As Kyiv Assault Continues, Zelensky Says: 'We Will Win'

Russians continue attack against Ukraine, with president saying Ukrainians won't give up
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 26, 2022 6:45 AM CST
As Kyiv Assault Continues, Zelensky Says: 'We Will Win'
A toy amongst the debris near an apartment building damaged following a rocket attack, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. Russian troops stormed toward Ukraine's capital Saturday, and street fighting broke out as city officials urged residents to take shelter.   (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Russian troops closed in on Ukraine’s capital Saturday after a night of explosions and street fighting sent Kyiv residents seeking shelter or fleeing the city. The country's leader claimed Ukraine's forces had repulsed the assault and vowed to keep up the struggle, reports the AP. “The real fighting for Kyiv is ongoing," President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video message, accusing Russia in a video message of hitting infrastructure and civilian targets. "We will win," he said. Central Kyiv appeared quiet Saturday, and skirmishes reported on the edge of the city suggested that small Russian units were trying to clear a path for the main forces. Britain's defense ministry said Saturday that the bulk of Russian forces were 19 miles from the middle of the city.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko extended a curfew he imposed two days ago to run from 5pm until 8am. He said "all civilians on the street during the curfew will be considered members of the enemy’s sabotage and reconnaissance groups.” Russia claims its assault on Ukraine was aimed only at military targets, but bridges, schools, and residential neighborhoods have been hit since the invasion began Thursday with air and missile strikes and Russian troops entering Ukraine from the north, east, and south. Ukraine’s health minister reported Saturday that 198 people, including three children, have been killed and more than 1,000 others have been wounded during Europe's largest ground offensive since World War II. It was unclear whether the figure included both military and civilian casualties.

In Kyiv, a missile struck a high-rise apartment building in the southwestern outskirts near one of Kyiv's two passenger airports, leaving a jagged hole of ravaged apartments over several floors. A rescue worker said six civilians were injured. The conflict has driven thousands of Ukrainians from their homes in search of safety. UN officials said more than 120,000 Ukrainians have left the country for Poland, Moldova, and other neighboring nations. It was unclear in the fog of war how much of Ukraine was still under Ukrainian control and how much Russian forces have seized. Western governments claimed stiff Ukrainian resistance had slowed the Russian advance, and Russia doesn't yet control Ukraine's skies.

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In addition to Kyiv, the Russian assault appeared to focus on Ukraine's coastline, stretching from the Black Sea port of Odesa, in the west near the border with Romania, to the Azov Sea port of Mariupol in the east. Western officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin is determined to overthrow Ukraine's government and replace it with a regime of his own. The invasion represented Putin's boldest effort yet to redraw the map of Europe and revive Moscow's Cold War-era influence. Zelensky issued a defiant video recorded on a downtown Kyiv street early Saturday, saying he remained in the city and that claims the Ukrainian military would put down arms were false. "We aren't going to lay down weapons. We will protect the country," the Ukrainian president said. “Our weapon is our truth, and our truth is that it's our land, our country, our children. And we will defend all of that."

(Read more Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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