Kiev prepares for aggression; Putin urges Ukrainian military to seize power

KYIV: Russian missiles pounded Kiev, families huddled in shelters and authorities told people to prepare petrol bombs to defend their capital on Friday, as Russian President Vladimir Putin urged Ukraine’s military to take over and make peace.

After weeks of warnings from Western leaders, Putin unleashed a three-pronged invasion of Ukraine from the north, east and south before dawn on Thursday in the biggest attack on a state European since World War II.

“I once again appeal to the military personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine: do not allow neo-Nazis and (Ukrainian radical nationalists) to use your children, wives and elders as human shields,” Putin told a meeting televised with Russian Security. Council Friday. “Take the power in your hands, it will be easier for us to agree.”

Putin calls on the Ukrainian army to withdraw its leaders from Kyiv

Putin says he does not plan a military occupation, only to disarm Ukraine and remove its leaders, alluding to far-right Ukrainian nationalists who collaborated with Nazi invaders in World War II to fight Soviet Russia . But it’s unclear how a pro-Russian leader could be installed unless Russian troops control much of the country.

Moscow said it had captured Hostomel airfield northwest of the capital – a potential staging post for an assault on Kiev that has been disputed since Russian paratroopers landed there in the early hours of the war. This could not be confirmed, and Ukrainian authorities reported heavy fighting there.