Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has vowed to stay in Kyiv, hours before large explosions were heard in the capital, and after a warning from US secretary of state Antony Blinken that “all evidence suggests that Russia intends to encircle and threaten” the city.
Ukrainian troops were battling Russian forces advancing toward Kyiv as part of the biggest invasion of a European state since the second world war. “We believe Moscow has developed plans to inflict widespread human rights abuses – and potentially worse – on the Ukrainian people,” Blinken told a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on Thursday.
Early on Friday, Ukraine’s military said it had shot down a Russia aircraft over the capital.
The UK Ministry of Defence said on Friday that Ukrainian forces had provided “fierce resistance across all axes of Russia’s advance” and that is was unlikely Russia had achieved all its objectives for the first day of the invasion.
In a late-night video address, Zelenskiy said 137 people had died since Vladimir Putin launched an invasion by land, air and sea on Thursday, with hundreds of others injured, and claimed that Russia had named him “target number one”.
He warned: “My family is the number two target. They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state. I will stay in the capital. My family is also in Ukraine.”
The Ukrainian president also voiced frustration after speaking to the heads of Nato member states. “We have been left alone to defend our state,” Zelenskiy said. “Who is ready to fight alongside us? I don’t see anyone. Who is ready to give Ukraine a guarantee of Nato membership? Everyone is afraid.”
Asked if he was worried about Zelenskiy’s safety, Blinken told CBS: “To the best of my knowledge, President Zelenskiy remains in Ukraine at his post, and of course we’re concerned for the safety of all of our friends in Ukraine –government officials and…