Kiev – Reuters
Russia was increasingly isolated politically and economically on Monday as its forces faced fierce opposition in the Ukrainian capital and other cities to prevent a major offensive against a European country after World War II.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday placed the anti-nuclear force on high alert in the face of a Western-led retaliation for its war on Ukraine, saying it had thwarted Russian ground forces’ attempts to seize urban centers.
Reuters quoted the government’s special service for communications and information security in Ukraine as saying that an explosion was heard in the capital, Kiev, early this morning, ending hours of silence and in Kharkiv.
Ukraine has said it will hold talks with Moscow without preconditions on the border between Belarus and Ukraine.
For its part, the Russian Toss news agency quoted unidentified sources as saying that talks would begin on Monday morning.
The White House says US President Joe Biden will hold a conference call with allies and partners on Monday to coordinate a concerted response to the Ukraine crisis.
The United States has said Putin is intensifying his war by using “dangerous language” about Russia’s nuclear situation, amid indications that Russian forces are preparing to besiege major cities in Ukraine, which has a population of about 44 million.
According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, nearly 400,000 civilians, mostly women and children, have fled to neighboring countries amid a barrage of missiles.
Russia has so far fired more than 350 missiles at Ukrainian targets, some of which hit civilian infrastructure, a Reuters news agency reported, citing a U.S. military official.
“It seems that they follow the siege mentality that any student studying military methods and tactics will tell you. When you follow siege methods, they increase the chance of co-damage,” he said anonymously.
In this regard, he referred to the Russian attack on the city of Chernev, north of Kiev, where a residential building caught fire in a missile strike early Monday morning, Ukrainian officials said.
The Ukrainian ground command said the city of Zotimer in northern Ukraine was hit by missiles at night.
The next 24 hours will be important for Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky told the British Prime Minister by telephone on Sunday, a British cabinet spokesman said.
In a statement to Reuters, he said that Russia could not say that the Russian offensive had been a great success.
According to Reuters, Russia has not captured any Ukrainian city or Ukrainian airspace, and its forces have been staying for about a second day, about 30 km from Kiev.
Western-led political, strategic, economic and corporate sanctions are described as unprecedented in their scope and coordination, with additional promises of military support for Ukraine’s poorly armed forces.
The ruble fell nearly 30% against the dollar after Western nations on Saturday unveiled tough sanctions restricting Russian banks from the global SWIFT financial system.
The European Central Bank (ECB) has said that the European branches of the Russian state-owned Sberbank are failing or likely to fail due to the damage done to their reputation by the war on Ukraine.
Russia’s central bank said it had quickly curbed the fall of expanded sanctions and resumed buying gold in the domestic market, easing restrictions on banks’ open foreign currency positions.
Japan has said it has asked Western nations to join Russia in preventing Russia from using the global Swift financial system, and is considering imposing sanctions on some individuals in Belarus who were key to Russia’s invasion.
On Sunday, the European Union decided to supply arms to a war-torn country for the first time in its history and promised to supply Ukraine with weapons, including warplanes.
Germany, which has already shut down a submarine gas pipeline from Russia, has said it will dramatically increase defense spending, having been reluctant to match its economic strength with its military strength for decades.
In an interview with Euronews, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called Ukraine “one of us” and expressed support for Ukraine’s membership.
The EU has closed its airspace to all Russian flights, forcing Russian airline Aeroflot, like Canada, to cancel all flights to European destinations until further notice. At a time when the EU is banning Russian media and Sputnik, the United States and France are urging their citizens to consider leaving Russia immediately.
In New York, the UN Security Council convened an emergency meeting of the UN General Assembly on Monday.
OVD-Info, a watchdog that has been monitoring the protests, said there were protests against the invasion in many parts of the world, including Russia, where nearly 6,000 people were arrested during anti-war protests on Thursday.
Tens of thousands of people across Europe protested against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, including more than 100,000 in the German capital Berlin.
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