Fresh pre-dawn explosions heard in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, with reports Russian plane downed

| 25.02,22. 02:33 PM |

Fresh pre-dawn explosions heard in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, with reports Russian plane downed

A series of pre-dawn explosions have rocked Ukraine's capital Kyiv, raising fears of a renewed offensive by Russian forces.  

Similar sounds were heard a day earlier when, according to Ukrainian officials, a military base in Brovary, a town near Kyiv, was hit by Russian cruise missiles on Thursday, leaving six people dead.  

Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Thursday. Ukraine has reported dozens of casualties and hundreds of wounded since.

In the early hours of Friday morning local time, videos were posted on Twitter showing at least one large explosion in the air above the city.

Anton Geraschenko, an adviser to Ukraine's Interior Minister, said Ukrainian forces downed an enemy aircraft which then crashed into a residential building and set it on fire.

It was unclear whether the aircraft was manned.

Mr Geraschenko wrote on Telegram that a nine-storey residential building was on fire.

A bright flash over the city of Kyiv.
A webcam in Kyiv caught images of an explosion in the early hours of Friday morning. (Supplied)

The series of explosions heard in Kyiv earlier were the sounds of air defences firing at the aircraft, Mr Geraschenko said.

Olexander Scherba, who was Ukraine's ambassador to Austria until last year, had said in a tweet he thought the explosions were "cruise missiles".

Meanwhile, Ukraine's border guard service reported a missile strike hitting a Ukrainian border post in the south-eastern region of Zaporizhzhya, killing and wounding some guards.

The region has no land border with Russia, but is located on the coast of the Azov Sea which the neighbouring countries share.

Russia trying to 'decapitate' Ukraine's government

On Thursday, Ukrainian leaders pleaded for help as civilians piled into trains and cars to flee, and hotels in Kyiv were being evacuated amid early indications of an assault.

Ukrainian forces braced for more attacks after enduring for hours a Russian barrage of land- and sea-based missiles, an assault that one senior US defence official described as the first salvo in a likely multi-phase invasion aimed at seizing key population centres and "decapitating" Ukraine's government.

Already, Ukraine officials said they had lost control of the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the scene of the world's worst nuclear disaster.

In unleashing the largest ground war in Europe since World War II, Mr Putin ignored global condemnation and cascading new sanctions.

With a chilling reference to his country's nuclear arsenal, he threatened any country trying to interfere with "consequences you have never seen", as a once-hoped for diplomatic resolution began to appear impossible.

A long line of cars on a road out of a city.
Heavy traffic built up on the roads heading out of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, as Russia began its invasion.(Reuters TV)

"Russia has embarked on a path of evil, but Ukraine is defending itself and won't give up its freedom," Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter.

His grasp on power increasingly tenuous, he pleaded on Thursday for more severe sanctions than the ones imposed by Western allies and ordered a full military mobilisation that would last 90 days.

Mr Zelenskyy said in a video address that 137 "heroes," including 10 military officers, had been killed and 316 people wounded.

The dead included all border guards on Zmiinyi Island in the Odesa region, which was taken over by Russians.

He concluded an emotional speech by saying: "The fate of the country depends fully on our army, security forces, all of our defenders."

He also said the country had heard from Moscow that "they want to talk about Ukraine's neutral status".

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