The battlefield in northern Ukraine remains “largely static” but Russian troops are concentrating efforts on the “encirclement” of Ukrainian forces in the east, the Ministry of Defence has said.
In its latest intelligence update, the MoD said local counterattacks have hampered Russian attempts to reorganise its forces.
It said: “Russian forces appear to be concentrating their effort to attempt the encirclement of Ukrainian forces directly facing the separatist regions in the east of the country, advancing from the direction of Kharkiv in the north and Mariupol in the south.”
Biden warns Putin not to move on ‘single inch’ of NATO territory – latest on Ukraine
There are fears Chernihiv, in the north, could become the next Mariupol, with 44 severely wounded people – including three children – unable to be evacuated for treatment, the city’s mayor has said.
The city has been cut off by Russian forces.
Meanwhile, two humanitarian corridors have been agreed for Sunday, according to Ukraine’s deputy prime minister.
Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said the corridors, used to evacuate civilians from frontline areas, will run from the Luhansk and Donetsk regions and include people leaving Mariupol in private cars.
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Sanctions could be lifted if invasion ends
The foreign secretary has said sanctions against oligarchs, banks and businesses could be lifted if Russia ends its invasion of Ukraine.
Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, Liz Truss said “snapback sanctions” would be retained if the Russian president did attack again.
Ms Truss said a “negotiations unit” had been established in the Foreign Office to aid possible peace talks.
As Kremlin troops continue to struggle, her comments could be seen as an incentive for Vladimir Putin to cut his losses and agree a deal with Ukraine.
Her comments mirror those made by US secretary of state Antony Blinken, who said travel bans and asset freezes are “not designed to be permanent”.
Putin ‘cannot remain in power’
Russia’s president “cannot remain in power”, Joe Biden has said in a speech where he pleaded with Russians to stand up against the war and told Ukrainians that the US stands with them.
In a powerful speech in Warsaw, Poland, the US president built on earlier remarks in which he called Vladimir Putin a “butcher”, describing him as “a dictator” and saying stopping the war in Ukraine is “the task of our time”.
He said: “Brutality will never grind down the will to be free. Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia.”
“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Mr Biden added at the end of his speech.
The White House later denied the US president was calling for regime change.
Mr Biden’s speech ends a four-day trip that also included an earlier stop for a series of summits in Brussels.
A Kremlin spokesman, responding to Mr Biden’s comment, said: “That’s not for Biden to decide. The president of Russia is elected by Russians.”
Mr Biden also told the people of Russia they are “not the enemy”, saying he refused to believe that they welcomed the violence and misery their troops were bringing to Ukraine.
“Millions of families are being driven from their homes, including half of all Ukraine’s children,” he said.
“These are not the actions of a great nation.”
Mr Biden’s words came just hours before Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered one of his regular addresses, calling for more from Western nations, including planes, tanks, anti-missile defence and anti-ship weaponry.
“This is what our partners have,” he said.
“This is what is covered with dust at their storage facilities.
“After all, this is all for freedom not only in Ukraine – this is for freedom in Europe.”