Russia urges Ukrainian forces to 'immediately' lay down arms

Russian forces edge closer to Kyiv as city becomes ‘fortress’


Kyiv: Russian troops edged closer to Kyiv on Friday, as officials said the Ukrainian capital was being transformed into a “fortress” and President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of again targeting humanitarian corridors.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians remain in hiding in Ukrainian cities, including besieged Mariupol, amid a Russian bombing campaign after first talks between top diplomats in Moscow and Kyiv went nowhere.

The Ukrainian military warned in a statement that “the enemy is trying to eliminate the defenses of the Ukrainian army in the western and northwestern regions of the capital” in order to “blockade Kyiv”.

“We can’t rule out a movement of the enemy to the east towards Brovary,” the statement added.

In the capital, mayor Vitali Klitschko said half the population had fled, adding that the city “has been transformed into a fortress”.

“Every street, every building, every checkpoint has been fortified.”

Russian troops are currently besieging at least four major Ukrainian cities, armored vehicles have driven to the northeastern edge of Kyiv, and suburbs including Irpin and Butcha have been heavily bombed for days.

Ukrainian soldiers there described intense fighting for control of the main road to the capital, and AFP reporters saw the missile strike in Velyka Dymerka, outside the city of Kyiv.

“It’s frightening, but what can you do?” said Vasyl Popov, a 38-year-old advertising salesman. “There is nowhere to really run or hide. We live here.”

Britain’s defence ministry said in an intelligence update that “Russian forces are committing an increased number of their deployed forces to encircle key cities.”

“This will reduce the number of forces available to continue their advance and will further slow Russian progress,” a statement tweeted by the ministry said.

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