World News

The teacher, the boxer and the MP battling to save their capital Kyiv

Ukraine: Vitali Klitschko says 35 people have been wounded in Kyiv

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

The noose continued to tighten around Kyiv yesterday as civilians sought shelter underground from aerial bombardment after a night of heavy fighting. The city’s mayor, former world heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, had joined in the overnight fighting around the capital along with his brother Wladimir, another champion boxer.

In a video posted yesterday, Vitali said: “The night was hard but there are no Russian troops in the capital.” He added the “aggressors were neutralised” but there had also been firefights with groups that infiltrated the capital.

He said: “As of 6am, 35 people were wounded, including two children. I ask everyone to keep calm and stay in shelters. The enemy will attack from the air.”

He reassured the city’s population that all critical infrastructure was still working.

Yesterday the Ministry of Defence said the Ukrainian military had “put up staunch resistance” and Russian casualties are “likely to be heavy and greater than anticipated”.

But the bulk of Russian forces involved in the advance on Kyiv were now 19 miles from the city centre. The MoD added: “The speed of the Russian advance has temporarily slowed as a result of acute logistical difficulties and strong Ukrainian resistance.

“Russian forces are bypassing major Ukrainian population centres while leaving forces to encircle and isolate them.

“Overnight clashes in Kyiv are likely to have involved limited numbers of prepositioned Russian sabotage groups.

“The capture of Kyiv remains Russia’s primary military objective.”

Portsmouth University law lecturer Andrii Zharikov confirmed that ordinary civilians including his history teacher father, 55, have taken up arms to fight against the Russians.

He added that he had been struggling to sleep or eat since the invasion as he feared for the safety of his family.

His sister Anna-Maria, 19, had fled west, his mother Tetyana, 53, was in a bomb shelter looking after his 86-year-old grandmother, while his father Victor queued for hours to get a weapon.

Ukraine: Missile strike hits residential building in Kyiv

Andrii, 30, said his father volunteered “because the enemy is coming”.

He added: “The majority of them are ordinary people, mostly males because women are going to the safer places or staying in bomb shelters, but from what I’ve seen many people like my father understand that if there is no help we will not stay there for very long.

“My voice is trembling because I know how dangerous it is. I told him not to do it but to stay with my mum.

“But she said he has no choice as the enemy is already in Kyiv and there needs to be a resistance.

“There are loads of such people who are of the same opinion – that this is our home and we need to protect it.”

Yesterday the capital was bathed in sunlight but there were few people and cars out on the streets.

Cafes and shops were deserted as residents sheltered or had already fled.

There were also distant explosions and air-raid sirens from time to time but the government district was silent as Ukrainian forces set up roadblocks.

What is happening where you live? Find out by adding your postcode or visit InYourArea

In the most dramatic strike, CCTV captured the moment a rocket slammed into a high-rise apartment block hours after Mr Klitschko made his video address, ripping huge chunks out of the upper floors. But there were no reports of deaths as children’s books were seen among the heaps of rubble.

One man, named Yuri, simply said: “It’s no miracle. Most people were in the shelters or have left already.”

Maia Mikhaluk, 51, a part-time photographer, shared images she had taken of children playing in the rubble and said: “It’s shocking. It’s surreal to be taking these pictures in Kyiv, in the capital of a European country, right in the centre of Europe.

“You can see a building destroyed, you can see lives destroyed. Those shards of glass are like shards of people’s lives.”

Ms Mikhaluk lives with her husband, her pregnant daughter and her son-in-law and they were woken by a loud explosion that rattled their windows overnight on Friday, prompting them to take shelter in the corridor for several hours.

She said: “Our daughter is 38 weeks pregnant and that adds big time to our concerns and fears.

“If she goes into labour we need to get her to the hospital and, hopefully, not during the bombing. She’s doing OK. She is trying to stay positive.We keep praying that this baby will come, together with a victory over this much larger enemy… just hope there will be a miracle.”

And software developer Mykhailo, 35, sheltering in a cellar said that he was “less and less” scared as the resistance to Russian forces on the outskirts of the capital continued.

He revealed that he had fled Sevastopol in Crimea after Russia annexed the region in 2014. He predicted the fighting is “going to intensify, no doubt about it. Nevertheless, I’m scared less and less.”

He said that Ukrainian forces are doing a “great job” and “we are prepared and ready”.

Animation director Natalya Gayda, 44, who works in Kyiv but fled to the city of Ternopil, 70 miles east of Lviv, said that she is hopeful “as Russia saw we are not going to fail silently”.

She also called for sanctions to be tightened, adding: “It’s not a time to think about wealth.

“We want peace but if Russia succeeds, it would be horrible to the whole world.”

Source: Read Full Article