Russian troops close in on Kyiv's centre as residents take shelter

القائمة الرئيسية


اخر الاخبار

Russian troops close in on Kyiv's centre as residents take shelter

Russian troops close in on Kyiv's centre as residents take shelter

Russian troops close in on Kyiv's centre as residents take shelter

The fight is here,' Ukrainian president says from capital as Russian invasion enters Day 3

Ukrainian President Vlodomir Zelensky insists he's not leaving Kyiv as Russian forces close in on the Ukrainian capital. 3:01
Russian troops pressed toward Ukraine's capital Saturday after a night of explosions and street fighting sent Kyiv residents seeking shelter underground. The country's leader refused an American offer to evacuate, insisting he would stay.

It was not immediately clear how far Russian troops had advanced. Ukrainian officials reported some success in fending off assaults, but fighting persisted near the capital. Skirmishes reported on the edge of the city suggested that small Russian units were trying to clear a path for the main forces.

Russia claims its assault on Ukraine is aimed only at military targets, but civilians have been killed and injured during Europe's largest ground war since the Second World War.

Ukraine said more than 1,000 Russian soldiers had been killed. Russia did not release casualty figures. The Ukrainian health minister says that 198 people have been killed, including three children, and more than 1,000 others have been wounded. His statement made it unclear whether the casualties included both military and civilians.

The mayor of Ukraine's capital is imposing an intensified curfew as Russian troops press in on the city. Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said on the Telegram messaging app that he is extending the curfew hours to run from 5 p.m. until 8 a.m. local time.

"All civilians on the street during the curfew will be considered members of the enemy's sabotage and reconnaissance groups," Klitschko said.

A missile earlier struck a high-rise apartment building in the city's southwestern outskirts near one of Kyiv's two passenger airports, leaving a jagged hole of ravaged apartments over several floors. A rescue worker said six civilians were injured.

An apartment building damaged by recent shelling is pictured in Kyiv on Saturday. (Gleb Garanich/Reuters)

The conflict has already driven hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians from their homes. UN officials said more than 120,000 Ukrainians have left the country for Poland, Moldova and other neighbouring nations.

Saturday's street clashes followed two days of massive air and missile strikes as Russian soldiers moved in from the north, east and south. The assault pummelled bridges, schools and residential neighbourhoods.

Conflicting accounts

It was unclear how much of Ukraine was still under Ukrainian control and how much Russian forces have seized. Russia's defence ministry claimed the Russian military had taken full control of the southern city of Melitopol, about 35 kilometres inland from the Azov Sea coast, and said Russia-backed separatists had made significant gains in the eastern region of Donbas.

Ukrainian and Western officials, however, say Ukrainian forces have managed to slow the Russian advance. Ukraine's Infrastructure Ministry said a Russian missile was shot down before dawn Saturday as it headed for the dam of the sprawling water reservoir that serves Kyiv.

Western officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin is determined to overthrow Ukraine's government and replace it with a regime of his own. The invasion represented Putin's boldest effort yet to redraw the map of Europe and revive Moscow's Cold War-era influence. It triggered new international efforts to end the invasion, including direct sanctions on Putin.

"We aren't going to lay down weapons. We will protect the country," the Ukrainian president said. "Our weapon is our truth, and our truth is that it's our land, our country, our children. And we will defend all of that."

Zelensky said in a second video later Saturday Moscow's plan to quickly seize the capital and install a puppet government had been unsuccessful. In an emotional speech, he accused the Russian forces of hitting civilian areas and infrastructure.

Members of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine walk towards a rocket case stuck in the ground following recent shelling in Kharkiv on Friday. (Maksim Levin/Reuters)

The president's whereabouts were kept secret after he told European leaders in a call Thursday that he was Russia's No. 1 target — and that they might not see him again alive.

The U.S. government urged Zelensky early Saturday to evacuate Kyiv but he turned down the offer, according to a senior American intelligence official with direct knowledge of the conversation. The official quoted the president as saying that "the fight is here" and that he needed anti-tank ammunition but "not a ride."

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.