“We Must Hold The Capital” Says Kyiv Mayor As Russian Forces Enter Outskirts; Putin Calls For Surrender
Russian troops breached the suburbs of Kyiv and began setting up for a battle to control the capital, according to the Financial Times, which added that the movements come as Russian President Vladimir Putin calls for Ukraine’s army to surrender and ‘spare the country bloodshed.’
Loud explosions were heard in Kyiv shortly after 4am on Friday, as armored Russian vehicles were reported advancing into the northern district of Obolon – resulting in a battle in the streets. According to Western officials, Ukrainian resistance was more robust than anticipated and was effective in slowing the Russian attempt to encircle Kyiv and capture Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv located in the north-east.
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) February 25, 2022
Then, the Kremlin reported that by early afternoon troops had made a ‘crucial breakthrough,’ securing a key airport and positioning themselves so that Kyiv was “blocked…from the west,” a claim which FT notes couldn’t be independently verified.
Earlier in the day, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said in a video address: “Right now, in some areas of the capital, shots and explosions can be heard,” adding “Ukraine’s military are neutralizing groups of Russian saboteurs. The enemy is already in Kyiv, we must hold the capital, which the enemy wants bring to its knees and destroy.
Putin calls for surrender, Zelensky says he’s “the number-one target.”
As his troops moved to encircle Kyiv, Putin urged Ukraine’s armed forces to “take power into their own hands” and overthrow their government so they could strike a peace deal with Russia.
Chairing a meeting of Russia’s security council on Friday, the Russian president told Ukraine’s army it would be “easier for us to make a deal with you” than the politicians who had taken “the whole Ukrainian people hostage”.
Earlier in the day, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky delivered an early morning address warning that “enemy saboteur groups” were already in Kyiv and that Russia was planning to assassinate him. “The enemy has identified me as the number-one target,” Zelensky said, wearing a military-style green T-shirt. -FT
Later Friday evening, Zelensky posted a video with his top aides and Prime Minister, saying “We are all here, our soldiers are here … we are defending our independence.”
Zelensky posts a video with top aides + his prime minister, apparently from above ground in Kyiv.
“We are all here, our soldiers are here … we are defending our independence” pic.twitter.com/CX7s7Rq0ED
— Felix Light (@felix_light) February 25, 2022
Meanwhile, civilians are fleeing Kyiv in large numbers – with traffic congesting roads leading out of the capital. Some residents were seen fleeing on foot with suitcases in the hopes of hitching rides with passing cars. As we noted earlier, underground shelters including the subway system are filling up with civilians hunkering down, expecting a larger scale attack on the city of some three million as Russian forces are said to now be in the suburbs and on the outskirts of the city.
Earlier in the day, residents of Obolon, Ukraine were asked to notify the military of any Russian movement into the city, and called on locals to “Make Molotov cocktails, neutralize the occupier.”
“Russian troops are trying to attack, but our mechanised units have set up a solid barrier there,” said Zelensky adviser Oleksiy Arestovych, who added that Ukrainian troops were battling Russians north of Kyiv near the towns of Dymer, Ivankiv, Vorzel and Bucha.
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) February 25, 2022
On Thursday night, Ukrainian forces destroyed bridges north of the city in an attempt to slow Russian forces.
“They are putting up a fight and they are not doing horribly, but they are still overwhelmed. I have no doubt they will continue to fight for as long as they possibly can,” a senior western intelligence official told FT.
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Fri, 02/25/2022 – 12:35