Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky posted a self-shot video from central Kyiv on Friday vowing alongside top advisors to stay and defend the capital against the Russian invasion. The news comes as Russian troops close in to take siege of Kyiv. The capital has come under heavy bombing since Friday morning as both the side engage in intense fighting.
"We're all here. Our military is here. Citizens in society are here. We're all here defending our independence, our country, and it will stay this way," Zelensky said, standing outside the presidency building. Experts believe that Russian troops will take Kyiv any time now.
Zelensky Leads the Way
In a bid to instill courage and confidence in his countrymen, Zelensky took to the streets of central Kyiv on Friday amid heavy shelling form Russian air force and gave a short video message to Ukrainians.
Zelensky appeared to be responding to pressure from Russian President Vladimir Putin, wearing olive green military-style gear and standing with his prime minister, chief of staff, and other key aides.
Meanwhile, on Friday, Russian troops battled briefly with Ukrainian forces in Kyiv for the first time. Larger forces are closing in on the capital, and residents are braced for a night of air attacks.
Zelensky on Thursday night had said in a televised message that he is "target number one" for Russian assassins in Kyiv and his wife and children are "number two", as he insisted he would remain in the capital while declaring: "I'm staying with my people."
Putin's attack dog army of special forces is on the hunt for the besieged president. They are also having a list of Ukrainian officials who they have been assigned to kidnap or kill. They were assigned the same duty in Crimea, Syria, and Chechnya in recent years.
Hunt for Zelensky
Zelensky's wife Olena, 44, and two children, ages 17 and nine, are also in hiding - but remain in Ukraine - amid worries that the Kremlin is plotting to eliminate or arrest Ukraine's whole political class, with Zelensky warning: "My family is the number two target."
The news comes as Ukrainian troops engage in an intense gun battle on the streets of Kyiv on Friday night, with Russian tanks gradually taking over possession of the capital.
Several leaders from the West have backed Zelensky in his fight against Putin's invasion, and European Union chief Charles Michel even tweeted a video of the Ukrainian leader.
Meanwhile, in a televised address from Moscow, Putin branded Zelensky's government "terrorists" and "a gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis", urging the Ukrainian military to mutiny.
Putin's message comes amid fears that Zelensky may be assassinated and replaced by a Putin puppet. This comes just two years after Zelensky won a landslide victory in Ukraine's presidential election despite having no prior political experience and having only worked as a comedian and actor.
Zelensky's only previous political role was in TV show 'Servant of the People' where he played a history teacher who is unintentionally elected as the president, after a video of his character giving an anti-corruption rant goes viral. Zelensky is supposed to be in a secret bunker, while his wife Olena and their two children, are said to be in a safe place in Ukraine.