Russian forces pound Ukraine’s cities as the resistance holds the line in Kyiv

Russian forces bombarded cities in Ukraine Tuesday as the war raged for a sixth day. Kharkiv, in the northeast, was particularly hard-hit and the port city of Mariupol in the southeast appeared surrounded. Nevertheless, the Pentagon says a drive by Russian forces toward the capital, Kyiv, appears to be stalled as Ukrainian forces kept up their fierce resistance. Nick Schifrin reports from Kyiv.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Russian forces pounded cities in Ukraine today, as the war raged for a sixth day. Kharkiv in the northeast was particularly hard-hit, and the port city of Mariupol in the southeast appeared surrounded.

    Nevertheless, a drive by Russian forces toward the capital, Kyiv, seems stalled, according to the Pentagon. And Ukrainian forces continued fierce resistance.

    Again tonight, our Nick Schifrin begins our coverage from Lviv.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    For years, Moscow's military has employed scorched earth. Today, it brought that brutal reality to Ukraine, Kharkiv's central square, named Freedom, now mostly rubble and dust.

    Inside the city's main government building, emergency workers removed debris and carried dead bodies. In total, city authorities said at least five were killed and more than two dozen wounded, all civilians. Surveillance footage captured the attack, a direct hit, and a massive fireball.

    Russia promised its targets would be restricted to military. This is a residential building, homes completely destroyed, families and children killed.

  • Woman (through translator):

    We're being bombed by the Russians. We're all afraid. Why us? We're all simple civilians.

  • Man (through translator):

    They destroyed a residential building. The rockets hit and many peaceful residents died. Putin and Lavrov are bandits and should be tried.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Three hundred miles away in Kyiv, Russian missiles hit the city's main radio and TV tower. Firefighters fought to extinguish the fire at the site that's near a memorial to Ukrainian Jews killed by Nazis in World War II. Ukrainian President Zelensky today called this history repeating itself.

    Outside the city, satellite images show a convoy even larger than previously believed, 40 miles' long. But a senior defense official said today the advance toward Kyiv was stalled. The official said Russia wants to encircle Kharkiv. Russian troops have begun to occupy cities in the south, Berdyansk and Melitopol, and are just outside Mariupol.

    But, once again, Zelensky remained defiant, this time to European lawmakers. Even the interpreter got emotional.

  • Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukrainian President (through translator):

    We're fighting just for our land and for our freedom, despite the fact that all large cities of our country are now blocked.

    Believe you me, every square up today, no matter what it's called, it's going to be called, as today, Freedom Square in every city of our country.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Today ordinary Ukrainians fought for their freedom, despite being outgunned. Civilians tried to stop Russian armored vehicles, their only weapons, their bodies.

    Across the country, Ukrainians are rallying, even though some of their cities are slowing being strangled.

    Andriy Sadovyi, Mayor of Lviv, Ukraine: Six months ago, we start, prepare a city to live in extraordinary situation. We make huge supplies, medical treatment, blood. We bought a lot of diesel generator. We completely change situation.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Andriy Sadovyi is the mayor of Lviv, Western Ukraine's largest city. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site, usually a hub for tourists. But now it's a hub for thousands of Ukrainians trying to flee the war in Central and Eastern Ukraine.

  • Andriy Sadovyi:

    Every day, thousand, thousand people from different cities. It's my heart completely…

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Your heart is broken.

  • Andriy Sadovyi:

    Small children, 2, 3, and 5 years.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    And Sadovyi said, with so many entering the city, there is worry about what he called saboteurs. Security services have already arrested 10 people.

  • Andriy Sadovyi (through translator):

    They haven't done anything bad yet, but they wanted to. They wanted to blow up a power substation. And there were also some sabotage activities near the blood donation hospital.

    That is not a military operation. It seems they are committing acts of genocide.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Who were these people, as you understand them, and under whose orders were they operating?

  • Andriy Sadovyi (through translator):

    We have special police dealing with them. As I understand, they have been paid a hefty amount for it.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    By the Russian government?

  • Andriy Sadovyi (through translator):

    I think yes. Who else?

    Russian troops attack civil — citizens and hospital and school, every day, three, four, five time, alarm, and missile from Black Sea or Belarus.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Are you worried that Lviv could be the next Russian target?

  • Andriy Sadovyi (through translator):

    All Ukrainian cities are targets right now. We cannot predict what's in the mind of a person that attacks small children.

    We maximum prepare citizens to war.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    What support would you like from the West?

  • Andriy Sadovyi (through translator):

    Less talking, more doing.

    I'm listening about sanctions last one, two, three year, months. We are deeply concerned, blah, blah, blah.

    Russia kill children, woman. Russia oligarchs must feel very strong sanction and very strong position. Today, one part democratic world, next part totalitarian world. Today, we talk about future. Today we will — we creating our future. Today, Ukrainian people, David, attack Goliath.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    David attacks Goliath.

  • Andriy Sadovyi:

    Yes.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Right outside the mayor's office, one of David's platoons, an assembly line of civilians crafting camouflage nets for Ukraine's military, young people who already embraced a European future, and grandparents born Soviet now embracing Ukraine.

    Jane Pasichnaya is 67. Her granddaughter, Maria Triger, is 13.

  • Jane Pasichnaya, Displaced Kyiv Resident (through translator):

    When I was born in Soviet Union, we were united. I never felt the borders between nations. Today, I have hatred for those who started it all. I feel sorry for all Ukrainians, because I'm a Ukrainian as well, and I'm proud of that.

  • Maria Triger, Displaced Kyiv Resident:

    I was raised in a freedom — in a free country. And I think freedom is very important. And now Russia is trying to take our freedom.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    The family lives in Kyiv. On Thursday morning, Russians shelled their home, forcing them to flee.

  • Maria Triger:

    We packed all our stuff in 15 minutes, and we left our house locked, and I don't know when we will come back.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    How do you think one person doing something here in Lviv can help Ukraine take on Russia?

  • Maria Triger:

    If one person starts doing something extraordinary and something, that can actually help, if many people do it. The society is power. And if we deliver a message to society, it will respond.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    If Ukraine is David and Russia is Goliath, do you believe, do you have faith that Ukraine can win?

  • Andriy Sadovyi:

    I believe. And, today, a lot of people from world believe to Ukraine. It is our victory.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Ukraine is miles from that victory, but social media is full of examples of courage and heroism by ordinary citizens. You saw that video from Kharkiv not of a tank man, but a tank squad, taking on the Russian military

    And they are led, Judy, by Zelensky, who got two standing ovations during his speech to the European Parliament today.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Just the spirit of these ordinary Ukrainians, Nick.

    You have been talking to U.S. officials at the same time, Nick. What are they telling you about the state of the Russian operation?

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Yes, a senior U.S. official confirms to me reports of Russians having serious logistical problems inside Ukraine, and cites some examples of some Russian troops not having food inside Ukraine, some examples of Russian troops not getting paid back home and, of course, leaving vehicles behind.

    And we have seen those on videos especially in Eastern Ukraine. Officials believed before this campaign began that there would be some kind of shock and awe campaign against Kyiv. And they say they simply have not seen that, at least not yet.

    They, of course, praise Ukraine's resistance and Zelensky himself.

    But, Judy, there is still a lot of fear tonight there will be more bombing, more amphibious assaults landing in Southern Ukraine and more troops to come and more days like we saw today.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    A lot of fear.

    Nick Schifrin reporting from Lviv.

    Thank you, Nick.

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