Ukrainian soldiers and civilians dug in to defend the capital. Ukraine’s president vowed not to surrender.
Firefights erupted in several areas of Kyiv, including the center, throughout the night into Saturday morning local time as Russian airstrikes continued. Ukrainian officials said Russian saboteur groups were trying to operate in the Ukrainian capital.
“This night they will begin to storm,” Mr. Zelensky said late Friday night. “We all have to know what awaits us, and we have to withstand. The fate of Ukraine is being decided right now.” Ukrainian officials urged residents to seek shelter.
In the city of Vasylkiv south of Kyiv, which hosts a major Ukrainian air base, local authorities reported a large Russian airborne landing attempt. Intense fighting was going on in Vasylkiv early Saturday morning and Ukraine’s military reported downing a Russian troop transporter plane. There was no immediate confirmation of that claim.
If Russia succeeds in controlling Vasylkiv, it would effectively surround Kyiv, cutting off the flow of reinforcements and supplies from the south.
Late Friday night, President Biden signed a memorandum to provide Ukraine with $600 million for “immediate military assistance.”
Explosions are reported across some parts of Kyiv early on Saturday as Russian forces close in.