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Biden takes aim at Putin in State of the Union; shells pound Kharkiv as Russia escalates attacks

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Russian military forces escalated attacks on civilian areas of Ukraine’s largest cities Tuesday, even as its massive convoy of tanks and vehicles appeared to bog down.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called an attack Tuesday on the main square of the country’s second-largest city “frank, undisguised terror. Nobody will forgive. Nobody will forget. This attack on Kharkiv is a war crime.”

At least 11 people were killed and 35 wounded in the rocket strike, Interior Ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko said, adding that the death toll is expected to rise. Closed-circuit television footage showed a fireball engulfing a street in front of one building, and a few cars rolled out of the billowing smoke.

Russian strikes on Kyiv’s TV tower also killed five people.

The Russian military advance drew to within 15 miles of Kyiv’s center amid signs that troops are running out of gas and food, a senior U.S. Defense Department official said Tuesday. Russia has committed about 80% of the combat force President Vladimir Putin deployed to invade Ukraine, the official said.

Ukrainian resistance is continuing, and it has helped stymie the advance, according to the official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence findings. It is also possible the Russians are pausing to regroup and reassess their attack, the official said.

Zelenskyy said he spoke with President Joe Biden on Tuesday concerning Russian sanctions and defense assistance to Ukraine. The White House confirmed that they spoke for more than 30 minutes.

“We must stop the aggressor as soon as possible,” Zelenskyy tweeted. “Thank you for your support!”

Biden gave his first State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday night amid the war abroad, condemning Russia for its “unprovoked” invasion of Ukraine and confirming the closing of U.S. airspace to Russian planes.

Biden said the U.S. and western allies are enforcing “powerful economic sanctions,” including cutting off Russia’s largest banks from international financial systems, preventing Russia’s central bank from shoring up the Russian ruble and “making Putin’s $260 billion war fund worthless.”

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