Tsikhanouskaya accuses Lukashenka of ‘treason’ over Belarus’ role in Ukraine
KYIV — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy issued a message of defiance Feb. 26 from Kyiv as residents braced for what appeared to be an imminent attack by Russian forces on the capital.
Zelenskiy told the nation that he and his government were not considering capitulating under the threat of a Russian encirclement of Kiev.
“Don’t believe fake news.…I’m here. We don’t lay down our arms. We will defend our state, our truth, our land, our children. We will defend all of this. That’s what I wanted to tell you,” Zelenskiy said as he stood near the presidential office in downtown Kyiv in the video uploaded to his Twitter account.
Kyiv authorities announced on February 26 that they were imposing an all-day curfew until the morning of February 28.
“The curfew in Kyiv will start at 5 p.m. Saturday and end at 8 a.m. Monday,” city authorities said on Telegram.
The announcement stated that “all civilians who are on the streets during the curfew period will be considered members of enemy sabotage groups.”
Earlier, Zelenskiy urged the country to “stand firm” against the siege that could determine its future. He refused American help to evacuate, saying, “The fight is here.”
A US Department of Defense official said its experts observed more than 250 missile launches by Russia against Ukraine, mostly at close range.
Meanwhile, the British Ministry of Defense said Russia’s advance had slowed, likely affected by logistical problems and “strong Ukrainian resistance”.
“Russian forces are bypassing major Ukrainian population centers while leaving forces to encircle and isolate them. Nighttime clashes in Kyiv likely involved a limited number of prepositioned Russian groups. Capturing Kyiv remains Russia’s primary military objective “, said a statement from the Ministry of Defense. .
US defense officials also said they believed the Russian offensive had met considerable resistance and was proceeding more slowly than Moscow had expected, although they said that could change quickly.
Invading Russian forces reportedly invaded the capital on February 26, in an apparent encirclement after a barrage of airstrikes on towns and military bases across the country. Artillery shells exploded in Kiev, a Reuters witness said.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba posted a photo on Twitter showing damage to a building in Kiev caused by a Russian missile strike.
“Kiev, our splendid and peaceful city, survived another night of attacks by Russian ground forces, missiles. One of them hit a residential apartment in Kiev. I demand of the world: completely isolate Russia, expel ambassadors, embargo on oil, ruin its economy. Stop the Russian war criminals!
The video appeared later showing what appeared to be the Russian missile strike on the building.
No one was killed in the missile attack, but six were injured, a rescue worker said.
Live briefing: Russia invades Ukraine
Consult the RFE/RL live briefing on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the reaction of Kiev and the West. The briefing presents the latest developments and analysis, updates throughout the day.
An adviser to the interior minister said Russia was lying about not bombing civilian infrastructure.
Anton Herashchenko said at least 40 of these sites were hit and Russian troops were shelling civilian sites.
Residents of Kiev told Current Time, a Russian-language network operated by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA, what they had experienced.
“I was sleeping when there was a huge explosion,” Kyiv resident Oksana Gulenko told Current Time. “I was thrown about 3 meters from the room into the hallway. There was glass everywhere and noise from the street.
“After a while, I started rushing into the apartment, gathering my things and documents, which I had prepared earlier, and rushed out into the street,” she says. . “When I came back after two or three hours, the door had been broken open. Apparently the fire brigade or the police were opening the apartments and looking for victims.”
On the afternoon of February 26, an RFE/RL correspondent said barricades had been erected on some roads south of Kiev, using sandbags, wood and wood from nearby trees.
More than two dozen men, some carrying decades-old shotguns and antique weapons, stopped passing cars and checked documents. Some had more sophisticated sniper rifles. Several appeared to be in their sixties.
To the side were dozens of plastic jugs and bottles – many with rags sticking out of them – indicating that they were homemade petrol bombs: Molotov cocktails.
Ukrainian officials said Russian forces fired cruise missiles from the Black Sea at the cities of Sumy, Poltava and Mariupol, and there was heavy fighting near the southern city of Mariupol.
The Ukrainian military reported early on February 26 that one of its fighter jets shot down a second Russian Ilyushin Il-76 military transport plane. Two US officials with direct knowledge of ground conditions in Ukraine said the Russian military plane was shot down near Bila Tserkva, 85 kilometers south of Kiev.
On February 25, the Ukrainian army said it shot down an Ilyushin Il-76 with paratroopers on board near Vasylkiv, a town about 50 kilometers south of Kiev.
The Russian military has not commented on either incident so far, and the information could not be immediately verified.
During the three-day Russian invasion, the Ukrainian military said it had so far destroyed 14 planes, eight helicopters, 102 tanks, 536 armored vehicles and killed 3,000 military personnel, according to social media. assignment early February 26. The figures could not be confirmed.
Russia has not released casualty figures.
Ukrainian Health Minister Viktor Lyashko said on February 26 that 198 people had been killed and more than 1,000 others injured in the Russian offensive.
His statement did not reveal whether the victims included both soldiers and civilians.
The UN refugee agency said on February 26 that more than 120,000 Ukrainian refugees have left the country since Russia began its attack this week.
Western countries have announced a series of sanctions against Russia, including blacklisting its banks and banning technology exports. But they failed to force it out of the SWIFT system for international bank payments.
The United States imposed sanctions on Putin, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov. The European Union and Britain previously froze all assets Putin and Lavrov held on their territory. Canada has taken similar action.
At the UN, Russia vetoed a draft Security Council resolution that would have deplored its invasion, while China abstained, which Western countries took as proof of the isolation of the Russia. The United Arab Emirates and India also abstained while the remaining 11 members voted in favour.