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Johnson pledges to get more arms to beleaguered Ukrainian forces

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B

oris Johnson has said Britain will do all it can to get more arms to the beleaguered Ukrainian military as Russian forces continue to threaten Kyiv.

The Prime Minister spoke again on Sunday evening to President Volodymyr Zelensky who told him the next 24 hours would a “crucial period” for his country.

A Ukrainian delegation is due to meet the Russians “without precondition” on Monday on the border with Belarus, although Mr Zelensky has indicated he sees little prospect of any meaningful dialogue.

In the meantime, Russian and Ukrainian forces have again been engaged in heavy fighting ahead of the widely expected assault on the capital.

Earlier, Mr Johnson dismissed a dramatic announcement by Vladimir Putin that he was putting Russia’s nuclear forces on heightened alert as a “distraction” from the failure of his troops to breakthrough in Ukraine.

President Putin sent shock waves through Western capitals with his instruction on Sunday to his top military leaders to put the strategic nuclear deterrent on a “special regime of combat duty”.

The US said it was “completely unacceptable” while a senior US defence official was quoted as warning the Russian leader had made any “miscalculation … much, much more dangerous”.

It came on a day in which much of the world appeared to turn its back on Russia in revulsion at the invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

At the same time the expected Russian assault on Kyiv again failed to materialise, while in the country’s second city, Kharkiv, the authorities claimed to have successfully driven out invading Russian troops.

Troops engaged in street fighting in Kharkiv, Ukraine on Sunday, February 27 (Marienko Andrew/AP) / AP

Mr Putin’s increasing diplomatic isolation is expected to underline a rare emergency session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Monday at 10am (3pm GMT) to discuss the crisis in Ukraine. It will be only the 11th time such a session has been held and is expected to last at least all day.

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