Despite the serious fighting on the streets of Ukraine on Saturday, the Ukrainian forces kept hold of the capital city of Kyiv as a senior U.S. Defence official said there were signs the invading Russian forces were frustrated by fiercer-than-expected resistance.
The U.S. continues to see indications of viable Ukrainian resistance, a senior U.S. Defence Department official said Saturday. Moscow was particularly stymied by the fight Ukrainians have put up in the north around Kyiv and Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, the official said.
Tens of thousands of Ukrainians have fled the Russian advance, mostly to neighbouring Poland and Romania.
Meanwhile, Zelenskyy and his government have refused to leave the Capital, though the Ukrainian president has said he believes he is the number-one target of the Russian attack. Instead, he has been posting videos from the streets, urging his people to join him in defiance.
“We have withstood and successfully repelled enemy attacks,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a speech Saturday morning to his countrymen. “The fighting continues in many cities and districts of our state, but we know that we are protecting the country, the land, and the future of children.”
One of Zelenskyy’s presidential predecessors was also staying in Kyiv to defend his homeland.
“Today in Kyiv, (Russian President Vladimir) Putin will meet hell, and the Russian people and the Russian soldiers who come here to kill Ukrainians will pay the big price,” former president Petro Poroshenko told Sky News.
Zelenskyy has also asked United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to strip Russia of its vote on the Security Council.
Russia was the only country to veto a U.N. resolution Friday that demanded Moscow end its attack on Ukraine. As a permanent member of the Security Council, Russia holds veto power over all resolutions made by the international body.
In a major shift, Germany announced it would join the list of countries sending military assistance to Ukraine — and said it was considering a “targeted” approach to disconnecting Russia from the SWIFT banking system.
Ditto, Germany is preparing to close its airspace to Russian aircraft, the latest European country to take that step since Russia attacked Ukraine this week.
Germany’s transportation minister, Volker Wissing, supports the move and has ordered preparations to be made, the transportation ministry tweeted.
Correspondingly, NATO has moved to reinforce its eastern flank and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday authorised an additional $350 million in military assistance to Ukraine.
“Today, as Ukraine fights with courage and pride against Russia’s brutal and unprovoked assault, I have authorised, pursuant to a delegation by the President, an unprecedented third Presidential Drawdown of up to $350 million for immediate support to Ukraine’s defence,” Blinken said in a statement.