Huge convoy of Russian vehicles approaches Kiev

Russia appears to be making progress in its invasion of Ukraine, with satellite images showing that a huge convoy – some 40 miles (40 km) long – of Russian military vehicles is headed for the Ukrainian capital Kiev.

The following satellite image, taken Monday by US company Maxar Technologies, appears to show a convoy of Russian armored tanks and trucks stretching from Pybirsk, further north from Kiev, to Antonov Airport (also known as Hostomel Airport – the location of fighting last week between Russian and Ukrainian forces) on the northeastern outskirts of the Ukrainian capital.

Satellite images from Maxar Technologies, taken on Feb. 28, appear to show a convoy of Russian vehicles advancing towards the Ukrainian capital Kiev. The company says these images show the north end of the convoy, with logistics and supply vehicles. Satellite image (c) 2022 Maxar Technologies.

Maxar Technologies | Getty Images

In some parts of the convoy the vehicles are driving three or four abreast on the road, although in other images the vehicles are seen further apart, in one file. The distance along the road is approximately 40 miles.

It should be noted that the situation in Ukraine is changing rapidly and may now be different from what can be seen in these images, which show the convoy on Sunday and Monday.

The next two photos were taken by Maxar Technologies on Sunday. At this point, the convoy does not appear to cover such a large area and cloud cover prevents a full view of the area.

Satellite images from Maxar Technologies, taken on Feb. 27, appear to show a convoy of Russian vehicles advancing towards the Ukrainian capital Kiev. The large deployment of Russian ground forces can be seen in convoy northeast of Ivankiv, Ukraine. Satellite image (c) 2022 Maxar Technologies

Maxar | Maxar | Getty Images

Satellite images from Maxar Technologies, taken on Feb. 27, appear to show a convoy of Russian vehicles advancing towards the Ukrainian capital Kiev. The large deployment of Russian ground forces can be seen in convoy northeast of Ivankiv, Ukraine. Satellite image (c) 2022 Maxar Technologies

Maxar | Maxar | Getty Images

Fear of the ‘fall of Kiev’

Official sources have not confirmed the existence of the convoy, but there is growing and widespread fear that it indicates that Russia is preparing for a full-scale attack on Kiev, a city it has not yet occupied, although there have been clashes in the suburbs.

British Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said on Tuesday that Britain will do everything it can to delay the fall of Kiev. The BBC reported Tuesday morning that the convoy is 27 miles from Kiev, although it is difficult to estimate how quickly the military column could reach the city.

Russia began its invasion of Ukraine last Thursday and its forces have attacked several cities and areas in the north, east and south of the country. However, analysts have suggested that Russia has made slower progress in its advance into the country and has encountered more resistance than expected.

The Pentagon has noted that the Kremlin still wants its troops to take Kiev, despite stiff Ukrainian resistance.

“We have every indication that they still want to take Kiev, that they are advancing and trying to get closer,” a senior defense official told Slice Mag on Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity to share new details from the Pentagon. review.

If Russia is about to launch a much tougher attack on the capital Kiev, it is much more uncertain how the Ukrainian armed forces and civilian resistance will cope.

Jack Watling, a Land Warfare research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, outlined a bleak prospect for Kiev and its remaining residents and resistance fighters, while describing the tactics the approaching Russian forces might use against the city.

“You’ll see the city surrounded, you’ll see key utilities and critical national infrastructure seized so they… [the Russians] control over the supply of water and electricity and then intense shelling in the areas where resistance is concentrated, followed by combined weapons attacks with armour, engineers and infantry,” he told the BBC’s “Today” program on Tuesday.

Watling said the West had to admit that it had tried to help Ukraine with the supply of weapons and so on “far too late”.

“The warnings about this were in effect months ago and everything we are doing now, including the weapons shipped in the past few days, that are essentially building up in Poland, so it would take a significant amount of time to get them – without them being hit by Russian planes – all over Ukraine and in the hands of the defenders and that is a policy mistake on our part.”

Attacks continue

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, came under heavy fire in a massive explosion that hit the regional government building, according to videos shared on social media and by Ukrainian officials.

Ukraine’s state emergency services said the explosion was caused by a Russian airstrike on the city and an adviser to the interior ministry said in a social media post that at least 10 people were killed and 35 injured in rocket attacks by Russian forces on Tuesday. NBC News was unable to independently verify the claims.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called the shelling of Kharkiv a “military crime” in a video statement.

There are also concerns that Belarus is preparing to assist Russian forces in their invasion, with an official Ukrainian Twitter account saying on Tuesday that Belarusian forces had attacked the Chernihiv region of northern Ukraine and near the Belarusian border. -Russian border had been invaded. It said the information was confirmed by a spokesman for the North Territorial Defense Forces. It has not been verified by NBC News.

Other images of Maxar taken Monday suggested additional military activity was taking place in southern Belarus, which borders Ukraine and is an ally of Russia, with ground forces and ground attack helicopter units in the footage.

Again, official sources have not confirmed whether these units – or Belarus in general – are preparing to launch an attack on Ukraine along with Russian forces. Belarus’s president, Alexander Lukashenko, had said earlier Tuesday that his country does not intend to join the raid, state news agency Belta said.

peace talks

Peace talks took place on Monday between Russian and Ukrainian delegates in neighboring Belarus, and while no breakthrough was reached, there are hopes that talks will continue in the coming days.

Ukraine, for its part, has vowed not to surrender to Russia and has demanded an immediate ceasefire and Russian troops leave its territory.

“Ukraine is ready to continue looking for a diplomatic solution, but Ukraine is not ready to surrender or capitulate,” Foreign Secretary Dmytro Kuleba told Slice Mag’s Hadley Gamble on Monday.

Zelenskyy had already taken a pessimistic tone about the outcome of the talks, and Kuleba told Slice Mag he wasn’t sure whether the discussions would be successful.

“I am a diplomat, I have to believe in the success of the talks, but at the same time, my main goal as a diplomat now is to impose more sanctions on Russia, bring more weapons to Ukraine and isolate Russia as much as possible.” we can get into the international arena, so I’m focused on this part of the diplomacy,” Kuleba said.

“We stand not only for ourselves, but for the world order as we all know it.”

The foreign minister said that “every 24 hours is crucial, as Russia deploys more and more military power on Ukraine, hundreds of tanks move into the country, they dominate the skies with their bombers, missiles, missiles are thrown at our peaceful cities, civilians become killed, but we keep fighting.”

He said the war had turned into a “genuine people’s war against Russian aggression.”

Russia has already launched attacks, both on the ground and through the air, with major cities reporting shelling and damage to buildings. Both sides have said some of their soldiers have been killed, and Ukraine has reported that hundreds of its civilians have been killed in Russian attacks, including several children.

The invasion has resulted in a large number of Ukrainians trying to flee the country for safety in Eastern Europe, although many have also stayed to defend their homes and nation. A spokesman for UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, confirmed to NBC News on Tuesday that more than 660,000 people have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries in the past six days.

Amanda Macias and Ted Kemp of Slice Mag contributed to this story.