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KATHMANDU: Russian forces have attacked oil and gas facilities in Ukraine, sparking huge explosions, officials said on Sunday, as Western allies prepared new sanctions, including banishing key Russian banks from the main global payments system.
Ukrainian forces were holding off Russian troops advancing on the capital, Kyiv, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said as the biggest assault on a European state since World War Two entered its fourth day.
Russian missiles found their mark, including a strike that set an oil terminal ablaze in Vasylkiv, southwest of Kyiv, the town’s mayor said. Blasts sent huge flames and billowing black smoke into the night sky, online posts showed.
There was also heavy fighting for Ukraine’s second city, Kharkiv, in the northeast, where Russian troops blew up a natural gas pipeline, a Ukrainian state agency said. The gas blast there sent a mushroom cloud up into the darkness.
“The enemy wants to destroy everything,” said the mayor of Vasylkiv, Natalia Balasinovich.
Russian troops later entered Kharkiv, an interior ministry adviser, Anton Herashchenko, said on Telegram. Videos posted by him and a state agency showed several military vehicles moving on a street and, separately, a burning tank.
Russian-backed separatists in the eastern province of Luhansk said a Ukrainian missile had blown an oil terminal in the town of Rovenky.
Russian President Vladimir Putin launched what he called a special military operation on Thursday, ignoring weeks of Western warnings and saying the “neo-Nazis” ruling Ukraine threatened Russia’s security – a charge Kyiv and Western governments say is baseless propaganda.
Reuters witnesses in Kyiv reported occasional blasts and gunfire in the city on Saturday night but it was not clear where this was coming from.
“We have withstood and are successfully repelling enemy attacks. The fighting goes on,” Zelenskiy said in a video message from the streets of Kyiv posted on his social media.
A U.S. defence official said Ukraine’s forces were putting up “very determined resistance” to Russia’s air, land and sea advance, which has sent hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing westwards, clogging major highways and railway lines.
The United States and its European partners said they also would impose restrictions on Russia’s central bank to limit its ability to support the rouble and finance Putin’s war effort.
“We are resolved to continue imposing costs on Russia that will further isolate Russia from the international financial system and our economies,” said a statement from the United States, France, Germany, Canada, Italy, Britain and the European Commission.
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