New Delhi: An advance party of Russia’s invasion force left a trail of damage in its wake as clashes erupted inside Ukraine’s capital Kyiv for the first time, amid rising fears the city is about to be stormed or come under siege.
Here are the top 10 updates on this big story:
- Pedestrians ran for safety as small arms fire and explosions erupted in the Obolonsky district in Kyiv’s north. Larger blasts could be heard in the city centre, where residents endured a first tense night under curfew and the sounds of bombing, news agency AFP reported.
- The Ukrainian ministry of defence said the clash had been provoked by “an enemy sabotage and reconnaissance group”. Russian forces first arrived on the outskirts of Kyiv on Thursday when waves of helicopter-borne troops assaulted the Gostomel airfield just outside the city, close to Obolonsky.
- The fighting on the broad highways and in between the densely inhabited multi-storey apartment blocks of northern Kyiv may be an omen of what is to come if Russian forces assault the city of some three million people.
- Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed to stay in Kyiv as his troops battled Russian invaders in the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two. “(The) enemy has marked me down as the number one target,” Zelensky warned in a video message. My family is the number two target. I will stay in the capital. My family is also in Ukraine,” he said.
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said today Moscow wants to “free Ukraine from oppression”. Russian President Vladimir “Putin took the decision to conduct a special military operation to demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine,” Mr Lavrov said at a press conference in Moscow.
- Russian forces said they had taken control of a vital canal to supply water to Moscow-annexed Crimea, which has been suffering from shortages for the past eight years. Crimea received most of its water from Ukraine’s Dnieper River via the North Crimean Canal until 2014, when Moscow annexed the peninsula and Kyiv authorities blocked the waterway.
- The invasion of Ukraine has invited severe economic sanctions on Russia. In a speech from the White House, US President Joe Biden said four more banks — including the two biggest, Sberbank & VTB — would be hit with sanctions by Western sanctions. In addition, export controls slapped on sensitive components will “cut off more than half of Russia’s high-tech imports.” The penalties will be severe, and will have lasting impact on Russia’s economy, Mr Biden said.
- The US President confirmed that for now there was no attempt to put sanctions directly on Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is widely reported to have amassed a huge, secret fortune during his two decades in power.
- The US will have consultations with India on the crisis in Ukraine, he said. India has a historic and time-tested friendship with Russia. At the same time, its strategic partnership with the US has grown at an unprecedented pace over the last decade and half.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin late Thursday, appealing for an “immediate cessation of violence”. The conversation came hours after Ukraine’s urgent appeal to India for intervention.