Next 24 hours crucial for Ukraine, President Zelensky tells Boris Johnson

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Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has reportedly told Boris Johnson that the next 24 hours will be crucial as he leads the defence of his country against the invasion by Russia.

Mr Zelenksy made the comments in a phone call with the the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday evening, reports the BBC.

A UK government spokesperson said that, during the call, Mr Johnson praised Mr Zelensky’s leadership since Russia’s invasion.

Mr Johnson added the UK would do all it can to make sure defensive aid from the UK and its allies reaches Ukraine.

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”.

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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.

Mr Putin’s increasing diplomatic isolation is expected to underline a rare special session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Monday called to discuss the crisis in Ukraine.

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