Russian military forces in Ukraine may soon launch full-scale ground assaults to claim control of besieged cities like Kharkiv. A Kremlin spokesperson noted, “the Ministry of Defence, to ensure the maximum security of civilian populations, does not exclude the possibility of taking full control of the major cities that are already surrounded.”
While Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued no orders to assault encircled cities yet, the possibility of Russian occupation is evident for Ukrainian citizens. The invasion has raged for nearly a month now, and Ukraine’s defenders have held off the Russian advance far more stubbornly than some military experts expected.
Ukraine and Russia prepared to commence further peace talks Monday via video conference. Ukraine’s Head of Office Mykhail Podolyak tweeted, “Our positions have not changed: peace, an immediate ceasefire, the withdrawal of all Russian troops, and only then can we talk about our neighborly relations and our political differences.”
These are the same terms Ukraine has offered Russia in multiple peace talks since its eastern neighbor violated its borders with an illegal invasion. So far, neither combatant has arrived at terms the other finds agreeable. Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, says that the country’s goals in Ukraine are to demilitarize its neighbor and discourage Ukraine from joining NATO.
Russia is looking for allies as its invasion continues. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will travel to Qatar in the United Arab Emirates soon to ask for economic cooperation between the two countries. Russia’s economy has reeled under unprecedented pressure from Western allies. The US and European Union have levied crippling sanctions on Russia over the past few weeks to discourage Putin from continuing the invasion.
Meanwhile, US intelligence officials say Russia is now reaching out to its ally, China, for military assistance in the invasion. American and Chinese security officials are slated to meet in Rome on Monday to discuss the situation in Eastern Europe.
Ukrainian officials are also appealing to their allies to the west. Ukraine’s Prime Minister, Denys Shmyhal, will address the Council of Europe on Monday. Experts predict Shmyhal will call on the European Union to intensify its economic sanctions on Russia.
Meanwhile, President Volodymyr Zelensky will address the United States Congress on Wednesday, where he will discuss the ongoing defense effort. The United States has declined to directly intervene in the conflict, but it could agree to send more weapons and ammunition to its European ally.