September 28, 2022

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Russian forces advance towards Kiev as Ukrainian leader asks for help

Russian forces advance towards Kiev as Ukrainian leader asks for help
  • Zelensky says he is Russia’s “first target”
  • Russian forces capture Chernobyl station and advance towards Kiev
  • The United States and the European Union announce a new wave of sanctions
  • Oil price rises by $2 a barrel

KIEV (Reuters) – Rockets bombed the Ukrainian capital on Friday as Russian forces pressed their advance and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appealed to the international community to do more, saying sanctions so far were not enough.

Sirens sounded over Kiev amid unconfirmed reports that a Russian airliner was shot down and crashed into a building, a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion that shocked the world.

A senior Ukrainian official said Russian forces would enter areas outside the capital Kiev later on Friday and that Ukrainian forces were defending their positions on four fronts, although they were outnumbered.

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An estimated 100,000 people fled as explosions and shootings rocked major cities. Dozens have been reported killed. Russian forces captured the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant north of Kiev as they advanced into the city from Belarus.

US and Ukrainian officials say Russia aims to take over Kiev and bring down the government that Putin views as a US puppet.

Zelensky said he knew Russian troops would come for him but vowed to stay in Kiev.

“(The enemy) has identified me as target number one,” Zelensky said in a video message. “My family is the second target. They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state.”

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

Russia launched its invasion by land, air and sea on Thursday after Putin declared war, in the biggest attack on a European country since World War Two.

Putin says Russia is carrying out a “special military operation” to prevent the Ukrainian government from committing genocide against its own people – an accusation the West calls baseless. He also says that Ukraine is an illegal state whose territory historically belongs to Russia.

Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to the Interior Minister, said that Ukrainian forces shot down an enemy plane over Kiev early Friday morning, then crashed into an apartment building and set it on fire.

It was not clear whether the plane was manned or a missile. Kiev municipal authorities said at least eight people were injured when the object hit an apartment building.

“Terrific Russian missile strikes on Kiev,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter. “The last time our capital saw anything like this was in 1941 when it was attacked by Nazi Germany.”

The authorities said that fierce fighting was taking place in the city of Sumy in the north-east of the country.

A border point in the southeastern Zaporizhzhya region was bombarded with missiles, which led to the deaths and injuries of border guards, and sirens sounded over the western city of Lviv.

Asked if he was concerned about Zelensky’s safety, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told CBS: “As far as I know, President Zelensky in Ukraine remains in office, and of course we are concerned about the safety of all our friends in Ukraine – government officials and others.”

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Sanctions building

A democracy of 44 million people, Ukraine voted for independence at the fall of the Soviet Union and recently ramped up its efforts to join the military alliance of NATO and the European Union, aspirations that irritate Moscow.

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

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, described the bloc’s measures as “the harshest set of sanctions we have ever implemented”.

China has come under pressure for its refusal to describe the Russian attack as an invasion.

US President Joe Biden, speaking to reporters at the White House, said that “any country that accepts blatant Russian aggression against Ukraine will be tainted by association.” He declined to comment directly on China’s position. Read more

The UN Security Council will vote on Friday on a draft resolution condemning the Russian invasion and calling for Moscow’s immediate withdrawal. However, Moscow can veto the measure, and it is unclear how China will vote.

Russia is one of the world’s largest energy producers, and both Ukraine and Ukraine are among the largest exporters of grain. War and sanctions will disrupts economies around the world.

Oil prices rose by as much as $2 a barrel on Friday as markets braced for the impact of trade sanctions on Russia, the main crude exporter.

US wheat futures hit nearly 14-year highs, corn hovered near an eight-month peak and soybeans rebounded on fears of disruption to grain supplies from the main Black Sea region.

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The airlines also faced turmoil with Japan Airlines (9201.T) It canceled its Thursday night flight to Moscow and Britain and closed its airspace to Russian airlines. Read more

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Additional reporting by Natalia Zenets in Kiev, Aleksandar Vasovich in Mariupol, David Younggren in Ottawa, Mark Trevelyan in London; Written by Stephen Coates. Editing by Robert Persell

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.