THE Ukrainian flag has been raised at the Scottish Government's HQ in an act of solidarity with the country as Russia continues its invasion.

Posting a photo on Twitter showing the flag at St Andrew's House in Edinburgh the Scottish Government said "Scotland stands with Ukraine".

Nicola Sturgeon repeated calls of solidarity with the nation as she labelled Ukrainian courage "awe-inspiring".

The First Minister said: "Few of us - mercifully - will ever be tested as Ukrainians are being right now.

Explained: Why is Russia invading Ukraine and what is Nato?

"But from the President to the women and men in the streets, their courage and resolve is awe-inspiring. It’s nowhere near enough, but we send them strength and solidarity."

Meanwhile, demonstrators gathered on Friday outside the Russian consulate in Edinburgh for a second day as Scotland’s Ukrainian community voices outrage at the ongoing war.

Hundreds chanted “slava Ukraini” (glory to Ukraine) outside the consulate on Friday afternoon, with many bringing Ukrainian flags and anti-Putin signs.

A bagpiper played Ukraine’s national anthem and some Ukrainians addressed the crowd through a megaphone, calling for more Western help to resist the invasion.

Protests spread across Europe, including in major Russian cities, while Russian tennis player Andrey Rublev wrote "No war please" on a TV camera after his final in Dubai.

It comes as Kyiv officials are warning residents that street fighting is under way against Russian forces as Ukraine’s president refused to leave the city.

The warning issued on Saturday advised residents to remain in shelters, to avoid going near windows or on balconies and to take precautions against being hit by debris or bullets.

Russian troops continued towards Ukraine’s capital early on Saturday as explosions reverberated through the city and the president urged the country to “stand firm” against the siege that could determine its future. He refused American help to leave, saying: “The fight is here.”

Hundreds of casualties were reported in the fighting, which included shelling that sliced through a Kyiv apartment building and pummelled bridges and schools. There also were growing signs that Russia may be seeking to overthrow Ukraine’s government, which US officials have described as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ultimate objective.

In a statement issued several hours earlier, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said of Russia: “This is the night they will storm.”

As his country confronted explosions and gunfire, and as the fate of Kyiv hung in the balance, Zelensky appealed for a ceasefire and warned in a bleak statement that multiple cities were under attack.

“This night we have to stand firm,” he said. “The fate of Ukraine is being decided right now.”

Zelensky was urged to leave Kyiv by the US government but turned down the offer, according to a senior American intelligence official, who quoted the president as saying that “the fight is here” and that he needed anti-tank ammunition but “not a ride”.

The National:

Natali Sevriukova reacts next to her house following a rocket attack the city of Kyiv, Ukraine (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

US defence officials believe the Russian offensive has encountered considerable resistance and is proceeding slower than Moscow had envisioned, though that could change quickly.

The Kremlin accepted Kyiv’s offer to hold talks, but it appeared to be an effort to squeeze concessions out of Ukraine’s embattled leader instead of a gesture towards a diplomatic solution.

As fighting persisted, Ukraine’s military reported shooting down an II-76 Russian transport plane carrying paratroopers near Vasylkiv, a city 25 miles south of Kyiv, an account confirmed by a senior American intelligence official. It was unclear how many were on board, with transport planes able to carry up to 125 troops.

The National:

A second Russian military transport plane was shot down near Bila Tserkva, 50 miles south of Kyiv, according to two American officials who spoke to the Associated Press.

The Russian military has not commented on either plane.

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It remains unclear how many people have died so far. Ukrainian officials reported at least 137 deaths on their side from the first full day of fighting and claimed hundreds on the Russian one. Russian authorities released no casualty figures.

UN officials reported 25 civilian deaths, mostly from shelling and air strikes, and said 100,000 people were believed to have left their homes. They estimate that up to four million could flee if the fighting escalates.

Zelensky tweeted that he and US President Joe Biden spoke by phone and discussed “strengthening sanctions, concrete defence assistance and an antiwar coalition”.

Biden subsequently signed a memo clearing the way for the US to expedite up to 600 million dollars (£448 million) in emergency military assistance to the Ukrainian government, though it was not immediately clear how quickly the aid would flow.