Kyiv/Moscow, Feb 28 (EFE).- Ukrainians emerged from underground bunkers on day five of Russia’s invasion on Monday as authorities announced the capital was successfully defended overnight, while Kyiv and Moscow are due to meet, and the effects of the West’s economic sanctions begin to appear.
The capital’s weekend-long curfew was lifted at 8am Monday morning for millions of residents to head out to shops for supplies along fortified streets, before a 10pm-7am curfew begins.
Ukraine’s military commander declared that the country’s armed forces successfully defended the capital from Russian troops trying to storm the outskirts of Kyiv overnight.
“All attempts to achieve the target by Russian-occupation troops have failed,” Commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, said on Facebook on Monday morning. “The situation is under control in the capital.”
“Columns of the occupant’s technology have been destroyed. The opponent suffered significant losses of the personnel team. Russian troops are demoralized and exhausted,” he added.
An intelligence update by the British defense ministry on Monday backed Syrskyi’s claims, saying “the bulk of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s ground forces remain more than 30km to the north of Kyiv their advance having been slowed by Ukrainian forces defending Hostomel airfield, a key Russian objective for day one of the conflict.”
It added that “logistical failures and staunch Ukrainian resistance continue to frustrate the Russian advance,” while heavy fighting continues around Chernihiv and Kharkiv.
Late on Sunday, Ukraine raised the number of civilians who have died in the invasion to 352, including 14 children, with 1,684 injured, including 116 children, according to the interior ministry.
Meanwhile, Kyiv and Moscow are due to meet on the Ukrainian-Belarusian border at 12pm local time (09:00 GMT). Minsk’s foreign affairs ministry tweeted a picture of a long table with Russian and Ukrainian flags, and said: “In Belarus, everything is ready to host Russia-Ukraine negotiations. Waiting for delegations to arrive.”
On Sunday, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he would meet officials from Moscow to negotiate a ceasefire on the border with Belarus following a discussion with Belarusian president Aleksandr Lukashenko.
Zelenskyy had previously said he would not travel to Belarus for talks as part of Russia’s invading forces were launched from there, and the meeting comes amid reports Minsk is to send troops to join the invasion.
Also Monday morning, the ruble plummeted almost 30 percent against the US dollar to a new record low on Monday, trading as low as 119 per dollar on market open.
It was the first day since the European Union, United States and allies cut off a number of Russian banks from the Swift international payment system and the EU “paralyzed” transactions with Russia’s central bank.
The central bank also announced it had increased interest rates to 20 percent, up from 9.5 percent, to compensate for inflation and devaluation, while Moscow ordered companies to sell 80 percent of their foreign currency revenues. EFE