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Tipsheet

They Held the Line: Ukrainians in Kyiv Hold Out Against Hellacious Russian Assault

AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

I will say this about the Ukrainians. They're holding out. They're putting up a tenacious fight against their Russian invaders. It was something Moscow was not expecting. Vladimir Putin has the better military, but it's struggling to achieve its objectives. Kyiv was projected to be surrounded by Russian forces by this time. At one point this week, they were only a mere 20 miles from the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, which was already being bombed. 

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Last night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was clear that last night was a fight for the nation. They needed to keep Kyiv, but it was going to be difficult as the full might of Russia's war machine was going to be unleashed upon the city. The nation has been virtually mustered. Citizens can carry firearms in public for national defense. All males 18-60 cannot leave. Martial law has been declared. The people are ready to fight with whatever means available. Ukrainian soldiers were teaching civilians how to make Molotov cocktails prior to the Russian assault. Russian troops reached the outskirts of the city yesterday evening, and fighting did break out in the streets reportedly. 

The Ukrainians held the line. The city remains in their hands. Zelensky had rebuffed an American offer of an evacuation—he was in the city during the assault—adding that he needed ammunition, not a ride (via NBC News): 

The Ukrainian government was still in control of Kyiv Saturday after a night of explosions and gun battles in the streets of the capital, vowing not to lay down its arms against the Russian assault.

The Kremlin's unprovoked attack on its democratic neighbor has drawn widespread condemnation and left Russian President Vladimir Putin facing pariah status on the global stage. Tens of thousands have fled the Russian advance, and those who stayed were enduring an assault that Ukraine and international watchdogs said was increasingly hitting civilians.

The exact progress of Russia's advance was unclear, but the attack has upended the West's sense of security. NATO has moved to reinforce its eastern flank after Putin left the world in doubt he was prepared to try and overturn the post-Cold War order.

[…]

"We have withstood and successfully repelled enemy attacks," Zelenskyy said in a speech Saturday morning. "The fighting continues in many cities and districts of our state, but we know that we are protecting the country, the land, the future of children."

The president said that Russia wanted to capture the city and install its own "puppets" — Western officials have warned that Moscow intends to decapitate his Western-leaning government and possibly replace it with a friendlier regime — but added that "we broke their plan."

In a video posted to social media earlier Saturday, Zelenskyy stood on a Kyiv street and rejected what he said was Russian disinformation that he had told his forces to surrender.

"We won’t put down our weapons,” Zelenskyy said. “We will protect our country because our weapon is our truth and it is our land, our country, our children and we will defend all of it.”

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Russians claimed they held their assault to re-open negotiations. That's a lie. They've been lying for weeks. One of their demands for ceasing hostilities with Ukraine is their total demilitarization. That's not going to happen. I think it may be because Russian forces are literally running out of gas in some parts of the country. They appear to be having supply line issues, and there are videos of Russian tank crews just sitting around as their vehicles have run out of fuel. Russian casualties are also mounting. They thought this was going to be a cakewalk. I think almost everyone did, and these Ukrainians punched that plan in the mouth.

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