Russian forces pound Ukraine for third day, Kyiv still in Ukrainian hands

Ignoring weeks of warnings from Western leaders, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine on Thursday from the north, east and south, an assault that threatens to upend Europe’s post-Cold War order.

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KYIV: Russian forces pounded Ukrainian cities with artillery and cruise missiles on Saturday for a third day running but a defiant President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the capital Kyiv remained in Ukrainian hands.

As hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fled westwards toward the European Union, a top Russian security official and ex-president Dmitry Medvedev said Moscow’s military operations would be waged relentlessly until their goals were achieved.

Ignoring weeks of warnings from Western leaders, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine on Thursday from the north, east, and south, an assault that threatens to upend Europe’s post-Cold War order.

In a significant ratcheting up of Russia’s rhetoric, Medvedev said on social media that new Western sanctions had helped unite Russians and hinted at a severing of diplomatic ties with Western nations, saying it was time to “padlock the embassies.” He said Moscow might also restore the death penalty.

After a night of airstrikes, there were some signs of panic in the center of Kyiv. Reuters reporters saw Ukrainian soldiers with guns and a group of women running along the street. Nearby, Ukrainian soldiers forced a man in civilian clothes to lie down on the pavement.

Kyiv’s mayor Vitali Klitschko said there was currently no major Russian military presence in Kyiv, but added that saboteur groups were active. The metro system is now serving only as a shelter for citizens and trains have stopped running, he said.

Klitschko said 35 people, including two children, had been wounded overnight.

At least 198 Ukrainians, including three children, have been killed and 1,115 people wounded so far in Russia’s invasion, Interfax quoted Ukraine’s Health Ministry as saying. It was unclear whether the numbers comprised only civilian casualties.

“We have withstood and are successfully repelling enemy attacks. The fighting goes on,” Zelenskiy said in a video message posted on his social media. “We have the courage to defend our homeland, to defend Europe.”

Britain said the bulk of Russian forces were now 30 km (19 miles) from the center of Kyiv and said Russia had yet to gain control of Ukraine’s airspace.

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