As Russian advances on Ukraine's capital, Kyiv prepares to fight

"The city is now in a defensive phase. Some neighborhoods are hearing shots and explosions. "Saboteurs have already entered Kyiv," said Mayor Vitali Klitschko.

As Russian advances on Ukraine's capital, Kyiv prepares to fight

Ukraine's capital was ready for battle as its leader made a desperate plea for assistance to the outside world. The condemnation of Russia's invasion grew louder .

Over Kyiv, there were explosions, sirens that sounded like air raid sirens, and gunfire. As the international backlash against the unprovoked attack upon a European democracy grew, Russian troops pounded the city.

After a similar European Union move, the White House announced Friday that the United States will directly sanction Vladimir Putin, Russian President, and Sergey Lavrov, his foreign minister.

Putin added fuel to the warnings of the West that Putin's real goal in the invasion was to overthrow President Volodymyr Zeleskyy's proEuropean government.

  • Zelenskyy claims he is Russia's No. 1 target. "He spoke to President Joe Biden Friday about strengthening sanctions, concrete defense assistance, and an anti-war alliance.

  • Russian troops threaten Kyiv. However, a senior U.S. defense officer tells NBC News that Putin’s forces are meeting "greater resistence" than expected.

Putin suggested that he may be open to negotiations with Ukraine, even though his forces were advancing across the country. The Russian leader urged Ukrainian soldiers not to surrender to the government hours later. He described it as a "gang drug addicts-neo-Nazis", repeating propaganda Russia uses in justifying its actions.

Zelenskyy, who was trapped in the capital of war, refused to leave but instead appealed to Western governments for tougher sanctions against Moscow.

Zelenskyy has already called any Ukrainians who are willing to fight, and handed out thousands to civilians. Zelenskyy also encouraged anyone with European military experience to visit Ukraine to help protect its independence and protest.

In his latest video message, he stated that "We are defending independence, our nation." It will continue as this. Glory to our defenders and glory to Ukraine

As the invading Russian forces pounded on Kyiv, the leader of Ukraine made a new plea. During the desperate defense, hundreds of troops from both sides were killed.

Oksana Markarova was the Ukrainian ambassador to America. She stated that Russia had committed war crimes by targeting civilians, taking almost 100 people hostage at Chernobyl, and striking an orphanage housing 50 children.

"The Russian propaganda machine claims that civilians weren't targeted. Markarova said to reporters that this was not true.

Vitali Klitschko, Kyiv Mayor, described Russia's offensive with stark words.

Klitschko, who was a former world heavyweight boxing champion, said that "the enemy wants to place the capital on its knees" and "destroy us." The city is now in a defensive phase. Some neighborhoods are hearing shots and explosions. "Saboteurs" have already entered Kyiv.

A senior U.S. defense official stated Friday that Russia still faces "greater resistance" than it had expected from the Ukrainians.

The official stated that they were fighting for their country, referring to the Ukrainian troops and freedom fighters.

According to the official, Russian forces are waging an amphibious attack on the west side of Mariupol. There are indications that the United States is placing thousands of naval troops there. The official said that American officials believe Russian troops will move towards the Donbas region.

Residents in Obolon, north of the capital were warned by local officials not to leave their homes early Friday because of "the approaching of active hostilities". According to the military, Russian saboteurs were hiding in Ukrainian uniforms and were on the streets.

Russia claimed that it had taken control over the Hostomel Airport in the capital. This airport handles heavy cargo flights, and Moscow would be able to fly troops to Kyiv. The Ukrainian military stated that Russian troops suffered heavy casualties during the fighting.

NBC News has not verified the reports of either side.

Local officials claimed that Russia had taken Kherson, the southernmost city of Russia, despite it suffering "great losses."

Matt Bradley, NBC News correspondent, reported Friday afternoon that cars alarms rang across Kharkiv as the loud, sustained bombardments grew closer.

"We had believed that Russian troops were stationed around the city's ring road. "Now we understand that they are moving in," he stated from underground parking garage, surrounded by journalists and residents, including children.



 

It was Day 2 in Putin’s attack on Ukraine. This has brought airstrikes to cities across the country and ground battles, while also threatening mass casualties and economic chaos, and Europe's most severe security crisis in decades.

Kyiv, home to 3 million people, has been under constant threat from explosions since before dawn. Residents were forced underground by the blasts in shelters or metro stations.

Zelenskyy claimed that Russia was targeting civilians in residential areas. This is something Moscow denies, even though it said so as recently as Tuesday.

The leader of Ukraine claimed Thursday that Russia was his "No. "No. 1 Target" -- This is Western intelligence backing up the claim that Russia wants to decapitate "his Western-leaning government, and replace it with one closer to Moscow.

According to the White House, Biden and Zelenskyy spoke by phone for approximately 40 minutes on Friday. The leader of Ukraine tweeted that they had discussed strengthening sanctions and concrete defense assistance, as well as forming an anti-war coalition.

Dmytro Kuleba (Ukraine's foreign minister) accused Russia of attacking a Ukrainian orphanage and kindergarten in what he called "war crimes." NBC News could not verify the claims.

Although the United Nations confirmed at least 25 deaths in Ukraine, it acknowledged these numbers were likely underestimated. It also suggested that up to 4,000,000 could flee if fighting escalates.

Karim Khan, a prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, stated that he was following the conflict with "increasing worry" and that his office might investigate any war crimes in the country.

Amnesty International condemned Putin’s offensive and urged Russian troops to stop "immediately carrying out indiscriminate attack in violation of the laws war."



 

Zelenskyy stated in a statement that at most 137 people were killed and 316 were injured during the initial day of the invasion. The Ukrainian government announced Friday that Russia had lost more than 2,800 personnel, more then a dozen aircraft, and 80 tanks.

NBC News has not confirmed that there have been any deaths or injuries on either side.

International condemnation grew after the U.S., Europe, and other countries imposed the first round of sanctions against Moscow.

NATO leaders described the attack as "brutal, wholly unprovoked, and unjustified" in a news release that said Russia was "full responsible for this conflict and would "pay a severe economic and political price for many years to come."

They said that they had also drawn up defense plans, "deployed defensive land- and airforces in the eastern part" of the Alliance, as well as maritime assets throughout the NATO area.

Pope Francis visited the Russian Embassy in Rome to express his concern about the invasion. Matteo Bruni, a Vatican spokesperson, said that this was a remarkable departure from diplomatic protocol.

The Kremlin sent mixed messages against this background of increasing global pressure.

Putin spokeswoman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow was open to discussing Ukraine's earlier offer of talks on realigning the country so that it has a "neutral status" with Russia and the West.

Putin spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping by phone on Friday. The Kremlin stated in a readout, that Putin was willing to send a delegation down to Minsk to negotiate with Ukrainian representatives.

Putin called on the Ukrainian military to "take control in your own hands" during a televised meeting his Security Council. He said that it was easier for Russia to negotiate directly with Zelenskyy than with the army. Putin described the current government to be a "gang drug addicts and neo Nazis who settled in Kyiv, and took the whole Ukrainian population hostage."

Lavrov also suggested earlier that Moscow would only be open to talks if Ukraine has surrendered its weapons.


 

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