Massive explosions lit up the night sky near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv early Sunday as Ukrainian forces continue to repel Russian attempts to gain control of the historic city, despite overwhelming odds.
Two large explosions appeared to have been around Vasylkiv a small city with a large military airfield and multiple fuel tanks some 30 kilometers, or about 18 miles, south of Kyiv.
The explosions come as Ukrainian forces engage in fierce fighting with Russian troops in multiple cities across the country, as ordinary Ukrainians and reservists join efforts to defend their homes and families against Russian acts of violence.
Although the Russian military is much larger and better equipped than Ukraine, Russian forces are facing a determined and highly-motivated resistance resulting in significantly slower progress than the Kremlin had first anticipated, according to an assessment issued by Britains Ministry of Defense late Saturday.
In addition, Russian forces are sustaining casualties and a number of Russian troops have been taken prisoner by Ukrainian forces, according to the assessment.
Russia has yet to establish air supremacy over Ukraine, a United States senior defense official with direct knowledge told CNN, as the Ukrainian Air Force and air defense systems fight for control of the airspace. Without uncontested control of the skies, it becomes more difficult for an army on the move to see and strike targets from the air.
So far these challenges have prevented the quick overthrow of major Ukrainian cities, including the capital, Kyiv, which US officials were concerned could play out in a matter of days. The city of Kharkiv near Ukraines border with Russia also has not fallen to invading forces despite officials worrying that could happen on the first night of an invasion.
As the battle continues, a defiant Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has taken to the streets, and in a series of self-produced videos defiantly urged citizens to defend their country.
Photos: Russia invades Ukraine
People who left a separatist-held region in eastern Ukraine watch an address by Putin from their hotel room in Taganrog, Russia, on Monday, February 21. Putin blasted Kyiv’s growing security ties with the West, and in lengthy remarks about the history of the USSR and the formation of the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic, he appeared to cast doubt on Ukraine’s right to self-determination.
Officials armed reservists with 18,000 guns and ammunition in Kyiv alone, and Ukrainian TV has broadcast instructions for making Molotov cocktails. Ukrainian males ages 18 to 60 are banned from leaving the country.
Each Ukrainian should keep one thing in mind: if you can stop and destroy the occupiers do it. Everyone who can come back to Ukraine come back to defend Ukraine, Zelensky said in a video message Saturday.
We have withstood and successfully repelled enemy attacks. Fighting continues in different cities and regions of our country, he said, adding that the capital Kyiv and key towns around it were still under Ukrainian control. We have ruined their plans. They have no advantage over us.