The number of people sent fleeing Ukraine by Russia's invasion topped 1 million on Wednesday, the swiftest refugee exodus this century, the United Nations said, as Russian forces kept up their bombardment of the country's second-biggest city, Kharkiv, and laid siege to two strategic seaports. The tally from the UN refugee agency released to the AP amounts to more than 2% of Ukraine’s population being forced out of the country in less than a week. The mass evacuation could be seen in Kharkiv, where residents desperate to get away from falling shells and bombs crowded the city's train station and tried to press onto trains, not always knowing where they were headed.
In a videotaped address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Ukrainians to keep up the resistance. He vowed that the invaders would have “not one quiet moment” and described Russian soldiers as “confused children who have been used.” Moscow's isolation deepened when most of the world lined up against it at the United Nations to demand it withdraw from Ukraine. And the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court opened an investigation into possible war crimes. With fighting going on on multiple fronts across the country, Britain’s Defense Ministry said Mariupol, a large city on the Azov Sea, was encircled by Russian forces, while the status of another vital port, Kherson, a Black Sea shipbuilding city of 280,000, remained unclear.
Vladimir Putin's forces claimed to have taken complete control of Kherson, which would make it the biggest city to fall yet in the invasion. A senior US defense official, however, disputed that. Russia reported its military casualties for the first time since the invasion began last week, saying nearly 500 of its troops have been killed and almost 1,600 wounded. Ukraine did not disclose its own military losses but said more than 2,000 civilians have died, a claim that could not be independently verified. Meanwhile, the senior US defense official said an immense column of hundreds of tanks and other vehicles appeared to be stalled roughly 16 miles from Kyiv and had made no real progress in the last couple of days, having been plagued with fuel and food shortages. (Read more Ukraine stories.)