Defiant Zelensky emerges at dawn during Battle for Kyiv after Putin’s forces stormed the capital

Defiant Zelensky emerges at dawn during Battle for Kyiv after Putin's forces stormed the capital

Ukraine’s president emerged on Saturday morning defiant and determined after an onslaught on his capital city, declaring that Kyiv would resist the Russian advance and vowing to fight Vladimir Putin’s forces.

Volodymyr Zelensky captioned the video, posted on Twitter, ‘Don’t believe the fakes’.

He condemned the false claims that he had surrendered and told his compatriots to lay down arms, and insisted his country would not give in to Russian aggression.

‘Recently, fake info was spread about me ordering our army to lay down arms and evacuate,’ Zelensky said.

‘It’s untrue. I’m here, we are not laying down, we will protect our state. This is our land, our country, our kids, and we will defend them.’

The 44-year-old, who has been widely praised for his courage in the face of Russia’s aggression, said on Thursday that he knew he was ‘target number one’ for Putin’s assassins.

There’s a lot of fake information online that I call on our army to lay down arms, and that there’s been an evacuation ordered,’ he said.

‘I’m here. We won’t lay down our arms. We will defend our state.’

Yet even as Zelensky spoke, the Ukrainian interior ministry was warning Kyiv’s residents to shelter in place and not venture out onto the streets.

Ukraine’s armed forces on Saturday morning claimed 3,500 Russians had been killed overnight, and 200 taken prisoner.

They said 14 Russian aircraft, eight helicopters, and 102 tanks had been seized. The scale of Ukrainian losses was not clear.

As dawn broke in Kyiv, a high-rise apartment block in the Zhuliany district near Sikorsky international airport was hit by a cruise missile.

There was no word on casualties, but the side of the building was ripped off in the attack.

armed forces were engaged in a fierce battle for control of the city, with footage on social media showing explosions close to a metro station in the western center of the capital by the zoo; a battle ongoing for control of a thermal power plant to the north; and multiple reports suggesting fierce fighting 20 miles south, near a vital airbase.

In Kyiv, footage shared on social media showed a bombardment close to Beresteiska metro station, in the west of the city, which is near the zoo.

More than 50 explosions and heavy machine gun fire were reported in the district of Shulyavka, near Beresteiska metro and the zoo, according to The Kyiv Independent.

A bridge near the metro was blown up, according to reports. It was unclear whether the explosion was caused by artillery or by Ukrainian forces intent on stopping the Russian advance.

The district is under the control of the 101st Independent Security Brigade of the General Staff.

Terrified residents posted videos filmed from their apartments, with flashes of light and the sound of gunfire. One video shared on social media showed an apartment building glowing with red lights, which some speculated was to guide bombers or snipers. Others said the lights were to warn the military not to bomb them.

The northern suburb of Troieshchyna was also coming under sustained attack for another night, as Russia tried to wrest control of the thermal power plant on the banks of the Dnieper river. Unconfirmed reports suggested dozens of Russians had been arrested.

By 5:30am in Kyiv (10:30pm Eastern), Ukraine’s armed forces were claiming that the advance from the west had been repelled.

But a CNN crew in Kyiv reported the sounds of heavy gunfire and what appeared to be anti-aircraft fire.

Ukraine’s government said earlier on Friday night that they had shot down two Russian military transport planes carrying paratroopers on the outskirts of Kyiv.

The first IL-76 came down near Vasylkiv, 20 miles south of Kyiv, the Ukrainian military said.

The second IL-76 was shot down near Bila Tserkva, 50 miles south of the capital, Nexta reported.

The fate of those onboard was unclear. The aircrafts – medium-range military transport aircraft, which first went into service in 1974 – can hold 150-225 fully-equipped soldiers, and is used to drop paratroopers into combat and resupply arms.

The town of Vasylkiv appeared, at 3am local time (8pm Eastern), to be a focus of heavy fighting to the south.

Nexta, a local media network, reported that Russians ‘dressed in uniform of the Ukrainian national police’ attacked a checkpoint near Vasylkiv, shooting at Ukrainian soldiers.

‘Immediately after that a group of Russian military in a truck came in. There is a heavy fight going on,’ the site reported.

New satellite images showed the build up of troops to the north, in Belarus.

The photos showed approximately 150 transport helicopters and ground troops 20 miles from the Belarusian-Ukrainian border, in southern Belarus.

Not long after the first troop carrier was shot down, Ukraine’s State Agency for Special Communications said that Ukraine’s air defense had downed a Russian close-support aircraft and a helicopter in Donbas.

A S-300 surface-to-air missile system destroyed a Russian Sukhoi Su-25 jet and an unspecified helicopter at midnight, they said.

The Russian Air Force currently operates around 250 Su-25s of all variants, and they are considered a staple of Russian ground-attack regiments.

Opposition was growing in Russia to the carnage in Ukraine.

Communist MP Mikhail Matveev said: ‘I think that the war should be stopped immediately.

‘When I voted for the recognition of the DPR / LPR, I voted for peace, not for war.

‘For Russia to become a shield, so that the Donbas was not bombed, but not for Kyiv to be bombed.’

The onslaught came shortly after Ukraine’s president warned that the Russians intend to take Kyiv overnight, urging his countrymen to resist the expected onslaught as Western officials say the city appears surrounded.

Zelensky, addressing the nation from a secret location in the capital, had a dire warning for his embattled and defiant people on Friday night.

‘Russia will try to break our resistance with all its might,’ he said, in a video posted to social media.

Tonight the enemy will begin storming us. We need to withstand them!’

The United States has offered to evacuate Zelensky and his family, but the president is refusing to leave. On Thursday evening he told the country he was aware that he was ‘target number one’ for Russian assassins, but he and his family would not leave.

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