Ukraine's capital Kyiv may fall to Russian forces in a matter of hours as the invaded country's air defenses have been effectively neutralised, Bloomberg reported, citing a senior Western intelligence official.
The latest news as of 3:40pm Singapore time is that Russian forces have arrived just outside the capital and are fighting their way in.
Russian forces entering from several fronts
Russian troops are advancing toward the capital after entering from the east, north, and south of Ukraine, in what has become the heaviest ground war waged in Europe in close to 80 years.
The Russian military is in control of several airfields it can use to funnel more forces into the country.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is believed to be targeting the capture of the capital and removing the government in Kyiv to install a puppet regime.
The official that Bloomberg spoke to said the city of 3 million people could suffer extreme violence as the Russians take control.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has vowed to stay put and defend his country and insisted that he and his government will remain in the capital.
Swift Russian advance
The swiftness of Russia's advance into the capital is also almost unprecedented as the initial wave of attack on Ukraine involved 75 heavy and medium bombers and more than 100 missiles of various types, according to a U.S. defense official.
Ukraine's border guards came under attack at 5am on Feb. 24, the day of invasion, and Russian tanks were reported to have reached the outskirts of Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, by mid-morning.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said it had destroyed 74 military facilities, including 11 air fields, 3 command posts, a naval base and 18 radar stations for anti-aircraft batteries.
Ukrainian president Zelensky said multiple missile strikes in Kyiv then began at 4am on Friday.
He added that Russia's strikes had targeted both military and civilian sites.
Russia had previously said it's not aiming strikes at civilians.
What could happen after Kyiv falls
A plausible-sounding scenario in the aftermath of Kyiv's fall was articulated on Twitter.
🧵 A Ukrainian intelligence source has passed along the following, which has already begun to trickle out in some form in the Ukrainian media.— Michael Weiss 🌻 (@michaeldweiss) February 25, 2022
*All the usual caveats apply.* I cannot verify. But it is apparently based on human intelligence and concerns Russia’s play for Kyiv.
The removal of the current Zelensky administration in Ukraine could see the country carved up into a eastern and western bloc reminiscent of Cold War tactics, where the capital Kyiv will fall under Russia dominion.
The new territory that Russia won will then serve as a buffer in the face of Europe's eastward expansion.
The Zelensky presidency, under duress, could then be reported in Russian propaganda as fleeing the capital and abdicating responsibility.
The ensuing chaos among the population and the lack of central control will be fertile ground to provide justification for the use of force to exert population control.
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