Kyiv: Russian tanks were seen rolling through the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv on Friday as explosions rocked the city and air raid sirens sounded on the second day of Russia’s invasion.
Social media videos were showing what appeared to be Russian tanks driving through Obolon, an area just north of Kyiv’s city center. Later, Ukraine’s defense ministry confirmed that Russian forces had infiltrated the residential district. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry asked residents not to leave their houses and prepare Molotov cocktails.
The district is approximately 10 km from central Kyiv. A few hours earlier, top Pentagon official, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, informed House lawmakers that Russian troops had advanced to 20 miles outside Kyiv.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin also told lawmakers that Russian mechanised forces had entered from Belarus and were nearing Kyiv. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a statement that at least 137 people have been killed and 316 have been injured during the invasion.
In a video address, he later warned of saboteurs entering the capital. “We also have information that enemy sabotage groups have entered Kyiv,” Zelenskyy said, adding that “the enemy marked me as the number one target.”
“They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state,” he said. Ukraine’s military chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi said Friday that the country’s army was successfully resisting Russian forces advancing from the north. Zaluzhnyi said Ukrainian forces had been able to repel the breakthrough of Russian troops in the Chernihiv area north of the capital, Kyiv.
“Enemy vehicles were forced to retreat from Chernihiv in the direction of Sedniv and from Horodnya to Semenivka,” he said.
However, it appears Russian forces are consolidating their positions to the northwest of Kyiv after taking the airbase at Hostomel on Thursday. Earlier a series of explosions rocked Kyiv in the early hours of Friday. “Strikes on Kyiv with cruise or ballistic missiles continued,” Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the Head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine told reporters.
There are unconfirmed reports coming in that the city’s air defense stopped an air raid by intercepting a number of missiles and downing an enemy aircraft. An official with the Ukrainian interior ministry said an aircraft had crashed in the Darnytskyi district of Kyiv.
Meanwhile, local reports said a nine-storey residential building is on fire in Kyiv. The Ukrainian military reported significant fighting north-west of the nation’s capital as Russian forces tried to advance on Kyiv from the north. The military said today a bridge across a river had been destroyed in the area of Ivankiv, about 60 km north-west of Kyiv.
Ukrainian and US officials said Russian forces were attacking from the east toward Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city; from the southern region of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014; and from Belarus to the north. Ukraine’s President slammed allies for ‘looking on from a distance’. Zelenskyy made a video address as Ukrainians woke to another day of Russia’s invasion.
He urged resistance to the Russian invasion and criticised Ukraine’s allies for the second time in just a few hours. “This morning, we are defending our country alone,” he said in a Facebook video post.
“Just like yesterday, the most powerful country in the world looked on from a distance. “Russia was hit with sanctions yesterday, but these are not enough to get these foreign troops off our soil. “Only through solidarity and determination can this be achieved.” Zelenskyy added it was the “second morning of the all-out war”.
Around the time of Zelenskyy’s video address, an apartment building in Kyiv was hit with debris after an aircraft was shot down, according to Ukrainian officials and the country’s emergency services. Ukraine has warned Russian forces are using disguise to enter the country and “penetrate deep into the rear of Ukrainian positions.”
Russia’s armed forces seized two vehicles from the National Guard of Ukraine on Friday and changed into the uniform of Ukrainian military, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar wrote on Facebook. They were moving at speed towards Kyiv’s center from Obolon in northern Kyiv and were followed by a column of Russian military trucks, she said.
The armed vehicles were later stopped, and no damage was reported, she added. “The enemy uses our equipment!” Ukraine’s Joint Forces Operation said in a statement. “We ask the citizens of Ukraine to be vigilant and in case of receiving any information to inform law enforcement agencies,” it said on Facebook.