Locked-down Kyiv: Klitschko orders curfew from 6pm after Russians renew assault on capital

15 March 2022, 15:01 | Updated: 15 March 2022, 16:38

Kyiv has been locked down as Russia intensifies attacks on the city
Kyiv has been locked down as Russia intensifies attacks on the city. Picture: Getty

By Asher McShane

Residents will be ordered to stay off the war-torn streets of Kyiv from 6pm tonight as the city's mayor Vitali Klitschko issued a fresh curfew and told Russia: "The capital is the heart of Ukraine, and it will be defended."

The curfew will last 35 hours, as fears rise the Russians will step up attacks overnight. It comes after Russian air strikes hit a metro station and residential buildings last night, killing four people.

The mayor of the city Vitali Klitschko said: "It is prohibited to move around the city without special permission, except to go to bomb shelters. 

"The capital is the heart of Ukraine, and it will be defended.

The Klitschkos point to an Iron Kyiv sign painted on a truck in the city
The Klitschkos point to an Iron Kyiv sign painted on a truck in the city. Picture: Getty

"Kyiv, which is currently the symbol and forward operating base of Europe’s freedom and security, will not be given up by us.

"Today is a difficult and dangerous moment. This is why I ask all Kyivites to get prepared to stay at home for two days, or if the sirens go off, in the shelters."

The UK and the EU unveiled more sanctions against Russia today including targeting luxury goods.

Read more: UK targets former Russian president in fresh wave of 370 sanctions against the country

Read more: Fears for Russian state TV editor 'missing' after staging anti-war protest

In the latest developments in the conflict, a series of Russian strikes hit a residential neighbourhood of Kyiv overnight, igniting a 15-storey block of flats. At least one person was killed and others reportedly trapped inside. The artillery barrage hit the Svyatoshynskyi district of western Kyiv, near the suburb of Irpin that has seen some of the worst battles of the war.

Russian forces also stepped up attacks overnight on the northwest suburbs of Irpin, Hostomel and Bucha.

Prystaiko: Ukraine will fight until impact of war gets through Putin's skull

Putin’s troops were launching new attempts to capture the port city of Mariupol in the south, and unleashed new artillery strikes on the country’s second biggest city Kharkiv in the east, the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said on Facebook.

In the besieged southern city of Mariupol, “people are facing the impossible choices of how to feed their families and themselves and are trapped,” a Red Cross spokesperson said. It comes days after devastating scenes where a children's hospital was targeted by Russian bombs.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is due to meet with the Polish, Czech, and Slovenian PMs in show of unity in the city today, prior to the curfew coming into effect. It is understood the leaders are travelling to the city today by train under a heightened security operation.

A ruined building in war-torn Kyiv
A ruined building in war-torn Kyiv. Picture: Getty

There are also hopes that Russia's war effort could stall in as little as 14 days' time. Oleksiy Arestovich, an adviser to the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff, said the war could be over by early May when Russia runs out of resources.

The UK's further sanctions announced today include a ban on certain goods like Russian vodka.

A government spokesman said: "The UK government has today announced a ban on exports to Russia of high-end luxury goods, while also hitting hundreds of key products with new import tariffs that represent a 35 percentage point hike on current rates."

"Russian vodka is one of the iconic products affected by the tariff increases, while the export ban will likely affect luxury vehicles, high-end fashion and works of art.

"The measures will cause maximum harm to Putin's war machine while minimising the impact on UK businesses as G7 leaders unite to unleash a fresh wave of economic sanctions on Moscow."

Nearly 89,000 households have signed up to provide a home for Ukrainian refugees in the UK.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said 88,712 households had registered for the Homes for Ukraine scheme by Tuesday morning.

Boris Johnson is set to travel to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday in a bid to further wean the UK off Russian oil and gas.

Before that, he will host visiting leaders of the Joint Expeditionary Force at Lancaster House, and the leaders of Finland and Sweden.

As further attacks were reported in Ukraine, Foreign Office minister James Cleverly praised the British public for their efforts to support the country.

He said he was "glad the website crashed, because it is a reflection of that generosity of the British people" after households rushed to sign up for the Homes for Ukraine scheme launched on Monday.

"The irony of this is I'm actually quite proud that the system struggled," Mr Cleverly told LBC.

"We built it quickly. We could have, yes... we could have spent more time stress-testing this website and delayed it a couple of days before launching.

"But, frankly, I'm glad we moved quickly on this and we're moving quickly to ensure we're able to help the Ukrainian refugees."

He added: "I know this is a weird thing to say as a Government minister - I'm glad the website crashed, because it is a reflection of that generosity of the British people."

The scheme, launched by Communities Secretary Michael Gove, will allow Britons to host refugees for a minimum of six months in exchange for a £350 thank you payment.

But already the programme has come under criticism as currently, households need to have a named refugee in order to take part, rather than being matched with those in need by the Government.