Nearly 120 Ukrainian military targets hit as Russian forces drive on Kyiv

Forces seized control of Chernobyl to stop 'Nazi units' from attempting nuclear provocation, says defence ministry

Anadolu Agency February 25, 2022
A Ukrainian serviceman holds a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher at fighting positions outside the city of Kharkiv, Ukraine. Photo: Reuters


Russian forces disabled 118 elements of Ukraine’s military infrastructure and neutralised more than 80 military vehicles over the past day, the Russian Defence Ministry said on Friday.

The elements disabled include 11 military airfields, 13 control points, and communication centres, 14 S-300 and Osa missile systems, and 36 radar stations, the ministry said in a statement.

Five fighter jets, a helicopter, and five unmanned aerial vehicles were downed, while 18 tanks and armoured vehicles, seven multiple rocket launchers, 41 special military vehicles, and five combat boats were neutralised, it added.

The ministry said 150 Ukrainian soldiers laid down their weapons and gave a written pledge to refrain from taking part in the hostilities.

A unit of Ukrainian Marines “contacted the command of the People’s militia of the DPR (Donetsk People’s Republic) and requested a corridor to enter the territory of the republic,” the ministry added.

After the fighting is over, “all surrendered Ukrainian servicemen will be released,” it said.

Read more: Pakistan embassy in Ukraine advises stranded students to travel to Ternopil

Rebels in the Donbas region managed to move forward a kilometre in Donetsk and 9 kilometres (5.5 miles) in Luhansk, according to the ministry.

The Russian Airborne Forces also seized “total control” of the Chernobyl power plant area on Thursday, the ministry reported.

The move was made to make sure that “Nazi units from the east of Ukraine” do not exploit the situation and attempt a “nuclear provocation,” it said.

According to the Russian Defence Ministry, radiation levels in the Chernobyl territory are “normal” and the plant’s personnel are working to maintain and monitor the situation.

EU announces ‘massive and targeted sanctions’ on Russia

The European Union imposed a “package of massive and targeted sanctions” on Russia.

Sanctions were slapped on Russia’s financial, energy and transport sectors. Visa restrictions and export controls were also imposed, with access blocked to technologies.

“The package of massive and targeted sanctions approved tonight shows how united the EU is,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at a joint press conference following the special meeting of the European Council on the situation in Ukraine. She was flanked by European Council President Charles Michel and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Giving details, Von der Leyen said in a tweet: “First, this package includes financial sanctions, targeting 70% of the Russian banking market and key state-owned companies, including in defence."

“Second, we target the energy sector, a key economic area which especially benefits the Russian state,” she added. “Our export ban will hit the oil sector by making it impossible for Russia to upgrade its refineries.”

“Third, we ban the sale of aircrafts and equipment to Russian airlines,” she said.

“Fourth, we are limiting Russia's access to crucial technology, such as semiconductors or cutting-edge software,” she added.

“Finally, visas,” she said. “Diplomats and related groups and business people will no longer have privileged access to the European Union.”

Von der Leyen added that the measures are closely coordinated with partners and allies such as the US, UK, Canada, Norway, South Korea, Japan, and Australia.

For his part, Michel said that during the meeting they also addressed how they can support the Ukrainian people and Ukraine by mobilising financing capacities and humanitarian support.

“We also heard during the European Council meeting an address by Ukrainian President (Volodymyr Zelenskyy). It was a grave and dignified moment,” he said. “The president showed a lot of sang-froid and was very frank when he delivered his message in the very difficult and painful circumstances Ukraine is going through.”

Russia lost over 450 personnel on first day of Ukraine attack: UK

Meanwhile, the British defence secretary said that Russia lost more than 450 personnel and failed to achieve any of its major objectives in the first 24 hours of its military intervention in Ukraine.

According to the British government’s evaluation, Russian President Vladimir Putin “intends to invade the whole of Ukraine,” Ben Wallace told Sky News.

“Our assessment, as of this morning, is that Russia has not taken any of its major objectives. In fact, it’s behind its hoped-for timetable. They’ve lost over 450 personnel,” he said.

Russian special forces trying to capture “one of the significant airports” were repelled and “the Ukrainians have taken it back,” he added.

“So I think, contrary to great Russian claims and indeed President Putin’s vision that somehow the Ukrainians would be liberated and would be flocking to his cause, he’s got that completely wrong,” Wallace said.

“And the Russian army has failed to deliver on day one its main objective.”

'Russian forces heading towards Kyiv centre'

A top Ukrainian defence official has said that Russian soldiers have seized several Ukrainian army vehicles and are heading towards the centre of the capital.

On social media, Deputy Defence Minister Anna Malyar said Russian soldiers had seized two Ukrainian vehicles as well as Ukrainian soldiers' uniforms and are advancing towards the Kyiv city centre from Obolon, a northern residential district of the capital some 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) from the centre.

"A convoy of Russian military trucks are following them. They will surely be neutralised," Malyar added.

Separately, according to a Ukrainian General Staff statement, the Ukrainian Air Force is protecting the skies of Kyiv, and since 4am (0200GMT) Ukraine's air defence system has blocked rocket attacks on the capital.

Russian forces drive on Kyiv

Missiles pounded Ukraine's capital on Friday as Russian forces pressed their advance and authorities in Kyiv said they were preparing for an assault aimed at overthrowing the government.

Air raid sirens wailed over Kyiv, a European city of three million people, and some residents sheltered in underground metro stations. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy vowed to stay in the capital as his troops battled the advancing forces.

"I will stay in the capital. My family is also in Ukraine."

Russia launched its attack by land, air and sea on Thursday following a declaration of war by President Vladimir Putin. An estimated 100,000 people fled as explosions and gunfire rocked major cities. Dozens have been reported killed.

A senior Ukrainian official said Russian forces would enter areas just outside the capital later on Friday and that Ukrainian troops were defending positions on four fronts despite being outnumbered. Russian troops seized the Chernobyl former nuclear power plant north of Kyiv as they advanced along the shortest route to the capital from Belarus to the north.

Kyiv city council warned residents of the Obolon district, near an air base seized on Thursday by Russian paratroopers, to stay indoors because of "the approach of active hostilities".

Windows were blasted out of a 10-storey apartment block near Kyiv's main airport, where a two-metre crater filled with rubble showed where a shell had struck before dawn. A policeman said people were injured there but not killed.

Witnesses said loud explosions could be heard in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-biggest city, close to Russia's border, and air raid sirens sounded over Lviv in the west. Authorities reported heavy fighting in the eastern city of Sumy.

Asked if he was worried about Zelenskiy's safety, US Secretary of State Antony 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 others."

Putin's full aims remain obscure. He says he does not plan a military occupation, only to disarm Ukraine and remove its leaders. But it is not clear how a pro-Russian leader could be installed without holding much of the country. Russia has floated no name of such a figure and none has come forward.

Military advances

Zelenskiy said 137 military personnel and civilians had been killed in the fighting, with hundreds wounded. Ukrainian officials had earlier reported at least 70 people killed.

A missile hit a Ukrainian border post in the southeastern region of Zaporizhzhya, killing and wounding some guards, the border guard service said.

The United States and other NATO members have sent military aid to Ukraine but there is no move to send troops for fear of sparking a wider European conflict.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba pleaded for "more weapons to continue fighting ... the amount of tanks, armoured vehicles, airplanes, helicopters that Russia threw on Ukraine is unimaginable".

Some 90 km (60 miles) north of Kyiv, Chernobyl was taken over by forces without identifying marks who disarmed a Ukrainian military unit guarding the station, Ukraine's state nuclear regulator said.

Read: Russian blitzkrieg begins

It said there had been no casualties, that nothing had been destroyed and that radiation levels were unchanged. It informed the International Atomic Energy Agency that it had lost control of the plant.

The UN Security Council will vote on Friday on a draft resolution that would condemn Russia's invasion and require Moscow's immediate withdrawal.

However, Moscow can veto the measure, and it was unclear how China would vote.

Explosions in Kyiv

Ukrainian forces claimed downing an enemy aircraft over Kyiv in the early hours of Friday, which then crashed into a residential building and set it on fire, said Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to the interior minister.

It was unclear whether the aircraft was manned or whether it could be a missile. Kyiv municipal authorities said at least eight people were injured when the object crashed into an apartment block.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Kyiv had come under a missile attack.

A series of explosions were heard in Kyiv earlier, which Herashchenko said were the sounds of air defences firing at the aircraft. Further explosions could be heard just before dawn, a Reuters witness said.

Sanctions build

The United States, Britain, Japan, Canada, Australia and the EU unveiled more sanctions on Moscow on top of penalties earlier this week, including a move by Germany to halt an $11 billion gas pipeline from Russia.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell described the bloc's measures as "the harshest package of sanctions we have ever implemented".

China came under pressure over its refusal to call Russia's assault an invasion.

US President Joe Biden, speaking to reporters at the White House, said: "Any nation that countenances Russia's naked aggression against Ukraine will be stained by association." He declined to comment directly on China's position.

Russia is one of the world's biggest energy producers, and both it and Ukraine are among the top exporters of grain. War and sanctions will disrupt economies around the world.

Oil prices soared as much as $2 per barrel on Friday as markets brace for the impact of trade sanctions on major crude exporter Russia.

US wheat futures hit their highest in nearly 14 years, corn hovered near an eight-month peak and soybeans rebounded on fears of grain supply disruptions from the key Black Sea region.

Airlines were also facing disruptions, with Japan Airlines cancelling its Thursday evening flight to Moscow and Britain closing its airspace to Russian carriers.

With additional input from Reuters


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