A member of the Ukrainian Emergency Service looks at Kharkiv's City Hall building in the central square following a rocket barrage, March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Pavel Dorogoy) (AP/Pavel Dorogoy)

Ukrainian death toll mounts as Russian shelling of cities intensifies.

By Pesach Benson, United With Israel

Ukrainian civilians were killed in heavy rocket barrages on Kharkiv and a Russian military convoy 40 miles long (65 km) is making its way towards Kyiv, raising fears of an all-out assault on the capital.

The UN has so far confirmed 536 Ukrainian civilian deaths with the real presumed to be higher. A spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said lines of refugees at Romanian border crossings were as long as 20 km (12 miles).

Meanwhile, the International Criminal Court said it would open an investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Israel and the Jewish world are closely watching the unfolding events. There is concern for the fate of thousands of Ukrainian Jews and Israeli nationals still in Ukraine, as well as the war’s unfolding strategic implications.

Here’s a quick hit look at the Jewish news you need to know about the war and its fallout.

• The UN General Assembly is still discussing Russia’s invasion. Representatives from dozens of countries have requested to speak before a resolution condemning Russia is voted on.

According to Haaretz, Israel’s Deputy Ambassador Noa Furman will deliver Israel’s statement rather than Ambassador Gilad Erdan. The diplomatic downgrade is intended to soften the criticism of Moscow.

UN General Assembly

Olof Skoog, European Union ambassador to the United Nations, addresses an emergency meeting of the UN General Assembly, Feb. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

• Israel’s Ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky warned that the border crossings where refugees are fleeing to are becoming a “humanitarian crisis” in their own right.

He told the Times of Israel that the lack of water, food and bathrooms for thousands of refugees is becoming combustible. Adding to the tensions is that men are split from their families as they get close to the crossings.

“Men are standing alone. It’s a very big crowd, a few thousand angry men,” he said. “It’s a very loaded situation. You could feel this pressure in the air. And it could be dangerous.”

• Russia detained Israeli-Ukrainian sailor Yuri Shvidky working aboard a Ukrainian flagged cargo ship. Here’s what we know.

• The fate of Roman Brodsky, the first Israeli casualty of the Ukraine war, has become an emotional tug of war between relatives in Israel and Ukraine. Brodsky’s parents in Ashdod want to repatriate the body for burial, but his wife, Mila, says the situation is too dangerous, Israel’s Channel 12 reported.

Brodsky, a 40-year-old father of two, was in a convoy of cars near Kyiv that came under fire. Brodsky was shot and killed by Ukrainian forces in what is believed to be a case of mistaken identity.

• Two planeloads of Israeli humanitarian aid have already left for Ukraine and a third is due to depart later today. Israel is sending an overall 100 tons of items such as blankets, coats, sleeping bags, and tents, as well as medical equipment, medicine, water purification systems.

Despite Western measures isolating Russia, the White House is keeping diplomatic channels open with Moscow to finalize a nuclear agreement with Iran, Congressional lawmakers warned.

Bans on Russian media continued with Google announced it is blocking the YouTube channels of Russia’s state-run Sputnik and Russia Today news services.