Russian troops pressed towards Ukraine’s capital on Saturday, after a night of explosions and street fighting that sent Kyiv residents seeking shelter underground.
The country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy refused an American offer to evacuate, insisting that he would stay. “The fight is here,” he said.
It was not immediately clear how far Russian troops had advanced. Ukrainian officials reported some success in fending off assaults, but fighting persisted near the capital. Skirmishes reported on the edge of the city suggested that small Russian units were probing Ukrainian defences to clear a path for the main forces.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said a missile hit a high-rise building on the city’s southwestern outskirts. He posted an image showing a gaping hole on one side of the building that ravaged apartments on several floors. There was no immediate word on casualties.
Saturday’s street clashes followed two days of massive air and missile strikes that Russian officials said targeted Ukrainian military facilities as their ground troops moved in from the north, east and south. The assault pummelled bridges, schools and apartment buildings, and resulted in hundreds of casualties.
Ukraine’s health minister reported on Saturday that 198 people have been killed and more than 1,000 others wounded since the Russian invasion started on Thursday.
Health Minister Viktor Liashko said the death toll included three children. His statement did not make it clear whether the figures included both military personnel and civilians.