At 00:00 UTC, heavy fighting was reported to the south of Kyiv, near the city of Vasylkiv and its air base.The Ukrainian General Staff claimed that a Ukrainian Su-27 fighter had shot down a Russian Il-76 transport plane carrying paratroopers near the city. Vasylkiv mayor Natalia Balasinovich said her city had been successfully defended by Ukrainian forces and the fighting was ending.
Around 03:00, more than 48 explosions in 30 minutes were reported around Kyiv, as the Ukrainian military was reported to be fighting near the CHP-6 power station in the northern neighbourhood of Troieshchyna. The BBC reported the attack may be an attempt to cut off electricity to the city. Heavy fighting was reported near the Kyiv Zoo and the Shuliavka neighbourhood. Early on 26 February, the Ukrainian military said it had repelled a Russian attack on an army base located on Peremohy Avenue, a main road in Kyiv; it also claimed to have repelled a Russian assault on the city of Mykolaiv on the Black Sea. American officials said a second Russian II-76 transport plane had been shot down by Ukrainian forces near Bila Tserkva, about fifty miles south of Kyiv.
Hundreds of casualties were reported during overnight fighting in Kyiv by the Associated Press, which said shelling had destroyed an apartment building, bridges, and schools. The Russian defence ministry said it had captured Melitopol, near the Sea of Azov, although British minister James Heappey questioned this claim.
Reuters reported that internet connections were disrupted in parts of Ukraine, particularly in the south and east.
By the afternoon, most of the Russian forces that had amassed around Ukraine were fighting in the country. Mayor Klitschko of Kyiv imposed a curfew from 5 p.m. Saturday until 8 a.m. Monday, warning that anyone outside during that time would be considered enemy sabotage and reconnaissance groups. Reuters reported that internet connections were disrupted in parts of Ukraine, particularly in the south and east.
A US defense official reported that Russian forces began to suffer logistical issues, particularly shortages of gasoline and diesel, leading to tanks and armoured vehicles stalling. Videos also emerged online of Russian tanks and armoured personnel carriers (APCs) stranded on the roadside.
A Japanese-owned cargo ship with 20 crew members onboard was struck by a Russian missile in the Black Sea. A Moldovan ship, MV Millennial Spirit, was also shelled by a Russian warship, causing serious injuries.
Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov confirmed that units loyal to the Chechen Republic (so-called Kadyrovtsy) had been deployed into Ukraine as well.
CNN obtained footage of a Russian TOS-1 system, which carries thermobaric weapons, near the Ukrainian border. The Daily Telegraph reported that Western officials warned such weapons would cause indiscriminate violence. The Russian military used these kind of weapons in the Chechnya war in the 1990s and other countries deployed them in military conflicts likewise.
A six-year-old boy was killed and multiple others were wounded when artillery fire hit the Okhmatdyt Children’s Hospital in Kyiv. The Ukrainian military claimed to have blown up a convoy of 56 tankers in Chernihiv Oblast carrying diesel for Russian forces.
By the end of the day, Russian forces had failed in their attempts to encircle and isolate Kyiv, despite mechanised and airborne attacks. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russia had committed its operational northern reserve of 17 battalion tactical groups (BTGs) after Ukrainian forces halted the advance of 14 BTGs to the north of Kyiv. Russia temporarily abandoned attempts to seize Chernihiv and Kharkiv after attacks were repelled by determined Ukrainian resistance, and bypassed those cities to continue towards Kyiv. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) noted that Ukraine may soon be forced to decide between ceding much of the eastern part of the country or withdrawing its forces in the Donbas in order to avoid encirclement. In the south, Russia took Berdyansk and threatened to encircle Mariupol. The ISW also said that poor planning and execution was leading to morale and logistical issues for the Russian military in northern Ukraine. US and British officials reported that Russian forces faced shortages of gasoline and diesel, leading to tanks and armoured vehicles stalling and slowing their advance. Videos also emerged online of Russian tanks and armoured personnel carriers (APCs) stranded on the roadside. Russia continued to not use its full arsenal; the ISW said this was likely to avoid the diplomatic and public relations consequences of mass civilian casualties, as well as to avoid creating rubble that would impede the advance of its own forces.