137 killed in Ukraine, explosions heard in Kyiv

Russia At War

(NewsNation Now) — Several more explosions were heard in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, late Thursday and early Friday, as Russian troops tried to advance on the capital from multiple directions.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said 137 civilians and military personnel have been killed.

“Horrific Russian rocket strikes on Kyiv,” Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba said in a statement. “Last time our capital experienced anything like this was in 1941 when it was attacked by Nazi Germany. Ukraine defeated that evil and will defeat this one. Stop Putin. Isolate Russia. Severe [sic] all ties. Kick Russia out of everywhete [sic].”

Ukrainian and Russian forces continued to engage throughout the embattled country. Among the developments overnight:

  • Russian troops entered the city of Sumy which is near the border with Russia and on a highway leading to Kyiv from the east. The regional governor, Dmytro Zhivitsky, said Ukrainian forces fought Russian troops in the city overnight, but other Russian convoys kept rolling west toward the Ukrainian capital. “Military vehicles from Sumy are moving toward Kyiv,” Zhivitsky said. “Much equipment has passed through and is heading directly to the west.”
  • Zhivitsky added that another northeastern city, Konotop, was also besieged.
  • A bridge across a river had been destroyed in the area of Ivankiv, about 40 miles northwest of Kyiv.
  • A Ukrainian government Facebook page showed images of badly damaged buildings that looked to be hit with Russian weaponry.

“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. Russian tanks burn perfectly when hit by our ATGMs (anti-tank guided missiles),” Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko said on Telegram.

Zelenskyy said the government had information that “subversive groups” were encroaching on the city, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Kyiv “could well be under siege” in what U.S. officials believe is a brazen attempt by Russian President Vladimir Putin to dismantle the government and install his own puppet regime.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told lawmakers on a phone call that Russian mechanized forces, which entered from Belarus, were about 20 miles from Kyiv, according to a person familiar with the call.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began early Thursday with a series of missile strikes, many on key government and military installations, quickly followed by a three-pronged ground assault. Ukrainian and U.S. officials said Russian forces were attacking from the east toward Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city; from the southern region of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014; and from Belarus to the north.

Male Ukrainian citizens aged 18 to 60 have been prohibited from leaving the country while martial law is in place. In a statement posted on Facebook, the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine said “departure from Ukraine is restricted” temporarily. It is forbidden to travel outside the borders of Ukraine [for] citizens of Ukraine, male gender between 18 to 60 years old.”

Diplomatic efforts will continue to try and pressure Russia. The U.N. Security Council will vote Friday on a resolution that would condemn Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine “in the strongest terms.” It also would demand an immediate halt to Russia’s invasion and the withdrawal of all Russian troops.

A senior U.S. official says the Biden administration knows the measure will be vetoed by Russia, but believes it is very important to put the resolution to a vote to underscore Russia’s international isolation.

President Joe Biden started Thursday with adding economic isolation for Russia when he announced a host of additional sanctions to punish Russia and President Vladimir Putin for what he called “a premeditated attack” on Ukraine.

Here’s what the sanctions seek to accomplish:

  • Cut Russia off from U.S. financial markets.
  • Freeze assets of major Russian banks.
  • Cut off an estimated 50% of Russia’s high tech-imports. 
  • Target specific “Russian elites and family members.”
  • Deploy additional troops to Germany to support NATO allies.
  • Vow to respond to any cyberattacks against U.S. companies.

“We saw flagrant violations of international law,” Biden said. “Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war, and now he and his country will bear the consequences.”

The new package of sanctions aims to cut Russia off from U.S. financial markets and includes freezing the assets of four major Russian banks, including VTB Bank, the nation’s second-biggest bank, Biden said Thursday.

Speaking at the White House, Biden also announced sweeping export restrictions that would limit Russia’s ability to do business.

New export control measures could halt more than 50% of high-tech imports into Russia and severely limit its access to global exports of everything from commercial electronics and computers to semiconductors and aircraft parts.

Biden said it will “strike a blow” to Russia’s hopes of modernizing its military, its vaunted aerospace industry, its space program, shipping and other industry.

“It’s going to be a cold day for Russia,” Biden said.

Biden also acted to sanction several additional Russian oligarchs and elites, which cuts them off from the U.S. financial system, freezes any assets they hold in the U.S. and blocks their travel to the United States.

In light of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Biden also announced the deployment of additional U.S. troops to Germany to bolster NATO forces.

Some 7,000 service members from the 4th Infantry Division and the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team are slated to come from Fort Carson in Colorado, a senior defense official told NewsNation.

Biden has made clear that the U.S. would go after Russia financially, not militarily. The goal is to make Moscow pay so high a price that the Kremlin will change course.

“Our forces are not and will not be engaged in the conflict with Russia in Ukraine,” Biden said.

As the conflict in Ukraine continues, NewsNation will bring Americans the latest developments from abroad and insights into its impact at home throughout our newscasts. We’re dropping the paywall on our livestream so it’s available to everyone. You can watch NewsNation’s programming, including the latest on Ukraine, at the top of the hour from 7 to 10 a.m. and 5 to 11 p.m. ET.

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