Russian troops enter Ukraine’s second city of Kharkiv and fierce fighting breaks out after Putin was said to be ‘raging’ at stalled invasion: Ukrainians obliterate Chechen special forces column of 56 tanks outside Kyiv and kills top general
By Jimmy McCloskey, Daily Mail, James Robinson, dailymail.com and Will Stewart in Moscow – February 26, 2022
- The group – likely to number in the hundreds – was blown to smithereens on their second day in the country
- Those killed include Chechen general Magomed Tushaev – one of the regime’s most highly-decorated soldiers
- Vladimir Putin had green-lighted their deployment, with each fighter given a deck of cards to help them recognize Ukrainian leaders they were encouraged to capture and kill
- But Ukrainian president Volodymr Zelensky is still reported to be alive – and is fast becoming a global hero – while Putin has faced scorn over his huge army’s slow progress to capture the country
- On Sunday morning, Ukrainian government ministers confirmed they’d managed to keep control of the capital city of Kyiv for the third night running
- But Russian forces entered Kharkiv – Ukraine’s second-largest city – around the same time, with street battles reported to be taking place
- Russia has struck the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine in Kyiv, which stores nuclear waste
- The facility’s radiation detector was also destroyed – although a preliminary inspection suggests there is no immediate danger to locals
- First confirmed death toll has also emerged – UN says at least 240 Ukrainian citizens have been killed
- Woman was killed in Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine on Saturday, after Russian artillery shell struck nine-story residential apartment building
- Two blasts went off in the south west of the Ukrainian capital shortly after midnight local time
- A fuel depot in the city of Vasylkiv was targeted by Russian ballistic missiles, its mayor said
- Russia also blew up a gas pipeline in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, which sits close to the Russian border
- Vladimir Putin is said to be furious at his troops’ apparent lack of progress, and is reportedly fuming in his heavily-guarded Russian mountain lair
- An eerie orange glow filled the sky, CNN reports that a fuel depot may have been hit
- Blast took place close to one of Kyiv’s two airports – Boryspil International Airport, whose capture is vital to Russian takeover ambitions
Ukraine war latest, at a glance
- Russia failed to capture Ukraine’s capital city Kyiv during fighting on Saturday night and Sunday morning
- But Russian forces entered Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, on Sunday morning
- Street battles were reported to be taking place, while pictures appear to show one Russian military vehicle on fire
- 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
- Russian forces have reportedly blocked Kherson and Berdyansk and delivered another missile strike on Ukraine’s military infrastructure, the Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov says
- UN reports that at least 240 Ukrainian civilians have been killed
- At least 200,000 people have fled Ukraine to three countries, with 150,000 said to have crossed into Poland alone
- Unconfirmed reports that a cancer hospital for children in Kyiv had been shelled by Russians forces meanwhile have also been debunked
- It has been reported by Ukrainian news site TSN that the boy was killed when a children’s hospital in the city
- According to the Kyiv Independent, at least two children and two adults were wounded during an incident at Okhmadyt children’s cancer hospital
- However the New York Times debunked the claims, saying that while gunfire was heard near to the hospital it had not been shelled by artillery
- Ukraine’s foreign ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko says their airforce shot down a missile aimed at the capital Kyiv, by a plane that flew in from Russian ally Belarus
- Ukraine’s defence ministry today appealed for foreigners to come forward to join its armed forces and fight back Putin’s army, with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine urging people to contact his department.
- According to UK intelligence, fighting in Kyiv last night was at a ‘lower intensity’ than the previous evening
- The MoD said there had been an ‘intensive’ exchange of rocket artillery in Kharkiv, followed by ‘heavy fighting’ between Ukrainian and Russian forces
- As the fighting raged on, Russia claimed it was engaging in peace talks with the Ukrainian government in Belarus
- Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the delegation includes military officials and diplomats. ‘The Russian delegation is ready for talks, and we are now waiting for the Ukrainians,’ he said.
- However, while Zelensky said that while said the Ukraine was ready for peace talks, he said they would not be taking place in Belarus – which was a staging ground for Russia troops prior to the invasion
- In a televised address, Zelensky, standing beside a Ukrainian flag dressed in an army green t-shirt and jumper, said: ‘If there had been no aggressive action from your territory, we could talk in Minsk… other cities can be used as the venue for talks.
- Meanwhile, Ukraine has obliterated a 56 tank convoy of feared Chechen fighters
- Among those killed was one of Chechnya’s top generals, Magomed Tushaev
- At least two blasts have rocked the country in the early hours of Sunday local time
- Vasylkiv, which sits southwest of Ukraine, saw its air base’s fuel depot attacked by Russian ballistic missiles
- Subsequent blaze cast an eerie orange glow over Kyiv, around 40 kilometers north east
- Gas pipeline was blown up near Kharkiv, sending huge mushroom cloud billowing into the sky
- Woman was killed in Kharkiv after Russian shell hit apartment block
- Elon Musk agreed to turn his Starlink satellite network on over Ukraine
- Officials want to ensure locals can still access the internet if Russia destroys telecoms network
- Keen to push back against Russian propaganda, and expose the violence being meted out by Putin’s army
- Russian premier said to be furious at slower-than-expected efforts to conquer Ukraine
- UK Armed Forces Minister James Heappey, writing in The Telegraph, warned Putin’s days ‘will surely be numbered’ if he fails in his ambition to take Kyiv
- Mr Heappey, a former major in the Rifles, said if Putin failed and the Russian people could be shown ‘how little he cares for them… Putin’s days as president will surely be numbered and so too will those of the kleptocratic elite that surround him. He’ll lose power and he won’t get to choose his successor.’
- However there are fears that delays in Russia’s invasion plan could lead Putin to become more desperate in his attempts to crush Ukrainian resolve.
- A Russian thermobaric rocket launcher was spotted by a US film crew south of Belgorod, Russia, near the Ukrainian border.
- The weapons, which contain a highly explosive fuel and chemical mix and send out supersonic blast waves that can rip buildings and bodies apart, can reduce cities to rubble and would cause huge loss of life.
- Millions of citizens are sheltering underground
- But others have taken to the streets armed with guns and Molotov cocktails, to try and fight back
- US and EU have agreed to curtail Russia’s use of SWIFT messaging system, which is vital to for global financial transactions
- Donald Trump condemned the invasion Saturday
- He said: ‘The Russian attack on Ukraine is appalling, it’s an outrage and an atrocity that should never have been allowed to occur. It never would have occurred. We are praying for the proud people of Ukraine. God bless them all.’
- China’s ambassador to Ukraine Fan Xianrong shared a video scotching claims he’d fled Kyiv
- Urged other Chinese nationals in Ukraine to shelter
- Comes as China tries to condemn attack while keeping ally Vladimir Putin on side
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. 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.
Today, as Russia marked special forces day, he thanked soldiers for ‘heroically fulfilling their military duty’ in Ukraine. But he remained insistent that his armies were providing assistance to the ‘people’s republics of Donbas’ – referring to two rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine that Russia recognized as independent states ahead of its invasion – despite conflicts taking place in cities outside the region such as Kyiv and Kharkiv.
‘I want to thank the command, the personnel of the special operations forces, veterans of the special forces units for their loyalty to the oath, for their impeccable service in the name of the people of Russia and our great motherland,’ he said.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s defence ministry today appealed for foreigners to come forward to join its armed forces and fight back Putin’s army, with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine urging people to contact his department. ‘Together we defeated Hitler, and we will defeat Putin too,’ he said in a Twitter post this morning.
Today, as the fighting continued, The Kremlin announced that a Russian delegation had arrived in the Belarusian city of Homel for talks with Ukrainian officials. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the delegation includes military officials and diplomats.
‘The Russian delegation is ready for talks, and we are now waiting for the Ukrainians,’ he said.
However, while Zelensky said that while said the Ukraine was ready for peace talks, he said they would not be taking place in Belarus – which was a staging ground for Russia troops prior to the invasion.
In a televised address, Zelensky, standing beside a Ukrainian flag dressed in an army green t-shirt and jumper, said: ‘If there had been no aggressive action from your territory, we could talk in Minsk… other cities can be used as the venue for talks.
‘Of course we want peace, we want to meet, we want the war to end. Warsaw, Bratislava, Budapest, Istanbul, Baku – we’ve offered them to the Russians.
‘Any other city would suit us, too – in a country, from whose territory missiles are not launched at us. This is the only way negotiations can be honest and can really end the war.’
With Ukraine’s military putting up a staunch defence, Putin’s forces are also reportedly being bogged down by poor planning and ineffective coordination. Many units are reportedly operating without the protection of air cover.
With Russia’s invasion stalling three days in, UK Armed Forces Minister James Heappey, writing in The Telegraph, warned Putin’s days ‘will surely be numbered’ if he fails in his ambition to take Kyiv.
‘Progress to Kyiv has been much slower than they’d expected, they were unable to take key cities early and now must try to bypass them,’ he wrote.
‘This leaves pockets of well-armed and well-trained Ukrainians to the rear of the Russian front line, exposing a vulnerable logistics tail – an omen for what awaits Putin.’
Mr Heappey, a former major in the Rifles, said if Putin failed and the Russian people could be shown ‘how little he cares for them… Putin’s days as president will surely be numbered and so too will those of the kleptocratic elite that surround him. He’ll lose power and he won’t get to choose his successor.’
However there are fears that delays in Russia’s invasion plan could lead Putin to become more desperate in his attempts to crush Ukrainian resolve.
A Russian thermobaric rocket launcher was spotted by a US film crew south of Belgorod, Russia, near the Ukrainian border.
The weapons, which contain a highly explosive fuel and chemical mix and send out supersonic blast waves that can rip buildings and bodies apart, can reduce cities to rubble and would cause huge loss of life.