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Heavy fighting in Kiev outskirts as Russia, Ukraine signal possibility of talks******
This screen grab taken from a video made available on the Facebook account of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky shows himself speaking face camera on February 25, 2022.
Russian and Ukrainian forces clashed on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital on Saturday as authorities urged citizens to help defend the city from advancing Russian forces.
Heavy, frequent artillery fire and intense gunfire, apparently some distance from the city center, could be heard in Kiev in the early hours, a Reuters witness said. The Ukrainian military said Russian troops attacked an army base on a main Kiev avenue but the assault was repelled.
But even as the fighting grew more intense, the Russian and Ukrainian governments signaled an openness to negotiations, offering the first glimmer of hope for diplomacy.
"The fate of Ukraine is being decided right now," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Friday in a video address posted to his Telegram channel. "Tonight, they will launch an assault. All of us must understand what awaits us. We must withstand this night."
The air force command reported heavy fighting near the air base at Vasylkiv southwest of the capital, which it said was under attack from Russian paratroopers.
Kiev residents were told by the defence ministry to make petrol bombs to repel the Russian troops, as witnesses reported hearing artillery rounds and intense gunfire from the western part of the city.
Some families cowered in shelters after Kiev was pounded on Thursday night by Russian missiles. Others tried desperately to get on packed trains headed west, some of the hundreds of thousands who have left their homes to find safety, according to the United Nations' aid chief.
"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 said at a televised meeting with Russia's Security Council on Friday. "Take power into your own hands."
Putin has cited the need to "denazify" Ukraine's leadership as one of his main reasons for the operation, accusing it of genocide against Russian-speakers in eastern Ukraine.
'Ready to talk'
Western countries have announced a barrage of sanctions on Russia, including blacklisting its banks and banning technology exports. But they have so far stopped short of forcing it out of the SWIFT system for international bank payments.
A spokesman for Zelenskiy said Ukraine and Russia would consult in coming hours on a time and place for talks.
The Kremlin said earlier it offered to meet in the Belarusian capital Minsk after Ukraine expressed a willingness to discuss declaring itself a neutral country while Ukraine had proposed Warsaw as the venue. That, according to Russian spokesman Dmitry Peskov, resulted in a "pause" in contacts.
"Ukraine was and remains ready to talk about a ceasefire and peace," Zelenskiy's spokesman, Sergii Nykyforov, said in a post on Facebook. "We agreed to the proposal of the President of the Russian Federation."
Zelenskiy wrote on Twitter that there had been heavy fighting with deaths at the entrance to the eastern cities of Chernihiv and Melitopol, as well as at Hostomel.
The White House asked Congress for US$6.4 billion in security and humanitarian aid for the crisis, officials said.
Aguero expected to confirm retirement on Wednesday******
MADRID, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- Sergio Aguero is expected to announce his retirement from football due to a heart complaint on Wednesday lunchtime in a press conference at the Camp Nou Stadium, his club FC Barcelona confirmed.。
33-year-old Aguero has not played since suffering an arrythmia when Barcelona hosted Alaves on October 30, which saw him taken to hospital. The club explained that the Argentinian would be sidelined for at least three months, in which tests would be carried out to see whether he would be able to continue with his career.。
If Aguero does confirm his retirement from the game, it will mean he has made just five appearances for Barca after joining on a free transfer from Manchester City over the summer. Enditem。
Lewandowski apologizes to Polish fans for Hungary loss******
WARSAW, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- Poland national team captain Robert Lewandowski on Thursday apologized to Polish fans for the team's unexpected loss to Hungary in the last game of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.。
Poland secured the second position in Group I thanks to a victory against Andorra and they needed one point in Monday's game against Hungary to be seeded in the World Cup play-offs.。
However, Marco Rossi's team beat Poland 2-1 in Warsaw. The defeat stirred up a storm in Poland. It's believed that both coach Paulo Sousa and Robert Lewandowski are responsible for the loss as they had decided that the team's best player would miss the clash with Hungary.。
On Thursday, the Bayern Munich forward released a statement, in which the 33-year-old emphasized "he can only apologize to the Polish fans" as he "understands their anger."
"We talked about my performances with coach Sousa before the training camp. I signaled that by playing so many games and knowing my body, I might not be in the best shape in both games. Together we agreed that in the case of our victory against Andorra, other players will get their chance in the match against Hungary," Lewandowski wrote.。
"I understand the anger and bitterness of the fans and as captain I can only apologize to them. I assure them we will do everything we can to advance to the final tournament. I'm a realist and I know that for me it could be a fight for the last World Cup. I will do everything in my power to help our team," the Pole added.。
"I have never refused to play for the national team. As long as my health allows it, I will never do it. Playing at the National Stadium in front of our audience will always be a reason to feel pride," he concluded.。
In the first match of the qualification second round, Poland will face one of the six seeded rivals, including Portugal, Scotland, Italy, Russia, Sweden and Wales. The draw will take place on November 26 in Zurich, Switzerland. Enditem。
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