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Ukraine’s president says Russia has marked him as top target

Zelenskyy also said that 137 civilians and military personnel have been killed so far in the Russian invasion of his country.

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Kyiv: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said there are enemy sabotage groups in Kyiv, and that he has been identified as Russia’s top target.

In a video statement on Friday, Zelenskyy said: “According to our information, the enemy marked me as target number one, my family as target number two.”

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“They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state. We have information that enemy sabotage groups have entered Kyiv.” Zelenskyy has also ordered a full military mobilisation to challenge the Russian invasion and issued a decree saying the mobilisation would last 90 days.

He ordered the military’s General Staff to determine the number of those liable for service and reservists as well as the order of the call-up. Zelenskyy also said that 137 civilians and military personnel have been killed so far in the Russian invasion of his country.

He called them “heroes” in a video address in which he also said that hundreds more have been wounded. Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Kyiv is experiencing the worst attack since World War II as explosions were heard before dawn in the Ukrainian capital on Friday. In a statement on Twitter, he wrote Ukraine defeated the “evil” of Nazi Germany and they will “defeat this one”.

He called for isolation of Russia. “Horrific Russian rocket strikes on Kyiv. Last time our capital experienced anything like this was in 1941 when it was attacked by Nazi Germany. Ukraine defeated that evil and will defeat this one. Stop Putin. Isolate Russia. Severe all ties. Kick Russia out of everywhere,” he tweeted.

The statement came as explosions were heard in the capital. Ukraine forces said they shot down a Russian aircraft in the early hours of Friday, with debris hitting an apartment block.

Details about what aircraft was shot down have not been confirmed. Anton Geraschenko, who was a deputy minister at the Ministry of Internal Affairs until last year and is now an official adviser to the Ministry, said an explosion seen in the skies above Ukraine’s capital was the country’s aerial defence system at work.

He said the air force shot down a Russian plane or drone. “According to operational information, the enemy aircraft was hit by the forces of the Ukrainian Air Force and fell in the Darnitsky district,” he posted on social media. Unfortunately, the wreckage from the explosion landed in a residential area and started a fire.

Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko said on Telegram: “Attacks on Kyiv with cruise and ballistic missiles have just resumed. I heard two powerful explosions.”

Satellite images show damage to fuel storage areas and airport infrastructure in the Ukranian city of Chuhuiv. Images from space tech company Maxar Technologies show a dark plume of smoke rising from the airfield in Chuhuiv, near Kharkiv in the east as well as a lighter plume, from a nearby building.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said Kyiv “could well be under siege” in what US officials believe is a brazen attempt by Russian President Vladimir Putin to dismantle the government and replace it with his own regime.

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin told lawmakers on a phone call that Russian mechanised forces that entered from Belarus were about 32 kilometres from Kyiv. Male Ukrainian citizens aged between 18 and 60 have been prohibited from leaving the country while martial law is in place. In a statement posted on Facebook, the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine said “departure from Ukraine is restricted” temporarily.

“It is forbidden to travel outside the borders of Ukraine [for] citizens of Ukraine, male gender between 18 to 60 years old,” the statement said. Speaking live on Ukraine’s 1+1 TV channel, Ukraine’s Minister of Healthcare Viktor Lyashko said hospitals and medical workers had also come under fire – including in Avdiivka and Vuhledar in Donetsk – with casualties reported among medical workers.

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