Saturday, March 25

The battle intensifies in Kiev during the third day of Russia’s offensive on Ukraine

Russian troops continue their offensive against Kiev and other Ukrainian cities this Saturday. Residents seek shelter in the capital’s subways and basements during the third day of heavy shelling.

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As Russian attacks continued to hit Kiev, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has rejected a US evacuation offer, insisting he will stay. “The fight is here”, he said while the fighting continued in the streets, mainly in the outskirts of the city.

Zelensky has also assured again that the country’s Army will resist the Russian invasion. In a video recorded on the street near the government headquarters, he has said that he remains in the city and that the claims that the Ukrainian military would lay down their arms are false.

“We are successfully containing the attacks of the enemy. We know that we are defending our land and the future of our children. Kiev and key areas are controlled by our army,” the president said at a subsequent press conference. “The occupiers wanted to place their puppet in our capital. They failed. A real battle was waged in our streets.”

The Ukrainian Ministry of Health has reported this Saturday that 198 people have died, including three children, and that more than 1,000 others have been injured since the Russian offensive began before dawn on Thursday, with massive air and missile attacks, and troops that entered Ukraine from the north, east and south.

Among the buildings in Kiev affected by the latest wave of Russian attacks is a large block of flats. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko posted an image showing a gaping hole in one side of the building and apartments on several floors smashed.

“We are scared”

“We are all scared and worried. So we don’t know what to do, what is going to happen in a few days,” says Lucy Vashaka, 20, a worker in a small hotel in Kiev.

An intelligence report from the British Ministry of Defense said on Saturday that Russia has yet to gain control of the airspace over Ukraine and that most Russian forces were still about 29 kilometers from Kiev.

As Kiev fended off Russian attacks in the early hours of Saturday, there were reports of Ukrainian counterattacks in some places previously claimed by Russian forces, such as Sumy in the east of the country.

Guardian spoke on the phone with a resident of Kherson – which Russia has claimed to have taken over – who said that while Russian troops were in the city, fighting continued and that the Ukrainian military had blown up a key bridge in the town.

The Ukrainian military has claimed to have shot down two Russian transport planes full of paratroopers, although this could not be confirmed and the Russian military has not commented on either plane.

There is evidence that in some areas Russian forces were facing increasing logistical difficulties, with Ukrainian-language social media accounts posting images of captured Russian soldiers and reports of shortages of fuel for vehicles and food for troops.

During the afternoon of this Saturday, the British Ministry of Defense has said that the speed of the Russian advance has slowed down temporarily, probably as a result of “acute logistical difficulties and strong Ukrainian resistance”. “Russian forces are bypassing the main Ukrainian population centers while leaving forces to surround and isolate them,” he said in a tweet. Taking the capital remains Moscow’s main objective, he adds.

However, a deeply worrying fact is some images captured by CNN on the other side of the Russian border, in the Belgorod region, showing a TOS-1 heavy flamethrower system, which fires thermobaric missiles, being transported in a vehicle towards the border. ukrainian

The ICC prosecutor has put combatants and their commanders on notice that he is monitoring the Russian invasion and has jurisdiction to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Russian Defense Ministry has ordered the Army to launch an offensive “in all directions” after accusing Kiev of refusing to sit at the negotiating table with the Kremlin. “After the Ukrainian side rejected the process of talks, today all units were given the order to start the offensive in all directions in accordance with the plan of the operation,” the spokesman said at a press conference. Igor Konashenkov.

Ukraine appears to be gaining growing diplomatic support for kicking Russia out of the international banking system Swift, with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi saying he will support any EU sanctions move and Cyprus, which has extensive banking ties with Russia, indicating that it will no longer oppose the measure. A decision is expected in the coming days.

“We already have the almost total support of the EU countries to disconnect Russia from Swift. I hope that Germany and Hungary have the courage to support this decision. We have the courage to defend our homeland, to defend Europe,” Zelensky said. this Saturday.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has said the country is banning Russian flights in its airspace, and France has said it has decided to send defensive military equipment to Ukraine.

More than 100,000 refugees

Large numbers of Ukrainians from the south and east of the country have tried to flee, including to neighboring Hungary and Poland, with queues at some border crossings stretching 20 kilometers or more.

Evacuation trains have been organized from cities, including Lviv, to help people get out. An estimated 115,000 people have fled since Thursday, 100,000 of them to Poland.

The movement of Russian troops after less than three days of fighting further jeopardizes a country clinging to independence in the face of a broad attack, which threatens to topple Ukraine’s democratic government and shake the world order of post-Cold War.

Western authorities believe that Vladimir Putin is determined to overthrow Ukraine’s government and replace it with a regime of his choice. The invasion marks Putin’s biggest attempt to redraw the map of Europe and revive Moscow’s Cold War-era influence. It has provoked an international response that includes direct sanctions on Putin.

The US government on Saturday urged Zelensky to leave Kiev, but he has rejected the offer, according to a US intelligence source with direct knowledge of the conversation, saying he needed anti-tank ammunition and “not a transfer”.

The United States and its Western allies anticipated the Russian invasion for weeks. Putin denied that it was underway during all this time. The Russian president has not disclosed the final plans of his for Ukraine. His Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has given a clue. “We want to allow the Ukrainian people to determine their own destiny,” he has said.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, has said that Russia recognized Zelensky as Ukraine’s president, but has declined to say how long the Russian military operation may last.