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Ukraine’s President Turn Down Offer From US To Evacuate Him

Ukrainian tower block is hit by MISSILE: Building is ripped apart by Russian strike – as defiant Zelensky emerges at dawn during Battle for Kyiv and Ukraine ‘kills 3,500 Russian troops during street-to-street combat’

President Volodymyr Zelensky at dawn on Saturday was out in the streets of Kyiv, defiant after intense Russian efforts to capture his capital

The 44-year-old filmed a video posted to social media in which he warned of fake news circulating, claiming he had ordered a surrender, and declared: ‘This is our land, our country, our kids, and we will defend them’

Hours before, at midnight on Friday, he had warned his people in an address to the nation that the capital, Kyiv, would be attacked overnight

The battle was far from over on Saturday morning, and the interior ministry warned residents to remain indoors as street-by-street battles continued

Russian troops attempted to advance on Kyiv in the early hours of Saturday with fierce fighting by the city’s zoo in the west, near the Beresteiska metro, and to the north, near the Troieshchyna thermal plant

Russian troops were encountering heavy resistance, and the advance from the west appeared to have been pushed back, with the Ukrainian Armed Forces claiming to have repelled the move

Early on Saturday morning Ukraine’s army said that 3,500 Russians had been killed in the fighting, and 200 captured

Ukraine claimed that 14 Russian aircraft, eight helicopters, and 102 tanks had been seized. The scale of Ukrainian losses was not clear.

A high-rise apartment block in Kyiv was hit by a devastating missile this morning as fighting continues to rage in the capital between Russian attackers and Ukrainian forces.

Emergency services said the number of victims from the attack in the Zhuliany district was ‘being specified’ and that an evacuation was underway. Images show the tower block with a hole covering at least five floors blasted into the side and rubble strewn across the street below.

It comes as a barrage of cruise missiles have also been launched by Russian forces against Ukrainian military facilities.

Defence Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said the military struck a range of installations with long-range Kalibr cruise missiles.

He said that since the start of Russia’s attack on Thursday, the military has hit 821 Ukrainian military facilities, including 14 air bases and 19 command facilities, and destroyed 24 air defence missile systems, 48 radars, seven warplanes, seven helicopters, nine drones, 87 tanks and eight military vessels.

Maj Gen Konashenkov claimed the Russian military has taken full control of the southern city of Melitopol, about 35 kilometres inland from the Azov Sea coast, and said Russia-backed separatists have made significant gains in the eastern region of Donbas.

Meanwhile, the mayor of a city south of the capital says the country’s military has fended off a Russian attempt to take control of a military air base.

Natalia Balansynovych, mayor of Vasylkiv, about 25 miles south of Kyiv, said Russian airborne forces landed near the city overnight and tried to seize the base. She added that fierce fighting also raged in Vasylkiv’s central street.

She said Ukrainian forces repelled the Russian attacks, and the situation is now calm. Ms Balansynovych said there were heavy casualties, but did not give any numbers.

It comes as Ukraine’s president emerged on Saturday morning defiant and determined after an onslaught on his capital city, declaring that Kyiv would resist the Russian advance and vowing to fight Vladimir Putin’s forces.

Volodymyr Zelensky posted a video on Twitter captioned ‘Don’t believe the fakes’.

He condemned the false claims that he had surrendered and told his compatriots to lay down arms, and insisted his country would not give in to Russian aggression.

‘Recently, fake info was spread about me ordering our army to lay down arms and evacuate,’ Zelensky said.

‘It’s untrue. I’m here, we are not laying down, we will protect our state. This is our land, our country, our kids, and we will defend them.’

The 44-year-old, who has been widely praised for his courage in the face of Russia’s aggression, said on Thursday that he knew he was ‘target number one’ for Putin’s assassins.

‘There’s a lot of fake information online that I call on our army to lay down arms, and that there’s been an evacuation ordered,’ he said.

‘I’m here. We won’t lay down our arms. We will defend our state.’

Yet even as Zelensky spoke, the Ukrainian interior ministry was warning Kyiv’s residents to shelter in place and not venture out onto the streets.

Ukraine’s armed forces on Saturday morning claimed 3,500 Russians had been killed overnight, and 200 taken prisoner.

They said 14 Russian aircraft, eight helicopters, and 102 tanks had been seized. The scale of Ukrainian losses was not clear.

Armed forces were engaged in a fierce battle for control of the city, with footage on social media showing explosions close to a metro station in the western center of the capital by the zoo; a battle ongoing for control of a thermal power plant to the north; and multiple reports suggesting fierce fighting 20 miles south, near a vital airbase.

In Kyiv, footage shared on social media showed a bombardment close to Beresteiska metro station, in the west of the city, which is near the zoo.

More than 50 explosions and heavy machine gun fire were reported in the district of Shulyavka, near Beresteiska metro and the zoo, according to The Kyiv Independent.

A bridge near the metro was blown up, according to reports. It was unclear whether the explosion was caused by artillery or by Ukrainian forces intent on stopping the Russian advance.

The district is under the control of the 101st Independent Security Brigade of the General Staff.

Terrified residents posted videos filmed from their apartments, with flashes of light and the sound of gunfire. One video shared on social media showed an apartment building glowing with red lights, which some speculated was to guide bombers or snipers. Others said the lights were to warn the military not to bomb them.

The northern suburb of Troieshchyna was also coming under sustained attack for another night, as Russia tried to wrest control of the thermal power plant on the banks of the Dnieper river. Unconfirmed reports suggested dozens of Russians had been arrested.

Meanwhile, satellite images show a huge queue of trucks and cars waiting in a traffic jam leaving Ukraine, near the Romanian border in Siret.

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