World

Hopes of an unexpected victory on a long and terrifying weekend in the defence of Kyiv

Any rumour of a Russian advance, and hurriedly formed roadblocks suddenly appear on the streets of Kyiv. 

The roadblocks are manned by Ukrainian soldiers, alongside them volunteers and reservists fill sandbags and build defences.

It is starting to feel like the defence of the capital is taking on a character of its own: a character of collective responsibility, with vast swathes of society taking part.

Russian advance ‘slows’ due to ‘strong resistance’ – live updates

Checkpoints have been set up throughout the capital
Image:
Checkpoints have been set up throughout the capital

People on the street who don’t want to fight are either attempting to leave or heading to bomb shelters.

But there are huge numbers of militia forming. Guns in hand, they’re fanned out across the city – in the centre of Kyiv, in the suburbs, and at checkpoints.

They coordinate with the military to minimise “friendly fire” incidents.

More on Russia

Few people probably believed Kyiv would still be held by the government for this length of time.

Everyone here knows action is what is needed now – not words.

“We don’t need sanctions! Russia laughs at your sanctions… you will be next!” one of the volunteers shouted, echoing what many have said – that if it can happen here in Ukraine, it can happen anywhere.

Key developments:

Ukrainian president says his forces still control Kyiv
Nations agree to give more weapons and military aid to Ukraine
China abstains from voting on UN resolution condemning Russia
Russian cargo ship seized in Channel by French sea police

Roadblocks are in place alongside a curfew, which will last over the weekend
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Roadblocks are in place alongside a curfew, which will last over the weekend

In the central train station and the metro, we find people seeking shelter. Some are preparing to stay, while others are waiting for trains heading west to the border with Poland.

Among them is a group of university students who have been ordered home by their parents.

They tell me they’re hoping the Ukrainian military can pull off an unexpected victory.

“They thought [Russia] could just do it in a day or two, but our military is strong and with the help of the European community I think we can do it,” Evgeny Delhevsky said.

Evgeny Delhevsky (far right) thinks the Ukrainian army can pull off an unlikely victory
Image:
Evgeny Delhevsky (far right) thinks the Ukrainian army can pull off an unlikely victory

As the battle for this city continues, it’s becoming clear the key to any success of any defence of Kyiv, will be holding the eight major bridges that link the east and west of the city.

That – or destroy them. And both Ukraine and Russia know this.

Residents here have been told not to cross any of the bridges by vehicle.

Children are among the evacuees from Kyiv
Image:
Children are among the evacuees from Kyiv

Freedom of movement is getting harder in general now, and a curfew is in place until Monday morning, with no exceptions.

Citizens have been told to stay indoors, and soldiers have been told to consider anyone outside on the streets they cannot identify as a Russian spy.

So as night falls in Kyiv and the country’s military gets ready to make it through another night, for many people this is likely to be a long and perhaps terrifying weekend.

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