Russia’s political and economic isolation has deepened as its forces meet stiff resistance in Ukraine’s capital and other cities.
President Vladimir Putin put Russia’s nuclear deterrent on high alert on Sunday in the face of a barrage of Western-led reprisals for his war on Ukraine, which said it had repelled Russian ground forces’ attempts to capture urban centers.
Ukraine said negotiations with Moscow without preconditions would be held at the Belarusian-Ukrainian border. Russian news agency Tass cited an unidentified source as saying the talks would start today.
U.S. President Joe Biden will host a call with allies and partners on Monday to coordinate a united response, the White House said.
The United States said Putin was escalating the war with “dangerous rhetoric” about Russia’s nuclear posture, amid signs Russian forces were preparing to besiege major cities in the democratic country of about 44 million people.
As missiles rained down, nearly 400,000 civilians, mainly women, and children have fled into neighboring countries, a U.N. relief agency said.
A senior U.S. defense official said Russia had fired more than 350 missiles at Ukrainian targets so far, some hitting civilian infrastructure.
“It appears that they are adopting a siege mentality, which any student of military tactics and strategy will tell you when you adopt siege tactics, it increases the likelihood of collateral damage,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told British Prime Minister Boris Johnson by telephone on Sunday that the next 24 hours would be crucial for Ukraine, a Downing Street spokesperson said.
So far, the Russian offensive cannot claim any major victories. Russia has not taken any Ukrainian city, does not control Ukraine’s airspace, and its troops remained roughly 30 km (19 miles) from Kyiv’s city center for a second day, the official said.
Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” that it says is not designed to occupy territory but to destroy its southern neighbor’s military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists.