President Joe Biden was due to meet fellow NATO heads of state on Friday morning to discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, where Russia pushed further overnight with its invasion into its tiny democratic neighbor.
The crisis has shaken the world since Russian President Vladimir Putin, Thursday at dawn in Moscow, announced in a televised address that he was launching a military operation against Ukraine.
International reaction followed quickly, with sanctions by the United States and a host of other countries. Biden said the new economic measures would “limit Russia’s ability to do business in dollars, euros, pounds and yen to be part of the global economy.”
But, so far, these sanctions appear to have had little effect on Russia’s attempt to take control of the former Soviet republic which has expressed a desire to one day join NATO.
• MOUNTING DEATH RATE: President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced that 137 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians had been killed and hundreds more injured.
• WHERE’S THE FIGHT? Explosions sounded before dawn in Kyiv and gunfire was reported in several areas, as Western leaders scheduled an emergency meeting and Ukraine’s president pleaded for international help to repel the attack .
• WHERE ARE UKRAINIANS GOING? Polish border guards said some 29,000 people were allowed to enter through the country’s land border with neighboring Ukraine on Thursday, the day Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began.
WHY DOES THE INVASION HAPPEN? :Why is Russia invading Ukraine? Could this be the start of World War III? Here’s what we know
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The Russian invasion progresses on Kiev; civilians spent the night in bomb shelters
Russian troops appeared to be advancing on Kiev at the start of the second day of the Kremlin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Amid a rapidly evolving and difficult-to-verify situation, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry tweeted early Friday that some Russian troops had entered several northern districts on the outskirts of the capital. However, the Ukrainian military also said it was resisting the advance on several fronts.
The apparent development comes as thousands of civilians have spent the night in bomb shelters, usually underground metro stations, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged his citizens to do all they can to resist the onslaught of Russia. Zelenskyy vowed to stay in Kiev with his family and called on Russia for a ceasefire.
Some 137 Ukrainians, a mix of soldiers and civilians, died in Thursday’s fighting, Zelenskyy said. Britain’s defense secretary told his country’s media on Friday that Russia had lost around 450 military personnel.
The United States, Europe and Japan have all unveiled sanctions against major Russian banks, airlines and associates of President Vladimir Putin. Later Friday, NATO leaders will convene an emergency meeting via video link to discuss the deteriorating security situation.
Rockets hit Kiev in ‘horrific’ attack
Russia has launched a “horrible” rocket attack on Kiev, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted on Friday.
The capital has not seen such an attack since 1941, when Nazi Germany invaded, he said.
“Ukraine has defeated this evil and will defeat this one,” Kuleba tweeted. “Stop Putin. Isolate Russia. Separate all links. Expel Russia” from everywhere.
EU plans more sanctions with ‘massive consequences’
BRUSSELS — A senior European Union official has said the 27-nation bloc intends to impose new sanctions on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine.
EU Council President Charles Michel tweeted on Friday: “Second wave of sanctions with massive and serious consequences politically agreed last night. Additional package in urgent preparation.
Michel announced the decision after a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Michel said Kiev “is under continuous attack by Russian forces” and called on Russia to immediately end the violence.
Russia stripped of Champions League final as UEFA move game to Paris
LONDON — Russia were stripped of hosting the Champions League final by UEFA on Friday, with Saint Petersburg replaced by Paris following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The men’s final will still take place on May 28 but now in the 80,000-seat Stade de France following a decision by the UEFA executive committee.
“UEFA would like to express its thanks and gratitude to the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron for his personal support and his commitment to relocating the most prestigious match in European club football to France at a time of unprecedented crisis”, European football’s governing body said in a statement. Together with the French government, UEFA will fully support multi-stakeholder efforts to ensure the rescue of football players and their families in Ukraine who face terrible human suffering, destruction and displacement.”
President of Ukraine: Russia has labeled him “Target No. 1”
Zelenskyy said on Thursday he was staying in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and intended to stay there, even if Russia had made it his main career.
“The enemy has designated me as target number one, my family as target number two,” Zelenskyy said in a speech to Ukrainians. “They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state.”
Asked about Zelenskyy’s safety, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the United States was in contact with him and was working to provide him with support.
Contributor: Associated Press