Smoke and flames rise over in the course of the shelling close to Kyiv, as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine on Saturday. (Gleb Garanich, Reuters)
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KYIV, Ukraine — Russian and Ukrainian forces clashed on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital on Saturday as authorities urged residents to assist defend town from advancing Russian forces within the worst European safety disaster in many years.
Heavy, frequent artillery hearth and intense gunfire, apparently far from town heart, may very well be heard in Kyiv within the early hours, a Reuters witness mentioned. The Ukrainian navy mentioned Russian troops attacked a military base on a primary Kyiv avenue however the assault was repelled.
However even because the combating grew extra intense, the Russian and Ukrainian governments signaled an openness to negotiations, providing the primary glimmer of hope for diplomacy since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion on Thursday.
“The destiny of Ukraine is being determined proper now,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy mentioned on Friday in a video handle posted to his Telegram channel. “Tonight, they’ll launch an assault. All of us should perceive what awaits us. We should face up to this evening.”
The air pressure command reported heavy combating close to the air base at Vasylkiv southwest of the capital, which it mentioned was underneath assault from Russian paratroopers.
It additionally mentioned one in every of its fighters had shot down a Russian transport aircraft. Reuters couldn’t independently confirm the claims.
Kyiv residents have been instructed by the protection ministry to make petrol bombs to repel the invaders, as witnesses reported listening to artillery rounds and intense gunfire from the western a part of town.
Tonight, they’ll launch an assault. … The destiny of Ukraine is being determined proper now.
–Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Some households cowered in shelters after Kyiv was pounded on Thursday evening by Russian missiles. Others tried desperately to get on packed trains headed west, a number of the a whole lot of 1000’s who’ve left their houses to seek out security, in keeping with the United Nations’ support chief.
After weeks of warnings from Western leaders, Putin unleashed a three-pronged invasion of Ukraine from the north, east and south on Thursday, in an assault that threatened to upend Europe’s post-Chilly Battle order.
“I as soon as once more enchantment to the navy personnel of the armed forces of Ukraine: don’t permit neo-Nazis and (Ukrainian radical nationalists) to make use of your youngsters, wives and elders as human shields,” Putin mentioned at a televised assembly with Russia’s Safety Council on Friday. “Take energy into your personal palms.”
Putin has cited the necessity to “denazify” Ukraine’s management as one in every of his primary causes for invasion, accusing it of genocide towards Russian-speakers in japanese Ukraine. Kyiv and its Western allies dismiss the accusations as baseless propaganda.
‘Prepared to speak’
Western nations have introduced a barrage of sanctions on Russia, together with blacklisting its banks and banning expertise exports. However they’ve up to now stopped wanting forcing it out of the SWIFT system for worldwide financial institution funds.
The US imposed sanctions on Putin, International Minister Sergei Lavrov, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of Basic Employees Valery Gerasimov. The European Union and Britain earlier froze any belongings Putin and Lavrov held of their territory. Canada took related steps.
Nonetheless, the regular ramping-up of financial restrictions has not deterred Putin.
Moscow mentioned on Friday it had captured the Hostomel airfield northwest of the capital — a possible staging submit for an assault on Kyiv that has been fought over since Russian paratroopers landed there within the first hours of the battle.
This might not be confirmed and Ukrainian authorities reported heavy combating there.
However amid the chaos of battle got here a ray of hope.
A spokesman for Zelenskyy mentioned Ukraine and Russia would seek the advice of in coming hours on a time and place for talks.
The Kremlin mentioned earlier it supplied to fulfill within the Belarusian capital Minsk after Ukraine expressed a willingness to debate declaring itself a impartial nation whereas Ukraine had proposed Warsaw because the venue. That, in keeping with Russian spokesman Dmitry Peskov, resulted in a “pause” in contacts.
“Ukraine was and stays prepared to speak a couple of ceasefire and peace,” Zelenskyy’s spokesman, Sergii Nykyforov, mentioned in a submit on Fb. “We agreed to the proposal of the President of the Russian Federation.”
However U.S. State Division spokesman Ned Worth mentioned Russia’s provide was an try and conduct diplomacy “on the barrel of a gun” and that Putin’s navy should cease bombing Ukraine if it was severe about negotiations.
On the U.N., Russia vetoed a draft Safety Council decision that might have deplored its invasion, whereas China abstained, a transfer Western nations seen as proof of Russia’s isolation. The United Arab Emirates and India additionally abstained whereas the remaining 11 members voted in favor.
An image of what was occurring on the bottom throughout Ukraine — the most important nation in Europe after Russia — was sluggish to emerge.
Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter that there had been heavy combating with deaths on the entrance to the japanese cities of Chernihiv and Melitopol, in addition to at Hostomel.
Witnesses mentioned that they had heard explosions and gunfire close to the airport in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second metropolis, near Russia’s border. Ukraine’s navy mentioned Russian troops had been stopped with heavy losses close to the northeastern metropolis of Konotop.
There have been even have studies of combating close to an air base some 20 miles southwest of Kyiv.
Britain’s protection ministry mentioned Russian armored forces had opened a brand new route of advance in the direction of the capital after failing to take Chernihiv.
Ukraine mentioned greater than 1,000 Russian troopers had been killed. Russia didn’t launch casualty figures. Zelenskyy mentioned late on Thursday that 137 troopers and civilians been killed within the combating, with a whole lot wounded.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to his Ukrainian counterpart and condemned reported civilian deaths, together with these of Ukrainian youngsters, in assaults round Kyiv, the State Division mentioned.
The White Home requested Congress for $6.4 billion in safety and humanitarian support for the disaster, officers mentioned.
Air raid sirens wailed over Kyiv for a second day on Friday as residents sheltered in underground metro stations.
Home windows have been blasted out of a 10-story condo block close to the principle airport.
“How can we be dwelling by this in our time? Putin ought to burn in hell alongside together with his entire household,” mentioned Oxana Gulenko, sweeping damaged glass from her room.
Contributing: Aleksandar Vasovi, Alan Charlish, Fedja Grulovic, Natalia Zinets