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Ukraine claims control of key city Kharkiv after fierce clashes with Russian forces

Ukrainian officials have claimed “complete control” over the country’s second largest city Kharkiv after fierce clashes with Russian forces.

People living in the city were told to stay at home with their windows closed after a gas pipeline was blown up, reportedly by Vladimir Putin’s troops, in the early hours of Sunday.

Live updates: Ukraine says ‘4,300 Russian troops have been killed or injured’

Following the “intensive exchange of rocket artillery overnight”, “heavy fighting” ensued across the city of 1.4 million people, the UK’s Ministry of Defence said.

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But Kharkiv’s regional governor, Oleh Sinegubov, insisted: “Control over Kharkiv is completely ours. The armed forces, the police and the defence forces are working, and the city is being completely cleansed of the enemy.”

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Russian troops move into northern Kharkiv

The turret of a destroyed tank is seen on the roadside in Kharkiv, Ukraine
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The turret of a destroyed tank is seen on the roadside in Kharkiv

Key developments:

• Putin orders military command to put nuclear deterrent forces on high alert
• Ukraine and Russia set to hold negotiations on Belarusian-Ukrainian border
• Gas pipeline hit in Kharkiv as Russian troops enter Ukraine’s second city
• Oil terminal set alight in Vasylkiv, near Kyiv
• Zelenskyy says Saturday night was ‘brutal’ with Russian forces ‘attacking civilian areas’
• Seven-year-old girl reported among dead in shelling in Sumy, northeastern Ukraine

More on Russia

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Russians ‘blow up’ gas pipeline in Kharkiv

In the capital Kyiv, where British intelligence officials said fighting was of a “lower intensity” overnight, mayor Vitali Klitschko repeated claims Russian troops are just 19 miles from the centre.

According to the MoD, Russian forces are “bypassing” another northeastern city, Chernihiv, in order to “prioritise the encirclement and isolation” of Kyiv.

In an interview, Mr Klitschko said the Russians had sent “snipers” disguised as civilians to carry out “terror attacks” and “bring panic to our city”. He claimed six of them had been killed overnight.

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A map shows where Russian troops have invaded Ukraine
Kyiv map
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A map showing the latest fighting in Kyiv

Elsewhere, an oil terminal was set alight in Vasylkiv, southwest of Kyiv, according to the town’s mayor Natalia Balasinovich.

Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine’s Luhansk province said an oil terminal was also blown up by a Ukrainian missile in the town of Rovenky.

And according to Ukraine’s Infrastructure Ministry, a Russian missile was shot down early on Saturday before it could reach the dam of a reservoir that serves Kyiv.

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Russia ‘attacks everything including ambulances’

The Ukrainian resistance – against a much larger foe – has been supported by cash and weapons from allies such as the UK and US.

On Saturday evening, Western nations agreed to remove selected Russian banks from the SWIFT global financial messaging system.

Conflict ‘could go on for years’

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told Sky News the UK and its allies have hit Russia with “severe economic sanctions” and defensive weapons, but warned the conflict could go on for a number of years.

Armed civil defence men pose for a photo while patrolling an empty street due to curfew in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. A Ukrainian official says street fighting has broken out in Ukraine...s second-largest city. Russian troops also put increasing pressure on strategic ports in the country...s south following a wave of attacks on airfields and fuel facilities elsewhere that appeared to mark a new phase of Russia...s invasion. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky).
PIC:AP
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Ukrainians patrol Kyiv, which is under curfew, on Sunday. Pic: AP

“This is not going to be over quickly, we need to be prepared, I fear, for a very long haul,” she told Trevor Phillips on Sunday.

Former Commander of the UK’s Joint Forces Command Chris Deverell added that Kyiv could fall to Russian control “soon” and fighting will continue to be “very bloody”.

In response to international sanctions and condemnation, Vladimir Putin announced on Sunday that he had put Russia’s nuclear deterrent on high alert. Separately he praised Russian soldiers for fighting in Ukraine.

Read more: Day three of Russian invasion mapped

According to Ukrainian government official Lyudmyla Denysova, 210 Ukrainians have died and 1,100 been injured since the start of the invasion on Thursday. It was unclear whether those figures included both military and civilian casualties.

Russia has claimed it is aiming only at military targets but bridges, schools, and residential areas have been hit.

More than 368,000 Ukrainians have fled for Poland and other neighbouring countries, with the United Nations warning that the number of refugees could reach four million.

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Sky News explains who is who in the Russia-Ukraine war

Zelenskyy agrees to talks with Russia

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy released a new video statement on Sunday, accusing Russia of “deliberately choosing tactics to hurt people” and attacking civilian areas where there is no military infrastructure.

He described Saturday night as “brutal”, with occupying forces “attacking everything includes ambulances” and planning to hit Ukrainian cities “even more”.

Mr Zelenskyy offered hopes of a diplomatic solution to the crisis by agreeing to talks with Russian delegates on the border with Belarus.

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Putin praises special forces in Ukraine

He had initially rejected an offer of negotiations in Minsk as Russian troops had been stationed inside Belarus.

The president also revealed in a tweet he has submitted an application against Russia to the International Court of Justice and expects “trials to start next week”.

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