Russian armoured convoy 'on the move' as Klitschko warns Kyiv is now a 'fortress'

11 March 2022, 06:20 | Updated: 11 March 2022, 06:52

Ukraine has warned that Kyiv is a fortress as Russia moved to encircle it
Ukraine has warned that Kyiv is a fortress as Russia moved to encircle it. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Will Taylor

Kyiv faces encirclement by Russian forces after the massive armoured column that had halted for days began to move.

A convoy thought to be some 40 miles long had begun to redeploy in its advance to the capital from the north west.

Russian forces could now be just nine miles from the city centre, amid fears from Western observers that they will try to surround the city and besiege it.

A senior US defence official said it had moved three miles closer, after getting bogged down while the invasion force was thought to be struggling with supply issues and encountering stiff Ukrainian resistance.

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There is speculation Russia is attempting a decapitation of the country's leadership, overthrowing the democratically elected government of Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has defiantly refused to flee Kyiv.

And in a warning to Moscow, heavyweight boxing champion turned mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko said the city had been "transformed into a fortress… every street, every building, every checkpoint has been fortified".

A video emerged on Thursday showing Ukrainians blast an armoured unit in a town north east of Kyiv, forcing it to turn tail and retreat in a warning to Russian forces that they will face a tough battle for the capital.

Maxar, the satellite imaging firm, said the column to the north west had dispersed and photos suggest Russian armoured units had entered towns near Antonov Airport, Sky News reports.

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Other cities have now come under attack. Lutsk and Dnipro have been targeted, joining cities like Kharkiv and Mariupol in enduring Russian strikes.

The British Ministry of Defence said the Kremlin was having to commit more troops to encircling important objectives and could get further bogged down.

"Due to strong resistance, Russian forces are committing an increased number of their deployed forces to encircle key cities," the ministry said in a tweet.

"This will reduce the number of forces available to continue their advance and will further slow Russian progress."

The update came as President Zelenskyy dismissed Russian claims that Ukraine was developing chemical weapons, with the US fearing Moscow themselves could deploy them as a "false flag" operation, a bid to try and provide some justification for invading.

Peace talks in Turkey between Ukraine and Russia failed to produce a ceasefire after a week of failed attempts at halting violence to allow civilians to flee.

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