A defiant president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, says Ukrainian forces are repelling Russian troops advancing on Kiev, as Western countries announce plans to cut off some Russian banks from the world’s main financial payments system.

Reuters witnesses in Kyiv reported occasional explosions and gunfire in the city on Saturday night, but it’s unclear where it came from.

The capital and other towns were shelled by Russian artillery and cruise missiles.

As the fighting continued, the United States and its allies said they were imposing a new round of sanctions in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, including expelling some Russian banks from the system. SWIFT payment.

This decision is a blow to Russian trade and makes it more difficult for Russian companies to do business.

SWIFT, or Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, is a secure messaging network that facilitates fast cross-border payments, making it a crucial mechanism for international trade.

The sanctions, agreed with the United States, France, Canada, Italy, Britain and the European Commission, also include limiting the Russian central bank’s ability to support the rouble.

This marked an escalation of the West’s punitive economic response. Putin launched what he called a special military operation before dawn on Thursday, ignoring Western warnings and saying the “neo-Nazis” in power in Ukraine were threatening Russia’s security.

A US defense official said Ukrainian forces were putting up ‘very determined resistance’ to the three-pronged Russian advance that sent hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing west, obstructing major highways and railroads .

“We resisted and successfully repelled enemy attacks. The fighting continues,” Zelenskiy said in a video message from the streets of Kiev posted on his social media.

The Kremlin said its troops were again advancing “in all directions” after Putin ordered a pause on Friday.

Russia’s assault is the largest against a European state since World War II and threatens to upend the continent’s post-Cold War order.

While the Western NATO military alliance has said it will not deploy troops to Ukraine, a string of countries are sending military aid.

US President Joe Biden has approved the release of up to $350 million ($484 million) in weapons from US stockpiles, while Germany, in a shift from its longstanding policy of not exporting weapons to war zones, said it would send anti-tank weapons and surface-to-air missiles.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov said his government would create an “IT army” to fight against digital intrusions from Russia.

A Ukrainian presidential adviser said around 3,500 Russian soldiers had been killed or wounded and Russian troops had made no serious progress on the third day of fighting.

Russia has not released casualty figures and it has been impossible to verify the tolls or the precise picture on the ground.

Western officials also said intelligence showed Russia was taking higher losses than expected and its advance was slowing.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a close ally of Putin, said on Saturday that his fighters were also deployed in Ukraine.

He said Russian forces could easily take Kiev and other major cities, but their task was to avoid loss of life.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said there was no major Russian military presence in the capital, but saboteur groups were active and he was imposing a curfew from Saturday night to Monday morning .

Australian Associated Press


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