Russia says took full control of Ukraine’s Melitopol

Photo taken on Feb 25, 2022 shows an empty street in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. (XINHUA)

KYIV / VIENNA / MOSCOW – The Russian Armed Forces have established full control over the southern Ukrainian city of Melitopol, Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a briefing on Saturday.

Earlier in the day, the Russian Defense Ministry said that the Russian military had entered Melitopol without meeting resistance.

The Russian troops were greeted by residents of Melitopol, and some older citizens took to the streets with red flags, said Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov

"On the evening of February 25, after an amphibious landing near the locality of Azovske (Ukraine), Russian units marched and, without meeting resistance, entered Melitopol," the ministry's Zvezda broadcaster reported.

The Russian troops were greeted by residents of Melitopol, and some older citizens took to the streets with red flags.

Konashenkov said the Russian Armed Forces has destroyed 821 Ukrainian military infrastructure objects, up from 211 reported on Friday.

Moscow has been striking military targets in Kyiv over the past days since it launched a "special military operation" on Ukraine on Thursday.

During the fighting, a large number of weapons supplied by Western countries to Ukraine over the past few months have been seized, including the Javelin anti-tank missile systems from the United States, Konashenkov said

During the fighting, a large number of weapons supplied by Western countries to Ukraine over the past few months have been seized, including the Javelin anti-tank missile systems from the United States, Konashenkov said.

READ MORE: Russian forces blockade Kyiv from west

The Russian forces have blockaded Kiev after capturing the Gostomel airfield in a suburb of Kyiv, killing more than 200 members of Ukraine's special units.

'We are all here'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky posted a video on social media on Friday, reassuring people that he is still in the capital.

"We are all here. Our troops are here … We are defending our independence, our state. And so it will continue," he said in the video, in which he and other government leaders were in front of the parliament building in Kyiv.

There were reports saying that he had fled.  

Zelensky also said "partners" are sending weapons to help Kyiv, adding that he had spoken by phone with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.

People take shelter in a subway station in Kiev, capital of Ukraine, Feb 25, 2022. (PHOTO/XINHUA)

Russia has no intention of occupying Ukraine and Moscow is ready to hold negotiations straight after the Ukrainian forces "lay down their arms," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a press conference on Friday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said "partners" are sending weapons to help Kyiv, adding that he had spoken by phone with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron

On Friday, Zelensky also said in a televised address that he wants to hold dialogue with Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to send a Russian delegation to the Belarusian capital of Minsk for negotiations with Ukraine at the level of representatives of the Defense Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and the presidential administration.

But Kyiv later suggested holding talks in Poland's Warsaw and then stopped responding, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Ukraine and Russia are currently discussing a date and a place of possible negotiations, as the sooner dialogue begins, the more chances there will be to resume normal life, Zelensky's press secretary Serhiy Nikiforov said on Friday night. 

Chernobyl nuclear facility 'safe'

The International Atomic Energy Agency said Friday that it was informed by Ukrainian authorities that the country's nuclear power reactors are continuing to "operate safely and securely."

The International Atomic Energy Agency said Friday that it was informed by Ukrainian authorities that the country's nuclear power reactors are continuing to "operate safely and securely"

Regarding reports of higher radiation levels at the site of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the IAEA has assessed that the readings reported by Ukraine's regulatory authority are "low and remain within the operational range" and "do not pose any danger to the public," IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a statement.

ALSO READ: Kyiv plunges into chaos as Putin aims to demilitarize Ukraine

The IAEA was informed by the Ukrainian authorities that the higher radiation levels may have been caused by heavy military vehicles stirring up soil still contaminated from the 1986 Chernobyl accident.

Russia has also taken full control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

Interfax-Ukraine news agency on Thursday quoted Advisor to head of the President's Office of Ukraine Mykhailo Podoliak as saying Russian forces had seized the Chernobyl plant.

Grossi on Friday reiterated his appeal for maximum restraint to avoid any action that could jeopardize the safety of nuclear facilities in Ukraine.