Russian troops set out to conquer Kiev

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Second night of Russian bombing in Ukraine. The dawn of this Thursday to Friday several Ukrainian cities have experienced their second night of air attacks. In a morning speech, the Ukrainian president, Volodímir Zelenski, explained that the Russian missile attacks have resumed around 4:00 local time. Against military targets, but also civilians. A few hours later, after 10 in the morning, Russian special operations groups entered the Obolon district, about 10 kilometers north of the center of the capital. “Prepare Molotov cocktails, neutralize the occupant!”, he called to the resistance the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.

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The explosions are already heard in Kiev. In fact, the head of Ukrainian diplomacy has denounced this Friday morning a “horrible launch of Russian missiles on Kiev”. At least two large explosions would have been heard in the center and the mayor of the capital, Vitali Klitschko, reports at least three injured after an attack on a residential building. Zelensky says Russia is “lying” when it says civilians are not a target. Local authorities ask the residents of the capital to go to shelters or the subway to protect themselves from the air attack.

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Russian special forces enter the Kiev perimeter

And also in Lviv, a city in western Ukraine where many Ukrainians are moving due to the Russian invasion. Residents of this city report that the anti-aircraft emergency sirens were sounding early this Friday morning.

Ukraine stops the Russian advance in several strategic points

As reported by Zelensky himself in the early hours of the morning, the Ukrainian military forces were holding back the advance of the Russian troops from most directions. The Ukrainian army was putting up resistance at various strategic points in the country. But finally the Russian special forces have entered the perimeter of the capital from the north – they took Chernobyl yesterday. The Obolon district was the scene of the fighting. Nine kilometers from there is the Ukrainian parliament. Zelensky assumed today that Russian troops were coming for him, but he promised to stay in the city. “The enemy has marked me as the number one target – the Ukrainian president said in a video message – My family is the number two target. They want to politically destroy Ukraine by destroying the head of state.”

There was another advance in the northeast, but in this sector the Russian tanks have been stopped by the Ukrainian forces, who have blown up a bridge near Ivankiv. In addition, another route that the Russian army is following is, also in the north, but from an area further west. In this sense, they have surrounded all the towns in the Sumy region, which is located between Kharkiv and Kiev, and intend to use this highway to the capital. In Kharkiv the Ukrainian troops are resisting the Russian attack. Also in the south, in the Kherson region, Ukrainian forces are resisting.

In a morning message, Zelenski has assured that the Ukrainian forces have shot down 6 Russian helicopters, 7 official planes, 130 armored vehicles and more than 30 tanks, causing hundreds of casualties, always according to the words of the Ukrainian president.

Russian special forces enter the Kiev perimeter

General mobilization of all Ukrainian men aged 18-60

This Thursday, President Zelensky already signed the decree on the general mobilization of all people of age to serve in the Army for the war that Russia started.

Specifically, the decree provides for calling up all men from 18 to 60 years of age in Ukraine for a maximum period of 90 days in 25 territories of the country.

CHUHUIV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 24: (EDITORS NOTE: Image depicts graphic content) A wounded woman is seen after an airstrike damaged an apartment complex in city of Chuhuiv, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine on February 24, 2022. (Photo by Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

With mathematical precision. Minutes after Russian television broadcast a pre-recorded television speech by President Vladimir Putin at three in the morning on Thursday (Moscow time), the first explosions were heard and, moments later, the alarms sounded in the night sky of Ukraine. The war, the largest military operation carried out on a single country since the end of World War II, had begun.

Russia invaded Ukraine, and the first steps of that operation consisted of the destruction of the military and communications infrastructure of the Ukrainian army, especially the airports. Russian missiles hit air bases in the cities of Kiev, Kharkov, Odessa, Kramatorsk and Ivano Frankvist, in the west of the country. They also destroyed the headquarters of the National Guard, and there are witnesses that the Russian attacks hit the headquarters of the intelligence services and the Ministry of Defense, from which a large column of smoke rose.

The Russians attack an airfield just 15 kilometers from the capital

The Russian army reported a balance of 74 military installations destroyed (of which 11 are airfields) and 18 radar and anti-missile defense systems. A fact that was not confirmed on the Ukrainian side.

In parallel, there was a landing of troops in the south, on the shores of the Sea of ​​Azov and in the Black Sea. The columns of tanks and military vehicles entered from the Crimean peninsula with the aim of reaching the city of Mariupol, an industrial and commercial enclave that has prospered since the 2014 war. A second front of the troops was heading towards the Dnieper: the water of this river is vital to quench the thirst of the thirstiest regions of the Donbass. It is therefore a strategic objective for the Russians and a test of their willingness to remain there for a long time.

The Odessa area was one of the hardest hit by the fighting. The bombing of one of the residential areas on the outskirts left 18 people dead. The number of victims of the first day of the conflict amounts to 137 people and 300 wounded, as confirmed by the Ukrainian government, although the figures could be much higher after the continued attacks during the early hours.

Russian special forces enter the Kiev perimeter

The Russian paw swooped down on Ukraine with precision: minutes after Putin’s televised speech

At the end of the day, the regional administration of Kherson, in the south of the country, admitted the death of 13 civilians (two of whom are children) and nine soldiers. It also reported that the Russians had managed to gain control of the city of Genitschesk.

At the same time, Russian troops entered Ukraine from the east. There they advanced faster and, with the help of pro-Russian militiamen, were able to break through the defensive front of the Ukrainian army from the north. It was chaos. What should have been an orderly evacuation of civilians and soldiers to the center of the country turned into a rout. At noon, the armored columns advanced in the direction of Kharkov, the second city in the country and the one located furthest to the east, next to the Russian region of Rostov.

The Ukrainians had better luck at Pischevik, south of Donetsk, where the invaders had to withdraw and where they lost four tanks. Also in that area, the Ukrainian army claimed to have shot down five planes and a helicopter of the Russian army, killing fifty Russian occupants. The Russian Defense Ministry did not confirm this.

“They are drawing a pincer to surround Kiev” explained experts on the ground at mid-morning. But the truth was that at that time it was premature to know what the plans of the Russian army were. At noon there was a second round of bombardments on infrastructure. And it transpired that the Russians had broken the defensive lines of the Ukrainians to the north, on the border with Belarus. The Russians opened a deep breach in the Chernihiv region through the Senkovka bridge and advanced at full speed towards Kiev, a city of three million inhabitants that is only three hours from the border.

Dmytro Kouleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, then confirmed that the country was facing “a large-scale invasion.” The spokesmen for the Russian military limited themselves to saying that “the operation will last as long as necessary”, without giving further details. An American military analyst explained to Agence France Presse that the objective of the Russian armor was to reach the capital and “decapitate” the government.

The occupying army advances from the south, east and north with the aim of beheading the Zelensky government

Fierce fighting broke out in mid-afternoon around Gostomel airport, about fifteen kilometers from the city center. To ensure victory, a score of Russian Mi-8 transport helicopters unloaded dozens of paratroopers in the area who managed to take the airport only to lose it hours later, according to the Ukrainian authorities.

In any case, this Friday morning the fighting continues at this important cargo airport, key because through it the Russians could land more troops very close to the center of Kiev.

Alexander Lukashenko, dictator of Belarus, had denied during the morning that his territory had served as a base for the attacks. But soon images and testimonies began to circulate that proved the opposite: not only the troops had entered Ukraine from their country. Missiles were also launched from Belarusian soil.

The Russian offensive in the north reached as far as the exclusion zone of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. “The National Guard, which is in charge of guaranteeing the security of the radioactive discharge deposits, fights with all its forces,” said a statement from Anton Gueraschenko, an advisor to the Ministry of the Interior. The statement warned that if the deposits with radioactive remains were damaged, “nuclear dust can spread throughout the territory of Ukraine, Belarus and the countries of the European Union.” Two hours after the announcement, a presidential adviser announced that the old nuclear power plant was already under the control of the invaders.

Publicly, the Government of Ukraine never gave as credible the possibility of a large-scale invasion of the country. He was counting on Putin to be content with occupying the Donbass region. However, military advisers affirm that they had been quietly preparing all kinds of options for months, including this one. Perhaps for this reason, nervousness was not perceived in the early hours in the capital.

There was, yes, confusion in the administration after a new cyber attack took place that targeted the main government websites (the third in just fifteen days). The attack infected hundreds of computers, also in countries such as Lithuania and Latvia.

The death toll is unknown, but the Red Cross fears it may be in the hundreds.

From early in the morning there were the first traffic collapses at the capital’s exits, especially those heading to the west of the country. “Those who have nowhere to go are leaving,” explained a witness in reference to citizens with second homes or relatives in the western part of the country, apparently the furthest from the Russian grip.

Public transportation ran normally (and for free), while the railways only went in one direction: west.

Many of those who tried to leave by car were headed for Lviv and, perhaps if things get more desperate, to Poland, a country already preparing to receive a wave of refugees as a result of the conflict.

Source: Lavanguardia

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