Russian forces were observed massing on Tuesday for an imminent push on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv as talks between the two warring nations held on the Belarusian border remained inconclusive.
The negotiators have not said when a new round of the dialogue would take place.
Staging a push for the capital, Russia has massed a convoy of armoured vehicles, tanks and other military equipment that stretches about 40 miles (64 km), US satellite company Maxar said late on Monday.
“The Russian advance on Kyiv has made little progress over the past 24 hours probably as a result of continuing logistical difficulties,” the British defence ministry said in a military intelligence update on Tuesday, adding that Russia had increased its use of artillery.
“The use of heavy artillery in densely populated urban areas greatly increases the risk of civilian casualties,” it said.
Russian forces were attacking several fronts and Ukrainian officials reported a bombardment of Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, had killed dozens of civilians. “Barbaric rocket attacks and MLRS (multiple launch rocket systems) of peaceful cities are evidence that they are no longer able to fight armed Ukrainians,” Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Facebook.
Some 70 Ukrainian servicemen were killed on Monday by Russian shelling of a base in the town of Okhtyrka, between Kharkiv and Kyiv, the regional governor said on Facebook. Ukraine’s general staff said Russian losses included 5,710 personnel, 29 destroyed and damaged aircraft and 198 tanks.
It was not possible to independently verify any of those figures. Putin faces mounting international pressure and the systemic impact of Western sanctions led to a near 30% collapse in the rouble on Monday before central bank intervention rescued the currency from its lows. AGENCIES