The battle for Kyiv is finally here as expected. Russian tanks reached within just a few miles of the city outskirts, analysts and witnesses have said, though initial assaults to the west and east of the capital were repelled as Vladimir Putin's forces face a long and bloody campaign to take the capital, Daily Mail reported.

Kremlin troops launched two attacks on Kyiv on Wednesday - one via the besieged western city of Irpin and another through the eastern district of Brovary, with video showing how a column of Russian tanks was bombarded with artillery in a devastating ambush and forced to turn back. Intercepted radio chatter suggested the column took heavy losses with the regimental commander killed, though that could not be verified.

Crisis in Ukraine
Crisis in UkraineIANS

Vadym Denysenko, an adviser to Ukraine's interior ministry, said Ukrainian forces had managed to stop the attack in Irpin and were counter-attacking on Thursday morning with battles now underway.

"The night was quite difficult, but in general we can say that the Ukrainian army counter-attacked near Kyiv," he said. "There is no further detailed information yet."

Russian forces

It means the Russian mission to assault the Ukrainian capital is now underway, analysts at the Institute for the Study of War said, amid fears that devastating airstrikes on the city of Mariupol - which struck a maternity hospital killing three including a six-year-old girl - and Kharkiv could soon be seen in the capital, Daily Mail reported.

(With inputs from IANS)