A day after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered military action in the breakaway regions of Ukraine, Russian forces appear to be closing in on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
Explosions could be heard in Kyiv early Friday local time. Many Ukrainians had rushed to leave the capital Thursday.
“Russian mechanized forces, which came in from Belarus, are 20 miles outside of Kyiv,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told lawmakers Thursday night, according to reporting from Axios. Austin added that the military is looking into ways to provide Ukrainian forces with more equipment, including ammunition.
Kyiv residents reported loud explosions, the Kyiv Independent reported. Ukrainian forces might have shot down a Russian missile in the capital, according to the Ukrainska Pravda news outlet.
Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, noted that the last time foreigners attacked Kyiv took place in 1941.
“Horrific Russian rocket strikes on Kyiv. Last time our capital experienced anything like this was in 1941 when it was attacked by Nazi Germany,” Kuleba said. “Ukraine defeated that evil and will defeat this one. Stop Putin. Isolate Russia. Severe all ties. Kick Russia out of [everywhere].”
Russian shelling outside Kyiv had already done significant damage.
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