Ukraine appears to be keeping its grip on Kharkiv despite Russian troops storming into the city centre this morning, as troops in Kyiv continue to defy Vladimir Putin’s army – despite another night of heavy shelling in the capital.
Footage shared on social media Sunday morning showed Russian trucks rolling through the city – Ukraine’s second largest with a population of 1.4million – which sits in Eastern Ukraine close to the border with Russia.
Soldiers were also seen marching through Kharkiv on foot, with a very dramatic clip showing Russians slowly advancing along a road before running and firing their guns as Ukrainians opened fire on them.
Another clip shared online shows an army vehicle said to belong to the Russians ablaze, with locals saying it had been torched by Ukrainians seeking to defend their city, while troops with yellow armbands were earlier seen in a firefight with a convoy of Russian troops.
Oleh Sinehubov, head of the Kharkiv regional administration, had urged civilians not to leave their homes, while Denys Monastyrsky, Deputy Minister of Interior for Ukraine, advised civilians to stay home and to shoot and throw Molotov cocktails at Russian troops from their windows.
The UK’s Ministry of Defence said in its latest intelligence update that there had been an ‘intensive’ exchange of rocket artillery in the city overnight, followed by ‘heavy fighting’ between Ukrainian and Russian forces. It said fighting in the capital Kyiv had been ‘less intense’ than previous nights.
However reports in Ukrainian newspapers suggest troops have managed to successfully repel the Russian advance on Kharkiv, with one British reporter on the ground confirming that the city remains under Ukrainian control despite this morning’s attack.
Meanwhile Mr Sinehubov today said Ukraine had managed to reclaim the city. In a post on Telegram, he said: ‘Control over Kharkiv is completely ours!
‘The armed forces, the national police, and the defence forces are working and the city is being completely cleansed of the enemy.
‘The Russian enemy is completely demoralised. In the middle of Kharkiv, abandoning vehicles in the middle of the road, whole groups of 5-10 people surrender to Ukrainian troops.
‘As soon as they see at least one representative of the Ukrainian armed forces, they surrender.’
The early morning breach of Ukraine’s defences came hours after Russia was dealt a significant blow when a column of Chechen special forces sent to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky were blown up by locals just two days into their mission.
The armed group – famed for their barbaric violence and human rights abuses – are said to have been obliterated after their convoy of 56 tanks was blown to smithereens near Hostomel, just northeast of Kyiv, by Ukrainian missile fire on the second day of the Chechens’ deployment. It is unclear how many died – but the number is likely to run into the hundreds.
Their deaths were reported by The Kyiv Independent news outlet as officials in Kyiv revealed that they’d managed to maintain control of Ukraine’s capital city throughout combat on Saturday night and into Sunday morning.
First Deputy Chairman of Kyiv City State Administration Mykola Povoroznyk said: ‘The situation in Kyiv is calm, the capital is fully controlled by the Ukrainian army and the terror defense. At night there were several clashes with sabotage group.’
But Russian forces were seen entering Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv on Sunday morning. Footage shared on social media showed Russian tanks and trucks rolling through the city, which sits in eastern Ukraine, close to the Russian border, with gunshots also heard ringing out.
Other videos shared online showed Russian troops walking in to the city of 1.419 million people on foot, as well as an army truck said to be Russian consumed by flames.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko, meanwhile, said their airforce had shot down a missile aimed at the capital Kyiv, by a plane that flew in from Russian ally Belarus.
But while fighting raged in the north, Russian forces said they had successfully blocked Kherson and Berdyansk in the south, effectively opening up a land bridge between Russia and the Crimean peninsula – which it annexed in 2014.
Among the Chechens said to have been wiped out was general Magomed Tushaev. He was commander of the 141th motorized national guard brigade – Chechen head of state Ramzan Kadyrov’s elite force.
Tushaev had also been pictured with Kadyrov, in a measure of his importance to the Chechen regime, which shot to notoriety in the west for hunting down, torturing and killing gay men.
Kadyrov is even believed to have visited his doomed squadron in a Ukrainian forest before their alleged deaths.
The terror squadron’s reported killings are a crushing psychological blow for Vladimir Putin’s stalled efforts to conquer Ukraine. The Russian premiere had dispatched the group to capture or kill Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, knowing full well that the fighters’ brutal reputation would strike further fear into the hearts of besieged Ukrainians.
Each fighter had been given a deck of cards complete with photos of Ukrainian officials they’d been told to target.
Zelensky, however, remains standing. And he has become a global hero for his brave dispatches from the front line – while his would-be assassins’ reported killings have brought huge disgrace and widespread grief to Chechnya.
Putin is said to be growing increasingly angry by his stalled efforts to conquer Ukraine. His fire and manpower vastly outnumbers that of Ukraine, and it is widely believed that Russia will eventually conquer its neighbor.
But the surprisingly effective defense being mounted by the smaller nation has badly tarnished Russian military prestige, with the Kremlin still a way-off their objective of seizing the capital of Kyiv and installing its own government.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence today claimed Ukrainian troops had killed more than 4,300 Russian soldiers in the first three days of fighting. Russia has not released an updates on its military losses.
Today, as Russia marked special forces day, Putin thanked soldiers for ‘heroically fulfilling their military duty’ in Ukraine. But he remained insistent that his armies were providing assistance to the ‘people’s republics of Donbas’ – referring to two rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine that Russia recognised as independent states ahead of its invasion – despite conflicts taking place in cities outside the region such as Kyiv and Kharkiv.
‘I want to thank the command, the personnel of the special operations forces, veterans of the special forces units for their loyalty to the oath, for their impeccable service in the name of the people of Russia and our great motherland,’ he said.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s defence ministry today appealed for foreigners to come forward to join its armed forces and fight back Putin’s army, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine urging people to contact his department. ‘Together we defeated Hitler, and we will defeat Putin too,’ he said in a Twitter post this morning.
Today, as the fighting continued, The Kremlin announced that a Russian delegation had arrived in the Belarusian city of Homel for talks with Ukrainian officials. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the delegation includes military officials and diplomats.
‘The Russian delegation is ready for talks, and we are now waiting for the Ukrainians,’ he said.
However, while Zelensky said that while said the Ukraine was ready for peace talks, he said they would not be taking place in Belarus – which had been used as a staging post for Russia troops prior to the invasion.
In a televised address, Zelensky, standing beside a Ukrainian flag dressed in an army green t-shirt and jumper, said: ‘If there had been no aggressive action from your territory, we could talk in Minsk… other cities can be used as the venue for talks.
‘Of course we want peace, we want to meet, we want the war to end. Warsaw, Bratislava, Budapest, Istanbul, Baku – we’ve offered them to the Russians.
‘Any other city would suit us, too – in a country, from whose territory missiles are not launched at us. This is the only way negotiations can be honest and can really end the war.’
He later said Russia should be stripped of its seat at the United Nations Security Council over its invasion of his country.
Russian forces have entered Ukraine’s second largest city of Kharkiv after failing in their overnight efforts to seize control of the capital city of Kyiv – as Ukraine’s president today said his country were ready for peace talks. Pictured: Ukrainian forces battle with a Russian convoy in Kharkiv
Russian forces were filmed advancing through Kharkiv on Sunday morning – moments before gunfire rang out, sending some soldiers running while others returned fire
A Russian military vehicle is seen ablaze in Kharkiv on Sunday morning after troops entered the eastern Ukrainian city
Burning Russian military equipment on the streets of Kharkiv minutes after Russian army entered the city
Russian forces are pictured entering Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, on Sunday morning. Gun battles are reported to have erupted. Russian vehicles are said to have been marked with a white Z to distinguish them from Ukrainian combatants
Russian forces are pictured entering Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, on Sunday morning. Gun battles are reported to have erupted. Russian vehicles are said to have been marked with a white Z to distinguish them from Ukrainian combatants
Oleh Sinehubov, head of the Kharkiv regional administration, said Ukrainian forces are fighting Russian troops in the city and asked civilians not to leave their homes. Denys Monastyrsky, Deputy Minister of Interior for Ukraine, urged civilians to stay home, shoot at Russian troops from their windows and throw homemade Molotov cocktails.
Denys Monastyrsky, Deputy Minister of Interior for Ukraine, urged civilians to stay home, shoot at Russian troops from their windows and throw homemade Molotov cocktails
A view of a residential building damaged by recent shelling in Kharkiv on February 26. Russia ordered its troops to advance in Ukraine ‘from all directions’ as the Ukrainian capital Kyiv imposed a blanket curfew and officials reported 198 civilian deaths
Outside of Kharkiv, in the northeastern Ukranian town of Koryukivka, brave residents were seen forming a line to prevent a tank going through, before walking the armored vehicle back as it reversed
Today, as the fighting continued, The Kremlin announced that a Russian delegation had arrived in the Belarusian city of Homel for talks with Ukrainian officials. However, while Zelensky said that while said the Ukraine was ready for peace talks, he said they would not be taking place in Belarus – which was a staging ground for Russia troops prior to the invasion. Pictured: Ukrainian servicemen take cover in a shelter at fighting positions at the military airbase Vasylkiv in the Kyiv region
A Ukrainian soldier smokes a cigarette on his position at an armored vehicle outside Kharkiv, Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy claimed Saturday that Ukraine’s forces had repulsed the assault and vowed to keep fighting.
This is the moment a gas pipeline was blown up by Ukraine in the city of Kharkiv, which sits east of Ukraine, close to the Russian border
Kyiv official Mykola Pvoroznyk shared an update on Facebook Sunday morning to confirm that the capital city remained in Ukrainian hands
With Ukraine’s military putting up a staunch defence, Putin’s forces are also reportedly being bogged down by poor planning and ineffective coordination. Many units are reportedly operating without the protection of air cover.
With Russia’s invasion stalling three days in, UK Armed Forces Minister James Heappey, writing in The Telegraph, warned Putin’s days ‘will surely be numbered’ if he fails in his ambition to take Kyiv.
‘Progress to Kyiv has been much slower than they’d expected, they were unable to take key cities early and now must try to bypass them,’ he wrote.
‘This leaves pockets of well-armed and well-trained Ukrainians to the rear of the Russian front line, exposing a vulnerable logistics tail – an omen for what awaits Putin.’
Mr Heappey, a former major in the Rifles, said if Putin failed and the Russian people could be shown ‘how little he cares for them… Putin’s days as president will surely be numbered and so too will those of the kleptocratic elite that surround him. He’ll lose power and he won’t get to choose his successor.’
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence today claimed it had killed more than 4,300 Russian soldiers in the first three days of fighting.
The government department today took to Twitter to share a post by Deputy Minister of Defense Hanna Maliar in which it said Ukrainian troops had also taken out more than 140 tanks, 27 aircraft and 700 armoured vehicles. Russia has not given any updates on its losses.
In a post on Facebook, Ms Maliar said: ‘We get the information only after the battle, and the battles are extremely long. Data can be received the next day, and sometimes every other day.
‘In addition, if the battle lasted at night, and began on one calendar date, and ended on another, it is quite difficult to separate on what day the losses occurred.’
Outside of Kharkiv, in the northeastern Ukrainian town of Koryukivka, brave residents were seen forming a line to prevent a tank going through, before walking the armored vehicle back as it reversed.
However there are fears that delays in Russia’s invasion plan could lead Putin to become more desperate in his attempts to crush Ukrainian resolve.
A Russian thermobaric rocket launcher was spotted by a US film crew south of Belgorod, Russia, near the Ukrainian border.
The weapons, which contain a highly explosive fuel and chemical mix and send out supersonic blast waves that can rip buildings and bodies apart, can reduce cities to rubble and would cause huge loss of life.
On Sunday morning, it emerged Russian missiles hit a nuclear waste disposal site outside of Kyiv – and destroyed the equipment that can detect leaks of radioactive material, as it was revealed that at least 240 Ukrainian civilians have been killed.
A chilling update shared by Ukrainian news website BNO Sunday said: ‘As a result of the mass bombing of Kyiv with all types of anti-aircraft and missile weapons available to the Russian Federation, the missiles that hit the radioactive waste disposal site of the Kyiv Branch of the State Specialized enterprise ‘Radon.’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky remains alive – and is fast becoming an international hero – as Vladimir Putin’s efforts to topple the Kyiv government and install his own puppet cabinet runs into trouble
Today, as Russia marked special forces day, he thanked soldiers for ‘heroically fulfilling their military duty’ in Ukraine. But he remained insistent that his armies were providing assistance to the ‘people’s republics of Donbas’ – referring to two rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine that Russia recognised as independent states ahead of its invasion – despite conflicts taking place in cities outside the region such as Kyiv and Kharkiv.
This map shows the strikes Russia is so-far known to have carried out against Ukraine, with more explosions rocking the country in the early hours of Sunday morning
BNO claimed that there was ‘no evidence of a leak’, but then elaborated by saying that ‘the automated radiation monitoring system failed’ – meaning that dangerous nuclear material could well have been spilled.
Unconfirmed reports that a cancer hospital for children in Kyiv had been shelled by Russians forces meanwhile have also been debunked.
Ukrainian news site TSN said at least one child, a six-year-old boy, had been killed after the Okhmadyt children’s cancer hospital in Kyiv was struck by artillery fire on Sunday morning, reports.
The Kyiv Independent said that at least two children and two adults were wounded in the attack while a picture allegedly showing material covering the body of a child was shared by former Ukrainian ambassador Olexander Scherba.
However the New York Times has rebuffed the claims, saying that while gunfire had been heard near to the hospital, it had not bee targeted by artillery fire.
Local newspaper The Kyiv Independent wrote that an oil depot had been blown up at Vasylkiv Air Base. The city which sits around 40 kilometers south west of Kyiv, close to a key airport. A gas pipeline was also blown up in Kharkiv, a city in eastern Ukraine which sits close to the Russian border.
Video footage showed a mushroom cloud fill the city’s sky as the fuel line was destroyed, with a group of people who filmed the clip heard exclaiming with shock as the ball of flames erupted into the sky. It is unclear if anyone was injured or killed by either blast.
An eerie orange glow lights up the sky in Vasylkyiv after Russian missiles targeted an oil refinery located on a local air base
An oil depot is pictured on fire in the Ukrainian city of Vasylkiv, southwest of Kyiv, in the early hours of Sunday. The city’s mayor Natalia Balasynovych said the blaze was the result of a Russian ballistic missile attack
A woman was killed in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, on Saturday night after a Russian artillery shell hit this nine-story apartment building
This statement was shared by BNO News Saturday announcing a strike on the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine in Kyiv, which stores radioactive waste
The building that was struck is pictured in May 2015. A radiation detector was also destroyed in the strike, although a preliminary inspection has suggested that there does not appear to be any danger to local residents
Mayor of Vasylkiv Natalia Balasynovych shared a video message in the early hours of Sunday saying that Russian forces wanted to ‘destroy everything’ in their attempts to conquer Ukraine
Elon Musk risked aggravating the Russian autocrat further Saturday, after answered a plea from Ukraine’s vice prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov to switch on his Starlink satellites over the country. That means locals will still be able to use the internet if Russia destroys the country’s telecommunications network.
Ukrainians are particularly keen to push back against Russian propaganda and lies about the atrocities being inflicted by Putin and his troops.
President Volodymyr Zelensky has so-far managed to avoid Russian kill squads deployed to capture and assassinate him, and shared updates earlier on Saturday vowing to fight on, having previously conceded he was unlikely to survive the conflict when it inevitably intensifies.
The Vasylkiv blasts – said to have been triggered by Russian ballistic missiles – filled the skies over Kyiv with an eerie orange glow in the early hours of Sunday morning. It is unclear if anyone was injured or killed in the explosions.
The explosions were first reported by CNN and stuck close to the Ukrainian capital’s secondary airport, Boryspil International. They took place around 15 minutes apart, and set of car alarms miles from the explosion epicenter.
A group of Chechen rebel fighters is pictured in a Ukrainian forest – but huge numbers of the soldiers have since been wiped out after Ukrainian soldiers blew up 56 of their tanks
The soldiers are seen praying – days before it emerged a group had been blown to smithereens on the second day of their tour, with one of their top leaders among those obliterated
Chechen general Magomed Tushaev was one of 56 highly-feared elite soldiers blown up by Ukraine after they joined the Russian invasion with their sights set on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
A satellite image with overlaid graphics shows military vehicles alongside Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, in Chernobyl, Ukraine
The advance of the Chechen soldiers was intended to strike fear into the hearts of Ukrainians – but they were blown to smithereens on their second day in the country
Ukrainian TV station Nexta shared footage of flames and black clouds billowing into the sky at the site of the Vasylkiv attack as the fuel burned. It has also since shared a clip of the moment the oil depot was struck, with a bright white glow filling the darkened night sky as the fuel store ignited.
The statement the outlet shared said that a ‘preliminary assessment’ showed there was ‘no threat of radioactive’ exposure to people outside the immediate vicinity, with a further examination set to take place when the area is made safe.
The blast came as two Ukrainian cities were rocked by Russian blasts in the early hours of Sunday as Vladimir Putin stepped up his invasion – after it was claimed he has been infuriated by his army’s lack of progress.
And the UN released the first official death toll Sunday, saying that at least 240 civilians have so-far been killed in the conflict. On Saturday night, an unidentified woman became the latest victim of the conflict after a Russian artillery shell struck a nine-story residential apartment block in Kharkiv, killing her as she sat inside.
People as far away as Kyiv have since been urged to keep their windows shut to protect them from potentially harmful fumes released by the explosion and subsequent inferno.
Russia was widely-expected to step-up its attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure in a bid to try and cower locals into submission.
Forces have been met with far greater resistance than the Kremlin is said to have expected, sparking reports that Putin has been angered that locals have not capitulated to the might of his armed forces as quickly as expected.
Vasylkiv mayor Natalia Balasynovych told the Independent that her city and its airfield sustained heavy shelling from ballistic missiles. She said: ‘The enemy wants to destroy everything around, but he will not succeed. Hold on!’
She later recorded a Facebook message for locals, saying: ‘You can see what is going on, you can see the fire – unfortunately, this is the petroleum storage depot in Kriachky village.
‘The enemy wants to destroy everything around, but he will not be successful. You’ve seen that during the day there was heavy shelling from ballistic missiles. Our airfield was shelled as well, but we got it, it’s under control of Ukraine.
Armed civil defense men pose for a photo while patroling an empty street due to curfew in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday
Ukrainian troops escort a man who they suspect is a Russian agent in Kyiv, Ukraine on Sunday
In Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv, one block of flats was seen damaged by shelling as the capital city held out for another night
Images from the Ukrainian city of Sumy show a Russian tank burning just days after newly revealed dashcam footage showed a huge column of tanks moving into the city
Last night there was also reportedly strikes on an oil terminal in the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNP) at Rovenky, a coal mining city. An LPR source said: ‘It could have possibly been a missile attack, our emergency services have left to the site.’ The source of the alleged attack in the LPR was unclear. Pictured: A view of destroyed buildings after it was allegedly targeted by Ukraine in Kievsky Rayonda city of Donetsk region under the control of pro-Russian separatists
Officials inspect the destroyed buildings and surroundings after it was allegedly targeted by Ukraine in Kievsky Rayonda city of Donetsk region
‘The night will be difficult here, as well as in Kyiv, but we will stand our ground and we will win, because God is with us.’
Vasylkiv had suffered heavy Russian bombardment in the early hours of Saturday, as Russian troops fought to try and seize control of a key strategic staging post on the road to Kyiv.
Kyiv’s 2.9 million citizens face another night of terror as it was claimed Russia will step up its bombardment on Saturday night, and target commercial businesses in a bid to destroy Ukrainian morale.
Many have fled to underground shelters in a bid to stay safe, although other men and women have taken to the streets with weapons in a bid to fend off any Russian advance.
BNO News also shared footage of heavy shelling in Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine, with the night sky there lit up by the orange glow of explosions.
Last night there was also reportedly strikes on an oil terminal in the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNP) at Rovenky, a coal mining city.
An LPR source said: ‘It could have possibly been a missile attack, our emergency services have left to the site.’ The source of the alleged attack in the LPR was unclear.
Donald Trump – who touted his close relationship with Vladimir Putin while he was president – condemned the attack while speaking at the CPAC conservative conference in Florida Saturday night.
Trump said: ‘The Russian attack on Ukraine is appalling, it’s an outrage and an atrocity that should never have been allowed to occur. It never would have occurred. We are praying for the proud people of Ukraine. God bless them all.’
An eerie orange glow lights up the skies over Ukraine in the early hours of Sunday local time, with the fire suspected to be at the site of a fuel depot close to one of the city’s airports
This map shows the attacks so-far known to have taken place in the Kyiv area during Sunday local time, and will be updated as more information emerges
Estonia’s former defense minister Riho Terras shared what he claimed was intel about Russia’s slower-than-anticipated attempt to overrun Ukraine
Terras claimed the Russians had expected to terrify Ukraine into submission – only to be met with stern resistance
Terras also claimed horrific attacks on civilian targets would be unleashed to try and panic Ukrainians, but urged them to stand firm
Terras shared this photo which he claims is of a Russian intelligence briefing, and which says that Putin’s invasion is going far worse than the Kremlin chief had anticipated
A Russian missile hit a residential tower block in the early hours of Saturday, with local officials warning Putin would step up attacks on civilian targets in a bid to terrify the Ukrainians into submission
A Ukrainian man waits with his gun at a territorial defense registration unit Saturday. Tens of thousands of ordinary Ukrainians have signed up to try and help their military defeat Vladimir Putin’s invasion
People leaving the Ukraine and heading over the border into Poland after the war started earlier this week
Views of Przemysl in and around the town and the train station. Ukrainian refugees arrive at Przemysl train station waiting to go through the Polish border
Around 200 Ukrainian civilians are estimated to have been killed so far. Meanwhile, Ukraine has claimed to have killed 3,500 Russian troops, including hundreds believed to have died when two transport jets were shot down Friday night.
Those losses and the continued failure to seize Kyiv have left Vladimir Putin furious, according to Estonia’s former defense chief Riho Terras.
Terras wrote on Twitter: ‘ Putin is furious, he thought that the whole war would be easy and everything would be done in 1-4 days.
‘The Russians are in shock of the fierce resistance they have encountered.’
The defense expert went on to claim Russia was failing because it had failed to enact a ‘tactical plan’ and beyond expecting the attack to ‘sew panic among civilians and armed forces and force (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelensky to flee.’
Terras shared an image of a a piece of paper said to be a defense document which proclaimed: ‘Putin is raging. He was sure it would be a cake walk.’