Zelensky warns of new iron curtain as Russia invades

Picture courtesy: Getty images - bbc.com/news -People have been attempting to flee from Kyiv

BBC News: Ukraine’s leader has said a “new iron curtain” is falling and closing Russia off from the “civilised world” after it invaded its neighbour.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine’s task was “for that curtain not to fall” on its territory.

He made the remarks as Russian forces attacked on several fronts, launching missile strikes and advancing towards the capital Kyiv.

Exact casualty numbers are unclear, but include Ukrainian civilians.

Mr Zelensky made his comments in a video address to the Ukrainian people in which he swapped his usual suit for a military uniform.

“What we have heard today are not just missile blasts, fighting and the rumble of aircraft. This is the sound of a new iron curtain, which has come down and is closing Russia off from the civilised world,” he said.

The iron curtain refers to the division between Europe’s communist east and capitalist west from the end of the Second World War to the end of the Cold War.

Russia’s invasion by land, air and sea began after a pre-dawn TV address where President Vladimir Putin demanded that Ukraine’s military lay down its arms. It followed weeks of escalating tensions, as Russia massed troops along Ukraine’s borders.

Mr Zelensky claimed Ukrainian forces had been successfully defending the eastern Donbas region, but said the most problematic area was Kherson in the south of the country, where Russian troops have moved north from annexed Crimea.

Fierce fighting has broken out at an airbase on the outskirts of Kyiv, which is understood to be the closest that Russian forces have managed to get to the Ukrainian capital on the first day of their invasion.

The UK’s Ministry of Defence said Ukrainian forces were putting up “a staunch resistance” to the invasion but that “heavy casualties” had been suffered by both sides.

Six civilians died in an air strike in Brovary near the capital Kyiv. A man was also killed in shelling outside the major north-eastern city of Kharkiv.

 Ukraine said it had killed 50 Russian troops and shot down six Russian aircraft, but this has not been verified.

In his video address on Thursday, Mr Zelensky acknowledged that Ukraine had “suffered troop losses” but said “some Russian fighters” had also been captured.

Ukraine says weapons will be given to anyone who wants them.

In Kyiv, home to almost three million people, warning sirens have been blaring out as traffic queues to leave the city and crowds seek shelter in metro stations.

“We don’t understand what we should do now,” one woman called Svetlana told the BBC. “We’re now going to a place where we can be safe and we hope we can leave safely.”

Several neighbouring countries have begun preparations to take in a large number of refugees. Moldova alone said more than 4,000 people had come over the border.

The UK, EU and other Western allies have vowed to impose tough new sanctions to punish Moscow, but say they will not send in troops.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Thursday that all major Russian banks will face a full UK asset freeze.

courtesy: bbc.com/news