Volodimir Zelenski, President of Ukraine, cries out for help to defend Kiev from a new Russian attack

The Ukrainian president called his compatriots early on Saturday to defend Kyivthe capital, from an imminent attack by the Russian troops that invaded the country on Thursday.

“We cannot lose the capital. I address our defenders, men and women of all fronts: Tonight, the enemy is going to use all his might to break through our defenses in the most vile, harsh and inhuman way,” he said. Volodymyr Zelensky in a video published on the website of the presidency.

“Tonight, they are going to try an attack,” he warned.

On the eve, Russian troops launched by the Russian president Vladimir Putin they reached a northern neighborhood of Kiev, though they later seemed to run out of steam. In the evening, fighting broke out in Vasilkov, about thirty kilometers southwest of the capital.

There, Ukrainian troops shot down an Il-76 transport plane and were waging “violent combat” against the Russians who “try to unload airborne troops,” the Defense Ministry said on Saturday, also reporting the destruction of a helicopter and a fighter in the east of the country.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg praised the Ukrainian forces, “who are fighting bravely and remain capable of inflicting losses on the invading Russian forces.”

the russian offensive caused the flight of more than 50,000 Ukrainians from the countryas well as 100,000 internally displaced persons (according to the UN) and more than 100 dead and hundreds of wounded (according to Kiev).

Vladimir Putin called on the Ukrainian army to “seize power” and called the Zelensky government a “gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis.”

Zelensky responded by posting a video in front of the presidential palace.

“We are all here, our military are here, the citizens, society, we are all here, defending our independence, our State,” he proclaimed, along with some of his main collaborators.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry called on the population to resist. “We ask citizens to inform us of troop movements, make Molotov cocktails and neutralize the enemy,” he urged.

Civilians enlisted in the “territorial defense” brigades, identified with yellow armbands, are omnipresent throughout the capital. “I had never taken a gun in my hands until today… We will try to do the best we can,” said Roman Bondertsev in north Kiev.

“And if they kill me, there will be two others ready to take my place,” he added.

diplomacy blocked

Meanwhile, Western countries have adopted a barrage of sanctions against Russian institutions, businesses and leaders, including Putin, in response to the invasion.

Zelensky indicated that he spoke with US President Joe Biden about “strengthening sanctions [contra Rusia]concrete defense assistance and an anti-aircraft coalition”.

However, diplomacy seems blocked.

At the UN Security Council, Russia vetoed a resolution promoted by the United States and Albania to deplore “aggression” against Ukraine.

The spokeswoman for Russian diplomacy, Maria Zajarova, stated that relations between Moscow and Western powers are approaching a “point of no return”.

“It has not been our option. We wanted dialogue, but the Anglo-Saxons closed those options one after another and started to act differently,” he said.

According to Zajarova, the sanctions against Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov show the “impotence” of Western countries.

Putin said he was willing to send a delegation to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, to negotiate with Ukraine. Hungary, an EU and NATO member close to Moscow, offered to host talks in Budapest.

The spokesman for US diplomacy, Ned Price, described this proposal as “diplomacy carried out at gunpoint, when bombs, mortar fire and artillery from Moscow target Ukrainian civilians.”

NATO announced that it will activate its Response Force, to reinforce its eastern flank.

Russia invaded Ukraine after demanding that this former Soviet republic renounce joining NATO and that the transatlantic alliance not be strengthened on its borders.

Sanctions in all areas

After the offensive, the European Union (EU) unblocked on Thursday a package of “massive” sanctions in the energy and financial sectors.

Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov were included this Friday in the list of personalities sanctioned, with their assets frozen, by the EU and the United Kingdom. The United States announced that it would take similar measures.

Zelensky called for Russia’s expulsion from the SWIFT bank transfer system, but European Union countries such as Germany and Hungary have expressed their doubts for fear that this measure could cause problems in the delivery of Russian gas.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) rejected Russia’s accession process and closed its office in Moscow.

The response to the invasion was also felt in sports and the world of culture. UEFA moved the Champions League final from St Petersburg to Paris and Formula One canceled this year’s Russian Grand Prix.

And Eurovisión indicated that it was closing the doors of the popular European song contest to representatives of the invading country.

Pope Francis met with the Russian ambassador to the Vatican to express “his concern”.

In a tweet, sent in several languages, including Russian, he stated that “every war is a shameful surrender.”

bodies in the streets

At dawn on Friday, shots and explosions were heard in the residential neighborhood of Oblon, in northern Kiev, caused by what appeared to be advanced Russian forces.

AFP journalist saw a dead person on the sidewalk and ambulances helping a person whose vehicle was crushed by an armored vehicle.

During the day, the sirens and explosions did not stop sounding in Kiev, a city that, after the flight of many inhabitants, offers a ghostly aspect.

Armored vehicles and soldiers guard the street crossings around the district where the government buildings are located.

Ukrainian forces reported Friday that they were fighting Russian units in Dymer and Ivankiv, two towns 40 and 80 kilometers north of Kiev.

The Russians would also be advancing in the northeast and east, according to the same source.

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