Since Russia’s brutal war on Ukraine began on February 24, millions of terrified residents have fled the city in fear of Putin’s brutal regime. But Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko has given one of his strongest indications yet his city is still standing tall – despite the bombardment from Russia over recent weeks. He told Ukrainian television: “There were 3.5million people in Kyiv before the war, almost two-thirds have already returned.”
Some roadblocks still remain in Kyiv, with the Mayor adding: “If these limitations do not scare you, you can indeed return.”
Mr Klitschko said he would not forbid the residents of Kyiv from returning to the capital, but has continued to call for caution, as he has done since the start of the war with Russia.
He appealed: “If you have the opportunity to be in more protected places, where there is no risk to your life and health, please stay there.”
On March 10 – two weeks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – Mr Klitschko said half of Kyiv’s population had fled and that “a little less than two million people” remained.
But Russia’s forces have struggled to find a way past Ukrainian resistance in the capital, which has seen troops disengage from Kyiv to focus on eastern Ukraine, where most Ukrainian separatist militias are based.
More than 5.4million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the war, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
From this, 90 percent are women and children, while men between the ages of 18 and 60 are not allowed to leave.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has said more than 7.7million Ukrainians have been internally displaced so far.
READ MORE: Russian military in ‘embarrassing’ state as generals turn on Putin
Tetiana Apatchenko, press officer for the 92nd Separate Mechanized Brigade, the main Ukrainian force in the area, confirmed the country’s troops had in recent days recaptured the settlements of Cherkaski Tyshky, Ruski Tyshki, Borshchova and Slobozhanske.
Defence Ministry adviser Yuriy Saks told Reuters: “The military operations of the Ukrainian armed forces around Kharkiv, especially north and northeast of Kharkiv, are sort of a success story.
“The Ukrainian army was able to push these war criminals to a line beyond the reach of their artillery.”
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.