An American businessman with close ties to Volodymyr Zelensky says the Ukrainian president was “calm and businesslike” when they talked yesterday, even as Russian troops pressed on toward Kyiv and the volume of rocket attacks on the capital soared.
“He seemed reluctant to leave the country,” said the businessman, who has extensive projects in the country and asked not to be identified because of the fraught security situation.
“U.S. officials were urging him to leave. He feared he’d never be able to come back.”
Zelensky’s position hardened Friday when he posted a defiant video in which he said he and his government were “defending our independence” from the Russian invasion.
“We are all here,” he said, surrounded by senior advisers and his prime minister.
“Our troops are here, citizens are here. All of us are here protecting the independence of our country.
“And it will continue to be this way.”
On Thursday evening he told European Union leaders “this might be the last time you see me alive,” according to Axios.
Reports on the progress of Putin’s attack:
The New York Times: Russia’s Assault in Ukraine Slows After an Aggressive Start.
On the first day of President Vladimir V. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, his generals and troops followed a textbook strategy for land invasions. They attacked the country’s military installations and air defense systems with missiles launched from the air, sea and land, seeking to take ownership of the skies, and sped forces to Kyiv, the capital, with the goal of decapitating the government of the democratically elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky.
But then, things slowed. It is one thing to cross the border of another country with tanks and artillery, protected by warplanes above, Pentagon officials and analysts say. It is another thing entirely to lay siege to cities and an army populated by people willing to put their lives on the line to protect what they view as their sovereign right to self-determination.
Within a day of entering Ukraine, Russian forces lost some momentum, senior American and British officials said, as Ukrainian fighters mounted a resistance. No population centers had been taken, a senior Defense Department official told reporters at the Pentagon on Friday. Nor had Russia yet managed to achieve air superiority over Ukraine, partly because the Ukrainians are using mobile systems and partly because Russian missiles have hit old air defense sites, which could show a flaw in Russia’s intelligence. The Ukrainian air defense and missile defense systems were degraded, he said, but the country’s air force was still flying planes and denying air access to Russia.
In addition, officials said, Russia was conducting most of its initial operations during the day, suggesting that its ability to fight at night — a hallmark of the American military — was less effective.
Read the rest at the NYT.
From CNN this morning: Battle moves into Kyiv as Ukrainians fight to keep control of their capital.
Ukrainian troops held the capital Kyiv for the third day on Saturday, despite Russia’s stronger military power, after a night of fierce fighting that punctuated the city with sounds of explosions and gunfire.
The country’s President Volodymyr Zelensky remained defiant. Despite being a prime target in the invasion, he turned down a US offer of evacuation, the Ukraine embassy in Britain said Saturday on Twitter….
But as Russia’s war of aggression moves to the streets of the Ukrainian capital, with the country’s outnumbered and outgunned military continuing to hold back the invading forces in multiple locations, more reports are emerging of civilian infrastructure being hit.
Early Saturday, a large residential apartment block in the west of Kyiv was struck by a missile or rocket, as residents across the city were forced to seek shelter after a terrifying night of fighting.
Images and video from the scene showed a large impact some ten floors up in the building, with the cause of the strike unclear and the extent of casualties unknown. Several apartment units were blown out entirely, their outer walls and windows missing, leaving a gaping hole visible in the building’s side, as residents were evacuated.
“Active fighting is taking place on the streets of our city. Please stay calm and be as careful as possible!” the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said on its Facebook page Saturday, calling on residents to “hide indoors” and take cover to prevent injury from bullet fragments.
The resistance to Russia’s invasion has seen civilians prepare to defend their capital in recent days, with officials arming reservists with 18,000 guns and ammunition in Kyiv alone and Ukrainian TV broadcasting instructions for making Molotov cocktails.
Ukrainian troops are fighting against a significantly more advanced military power. Russian defense spending is roughly ten times that of Kyiv’s and its armed forces stand at some 900,000 active personnel and 2 million in reserve, versus Ukraine’s 196,000 and 900,000 reservists.
Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Russia has yet to gain control of Ukrainian airspace “greatly reducing the effectiveness of the Russian Air Force.” Russia has also faced “staunch resistance” from Ukrainian Armed Forces, it said in a Saturday intelligence update shared on Twitter.
But it stressed that the bulk of Russian forces are now only 18.6 miles from the center of Kyiv, warning that casualties are “likely to be heavy and greater than anticipated or acknowledged by the Kremlin.”
More Ukraine/Putin stories to check out:
The Economist on Biden’s sanctions: America has targeted Russia’s technological fabric.
Michael D. Weiss at Time: Even If Russia Wins, It Won’t Do So Easily.
Jason Stanley at The Guardian: The antisemitism animating Putin’s claim to ‘denazify’ Ukraine.
Max Seddon at Financial Times: Vladimir Putin, Russia’s resentful leader, takes the world to war.
Douglas McGrath at Air Mail with a terrific piece on the GOP worship of Trump and Putin: The View from Here. Ukraine is attacked and Trumpists swoon over Vlad the Invader. With global and U.S. democracy in peril, the G.O.P. is M.I.A.
Eric Wemple at The Washington Post: Opinion: How did Tucker Carlson turn into a Putin apologist?
I’ll add more news links in the comment thread. I hope you all have a nice weekend!
HuffPost: GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Speaks At White Nationalist Conference
White a piece of shit incel!
What a despicable human.
CNN: Georgia GOP chair tells January 6 committee that Trump campaign directed alternate elector effort
Such bravery. A hero.
Great!! This was a travesty!!!
If there’s any justice she’ll be found not guilty.
Thanks to President. Biden, who has rebuilt our relationship with other NATO members. Had President Trump been re-elected, this would have been a very different matter.
We’d have left NATO by now.
Trump would be joining the attack on Ukraine.
Wow. That’s an amazing story.
Anyone who reads it cries too. (Where’s that damn tissue?)
Idiot. He should have been cut off and then fired.
What’s with this endemic use of “literally” when it’s ridiculous and unnecessary? But yes, because the Ukrainians are civilized people and have a good-hearted leader.
you know who to boycott
Get this to them now!
This one also has me tearing up. Save and protect them all.
Nice of the Russian Army to arm the Ukrainians
Sounds like more than a few Russian soldiers don’t want to be there.
“they all look like us”
So much beautiful art today – so much talent from Ukraine! I have to say that I like the last kitty the very best — the patriotic kitty on the person’s shoulder with the blue and yellow colors.
Dakinikat found that one. I love it.