1 of 10 | Ukrainians prepare Molotov cocktails outside their homes in Lviv in western Ukraine on Wednesday. Russian troops entered Ukraine on February 24, triggering a Ukrainian resistance and a series of announcements by Western countries to impose severe economic sanctions on Russia. Photo by Oleksandr Khomenko/UPI | License Photo
March 2 (UPI) -- The Russian military entered its seventh day of attacks across Ukraine on Wednesday, bombing strategic locations in Kyiv and Kharkiv, and engaging in street fighting in smaller towns and cities.
The violence comes as officials hope a second round of peace talks along the Ukrainian border with Belarus bring the two sides closer to a cease-fire.
A convoy of Russian military vehicles, which is about 40 miles long, has been inching toward the Ukrainian capital since Tuesday. On Wednesday, senior Pentagon officials told reporters the convoy has "made no appreciable movement closer to the city" in two days.
Moscow, though, escalated attacks on multiple fronts -- including in Kyiv and Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, which has seen punishing attacks this week including a devastating missile strike at a government building.
Ukrainian interior ministry official Anton Herashchenko said a Russian rocket strike appears to have destroyed a heating supply service near Kyiv's rail station.
The State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection said the strike also hit an area hotel and caused minor damage to the railway station.
"Russian terrorists launched an airstrike on the Southern Railway Station in Kyiv, where thousands of Ukrainian women and children are being evacuated," the agency said on Twitter.
Ukraine's state-run Ukrinform reported departures were continuing from the railway station after the attack.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said early reports indicate there were no injuries in the strike.
The Russian military also targeted Kharkiv's regional police department and Kharkiv National University, according to Ukraine's State Emergency Service. Videos posted online showed the buildings on fire, and officials said the strikes injured several people. Supplies of food and water are also said to be running low.
In Kharkiv's Izium region, four adults and two children were killed in Russian airstrikes conducted over night that hit a high-rise apartment block and a private house.
Deputy Izium Mayor Volodymyr Matsokin told Ukrinform that the deceased where in the house when it was hit.
In the strategic southern port town of Mariupol, Russian troops and pro-Russian separatists attacked with heavy shelling -- but some mobile communications were restored there after they were knocked out by Moscow's military.
The town's mayor, Vadym Boichenko, said Russia has been "flattening us non-stop for 12 hours now." The town is also without water.
"The enemy occupying forces of the Russian Federation have done everything to block the exit of civilians from the city of half a million people," Boichenko said. "We cannot even take the wounded from the streets, from houses and apartments today, since the shelling does not stop."
Meanwhile, Ukraine's largest western city of Lviv has so far been spared the attacks others have faced, but its mayor, Andriy Sadovyi, told The Times of Israel that they have been preparing for the invasion for months and can accommodate up to 200,000 refugees.
"We have a robust self-organization process that is deeply ingrained in our genes," he said. "Even our authorities cannot understand sometimes how people self-organize and what they can do for survival."
As the invasion becomes drawn out, Ukraine's Defense Minister, Olekssi Reznikov, late Wednesday called on the public in occupied areas to attack incoming supply units.
"If the enemy is left without fuel, ammunition, food engineering and repair support, they will become helpless," he said, according to SSSCIP Ukraine's Twitter account. "Hungers. Foresters. You know every path and every ravine in your area. This is your time."
Since Russia launched the invasion almost a week ago, a number of civilians have been killed or wounded in fighting across Ukraine. An exact figure is so far difficult to quantify, but officials say the toll has been great.
Ukraine's emergency service said more than 350 civilians have been killed and more than 2,000 injured, according to The Guardian.
"Today there are 128 people in our hospitals," Boychenko told CNN. "Our doctors don't even go home anymore. They are fighting for the lives of Mariupol residents."
According to United Nation's data, nearly 1 million Ukrainian refugees have sought asylum in nearby countries.
Casualty figures were murkier on the Russian side, with Oleksiy Arestovich, Zelensky's military adviser, saying nearly 7,000 Russian troops have been killed and hundreds taken prisoner.
Russia's Defense Ministry, meanwhile, says the death toll is just shy of 500, with nearly 1,600 injured. It's the first time Russia has confirmed casualties since the start of the invasion.
Ukraine's defense ministry on Wednesday rejected Russian claims that its forces had captured the southern port city of Kherson. Ukraine officials said the fighting is still going there and government forces still control most of the city of about 300,000 people, which is just northwest of Crimea near the Black Sea.
But Kherson Mayor Igor Kolykhaev told The New York Times the city is under Russian control.
"There is no Ukrainian army here," he said. "The city is surrounded."
He said about 10 armed Russian officers entered city hall and told him they were setting up a new administration there.
Kolykhaev said up to 300 Ukrainians -- civilians and troops -- may have been killed in fighting.
"I've brought on volunteers to help gather up bodies and we're burying them immediately because many of the bodies have been blown apart," he said. "If we can make a photography it makes sense to try to identify them, but if not we put them into bags and bury them that way."
If it's captured, Kherson would be the first major Ukrainian city to come under Russian control since President Vladimir Putin ordered the launch of the invasion Thursday.
Russian troops are moving on targets across Ukraine's south and east and are attacking hospitals, schools and other infrastructure, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
Ukraine Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova is seen in the House chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday night listening to U.S. President Joe Biden
's State of the Union address. Pool Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/UPI
Russian and Ukrainian negotiators met briefly on Monday for a first round of peace talks aimed at a cease-fire, but they fell apart after less than 30 minutes. The Kremlin said previously that a second round of talks would take place on Wednesday, but Russian officials said that has been pushed back to Thursday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed the Thursday meeting to state-run RIA Novosti.
"Our negotiators are prepared for a second round of discussion about [security] guarantees with the Ukrainian representatives," he said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said a Russian delegation will be "in place" Wednesday for the talks, which have taken place near the border with Belarus in northern Ukraine.
Zelensky said that peace talks are pointless until Russia first stops fighting.
"If you do this, and that side does this, it means they are ready for peace. If they [are not] ready, it means you are just wasting time," Zelensky said in an interview with CNN.
Since the start of the attacks, Zelensky has urged Ukrainian civilians to pick up arms and fight the invading Russian forces. He himself has been an active participant and hasn't seen his own family for several days, he told CNN.
The fighting in Ukraine on Wednesday followed U.S. President Joe Biden's State of the Union address on Tuesday night, in which he said that Putin "miscalculated" the response his troops are getting in Ukraine and he will pay for bringing war to Eastern Europe.
"Throughout our history we've learned this lesson: When dictators do not pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos," Biden said in his address.
"He thought he could roll into Ukraine, and the world would roll over. Instead, he met a wall of strength he never anticipated or imagined.
"He thought the West and NATO wouldn't respond. He thought he could divide us at home, in this chamber and in this nation. He thought he could divide us in Europe as well. But Putin was wrong. We are ready. We are united, and that's what we did. We stayed united."
Biden also announced in his speech that the United States will close off its airspace to Russian planes, following similar moves by other European countries.
European Union leaders attend a summit at the Chateau de Versailles near Paris on March 11, 2022. Photo by the European Union/ UPI | License Photo