Russia’s offensive on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital
Russia pressed its offensive on Ukraine on the outskirts of the capital on Friday after launching airstrikes on cities and military bases and sending troops and tanks from three sides, which could rewrite a global post-Cold War security order .
Explosions were heard before dawn in Kiev and gunfire was reported in several areas, as Western leaders scheduled an emergency meeting and Ukraine’s president pleaded for international help to avert an attack that would dent his democratic form. can topple the elected government, cause massive casualties and damage. global economy.
Amid signs of continued danger threatening Ukraine’s capital, the military said on Friday that a group of Russian spies and saboteurs had been seen in a district on the outskirts of Kiev, and police told people they were trying to reach out to the city. Do not exit a metro station in the center as there was firing in the area. Elsewhere in the capital, soldiers set up defensive positions on bridges, and armored vehicles rolled down the streets, while many residents stood uncomfortably at the doors of their apartment buildings.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Kiev “may well be under siege” in what US officials believe is a brazen attempt by Russian President Vladimir Putin to establish his rule.
The attack, anticipated for weeks by the US and Western allies, is the largest ground war in Europe since World War II. After repeatedly denying plans to invade, autocratic Putin launched his attack on the country, which is increasingly leaning toward the democratic West and away from Moscow’s dominance.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, whose grip on power was increasingly weakening, appealed to global leaders for sanctions imposed by Western allies and even more severe sanctions for defense aid.
“If you don’t help us now, if you fail to provide powerful aid to Ukraine, tomorrow war will knock at your door,” said the leader, who broke diplomatic ties with Moscow. Mobilization which will last for 90 days.
Mr Zelensky said he is the No 1 target for the attacking Russians but plans to stay in Kiev. Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersen said early Friday that Ukrainians attended a meeting of EU leaders via video link in what appeared to be some kind of bunker.
As air raid sirens sounded in the capital early Friday, guests of a hotel in the city center were sent to a makeshift basement shelter with mattresses and piles of water bottles. The workers, all the students of the local university, served tea and cookies to the guests. Some went into the courtyard to smoke or get fresh air.
“We are all scared and worried. We don’t know what to do then, what is going to happen in a few days,” said one of the activists, Lucy Vashaka, 20.
The offensive began early Thursday with a series of missile strikes on cities and military bases, and then quickly followed with a multi-pronged ground attack that brought down troops from several areas in the east; from the southern region of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014; and from Belarus to the north.
After Ukrainian officials said they had lost control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the scene of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, Russia said on Friday it was working with Ukrainians to secure the plant. There was no confirmation of such cooperation from the Ukrainian side.
Mr Zelensky said that 137 “heroes”, including 10 military officers, were killed, and one of his advisers said about 400 Russian forces were killed. Moscow has not given a casualty count. None of the claims could be independently verified.
Fearing a Russian attack on the capital city, thousands of people went deep underground as night fell, jamming Kiev’s subway stations.
At times it almost felt joyful. Families ate dinner. Children played. The adults talked. People brought sleeping bags or dogs or crossword puzzles—anything to ease the wait and long night.
“No one believed that this war would start and they would take Kiev directly,” said Anton Mironov, waiting for the night in one of the old Soviet metro stations. “I mostly feel tired. None of it feels real.”
Several people who spent the night in makeshift bunkers emerged in the early hours of Friday in a relatively quiet city. Some traffic and cars moved along highways as well as along army columns. The lines had evaporated at fuel stations the day before.
With social media mounting a stream of military claims and counter-claims, it was difficult to determine exactly what was happening on the ground.
Russia said it was not targeting cities, but journalists saw destruction in several civilian areas and Kiev Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said a rocket engulfed a multi-storey apartment building in the city on Friday, causing the fire. It took Meanwhile, the mayor of a city formerly controlled by the rebels said Ukrainian shelling hit a school building.
Ukraine’s military reported significant fighting on Friday near Ivankiev, about 60 kilometers northwest of Kiev, as Russian forces apparently tried to advance on the capital from the north. Russian troops also entered the city of Sumy, near the border with Russia, which sits on a highway leading from the east to Kiev.
Later there were reports of at least some forces coming very close.
“The most difficult day will be today. The enemy plans to break through the tank column from Ivankiv and from Chernihiv to Kiev, ”said Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to the Interior Ministry on Telegram.
Hours after the offensive began, Russian forces seized control of the Chernobyl plant and its surrounding exclusion zone, Presidential adviser Myhailo Podolik told the Associated Press.
The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency said it had been informed of the takeover by Ukraine, adding that “there were no casualties or destruction at the industrial site.”
The conflict rocked global financial markets: Shares fell and oil prices rose amid worries that heating bills and food prices would skyrocket. Condemnation came not only from the US and Europe, but South Korea, Australia and beyond – and many governments readied the new sanctions. Even Allied leaders such as Hungary’s Viktor Orban tried to distance themselves from Putin.
US President Joe Biden announced new sanctions that would target Russian banks, oligarchs, state-controlled companies and high-tech sectors, saying Putin had “chosen this war” and a “horrendous” view of the world. In which nations take what they want by force. He said the measures were designed not to disrupt global energy markets. Russian oil and natural gas exports are important energy sources for Europe.
Biden was to meet with fellow leaders of NATO governments on Friday morning in what the White House described as an “extraordinary virtual summit” to discuss Ukraine.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he aimed to cut Russia from UK financial markets as he announced sanctions, freezing the assets of all major Russian banks and preventing Russian companies and the Kremlin from raising funds on British markets. planned to stop.
Johnson said of Putin, “Now we see him for what he is – a bloodthirsty aggressor who believes in imperial victory.”
Zelensky went further in the US and the West to urge Russians to cut off the SWIFT system, a major financial network that links thousands of banks around the world. The White House has been reluctant to do so, worried it could cause huge economic problems in Europe and elsewhere in the West.
While some panicked Europeans speculated about a possible new world war, the US and its NATO allies have shown no signs that they will send troops to Ukraine for fear of a major conflict. NATO strengthened its members in Eastern Europe as a precaution, and Biden said the US was deploying additional forces to Germany to strengthen NATO.
Ukrainians were urged to take shelter in place and not to panic.
“Until the very last moment, I did not believe that this would happen. I simply pushed these thoughts away,” said the frightened Anna Dovnya in Kiev, watching soldiers and police remove shrapnel from an exploded shell. “We’ve lost all faith.”