Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warns Russians will storm Kyiv 'very hard' overnight

On the day when Putin came for Kyiv, ITV News' Rohit Kachroo reported alongside troops determined to defend the capital

In a dramatic address, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned that Russian forces will storm Kyiv overnight.

He urged residents to stop invading forces "any way you can". Earlier in the day, Ukrainian TV gave information on how to make petrol bombs.

His speech late on Friday night follows warnings from Ukrainian and Western officials that Russian troops would try to launch a tank attack on the capital in a bid to overthrow the government.

In the early hours of Friday, explosions had rocked Kyiv amid "horrific" rocket strikes, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said. Thousands of Ukrainian reservists were given guns, while civilians were urged by the Defence Ministry to use home-made petrol bombs and "neutralise the occupier".

American intelligence believes on Friday evening Russia launched a large-scale assault where thousands of marines will arrive in Ukraine via the sea. The attack is thought to be targeted around the coastal city of Melitopol.

Outside of Kyiv, the nation's key cities remain under Ukrainian control, western officials told ITV News.

World leaders and authorities continued to condemn the entire invasion, while Nato agreed to send rapid response troops to protect its allies near Russia and Ukraine.

What's going on in Ukraine?

The Ukrainian ministry said Russia has hit 33 civilian sites in the country, as residential buildings were left burnt out and civilians were forced take cover underground.

Russia's "full-scale invasion" resulted in the deaths of 137 Ukrainians in the first full day of fighting on Thursday, the country's president said.

The United Nations Human Rights office said that so far, it has verified at least 127 civilian casualties. These include 25 people killed and 102 injured, mostly from shelling and airstrikes.

The Ukrainian Police Department released images of a residential block struck by a rocket attack in Kyiv Credit: Ukrainian Police Department Press Service via AP

Civilians piled into trains and cars to flee Ukraine, while Kyiv hotels were evacuated in the early hours. Thousands went deep underground as night fell, jamming Kyiv’s subway stations.

The Ukrainian military said on Friday that a group of Russian spies and saboteurs were seen in a district on the outskirts of Kyiv, while soldiers established defensive positions at bridges and armoured vehicles rolled down the streets.

The military added that a bridge across a river had been destroyed in the area of Ivankiv, about 40 miles north-west of Kyiv.

Where are Russian troops advancing through Ukraine?

"The enemy’s plan is to break through with tank columns from the side of Ivankiv and Chernihiv to Kyiv," Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko said on Telegram.

"Russian tanks burn perfectly when hit by our ATGMs (anti-tank guided missiles)."

Already, Ukraine's officials said they had lost control of the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant - the scene of the world’s worst nuclear disaster - and its surrounding exclusion zone after a fierce battle.

Ukrainian soldiers take position in Kyiv as the threat of Russian force grows Credit: AP

Staff members at the Chernobyl plant had been “taken hostage,” said Alyona Shevtsova, the adviser to the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces.

It is believed Moscow has targeted Chernobyl because it is the shortest route to the Ukrainian capital from its ally Belarus, where Russian troops are massed.

There had been “no casualties or destruction at the industrial site," the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency said it was told by Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the UN's chief said “the scale of need in these very, very extraordinary circumstances is going to be of the highest", adding that, over the next three months, it plans to seek over $1 billion in donations for humanitarian relief in Ukraine.

Have diplomatic processes stalled?

On Friday afternoon, President Putin claimed "neo-Nazi" saboteurs had infiltrated the Ukrainian army.

In an address to the "legitimate" members of the Ukrainian army he said the saboteurs were "aiming to incite Russian return fire into residential areas".

He added: "Essentially, they are acting like terrorists do, all over the world. They hide behind civilians in order to then accuse Russia of casualties among a peaceful population."

Europe Editor James Mates reports on Putin's televised tirade - along with the day's other developments

Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Friday that President Putin is ready to send a delegation to Belarus in response to President Zelenskyy’s offer to discuss a non-aligned status for Ukraine.

The offer indicates President Zelenskyy's would be willing to negotiate dropping his country’s bid to join Nato, as Russia has demanded. Before the invasion, the West had rejected the demand. President Putin claimed the refusal to discuss keeping Ukraine out of Nato prompted him to order a military action in Ukraine.

Natali Sevriukova reacts as she stands next to her house following a rocket attack in the capital of Kyiv, Ukraine. Credit: AP

On Friday night, Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution demanding that Moscow stop its attack on Ukraine and withdraw all troops. Friday’s vote was 11-1, with China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstaining. It showed significant but not total opposition to Russia’s invasion of its smaller, militarily weaker neighbor.

This morning, the Ukrainian president held further talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson over Ukraine's next steps of defence amid the "insidious attacks on Kyiv". Mr Zelenskyy said his country now "needs the support of partners more than ever".

Russia’s civil aviation authority announced it has since banned UK flights to and over Russia in retaliation for a British ban on the country's Aeroflot airlines.

The UK once again ruled out fighting with Russia in Ukraine, with Armed Forces Minister James Heappey saying any "miscalculation" would present an "existential" threat.

As the Russian assault continues, ITV News' Emma Murphy spoke to Ukraine's ambassador to the US

He said, however, that the government would "explore all that we can do to support the Ukrainians themselves over the next few days". Hours later, the UK's Foreign Office summoned the Belarusian ambassador "to protest Belarus’ assistance to Russia" in the invasion.

The UK also joined the US and EU in announcing they would personally sanction President Putin and Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov.

The European Union also agreed on Friday to freeze the assets of President Putin and Mr Lavrov.

President Zelenskyy was scheduled to speak with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, but the PM complained his Ukrainian counterpart did not get in touch.

In response, a sarcastic Mr Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter that he'll "try to move the war schedule" for the Italian PM next time.

What does President Putin want with Kyiv?

UK and US officials believe President Putin is trying to dismantle the Ukrainian government and replace it with his own puppet regime.

"Russian forces continue to advance on two axes towards Kiev," UK’s Chief of Defence Intelligence, Lieutenant General Sir Jim Hockenhull told ITV News on Friday evening.

Mr Zelenskyy said he is the number one target for the invading Russians - but added that he would remain in Kyiv. 

In a video posted on the Ukrainian Defence Ministry's Twitter account, President Zelenskyy said: "We are all here - defending our independence, our state! It will continue to be so. Glory to our defenders! Glory to Ukraine!"

The Ukrainian president accused the US of standing by as Russia invaded, criticising sanctions for not being "enough to get these foreign troops off our soil".

“This morning, we are defending our country alone,” said Mr Zelenskyy on Friday. “Just like yesterday, the most powerful country in the world looked on from a distance."

'Saddest day of my life': How is the world reacting to the invasion?

In London, protester Oleksandr Polishchuk and his son were among those outside Downing Street on Friday, calling for more to be done to stop Russia’s aggression.

“Yesterday was probably the saddest day of my life,” he told ITV News, holding back tears.

“That’s why I’m here. I hope that people who can do something about it will realise that more needs to be done and they’ll do it.”

He added that he thinks the battle for Kyiv will be long and cost a lot of lives on both sides, including many civilians in the city.

More action must be taken, he said, as “kid’s like my son are dying there.”

'The saddest day of my life'

In Rome, Pope Francis went to the Russian Embassy on Friday to “express his concern about the war” - an unprecedented and extraordinary, hands-on papal gesture.

The invasion began early on Thursday with a series of missile strikes, many on key government and military installations, quickly followed by a three-pronged ground assault.

Ukrainian and US officials said Russian forces were attacking from the east toward Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city; from the southern region of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014; and from Belarus to the north.

Both sides claimed to have destroyed some of the other’s aircraft and military hardware, though little of that could be confirmed.

Listen to ITV News What You Need To Know for the latest expert analysis on Ukraine

As President Zelenskyy's grasp on power became increasingly tenuous, he pleaded for international help and to impose further sanctions on the Kremlin and ordered a full military mobilisation that would last 90 days.

On Thursday, US President Joe Biden announced new sanctions against Russia, saying Putin “chose this war” and had exhibited a “sinister” view of the world in which nations take what they want by force. Other nations also announced sanctions, or said they would shortly.

Condemnation came worldwide, with Prime Minister Johnson announcing the UK's aim to cut off Russia from the UK’s financial markets with sanctions, freezing the assets of all large Russian banks and planning to bar Russian companies and the Kremlin from raising money on British markets.

At around 9pm on Friday, a live flight tracker showed commercial flight were steering clear of airspace over Ukraine. Credit: Flight Radar

President Putin made clear earlier this week that he sees no reason for Ukraine to exist, raising fears of possible broader conflict in the vast space that the Soviet Union once ruled. Putin denied plans to occupy Ukraine, but his ultimate goals remain hazy.

Ukrainians were urged to shelter in place and not to panic.

“Until the very last moment, I didn’t believe it would happen. I just pushed away these thoughts,” said a terrified Anna Dovnya in Kyiv, watching soldiers and police remove shrapnel from an exploded shell.

“We have lost all faith.”