Kyiv, with a population of nearly three million, is growing increasingly alarmed that it will soon become encircled after Russian forces moved forward, in the vicinity of Hostomel Airport. A US defence official told reporters on Thursday that Russian forces continue to “advance their troops” along two parallel lines outside of Kyiv and the closest line has “reached about 40 kilometres east of Kyiv”.
The official said: “We see Russian forces continue to advance their troops, they’re really along two sort of parallel lines there, and we assess that the northern most of those two lines, the closest line has reached about 40 kilometres east of Kyiv.”
However, Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, has remained confident as Ukrainian troops gear up for the imminent attack.
The former professional boxer said the city “has been transformed into a fortress . . .”
He continued: “Every street, every building, every checkpoint has been fortified.”
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The UK Ministry of Defence said in its latest intelligence update the Ukrainian resistance has forced the Russian army to deploy more troops to surround key cities, including Kyiv.
It said: “Due to strong Ukrainian resistance, Russian forces are committing an increased number of their deployed forces to encircle key cities.
“This will reduce the number of forces available to continue their advance and will further slow Russian progress.”
On the northeastern edge of Kyiv, Ukrainian soldiers described heavy battles for control of the main highway to the capital.
Ukrainian armed forces said: “The defenders of Kyiv are holding firmly the defined boundaries, protecting the critical infrastructure of the city.”