Zelenskyy defiant as fighting reaches Ukraine’s capital
(Update 3: Adds new Zelenskyy statement)
Moscow/Kyiv, Feb 26 (EFE).- The Ukrainian army was clashing with Russian forces in the streets of Kyiv on Saturday, while the mayor’s office urged residents of the capital to be cautious and to remain calm.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who on Friday said he was Russia’s “number one target”, has rejected offers from the United States to leave the country and remains in his post, claiming that his country’s forces had “broken” Moscow’s invasion plans.
In New York, Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning the invasion of Ukraine, while China abstained, as more members of the international community joined the political, economic and social sanctions against Russia.
The Ukrainian Army is fighting in the streets of Kiev with Russian units, which reportedly shelled a military garrison to the west of the capital.
Ukraine says the enemy attack has been pushed back after a convoy of Russian tanks and other military vehicles tried to enter the heart of Kyiv from the west.
According to Ukrainian authorities, Russian airborne forces have landed at an airfield in the town of Vasilkov, less than 40 kilometers from the capital.
Around 100 Russian armored vehicles were advancing towards Kyiv from the north, local media reported Saturday.
Explosions have been heard in the Ukrainian capital which local authorities said were from a Russian attack on a thermal power plant in Troieshchyna. The CHP-6 combined heat and power plant is the largest in Ukraine.
The office of Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko has advised the city’s residents not to go outside and stay away from windows and balconies, while air raid sirens have sounded calling on city residents to take shelter.
Ukraine has confirmed at least 198 deaths since the invasion began, including 3 children, while 1,115, 33 of whom are minors, were wounded.
The Pentagon said Friday that Ukraine’s armed forces were successfully defending their territory and that Russia had suffered “setbacks” in its invasion of Ukraine that began on Thursday morning.
Russia, however, said it has hit over 820 Ukrainian military targets with cruise missiles, defense ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said, adding that Russian forces had shot down or destroyed dozens of Ukrainian aircraft and military vehicles and had taken over the southern city of Melitopol.
The spokesman also highlighted the advance of the separatist militias of Luhansk and Donetsk, with Russian military support.
The Ukrainian defense ministry, on the other hand, said that the Russians had lost more than 3,000 troops since the invasion began on Thursday.
None of these claims can be independently verified.
ZELENSKYY FIGHTS ON
In a defiant message to the nation early on Saturday morning, Zelenskyy called on the army not to lose control of the capital city.
The fate of Ukraine was being decided, he said, adding that his main goal “is to put an end to this massacre.”