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Russian troops moved into Ukraine's capital city, Kyiv, on Friday as officials urged residents to stay indoors and "prepare Molotov cocktails" to defend against the advancing enemy force, the New York Times reported.
What are the details?
Kyiv entered into a defensive phase on the second day of fighting since Russia's unprovoked invasion of its neighboring country. Air raid sirens continued to blare as Russian missiles pounded the city and residents took cover in subway stations and other makeshift shelters, Reuters reported.
Russia claimed to have captured an airport in Hostomel, just northwest of the capital, on Thursday, after fierce fighting. The airport will likely serve as a strategic staging post to launch attacks on the city.
In a tweet, Ukraine's Ministry of Defense indicated that a Russian ground presence had reached Obolon, a northern district of Kyiv. It is the closest the Russian military has been to Ukraine's capital thus far. In an attempt to stymie the advance, the Ukrainian government reportedly destroyed three bridges to the north of the capital.
The Ukrainian government has urged its residents on numerous occasions to stand fast against the encroaching enemy. In a pair of tweets on Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declared that he would "give weapons to anyone who wants to defend the country," adding, "Be ready to support Ukraine in the squares of our cities."
But at the same time, Ukraine is eager for an end to the bloody conflict, the likes of which Europe hasn't seen since World War II.
As its forces advanced, Russia surprisingly signaled it may be open to talks with the Ukrainian government, though the reported conditions are strict. The Kremlin said it would agree to send a delegation to Minsk for negotiations, but warned that any agreement would be based on "demilitarization" and neutral status for Ukraine — both of which have previously been red lines for Zelenskyy.
Ukraine reported that 137 citizens died and another 316 were wounded during the first day of fighting. Based on earlier reports, at least 40 of those who died were soldiers, while up to 10 were civilians.
Early Friday morning, Zelenskyy appeared to criticize Western nations for their military inaction.
"This morning, we are defending our country alone," the leader lamented in recorded remarks. "Just like yesterday, the most powerful country in the world looked on from a distance. Russia was hit with sanctions yesterday, but these are not enough to get these foreign troops off our soil. Only through solidarity and determination can this be achieved."
"Who is ready to fight with us?" he asked. "Honestly, I do not see such. Who is ready to guarantee Ukraine's accession to NATO?"
"Today, I asked the 27 leaders of Europe whether Ukraine will be in NATO. I asked directly. Everyone is afraid. They do not answer," he continued.
President Biden on Thursday joined a host of NATO allies in announcing further sanctions against Russia for its military assault. But it remains unclear when, or even if, the economic penalties will force Russia to back down.
In response to pressing from reporters on the need for more urgent action, Biden insisted that the U.S. wait "another month or so" to see if the sanctions are "working."
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