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Battle for Kyiv intensifies as Ukraine says Russian troops enter city

The first Russian military units have entered Kyiv, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said on Friday, as the second day of Moscow's invasion brought with it renewed airstrikes and fighting along various battle lines across Ukraine.

Kyiv, 25 February 2022 (dpa/MIA) — The first Russian military units have entered Kyiv, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said on Friday, as the second day of Moscow’s invasion brought with it renewed airstrikes and fighting along various battle lines across Ukraine.

Russian “saboteurs” were in the Obolon district in the north of the capital, the ministry announced via Facebook. The information could not be independently confirmed initially.

The ministry called on locals to prepare petrol bombs for use in combat and to report sightings of Russian military equipment.

Residents should not leave their homes, the ministry said.

Earlier in the day, the general staff of the Ukrainian armed forces reported that the nation’s troops were putting up strong resistance to “Russian occupiers” in Dymer and Ivankiv, settlements north-west of the city.

Airborne assault troops had reportedly stopped “overwhelming enemy forces” on the border of the Teteriv River. The bridge across the river was destroyed, according to a statement.

A dpa reporter said sirens were wailing again in Kiev as the city’s 2.8 million residents were told to take shelter. Thousands of people were hunkering down in metro stations.

Ukraine’s foreign minister said on Friday that Kyiv had suffered “horrific” Russian strikes overnight.

“Last time our capital experienced anything like this was in 1941, when it was attacked by Nazi Germany. Ukraine defeated that evil and will defeat this one,” Dmytro Kuleba tweeted.

News agency UNIAN reported that several explosions shook Kiev in the early hours of Friday, with fires breaking out at a multi-story residential building on the eastern bank of the Dnipro river after it was hit.

Debris from a missile hit the area, the city administration said on Telegram. Three people were injured, one of them critically, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said in a video shared on the Telegram messaging app.

Ukrainian forces there managed to shoot down a Russian aircraft, an advisor to the Ukrainian interior minister wrote.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russian forces of targeting the civilian population.

Earlier, he denied reports that he had left Kyiv, vowing to stay in the capital with his fellow citizens.

Elsewhere, Russian troops attacked the airport in the western city of Rivne, according to media reports. Fighting was also reported in Sumy in the north-east, near the Russian border. These reports could not be independently verified.

Ukraine’s border protection service reported deaths from rocket fire at one of its posts in Primorsky Posad on the coast between the Crimea Peninsula, annexed by Russia, and the eastern Ukrainian separatist area.

The Ukrainian military believes the Russian army plans to create a corridor between the two regions.

Russia claims to have crippled the operations of 118 Ukrainian military infrastructure sites since it launched its full-scale attack early Thursday, including 11 military airports.

Five Ukrainian fighter jets, one helicopter and five drones were also shot down, according to a statement by Defense Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov. The authenticity of his statements could not be independently verified.

He confirmed that Russian paratroopers had captured the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which is just under 70 kilometers from Kyiv.

Separatist fighters from the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk had now advanced 9 kilometers into territory previously controlled by Ukrainian government forces, Konashenkov said.

However, Britain’s defense secretary claimed that Russia was not making the gains it wanted in its war with Ukraine.

“Our assessment as of this morning is that Russia has not taken any of its major objectives, in fact it is behind its hoped-forvtimetable,” Ben Wallace told the Sky News broadcaster.

“They’ve lost over 450 personnel,” he said, adding that a key airport it sought to take control of had in fact been retaken by the Ukrainians.

According to Zelensky, 137 Ukrainian soldiers were killed on the first day and 316 injured. Information on civilian casualties remains scarce.

Zelensky has earlier declared martial law throughout the country for an initial period of 30 days and cut diplomatic ties with Russia, and signed a general military mobilization order.

Both Kyiv and Washington have said that Russia’s objective is to overthrow the Ukrainian government.

Russia claims that it is acting out of self-defense.

The United States, Britain and the European Union are among those who have responded to the invasion with sanctions against Moscow.

But in his latest video remarks, Zelensky slammed Western countries for not coming to Ukraine’s support.

“We’re defending our country alone. The most powerful forces in the world are watching this from a distance,” he said, noting that new packages of sanctions were not enough.

“Did yesterday’s sanctions impress Russia? We hear in the sky above us and on our land that it’s not enough.”

Russia’s central bank has said it will guarantee continuing operations, in both roubles and foreign currency, for all banks hit by Western sanctions.

On Friday, Russia banned British aircraft from using its airspace, in a tit-for-tat response a day after London barred Russia’s Aeroflot airline from flying to Britain.

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