Kiev was preparing for the worst overnight from Friday to Saturday, after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned of an imminent attack by the Russian army, 48 hours after the start of his offensive against Ukraine. He called for resistance.
“We cannot lose the capital. I address our defenders, men and women from all fronts: tonight the enemy will use all their forces to break through our defenses in the most vile, harsh and inhuman way. Tonight, they will try to seize” Kiev, said Mr. Zelensky in a video address broadcast Friday evening on the website of the presidency.
The first Russian military units entered the north of the Ukrainian capital on Friday, killing people there. Overnight Friday-Saturday, Ukraine’s defense ministry said it destroyed a Russian SU-25 helicopter and ground-attack plane near separatist areas in the east, as well as a Russian IL transport plane. -76 near Vassylkiv.
“Violent” fighting is taking place in this city, located about thirty kilometers southwest of Kiev, “where the occupiers are trying to land airborne troops”, added the ministry on its Facebook page.
As a result of this conflict, which could be the most serious in Europe since 1945, some 100,000 people have already been displaced and 50,000 have left Ukraine, reported the UN, where Russia vetoed the Council of security to a resolution deploring its “aggression”. This proves that “the world is with us, the truth is with us, victory will be ours!” Tweeted the Ukrainian president after this vote.
NATO, for its part, has begun to deploy elements of its reaction force to be able to quickly deal with any eventuality. At the same time, the Ukrainian president said he had discussed with Joe Biden “concrete defense assistance”.
Under pressure to do more, the West, including the United States, also imposed sanctions on Vladimir Putin himself and on his foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, a rare and very symbolic fact. The measure was immediately described by Russian diplomacy as a sign of “absolute impotence” and a sign that relations with Westerners are close to the “point of no return”.
London has also banned the private planes of Russian oligarchs from its skies.
Despite this, the master of the Kremlin seems determined to continue his offensive, until obtaining a change of regime in Ukraine. On Friday, he described the members of the Ukrainian head of state’s team as “drug addicts” and “neo-Nazis”. “Take power in your hands!”, He launched to the address of the Ukrainian soldiers. “It seems to me that it will be easier to negotiate between you and me,” he added.
In a sign of defiance, Volodymyr Zelensky, whom Washington fears is the victim of an “atrocious act”, posted a video on social networks in which we see him in the street, claiming to be still in Kiev and determined to “defend” Ukraine.
Armed civilians in Kyiv
On the ground of operations in Kiev, in the Oblon district, AFP saw a civilian killed on a sidewalk on Friday and paramedics rescued another, prisoner of the carcass of a car crushed by an armored vehicle.
“They distributed the guns, loaded them for us and here we are,” says Yuri Korchemnii, who had never held a gun in his life before joining a battalion of civilians ready to defend Kiev step by step against the enemy. Russian.
The Ukrainians also reported clashes in two localities between 40 and 80 km north of the capital. Russian troops were also, they said, approaching Kiev from the northeast and east.
After many people fled on Thursday, central Kiev, a metropolis that normally has some three million people and is now under curfew, looked like a ghost town. Armed and armored men were positioned at the main crossroads near government buildings.
The invasion has thrown thousands of Ukrainians onto the roads, who are flocking to the EU’s borders, notably in Poland, Hungary and Romania.