Russian invasion: Battle moves into Kyiv as Ukrainians fight to keep control of their capital

“Active fighting is taking place on the streets of our city. Please stay calm and be as careful as possible!” the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said on its Facebook page Saturday.

The ministry called on residents to “hide indoors” and take cover to prevent injury from bullet fragments. It advised those in the city to “go immediately” to the nearest shelter if they heard air sirens.

Ukrainians have been preparing to defend their capital in recent days, with officials arming reservists and Ukrainian TV broadcasting instructions for making Molotov cocktails.

As Russian forces advanced toward Kyiv from both the north and the east, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky struck a defiant tone vowing to defend his country while standing on a Kyiv street with other leaders of his administration.

“We are all here. Our military are here. Citizens and society are here. We are all here defending our independence, our state and it will remain so. Glory to our defenders! Glory to our women defenders! Glory to Ukraine!” said Zelensky in a video posted overnight Friday that has since gone viral online.

Several bursts of gunfire were heard close to the center of Kyiv at around 5:45 am local time Saturday. They appeared to come from the southeast after a lull that followed a number of blasts Friday night and early Saturday in and around the capital city, typically home to nearly 3 million.

On Saturday, the Ukrainian military gave its first account of explosions that rocked western Kyiv in the early hours of the morning.

The Military Law Enforcement Service of Ukraine said they “destroyed a column of equipment of the occupiers” that, according to their preliminary information, included two cars, two trucks and an enemy tank.

Fierce clashes and explosions have been on-going in the capital’s outer suburbs, as Russian troops advance toward the capital from multiple sides.

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The mayor of the town of Vasilkiv, some 35 kilometers (21.7 miles) south of Kyiv, described fierce fighting taking place in the middle of the town.

The mayor, Natalia Balasynovich, speaking on the Ukrainian Parliament channel early Saturday, said that there were losses on the Ukrainian side.

Videos from eyewitnesses overnight showed explosions taking place in an area northwest of Kyiv, which has a military base. CNN teams in the capital reported hearing loud explosions to the west and south of the city. Shortly afterward, Ukraine’s State Service of Special Communications said clashes are underway in an eastern suburb as well.

In his national address, Zelensky confirmed that Russian forces were close to the capital and said that he was still communicating with world leaders, including US President Joe Biden.

“Our main goal is to finish this slaughter,” Zelensky said in the address. “Ukrainians resist the Russian aggression heroically.”

An unknown number of Kyiv’s residents had already left by Fridayleaving quiet the roads heading west of the capital that had been busy on Thursday.

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