Explosions reported in Kiev as Russian assault continues
Kiev, March 3 (IANS): At least four explosions were reported in Kiev on Thursday as Russia continued its assault on Ukraine for the eighth day.
Air raid sirens were heard in the capital city following the explosions — two reportedly went off in the city centre, and the two others near a metro station, the BBC reported.
Footage of the blasts that took place at around 3 a.m. shared on social media showed a huge fireball lighting up the night sky in the capital.
The targets of the explosions however remained unknown, while there were no confirmation on any casualties or injuries.
Besides Kiev, intense shelling was also reported in Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine.
Deputy Mayor Volodymyr Matsokin said that the city centre sustained significant damage and that police were injured when a government building was hit, the BBC reported.
Earlier, Matsokin wrote on his Facebook page that residents died when a shell hit their apartment building.
Also on Thursday morning, Mayor Igor Kolykhaev of Kherson, a key port city in southern Ukraine, claimed that Russian troops have seized control, making it the first major city to be taken by Moscow since it began its invasion on February 24.
He further said that there were no Ukrainian forces in the city, which is located on the banks of the Dnieper River and has a population of over 280,000 people.
In a defiance against Moscow’s invasion, protests continued in the streets of St. Petersburg, the hometown of Russian President Vladimir Putin, leading to the arrest of hundreds of participants.
According to the BBC, the police have resorted to tear gas to disperse the protesters.
Alexey Navalny, Russian opposition figure and Putin critic, has called for daily protests against Moscow’s assault, saying Russia should not be a “nation of frightened cowards”.
Since the assault began, Ukraine has claimed that more than 2,000 civilians have died, while the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has said that the conflict has also led to some 1 million people to flee the country.
The UNHCR has predicted the conflict will leave some 12 million people internally displaced and in need of relief.
Meanwhile, Russia has for the first time admitted that 498 of its troops were killed, with 1,597 injured.
Addressing the media on Wednesday, US Defense Department Spokesman John Kirby said that hundreds of Russian armoured vehicles heading for Kyiv currently “remain stalled” en route, the BBC reported.
“They haven’t from our best estimates made any appreciable progress in the last 24 to 36 hours.”
He said that the delay may be due to the forces “regrouping themselves and reassessing the progress that they have not made and how to make up the lost time”.
He added that “logistics and sustainment challenges” and “resistance from the Ukrainians” were also factors.
Unverified reports indicate that the soldiers are running out of fuel and food.
Officials in regions that have fallen to Russia have claimed that troops are ransacking supermarkets for provisions and that the meals provided to them by the military are expired.