KIEV – Ukrainian forces repelled Russian invaders on the streets of Kyiv on Friday, as President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of targeting civilians and appealed for more global embargoes.
Pre-dawn explosions in Kyiv sparked a second day of violence after Russian President Vladimir Putin defied Western warnings to unleash a full-scale invasion on Thursday that quickly left dozens dead and displaced at least 100,000 people.
The United States and its allies responded with a barrage of sanctions, but Russian forces attempted to assert their advantage after a series of significant strategic victories in their air and ground attacks.
“Terrible Russian rocket fire on Kyiv,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted after the first explosions were heard in the capital on Friday morning.
“The last time our capital experienced something like this was in 1941, when it was attacked by Nazi Germany. Ukraine has overcome this evil and will overcome it.
EXPLOSIONS AND SMALL ARMS FIRING
In Obolonsky, a district in northern Kyiv, pedestrians ran for cover and gunfire and explosions of small arms were heard.
Russian forces made their first arrival on the outskirts of Kiev on Thursday when troops transported by helicopters attacked an airfield outside the city near Obolonsky.
The Ukrainian military said it repelled the attack on Gostomel airbase, but Russian ground forces were also pushing on the west bank of the Dnieper from Belarus.
When Russian troops arrived in Obolonsky, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense called on the civilian population to resist.
“We urge citizens to inform us of troop movements, make Molotov cocktails and neutralize the enemy,” he said.
According to Ukraine, 137 people have been killed since the Russian attack, including soldiers and civilians.
“The Ukrainians are showing heroism,” Zelenskyy said in a video message, accusing Russia of lying by hitting only military targets and calling up conscripts and reservists across the country.
After talks with EU leader Ursula von der Leyen, he called for new sanctions and tweeted that “pressure on Russia must increase”.
In the Ukrainian village of Starognativka, near the frontlines where separatists have clashed with Kiev forces for years, official Volodymyr Veselkin said on Friday rockets had been raining all morning and there was no power .
“They are trying to wipe the village off the face of the earth,” he said.
Olena Kurilo is among 20 people injured by shards of glass after an explosion in the eastern Ukrainian city of Chugiv on Thursday.
“Never, under any circumstances will I submit to Putin. It’s better to die,” the 52-year-old teacher said, her face bandaged.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said Thursday evening that around 100,000 people have already been displaced inside Ukraine, while thousands more have crossed the border.
On Thursday, streams of people in cars and on foot crossed Hungary, Poland and Romania.
Zelenskyy said there was now a “new iron curtain” between Russia and the rest of the world, later adding that his nation had been “left alone”.