Russian troops continue to assault Kiev. Volodymir Zelensky, President of Ukraine, has stated in a video message to his nation that the Russian army is preparing its final offensive and will take control of Kiev during Saturday morning into Sunday afternoon.
In Russia's televised address to Ukrainian forces, Vladimir Putin called for a revolt to maintain power as he continues his attack on Ukraine.
Weak attempts at cooperation are beginning to falter and it seems difficult for either side, Russia or NATO, to meet in Minsk.
With this military escalation by Russia come two threats: serious military repercussions if Finland or Sweden join NATO - thus being considered Russia's enemy - and provoking "military consequences" by deploying part of the Response Force containing some 40,000 troops in Eastern Europe.
On February 18, President Zelenski issued a desperate plea informing the Ukrainians that Russian soldiers were attacking their capital with full force; however, they could not get closer than 20 miles due to intense artillery fire directed at them once they came within range outside the city limits ? "strafing"? This was confirmed shortly thereafter when pictures appeared showing Russian tanks.
On Friday, Ukrainians rallied to fight for their capital, Kiev. Ukrainian authorities have advised residents to stay indoors and prepare Molotov cocktails to defend themselves against Russian forces who entered a northern district of the city on Thursday.
Faced with the missile strike on Kiev, President Volodymir Zelensky, urged Ukrainians to defend their country with him as he faces mounting pressure from Putin and the international community.
In Kiev this morning, Ukrainians fought for their capital after the Ukrainian president urged residents to defend their country, Russian President Vladimir Putin came under pressure from international communities and European Union sanctions were imposed on Putin. NATO leaders issued a statement pledging to continue supplying Ukraine with weapons, including air defense systems, at an emergency summit this week.
As of now, in Kiev, Ukrainians are fighting for their capital as President Volodymir Zelenski urges them to do so. With pressure mounting from the Russian government and after being subjected to sanctions by members of the European Union who are concerned about what is happening there. Today's unusual meeting between NATO leaders promises a new attempt at peacekeeping that includes supplying Ukraine with more weaponry, such as air defense systems.
Russian President Vladimir Putin urged Ukrainian soldiers to lay down their arms, implying that he had no intention of establishing peace talks with them.
Putin also referred to the new Ukrainian cabinet as a bunch of drug addicts and neo-Nazis, suggesting that he had no intention of engaging in peace talks.
On Friday, the Kremlin spokesman said Putin was willing for Russian representatives to visit Belarus for discussions with a Ukrainian delegation after talks with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. The offer came after Zelensky proposed earlier this week that there could be some kind of "neutral status" for Ukraine that would allow it greater autonomy from Russia while retaining Russian as an official language.
The European Union froze the assets of Putin and his foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov; meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden has reported that sanctions against President Vladimir Putin are expected to be announced on Friday, after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on other NATO leaders to exclude Russia from SWIFT (the payments mechanism used by banks around the world).