Satellite images from crucial overnight fighting sets stage for talks

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the next 24 hours are “crucial” as Russian forces reportedly assembled a three-mile-long convoy en route to the capital following nuclear forces being placed on “high alert.”

Blasts could be heard overnight throughout Ukraine and were noted in the capital of Kyiv, to the east in the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, and in Chernihiv, located between Kyiv and the border of Belarus. The 40-hour curfew was lifted Monday morning and will be reinstated nightly from 10 pm to 7 am, the Associated Press reported.

On Sunday, satellite imagery was released by Maxar Technologies showing Russian forces continuing to move on the already surrounded capital of Kyiv where citizens are reportedly trapped because of blocked roads.

The three-mile-long convoy was estimated to be less than 40 miles away on the same day that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his nuclear forces to be on high alert, according to the Daily Mail.

The move took Eastern Europe and the West by surprise as it indicates an escalation well beyond the already devastating invasion of Ukraine.

“At every step of this conflict, Putin has manufactured threats to justify more aggressive actions,” a senior White House official said in a statement. “The only reason his forces face a threat today is because they invaded a sovereign country, and one without nuclear weapons.”

“Hours before the Russian-Ukrainian negotiations began at a location near the border with Belarus, Ukrainian officials said Russia had yet again shelled major cities overnight. Defense officials said Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, was coming under intense artillery fire after Ukrainian forces recaptured it from Russian forces the previous day,” CBS News reported.

Putin’s own advisers were reportedly taken off guard by the escalation including defense minister Sergey Shoygu and army general Valery Gerasimov. With 90 percent of the world’s nuclear arsenal divided between Russia and the United States, it remains unclear if Putin’s order refers to short-range weaponry or intercontinental nuclear missiles.

United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to Zelenskyy Sunday night and relayed through a spokesman what was discussed as the Ukrainian president was set to have talks Monday with Russian delegates near the Pripyat River, north of Chernobyl.

“The Prime Minister lauded the bravery of the Ukrainian people following the Russian invasion and praised the leadership of President Zelenskyy in the face of such adversity,” Johnson’s spokesman said. “The resistance of the Ukrainian people was heroic.”

“President Zelenskyy said he believed the next 24 hours was a crucial period for Ukraine, and the Prime Minister said he would do all he could to help ensure defensive aid from the UK and allies reached Ukraine,” he added.

The calls of support follow increased sanctions from corporations and governments and an increased supply of military armaments from NATO countries. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenka claims these actions will push Russia into a world war amid threats his military may join in the invasion.

“Now there is a lot of talk against the banking sector, gas, oil SWIFT,” Lukashenka said. “It’s worse than war. This is pushing Russia into a Third World War. We need to be restrained here so as not to get into trouble. Because nuclear war is the end of everything.”

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, leader of the opposition party to Lukashenka and recognized by Western nations as the rightful president of Belarus, declared herself national leader on Sunday from her exile in Lithuania and reminded Belarusian military forces they did not have to follow orders from Lukashenka.

Zelenskyy himself was reported to be skeptical of talks and reportedly said, “I do not really believe in the outcome of this meeting, but let them try, so that later not a single citizen of Ukraine has any doubt that I, as president, tried to stop the war.”

The United Nations General Assembly is set to hold an emergency session Monday and President Biden is slated to hold a call with allies shortly after 11 am EST to discuss the deteriorating situation in Ukraine.


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