Moscow/Kyiv, Feb 26 (EFE).- Russia Saturday claimed to have hit over 800 Ukrainian military targets with cruise missiles after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in a selfie-video message, said the Russian forces were bearing down on the capital amid raging battle in Kyiv outskirts.
Russian defense ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said their armed forces, using high-precision weapons, attacked 821 military targets, including 14 military airfields, 19 communications and control posts, 24 S-300 and Osa anti-aircraft missile systems, and 48 radar stations.
He also claimed Russia shot down seven Ukrainian planes, seven helicopters, and nine drones and destroyed eight combat boats, apart from destroying 87 tanks and armored vehicles, 28 multiple rocket launchers, and 118 military vehicles and equipment.
According to Konashenkov, Russian forces also took over the city of Melitopol in southern Ukraine.
The defense spokesperson also highlighted the advance of the separatist militias of Luhansk and Donetsk, with Russian military support.
On its part, the Ukrainian defense ministry claimed increased losses among enemy troops in the last 24 hours, with the shooting down of 14 aircraft and eight helicopters and the destruction of 102 tanks and 536 armored vehicles.
According to the Ukrainians, the aggressors have lost more than 3,000 troops in the raging combat that began on Thursday.
Earlier during the day, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told his compatriots in a video that he expected Russian forces to attack Kyiv in the coming hours.
“This night they will launch an assault,” he said in a message transmitted from a secret location in the capital.
“The enemy will use all of their power on all fronts to break our defense. This night we have to stand ground. The fate of Ukraine is being decided right now.”
Russian forces are known to be near Kyiv.
The president, who filmed himself on a Kyiv street to prove he was still in the capital, said that his principal aim was “to put an end to this massacre.”
A few hours later, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine reported that a Russian missile had struck a 30-story building in Kyiv. The SES did not confirm any casualties.
Zelenskyy’s message came hours after his spokesman insisted that Kyiv was in touch with Moscow about the possibility of negotiations to end the fighting.
“Ukraine was and remains ready to talk about a ceasefire and peace,” Sergiy Nykyforov said in a Facebook post. “We agreed to the proposal of the President of the Russian Federation.”
The Kremlin said Kyiv had rejected overtures for a meeting in Minsk, Belarus, and called instead for discussions Saturday in Warsaw.
Zelenskyy earlier said he was “not afraid” to negotiate over a possible declaration of Ukrainian neutrality in exchange for security guarantees.
Russia’s chief demands are the demilitarization of Ukraine and an assurance that Kyiv will never join NATO.
Comments earlier from Russian President Vladimir Putin seemed pessimistic about negotiations prospects with the current government in Kyiv.
On Friday, the European Union and the United States announced initial sanctions against Russia, including ones directed at Putin, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and other senior officials.