KYIV, Ukraine

Russian soldiers have seized several Ukrainian army vehicles and are heading towards the center of the capital Kyiv, a top Ukrainian defense official said on Friday.

On social media, Deputy Defense Minister Anna Malyar said Russian soldiers had seized two Ukrainian vehicles as well as Ukrainian soldiers’ uniforms and are advancing towards the Kyiv city center from Obolon, a northern residential district of the capital some 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from the center.

“A convoy of Russian military trucks are following them. They will surely be neutralized,” Malyar added.

Separately, according to a Ukrainian General Staff statement, the Ukrainian Air Force is protecting the skies of Kyiv, and since 4 am (0200GMT) Ukraine’s air defense system has blocked rocket attacks on the capital.

Sirens and several explosions were heard early Friday in both Kyiv and Lviv, a city in western Ukraine some 540 km (336 miles) from the capital.

Following a months-long military buildup around neighboring Ukraine’s borders, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the intervention into Ukraine on Thursday. It has been met by international condemnation and announcements of new sanctions by Western countries.

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