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Today is quieter – but Kiev is about to be surrounded

The third day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine began intensely, with intense night battles, with gunfire and explosions in and around Kiev. But on Saturday there were reports of fighting at escalating intervals.

Both sides stated during the day that in various attacks we managed to destroy weapons and other equipment of the opposing side, information that was not confirmed by independent sources. Ukraine also claims that more than 3,000 Russian soldiers have been killed so far, a statement that has also not been verified.

However, according to most estimates, more and more Russian troops are approaching the Ukrainian capital from the north, east and south.

“All units have been ordered to advance (towards Kiev) from all directions,” a Russian military spokesman said on Saturday afternoon. It was an echo of an earlier statement by the Kremlin, accusing the Ukrainian government of being unwilling to speak, and thus Russian forces resuming their advance.

But the British Ministry of Defense stated on Twitter, that progress had slowed, possibly due to logistical difficulties and strong opposition from Ukraine.

Curfew until Monday

During the day, Ramzan Kadyrov, president of the Russian republic of Chechnya, said he had sent troops to help Russia, the BBC reported. It is unclear how many soldiers were involved, as well as whether they actually came to Ukraine.

Aviation sirens and bangs sounded Saturday morning, but according to the AP news agency, it was calm in Kiev in the afternoon and only sporadic gunfire was heard.

Mayor Vitali Klitschko announced a curfew, which has been extended during the day so that it will be in effect until Monday morning. People who took to the streets of Kiev after five in the afternoon will be considered “members of the enemy’s sabotage and reconnaissance groups.”

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The authorities in Kiev are urging civilians to seek protection as much as possible, for example, to stay away from windows so as not to be exposed to dangerous shots. The subway stopped working and all stations were used as shelters.

President Volodymyr Zelensky warned on Friday that Russia would attack at night. Early Saturday morning, he posted a video on social media, in which he walks in the morning sun on Bankova Street in central Kiev, where the president’s office and other government buildings are located.

– I am here, according to the subtitles of the clip, but it is not possible to judge exactly when it was recorded.

not to escape

The United States and Britain announced that they offered protection to the president in case he wanted to flee the country, but he refused.

During the week, Ukrainian volunteer forces began patrolling the streets of Kiev, and more than 24,000 automatic rifles were said to have been distributed to Ukrainian civilians who wanted to take part in battle. The Ministry of Defense also suggests that residents prepare their own Molotov cocktails.

Russian troops also landed on the southern coast of Ukraine. Russia claims to have taken control of Melitopol, a city of about 150,000 people located between Crimea and Donetsk.

More than 120,000 Ukrainians have left their country, including Poland, Moldova and Slovakia, since Russia launched a large-scale offensive, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Ukrainian volunteer forces in Kiev test out some automatic rifles that were said to have been distributed to Ukrainian civilians who wanted to take part in battle. Photo: Mikhail Palinchak/AP/TT

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a self-recorded clip from central Kiev, released Saturday morning.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a self-recorded clip from central Kiev, released Saturday morning. Photo: Press Office of the President of Ukraine via AP / TT

An apartment building in Kiev was bombed during the night fighting.

An apartment building in Kiev was bombed during the night fighting. Photo: Efrem Lukatsky/AP/TT

Facts: Ukraine, Russia and the annexation of Crimea

Ukraine’s relationship with Russia is complex and the country has been torn between getting closer to the West or Russia since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

The conflict escalated in 2014 when large-scale demonstrations, centered on Independence Square (Magdan) in Kiev, erupted against the current pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych and his government. Within a few days, more than 100 people were killed in the protests.

Yanukovych fled the country and Ukraine moved closer to the European Union under newly elected President Petro Poroshenko. The change of force further increased divisions between the Ukrainian and Russian speakers in the country.

Exploiting dissatisfaction with Crimea in the south, with a large Russian-speaking population, the Russian government illegally annexed the peninsula in 2014 and similarly entered the Donbass region in the east, where the country still practically controls parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions .

In recent months, Russia has begun to build large military forces near the border with Ukraine.

The crisis escalated further when, on February 22, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the separatist regions of eastern Ukraine as independent regions. A few days later, he announced a military offensive and launched a full-scale Russian invasion.

Even before the latest escalation, an estimated 14,000 people were killed in the conflict, including thousands of civilians.