The Guardian’s Peter Beaumont in Ukraine’s western city of Lviv has given his report on the current crisis unfolding around Kyiv.
On the second day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it has become increasingly clear what the Kremlin’s military tactics are: which is very quickly to put pressure on the capital Kyiv. Kyiv is facing threats both from its eastern edges, from the west more generally since the capture of the Chernobyl nuclear plant site, and now, according to Ukrainian officials, from the threat of infiltration into the city.
While it’s unclear whether the Russian military intends to capture the Ukrainian capital or force it’s capitulation, a combination of missile attacks, a rapid airborne advance using helicopters to the outskirts, and the continuing advance by Russian armour is putting Kyiv in an increasingly difficult position.
This morning, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the government had information that “subversive groups” were encroaching on the city, while US 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 replace it with his own regime.
While Zelinskiy said this morning that Russian troops had been halted in most places but even if that is the case, which seems to contradict his comments on encroachment, the situation is serious.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told lawmakers on a phone call Thursday evening that Russian mechanised forces that entered from Belarus were about 20 miles from Kyiv.
While there has been some focus on Russian losses inflicted by Ukrainian defenders – including helicopters, soldiers and armoured vehicles – it’s worth pointing out these are so far at the level the Russian military would have priced in for such a quick and aggressive advance and not evidence necessarily any sign so far that the Russian operation is struggling.
Zelenskiy confirms reports of Russian missile strikes in national address