By Natasha Turak, CNBC, and BBC
RUSSIA’s advance into Ukraine continues. The Ukrainian capital of Kyiv remained under Ukrainian control as dawn broke Sunday, with a key official in Kyiv’s city administration asserting that “the capital is completely controlled by the Ukrainian army and defence.”
Meanwhile, Russian military vehicles entered Ukraine’s second-largest city Kharkiv with reports of fighting taking place and residents being warned to stay in shelters.
Small groups of Russian troops have broken into the city of Kharkiv as fighting for Ukraine’s second-largest city raged, local police said, as they warned residents to stay in shelters.
“Friends, citizens of Kharkiv! It is quite dangerous on the streets of the city now,” a statement from the Chief of Kharkiv Police Volodymyr Tymoshko, via the Kharkiv Oblast Police Telegram channel, said.
“Stay in the shelters, do not go outside. Due to the small groups of the enemy who broke into the city, fighting continues. Our Armed Forces of Ukraine are giving a worthy rebuff to the invaders. Keep yourselves! Ukraine will win!”
“The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy is addressing all citizens of the world, friends of Ukraine, peace and democracy. Anyone who wants to join the defence of Ukraine, Europe and the world can come and fight side by side with the Ukrainians against the Russian war criminals,” the statement said.
Meanwhile Russia says a delegation has arrived in Belarus – ostensibly for talks with Ukraine.
However Zelenskiy has rejected the offer, saying talks in Minsk could have been possible if Russia had not attacked Ukraine from Belarusian territory.
However, he is leaving the door open to negotiations in other locations.
He said: “If there had been no aggressive action from your territory, we could talk in Minsk… Other cities can be used as the venue for talks.
“Of course we want peace, we want to meet, we want the war to end. Warsaw, Bratislava, Budapest, Istanbul, Baku – we’ve offered them to the Russians.
“Any other city would suit us, too – in a country, from whose territory missiles are not launched at us. This is the only way negotiations can be honest and can really end the war.”
Stubborn Ukrainian resistance and logistic difficulties are hampering Russian attacks more than Moscow planners expected, and there’s no indication the invading forces have managed to take any big Ukrainian cities, according to US and UK officials.
“Russian forces are not making the progress they had planned. They are suffering from logistical challenges and strong Ukrainian resistance,” the UK’s Ministry of Defence said on its verified Twitter account.
Ukrainian troops, assisted by volunteers, successfully repulsed an assault by Russian units on Kyiv in the early morning hours Saturday local time. Fighting has been reported in and around several Ukrainian cities.
Russian forces are sustaining casualties and a number of Russian troops have been taken prisoner by Ukrainian forces,” the U.K. ministry added.
‘Momentum continues to be slowed’
That same US defence official, speaking on the condition of anonymity on Saturday in Washington, said the Pentagon has no indication so far that the Russian military has taken control of any Ukrainian cities.
The situation in Ukraine is fluid, and individual military accounts are difficult or impossible to verify.
The official said that approximately half the Russian forces that Moscow had amassed along the borders before the invasion are now inside Ukraine. That’s up from an estimate of one-third provided by the same official on Friday.
Russia is believed to have amassed 190,000 troops in the vicinity of Ukraine. The US Defence official declined to elaborate on the rest of Russia’s force posture, but said the Russians’ “momentum continues to be slowed predominantly from a stiff Ukrainian resistance.”
Ukraine’s army has about 145,000-150,000 troops, according to a January report from the US Congressional Research Service.
The heaviest fighting in Ukraine is currently around the northeastern city of Kharkiv, the US official said, adding that the Russians are also meeting stiff resistance against the northern advance toward Kyiv.
“This is very dynamic and will change hour by hour,” the official cautioned, adding that the estimate is a “snapshot in time.”
Weapons going into Ukraine
A US Defence Department official who spoke to CNBC on Saturday said the next tranche of US assistance to Ukraine, which Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced earlier on Saturday, will include Javelin missiles.
The Javelin, manufactured by defence giants Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, is a portable, shoulder-fired missile designed to blow up tanks.
Separately, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz surprised observers by saying his country will supply Ukraine with 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 stinger missiles, marking a sharp reversal in Germany’s arms-export policy.
Like Javelins, Stinger missiles can be carried by one person. They’re designed to shoot down helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.
Top: Smoke from shelling seen on the outskirts of Kyiv on Sunday morning. Photo: BBC
Insert: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks about the current situation in Kyiv, in Ukraine, February 26, 2022, in this still image taken from a handout video. Photo: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service / Reuters and published by CNBC
Below: The BBC has verified this Telegram video which shows Russian trucks driving into Kharkiv. Photo: BBC
Home Page: Ukrainian volunteers weave camouflage nets while helping to set up a defensive position for Ukrainian soldiers in Lviv on Feb. 26. Photo: Sopa Images / Lightrocket / Getty Images and published by CNBC