European Union leaders attend a summit at the Chateau de Versailles near Paris on March 11, 2022. Photo by the European Union/ UPI | License Photo
Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said late on Friday that Russian troops had targeted orphanages and schools while moving toward Kyiv.
"What is this war against Ukrainian children in a kindergarten? Who are they? Are they neo-Nazis from kindergarten as well? Or were they NATO soldiers that threatened Russia? Killed and injured children are the sentence to this invasion," He said in an address.
Zelensky warned that Russia would try an assault on Kyiv overnight night and that "each civilian should be as careful as possible." He particularly encouraged citizens to help the elderly.
"This night they will make an assault upon us. We all have to understand what we are going to face. This night we have to withstand," he said. "The fate of Ukraine is now being decided."
He again praised Ukrainians for resisting the Russian aggression "heroically" while Russian forces have suffered "very serious losses."
"These are hundreds, hundreds of killed soldiers who crossed our border, who came to our land," he said.
"Everyone, I emphasize, everyone must do everything they can to stop this war. Every day of aggression destroys normal life not only in Ukraine, but also in Russia, and in Europe, in the world."
Zelensky's address came as CNN reported that heavy fighting was seen around Vasylkiv, a city about 18 miles south of the capital and that explosions were heard near Kyiv.
During the second day of Moscow's military campaign, rocket fire rained down across the country as citizens sought shelter from the bombs.
With casualties mounting, Russian forces bombed infrastructure and schools as they stepped up their focus on Kyiv. The Kremlin also said on Friday that it's ready to talk with Ukrainian leaders.
"We are ready to hold talks at any moment, once the Ukrainian armed forces respond to our president's call, end their resistance and lay down their arms," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, according to the state-run TASS news agency.
"No one plans to attack and oppress them, let them return to their families, and let us give the Ukrainian people a chance to decide their future."
Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba confirmed that rocket fire has hit the capital.
"Last time our capital experienced anything like this was in 1941 when it was attacked by Nazi Germany," he said in a tweet. "Ukraine defeated that evil and will defeat this one."
One Kyiv official said a residential building was under threat of collapse after it was hit by rocket fragments. Ukraine's State Emergency Service said at least eight people were injured and 150 were evacuated from the building.
Zelensky has criticized Western leaders for not doing more to intervene in the Russian invasion, which began early on Thursday. In the absence of foreign help, he has turned to the Ukrainian people to fight the forces from Moscow.
Zelensky also said Friday that Ukrainian forces are successfully repelling Russia's advance.
"The enemy has been stopped in most directions. The fights continue," Zelensky said, according to NBC News. "Russia expects us to get tired, but we're not tired."
European Council President Charles Michel said on Friday that he's spoken with Zelensky.
"The senseless suffering and loss of civilian life must stop," Michel said in a tweet. "Second wave of sanctions with massive and severe consequences politically agreed last night. The further package under urgent preparation."
While Russian soldiers have reached the outskirts of Kyiv, there has been some failure in their assault. British defense chief Ben Wallace said on Friday that troops failed to take a key airport north of the capital.
Wallace added that Russian forces also failed to break through the line of control in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian officials said that Russia has attacked civilian targets.
Ukraine's air defense forces were protecting their skies, Zelensky said earlier as "enemy aircraft operate treacherously over residential areas."
Hanna Malyar, Ukraine's deputy minister of defense, posted a video of a residential building on fire in Kyiv and said missile strikes are occurring across the city.
Ukraine's defense ministry informed residents of Kyiv's Obolon district, where the military is fighting Russian troops, to prepare Molotov cocktails and not leave their homes.
Malyar said that Ukrainian forces have killed hundreds of Russian soldiers and destroyed more than 30 tanks, seven airplanes and six helicopters. Zelensky said at the end of the first day of fighting on Thursday that nearly 140 Ukrainians had been killed and more than 300 were wounded.
President Vladimir Putin has described the invasion as a "special operation," which came after Putin declared that two breakaway regions of Ukraine, collectively called the Donbas, were independent of Ukraine.