Missile and artillery attacks rain down on Kiev and surrounding areas, Ukraine prepares for diplomacy with Russia

JAKARTA- The Russian troop attack on Ukraine is getting more massive. They launched coordinated missile and artillery attacks on Ukrainian cities on Saturday, February 26. The capital, Kiev, was the main target. One shot even erupted near government buildings in the city center.

According to military officials and an eye witness quoted Reuters, Ukrainian authorities have urged their citizens to help defend Kiev. The attack by Russian troops on Thursday, February 24 has become Europe’s worst security crisis in decades.

“An artillery shell exploded in Kiev,” said an eye witness Reuters.

As the fighting intensifies, the governments of Russia and Ukraine are still signaling an openness to negotiations. This is the first glimmer of hope for diplomacy since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion.

Ukrainian officials said Russian troops fired cruise missiles from the Black Sea at the cities of Sumy, Poltava and Mariupol. There had even been fierce fighting near the southern city of Mariupol.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, spoke in a video message from outside his office in Kiev, challenging Russian troops. “We will not lay down our arms, we will defend our country,” Zelenskiy said.

In a post on his Twitter account, Zelenskiy also indicated that the situation in Kiev was still fine.

He also stated that Ukraine had received support from French President Emmanuel Macron who promised to send weapons and equipment to Ukraine to fight the Russian invasion.

The air force command earlier reported heavy fighting near an air base in Vasylkiv southwest of the capital. This region was targeted by Russian paratroopers.

According to one of the Ukrainian fighters they had shot down a Russian transport plane. However Reuters unable to independently verify the claim.

News agency between fax said Russian troops had taken control of a hydroelectric power station in Kiev. But Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the president’s office, said the situation in Kiev and its suburbs was still under control.

“There are cases of sabotage and reconnaissance groups working in the city, the police and self-defense forces working efficiently against them,” Podolyak said.

The residents of Kiev have been ordered by the defense ministry to make petrol bombs to repel the invaders.

But according to a UN aid official, several families are huddled in shelters and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes in search of safety.

Ukraine says more than 1,000 Russian soldiers were killed. But Russia did not release exact casualty figures. Zelenskiy said late Thursday that 137 soldiers and civilians had been killed and hundreds injured.

Putin’s Call

After weeks of warnings from Western leaders, Putin launched a three-way invasion of Ukraine from the north, east and south on Thursday, in an attack that threatens to overturn Europe’s post-Cold War order.

“I once again appeal to the military personnel of the Ukrainian armed forces: do not allow neo-Nazis and (Ukrainian radical nationalists) to use your children, wives and parents as human shields,” Putin said at a televised meeting with Russia’s Security Council.

“Seize power in your own hands.”

Putin has cited the need to “denazify” Ukraine’s leadership as one of his main reasons for the invasion, accusing it of genocide against Russian-speaking speakers in eastern Ukraine. Kiev and its Western allies reject the accusations as baseless propaganda.

Ukraine enthusiastically voted for independence during the fall of the Soviet Union and Kiev hoped to join NATO and the European Union – aspirations that infuriated Moscow.

Putin said Ukraine, a democratic country of 44 million people, was an illegitimate state formed from Russia. Putin’s view is considered Ukraine aims to erase more than a thousand years of their history.

Meanwhile, Western countries have announced a barrage of sanctions against Russia. Including blacklisting their banks and banning technology exports. But they didn’t force him out of the SWIFT system for international bank payments.

The United States imposed sanctions on Putin, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov. The European Union and Britain have previously frozen any assets that Putin and Lavrov have on their territory. Canada is also taking a similar step.

The invasion sparked a series of credit rating moves last Friday. S&P downgraded Russia to “junk” status. Likewise Moody’s reviewed it for a downgrade to trash, and S&P and Fitch quickly cut Ukraine over default concerns.

But in the midst of the chaos of war emerged a glimmer of hope. A Zelenskiy spokesman said Ukraine and Russia would consult in the coming hours on a time and place for talks.

“Ukraine has been and remains ready to talk about a ceasefire and peace,” Zelenskiy spokesman Sergii Nykyforov said in a Facebook post. “We agree with the proposal of the President of the Russian Federation.”

Jackson Wintringham

"Coffee aficionado nerd. Troublemaker. General communicator. Gamer. Analyst. Creator. Total brew ninja."

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