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Kyiv's Vitali Klitschko won't rule out a new Russian offensive against the city

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By Euronews
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Klitschko said that capturing Kyiv has always always been "one of the most important tasks for the Russian army."
Klitschko said that capturing Kyiv has always always been "one of the most important tasks for the Russian army."   -   Copyright  SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP or licensors

A new Russian attempt to seize Kyiv is still possible, the city's mayor, Vitali Klitschko, has warned, even if the previous weeks-long offensive to capture the capital ended in failure.

"We do not exclude such an attack. It is not a secret that Kyiv has always been one of the targets of the aggressor. Capturing Kiev has always been one of the most important tasks for the Russian army," Klitschko said in an interview with Euronews Bulgaria.

"The Russian aggressors were not able to do it in the first attack, but they did not give up on their goals. I think it all comes down to their desire to conquer our capital."

Taking Kyiv to topple the government of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was seen as a key element of the full-scale invasion launched by the Kremlin on February 24.

But despite making rapid inroads around the city during the first weeks of the military campaign, the offensive met with fierce Ukrainian resistance and gradually stalled.

By early April, all Russian troops had left the Kyiv Area to refocus their efforts on Ukraine's eastern region, the Donbas. The hasty retreat leftbehind a brutal trail of destruction and death, as exposed by the massacres in the suburbs of Bucha and Borodianka.

Residents in the capital are now trying to move on and resume their former lives. Some shops and theatres have reopened for the first time since the war broke out.

"Slowly, we are returning to normal life – if you can call it that," Klitschko said, speaking through a translator.

"More and more people are returning home. To be a guest somewhere is nice, but being at home is better. Despite the shootings that are taking place, more people have decided to come home."

Klitschko's comments coincide with a new update from the UN refugee agency, which said the number of people who have left Ukraine as result of the conflict has surpassed five million.

The displacement represents Europe's largest human exodus since the end of World War II.

Those who choose to stay or come back, Klitschko noted, are poised to face challenging and hazardous circumstances, as the city it still vulnerable to airstrikes and is ridden with Russia-made mines.

"As mayor of the city, I must warn our people that they should not hurry to come back to Kyiv. The curfew still applies here; there are roadblocks everywhere," the former professional boxer said.

"There are still many mines on the streets, all around the city. Almost every day there are tragic incidents. People are stepping on the mines that are left after the attacks."