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August 9, 2022
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Russian forces advance inside Ukraine: what we know so far

Russian forces have pressed towards the capital, Kyiv, as the death toll in the conflict rose to at least 198

Russian troops pressed towards Ukraine’s capital on Saturday after a night of explosions and street fighting that sent Kyiv residents seeking shelter underground.

The death toll so far in the Russian invasion of Ukraine is at least 198, according to the Ukrainian health ministry. Three children are among those dead. The ministry’s head was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying 1,115 people had been injured, including 33 children.

The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has said at press briefing that his country will triumph over Russian forces. He said Ukrainian forces controlled Kyiv and key areas, adding: “We are defending our land and the future of our children.”

Russia’s former president Dmitry Medvedev has said Russia could cut diplomatic ties with the west. The Russian RIA news agency said senior lawmaker Andrei Klimov said Russia would decide in which areas it would work with the west and where it no longer made sense to cooperate.

More European countries are in favour of cutting Russia out of the Swift global payments system, Zelenskiy and the Ukrainian foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, have said. France supported the move, said Kuleba, while the Cypriot finance minister said his country was not opposed. The leader of Italy’s PD, a main coalition party, has said Rome would support a block.

A Russian shell has hit a residential building in the centre of Kyiv, Ukraine says. Video shared by Zelenskiy’s press service shows the missile exploding in a private flat, sending smoke and debris into the living room.

The UN refugee agency has said that nearly 120,000 people have so far fled Ukraine into neighbouring countries in the wake of Russian invasion. The agency expects up to 4 million Ukrainians could flee if the situation deteriorates further.

On Friday night Zelenskiy warned of a difficult night ahead for the capital. “This night will be the hardest,” the Ukrainian president said in an address. “This night the enemy will be using all available means to break our resistance. This night they will launch an assault.”

Many Ukrainians have been preparing to fight. City authorities have urged residents to stay home but prepare molotov cocktails for a citizen uprising against Russian fighters if they break through defensive lines. In one district they handed out rifles to any citizen who wanted to fight, and the defence ministry has opened the army to any Ukrainian citizen.

Joe Biden has released $350m in military aid to Ukraine. In a memorandum to the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, Biden directed that $350m allocated through the Foreign Assistance Act be designated for Ukraine’s defence.

Vladimir Putin urged the Ukrainian army to overthrow its leadership, whom he labelled as a “gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis who has lodged itself in Kyiv and taken hostage the entire Ukrainian people”.

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