Russian forces appear to be making an offensive against Kyiv with Ukrainian troops engaged in a firefight at the capital’s outskirts on Thursday.
The video footage showed Ukrainian troops with anti-tank weapons and RPGs taking cover before firing into the woods near Kyiv.
One soldier said to Radio Free Europe, “Accordingly to our intelligence there’s a Battalion there.”
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The third week of the war in Ukraine has entered its third week. Russian forces seem to be increasing the offensive by reaching new areas and deploying troops around Kyiv.
Air-raid sirens could be heard in Lviv, which was largely unaffected by fighting so far.
This city is located in western Ukraine near the Polish border. It has been used since wartime as a hub by people trying to flee the country.
Russian military closes in upon the capital
According to a senior US defense official, Russian forces moved three miles closer towards Kyiv over the past 24 hours. This suggests a new direction in war.
Russia’s military advance is currently at a halt for several days, but could still be within nine miles (15 km) of the city center. Troops are moving along the northwest route and two parallel lines east to the capital.
US intelligence suggested that some troops might have returned to Sumy in the northeast but it isn’t clear why.
Chernihiv is located northeast of the capital. However, Russia’s military has not yet moved beyond the city.
But, many Ukrainians believe that Russia will not be in a position to capture Kyiv.
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Inna Sovsun is the deputy leader and Kyiv MP. She said that she believes the Russians won’t capture Kyiv and that Vladimir Putin’s forces will face “huge logistic challenges”.
“Spectres of chemical weapons could start to appear”
Sir Richard Barrons, a retired British Army general, explained two important developments in the Russian force’s movement toward Kyiv.
He explained that Russian forces have been moving towards Kyiv from the Northwest over the past 10 days. This was the convoy that had been stuck on the road for a while and was also coming from the northeast.
“What we’re seeing are two developments that have been occurring over time. They are moving closer to Kyiv, and they are encircling more of the city.
“The second is that they are moving off the road and starting to deploy into battle positions. This would indicate if they intend to attack Kyiv.
He said that Russian forces would be advancing to the capital and “we’d expect to find armoured forces leading, with support by artillery,” on the outskirts.
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General Barrons stated that they would be confronted with stiff resistance from the Ukrainians as they move towards urban areas.
He stated that the nature of the force would change and the infantry would lead. This is especially true for infantry who are trained in urban fighting, which can be very difficult with tanks and a lot of artillery behind.
“This is where chemical weapons could start to emerge if the Russians have difficulty breaking into Kyiv or get stuck.
“They may resort to chemical weapons to unstick it, with all of the horrors that that would bring.”
Western allies concerned about chemical weapons
This week, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zilenskyy and Western leaders warned of Russian use of chemical weapons.
Boris Johnson, speaking on Sky News’ Beth Rigby interviews programme, said that he fears Vladimir Putin might use chemical weapons , which would be “straight from Russia’s playbook”.
The White House expressed similar concerns. Mr Zelenskyy warned Russia against using chemical weapons, and dismissed claims by the Kremlin that Ukraine was developing weapons of mass destruction.
Satellite imagery further outside of Kyiv showed what appear to be Russian rocket launchers gathering close to Berestyanka.
General Barrons says this could indicate that Russian forces are “coming off of the line of march” and it looks like six rocket launchers.
Berestyanka lies 35km from Kyiv, and General Barrons stated that they could reach the capital if needed.
Millions of people still living in Kyiv
Vitali Klitschko, a former heavyweight boxing champion, stated on Friday that he believes there are nearly two million people left in Kyiv.
Kyiv is home to approximately 3.5 million people. Klitschko stated that there were sufficient vital supplies to last for a few weeks, and that the supply lines into and out of Kyiv remained open.
He told Reuter news agency that he had electricity, heating, and gas right now.
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Wladimir, his brother and a former world heavyweight champion boxer, said in the joint interview, that some of those who had accompanied their families into the relative safety of west were returning to defend the city.