Ukrainian forces fought off Russian troops in the capital Kyiv on Friday on the second day of a conflict that has claimed dozens of lives, as Russian President Vladimir Putin called on the Ukrainian army to remove the country's leadership.
The televised address by Putin came as Russian forces advanced on Ukrainian capital Kyiv. Putin described the Ukrainian government as "terrorists" and "a gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis".
"Take power in your own hands," he urged the Ukrainian military.
Putin's remarks came after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, evoked Nazi Germany's 1941 invasion and praised his people for "demonstrating heroism" as Russian forces advanced towards the capital.
Biden joins emergency NATO session
US president Joe Biden joined an emergency NATO summit Friday to strengthen the frantic Western response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and fears for the security of Europe.
The US president, who has spent weeks trying to lead a united trans-Atlantic response to Russia's aggression against its neighbor, was meeting "with fellow NATO heads of state and government in an extraordinary virtual summit to discuss the security situation in and around Ukraine," the White House said.
Ukraine is not part of NATO, but four neighboring countries are and the United States has rushed troops to the eastern flank to reassure allies jittery about Putin's broader intentions.
NATO also finds itself enmeshed in the conflict because it was Ukraine's longterm ambition of joining the alliance and the European Union - in hopes of fully breaking free from Russian domination - that in part prompted the Kremlin's decision to attack.
Biden has repeatedly said that Ukraine is nowhere near being able to join NATO and is also firm that US troops will not go there to help push back Russia.
Zelenskyy urges Europeans to fight for Ukraine
In a dramatic plea, Zelenskyy urged Europeans with 'combat experience' to fight for Ukraine.
"If you have combat experience in Europe and do not want to look at the indecision of politicians, you can come to our country and join us in defending Europe, where it is very necessary now," Zelenskyy, said in a video.
"How are you going to defend yourself when you are so slowly helping us in Ukraine?," he added.
EU agrees to freeze Putin and Lavrov's assets
The EU agreed to freeze European assets linked to Putin and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov over their decision to invade Ukraine, the bloc said on Friday.
"We are hitting Putin's system where it has to be hit, not only economically and financially, but also at the heart of its power," German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said.
But the measures stopped short of kicking Russia out of the SWIFT messaging system used globally by banks to arrange transfers -- a major step that has been used to devastating effect against Iran.
While Ukraine's beleaguered government is lobbying ferociously for the EU to pull the trigger on a SWIFT ban for Russia, several EU countries -- most notably Germany, which has to pay Russia for natural gas -- are reluctant.
Chernobyl radiation level rises
Ukraine’s nuclear energy regulatory agency says that higher than usual gamma radiation levels have been detected in the area near the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear plant, a day after it was seized by the Russian military,
It attributed the rise to a “disturbance of the topsoil due to the movement of a large amount of heavy military equipment through the exclusion zone and the release of contaminated radioactive dust into the air.”
Over 50,000 Ukrainians flee country in 48 Hours: UN
Civilians have been making desperate attempts to flee as the battle for capital Kyiv intensified, with Ukrainian troops taking defensive positions against invading Russian forces.
This comes after Zelenskyy barred men aged between 18 and 60 from leaving the country as they were being conscripted.
137 people have died in the first day of fighting after Russia began its invasion into Ukraine, Zelenskyy said on Thursday.
India ramps up evacuation efforts
The first batch of Indian evacuees from Ukraine reached neighbouring Romania, the Ministry of External Affairs said.
On Friday, the MEA despatched teams from countries bordering with Ukraine to help evacuate Indians via land routes.
Indian missions in Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland have been involved in the efforts.
Nearly, 20,000 Indians were left stranded in Ukraine after the country shut its airspace on Thursday, amid the Russian attack.
Russia calls for India's support at UNSC
Russia on Friday said it expects support from India at the UN Security Council when the global body takes up a crucial resolution on its military operation in Ukraine.
Russia's Charge d'affaires Roman Babushkin said India has a deep understanding of the reasons that led to the current situation in Ukraine and Moscow is looking for continued support from New Delhi in sync with the special and privileged strategic partnership between the two countries.
Don't plan to occupy Ukraine, says Russia
Russia does not plan to "occupy" Ukraine and is ready to hold negotiations soon after the Ukrainian forces "lay down their arms", foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said.
"No one is going to occupy Ukraine. The aim of the operation has been openly declared: demilitarising and denazifying, he said.
Russia launched an attack on Ukraine on Thursday after months of military build-up near the country's border.