Massive Explosions Rock Ukraine As Russia Unleashes Furious Airstrikes, Destroys Gas Pipelines
Screenshot: Радіо Свобода

Massive explosions rocked cities and surrounding areas across Ukraine late on Saturday night and into the early morning hours on Sunday as Russian military forces unleashed a furious air campaign intent on taking over key parts of the country.

The Guardian reported:

Reports are filtering in that a gas pipeline is on fire in Kharkiv after a Russian attack. In Vasylkiv, central Ukraine, an oil terminal has also reportedly been targeted, according to the National News Agency of Ukraine and later verified by CNN. Video of the fire at the oil storage area southwest of the air base’s main runway has circulated across social media this morning. Vasylkiv is about 30km, or 18 miles, south of Kyiv. It hosts a large military airfield and multiple fuel tanks.

Illia Ponomarenko, a reporter for the Kyiv Independent, says the population in the area has been advised to keep their windows shut against hazardous chemical fumes.

“The missile attack was carried out on the Vasilkovskaya oil depot of the KLO company,” Anton Gerash, an adviser to the the Ministry of Internal Affairs, said. “Rescuers have already left for the scene of the tragedy. Most likely, there were no casualties. It will burn for a long time. The environmental damage will be colossal.”

“Russian missile strikes in Vasylkiv just south of Kyiv caused an enormous fire at an oil depot,” Christopher Miller, a correspondent with BuzzFeed News, reported. “Confirmed by city mayor and central government authorities who are advising people to close their windows because of toxic smoke.”

The New York Times highlighted the most recent developments out of Ukraine:

  • Russian forces bombarded Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, again on Saturday night, after a day of pitched fights around the city. Most of the more than 150,000 Russian troops who had massed around Ukraine are now fighting in the country, U.S. officials said.
  • Russian forces have killed at least 198 people, including three children, and 1,115 people, including 33 children, have been wounded, according to the Ukrainian National Guard, and a U.N. official said more than 150,000 Ukrainian refugees had fled.

The Ukrainian government has implored its citizens to take up arms, including Molotov cocktails, to fight back against the invading Russian forces.

Amid the fight, the U.S. has reportedly offered to evacuate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, but Zelensky refuses to leave and reportedly told U.S. officials: “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.”

“Anyone who wants to come over here and defend our country, please come, and we will give you arms,” Zelensky told the media on Saturday. “Anybody defends will have been glorified.”

Zelensky made the same offer earlier in the week, saying in a statement, “We will give weapons to anyone who wants to defend the country. Be ready to support Ukraine in the squares of our cities.”

“We will lift sanctions on all citizens of Ukraine who are ready to defend our country as part of territorial defense with weapons in hands,” Zelenksy continued.

NATO activated the NATO Response Force for the first time ever on Friday, which readies thousands of soldiers who are part of the multinational force consisting of land, air, sea, and special operations forces.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned during a press conference on Friday that Putin’s “objectives are not limited to Ukraine.”

This report has been updated to include additional information.

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