Russia has unleashed a wave of attacks on Ukraine, targeting fuel facilities and airfields in what appears to be the next phase of an invasion that has been slowed by fierce resistance.
Huge explosions lit up the sky early on Sunday south of the capital, Kyiv, where people hunkered down in homes, underground garages and subway stations and the government maintained a 39-hour curfew in anticipation of a full-scale assault by Russian forces.
Flames billowed into the sky before dawn from an oil depot near an airbase in Vasylkiv, near Kyiv, where there has been intense fighting, according to the town’s mayor. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office said another explosion was at the civilian Zhuliany Airport.
Zelenskyy’s office also said Russian forces blew up a gas pipeline in Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, prompting the government to warn people to protect themselves from the smoke by covering their windows with damp cloth or gauze.
“We will fight for as long as needed to liberate our country,” Zelenskyy said.
The curfew in Kyiv is set to last through Monday morning. The relative quiet of the capital was sporadically broken by gunfire.
Russian-backed separatists in the eastern province of Luhansk said a Ukrainian missile had blown up an oil terminal in the town of Rovenky.
More than 150,000 Ukrainians have fled for Poland, Moldova and other neighbouring countries, and the United Nations warned the number could grow to four million if fighting escalates.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has not disclosed his ultimate goal, but Western officials believe he is determined to overthrow Ukraine’s government and replace it with a regime of his own, redrawing the map of Europe and reviving Moscow’s Cold War-era influence.