Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has released a video from the streets of Kyiv, reassuring people he is still in the capital as Russian troops close in.
There were rumours in Russian media that he had fled – but Zelensky insisted he was staying put.
“We are all here,” he said, surrounded by senior advisers and his prime minister.
“Our troops are here, citizens are here. All of us are here protecting the independence of our country.
“And it will continue to be this way.”
Zelensky’s exact whereabouts were kept secret following Russia’s invasion yesterday. Earlier, he told European leaders he was Russia’s “number one target” and warned he might not be seen again alive.
In the footage, recorded in a street outside the presidential office, Zelensky directs the camera towards each member of the group he is standing with, saying: “Glory to our defenders, glory to Ukraine, glory to heroes.”
Russian troops have been bearing down on the capital, with gunfire and explosions ever closer to the government quarter.
There have been reports of shelling, including explosions near a power station in the north of the city.
Kyiv’s mayor Vitali Klitschko said five blasts had been reported and emergency services were responding.
“The situation now - without exaggeration - is threatening for Kyiv,” he said.
He said the night would be “very difficult”.
He added bridges in the city had been taken under special control and checkpoints installed as Russian troops approach.
Earlier, Zelensky pleaded for Western assistance after saying his country has been “left alone” to defend itself.
“When bombs fall on Kyiv, it happens in Europe, not just in Ukraine,” he said. “When missiles kill our people, they kill all Europeans.”
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