UK government: Kyiv still in Ukrainian hands as Russia fails to capture day one targets
UK Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said this morning that Russian forces have not captured the southeastern Ukrainian city of Melitopol and armoured columns advancing on the capital Kyiv have been held up by Ukrainian resistance.
Speaking to BBC’s Today programme, he said: “What stands in front of Ukraine is days and weeks of utter brutality but they are doing an amazing job”.
Heappey said the UK government believes that Russia have failed to capture any of its day one targets for its invasion of Ukraine, which started on Thursday.
“Even Melitopol, which the Russians are claiming to have taken but we can’t see anything to substantiate that, are all still in Ukrainian hands,” Heappey said.
“The fighting … reported on the outskirts of Kyiv overnight, we understand to just be Russian special forces and pockets of paratroopers”.
“The reality is that the armoured columns that were coming down from Belarus and the north that were going to encircle Kyiv are still some way north because they’ve been held up by this incredible Ukrainian resistance,” the minister told BBC radio.
Grab for Kyiv
Kyiv’s mayor Vitali Klitschko said 35 people were wounded in overnight fighting in the capital.
Reuters reported early this morning that the area southwest of Kyiv had been struck by two missiles, including a residential building.
Russian Defence Ministry said it would not be targeting Ukrainian cities and would be avoiding civilian casualties.
It is understood that gaining control of the capital is crucial for Moscow, underpinning the overall success of the invasion.
However, Ukrainian officials state that the situation is “under control” in the capital.
The United Nations currently estimates that 100,000 people have escaped Ukraine in the past 48 hours, with thousands left internally displaced, weighing up whether to flee.
Russian troops are building up on the Ukrainian border in the Kyiv region, local governor Oleksiy Kuleba updated this morning.
According to reports from Reuters, Kuleba said 71 people were currently wounded in hospitals in the region, including soldiers and civilians.
“Russian forces have continued their advance on Kyiv with the bulk of their forces now 30 km from the centre of the city,” the defence ministry said in an intelligence update posted on Twitter.
“Russia has yet to gain control of the airspace over Ukraine greatly reducing the effectiveness of the Russian Air Force. Russian casualties are likely to be heavy and greater than anticipated or acknowledged by the Kremlin,” it said.
However, as the day progresses, there have been clashes near the southern city of Odesa.
In the eastern city of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, officials told the BBC that troops have fought off a Russian attack. Citizens have been warned not to move around the city, with a shelling alert being issued.