Ukraine slows Russian advance under shadow of nuclear threat

Ukraine slows Russian advance under shadow of nuclear threat

Kyiv: Outgunned but determined Ukrainian troops slowed Russia's advance and held onto the capital and other key cities at least for now.

In the face of stiff resistance and devastating sanctions, President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia's nuclear forces put on high alert, threatening to elevate the war to a terrifying new level.

Explosions and gunfire that have disrupted life since the invasion began last week appeared to subside around Kyiv overnight, as Ukrainian and Russian delegations met Monday on Ukraine's border with Belarus.

It's unclear what, if anything, those talks would yield.

Terrified Ukrainian families huddled in shelters, basements or corridors, waiting to find out.

Exact death tolls are unclear, but the UN human rights chief said 102 civilians have been killed and hundreds wounded warning that figure was likely a vast undercount and Ukraine's president said at least 16 children were among the dead.

More than 500,000 people have fled the country since the invasion, another UN official said Monday among the millions who have left their homes.

Russia's Central Bank scrambled to shore up the tanking ruble Monday and the US and European countries upped weapons shipments to Ukraine.

While they hope to curb Putin's aggression after he unleashed Europe's biggest conflict since World War II, the measures also risked pushing an increasingly cornered Putin closer to the edge.

I sit and pray for these negotiations to end successfully, so that they reach an agreement to end the slaughter, and so there is no more war," said Alexandra Mikhailova, weeping as she clutched her cat in a makeshift shelter in the strategic southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

Around her, parents sought to console children and keep them warm.

In Kyiv, long lines formed outside supermarkets on Monday as residents were allowed out of bomb shelters and homes for the first time since a curfew imposed Saturday.

The relative lull in warfare Monday morning in Ukraine was unlikely to last.

Neighbouring Belarus could send troops to help Russia as soon as Monday, according to a senior American intelligence official with direct knowledge of current US intelligence assessments.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak publicly.

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