GENEVA - US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called out Russia on Tuesday for killing civilians in Ukraine, telling the United Nations Human Rights Council that Russian strikes “are hitting schools, hospitals and residential buildings.”

“They are destroying critical infrastructure, which provides millions of people across Ukraine with drinking water, gas to keep them from freezing to death, and electricity. Civilian buses, cars, and even ambulances have been shelled.  Russia is doing this every day across Ukraine,” Blinken added.

The remarks by the top US diplomat come after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of war crimes for bombing the city of Kharkiv.  Over the past two days, Russian attacks have hit civilians, suggesting a shift towards a far-less restrained bombing campaign. Earlier Russian attacks were more focused on military targets.

Zelensky also made an impassioned plea Tuesday for European leaders to “prove” their solidarity with his country “We are fighting for our life,” he said in a speech to the European Union Tuesday.

As US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Russia’s human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law as it carries out its assault on Ukraine, he floated the idea of kicking Russia off of the UN Human Rights Council during a speech before the council on Tuesday morning.

| US Secretary of State calls out Russia for killing civilians in Ukraine

“One can reasonably ask whether a UN member state that tries to take over another UN member state – while committing horrific human rights abuses and causing massive humanitarian suffering – should be allowed to remain on this council,” Blinken said.

There are 47 member states on the council, which are elected by the UN general assembly, with Russia being one of them.  Blinken also criticized countries such as China who have not clearly stated that Russia is the sole perpetrator of this crisis.

At least 10 dead

and 35 hurt in

Kharkiv strike

At least 10 people were killed and 35 injured in rocket strikes by Russian forces on the center of Kharkiv Tuesday, according to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko.

“Freedom Square was hit by a cruise missile. There was a second hit by a similar rocket that hit the building after the rescuers arrived (in 5-7 minutes). One third of the administration building fell,” Herashchenko said in a post on Telegram.

“Rescuers are working on the scene. The stairs and partial corridors on all floors are completely destroyed,” the post read.  Indian student killed: An Indian student was among the dead after Russia’s shelling of the city, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Tuesday.

Russian military warns of strikes against facilities in Kyiv

The Russian military said Tuesday it will carry out strikes against the facilities in Kyiv, warning civilians living near the areas to leave.

The Russians will target the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and the 72nd Main Center for Information and Psychological Operations (PSO) in Kyiv, the Russian defense ministry said in a statement Tuesday via Russian state news agency TASS.

“In order to suppress information attacks against Russia, the technological facilities of the SBU and the 72nd main PSO center in Kyiv will be hit with high-precision weapons,” the statement said, according to TASS. “We call on Ukrainian citizens attracted by Ukrainian nationalists to carry out provocations against Russia, as well as residents of Kyiv living near relay nodes leave their homes.”

Kyiv mayor says the “enemy is on the

outskirts” of the Ukrainian capital

The Mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, warned Tuesday in a video message that “the enemy is on the outskirts of the capital,” adding that the Ukrainian military is “preparing to defend Kyiv.”

“Our armed forces, Territorial Defense Forces, are fighting heroically for our land,” Klitschko said.  “Fortifications and checkpoints have been built at the entrances to the city. I ask everyone to keep calm. Do not go outside unnecessarily and stay in shelters in case of alarm,” he added.

“Prove that you will not let us go”: Zelensky asks EU leaders

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called on European leaders to “prove” their solidarity with his country, just a day after signing an official request to join the European Union.

“We have proven our strength. We have proven that, at a minimum, we are exactly the same as you. So prove that you are with us. Prove that you will not let us go. Prove that you are, indeed, Europeans,” Zelensky said in a video address to the European Parliament on Tuesday.  Zelensky said his country is “fighting for survival” amid the Russian invasion.

Saudi calls for

de-escalation

in Ukraine

Despite international pressure to increase output, Saudi Arabia’s cabinet, chaired by King Salman bin Abdulaziz, reaffirmed its commitment to the OPEC+ agreement — a pact made by 10 major crude oil producers and Russia to gradually pump more oil in the market to meet demand — a statement by the Saudi state news agency said on Tuesday.

 

 

The cabinet was briefed on a call held between Saudi’s Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman and French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday, where the kingdom expressed its keenness “on the stability and balance of oil markets,” the state news agency said.

Oil prices surged above $100 per barrel after Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine last week, piling pressure on a global economy already reeling from rampant inflation.

The Russian economy is heavily dependent on revenue from oil and gas, and Moscow wants prices to remain elevated. Saudi Arabia is under intense pressure from developed economies to increase output.

The Saudi cabinet discussed “the situation in Ukraine and its impact on energy markets, and the Kingdom’s keenness on the stability and balance of oil markets and its commitment to the (OPEC Plus) agreement,” the Saudi Press Agency said.

The Saudi cabinet also called for “de-escalation” and a “political solution in Ukraine,” according to the state news agency said. This is the first official Saudi reaction to the Russian invasion, which started last week.

Saudi Arabia — a major US ally — has not presented a pro-Western position on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.