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Ukraine’s president Zelenskiy not to leave country amid Russian invasion

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy swore on Friday that he would stay in Kyiv as his troops fight Russian forces targeting the capital in a major European invasion since World War II.

Russia launched its offshore, air and sea raids on Thursday following a military announcement by President Vladimir Putin. An estimated 100,000 people fled the fray as gunfire erupted and shook major cities. Scores of people have been reported killed.

U.S. and Ukrainian officials say Russia intends to seize Kyiv and overthrow the government. Russia on Thursday seized the Chernobyl nuclear power plant north of Kyiv, on a short route to the capital from Belarus, where Moscow has organized troops.

“(The enemy) has put me down as a first-person target,” warns Zelenskiy in a video message. “My family is leading the way. They want to undermine Ukraine politically by undermining the head of state.”

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“I will stay in the capital. My family is in Ukraine.”

Putin says Russia is conducting a “special military campaign” to protect the people, including Russian citizens, who are facing “genocide” in Ukraine – allegations that Western countries call it baseless propaganda.

Asked if he was concerned about Zelenskiy’s safety, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CBS: “As far as I know, President Zelenskiy is still living in Ukraine, and we are concerned about the safety of all our friends. in Ukraine – government officials and others. “

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A democracy with a population of 44 million, Ukraine is the largest European country in the region behind Russia itself. It has voted for independence from the collapse of the Soviet Union and has recently intensified efforts to join NATO and the European Union, a move that has angered Moscow.

Putin denied for months that he was planning an attack, as the United States warned of impending attacks and shared satellite imagery of Russian troops looming over Ukrainian borders.

The United States, Britain, Japan, Canada, Australia and the European Union unveiled further sanctions on Moscow in addition to sanctions earlier this week, including Germany’s decision to suspend the $ 11 billion gas pipeline from Russia.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told Fox News that “in order to be successful, we also need sanctions, (i) the most severe sanctions that can be imposed.”

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China, which was expected to support Russia in communications with Ukraine, refused to call the Moscow invasion an attack and instead urged all sides to exercise restraint.

Australia has criticized Beijing’s position on Friday, and Taiwan, a Chinese democratic island that has been under pressure from Chinese troops for the past two years, has announced it will impose sanctions on Russia.

Russia is one of the world’s largest producers of energy, and both he and Ukraine are among the leading grain exporters. War and sanctions will wreak havoc on the world economy already in crisis as they emerge from the coronavirus epidemic.

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Zelenskiy said on Friday that 137 soldiers and civilians had been killed in the fighting, with hundreds more wounded. Earlier Ukrainian officials reported that at least 70 people had been killed.

Washington and other NATO members have sent military aid to Ukraine but no move has sent troops to fight Ukrainian troops for fear of sparking a major European conflict.

Kuleba said Ukraine needed “more weapons to continue fighting … the number of tanks, armored vehicles, planes, helicopters Russia that threw at Ukraine could not be considered.”

Some 90 kilometers (60 miles) north of Kyiv, Chernobyl has been captured by soldiers without identifying the person who abducted the Ukrainian military guarding the station, says a nuclear weapons controller in Ukraine.

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The director said there were no injuries, no damage and radiation levels had not changed. Notify the International Atomic Energy Agency that it has lost control of the facility, he added.

With heavy fighting being reported in many places, the UN Security Council will vote on Friday in a draft resolution that will condemn Russia’s invasion and call on Moscow to withdraw immediately.

However, Moscow could oppose this measure, and it was not yet clear how China would vote.

The attack sparked protests in the United States, Europe and Russia itself, with authorities arresting hundreds of protesters who took to the streets on Thursday.

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Dmitry Muratov, editor of the Russian newspaper that won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, told the BBC in an interview that Feb. 24, the day of the attack, will come down as the day of the “removal of Russia’s future from it”.

“Our peace-loving Russians will now feel the hatred of the world because we are starting a third world war in central Europe.”

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