Chilling comments from Belarusian dictator Aleksander Lukashenko have sparked fears the conflict is about to spread further.
The brutal invasion of Ukraine is raging on – but there are signs that things aren’t going entirely to plan for Russian forces.
The mayor of capital Kyiv has claimed there are no Russian troops on the ground in the city, and it’s a similar story in the nation’s second-largest city, Kharkiv.
“Control over Kharkiv is completely ours,” Kharkiv’s regional governor Oleh Sinegubov posted on Telegram.
“The armed forces, the police, and the defense forces are working, and the city is being completely cleansed of the enemy.”
However, there are growing fears that nearby Belarus might be preparing to join the fight against Ukraine.
Meanwhile, talks between Russian and Ukrainian representatives will be held today on the Ukrainian-Belarusian border – but in a grim sign, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his deterrence forces, which includes nuclear weapons, to be placed on high alert.
Read on for live updates below.
Worst will happen: Fears second nation will join Putin’s invasion
Disturbing comments from the President of Belarus – a staunch ally of Vladimir Putin – has sparked fears that the neighboring nation could be aimed to join the conflict against Ukraine.
“The conflict in Ukraine is the thin edge of the wedge. Believe me, I know what I’m talking about,” dictator Alexander Lukashenko said.
“If it continues like this, the worst will happen. Hey [Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky] will not be hidden in any American or some other bunker. That’s why the war should be ended today.
“I wouldn’t even call it the war. This is a conflict. The war will last for one-two days, but there will be a meat grinder in three days.”
meanwhile, The Guardian is reporting that Kyiv’s former defense minister Andriy Zagorodnyuk has claimed Belarus is set to join forces with Russia.
“Republic of Belarus is highly likely to join the Russian war against Ukraine. On Russian side,” he said.
“There is an information about airborne troopers from Republic of Belarus loaded on the planes to enter Ukraine.
“This is a terrible development as it involves a country, which until very recently was a great friend of Ukraine; which people always considered Ukraine as a brotherly nation. Ukraine and Belarus has never been to war one with another in their many hundred years of history.
We believe that the only reason for that decision was personal demand from President of Russia, which completely depends from Putin in its policy.”
‘Under their control’: Ukrainian city falls to Russia
The acting mayor of Berdyansk has confirmed Russian troops have tasks over control of the Ukrainian city.
The news was confirmed by Oleksandr Svidlo in a Facebook update for residents.
“A few hours ago, you and I witnessed how heavy military equipment and armed soldiers entered the city and began advancing throughout our hometown,” he said.
“As soon as I learned about that, I tried to inform all the residents of the city so that you have the opportunity to hide in shelters.
“Some time ago, armed soldiers entered the executive committee building and introduced themselves as soldiers of the Russian army, they informed us that all administrative buildings were under their control and that they were taking control of the executive committee building.”
Berdyansk is located on Ukraine’s southern coast, and has a naval base and a population of around 100,000.
Satellite pics show forces ‘moving towards Kyiv’
Alarming new satellite pictures appear to show Russian forces advancing towards the Ukrainian capital.
The images, shared by Washington Post reporter John Hudson, reveal a “convoy” of Russian troops, tanks and self-propelled artillery on the move.
However, Kyiv’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, has stated that allegations the capital was surrounded by Russian troops was incorrect.
“In the evening, Russian online publications spread information with reference to me that Kyiv was allegedly surrounded and evacuation of people was impossible,” Mr Klitschko said in a statement.
“And it is strange that Ukrainian telegram channels started to spread it … Do not believe lies! Trust information only from official sources. Together, we will stand together. Ukraine wants to win!”
Hopes rise as peace talks confirmed
Ukrainian and Russian representatives are scheduled to meet today for what many hopes could be peace talks.
Ukraine’s Deputy Interior Minister Evgeny Yenin has confirmed that the meeting will be held on Monday morning European time.
“The politicians have agreed that the Ukrainian delegation will meet with the Russian delegation without preconditions on the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, near the Pripyat River,” Mr Yenin’s office confirmed.
†[Belarusian President] Aleksander Lukashenko has taken responsibility for ensuring that all planes, helicopters and missiles stationed on the Belarusian territory will remain on the ground during the Ukrainian delegation’s travel, meeting and return.”
However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said in a video address he was not hopeful the meeting would lead to a resolution.
“I’ll say frankly, like always, that I don’t believe in the result of this meeting,” he said.
“But let’s try, so that no citizen of Ukraine would have any doubt that I, as president, tried to stop the war when there was even a chance.”
Assassination fears grow
Sky News Political Editor Andrew Clennell has claimed that insiders expected Kyiv to be overrun overnight and attempts made by Russia to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Thankfully, neither have come to pass, although the situation is far from resolved.
“The belief, at this time at least, appears to be that Vladimir Putin will not risk conflict with NATO and his invasion would end at the Ukrainian border,” Mr Clennell said.
“Obviously a worrying time for the world.”
Russians turn on Putin
More than 5500 Russians have been arrested during anti-war protests which have been held in dozens of cities across the nation since the invasion began last week.
The judgments include many well-known Russians from the entertainment, business and journalism fields, who have put their careers and freedom at risk by speaking out.
“For years, Russian authorities have been suppressing free speech and peaceful protests to stifle critical voices,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“Now the government is silencing all those who speak out against the war with Ukraine.”
14 kids killed during invasion
There’s some more sad news coming out of Ukraine, with the health ministry confirming more than 350 civilians – including 14 children – had been killed in the conflict so far.
More than 1600 have been injured, including more than 100 kids.
Russia’s nuke talk slammed
Russia’s “rhetoric” surrounding its nuclear capabilities has been lashed during a UN Security Council meeting.
US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield told Russia to back down on its “dangerous rhetoric regarding nuclear weapons”.
“This is another escalating and unnecessary step that threatens us all,” she said.
Originally published as Russia Ukraine live updates: Fears Belarus will join Russia in invasion