The battle for Kyiv continued as the sun rose in Ukraine Sunday morning, as invading Russian forces continued their assault on the country’s capital.
Kyiv withstood attacks for its fourth night without succumbing to defeat, but not without losses.
Russian forces shifted targets to airfields and fuel facilities after their advancement was slowed by fierce resistance from the outnumbered and outgunned Ukrainians.
Civilians hunkered down in basements, garages and subway stations as they braced for the next wave of attacks while explosions lit up the sky around the city.
Russian missiles hit a radioactive waste disposal site in Kyiv, according to the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine, stoking fears of possible radiation exposure.
The shells reportedly struck the nuclear waste-disposal site of the Kyiv branch of “Radon Association” during a barrage of Russian bombings. While the extent of the damage was not immediately clear, a preliminary assessment of the site confirmed there is no threat to the population outside of the site’s buffer zone, officials said.
Earlier, a massive blaze turned the sky orange after Russian military forces struck an oil depot near Kyiv, sending thick plumes of smoke into the air and causing fears that the air would become poisonous.
Smoke rises over Kyiv, Ukraine in the morning on Feb. 27, 2022.REUTERS An ambulance drives along an empty street during a curfew imposed on Feb. 27, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.Getty Images
The depot — owned by the BRSM company — is located in Vasylkiv, 25 miles south of the Ukrainian capital near the Zhuliany airport, where intense fighting was reported the night before, according to Mayor Natalia Balasynovych.
President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office also confirmed that Russians blew up a gas pipeline in Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, sending a terrifying mushroom cloud into the air, video shows. Government officials warned residents of the city to cover their windows with damp clothes or gauze to protect from poisonous smoke.
Get the latest updates in the Russia-Ukraine conflict with the Post’s live coverage.
The streets of Ukraine’s cities were mostly void of civilians overnight after the government ordered a curfew until Monday morning.
The UN reported Saturday that at least 240 civilians have been killed in the fighting since Russian leader Vladimir Putin ordered his forces to advance into Ukraine on Wednesday. More than 150,000 Ukrainians have fled to neighboring NATO member states Poland, Romania and Moldova. The UN estimated that over 4 million could flee if fighting escalates, causing a massive refugee crisis in Europe.
Ukrainian servicemen take cover in a shelter at fighting positions at the military airbase Vasylkiv in the Kyiv region, Ukraine on Feb. 26, 2022. REUTERS Ukrainian servicemen are seen at fighting positions at the military airbase Vasylkiv in the Kyiv region, Ukraine on Feb. 26, 2022. REUTERS
Western officials believe that Putin plans to overthrow the Ukrainian government and replace it with a loyal regime, reasserting Russia’s Cold-War-era influence and redrawing the map of Europe.
Putin is reportedly “furious” that his invasion of Ukraine hasn’t been “easy” after Russian troops were unable to take even one major city in three days of fighting, according to a member of the European Union Parliament who said he was citing Ukrainian intelligence reports.
“The Russians are in shock of the fierce resistance they have encountered,” EU Parliamentarian Riho Terras said on Twitter. He claimed the report shows Russia don’t have a “tactical plan” to take a Ukraine that is fighting back, stating that the entire invasion plan relied on “sowing panic among civilians and armed forces and forcing [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky to flee.”
The British Ministry of Defence said, “the speed of the Russian advance has temporarily slowed, likely as a result of acute logistical difficulties and strong Ukrainian resistance.”
A senior U.S. defense official told The Associated Press that over half of Russia’s forces that had fathered on Ukraine’s eastern border have now entered the country. The unexpectedly tough resistance has forced Moscow to commit more fuel supply and other support units inside Ukraine than originally anticipated.
To assist the besieged Ukrainian forces, President Joe Biden has pledged an additional $350 million in military assistance to the country, including anti-tank weapons, body armor and small arms. Germany also agreed to send missiles and anti-tank weapons and announced it will close its airspace to Russian aircraft.
The West also slapped significant additional economic sanctions on Russia on Saturday. The US, European Union and the United Kingdom agreed to block “selected” Russian banks from the SWIFT global financial messaging system – a global network of over 11,000 banks and financial institutions – to punish Moscow for the invasion. They also agreed to impose ”restrictive measures” on Russia’s central bank.
Russia claimed it has only aimed for military targets, but bridges, schools and residential neighborhoods have been hit. Ukraine’s health minister reported Saturday that 198 people, including three children, had been killed and more than 1,000 others wounded in the attacks.
A 6-year-old boy was killed and several others were injured in Kyiv following intense clashes between Russian and Ukrainian forces in the western part of the city, a doctor from a local hospital told CNN. Those injured include two teenagers and three adults, according to Serhii Chernysuk, a doctor at Kyiv’s Okhmatdyt hospital.
The graph details the war between Russia and Ukraine as of Feb. 26, 2022. A view shows an apartment building damaged by shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine on Feb. 26, 2022. REUTERS
Ukraine’s State Emergency Service also reported that a civilian woman was killed on Saturday night after a nine-story apartment building was shelled by Russian artillery. According to the agency, the building was heavily damaged and 80 people had to be rescued.
Ukraine’s ambassador to the US, Oksana Markarova, said Ukraine was gathering evidence of shelling of residential areas, kindergartens and hospitals to submit to The Hague for investigation as crimes against humanity.
The Ukrainian military claimed on Friday it had killed 3,500 Russian soldiers since the invasion began, and had taken more than 200 prisoners.
Zelensky has repeated that he is open to ceasefire talks with Moscow, even offering to abandon the country’s ambitions of joining NATO, which Russia has demanded. So far, discussions have faltered.
Ukrainian servicemen take position at the Vasylkiv military airbase in Ukraine on Feb. 27, 2022. REUTERS
Zelensky declined an offer to be evacuated from Kyiv by the United States, instead opting to stay in the capital.
“We aren’t going to lay down weapons. We will protect the country,” he defiantly said in a video address to Ukrainians ahead of Friday’s fighting. “Our weapon is our truth, and our truth is that it’s our land, our country, our children. And we will defend all of that.”
Russia has also launched attacks on Ukraine’s economically important coastal regions, from near the Black Sea port of Odesa in the west to beyond the Azov Sea port of Mariupol in the east.
Fighting has also continued in the Russian separatist-controlled Donbas region in eastern Ukraine.
With Post Wires