Russian troops have entered the Russian capital of Kyiv this morning, within just a day after Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Around 140 Ukrainians are believed to have died in the invasion so far, and, according to the UK Defence secretary, around 450 Russian soldiers.
Explosions have been heard across Kyiv.
Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, tweeted:
“Last time our capital experienced anything like this was in 1941 when it was attacked by Nazi Germany. Ukraine defeated that evil and will defeat this one.”
Meanwhile the Ukrainian Defence Ministry has advised civilians to “stay home and make molotov cocktails” – a makeshift explosive made from bottles of strong alcohol.
On Thursday, the Ukrainian Defence Ministry said it would offer weapons to any Ukrainian citizen who asked for them, while the country’s Defence Minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, urged anyone with a Ukrainian passport to enlist in the army.
Ukrainian men aged between 18 and 60 were banned from leaving the country, and will face a military tribunal if caught doing so.
Ukrainian President open to NATO neutrality
President Zelensky has said that he is willing to discuss a policy preventing Ukraine from joining NATO.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Kremlin, said on Thursday that “neutral status and rejection of hosting weapons systems” are Putin’s so-called “red-lines”, and that the onus is now on the Ukrainian administration to respond to these terms.
Zelensky said on Friday:
“We are not afraid of Russia, we are not afraid to talk with Russia, talk about everything: security guarantees for our country and a neutral status. But we are not in NATO now – what security guarantees will we have? Which countries will give them?”
“I want to again address the president of the Russian Federation. The fighting continues all over Ukraine. Let’s sit at the negotiation table to stop human fatalities”
This appears to be a quick U-turn on yesterday’s decision by Ukraine to sever all diplomatic ties with the Russian Federation.
The exact details of the conflict or who is “winning” are difficult to determine – with the UK Defence secretary saying that Russia has failed to take its initial targets within their planned timescale – Ukraine even managed to recapture a major airport from Russian troops.
However, Russian troops invaded from many directions and, while taking casualties far exceeding those of Ukraine, have been rapidly gaining ground.
There have also been some reports of war crimes committed by the Russian military. Kyiv’s Deputy Defence Minister reported that Russian soldiers had donned Ukrainian military uniforms and attempted to use Ukrainian military vehicles to enter the city.
President Zelensky’s announcements have undeniably taken an increasingly less optimistic tone over the past couple of days, saying that Ukraine is “alone” in this struggle, and that the Ukrainian military is “all we have” after Europe “failed to act quickly or strongly enough”.
“The invasion of Russia into Ukraine is not just an invasion, it’s the beginning of the war against Europe. Against the unity of Europe. Against basic human rights in Europe. Against all rules of coexistence on the continent. Against the fact that European states refuse to divide borders by force.”
“What are you going to do about it?”