Ukrainian forces have pushed back Russian troops in several areas around Kyiv, the city’s mayor said Wednesday, vowing to defend every building rather than surrender the capital.
Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said there were battles raging on the northern and eastern outskirts of the city, and that “the small city of Makariv and almost all of Irpin is already under the control of Ukrainian soldiers”.
Irpin borders Kyiv to the east, and Makariv is located some 50 kilometres (30 miles) to the west.
Fierce exchanges of artillery fire took place in Irpin and Lyutizh to the north of Kyiv, with considerable activity behind the front lines in Irpin, AFP journalists said.
A Ukrainian news agency spoke of a possible encirclement of Russian troops at Irpin, as well as Bucha and Hostomel, which are located in the western outskirts of Kyiv.
Klitschko said he didn’t have any more detailed information of ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensives.
Russian troops quickly pushed to the outskirts of Kyiv after invading the country on February 24, but their attempt to encircle and enter the city have failed.
The “target of aggressors is the capital of Ukraine … because the city is the heart of the country,” former boxing champion Klitschko told a news conference in a city park overlooking the Dnipro river.
He urged Russian soldiers to go back home and said Ukrainians are ready to defend Kyiv building by building.
“We would rather die than kneel in front of the Russians or surrender to the invaders,” said Klitschko.
“We are ready to fight for each building, each street, every part of our city.”
A residential neighbourhood in northwestern Kyiv came under bombardment Wednesday morning, with several buildings damaged and four people wounded.
A toll kept by city authorities puts the civilian death toll in the capital at 73, including four children, since the start of the invasion. Another 297 people have been wounded.
The Ukrainian capital has been under curfew since the beginning of the week. Klitschko said the measure was necessary because of information from the military about possible attacks.
He said dozens of saboteurs had been arrested since the start of the conflict.