Russian forces have entered Ukraine’s second largest city of Kharkiv after failing in their overnight efforts to seize control of the capital city of Kyiv – as Ukraine’s president today said his country were ready for peace talks.
Footage shared on social media Sunday morning showed Putin’s army trucks rolling through the city of 1.41 million people, which sits in Eastern Ukraine close to the border with Russia.
Soldiers were also seen marching through Kharkiv on foot, with a very dramatic clip showing Russians slowly advancing along a road before running and firing their guns as Ukrainians opened fire on them.
Another clip shared online shows an army vehicle said to belong to the Russians ablaze, with locals saying it had been torched by Ukrainians seeking to defend their city.
Oleh Sinehubov, head of the Kharkiv regional administration, said Ukrainian forces are fighting Russian troops in the city and asked civilians not to leave their homes.
Meanwhile, the UK’s Ministry of Defence released its latest intelligence update, saying there had been an ‘intensive’ exchange of rocket artillery in the city, followed by ‘heavy fighting’ between Ukrainian and Russian forces. It said fighting in the capital Kyiv had been ‘less intense’ than previous nights.
The breach of Ukraine’s defenses came hours after Russia was dealt a significant blow when a column of Chechen special forces sent to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky were blown up by locals just two days into their mission.
The armed group – famed for their barbaric violence and human rights abuses – are said to have been obliterated after their convoy of 56 tanks was blown to smithereens near Hostomel, just northeast of Kyiv, by Ukrainian missile fire on the second day of the Chechens’ deployment. It is unclear how many died – but the number is likely to run into the hundreds.
Their deaths were reported by The Kyiv Independent news outlet as officials in Kyiv revealed that they’d managed to maintain control of Ukraine’s capital city throughout combat on Saturday night and into Sunday morning.
First Deputy Chairman of Kyiv City State Administration Mykola Povoroznyk said: ‘The situation in Kyiv is calm, the capital is fully controlled by the Ukrainian army and the terror defense. At night there were several clashes with sabotage group.’
But Russian forces were seen entering Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv on Sunday morning. Footage shared on social media showed Russian tanks and trucks rolling through the city, which sits in eastern Ukraine, close to the Russian border, with gunshots also heard ringing out.
Other videos shared online showed Russian troops walking in to the city of 1.419 million people on foot, as well as an army truck said to be Russian consumed by flames.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko, meanwhile, said their airforce had shot down a missile aimed at the capital Kyiv, by a plane that flew in from Russian ally Belarus.
But while fighting raged in the north, Russian forces said they had successfully blocked Kherson and Berdyansk in the south, effectively opening up a land bridge between Russia and the Crimean peninsula – which it annexed in 2014.
Among the Chechens said to have been wiped out was general Magomed Tushaev. He was commander of the 141th motorized national guard brigade – Chechen head of state Ramzan Kadyrov’s elite force.
Tushaev had also been pictured with Kadyrov, in a measure of his importance to the Chechen regime, which shot to notoriety in the west for hunting down, torturing and killing gay men.
Kadyrov is even believed to have visited his doomed squadron in a Ukrainian forest before their alleged deaths.
The terror squadron’s reported killings are a crushing psychological blow for Vladimir Putin’s stalled efforts to conquer Ukraine. The Russian premiere had dispatched the group to capture or kill Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, knowing full well that the fighters’ brutal reputation would strike further fear into the hearts of besieged Ukrainians.
Each fighter had been given a deck of cards complete with photos of Ukrainian officials they’d been told to target.
But Zelensky remains standing, and has become a global hero for his brave dispatches from the front line – while his would-be assassins’ reported killings have brought huge disgrace and widespread grief to Chechnya.
Putin is said to be growing increasingly angry by his stalled efforts to conquer Ukraine, and has not issued a public address in days.
His fire and manpower vastly outnumbers that of Ukraine, and it is widely believed that Russia will eventually conquer its neighbor.
But the surprisingly effective defense being mounted by the smaller nation has badly tarnished Russian military prestige, with the Kremlin still a way-off their objective of seizing the capital of Kyiv and installing its own government.