Russia-Ukraine latest news: fighting inside Kyiv after Zelenskiy warns of imminent enemy assault

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Russia-Ukraine latest news: fighting inside Kyiv after Zelenskiy warns of imminent enemy assault” was written by Helen Davidson, for theguardian.com on Saturday 26th February 2022 04.38 UTC

The day is dawning on Kyiv, after a dramatic and violent night as Russian troops stormed towards the capital. Widespread reports of artillery fire and explosions have come from the east, west and south of the city, and the Ukrainian Armed Forces have claimed to have repelled attacks by Russian troops at an Army base near Vasylkiv and a key city road – Victory Avenue. There are reports of casualties but the Guardian has not received confirmed figures.

Residents have been told to stay inside shelters, including underground metro stations and hotel basements.

The Kyiv Independent reports air raid sirens in multiple Ukrainian cities this morning, including Lviv, Lutsk, Uman, Vinnytsia, and Rivne.

Ukraine’s former ambassador to Austria, Olexander Scherba, has shared this video purportedly from Odessa. The Guardian has not independently verified this footage, which was also shared by a Ukrainian news outlet.

The US has been offering to help evacuate Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, from Kyiv to escape threats to his life, but he has so far refused to leave, the Washington Post reports.

Zelenskiy has pledged to remain, despite awareness that he is Russia’s “Enemy No. 1” and his family number 2.

Citing US and Ukrainian officials, the Post reported US intelligence agencies, including the CIA director during a visit to Ukraine in January, had warned Zelenskiy of the threat to his safety for several weeks. It cited officials saying intelligence at the time suggested Russian hit teams may have already been in Kyiv.

“We have been making him aware not only of the threat of Russian invasion, now a reality, but also the threat to him personally,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said. “We stand ready to assist him in any way.”

Fighting is in the east, west and south of Kyiv, according to multiple reports.

“All of this is now happening within the city limits,” reports CNN’s Clarissa Ward, but it doesn’t appear to have reached the centre.

There are no signs of residential areas being targeted yet, she says, “but we’re hearing a lot of explosions from many different directions.”

Interfax Ukraine news agency reports Russian forces have tried to attack an electricity-generating station, while the Ukrainian military says it has repelled an attack on a Kyiv army base, according to Reuters.

The Ukrainian government also says it stopped a Russian advancement down Peremohy Avenue – which runs past the Beresteiska metro station, where heavy fighting has also been reported. The Guardian has not independently verified the reports.

The assault appears to line up with Zelenskiy’s warning that tonight could see Russia’s attempt to storm the city. Three million people call Kyiv home.

In an address to the nation on Friday Zelenskiy said: “Tonight, they will launch an assault. All of us must understand what awaits us. We must withstand this night,” he said. “The fate of Ukraine is being decided right now.”

Updated

Hello, this is Helen Davidson with our continuing coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Here are some of the most recent developments:

  • Explosions and fighting have rocked the east, west and south of Kyiv, where the Russian assault has continued overnight in a siege apparently aimed at seizing the city. Residents have been taking cover in shelters and underground stations. A woman has reportedly given birth in one station where she had been sheltering with other residents.
  • “More than 50,000 Ukrainian refugees have fled their country in less than 48 hours – a majority to Poland and Moldova,” said the UN refugee agency head Filippo Grandi, adding that “many more are moving towards its borders”.
  • The Russian defence ministry claimed its forces had taken control of the strategic Hostomel airfield to the north-west, while Russian tanks were filmed by locals in the Obolonskyi district about six miles north of the city centre in the morning.
  • Ukrainian armed forces say they have repelled Russian attacks on an army base and on a major thoroughfare in Kyiv.
  • Vladimir Putin urged the Ukrainian army to overthrow its leadership, whom he labelled as a “gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis who have has lodged itself in Kyiv and taken hostage the entire Ukrainian people.”
  • The US department of defense said a Russian “amphibious assault” was launched on Mariupol, a coastal city in south-east Ukraine.
  • A report from the Reuters news agency has suggested it is looking more likely that Russia could be excluded from the Swift global bank payments system – a step that some countries had been reluctant to take. Among other sanctions, The EU and the UK have moved to freeze foreign-held assets of Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov – largely symbolic, but it follows appeals for action from Volodymyr Zelenskiy who said: “When bombs fall on Kyiv, it happens in Europe, not just in Ukraine. When missiles kill our people, they kill all Europeans.”
  • Nato will deploy significant extra troops to countries in eastern Europe who are part of the alliance, its secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said. UK ministers warned there would be no forces going to Ukraine itself to avoid an “existential” war between Russia and the west.
  • The UN security council has voted on a resolution deploring Russian invasion of Ukraine. Eleven member states voted for the resolution, three abstained (China, India, and UAE) and one voted against (Russia). As Russia holds a veto the resolution was not upheld.
  • The Council of Europe suspended Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. The 47-nation council announced that Russia was suspended with “immediate effect” from the organisation’s committee of ministers and parliamentary assembly on Friday “as a result of the Russian Federation’s armed attack on Ukraine”.
  • Russia will no longer be allowed to compete in this year’s Eurovision song contest, with organisers saying its inclusion could “bring the competition into disrepute”.

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