Russia urges invasion of outskirts of Ukrainian capital – Press Enterprise


KIEV, Ukraine (AP) – Russia on Friday ramped up its invasion of Ukraine into the outskirts of the capital after unleashing airstrikes on cities and military bases and dispatching troops and tanks from three sides in an attack that threatened global security after the cold war could rewrite command.

Explosions rang out in Kiev before dawn as Western leaders called an emergency meeting and the Ukrainian president asked for international aid. The nature of the blasts wasn’t immediately clear, but the blasts came amid signs the capital and largest Ukrainian city was under increasing threat after a day of fighting that killed more than 100 Ukrainians.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the government had information that “subversive groups” were entering the city, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Kiev “could well be under siege,” leading US officials to believe that Russian President Vladimir was a brazen attempt Putin consider dissolving the government and replacing it with his own regime.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told lawmakers in a phone call that Russian mechanized forces entering from Belarus were about 20 miles from Kiev, according to a person familiar with the call.

The attack, anticipated for weeks by US and Western allies and carried out by Putin despite international condemnation and cascading sanctions, amounts to the largest ground war in Europe since World War II. As Russian missiles bombarded cities and military bases, government leaders asked for help and heavy sanctions against Russia. Civilians crowded into trains and cars to flee, and guests at a hotel were escorted to a shelter as explosions were heard in Kiev.

Already, Ukrainian officials said they had lost control of the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant, site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

“Russia has taken a path of evil, but Ukraine is defending itself and will not give up its freedom,” Zelenskyy tweeted. His grip on power was weakening, he advocated even tougher sanctions than those imposed by Western allies on Thursday and ordered a full military mobilization that would last 90 days.

Zelenskyi said in a video address that 137 “heroes”, including 10 military officers, were killed and 316 people injured. Among the dead were border guards on the Russian-held island of Zmiinyi in the Odessa region.

He concluded an emotional speech by saying that “the fate of the country depends entirely on our army, our security forces and all of our defenders.” He also said the country had heard from Moscow that “they want to talk about Ukraine’s neutral status.”

Biden was scheduled to meet with other leaders of NATO governments in what the White House called an “extraordinary virtual summit” Friday morning to discuss Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden announced new sanctions on Russia and said Putin “chose this war” and presented a “gloomy” view of the world where nations take what they want by force. Other nations also announced sanctions or said they would soon.

“It was always about naked aggression, about Putin’s desire for empire by any means necessary – bullying Russia’s neighbors through coercion and corruption, forcibly changing borders and ultimately choosing war without cause,” Biden said.

Blinken said in TV interviews he was convinced Russia intended to overthrow the Ukrainian government and told CBS that Putin wanted to “restore the Soviet empire.”

Fearing a Russian attack on the capital, thousands of people went deep underground and blocked Kiev’s metro stations as night fell.

At times it felt almost cheerful. Families had dinner. children were playing. Adults were talking. People brought sleeping bags or dogs or crossword puzzles – anything to shorten the wait and the long night ahead.

But the exhaustion was visible on many faces. And the worries.

“No one believed that this war would start and take Kiev straight away,” said Anton Mironov, waiting out the night in one of the old Soviet subway stations. “I mostly feel tired. None of it feels real.”

The invasion began early Thursday with a series of missile attacks, many on key government and military installations, followed by a three-pronged ground attack. Ukrainian and US officials said Russian forces were attacking Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, from the east; from the southern region of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014; and from Belarus to the north.

Zelenskyy, who earlier severed diplomatic ties with Moscow and declared martial law, appealed to global leaders, saying: “If you don’t help us now, if you don’t offer powerful help to Ukraine, tomorrow war will be knocking on your door.” “

Although Biden said he had no plans to speak to Putin, the Russian leader had what the Kremlin described as “serious and frank exchanges” with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Both sides claimed to have destroyed some of the other’s aircraft and military equipment, although little of this has been confirmed.

Hours after the invasion began, Russian forces took control of the now-idle Chernobyl facility and surrounding exclusion zone after a bitter battle, Presidential Advisor Myhailo Podolyak told The Associated Press.

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency said it had been informed of the takeover by Ukraine, adding that there had been “no casualties or destruction at the industrial site”.

The 1986 disaster happened when a nuclear reactor at the plant 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Kiev exploded, sending a radioactive cloud over Europe. The damaged reactor was later covered with a protective shell to prevent leaks.

Alyona Shevtsova, adviser to the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, wrote on Facebook that employees at the Chernobyl plant were “taken hostage.” The White House said it was “outraged” by reports of the arrests.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry issued an update saying the country’s armed forces had halted Russia’s advance on Chernihiv even though the plant was “probably captured” and that Russia was unlikely to meet its planned military targets on day one have achieved.

NATO alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said the “brutal act of war” had shattered peace in Europe, and joined a chorus of world leaders denouncing an attack that is causing massive casualties and toppling Ukraine’s democratically elected government could. The conflict rocked global financial markets: stocks plummeted and oil prices rose on fears that heating bills and food prices would soar.

Condemnation came not only from the US and Europe, but also from South Korea, Australia and beyond – and many governments were preparing new sanctions. Even friendly leaders like Hungary’s Viktor Orban tried to distance themselves from Putin.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wanted to cut Russia off from UK financial markets as he announced sanctions, frozen assets of all major Russian banks and planned to block Russian companies and the Kremlin from raising money in UK markets.

“Now we see him for what he is — a blood-stained aggressor who believes in imperial conquest,” Johnson said of Putin.

The US sanctions will target Russian banks, oligarchs, state-controlled companies and high-tech sectors, Biden said, but they were designed not to disrupt global energy markets. Russian oil and gas exports are vital sources of energy for Europe.

Zelenskyy urged the US and the West to go further and ban Russians from the SWIFT system, a key financial network connecting thousands of banks around the world. The White House was reluctant to immediately bar Russia from SWIFT, fearing it could cause huge economic problems in Europe and elsewhere in the West.

While some nervous Europeans speculated about a possible new world war, the US and its NATO allies have shown no signs of sending troops to Ukraine, fearing a wider conflict. NATO reinforced its members in Eastern Europe as a precaution, and Biden said the US was sending additional forces to Germany to strengthen NATO.

The European authorities declared the country’s airspace an active conflict zone.

After weeks of denying invasion plans, Putin launched the operation in a country the size of Texas that is increasingly turning to the Democratic West and moving away from Moscow’s influence. The autocratic leader made it clear earlier this week that he sees no reason for Ukraine’s existence, stoking fears of a possible wider conflict in the vast space once dominated by the Soviet Union. Putin has denied plans to occupy Ukraine, but his ultimate goals remain hazy.

Ukrainians were urged to take shelter on the spot and not to panic.

“Until the last moment I didn’t believe it was going to happen. I just pushed those thoughts aside,” said a terrified Anna Dovnya in Kyiv, as she watched soldiers and police remove shrapnel from an exploded grenade. “We have lost all faith.”

As social media reinforced a barrage of military claims and counterclaims, it was difficult to pinpoint exactly what was happening on the ground.

Russia and Ukraine made competing claims about the damage they caused. The Russian Defense Ministry said it destroyed numerous Ukrainian air bases, military installations and drones. It confirmed the loss of one of its Su-25 attack jets and blamed it on “pilot error,” saying an An-26 transport plane crashed due to a technical failure and the entire crew was killed. It was not said how many were on board.

Russia said it wasn’t targeting cities, but journalists saw destruction in many civilian areas.


Isachenkov and Litvinova reported from Moscow. Francesca Ebel in Kiev; Angela Charlton in Paris; Geir Moulson and Frank Jordans in Berlin; Raf Casert and Lorne Cook in Brussels; Nic Dumitrache in Mariupol, Ukraine, Inna Varennytsia in eastern Ukraine; and Robert Burns, Matthew Lee, Aamer Madhani, Eric Tucker, Nomaan Merchant, Ellen Knickmeyer, Zeke Miller, Chris Megerian, and Darlene Superville in Washington contributed.


Follow AP’s coverage of the Ukraine crisis at


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