UPDATE - Russia Presses Invasion To Outskirts Of Kyiv As Zelenskiy Says 137 Dead In Russian Attacks
Russia pressed its invasion of Ukraine to the outskirts of the capital on February 25 afterattacking the country by land, sea and air a day earlier.
The Russian military unleashed airstrikes on cities and military bases and sent in troops and tanks in an operation that has so far killed 137 civilians and military personnel, according to figures released by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
He called them “heroes” in a video address released early on February 25 in which he also says more than 300 people were injured in less than 24 hours of fighting.
Zelenskiy said Russia resumed missile strikes at 4 a.m. local time on February 25, but its troops had been stopped from advancing in most directions.
Explosions sounded by Kyiv early on February 25 as air sirens went off.
The Ukrainian military reported significant fighting in the area of Ivankiv, about 60 kilometers (40 miles) northwest of Kyiv.
“The hardest day will be today. The enemy’s plan is to break through with tank columns from the side of Ivankiv and Chernihiv to Kyiv,” Interior Ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko said on Telegram.
“They’re killing people and turning peaceful cities into military targets. It’s foul and will never be forgiven,” Zelenskiy said.
The president said all border guards on Zmiinyi (Snake) Island in the Odesa region were killed. All of them will be posthumously awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine, he said.
Ukraine’s border guard service earlier in the day reported that the island was taken by Russian forces.
Zelenskiy said that, despite the losses, the armed forces of Ukraine were “brilliantly defending the country against one of the most powerful nations in the world.”
The president also lamented that his country had been "left alone" to fight Russia. "Who is ready to fight alongside us? I don't see anyone."
Russia began its invasion from multiple directions before dawn on February 24. The deputy defense minister reported heavy Russian shelling in the eastern Donetsk region.
Live Briefing: Ukraine Under Attack
Check out RFE/RL's live briefing on Russia's invasion of Ukraine and how Kyiv and the West are reacting. Ukraine Under Attack presents the latest developments and analysis, updated throughout the day.
Ukrainian officials said their forces were battling Russians on multiple fronts and had lost control of the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant, scene of the world's worst nuclear disaster.
Heavy exchanges of fire also took place in the regions of Sumy and Kharkiv in the northeast and Kherson and Odesa, Ukraine's most important seaport, in the south.
Ukraine requested an urgent debate at the UN Human Rights Council, the United Nations said.
The request is in response “to the extremely grave deterioration in the human rights situation in Ukraine as a result of Russia's hostilities on Ukrainian territory," Yevheniia Filipenko, Ukraine's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, said in a letter sent to the president's forum.
The council president will meet and discuss the request with the 47-member body, a UN statement said. A simple majority is needed to hold an urgent debate during its main annual session opening on February 28.
In Washington, U.S. President Joe Biden announced new sanctions against Russia, saying Putin “chose this war” and that his country would bear the consequences of his action.
Biden was to meet on February 25 with fellow leaders of NATO governments in what the White House described as an “extraordinary virtual summit” to discuss Ukraine.
Zelenskiy urged the United States and the West to impose even harsher sanctions and cut the Russians from the SWIFT system, a key financial network that connects thousands of banks around the world. Biden said the U.S. and its partners were withholding that move for now but could impose more sanctions later.
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