Ukraine: the battle for Kiev continues, the West increases the pressure

The battle for control of Kiev continues on Sunday, as the West steps up pressure on Moscow by excluding Russian banks from the Swift interbank platform and preparing to deliver more weapons to Ukraine.

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On the fourth day of the offensive launched by Vladimir Putin, anti-aircraft alarm sirens sounded in Kiev overnight from Saturday to Sunday, the official Special Communications Service said, calling on residents to take refuge in the shelters of the capital city. The Russian forces “continue their offensive to lock Kiev”, after having “completed their regrouping” on the Northern front, for its part affirmed the Ukrainian army on Saturday evening.

Consult our complete file on the Russian invasion in Ukraine

Strikes hit an oil depot in Vassylkiv, about thirty kilometers southwest of Kiev, causing a huge fire, as well as a gas pipeline in Kharkiv (east), detailed the official Special Communications Service.

The Russian army was ordered on Saturday afternoon to expand its offensive on Ukraine, saying Kiev had refused negotiations. “All units have been ordered to expand the offensive in all directions, in accordance with the offensive plan,” Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.


The violence of the Russian intervention pushed the West on Saturday to adopt a new set of tougher sanctions: they decided in particular to exclude many Russian banks from the Swift interbank platform, an essential cog in global finance, announced the German government, which chairs the G7 forum.

An action that “will prevent banks from carrying out most of their global financial transactions, and therefore Russian exports and imports will be blocked”, underlined the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

In addition, the Western partners have decided to further restrict the access of the Russian central bank to the capital markets, and to “paralyze the assets of the Russian Central Bank” in order to prevent Moscow from using them and financing the conflict. in Ukraine, in the words of from the Leyen.

The new sanctions will finally go after the Russian oligarchs and their families to prevent them from obtaining the citizenship of Western countries.

Russia is now a ‘global economic and financial pariah’, facing a ‘freefall’ ruble, and a task force will ‘hunt down’ the ‘yachts, jets, luxury cars and luxury homes’ of Russian oligarchs, summarized a senior American official on Saturday evening.

Westerners had already taken a step on Friday by imposing personal sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin and his head of diplomacy Sergei Lavrov.

“Signs of Resistance”

Breaking with its traditional policy of refusing to export lethal weapons in conflict zones, Germany announced on Saturday the supply to Kiev of a thousand anti-tank rocket launchers and 500 surface-to-air missiles.

Washington, for its part, announced on Saturday the sending of new military aid to Ukraine, amounting to 350 million dollars, while a senior Pentagon official told AFP that he saw “signs of a viable Ukrainian resistance”.

“We think the Russians are growing increasingly frustrated with their loss of momentum over the past 24 hours, especially in northern Ukraine,” he added.

The Netherlands said it was delivering 200 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, the Czech Republic said it was sending weapons worth 7.6 million euros and Belgium said it was supplying Kiev with 2,000 machine guns and 3,800 tons fuel oil.

And France in turn declared on Saturday evening that it “decided to deliver additional defense equipment to the Ukrainian authorities”.

“Sabotage Units”

At least 198 civilians, including three children, have been killed and 1,115 people injured since Thursday, according to Ukrainian Health Minister Viktor Lyashko.

“Our army controls Kiev and key cities around the capital,” Volodymyr Zelensky said on Facebook on Saturday, claiming to have “broken the plan” of Moscow. The Ukrainian president called on the population to take up arms and vowed to stay in Kiev.

In the capital, deserted by its inhabitants, fighting opposed Russian and Ukrainian forces on Saturday. The curfew has been extended until Monday 8 a.m. and anyone in the street will be treated as an enemy, announced the mayor, ex-boxer Vitali Klitschko.

Ukrainian soldiers on patrol told AFP that Russian forces were in a firing position a few kilometers away. Under a blue sky, the carcass of a missile-sprayed military truck was still smoking in the middle of the debris, while detonations could be heard in the distance.

A 30-storey residential building was hit head-on on Saturday by a missile that caused significant damage, without the authorities reporting any immediate casualties.

Moscow “sabotage units” are in the city, but not yet regular formations of the Russian army, said the mayor of the capital.

Moscow does not give an assessment

So far, the Russian Ministry of Defense has not mentioned an offensive on Kiev, citing only the firing of cruise missiles on military infrastructure, advances in the East – where the army is supporting the separatists in the territories of Donetsk and Lugansk – and in southern Ukraine, where Russian forces entered Thursday from the Crimean peninsula, annexed by Moscow in 2014.

Russian units have been identified in Borodianki, 70 km northwest of Kiev, in Butcha, in the northwestern suburbs of the capital, and in Vyshgorod, in its northern suburbs, the Ukrainian army said on Facebook.

In the country, dozens of Ukrainian soldiers have lost their lives in the fighting, according to the Ukrainian army, which also claims to inflict heavy losses on the Russian army. Moscow does not give any information about its balance sheet.

Poland says 115,000 Ukrainians have crossed the border since Thursday, when the invasion of Ukraine began. Nine reception centers have been set up.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has previously estimated that more than 116,000 refugees have fled to neighboring countries.


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