Blasts have been heard overnight in several of Ukraine’s cities including the capital Kyiv, Kharkiv, the country’s second biggest city and Chernihiv, north of the capital, but overall, it was a quiet night on the streets of the capital with an almost two-day curfew lifted on Monday morning.
Those still residing in the capital must know the worst is surely still to come.
Today marks the start of a crucial 24 hours for the country with tensions at their highest following a threat by Russian President Vladimir Putin to put his nuclear deterrent forces on ‘alert’.
The mood is not exactly promising for talks but Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has said Kyiv and Moscow will hold peace talks at the northern border with Belarus later on Monday.
Zelensky has said there are no preconditions attached but holds little hope of a breakthrough that the conflict will be resolved. Zelensky will not be part of the delegation in person.
It wasn’t immediately clear when the meeting would take place, nor what the Kremlin was ultimately seeking, either in those potential talks on the border or, more broadly, from its war in Ukraine. Western officials believe Putin wants to overthrow Ukraine’s government and replace it with a regime of his own, reviving Moscow’s Cold War-era influence.
Ukraine has managed to slow the advance of Putin’s troops but Russia is still gaining ground, closing in on the capital, showing no sign of turning back.
Satellite imagery released by Maxar Technologies on Sunday depicted a three-mile long convoy of Russian military vehicles lined up on roads leading to Kyiv, thought to be less than 40 miles away from the city of three million people.
While Russian advance forces have been fighting in Kyiv for several days, the main bulk of Putin’s assault force is still some distance outside the city.
The convoy consisting of tanks and military hardware are almost certainly preparing for a ground assault, but they remain vulnerable from the air. Ukraine on Sunday released video footage of a drone attack where several Russian tanks were blown up in a missile strike.
If the Russians were expecting Ukraine to roll over, the first four days have proved them wrong.
Russian forces have encountered strong resistance from Ukraine’s defenders, and U.S. officials say they believe the invasion has been more difficult, and slower, than the Kremlin envisioned, though that could change as Moscow adapts.
Read more: Blasts are heard in Kyiv and Kharkiv and apartment building in city of Chernihiv is hit by missile as Zelensky says Ukraine faces ‘crucial’ 24 hours: Three mile-long Russian convoy heads to capital after Putin put nuclear deterrent forces on ‘alert’
Even Putin’s generals looked stunned: Military chiefs are caught in the headlights as Vlad orders his nuclear deterrent forces to go on ‘alert’ with a decree that shocked the world
Vladimir Putin‘s closest advisers appeared perturbed when he dropped his bombshell about readying nuclear weapons yesterday.
The expressions of army general Valery Gerasimov and defence minister Sergey Shoygu were caught on camera as the Russian president put his atomic arsenal on stand-by.
A senior US defence official said last night Putin’s step is ‘potentially putting in play forces that if there’s a miscalculation could make things much, much more dangerous’
And a senior White House official described it as ‘yet another escalatory and totally unnecessary step’.