Ukraine president says his forces still control Kyiv and appeals to ‘friends’ abroad to join fight

Ukraine’s president has said his forces are still in control of Kyiv and is appealing to the country’s “friends” abroad to join the fight.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a fresh address on Saturday: “Everyone who can defend Ukraine abroad please do it directly in a united way.

“Every friend of Ukraine who wants to join Ukraine in defending the country please come over, we will give you weapons.”

It comes after he appeared in a social media video from the streets of Kyiv early on Saturday to counter claims he had taken up an American offer to evacuate.

The UK Ministry of Defence has said the “bulk of Russian forces” are now around 19 miles from the city centre, as they “continue their advance”.

Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko earlier claimed “there are no Russian troops in the capital” but “subversive groups” are active and street fighting is ongoing.

British officials have praised the Ukrainian military’s “staunch resistance across the country”, while President Zelenskyy said: “Everyone who is defending Ukraine is a hero.”

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He added that the “armed forces are doing everything they can” to eliminate Russian presence nationwide and that those towns and cities being attacked from the air are “holding up”.

At least 198 Ukrainians have died since the invasion began three days ago, including three children, the Ukrainian health ministry told the Interfax news agency.

People in Kyiv are being told to seek or remain in shelters, avoid going near windows or on balconies and take precautions against being hit by debris or bullets.

Military clashes are also under way in the cities of Mariupol, Kherson, Mykolaiv and Odessa, an adviser to the Ukrainian president’s office said.