Live: Explosions heard inside Kyiv as Zelenskyy vows Ukraine will resist Russian troops

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This screen grab taken from a video made available on the Facebook account of Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, shows him speaking on February 25, 2022.

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Russian and Ukrainian forces have clashed inside the Ukrainian capital, following a wave of Russian airstrikes on cities and military bases on the second day of the invasion ordered by President Putin.

Explosions and gunfire have been reported inside Kyiv, after clashes in the city’s northern outskirts brought reported casualties.

In a defiant video message, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the military and civilians were protecting the country’s independence. Earlier he appealed for defence assistance and intensified Western sanctions.

Russia’s military claims to have captured a key airport near the capital. Putin called on the Ukrainian military to “seize power” by overthrowing Zelenskyy and his entourage, calling them “neo-Nazis” and “drug addicts” in a TV address. He said Russia’s real target was not Ukraine’s army but nationalists.

Follow all of Friday’s developments in our live blog below:

02.25.202206:33

The key points to know

    Russian forces have entered the capital Kyiv, meeting Ukrainian resistance. President Zelenskyy said he was staying put in a defiant video.  The Russian military claims to have captured a key airport, after seizing control of the Chernobyl nuclear plant and destroying dozens of Ukrainian military facilities.Tens of thousands of Ukrainians have been trying to flee danger areas for safety; many have crossed into neighbouring countries.NATO says it’s bolstering its forces in eastern Europe, while the EU, the US and the UK are all targeting the Russian president personally with sanctions.Two major sporting events have been withdrawn from Russia: the football Champions League final and the Formula 1 Grand Prix.The US says an apparent Russian offer for talks with Ukraine in Minsk is “not real diplomacy”. Russia’s foreign minister says Ukraine would first need to “surrender its arms”.Russia launched a full military assault on Ukraine on Thursday, invading the country from the east, north and south and meeting resistance from Ukrainian forces. Putin warned that any country attempting to interfere with the operation would see “consequences you have never seen in history”.

02.25.202223:57

Security Council resolution vetoed

Russia has now vetoed the U.N. Security Council resolution condemning its military action in Ukraine, as expected. But a majority of the 15 nations on the council supported the resolution, with three countries — China, India and the United Arab Emirates — abstaining from voting.
The United States and its supporters know the resolution will be vetoed by Russia but they have been trying to drum up the maximum support possible to highlight Moscow’s international isolation.02.25.202223:06

Vote delayed on UN resolution condemning Russia

The U.N. Security Council has delayed a vote on a resolution that would strongly condemn Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine and demand an immediate halt to its use of force and the withdrawal of all Russian forces from Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders.The resolution’s supporters are trying to get more of the 15 council nations to vote in favor of the measure.

The United States and its supporters know the resolution will be vetoed by Russia but they have been trying to drum up the maximum support possible to highlight Moscow’s international isolation.

Before the vote, representatives of the 27 European Union nations stood outside the Security Council chamber behind a Ukrainian flag with Ukraine’s U.N. Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya. (AP)

02.25.202222:58

Sanctions being discussed ‘almost at level’ to influence Putin, says Browder

“Over the last few days the sanctions have come to a level which is almost good enough to affect the calculus of Vladimir Putin.”That’s the view of financier Bill Browder, head of the Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign, named after his former lawyer who was murdered in a Russian jail.

“If Russia is disconnected from SWIFT the economy will implode, it will be a catastrophe for the Russian economy. And if the major oligarchs are sanctioned, then Putin’s own wealth would be wiped out, and would be completely inaccessible. And those are two very material things to Vladimir Putin,” he told Euronews.

“Does he [Putin] stop attacking Ukraine on the day that happens? Surely not. But does it put him in a position where everything that he’s worked for, for the last 20 years, has been sacrificed, surely yes. And at that point we are then in a position where we have some leverage.” 

Watch the interview here:

VIDEO : EU freezes Vladimir Putin’s assets in response to Ukraine invasion

euronewsVIDEO : The bloc has also extended the sanctions to Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

02.25.202222:31

On the road with a Ukrainian fleeing Kyiv

Tens of thousands of people are fleeing Kyiv and other parts of Ukraine trying to seek safety, either elsewhere in the country or abroad. Euronews spoke to one woman trying to leave the country with a group of friends — and a cat.Read more:

Ukraine travel: This is what it’s like trying to get out right now

We spoke to a 38-year-old woman as she tries to get out of Ukraine with a group of friends.02.25.202221:57

US follows EU and UK with plan to sanction Putin and Lavrov

The Biden administration announced Friday that it will move to freeze the assets of President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, following the European Union and Britain in directly sanctioning top Russian leadership.

The Treasury Department announced the sanctions shortly after the EU said it had also approved an asset freeze against Putin and Lavrov as part of a broader package of sanctions against Russia for the invasion of Ukraine. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also told NATO leaders during a call Friday that Britain would move to impose sanctions against Putin and Lavrov.

It wasn’t immediately clear how impactful an asset freeze would be on Putin or Lavrov, but the direct action targeting the Russian president was meant to be seen as a warning to Putin that he could emerge as an international pariah if he doesn’t end the invasion of Ukraine.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a press briefing that an attack on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would be “an atrocious act” on the part of the Russians. (AP and AFP)02.25.202221:53

UN to seek $1 billion in donations for Ukraine relief

The U.N. plans to seek over $1 billion (€887m) in donations for humanitarian relief in Ukraine over the next three months, the world body’s humanitarian chief said Friday.

Martin Griffiths said at a news briefing that the exact amount of the appeal is still being decided but will be “well north of $1 billion.”

The U.N. announced Thursday that it was immediately allocating $20 million (€17.75 million) to expand its humanitarian operations in Ukraine. Even before Russia’s attack this week, the world body estimated about three million people were in need of aid after years of fighting between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian government in the country’s east.

Now, “the scale of need in these very, very extraordinary circumstances is going to be of the highest,” Griffiths said.

The U.N. issues multiple appeals each year for international donors, mainly governments, to finance humanitarian efforts in trouble spots around the world. Last month, it requested more than $5 billion for Afghanistan, the largest-ever appeal tied to a single country. (AP)

02.25.202221:31

EU to consider Russia’s expulsion from SWIFT

Russia’s expulsion from SWIFT, the widely-used system of financial transactions, is back on the table for a third round of EU sanctions, despite previous attempts to exclude it, report Jorge Liboreiro and Shona Murray of Euronews’ Brussels Bureau.Read more here:

EU to consider Russia’s expulsion from SWIFT in new sanctions package

A third package of EU sanctions could see Russia cut off from the international payment system, a radical move that would also hit the bloc. #EuropeNews02.25.202221:21

Pope makes personal appeal in remarkable trip to Russian embassy

Pope Francis went to the Russian Embassy on Friday to personally “express his concern about the war” in Ukraine, in an extraordinary, hands-on papal gesture that has no recent precedent. Francis later assured a top Ukrainian Greek Catholic leader he would do “everything I can” to help.

Usually, popes receive ambassadors and heads of state in the Vatican, and diplomatic protocol would have called for the Vatican foreign minister to summon the Russian ambassador. Francis is the Vatican head of state, and for him to leave the walled city state and travel a short distance to the Russian Embassy to the Holy See was a sign of his anger at Moscow’s invasion and his willingness to appeal personally for an end to it.

Vatican officials said they knew of no such previous papal initiative.

“The Holy See press office confirms that the pope went to the Russian Embassy to the Holy See on Via della Conciliazione, clearly to express his concern about the war. He was there for just over a half-hour,” said Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni.

Francis has called for dialogue to end the conflict and has urged the faithful to set next Wednesday as a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Ukraine. But he has refrained from publicly calling out Russia by name, presumably for fear of antagonizing the Russian Orthodox Church. (AP)

The pope tweeted the following message in Russian and Ukrainian as well as English:

02.25.202221:13

Russia’s offer of talks ‘not real diplomacy’, says US

Washington does not believe that Kyiv should accept Moscow’s offer to open negotiations, as it would be doing so under threat, the State Department said on Friday.Ned Price told reporters that diplomacy under the threat of weapons while Moscow’s bombs and artillery were targeting civilians was “not real diplomacy”. (AFP)

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