NICOSIA, Cyprus — Invading Russian forces closed in on Ukraine’s capital Friday, in an obvious encircling motion after a barrage of airstrikes on cities and army bases across the nation.
Amid rising indicators that Russia goals to overthrow him, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy instructed European Union leaders in a video link-up from his bunker late Thursday that it is perhaps the final time they noticed him alive.
However on Friday Zelenskyy launched a video of himself and his senior aides outdoors the presidential workplace in Kyiv to reassure Ukrainians that he and different high officers would keep within the capital.
The assault, anticipated for weeks by the West, quantities to Europe’s largest floor battle since World Struggle II. It might additionally portend the emergence of a brand new “Iron Curtain” between the West and Russia, with world repercussions.
U.S. President Joe Biden and his NATO companions agreed Friday to ship hundreds of troops to assist shield allies alongside Europe’s jap edge.
Listed here are the issues to know in regards to the battle and the safety disaster in former Soviet-dominated Japanese Europe:
RUSSIAN TROOPS MARCH ON
The Russian army stated Friday it had encircled the cities of Sumy and Konotop in northeastern Ukraine, however was “taking steps to make sure civilians’ security.”
Protection Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov stated Russian forces have thus far knocked out 211 Ukrainian army installations together with 17 command facilities, 19 air protection missile methods, 39 radar items, 67 tanks and 6 warplanes.
In the meantime a senior U.S. protection official stated it’s estimated that Russia has now launched greater than 200 missiles into Ukraine and a few have hit residential areas, though it was unclear in the event that they had been intentionally focused.
In response to the official, separate Russian forces proceed to maneuver northwest from Crimea towards Kherson and northeast towards the Donbas area.
HOPES DIM ON UKRAINE’S OFFER OF NEUTRALITY
Hopes for a negotiated finish to the conflict dimmed on Friday after a tentative deal to debate Zelenskyy’s provide to designate Ukraine a non-aligned nation appeared to interrupt down over the proposed venue for the talks.
The Kremlin had stated President Vladimir Putin was able to ship a delegation to Belarus for talks to debate the proposal that means Zelenskyy can be keen to barter dropping his nation’s bid to affix NATO.
However Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated Ukrainian officers reversed course and stated they had been unwilling to journey to Minsk for talks, proposing Warsaw as a venue as a substitute. He stated they then minimize off communication.
Earlier than the invasion, the West had rejected Russia’s demand to maintain Ukraine out of NATO. Putin used the refusal to justify the invasion, claiming that the West left him no different alternative.
Russian International Minister Sergey Lavrov accused Zelenskyy of “merely mendacity” in regards to the non-alignment provide, saying the president “missed the chance” to debate Ukraine’s impartial standing when Putin initially proposed it.
CIVILIANS IN HARM’S WAY
Waking to the second day of Russia’s invasion, horrified civilians discovered themselves in danger as artillery shells rained down on some residential buildings on Kyiv’s outskirts.
Russia has stated it’s not focusing on cities, however the combating would appear to belie that. The physique of a soldier lay on the bottom close to a Kyiv underpass. Elsewhere, fragments of a downed plane lay amid a residential space’s brick properties with black plastic masking physique elements discovered close by.
Metropolis residents stood uneasily in doorways of house buildings watching armored personnel carriers driving down the streets.
Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Excessive Commissioner for Human Rights, says its staffers have thus far verified at the very least 127 civilian casualties — 25 killed and 102 injured — largely from shelling and airstrikes.
A spokeswoman for the U.N. refugee company, Shabia Mantoo, stated greater than 100,000 folks had been believed to have left their properties in Ukraine and that “as much as 4 million folks could flee to different international locations if the state of affairs escalates.”
FLEEING FOR SAFETY
Hundreds of Ukrainians crossed Friday into neighboring international locations to the west seeking security from the unfolding conflict of their nation.
With males of army age banned from leaving the nation, most of those that crossed borders had been girls, youngsters and the aged.
One girl from Kyiv who arrived in Przemsyl, Poland described how males had been pulled off trains in Ukraine earlier than they bought to the border.
Automobiles had been backed up for a number of miles at some border crossings as authorities in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova mobilized to obtain them, offering shelter, meals and authorized assist. These international locations additionally eased their typical border procedures, together with COVID-19 testing necessities.
POPE’S PERSONAL APPEAL FOR PEACE
The pope broke protocol with an in-person go to Friday to the Russian embassy to “specific his concern in regards to the conflict” in Ukraine.
Pope Francis’ extraordinary gesture was seen as an indication of his anger at Russia’s actions, and his willingness to make a private enchantment for the top of hostilities.
The pope travelled to and from the Russian embassy in a small white automobile with Vatican officers saying they knew of no such earlier papal initiative.
NUCLEAR WAR NIGHTMARE REVISITED
Reviving Chilly Struggle fears of a nuclear showdown, Putin has warned in a speech that he has the weapons obtainable if anybody dares to make use of army means to attempt to cease his takeover of Ukraine.
Whether or not an empty risk or not, Putin’s phrases re-animated the specter of nuclear conflict — by way of accident or miscalculation.
The Russian president stated in a speech early Thursday that regardless of “dropping a substantial a part of its capabilities after the autumn of the Soviet Union,” Russia stays “probably the most highly effective nuclear states” and has “a sure benefit in a number of cutting-edge weapons.”
TURNING THE SCREWS ON RUSSIA
The West has taken a army choice in Ukraine off the desk, however world leaders — except Moscow ally China — are making ready measures geared toward hurting the Russian economic system and its leaders, together with President Putin’s internal circle.
The EU on Friday unanimously agreed to freeze the property of Putin and his international minister Sergey Lavrov.
Luxembourg’s international minister, Jean Asselborn stated even additional sanctions had been nonetheless potential, together with booting Russia off SWIFT, the dominant system for world monetary transactions.
French President Emmanuel Macron stated the EU has selected an “unprecedented” 1.5 billion euros ($1.68 billion) in financial help for Ukraine.
Asian and Pacific international locations have joined the West in taking punitive measures in opposition to Russia, together with export controls geared toward ravenous its industries and army of semiconductors and different high-tech merchandise.
In retaliation to a British ban on Aeroflot flights, Russia’s civil aviation authority forbade U.Okay. flights to and over Russia beginning Friday.
The Council of Europe additionally suspended Russia from the continent’s foremost human rights group.
SPORTING WORLD TURNS ITS BACK
Russia has been stripped of internet hosting the Champions League remaining by UEFA w ith St. Petersburg changed by Paris, and Components One dropped this season’s Russian Grand Prix at Sochi.
The showpiece remaining within the European males’s soccer season will nonetheless be held on Might 28 however on the 80,000-seat Stade de France.
It adopted discussions led by UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin that concerned the European Fee and Macron.
The F1 race wasn’t due till September however the motorsport collection management determined it might be “not possible” to stage it there after talks with groups and the FIA governing physique.
Related Press writers world wide contributed to this report.
Observe AP’s protection of the tensions between Russia and Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine