Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky remained resolute on Saturday amid tense fighting in and around Kyiv. “I’m here. We are not putting down any arms. We will protect our country, because our weapons are our truth,” he said in a video posted to Twitter Saturday.
The latest: The country’s health ministry reported Saturday that at least 198 Ukrainians, including three children, have been killed since Russia launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
What’s happening: Ukrainian troops continue to resist Russia’s advance into Kyiv Saturday, with intense street fighting and loud explosions reported in the capital.
- It remained unclear how far Russian forces had advanced into the city.
- Zelensky, meanwhile, turned down an American offer to evacuate, saying the “fight is here,” Ukraine’s embassy in Britain tweeted. “I need ammunition, not a ride.”
- Kyiv’s mayor ordered a curfew from 5 p.m. Saturday to 8 a.m.
What to watch: President Biden, who will meet with his national security team on Saturday morning, said Friday that he spoke with Zelensky and “commended the brave actions of the Ukrainian people who were fighting to defend their country.”
- The Biden administration also asked Congress to provide $6.4 billion in funding to assist Ukraine and the request is likely to receive bipartisan support. “We’re looking at including a Ukraine assistance package and COVID relief in the omnibus,” a congressional leadership aide told Axios on Friday.
- The State Department announced Saturday the U.S. would provide an additional $350 million worth of “lethal defensive assistance” to Ukraine.
State of play: The U.S. joined the European Union and United Kingdom in imposing sanctions Friday on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
- “It is exceedingly rare for Treasury to designate a head of state; President Putin joins a very small group that includes despots such as Kim Jong Un, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, and Bashar al-Assad,” the U.S. Treasury Department said in announcing the sanctions.
- The Kremlin had previously said it would consider sanctions on Putin himself to be a de facto severing of relations between the U.S. and Russia.
At the United Nations, 87 countries either voted for or co-sponsored a draft UN Security Council resolution deploring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Friday, though Russia used its veto to block it.
The big picture: Thousands of people around the world are coming out to show their support for Ukraine with rallies documented in countries ranging from Thailand and Greece to the former Soviet republic of Georgia and Russia itself.
- Thousands of Georgians — who themselves came under attack from Russia in 2008 — poured into the streets Thursday and Friday to protest their government’s inaction following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Putin called on the Ukrainian military to overthrow the government and “take power into your own hands” — explicitly demanding regime change as a precondition for peace talks.
- A Pentagon official told reporters Friday: “The Russians have lost a little bit of their momentum. No population centers have been taken. Russia has yet to achieve air superiority.” The official cautioned that Russia has only deployed one-third of its forces massed on the border and could still overwhelm Ukraine.
- NATO has activated elements of its 40,000-troops NATO Response Force for the first time in history, deploying them to eastern flank countries, with Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warning that “the Kremlin’s objectives are not limited to Ukraine.”
- Still, defense analysts note that the Russian military exceeds the capabilities of Ukraine’s on all fronts, and that thus far only about one-third of the Russian troops massed for the operation have entered the fray.
- Russia has also not unleashed the full force of its cyber capabilities, which could shut down key Ukrainian infrastructure.
Go deeper: The latest on the Russia-Ukraine crisis
Editor’s note: This article has been updated throughout.