wednesday, the Russian state news agency Tass reported, citing Ukrainian presidential sources.
The United Nations has said more than 680,000 people have fled Ukraine, with more than 450,000 crossing the border into Poland.
The European Commission proposed granting temporary protection to refugees from the Ukraine conflict, including a residence permit and access to employment and social welfare.
Joe Biden used his State of the Union address on Tuesday night to warn Vladimir Putin that he cannot divide the west and that dictators should “pay a price for their aggression”.
China said it would not join US and EU financial sanctions on Russia, the country’s bank regulator announced, saying it was opposed to them and sanctions did not work.
Apple said it will pause all product sales in Russia, while other major companies including aircraft maker Boeing, sports firm Nike and car makers Ford and Jaguar Land Rover have joined the list of firms suspending their Russian ties.
The Russian rouble fell again in early trading to hit 109.2 to the dollar.
European Union diplomats approved new sanctions against Belarus for its supporting role, targeting several key industries.
Russia’s largest lender, Sberbank, said it was leaving the European market as its subsidiaries face large cash outflows and threats to the safety of employees.