Kyiv Under Siege
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told lawmakers Thursday evening that Russian mechanized forces arriving from Belarus were about 20 miles from Kyiv, while another Russian element deployed from Russia was further away but also headed to Ukraine's capital. U.S. officials said Russia plans to encircle Kyiv, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russian "enemy sabotage groups" have already arrived in Kyiv, and "according to our information, the enemy has identified me as the No. 1 target."
Reporters on the ground in Kyiv also heard at least three large explosions in the city Friday morning, and Ukrainian government adviser Anton Gerashchenko said Russians had hit the city with "cruise or ballistic missiles." According to CNN, Ukrainian Deputy Interior Minister Yevhen Yenin attributed one of the explosions to a Ukrainian "anti-missile system shooting a (Russian) missile out of the sky," though CNN could not verify that claim.
The European Union joined the U.S. and other nations in hitting Russia with harder sanctions on Friday, and Austin told U.S. lawmakers the Biden administration is looking at ways to provide Ukraine with more defensive equipment.
Zelensky said at least 137 Ukrainians were killed in the first day of Russia's invasion and 316 more were wounded, but Ukraine also says it inflicted heavy losses on Russian forces. Britain's Defense Ministry said Thursday night that Ukrainian forces "presented fierce resistance" and "it is unlikely that Russia has achieved its planned Day 1 military objectives."