KYIV - Ukrainian soldiers repulsed a Russian attack in the capital, the military said early Saturday, only hours after President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Moscow would attempt to take Kyiv before dawn.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin unleashed a full-scale invasion on Thursday that has killed dozens of people, forced more than 50,000 to flee Ukraine in just 48 hours and sparked fears of a new Cold War in Europe.

Western nations announced personal sanctions targeting Putin as his soldiers advanced into Ukraine, while Zelensky urged the nation to defend itself.

“Special attention on Kyiv -- we cannot lose the capital,” he said.

“I am turning to our defenders, male and female, on all fronts: this night the enemy will use all the forces it has to crush our defence in a treacherous, harsh and inhumane way,” he said.

“Tonight they will attempt a storming” of the capital, he added.

Zelensky, who earlier called for a stronger response from the West, said he spoke to leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and US President Joe Biden.

“We have agreed on more aid, more support, significant support for our state,” he said.

Civilians prepared to face off with the heavily armed Russian forces have collected assault riffles and were urged by the Ukrainian defence ministry “to make Molotov cocktails and neutralise the enemy”.

“I only took a weapon in my hands for the first time yesterday,” paragliding instructor turned volunteer fighter Roman Bondertsev said. “We will try our best.”

In Kyiv’s city centre, AFP journalists heard loud explosions early Saturday.

“Heavy fighting continues,” the State Special Communications Service of Ukraine posted on its telegram account around 0330 GMT.

 

| Heavy fighting continues, the State Special Communications Service of Ukraine posted on its telegram account