Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, a thoroughly modern European city of nearly 3 million people is now bracing itself for gunfights on its streets as Vladimir Putin‘s forces gather on multiple sides of the city.
Ukraine on Friday said it had provided over 100,000 weapons to locals willing to fight in resistance units against the Russian troops.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had said he was the target of the Russian invasion, vowing not to abandon his country, as Russian troops are reportedly moving to seize the capital and topple the government.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy took to his Facebook to post the following statement: “The invasion of Russia into Ukraine is not just an invasion, it’s the beginning of the war against Europe. Against the unity of Europe. Against basic human rights in Europe. Against all rules of coexistence on the continent. Against the fact that European states refuse to divide borders by force.”
However, even with the Ukrainian army supported by such street-fighting units, they are unlikely to outmatch Putin’s army, one of the best trained and equipped in the world.
In Kharkiv, pictures show destroyed military vehicles on the road, including a Russian Army multiple rocket launcher with the letter “Z” painted on its side.
Ukrainian military vehicles were reported to be entering Kyiv to defend the capital, just as Russia’s defence ministry has said it “eliminated” more than 200 people from Ukraine’s special units during the capture of Hostomel airfield, which is in a north-western suburb of Kyiv.
Russia’s military blocked Kyiv from the western side, and captured the strategic Hostomel airport outside the capital.
The mayor of Kyiv confirmed, Friday, that the Ukrainian capital has entered into “a defensive phase”.
Following this, Russia has taken control of aerodrome near Kyiv and landed paratroops, according to the Russian defence ministry.
Russian troops are inside Kyiv and “street battles” are taking place inside some of the city’s areas, a Ukrainian journalist has said.
Volodymyr Yermolenko, the editor of Ukraine World, said missiles have been targeting civilian houses.
The Ukrainian army is “strong”, he said, and there have been “lots of losses” in the Russian army.
In response, the European Union will freeze bank accounts of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the bloc but will not issue a travel ban, Austria’s Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said on Friday.
“There will be no travel ban against them, though, because we want to retain the possibility of negotiations in order to end the violence in Ukraine,” Schallenberg said as he arrived for an EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels.
Russia has, however, claimed its strikes on Ukraine are not targeting civilians.
The country’s foreign ministry said the strikes are aimed at military infrastructure, airfields, and aviation.
It comes after Russia claimed it is now in control of the Hostomel aerodrome near Kyiv.
Russia’s defence ministryconfirmed its forces have surrounded the city of Chernihiv, located about 150 km north of the capital Kyiv.
“The blocking of the city of Chernihiv has been completed,” spokesman Igor Konashenkov said, in comments reported by the Russian news agency Interfax.
Meanwhile, the British Royal Navy destroyer has set sail to support NATO allies following the deployment of the Royal Navy destroyer which has now been placed on standby in the Mediterranean following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
HMS Diamond left Portsmouth Naval Base as part of the UK’s response to support Nato countries in eastern Europe.
The Type 45 destroyer will join offshore patrol vessel HMS Trent in the eastern Mediterranean with four additional RAF Typhoon jets also being deployed to Cyprus to take part in Nato patrols in eastern Europe.
Also, hundreds of NATO troops have also been deployed to Estonia and Poland.
HMS Diamond was deployed by the UK Government to be on standby in the Mediterranean in case it is required as part of a wider NATO force.
It had originally been set to leave on February 17 but its departure was initially delayed by Storm Eunice with further delays caused by the warship requiring “minor repairs”.
The problems meant that all of the Royal Navy’s £6 billion fleet of Type 45s were alongside at the same time, with four vessels in Portsmouth and two in Birkenhead.
In a new development, the South American country of Brazil has said it will support a resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at a United Nations Security Council meeting on Friday, two sources close to the talks told Reuters.
President Jair Bolsonaro, who recently met with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, scolded his Vice President Hamilton Mourao on Thursday for condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine and said it was not Mourao’s job to speak about the crisis in eastern Europe.
“We will support the Security Council resolution and we will condemn the invasion,” said one of the sources, who requested anonymity.
“Russia broke the U.N. rules by invading another country. That fact cannot go without a condemnation,” the official said.
Brazil’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday expressed concern about Russia’s military operations and urged a diplomatic solution, but did not condemn the invasion.
However, the Syrian President Bashar Assad has joined in praising Russia’s military incursion into Ukraine – and denounced what he calls western hysteria surrounding it.
Assad spoke by phone Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
According to state-run news agency SANA, Assad said: “What is happening today is a correction of history and a restoration of balance which was lost in the world after the breakup of the Soviet Union.”
He said confronting NATO expansionism is “Russia’s right”.
Russia is a main backer of Assad’s government and its military intervention in 2015 in the country’s civil war helped tip the balance of power in his favor.
In a related development to the conflict in Ukraine, a Moldovan flagged tanker has reportedly been hit by a missile near the Ukraine port of Odessa, according to Moldova’s Naval Agency.