Russian troops are closing in on the Ukraine capital Kyiv as civilians are handed weapons and encouraged to make Molotov cocktails. Ukraine has temporarily restricted men aged 18 to 60 from leaving the country “in order to ensure the defence of the state, maintaining combat and mobilisation readiness of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other military formations”. But Kira Rudik said she will “protect our soil the same way as our men”.
Sharing a photo on Twitter holding a rifle the leader of Ukraine’s Voice party said she has learned to use “Kalashnikov” (submachine gun) and is prepared to “bear arms”.
Declaring her support for her country she said: “It sounds surreal as just a few days ago it would never come to my mind. Our women will protect our soil the same way as our men. Go Ukraine!”
The Mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko said the city had entered a “defensive phase” as hundred of AK-47 rifles and weapons were being handed to civilians at an industrial estate.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged people to come forward saying: “We will give weapons to anyone who wants to defend the country. Be ready to support Ukraine in the squares of our cities.”
Ukraine’s interior ministry issued a statement saying: “The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine reports that due to the imposition of martial law in Ukraine, a certain category of citizens is temporarily restricted from leaving Ukraine.
“In particular, male citizens of Ukraine aged 18 to 60 are prohibited from leaving Ukraine. Such a rule will apply for the period of martial law. We ask citizens to take this information into account.”
More than 50,000 Ukrainians have fled in less than 48 hours, according to Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for refugees, with many more moving towards the borders.
Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca said a total of 19,000 Ukrainians had entered through its six border checkpoints since the invasion began.
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The UK’s Ministry of Defence states most of Russia’s forces aiming towards the centre remain 50km away, adding that there are “sporadic clashes” in the northern suburbs of the capital.
On Friday night reports suggested loud explosions and artillery rounds could be heard in the capital.
Mr Zelenskyy confirmed 137 civilians and military personnel were killed during the first day of the invasion and a further 316 had been wounded.
On its deadliest day yet, Kyiv’s defence ministry said Russia had lost 2,800 troops, 80 tanks, 516 armoured vehicles, 10 airplanes and seven helicopters.
Ukrainian forces had claimed they had struck an airfield in Millerovo in Rostov, southern Russia – demolishing at least one of Russia’s fighter jets.
President Zelenskyy has called for tougher sanctions against Russia saying Ukraine “needs the support of partners more than ever”.
He said: “We demand effective counteraction to the Russian Federation. Sanctions must be further strengthened.”
Following talks with the Ukrainian President, a Number 10 spokesperson said “nothing is off the table”. They added that Boris Johnson assured Mr Zelenskyy that the “world is united in its horror at what Putin is doing” and praised the “bravery and heroism of the Ukrainian people”.