Russia shells Ukraine’s Kharkiv as pressure on Moscow bites

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Russia shelled the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv as it pressed on with its invasion Tuesday, defying mounting global pressure that saw a war crimes probe opened against Moscow, sanctions smash its economy and FIFA ban it from the World Cup.

After their first talks since the war started failed to secure a breakthrough Monday, Russia continued to target residential areas and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for a global ban on Russian planes and ships.

“We must close entry for this state in all ports, all canals and all the world’s airports,” he said on Facebook.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had earlier outlined Moscow’s demands for ending the invasion, including recognition of Russian sovereignty over Crimea and Ukraine’s demilitarisation.

He issued his demands in a phone call with French leader Emmanuel Macron shortly before the Russian-Ukranian talks.

Instead, the world has responded with an intensifying diplomatic, economic, cultural and sporting backlash, with Moscow coming under fire at the UN General Assembly and the International Criminal Court (ICC) opening a war crimes investigation.

“I am satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to believe that both alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Ukraine” since 2014, ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said in a statement.

Russia also faced urgent calls at an extraordinary UN General Assembly debate to end its “unprovoked” and “unjustified” assault, which has provoked a massive diplomatic, economic, cultural and sporting backlash.