A series of explosions rocked Kyiv in the early hours of Friday during the second day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Strikes on Kyiv with cruise or ballistic missiles continued,” Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the Head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, told reporters.
My Kyiv right now pic.twitter.com/vutQrXxz8V
— KGB Files (@kgb_files) February 25, 2022
There are unconfirmed reports coming in that the city’s air defense stopped an air raid by intercepting a number of missiles and downing an enemy aircraft.
An official with the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said an aircraft had crashed in the Darnytskyi district of Kyiv. Meanwhile, local reports say a nine-story residential building is on fire in Kyiv.
Whatever was shot down over Kyiv was pretty big pic.twitter.com/aV6a3VwPgX
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) February 25, 2022
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky remains a “prime target for Russian aggression,” US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Thursday evening.
In a video statement late Thursday, Zelensky said, “According to our information, the enemy marked me as target No. 1, my family as target No. 2. They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state. We have information that enemy sabotage groups have entered Kyiv.
“I am staying in the government quarter together with others,” he added.
Russian troops just 20 miles outside Kyiv
According to NBC News, a top Pentagon official said that Russian troops are just 20 miles from the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, described the current phase of the Russian military operation as the tip of the spear as the vast majority of Russian troops are still further back, NBC reports.
Without providing a timeline, Austin said he expects the next phase will involve more Russian forces and focus on consolidating gains in population centers. He also warned that civilians could be killed and injured, especially by missile and air strikes.
Biden, EU announce new sanctions against Russia
President Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled new sanctions on Russia meant to punish the country for its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, calling out Russian President Vladimir Putin for his aggression even as he acknowledged it would take time for the new measures to alter the strongman’s behavior.
“Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war. And now he and his country will bear the consequences,” Biden said, laying out a set of measures that will “impose severe cost on the Russian economy, both immediately and over time.”
The new sanctions include export blocks on technology, a centerpiece of Biden’s approach that he said would severely limit Russia’s ability to advance its military and aerospace sectors. He also applied sanctions on Russian banks and “corrupt billionaires” and their families, who are close to the Kremlin.
Biden insisted his threat to directly sanction Putin remains “on the table” and is “not a bluff,” but he didn’t answer when asked why he hasn’t directly sanctioned the Russian President yet.
The European Union has announced extensive new sanctions on Russia, with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaking of a watershed moment for Europe.
The sanctions will target areas including the financial sector, energy, transport, and visas for the Russian elite, she said after a meeting that ended in the early hours on Friday in Brussels.
Von der Leyen said the adopted measures would make it impossible for Russia to buy technology to upgrade its oil refineries, or spare parts for aircraft.
“The package of massive and targeted sanctions approved tonight shows how united the EU is,” she tweeted.