What we’re covering
A battle is underway for control of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv. Ukraine’s president confirms Russian forces are advancing on the capital, adding, “the fate of Ukraine is being decided right now.”
Russia’s assault on Ukraine began Thursday and quickly spread across the country as Russian forces attacked from three sides by land, sea, and air.
The US will join the EU and UK indirectly sanctioning Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian foreign minister, the White House said.
Have connection issues? Bookmark CNN’s lite site for fast connectivity.
You can read updates at CNN Español here, and scroll through photos on the ground here.
“This night will be very difficult, and the enemy will use all available forces to break the resistance of Ukrainians,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a late-night video message Friday. “This night we have to stand ground. The fate of Ukraine is being decided right now.”
Russia’s military claimed Friday afternoon that its forces had staged a “successful landing operation” to capture Hostomel airfield on Kyiv’s outskirts, viewed as strategically important.
CNN could not immediately corroborate those claims, but a CNN team on the ground witnessed Russian airborne troops taking positions at the airfield Thursday.
Before dawn Friday, explosions lit up the sky above the capital as Russia targeted the city
with missile strikes, according to a Ukrainian government adviser. A CNN team reported hearing two large blasts in central Kyiv and a third loud explosion in the distance, followed by at least three more explosions to the southwest of the city a few hours later.
“Strikes on Kyiv with a cruise or ballistic missiles continued,” Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the Head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine told reporters via text message Friday.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said Russian reconnaissance troops had entered the Obolon district of northern Kyiv, just a few miles from the city center. Videos from the area showed chaotic scenes as civilians tried to hide from small arms fire.
A tweet from the ministry asked citizens of the district to report any suspicious movements, adding: “Make Molotov cocktails and take down the occupier.”
CNN witnessed a group of Ukrainian security forces leaves the city police headquarters with weapons and ammunition — apparently heading towards Obolon.
Meanwhile, 92 people working at the Chernobyl power plant, the site of the world’s worst-ever nuclear disaster, have been taken hostage, the Ukrainian ambassador to the US said Friday. Russian forces took control of the site on Thursday,
sparking fears that the fighting could interfere with the operation of nuclear waste facilities.
As Russian troops advance, US intelligence officials are concerned that Kyiv could fall under Russian control within days, according to two sources familiar with the latest intelligence.
However, the latest British defense intelligence assessment said Russia had made “limited progress” Friday in its attack.
“Fighting continues in key locations. Russia has made limited progress so far today and Ukraine retains control of key cities. Ukrainian MOD reports that Russian forces have arrived in the suburbs of Kyiv,” the UK Ministry of Defence tweeted
A senior US defense official told reporters that the Russians have “about a third of their combat power” in Ukraine out of the total combat power they have amassed on the country’s borders right now, but “that does not mean that they will not commit more.”
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry earlier said that airborne assault troops blew up a bridge over the Teteriv River at Ivankiv, about 30 miles north of Kyiv, successfully preventing a Russian column of forces from advancing towards the capital, which has a population of close to 3 million.
For now, Ukraine’s democratically elected government remains intact but President Volodymyr Zelensky warned in a video address late Thursday that “enemy sabotage groups” had entered this city and he is their No. 1 target. “They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state,” he said.
“Russian forces continued to launch missile strikes on the territory of Ukraine. They say that they are only targeting military facilities, but these are lies. In fact, they do not distinguish in which areas they operate,” he said. “Such attacks on our capital haven’t occurred since 1941.”
In an address Friday morning, Zelensky said Ukrainians were “showing their true heroism” but that they were defending their country “alone.” The sanctions imposed on Russia by Western powers are “not enough to get these foreign troops off our soil,” he said.
A few hours later, Zelensky released a message in which he again called for Russian President Vladimir Putin to hold direct talks. “There is fighting all over Ukraine now. Let’s sit down at the negotiation table to stop the people’s deaths,” he said, speaking in Russian.
Shortly afterward, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was ready to send a delegation to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, for talks with Ukraine, Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti reported.
“As you know, today the President of Ukraine Zelensky announced his readiness to discuss the neutral status of Ukraine,” Peskov said, according to RIA. The talks would concern “neutral status,” he suggested.
Zelensky has not directly proposed neutral status but has signaled a willingness to discuss it, while insisting his country be provided security guarantees.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych told CNN that the Ukrainian government was “considering the proposal” to hold talks in Minsk.
Peskov said later Friday that the Ukrainian side had countered with a proposal to meet in Warsaw and then dropped contact.
Meanwhile, Putin called on Ukraine’s armed forces to overthrow their government in remarks to his security council Friday.
“Do not let Banderites (Ukrainian nationalists) and neo-Nazis use your children, wives and old people as human shields,” Putin said in remarks aired on Russian state television. “Take power into your own hands, it looks like it will be easier for us to come to an agreement than with this gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis that has settled in Kyiv and taken hostage the entire Ukrainian people.”
Putin frequently repeats the baseless and inaccurate claim that the democratically elected Ukrainian government is a “Nazi” or “fascist” regime. The language has been roundly condemned internationally, especially considering that Zelensky is Jewish.
Asked by CNN at a news conference Friday what Moscow’s plans were for the leadership of Ukraine as Russian forces advance on Kyiv, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov replied: “Nobody is going to attack the people of Ukraine.”
In an interview with CNN on the streets of Kyiv, former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko
accused Putin of being “simply crazy” in wanting to “come here to kill Ukrainians” — and vowed they would resist. “We demonstrate a unique quality that we can stand against Russian aggression,” he said.
The advance on Kyiv comes only a day after Russian forces entered Ukraine from three sides, by land, sea and air, prompting a barrage of international condemnation and sanctions — and questions about Putin’s wider ambitions for the country and its capital.
It’s unclear how long Ukrainian forces can resist the advance of Russian forces who are much better equipped
and have superior air power.
Two residential buildings in Kyiv suffered damage in the early hours of Friday, but it’s not clear if they were intentionally struck or hit by debris, or if anyone was injured.
Ukrainian Deputy Interior Minister Evgeny Yenin told CNN a Ukrainian Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jet was shot down over Kyiv. Photos tweeted by the emergency forces appear to show a fire at a two-story private house with debris from what looks to be a plane nearby. It is unclear if the house was hit by remnants of the jet.
Separately, images showed firefighters working to put out a blaze at an apartment building on the left bank of the city.