Intense Fighting in Kyiv, Ukraine: Russian Troops Closer & Surround - Updated
|A Russian armoured vehicle sits by the side of the road in Brovary, to the east of Kyiv, after being destroyed in an artillery and rocket ambush that caused heavy casualties
*Sunday (March 13) Russian airstrikes hit a large military base near the western city of Lviv, which is close to the Polish border. Explosions were heard early Sunday morning near the city.
*Russia has issued a warning it could fire on weapon shipments to Ukraine, raising the risk of direct confrontation between Moscow and a NATO country.
*The Britain's defense ministry said elements of the large Russian military column north of Kyiv have dispersed, likely to support an attempt to encircle the Ukrainian capital.
*Russia’s bombardment of Ukraine widens, with raids reported on east-central city of Dnipro and airfields in western Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk.
*The governors of two Ukrainian regions, Kyiv and Donetsk, said in separate statements that attacks were continuing in areas where Ukraine was trying to evacuate people and bring in aid through “humanitarian corridors”.
*In weekend, Russian forces are expanding their offensive in Ukraine to the west for the first time. Major cities — including Dnipro and Lutsk — were struck Friday. Closer to Kyiv, fighting has intensified to the northeast and east of the capital, according to CNN and local media.
Volodymyr Zelensky has condemned the West for its inaction, today saying he 'doesn't see any bravery from NATO' and pleaded for more involvement from allies in peace negotiations as he pleaded for more anti-missile systems, saying he is willing to pay.
The wartime leader also said Putin's forces can only take Kyiv if they raze the city to the ground, with Kremlin troops inching closer to the capital for an anticipated assault.
Russian armoured vehicles are still slowly advancing on the city's northeast after being stalled for days, and a military airfield south of the city in Vasylkiv has been hit by missiles, destroying the runway, a fuel depot and an ammunition store.
The bulk of Russian ground forces are now around 15 miles from the centre but elements of the large column have dispersed in a bid to encircle the city, after pummelling the northwest suburbs including Irpin and Bucha.
A column of thick black smoke was seen rising from the eastern suburbs of Kyiv this morning, but there is still no sign of ground forces moving into the outskirts.
But a former NATO official said she is 'sceptical' that Russian forces will 'gain much success' from an expected brutal onslaught of Kyiv, as Ukrainians warned Putin to prepare for his own Stalingrad battle.
Zelensky: Around 1,300 Ukrainian troops killed
|A column of smoke rises from burning fuel tanks that locals said were hit by five rockets at the Vasylkiv Air Base near the capital
Around 1,300 Ukrainian troops have been killed since the start of the Russian attack, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday.
Speaking at a news briefing, Zelensky said Ukrainian and Russian negotiating teams had started discussing concrete topics rather than exchanging ultimatums. He said the West should be more involved in negotiations to end the war but welcomed efforts by Israeli Prime Minister
Naftali Bennett to mediate between Ukraine and Russia, and said he had suggested to Bennett holding talks in Jerusalem.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron called for an immediate ceasefire in the Ukraine conflict during a 75-minute phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday, a German government spokesperson said.
"The conversation is part of ongoing international efforts to end the war in Ukraine," the spokesperson said in a statement, adding that the participants agreed to say nothing further about the substance of the phone call.
Scholz had earlier spoken to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about the situation, the spokesperson added
Fighting is continuing on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital, with the city's administration saying areas to the north remain the most dangerous, including the suburbs of Bucha, Irpin and Hostomel, as well as the district of Vyshorod further north of Kyiv. Fighting has also escalated in Brovary, across the Dnieper River, east of the city.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko told the city currently only has resources — including food and medical supplies — for one to two weeks.
|"Ukrainian forces are everywhere" in Kyiv. "They have dug up defensive positions along all the main thoroughfares leading into the city, they've put tank traps around. This is a heavily fortified city now. And even if Russian forces are enable to encircle it, it will still be an almighty battle for them to get to the heart of it." - CNN!
Russian military units moving closer to Kyiv
The Pentagon warned that Russian troops are starting to make greater advances toward the capital city of Kyiv as Ukrainian forces continue to fight back against a barrage of missile fire.
Satellite images on Friday (March 11) have shown that Russian military units were continuing to deploy closer to Kyiv and actively firing artillery towards residential areas, a US private company said.
According to Maxar Technologies, multiple homes and buildings were on fire and widespread damage as well as impact craters were seen throughout the town of Moschun, northwest of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.
The battle for Kyiv is underway as Russian tanks push to within just a few miles of the city outskirts, analysts and witnesses have said, though initial assaults to the west and east of the capital were repelled as Vladimir Putin's forces face a long and bloody campaign to try and take the capital.
Kremlin troops launched two attacks on Kyiv Wednesday - one via the besieged western city of Irpin and another through the eastern district of Brovary, with video showing the moment Russian tanks and armoured vehicles were bombarded with artillery in a devastating ambush and forced to turn back.
|Many thousands’ volunteers from Middle East could join fight against Ukraine
“Many thousands” of volunteers from the Middle East could shortly join the rebels and fight “shoulder-to-shoulder” against the Ukrainian army, Denis Pushilin, the head of the Russia-backed separatist government in the Donetsk region, said in remarks broadcast on Russian state television.
His comments came after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Russian authorities have received requests from over 16,000 people from the Middle East who are eager to join the Russian military action in Ukraine.
The fighting in Kyiv is increasingly fierce
|Russian assault on Kyiv is now underway, as troops massed in both the west and east try to push into the city limits - with missions also underway to surround the capital from the south west
"There's Russian bombardment and shelling going on quite violently as we speak," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters. "And we do assess that the Russians are beginning to make more momentum on the ground towards Kyiv, particularly from the East."
Convoys headed for the city have been unable to make major advances since the fighting began over two weeks ago, but the tide could be changing for Russian forces. A Russian convoy north of Kyiv has yet to advance and recent satellite imagery has suggested it has moved off into the tree line.
Forces northwest of the city remain a threat to Kyiv, but according to a senior defense official Friday, they are still roughly 10 miles outside the city.
President Putin has deployed roughly all the 150,000 troops he amassed on Ukraine’s border in the lead-up to the invasion and despite the loss of at least 700 Russian military vehicles Moscow has maintained about 90% of its combat force.
Ukraine has also maintained roughly 90% of its fighting forces despite the nearly 810 missiles fired upon it over the last 16 days. Half of the missiles levied at Ukrainian forces have come from Russian troops within Ukraine. Just under half of the missiles have been fired from Russia and roughly 80 have been launched from Belarus, a senior defense official confirmed.
Russian forces continue to make limited progress in their ground invasion of Ukraine, the U.K. Ministry of Defence said Friday.
Russian forces have made some progress in their advance on Kyiv in the past 24 hours, a senior U.S. Defense official said Thursday.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to share new details from a Pentagon assessment, said Russian troops are approximately 15 kilometers or 10 miles away from Kyiv’s city center.
The Pentagon still believes that Russian forces intend to encircle Kyiv, the official added.
Kyiv Mayor Klitschko Says Russian Troops To Surround City
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko says Russian troops have surrounded the Ukrainian capital and plan to strangle it through a blockade as Moscow's attack on Ukrainian towns and cities continues.
Klitschko toldCurrent Time that Ukrainian troops continue to disrupt such attempts by the Russian troops and have been finding sabotage groups operating in Kyiv.
"I can say that there are obvious plans by Russians [to surround the capital to take it in a blockade]," Klitschko, a former world heavyweight boxing champion, said.
"At this moment, our guys are returning a proper response to them. Even the groups that reach Kyiv's outskirts are being kicked several kilometers back," he said, adding that “we will do everything we can" to break any blockade.
Klitschko said that the situation in Kyiv is "tense, but comparatively calm," emphasizing that despite intensive shelling of the city by Russian troops, the communication sector is working properly in the Ukrainian capital.
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