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Russians encircle Kyiv, Kharkiv; Putin's offer: talks or nuclear attack

AN INVASION, NOT WAR: The invading Russian troops were closing in on Ukraine's Capital on Sunday after blowing up an oil terminal in Vasylkiv, 30 km south of the city, and a nearby airport. Residential apartments in the Capital were being hit with missiles. Fighting was also fierce on the streets of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city, and the coastal areas in the east. There were reports of a fresh offer of talks from the Russians. An out-of-control Putin is also preparing for a nuclear war with the NATO, if confronted.

KYIV, Feb 27: Machine gun fire and explosions rocked Ukraine's Capital Kyiv overnight and the Russian troops blew up an oil terminal in Vasylkiv, 30 km south of the city with missiles. Massive explosions were heard and flames leapt up the night sky. Residential apartments were being destroyed by missiles and people were hiding in bunkers in the Capital.

As the invading Russian forces were closing in on Ukraine's Capital on Sunday, the President asked the citizens to take up arms and defend the country. The Ukrainians were boldly holding out in Europe's largest land conflict since World War II.

East of the Capital, fighting broke out on the streets of Kharkiv on Sunday as Russia’s invading forces entered Ukraine's second largest city. A natural gas pipeline close to the city was bombed. Residents were told to cover windows with damp cloth or gauze.

Airstrikes on cities and military bases elsewhere around the country continued.

As new explosions shook the Capital, Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko told residents to remain in shelters and a total curfew was clamped in the city. Ukraine shot down a second Russian transport plane IL-76 near Vasylkiv town near Kiev on Saturday.

Fighting was going in Kherson, Mykolaiv, Odessa and Mariupo. The President's office said, "There is no chance that Mariupol will surrender or be captured." But Russia claimed it has taken the town of Henichesk. Melitopol city was also captured by the invaders. With control of Odesa, the Russians were planning to block Ukraine's access to sea west to east.

Ukraine has said Russia has lost around 4,300 soldiers and 146 tanks since the start of the invasion and 200 soldiers have been taken as prisoners.

France intercepted a Russia-bound cargo ship loaded with cars in the Channel heading for Saint Petersburg while Russian warships shelled a Moldovan and a Panamanian cargo ships at Odessa port in the Black Sea.

Reports said Putin has also ordered security agencies to get ready with the nuclear arms for a war with the NATO, if needed.

Arms aid from Germany, France

Germany is sending anti-tank weapons and 'Stinger' missiles to Ukraine. France said it will send fuel and defensive equipment to support Ukraine, the Élysée Palace had said in a statement on Saturday after a meeting of the national defence council.

The Czech Republic said it will donate machine guns, automatic and sniper rifles, pistols and ammunition valued at 7.6 million euros ($8.6 million) to Ukraine.

The US will provide Ukraine with $350 million in additional military assistance, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. "This package will include further lethal defensive assistance to help Ukraine address the armored, airborne, and other threats it is now facing," Blinken said in a statement.

US President Joe Biden said American troops would not go to Ukraine but the United States would defend its NATO allies if Russia threatened any of them.

Meanwhile, the West continued to impose sanctions on Russia, mainly blacklisting its banks and banning technology exports and freezing assets. The United States imposed sanctions on Putin, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov. The European Union and the UK have frozen assets Putin and Lavrov held in their territory. Canada too joined the ranks.

In a new development, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukraine is establishing a foreign "international" legion of volunteers abroad. "This will be the key evidence of your support for our country," Zelenskiy said in a statement. "More than 100,000 invaders are on our land. They insidiously fire on residential buildings. Urged india to give us political support in Security Council. To stop aggressor together," Zelensky tweeted on Saturday. He said he "Spoke with Indian Prime Minister."

Refugees flood border States

According to UN sources, fleeing Ukrainians taking refuge in neighbouring countries exceeded 368,000 by Sunday. The UN said the refugees may reach 4 million soon. Over 100,000 people have crossed the border into Poland alone.

Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss warned, “I fear this will be a long haul, this could be a number of years,” Sky News reported.

Ukraine had voted for independence when the Soviet Union disintegrated and claims to have a thousand years' history of its own while Russia claims Ukraine as its territory.

Putin said he had to eliminate what he called a serious security threat to his country from its smaller neighbour, which he fears is joining the NATO.

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