(Update 1: Adds new info, recasts headline, lede, edits throughout)
Kyiv/Moscow, Feb 27 (EFE).- Russian troops on Sunday entered Kharkiv, while the Ukrainian army said it had stopped Moscow’s forces from marching into the capital.
Videos shared on social media showed street battles raging in the northeastern city, Ukraine’s second-largest after Kyiv, after Russian armored vehicles entered the center of Kharkiv, triggering calls from local authorities to stay indoors or in shelters.
The international community continued to provide military aid to the embattled country, while also tightening economic sanctions on Russia over its invasion of its neighbor which began on Thursday morning.
In a joint statement, the European Union, United Kingdom, Canada, and United States pledged to remove certain Russian banks from Swift, an international financial transaction system that underpins international banking.
“This will ensure that these banks are disconnected from the international financial system and harm their ability to operate globally,” the statement said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the move, which he called “a tangible price for this vile invasion of our country” said would cause Russia to suffer losses in the “billions and billions.”
“It seems that Ukraine has gained the sincerity and attention of the whole normal, civilized world. And the practical result – here it is, SWIFT (…) Disconnecting from global financial civilization,” he said.
Zelenskyy’s adviser Mikhail Podoliak said Ukrainian forces were fiercely resisting Russian troops attempting to enter the capital city, as fighting continued on the same fronts on the outskirts of Kyiv as at the outset of the invasion.
“Ukraine resists (…) they believed that they could take over Ukraine in four, twelve, sixteen hours at the most, they were convinced. But the reality is different. The positional battles are being fought in the same places as three days ago,” Podoliak said.
While Kyiv is still standing, Russian soldiers have breached Ukraine’s defense of Kharkiv, a city of 1.4 million that lies just 20 kilometers (some 12 miles) from the border with Russia.
In a message on the Telegram channel, the State Special Communications Service of Ukraine admitted that enemy vehicles were moving around the city and published a video showing several armored vehicles in an urban area.
Ukraine has confirmed at least 198 deaths since the invasion began, including three children, and said that the Russians had lost more than 3,000 troops since the invasion Thursday.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov Sunday said that in the last 24 hours its forces had “completely blockaded the cities of Kherson and Berdyansk” and have taken control of Henichesk and the Chornobaivka airfield.
He also claimed that Ukrainian soldiers were deserting the army as Moscow’s military operation progressed.
Meanwhile, EU foreign ministers were set to meet Sunday to discuss an aid package to the Ukrainian armed forces, said Josep Borrell, the bloc’s foreign policy and security chief.
Military aid for Ukraine continued to pour in from the international community, with Australia announcing Sunday that it would send arms to bolster its defense.
France announced Saturday more defense and fuel supplies to Ukraine and said it had decided to freeze Russian financial assets and fight Moscow’s propaganda.
The Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany have also said they would send military aid to Ukraine. EFE