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Fighting got underway Sunday in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, after Russian forces stormed in from the outskirts, according to reports.
The Kharkiv offensive combined with overnight strikes in Kyiv and other parts of the country to broaden the Russian invasion that began Thursday, the reports said.
Kharkiv, located about 480 miles east of Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, lies just a little more than 12 miles from the Russian border.
The city’s population is about 1.4 million, or about half the size of Kyiv, the BBC reported.
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Russian troops began approaching Kharkiv on Thursday, when the invasion into Ukraine got underway, but remained outside the city until Sunday, The Associated Press reported.
Oleh Sinehubov, head of the Kharkiv regional administration, said Ukrainian fighters were engaged against Russians inside the city, and civilians were being asked to stay in their homes, the AP reported.
An elderly woman was killed at the site but about 60 other residents were said to be unharmed after taking refuge in the basement, the BBC reported.
Earlier, the Ukraine government’s Telegram channel reported that Russian forces blew up a gas pipeline in Kharkiv early Sunday.
The developments in Kharkiv were part of actions overnight and into Sunday that appeared to be taking the war into a new phase, the AP reported. In the Kyiv area, many of the latest strikes also targeted fuel facilities, according to the news service.
On Friday, a Russian attack in Okhtyrka killed at least six Ukrainian civilians, including a 7-year-old girl, the BBC reported.
Figures from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights showed that Ukraine so far had suffered 240 civilian casualties, with 64 of them being deaths, the BBC reported.
The appearance of stepped-up assaults followed a report Saturday that Russian President Vladimir Putin was “furious” that the invasion wasn’t going as smoothly as he’d hoped.
Riho Terras, a former defense chief in Estonia and member of the European Parliament, claimed on Twitter that a Ukrainian intelligence report indicated Putin was believed to have expected quick success but instead Russian troops have faced a fierce resistance effort from both Ukrainian military personnel and civilians.
The same report also predicted that Russian forces might have trouble accessing more military supplies as Western-initiated economic sanctions begin to take hold, Terras claimed.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.