“Active fighting is taking place in the streets of our city. Please remain calm and be as careful as possible!” The Ukrainian Interior Ministry said on its Facebook page on Saturday.
The ministry called on residents to “hide inside” and take cover to prevent being hit by bullet fragments. She advised those in the city to “go immediately” to the nearest shelter if they heard the sirens.
Ukrainians have been preparing to defend their capital in recent days, as officials have armed reservists and Ukrainian television broadcasts instructions for making Molotov cocktails.
“We are all here. Our army is here. Citizens and society is here. We are all here to defend our independence, our state and it will always be. Glory to our defenders! Glory to our defenders! Glory to Ukraine!” Zelensky said in a video posted on Friday night that has gone viral on the internet ever since.
Several bursts of gunfire were heard near central Kiev around 5:45 a.m. local time on Saturday. They appear to have come from the southeast after a lull that followed a number of explosions Friday night and early Saturday in and around the capital, which is usually home to nearly 3 million people.
Ukraine’s Military Law Enforcement Service said it “destroyed a column of equipment for the occupiers” which, according to their initial information, included two cars, two trucks and an enemy tank.
Violent clashes and explosions continued in the outer suburbs of the capital, with Russian forces advancing towards the capital from several sides.
The mayor of Vasylkiev, 35 kilometers (21.7 miles) south of Kiev, described heavy fighting taking place in the city centre.
Speaking to the Verkhovna Rada channel early Saturday, the mayor, Natalia Balasinovich, said there are losses on the Ukrainian side.
Videos from eyewitnesses during the night showed explosions taking place in the northwestern region of Kiev, which houses a military base. CNN teams in the capital reported hearing explosions in the west and south of the city. Shortly thereafter, the State Service of Special Communications of Ukraine said that clashes were underway in one of the eastern suburbs as well.
In his patriotic address, Zelensky emphasized that Russian forces were close to the capital and said he was still communicating with world leaders, including US President Joe Biden.
“Our main goal is to end this massacre,” Zelensky said in the letter. “Ukrainians heroically resist Russian aggression”.
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