Iran nuclear talks at ‘moment of truth’, says German Chancellor
Kiev braced for an imminent Russian assault on February 25 as invading forces reached the outskirts of Kiev and the Ukrainian Defense Ministry told residents to make Molotov cocktails to help the military “neutralize “the Russian attackers.
On the diplomatic front, sources quoted by several media outlets said the European Union was preparing personal sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, which would include freezing their assets abroad.
Kiev was previously targeted by Russian missiles as US President Joe Biden and his NATO counterparts prepared to hold an extraordinary summit to reassure member countries on the alliance’s eastern flank that their security was guaranteed then that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was entering its second day.
Ahead of the virtual meeting, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy pleaded with the West to do more to help his country, saying the sanctions announced so far were not enough.
Live briefing: Ukraine under attack
Consult the RFE/RL live briefing on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the reaction of Kiev and the West. Ukraine under attack features the latest developments and analysis, updated throughout the day.
In Moscow, Lavrov said Russia was ready for talks if the Ukrainian military surrendered, as he insisted the invading forces sought to free the country from “oppression”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Russian leader was ‘ready’ to send a high-level delegation ‘for talks with a Ukrainian delegation’ to Minsk, the host city of previous talks and agreements of peace in 2014 and 2015.
There was no immediate reaction from Ukrainian officials.
Gunshots were reported near the government district in Kyiv. Zelenskiy said Russian forces were targeting civilian areas as they advanced with troops and tanks from three sides.
Ongoing clashes between Ukrainian forces and Russian troops were reported in the northern Obolon district of the capital.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian troops entered Kiev with heavy military equipment to defend the capital.
“The city is in defense mode,” Mayor Vitali Klitschko said, according to the UNIAN news agency. Gunfire and explosions in some areas led to the elimination of Russian “saboteurs”, he said.
Russian forces are approaching Kiev from the north and northeast, Ukraine’s military said February 25 amid growing fears over the fate of the capital.
The Russians are trying to “bypass” the northern city of Chernihiv – where they were “repelled” – to attack Kiev, the Ukrainian military said on Facebook.
They were also advancing towards Kiev from the eastern town of Konotop, which is under Russian control, the Kiev army said.
“They say civilian objects are not a target for them. But that’s another lie on their part. In reality, they don’t distinguish between the areas in which they operate,” Zelenskiy said in remarks. video early February 25.
“Ukrainians are showing heroism,” he said, adding that “all our forces are doing everything possible” to protect people.
The Ukrainian leader said his country was “alone” in the face of Russian attacks.
“This morning, we are defending our state alone. Like yesterday, the most powerful forces in the world are watching from afar. Did yesterday’s sanctions convince Russia? We hear in our skies and see on our earth that was not enough,” he said.
Zelenskiy said 137 civilians and military personnel have been killed in Russian attacks so far.
He called them “heroes” in a video address released early February 25 in which he also said more than 300 people were injured in less than 24 hours of fighting.
Later on February 25, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said that more than 1,000 Russian servicemen had been killed so far in the Ukrainian conflict.
“Russia has not suffered so many combat casualties in any of its armed conflicts since its inception,” the ministry said in a statement.
“Russian mothers are sending their sons to certain death, as the Ukrainian Armed Forces hold the lines and will defend their country against the occupiers,” the statement read.
The Russian Defense Ministry, meanwhile, said there were no casualties. Neither claim could be independently verified.
Explosions sounded in Kyiv early on February 25 as aerial sirens went off over the city of 3 million, where some were sheltering in metro stations.
The Ukrainian army reported heavy fighting in the Ivankiv region, about 60 kilometers northwest of Kiev.
“The hardest day will be today. The enemy’s plan is to break through with tank columns from the side of Ivankiv and Chernihiv to Kiev,” Interior Ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko said on Telegram.
Zelenskiy said he understood Russian troops were coming for him but vowed to stay in Kiev.
“[The] the enemy has designated me as target number one,” Zelenskiy said in a video message. “My family is target number two. They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state.
“I will stay in the capital. My family is also in Ukraine,” he said.
“They kill people and turn peaceful towns into military targets. It is a fault and will never be forgiven,” Zelenskiy said.
The president said that all border guards on the Ukrainian island of Zmiinyi (snake) in the Odessa region had been killed. All of them will posthumously receive the title of Hero of Ukraine, he said.
The Ukrainian Border Guard Service announced earlier today that the island had been taken by Russian forces.
Russia began its invasion before dawn on February 24, unleashing airstrikes on cities and military bases and sending in troops and tanks from multiple directions. The Deputy Defense Minister reported heavy Russian shelling in the eastern region of Donetsk.
Ukrainian officials said that during the first days of hostilities, they lost control of the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the scene of the world’s worst civilian nuclear disaster.
Heavy fighting also took place in the regions of Sumy and Kharkiv in the northeast and Kherson and Odessa, Ukraine’s most important seaport, in the south.
Speaking on February 25, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Russia intended to take all of Ukraine, but the Russian military had failed to deliver the first day of his invasion.
For his part, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian accused Putin of trying to destroy the Ukrainian state, warning that the “security” of its president was at risk.
Meanwhile, Putin told his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in a Feb. 25 call that Russia was willing to hold high-level talks with Ukraine, China’s foreign ministry said.
China has refused to call Russia’s action in Ukraine an “invasion” or to criticize Moscow, despite intensified Russian military assaults.
The EU said on February 25 that Putin sought to destroy Ukraine and that his actions were comparable to those of the Nazis during World War II.
“He talks about denazifying Ukraine, but he behaves like Nazis. So it’s all in his head,” EU spokesman Peter Stano told reporters in Brussels.