Putin's war machine 'is being starved', Deputy PM says after 'cluster strikes' hit Kharkiv

28 February 2022, 15:54 | Updated: 1 March 2022, 08:57

By Daisy Stephens

The Deputy Prime Minister told LBC this morning that Vladimir Putin's Russian war machine is 'being starved' as it tries to take Ukraine's capital Kyiv.

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Dominic Raab told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast today: “The sanctions that we’ve taken with our allies, we’ve seen the Russian Rouble fall by record margins.

“We’ve seen the Russian stock exchange fall by record margins.”

He said financial sanctions taken against Russia were the method being used to “starve Russia’s war machine.”

The Ukrainian capital Kyiv was rocked by fresh explosions on the fifth day of the Russian invasion, hours after Vladimir Putin was accused of using banned cluster munitions to indiscriminately target civilians in Kharkiv.

People in Kyiv reported windows shaking and air raid sirens ringing out on Monday evening following the explosions.

Video filmed in the embattled city shows a large fireball in the sky in the northwestern part of Kyiv, with reports claiming the site of the explosion was a military radar communication centre.

Broadcaster Clive Myrie has taken shelter underground after the building he was reporting from in Kyiv was shaken by nearby missile fire.

Writing on Twitter on Monday, the broadcaster and Mastermind host said the blast was the closest to their base yet and that it shook the windows.

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Maxar satellite imagery of the northern end of the convoy with logistics and resupply vehicles, southeast of Ivankiv, Ukraine.
Maxar satellite imagery of the northern end of the convoy with logistics and resupply vehicles, southeast of Ivankiv, Ukraine. Picture: Getty

Myrie, 57, tweeted: "Now back in the underground shelter in Kyiv, our position shaken by nearby missile fire.

"Windows shook. Closest blast yet to our base. Fighting coming closer to heart of #kyiv."

Russian troops are attacking on multiple fronts and are believed to be around 25km (15 miles) from Kyiv.

A huge convoy of hundreds of armoured vehicles, tanks, artillery and support vehicles has been spotted near the capital, according to satellite imagery from the Maxar company.

The fresh attack hit Kyiv as the first talks between Russia and Ukraine delegates came to an end, concluding without a ceasefire.

The talks ended with no deal but an agreement to keep talking, with delegations returning to their capitals.

It comes after Russia was accused of using banned cluster munitions to indiscriminately target civilians in Ukraine's east in a move that would constitute a war crime.

Videos on social media showed multiple explosions in rapid succession in the centre of the city of Kharkiv.

The city was hit by rockets fired from Russian positions today, with video showing the Serpnia area blanketed by explosions.

Graphic images reveal streets littered with the bodies of dead and badly wounded civilians. Cluster munitions were also used to destroy a pre-school in Okhtyrka, activist group Amnesty International said.

The human rights charity said "a 220mm Uragan rocket dropped cluster munitions on the Sonechko nursery and kindergarten in the town of Okhtyrka in Sumy Oblast" on Friday.

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It added: "The strike may constitute a war crime."

Amnesty said three people were killed in the attack, including a child, while another child was wounded.

A Ukrainian minister said the city of Kharkiv had been "massively fired upon".

"Kharkiv has just been massively fired upon by grads (rockets)," interior ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko wrote on Facebook.

"Dozens of dead and hundreds of wounded."

Local media reported that at least five civilians and two soldiers had been killed, with 22 civilians and 20 soldiers injured.

A number of residential blocks were reportedly hit.

Footage shared on social media also showed a children's clothing factory in the city that had been razed to the ground by a Russian shell.

Kharkiv has a population of nearly 1.5 million people.

On Sunday Ukrainian forces said they fended off an attack from Russian forces, with regional governor Oleh Synehubov saying the city had been completely rid of Russian troops after intense fighting in the street.

A Ukrainian enduring shelling in Kyiv has urged Britons to "close your eyes and imagine" how it feels to experience bombs falling outside your home.

Vitaliy Rulyov, 36, from Trojeshchina, Desnyanskiy district of Kyiv, compared air raids in the capital to Britain during the Blitz but said his city is "surviving and supporting one another".

"To the people of Britain, I ask you that when you come home from work today, hug your family, hug your kids, close your eyes and for a second just imagine there are explosions outside your house," he said.

"Remember how your grandparents felt when they were bombed during the war with Hitler, because the British people suffered a lot... try to imagine that feeling for a second and I hope you never have to feel that feeling again.

"But here in Ukraine, we are feeling this right now and we're living through it."

Watch: James O'Brien: Vladimir Putin has made a 'massive miscalculation' in Ukraine

Mr Rulyov said since the first attack on Thursday it has been "impossible to distinguish what day of the week it is" and instead counts the "number of days of war".

He described President Putin as "sick" and warned that the war is "not about Ukraine" and that "people all over the world are in danger" if the Russians are successful.

He also urged European partners to close the sky above Ukraine in a bid to stop the Russian missiles and warplanes from flying over.

Mr Rulyo - who attempted to enlist in the regional defence but was turned away as they already had enough people and weapons - said civilians in Kyiv are living through "uncertainty and danger" but added "there is no fear" and people are "united."

"We don't need anything except for medication, food and that kind of thing and I'm helping to provide that for now," he said.

"People are willing to do the job protecting this city and if Mr Putin wanted to scare Ukraine and divide it, well I think that he has done the opposite... people in Ukraine are united to overcome this dreadful time and hopefully we will see a peaceful sky again."

Olena Vinnychenko, 43, who lives 2km outside Kyiv, said she will never be able to forgive Russia for the war.

"They killed a lot of people, a lot of children," she said.

And it's not the military operation as they are saying in their television... it's war. They're bombing us. They're killing us. And we can't forgive this."

Ms Vinnychenko has been sheltering at her friends' house for four days along with six other families, including children.

She said the experience has been "terrible" and she has barely slept but added she is "getting used" to the sound of explosions and gunfire.

"Russian occupants are now on our territory so they can shoot, but we have guns to protect our families," she said.

"These guns are for animals (hunting) but also we can use them to protect ourselves.

"We don't panic, we are quiet, and our men are making territory protection on the streets of our neighbourhood.

She added: "We are hoping for the best still because we can see that the world is supporting us."

It comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned the next 24 hours would be "crucial" for his country.

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The UN said at least 102 civilians have been killed - including a six-year-old girl who died when her home was shelled on Sunday - and over 300 injured.

The Ukraine health ministry claimed on Sunday that thousands of Russian troops had also died.

An estimated 500,000 civilians have fled the country since Putin invaded, according to the UN refugee agency.

On Sunday Putin put his nuclear deterrent forces on high alert - and on Monday a Kremlin spokesperson said the move was in response to comments made by UK foreign secretary Liz Truss.

It is not clear which comments he was referring to, but Ms Truss said on Sunday Putin could resort to "the most unsavoury means" and use "even worse weapons" if he felt his regime was threatened.

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On Monday the Prime Minister's official spokesperson said Boris Johnson had said Putin had "underestimated Western unity and the strength of the sanctions his action could lead to".

Speaking about a Cabinet meeting on Monday, the spokesperson added: "The Prime Minister said Putin must fail in his attempts to subjugate Ukraine and the UK would continue its efforts in three main areas to achieve this: economically, diplomatically and militarily."

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