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Latest Russia-Ukraine updates: Thousands of citizens flee their homes

Latest Russia-Ukraine updates: Thousands of citizens flee their homes

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Zelensky confirms pre-dawn missile strikes

Ukrainian President Zelensky delivering a national address on Friday morning
: Ukrainian President Zelensky delivering a national address on Friday morning

The Ukrainian leader has confirmed the multiple missile strikes reported pre-dawn today.

Zelensky said the strikes began at 4am on Friday local time.

He added that Russia’s strikes had targeted both military and civilian sites. Russia has previously said it’s not aiming strikes at civilians.

But as we reported earlier, the capital Kyiv has seen blasts this morning, including what appears to be a strike that hit a residential building.

BREAKING! Ukraine’s leader: Russia will have to talk to us to end war

It’s 7.30am in Kyiv. Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky is speaking again to his citizens in a video address. In both Ukrainian and Russian, he’s making appeals to Russia for a ceasefire.

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“Russia will have to talk to us sooner or later about how to end hostilities and stop this invasion,” he said.

“The sooner the conversation begins, the smaller Russia’s losses will be.”

He added that until the attacks stop, “we will be defending our country until then”.

Just last night, he’d warned of the intensifying attack on the capital. He said he had no intention of leaving the capital and that he knew he was Russia’s number one target right now.

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Ukraine foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba says Russia has conducted “horrific” missile strikes on Kyiv, comparing them to Nazi Germany’s attack on Ukraine during World War Two.

Meanwhile, there are multiple reports of more explosions in and around Ukraine’s capital.

The BBC’s Paul Adams says he has heard air sirens and at least one blast.

Ukrainian online newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda has reported Ukrainian military forces had destroyed a bridge near Ivankiv on the outskirts of Kyiv, to impede Russian tanks from advancing further into the city.

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Ukraine’s military has published footage of what it says is a street gunbattle between Ukrainian defenders in the north-eastern city of Sumy and Russian attackers.

Sumy – with the population of more than 260,000 people – is a regional capital that lies less than 30km (19 miles) from the Russian border.

The head of the local administration, Dmytro Zhyvytsky, said a large Russian military convoy was heading west past Sumy towards the capital Kyiv.

He also said that the nearby town of Konotop was now encircled.

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Some have posted the military’s video on Twitter:

Social embed from twitter

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Ukraine’s state border guard service says its unit in the south-eastern Zaporizhzhya region was hit by Russian rockets at 04:25 local time (02:25 GMT).

The service says there are casualties and injured among the border guards from the Prymors’ky Pasad unit.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says he is “convinced” that Russian president Vladimir Putin will try to overthrow the Ukrainian government.

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In an interview with US broadcaster ABC, Mr Blinken said it was “part of the Russian plan” to assault the capital Kyiv and other major cities in Ukraine, along with launching a multi-pronged attack on the country from the north, east and south borders.

Mr Blinken said a Russian attack beyond Ukraine was “a possibility”, but reiterated the US’ commitment towards defending its Nato allies, warning that “an attack on one member of Nato is an attack on all members of Nato”.

“The President’s been very clear that we will defend every inch of Nato territory. I think that’s the most powerful deterrent against President Putin going beyond Ukraine,” he said.

Mr Blinken also reiterated US President Joe Biden’s position that the possibility of expanding existing US sanctions to target Mr Putin directly was still “on the table”, if the situation were to escalate.

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File photo: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at a joint press conference of the Quad Foreign Ministers meeting at the Park Hyatt on February 11, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia
Image caption: File photo: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

A roundup of all the latest

A young family shelters in an underground metro station in Kyiv
Image caption: A young family shelters in an underground metro station in Kyiv

It’s just turned 06:00 in Kyiv on day two of Russia’s invasion, which represents the first major ground war in Europe in decades.

If you’re just joining us, here’s the newest developments:

  • There were reports earlier on Friday of explosions and an aircraft shot down over Kyiv
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said earlier “saboteurs” had entered the capital
  • It follows frontline battles all across the country, with fighting most heavy in the east, around Kharkiv, but also present in the north, and around the southern Black Sea cities of Odesa
  • One battle occurred at the radioactive Chernobyl nuclear site in the north, which fell to Russian forces. The US says Ukrainian soldiers are being held hostage there
  • Thousands of Ukrainians are fleeing cities on the frontline, heading west to quieter areas and many even seeking safety over the border in Poland and Romania
  • But most Ukrainians have stayed, sheltering in bunkers and underground metro stations. A general mobilisation has gone out ordering all citizens who can carry arms to defend their country
  • The EU, Australia and Japan unveiled fresh sanctions on Friday targeting Russian banks, companies and oligarchs. Western nations have also pledged aid and military supplies to Ukrainian forces
  • French President Emmanuel Macron says he phoned Vladimir Putin asking him to end the attack, and the call was “frank, direct, quick”
  • In Russian cities, thousands protested in the streets against the decision to go to war and hundreds of demonstrators were arrested

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