Ukraine's president has warned that the Russians intend to take Kyiv overnight, urging his countrymen to resist the expected onslaught as Western officials say the city appears surrounded. Volodymyr Zelensky, addressing the nation from a secret location in the capital, had a dire warning for his embattled and defiant people on Friday night. 'Russia will try to break our resistance with all its might,' he said, in a video posted to social media. 'Tonight the enemy will begin storming us. We need to withstand them!' Zelensky said that Chernihiv, Symy, Kharkiv, Donbas, and the south could also come under attack. Vitali Klitschko, the former world champion heavyweight boxer who is now the mayor of Kyiv, said his city faces a 'difficult night'. The British Ministry of Defence said they believe Kyiv, home to 1.4 million people, is close to being encircled as the Russians advance from all sides.
  • Russian troops were advancing on the center of Kyiv in the early hours of Saturday with fierce fighting by the city’s zoo in the west, near the Beresteiska metro, and to the north, near the Troieshchyna thermal plant
  • President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday night warned his people in an address to the nation that the capital, Kyiv, would be attacked overnight
  • For two nights in a row Russia has bombarded Kyiv, but Moscow in the early hours of Saturday began what it hopes to be a final push
  • Ukraine’s armed forces said on Friday night that they had shot down south of Kyiv two Russian IL-76 military transport plane carrying Russian paratroopers, in Vasylkiv and in Bila Tserkva
  • Hours later they claimed to have downed in Donbas a helicopter and Su-25 ground attack jet, using surface-to-air missiles 
  • Fierce fighting was reported in Troieshchyna, north of Kyiv – site of a thermal power station. The district has been under attack for several days with Russian seeking to control the city’s vital infrastructure 
  • Zelensky, speaking from a secret location in the capital, said: ‘Russia will try to break our resistance with all its might. Tonight the enemy will begin storming us’
  • He urged Ukrainians to resist, adding that Chernihiv, Symy, Kharkiv, Donbass, and the south could all come under attack 
  • Britain’s Ministry of Defence said Russian forces are moving towards Kyiv from multiple directions, in an attempt to encircle the city 
  • Vitali Klitschko, the former world champion heavyweight boxer who is now mayor of Kyiv, said the city faces a ‘difficult night’  

Ukraine‘s armed forces were engaged in a fierce battle for Kyiv on Friday night, with footage on social media showing explosions close to a metro station in the western center of the capital by the zoo; a battle ongoing for control of a thermal power plant to the north; and multiple reports suggesting fierce fighting 20 miles south near a vital airbase.

In Kyiv, footage shared on social media showed a bombardment close to Beresteiska metro station, in the west of the city, which is near the city’s zoo.

Terrified residents posted videos filmed from their apartments, with flashes of light and the sound of gunfire. One video shared on social media showed an apartment building glowing with red lights, which some speculated was to guide bombers or snipers.

The northern suburb of Troieshchyna was also coming under sustained attack for another night, as Russia tried to wrest control of the thermal power plant on the banks of the Dnieper river. Unconfirmed reports suggested dozens of Russians had been arrested.

Ukraine’s government said on Friday night that they had shot down two Russian military transport planes carrying paratroopers on the outskirts of Kyiv.

The first IL-76 came down near Vasylkiv, 20 miles south of Kyiv, the Ukrainian military said.

The second IL-76 was shot down near Bila Tserkva, 50 miles south of the capital, Nexta reported.

The fate of those onboard was unclear. The aircrafts – medium-range military transport aircraft, which first went into service in 1974 – can hold 150-225 fully-equipped soldiers, and is used to drop paratroopers into combat and resupply arms.

Vasylkiv appeared, at 3am local time (8pm Eastern), to be a focus of heavy fighting.

Nexta, a local media network, reported that Russians ‘dressed in uniform of the Ukrainian national police’ attacked a checkpoint near Vasylkiv, shooting at Ukrainian soldiers.

‘Immediately after that a group of Russian military in a truck came in. There is a heavy fight going on,’ the site reported.

Not long after the troop carrier was shot down, Ukraine’s State Agency for Special Communications said that Ukraine’s air defense had downed a Russian close-support aircraft and a helicopter in Donbas.

A S-300 surface-to-air missile system destroyed a Russian Sukhoi Su-25 jet and an unspecified helicopter at midnight, they said.

The Russian Air Force currently operates around 250 Su-25s of all variants, and they are considered a staple of Russian ground-attack regiments.

The news came shortly after Ukraine’s president warned that the Russians intend to take Kyiv overnight, urging his countrymen to resist the expected onslaught as Western officials say the city appears surrounded.

Volodymyr Zelensky, addressing the nation from a secret location in the capital, had a dire warning for his embattled and defiant people on Friday night.

‘Russia will try to break our resistance with all its might,’ he said, in a video posted to social media.

‘Tonight the enemy will begin storming us. We need to withstand them!’

Zelensky said that Chernihiv, Symy, Kharkiv, Donbas, and the south could also come under attack.

‘This night will be difficult, very difficult. But the morning will come,’ he said, according to The Kyiv Independent.

The 44-year-old referenced the Russian shelling of a kindergarten in Ukraine that killed at least one child and injured more, saying: ‘What kind of war is that? Were these children neo-Nazi? Or were they NATO soldiers?’

Vitali Klitschko, the former world champion heavyweight boxer who is now the mayor of Kyiv, said his city faces a ‘difficult night’.

The British Ministry of Defence said they believe Kyiv, home to 1.4 million people, is close to being encircled as the Russians advance from all sides.

Kyiv’s streets were empty on Friday night as people sought shelter in the city’s subway system. Many had fled, with buses and trains out of the city packed with people desperate to escape, and long lines of traffic choking the roads.

In Cherkasy, home to 270,000 people 120 miles south of Kyiv, video on social media showed people in a basement on Friday night, resolutely singing the national anthem as they awaited the onslaught.

In New York, on Friday night, a United Nations resolution that called on Moscow to halt its attack on Ukraine and withdraw its troops was vetoed by Russia – a permanent member of the Security Council. China, India and the UAE abstained.

Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, urged Ukraine’s troops on Friday to overthrow their own government and begin to negotiate with the Kremlin.

‘It looks like it will be easier for us to come to terms with you than with this gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis,’ he said.

There was little sign that Ukrainian generals were tempted, and Russia appears to have been somewhat taken aback at the scale of Ukrainian resistance and their ability to defend their country.

There was no doubt, however, that Russia’s overwhelming military superiority would soon come into effect.

With 900,000 troops, Russia has the fourth largest military in the world, and more than a decade of reforms and procurement has made it a dangerous opponent.

Ukraine has just 361,000 troops, although Zelensky on Thursday ordered a full mobilization of troops and banned men aged 18-60 from leaving the country, in readiness for a whole-nation effort.

Ukraine’s highly-motivated infantry have modern weapons and protective gear, including N-LAW and Javelin anti-tank missiles provided by Britain and the US.

With the Russian advance slower than expected, there were fears on Friday night that Putin could resort to high-power thermobaric weapons – dubbed the ‘father of all bombs’ – as brave Ukrainians resist his attempts to take control of Kyiv.

There are also concerns that units that are running behind schedule as they encounter stiff opposition could resort to indiscriminate shelling as a terror weapon.

Thermobaric weapons – also known as vacuum bombs – are high-powered explosive that use the atmosphere itself as part of the explosion. They are among the most powerful non-nuclear weapons ever developed.

A thermobaric bomb dropped by the U.S. on Taliban in Afghanistan in 2017 weighed 21,600 pounds and left a crater more than 1,000 feet wide after it exploded six feet above the ground.

Thermobaric weapons were developed by both the U.S. and the Soviet Union in the 1960s. In September 2007, Russia detonated the largest thermobaric weapon ever made, which created an explosion equivalent to 39.9 tons.

The U.S. version of the weapon reportedly costs over $16 million each.

‘My fear would be that if they don’t meet their timescale and objectives they would be indiscriminate in their use of violence,’ a Western official said.

‘They don’t adhere to the same principles of necessity and proportionality and rule of law that Western forces do.’

The bomb works by using oxygen from the surrounding air to generate a high-temperature explosion, making it far deadlier than a conventional weapon.

While Russian special forces have reached the suburbs of Kyiv, the bulk of Russia’s heavy armor is believed to be still more than 30 miles away from the capital.

A senior U.S. defense official said Friday that Russia appears to have lost some of its momentum due to the Ukrainian’s fiery resistance.

‘We do assess that there is greater resistance by the Ukrainians than the Russians expected,’ the official said, adding Ukraine’s command and control of its military ‘remains intact.’

‘They are not moving on Kyiv as fast as what we believe they anticipated they would be able to do. That said, they continue to try to move on Kyiv.’

Putin has only mobilized about one-third of the 190,000 troops he has stationed at the Ukraine border, the official said.

Source:  DAILYMAIL.COM

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