RUSSIA is now trying to attack Kyiv from two sides in an attempt to surround the city.
Putin's forces are thought to be approaching from the northeastern and northwestern borders ahead of a potentially large and bloody battle, Ukraine's armed forces revealed.
They have already seized parts of northwestern suburban towns with vehicles and infantry, setting up checkpoints.
And civilians have been fleeing to Kiev from fierce battles and shelling in surrounding areas like Hostomel, Bucha and Irpin.
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Dmytro Tkachuk, a Bucha resident, told the Kyiv Independent how they jumped out of the way of numerous explosions and demolishing buildings as they headed for a river crossing to get to Kyiv.
One of two grandmothers travelling with the family had to be carried en route to the bridge when her leg gave out.
Tkachuk said: “The granny was screaming for us to leave her and run for the bridge. If that’s not hell, what is?
"When we entered Kyiv, I cried."
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Other civilians in Bucha have reportedly been trapped, unable to contact family and gunned down in the street.
Elena Slivinskaya, her husband and two daughters, four and eight, spent 14 hours driving in long queues from Vorzel to the capital as explosions went off on all sides.
They decided to leave after constant bombings and shootings.
At least one of her neighbours was shot dead by a Russian troop while walking outside.
Elena said: “The bombing and the shooting was constant. We constantly spent time with the children in the basement.”
But Ukraine's President Zelensky insisted Russia can only take Kyiv if it "razes it to the ground".
Putin's troops are inching closer and are believed to be just 15 miles from the city as terrified Ukrainians continue to flee their homes.
But Zelensky has today warned the Russians would only be able to take control of Kyiv if they "raze it to the ground" as the Ukrainian president confirmed around 1,300 of his troops had been killed since the conflict began.
Meanwhile, a Russian rocket today destroyed a Ukrainian airbase near a city in Kyiv Oblast amid escalating conflict around the capital, with footage showing a ferocious fire at the site.
According to Vasylkiv Mayor Natalia Balasynovych, an ammunition depot was also hit as footage on social media appeared to show smoke billowing from the scene.
Kyiv Oblast police said a fire broke out at the depot after being struck by six Russian missiles.
Air raid sirens blared out across the capital this morning as well as in other cities – with reports of explosions in the strategic city of Dnipro, as well as in Mykolaiv, Nikolaev and Kropyvnytskyi.
But Ukrainian forces are continuing to defends as shells rain down across the country 17 days into the war.
As Putin's invasion continues to stall, the Ukraine's defence unit has claimed an enemy control point in the Kyiv direction has been destroyed after being blasted from the air as it declared "our Air Force is working" in a tweet.
It comes as Russia is feared to be planning another major assault on Ukraine's capital Kyiv, as troops have been pictured moving towards the city.
Satellite images show Russian tanks and other vehicles heading towards Kyiv, while other aerial footage appears to reveal military equipment being stationed outside the capital.
The images from Maxar, which has been monitoring the invasion since the start, were taken close to Antonov Airport, just miles from the city.
A large military convoy can be seen travelling along the main road.
Images appear to show the infamous 40-mile "death convoy" of Russian vehicles stalled near Kyiv for almost two weeks has now "dispersed", as rocket artillery is moved into firing positions for an assault on the city.
On Friday, the UK Defence Ministry claimed Russia is likely to want to resume its offensive in Kyiv in the coming days.
Meanwhile, Maxar Technologies said Russian troops have been firing artillery toward residential areas as fresh imagery appears to show homes and buildings on fire in the village of Moschun just 17 miles from Kyiv.
But Ukraine remains defiant as officials say Kyiv is "ready to fight" as presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak branded it a "city undersiege" and confirmed checkpoints were prepared.
“Kyiv will stand until the end," he added.
It comes as…
- Ukraine President says THOUSANDS of Russians captured as Putin loses three generals
- Mayor of Melitopol kidnapped by Russian troops & dragged away with bag over his head
- Joe Biden warns of 'WW3' after halting plans to send MiG jets to Ukraine
- Ukrainians insist Ghost of Kyiv is REAL after releasing pic of ace
- Putin invades new Ukrainian cities as he unleashes deadly dawn blitz
- Ukraine claims Belarus is set to invade imminently after Putin met with Europe's last dictator
- Ukrainian refugees could hit 15million if Putin continues with bloody war
Meanwhile, a Ukrainian MP has said the fight for Kyiv will be Russia's new "Stalingrad if they want to make it so".
Speaking on BBC's Radio 4 Today programme, Sviatoslav Yurah said: "It's a massive town of millions and if the Russians try to come in they will have quite a fight on their hands – this will be their Stalingrad if they want to make it so.
"Nobody is going to surrender – I can definitely guarantee you that."
It comes as Volodymyr Zelensky has said Ukraine has reached a "strategic turning point" in its conflict against Russia as he urged Ukrainians to be patient.
In a video message, Ukraine's president said: "I know that many people have started to feel tired. I understand. Impatient. I understand.
"This is life. When we mobilise, when we see our victories and the loss of the enemy on the battlefield, we expect the struggle to end sooner.
"We expect the invaders to fall faster. But this is life, this is war. This is a struggle. Time is still needed. Patience is still needed."
Zelensky insisted the country is moving towards "victory" as troops have reached a "turning point".
"It is impossible to say for how many more days we must liberate our Ukrainian land. But it is possible to say we will do it," he added.
"Because we have already reached a strategic turning point. We are already moving toward our goal, toward our victory."
And today he said the Russian army has suffered its largest losses in decades, claiming 31 battalion tactical groups have now been rendered incapable of combat.
In his latest video address, Zelensky said: "The Russian troops are suffering great losses. We could even now talk about the greatest blow to the Russian troops in tens of years."
It comes after a senior Moscow diplomat said Russia may target Western shipments of military equipment to Ukraine after Joe Biden warned of "World War Three".
Deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russia had warned the US that "pumping weapons from a number of countries it orchestrates isn’t just a dangerous move, it’s an action that makes those convoys legitimate targets".
The warning came after Biden personally halted plans to send MiG fighter jets from Poland to Ukraine, saying that a direct conflict between Russia and NATO would be catastrophic.
Biden that he would defend "every single inch" of the military alliance if needs be.
Poland offered its 28 twin-engine jet fighter aircraft to the US – but Biden blocked the offer, fearing it would lead to "World War Three".
Meanwhile, at least 1,582 civilians have been slaughtered in the besieged city Mariupol after 12 days of non-stop Russian bombardments, its council revealed.
Hundreds of thousands of people are trapped in Mariupol, including 3,000 babies and 50,000 children, according to city officials.
Fights have broken out for food as terrified residents cower in freezing, damp and overcrowded basements without electricity or running water.
Russian forces pounding the port city shelled a mosque sheltering more than 80 people, including children, the Ukrainian government said on Saturday.
There was no immediate word of casualties from the bombing.
Members of the Red Cross taking shelter in the city have told of the desperate situation as medicine and other supplies.
Writing on Twitter, one told how they have opened up the office to more than 60 people to keep them safe.
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"We keep the shelter, the basement, only for children and their mothers," they said
"All other adults and children above twelve they sleep in the office. It’s really cold. We still have some fuel for generators – so we have electricity for 3-4 hours a day.
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"People report varying needs in medicine. Especially for diabetes and cancer patients.
"But there is no way to find it anymore in the city. People are getting sick already because of the cold."
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