Kiev ‘could fall to the Russians within hours as Ukrainian air defenses are knocked out’
Ukraine’s capital Kiev could fall to the Russians “within hours”, a senior Western intelligence official has said.
The warning, first reported by Bloombergcomes after Moscow on Thursday targeted airbases and other military infrastructure across Ukraine, following President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade its neighbor.
Russian troops crossed the border on Thursday morning from their own territory as well as from Belarus.
Kremlin forces have so far destroyed 83 of Ukraine’s “above ground military installations” since the start of the invasion, according to a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman.
Explosions were heard near the cities of Kharkiv, Kramatorsk, Mariupol and in Kiev in a multi-pronged attack by Moscow.
The Ukrainian port city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine has been the target of particularly heavy fire, a diplomatic source said. Reuters.
Elsewhere, Russian troops entered the area around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, capturing the area on Thursday afternoon.
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An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed that Kiev had lost control of the site, located about 100 km north of the capital, after heavy fighting.
Ukraine’s Health Ministry said Thursday evening that 57 Ukrainians had been killed so far, one of the victims believed to be a young boy, who was hit by a shell in the Kharkiv region.
Meanwhile, the first Ukrainian refugees arrived in Poland by road and rail after fleeing their homes.
Much of the international community has condemned the Russian assault, with G7 leaders calling it “unprovoked and totally unjustified” which violates international law.
“This crisis is a serious threat to the rules-based international order, with ramifications far beyond Europe,” they said in a joint statement.
The leaders added: “President Putin has reintroduced war on the European continent. He put himself on the wrong side of history.
“We call on the Russian Federation to stop the bloodshed, immediately defuse and withdraw its forces from Ukraine.”
Countries like the United Kingdom and the United States have announced new sanctions against Moscow for its aggression against Ukraine. These economic measures will cut off Russian banks from the sterling and dollar markets.