Outmanned Ukrainian forces held on to their capital, Kyiv, after resisting an overnight onslaught that included explosions and bursts of gunfire. As fighting receded during daylight hours, the city remained in government hands. Authorities imposed a 5 p.m. curfew and air raid sirens could be heard as night fell Saturday evening.
Ukrainians who ventured outside in the afternoon found a city transformed by war. There were sandbags in the streets, burned-out cars, and lines at sites distributing guns. The metro had stopped running, its stations now used solely as underground bunkers.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky posted a video of himself at daybreak Saturday, unshaven, on the capital’s streets, appearing resolved to remain in Kyiv even as Western officials warned that Russia plans to capture or kill him.
Ukraine’s health minister said that a total of 198 Ukrainians have been killed in the fighting, up from 137 a day earlier, with more than 1,000 wounded. There were already signs of a mass exodus — the United Nations said Saturday that more than 150,000 Ukrainian refugees have fled the country.
Here’s what to know
- On Saturday morning, a high-rise apartment building near one of Kyiv’s international airports was struck by a missile as air raids continued. A residential building in Kyiv was hit on Friday morning.
- Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic have moved to shut their airspace to Russian airlines. Estonia’s prime minister called on all E.U. countries to do the same.
- A senior Western security official said two Russian IL-76 transport planes were shot down outside Kyiv late Friday night by Ukrainians. The official did not know whether Russian personnel were killed. The British Ministry of Defense says Russia has “yet to gain control of the airspace over Ukraine, greatly reducing the effectiveness of the Russian Air Force.”
UNDERSTANDING THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE CONFLICT