- Zhelensky says he is Russia’s “number one target.”
- Russian forces captured the Chernobyl plant and advanced on Kiev
- The United States and the European Union have announced new sanctions
- Oil prices rise to $ 2 a barrel
KYIV, Feb 25 (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky on Friday vowed to stay in Kiev as his troops battled Russian invaders advancing on the capital in a major offensive against the European state after World War II.
Russia began its invasion by land, air and sea on Thursday following President Vladimir Putin’s declaration of war. Explosions and shootings in major cities have displaced 100,000 people. Dozens were reported killed.
U.S. and Ukrainian officials say Russia is aiming to overthrow the government by capturing Kiev, which Putin considers a puppet of the United States. As Russian troops advanced on a narrow route from Belarus to northern Kiev, they captured the Chernobyl nuclear power plant north of Kiev.
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“(The) enemy has marked me as the number one target,” Zhelensky warned in a video message, as fierce fighting was reported on several fronts. “My family is the number two target. They want to destroy the head of state and destroy Ukraine politically.”
“I will stay in the capital. My family is also in Ukraine.”
Putin says Russia is carrying out a “special military operation” to prevent the Ukrainian government from committing genocide against its own people – a baseless accusation by the West. He claims that Ukraine is an illegal country and that its lands have historically belonged to Russia.
Asked if he was concerned about Zhelensky’s security, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told CBS: “As far as I know, President Zhelensky is in office in Ukraine. Of course, we are concerned about the safety of all our friends. In Ukraine – government officials and many others.”
Barriers are created
Ukraine, a democracy with a population of 44 million, voted for independence during the collapse of the Soviet Union and has recently stepped up efforts to join the NATO military alliance and the European Union.
The United States, Britain, Japan, Canada, Australia and the European Union imposed additional sanctions on Moscow earlier this week in addition to fines, including Germany’s move to cut $ 11 billion in gas pipelines from Russia.
Joseph Borel, the EU’s foreign policy chief, described the camp’s actions as “the harshest set of sanctions we have ever implemented.”
China is under pressure for refusing to call Russia’s invasion an invasion.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, US President Joe Biden said, “Any country that opposes Russia’s naked aggression against Ukraine will be tainted by the union.” He declined to comment directly on China’s position. read more
Russia is one of the world’s largest energy producers, and both it and Ukraine are leading exporters of grain. War and sanctions will destabilize economies around the world.
Oil prices rose as much as $ 2 a barrel on Friday as markets were hampered by the impact of trade sanctions on Russia, a major crude exporter.
The U.S. wheat future reached its highest level in nearly 14 years, with corn approaching an eight-month high and soybeans recovering amid fears of grain supply disruptions from the main Black Sea region.
Airlines also faced difficulties with Japan Airlines (9201.D) The flight to Moscow and Britain was canceled on Thursday evening and its airspace was closed to Russian carriers. read more
Zhelensky said 137 soldiers and civilians were killed and hundreds wounded in the fighting. Ukrainian officials had earlier said at least 70 people had been killed.
Ukrainian forces shot down a plane over Kiev early Friday morning and then set it on fire, setting it on fire, Interior Ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko said. It is not clear whether the plane was carrying people.
The Border Patrol says some guards were killed and several others were injured when a missile struck a Ukrainian border checkpoint in southeastern Zaforjia.
The United States and other NATO members have sent military aid to Ukraine but have taken no action to send troops for fear of provoking a wider European conflict.
Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba pleaded that “more weapons are needed to continue the fight … the size of the tanks, armored vehicles, planes and helicopters that Russia has dropped on Ukraine is unimaginable.”
Ukraine’s state nuclear regulator says unidentified forces have seized unarmed signs from the Ukrainian military guarding the base in Chernobyl, about 90 km (60 miles) north of Kiev.
It said no casualties were reported, nothing was destroyed and the radiation level did not change. The International Atomic Energy Agency said it had lost control of the plant.
UN Security Council calls on Russia to suspend uranium enrichment The Security Council is due to vote on Friday.
However, Moscow could veto the move, and it is unclear how China will vote.
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Report by Natalia Cynets in Kiev, Alexander Vasovic in Mariupol, David Lungren in Ottawa and Mark Trevelyan in London; Rami Job, by Stephen Coates; Editing by Robert Brussel
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