Delegations from the Ukrainian and Russian governments will meet on the Ukraine-Belarus border as Vladimir Putin today put his country’s nuclear deterrent forces on high alert.
The move to put Russia’s nuclear forces on “special regime of duty” comes after Putin told top officials in a televised meeting that the west’s economic sanctions are “aggressive statements”.
The meeting between Kyiv and Moscow will happen near the Pripyat river on the Ukraine-Belarus border, with the two sides agreeing that there are no preconditions for the talks.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defence said the talks are set to happen, after Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko spoke to Ukraine President Volodymr Zelensky today.
“Alexander Lukashenko has taken responsibility that during the travel, negotiations and return of the Ukrainian delegation, all planes, helicopters and rockets placed on the Belarusian territory will remain on the ground,” a statement said.
The invasion of Ukraine has been much tougher than Putin expected, with Russian troops taking on large numbers of casualties in the first days of fighting.
Russian forces are still advancing into Ukraine on multiple axis, after launching an invasion from air, land and sea on Thursday morning.
Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky today said: “We will fight as long as it takes to liberate the county… glory to Ukraine.”
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson today said that “Ukrainian forces have engaged the remnants of Russian irregular forces within the city of Kyiv for the second night in a row”, but that “fighting has been at a lower intensity than the previous evening”.
They also said “intensive exchanges of rocket artillery overnight have been followed by heavy fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces” in the country’s second largest city of Kharkiv.
During a televised address today, Putin said: “Western countries aren’t only taking unfriendly economic actions against our country, but leaders of major Nato countries are making aggressive statements about our country. So I order to move Russia’s deterrence forces to a special regime of duty.”
Foreign secretary Liz Truss today told Sky News: “I fear this this will be a long-haul. This could be a number of years. What we do know is Russia have strong forces, but we know the Ukrainians are brave, they are determined to stand up for their sovereignty.”