Ukraine forces are said to be putting up strong resistance to invading Russian troops as they surround and bomb the capital Kyiv on Sunday.
Reports say the Russian military may have been caught off-guard by the level of pushback by Ukrainian fighters, and more troops would likely enter the fray in the coming days.
“Russia is clearly facing setbacks that it did not expect. It’s taking casualties, and Ukraine is taking prisoners, including some quite senior, at least one, possibly two, brigade commanders,” said Nigel Gould-Davies from the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
“So Russia will be motivated now to accelerate the forces that it brings to this conflict. So far, it’s been using about half of the forces it has mobilised and prepared for this so in numerical terms,” he said.
According to the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense, the speed of the advance has been slowed, “likely as a result of acute logistical difficulties and strong Ukrainian resistance.”
According to British officials, the Russian forces are bypassing major Ukrainian population centres while leaving soldiers to encircle and isolate them.
Fighting broke out in Ukraine’s capital overnight, but Ukraine still held the city on Saturday. Kyiv is about 240 miles from the Ukraine–Russia border; the Russian forces were about 18 miles, or 30 kilometres, from the city centre, the U.K. Ministry of Defense said.
Zelensky has refused to leave Kyiv, rebuffing a U.S. evacuation offer and urging Ukrainians to fight.
“We will not lay down our weapons. We will defend our country. Our weapons are our strength. This is our land. Our country. Our children. We will protect all of them,” Zelensky said in a video posted to social media.