Russia-Ukraine invasion latest news: Zelenskiy accuses Putin of strikes on civilian targets – live updates

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Russia-Ukraine invasion latest news: Zelenskiy accuses Putin of strikes on civilian targets – live updates” was written by Samantha Lock, for theguardian.com on Friday 25th February 2022 06.14 UTC

Images of damaged buildings, residential towers and even classrooms are beginning to filter in after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy confirmed multiple reports of Russian missile strikes across Ukraine in a national address early on Friday morning.

Zelenskiy said the strikes began at 4am local time on Friday, adding that Russian troops were stopped by Ukrainian forces from advancing in most directions.

Buildings damaged from Russian strikes in Starobilsk, Luhansk, in eastern Ukraine.
Buildings damaged from Russian strikes in Starobilsk, Luhansk, in eastern Ukraine.
Photograph: State Emergency Service of Ukraine

The Guardian’s Peter Beaumont in Ukraine’s western city of Lviv has given his report on the current crisis unfolding around Kyiv.

On the second day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it has become increasingly clear what the Kremlin’s military tactics are: which is very quickly to put pressure on the capital Kyiv. Kyiv is facing threats both from its eastern edges, from the west more generally since the capture of the Chernobyl nuclear plant site, and now, according to Ukrainian officials, from the threat of infiltration into the city.

While it’s unclear whether the Russian military intends to capture the Ukrainian capital or force it’s capitulation, a combination of missile attacks, a rapid airborne advance using helicopters to the outskirts, and the continuing advance by Russian armour is putting Kyiv in an increasingly difficult position.

The latest update from Ukraine’s General Staff claims that the key Hostomel air base, just outside Kyiv is controlled by Kyiv forces again, however heavy fighting is going on north west of the capital.

There are also reports that the Ukrainian military has destroyed at least one bridge to slow the Russian advance, although we know that Russian forces have bridge laying companies.

This morning, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the government had information that “subversive groups” were encroaching on the city, while US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Kyiv “could well be under siege” in what U.S. officials believe is a brazen attempt by Russian President Vladimir Putin to dismantle the government and replace it with his own regime.

While Zelinskiy said this morning that Russian troops had been halted in most places but even if that is the case, which seems to contradict his comments on encroachment, the situation is serious.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told lawmakers on a phone call Thursday evening that Russian mechanised forces that entered from Belarus were about 20 miles from Kyiv.

While there has been some focus on Russian losses inflicted by Ukrainian defenders – including helicopters, soldiers and armoured vehicles – it’s worth pointing out these are so far at the level the Russian military would have priced in for such a quick and aggressive advance and not evidence necessarily any sign so far that the Russian operation is struggling.

Updated

Zelenskiy says world is watching ‘from afar’

We have more from Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s national address this morning.

Speaking to his citizens in a video address in both Ukrainian and Russian, Zelenskiy continued to make appeals to his neighbour for a ceasefire.

Russia will have to talk to us sooner or later about how to end hostilities and stop this invasion.

The sooner the conversation begins, the smaller Russia’s losses will be.”

Zelenskiy added that world is continuing to observe what is going on in Ukraine from afar while new sanctions have not convinced Russia to withdraw from an attack.

This morning we are defending our state alone. Like yesterday, the world’s most powerful forces are watching from afar.

Was Russia convinced by yesterday’s sanctions? We hear in our sky and see on our earth that this was not enough.”

He added that until the attacks stop, “we will be defending our country until then”.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaking late on Thursday night.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaking late on Thursday night.
Photograph: Ukrainian President’s Office/ZUMA Press Wire Service/REX/Shutterstock

Updated

We are receiving multiple reports from journalists on the ground in Ukraine that air raid sirens are sounding in Kyiv this morning.

Guardian reporter Emma Graham-Harrison is currently in Kyiv and tells us the sirens began sounding about three hours after loud explosions first woke the city around 4.30am.

Updated

Zelenskiy confirms reports of Russian missile strikes in national address

Composite image of debris in the sky over Kyiv and a damaged building in the city.
Composite image of debris in the sky over Kyiv and a damaged building in the city.
Composite: Twitter @OSINT_Ukraine | Reuters

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has confirmed multiple reports of Russian missile strikes in a national address early on Friday morning,

Zelenskiy said the strikes began at 4am local time on Friday, adding that Russian troops were stopped by Ukrainian forces from advancing in most directions.

The president added that Russian strikes aimed at both military and civilian targets, Reuters reports.

Meanwhile, sirens rang out in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv early on Friday, a Reuters witness said.

Updated

Welcome to rolling updates on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I’m Samantha Lock and here are the main developments of the past few hours.

As dawn breaks in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, air raid sirens are sounding across the capital.

Earlier, residents reported waking to the sound of explosions as reports circulated that Russia had launched a series of missile strikes on the city of just under 3 million.

Many civilians sought safety in bomb shelters and metro stations as reports of Russian tanks were moving closer to the city from all sides.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has confirmed multiple reports of Russian missile strikes in a national address early on Friday morning.
  • Multiple explosions have been heard in Kyiv on Friday morning as the Russian offensive entered its second day. Two buildings were on fire in the south-east of the capital after a Russian plane was shot down and a border post in the south-east was hit by a missile, causing casualties.
  • US secretary of state Antony Blinken said “all evidence suggests that Russia intends to encircle and threaten” the Ukrainian capital.
  • Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said 137 people have died and 316 had been wounded so far. In a video address late on Thursday, he lamented that Ukraine had been “left alone to defend our state”, but said he would stay on in the capital despite being Russia’s “target number one”.
  • The UK said Ukrainian forces had provided “fierce resistance across all axes of Russia’s advance” and that is was unlikely Russia had achieved all its objectives for the first day of the invasion.
  • Ukraine has decreed a full military mobilisation and all men aged 18-60 have been forbidden from leaving Ukraine.
  • Thousands attempted to flee Kyiv, leading to large traffic queues. Meanwhile, pictures have emerged of Kyiv residents crowding into underground metro stations where they are taking shelter from further Russian attacks.
  • Hundreds of people have been arrested in Russian cities after protests against the invasion. Police have held at least 1,702 people, according to the OVD-Info monitor, with most of the arrests made in Moscow and St Petersburg.
  • Global leaders have decried Russia’s actions, with many announcing fresh sanctions. US president Joe Biden ordered broad new sanctions, and the UK’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, announced its “largest ever” curbs. However, there was concern that the EU was holding back from excluding Russia from the Swift international banking payments system.
  • Officials in western capitals have expressed bewilderment about Vladimir Putin’s mindset and choice in going to war. One described him as “despotic” while Emmanuel Macron said that the Russian leader had been “duplicitous” in talks before the invasion.

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