Ukraine is preparing for “big battles” in the east of the country as the devastating effect of the war on its economy was revealed.
A report by the World Bank estimated the country’s economic output would likely contract by a staggering 45.1% this year.
Researchers estimated more than half of the country’s businesses are closed, while the closure of Black Sea shipping from Ukraine has cut off 90% of its grain exports and half of its total exports.
The World Bank also forecast Russia’s economic output would fall by 11.2% due to the sanctions imposed on it by the Nato allies.
Local media reported “powerful blasts” being heard in the northeastern city of Kharkiv on Sunday night, and Ukrainian citizens are continuing to flee the east of the country for the relative safety of the areas controlled by the government, with 2,824 people evacuated on Sunday, including 213 from the besieged city of Mariupol.
Meanwhile, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s top advisor, Mykhaylo Podolyak, said Ukraine needs to push back Russian forces in the eastern Donbas region, where Moscow controls two separatist territories, to strengthen its hand in the next round of negotiations.
|Revealed In 2022
Best Day Trading Strategies for Beginners
He said: “Ukraine is ready for big battles. Ukraine must win them, including in the Donbas. And once that happens, Ukraine will have a more powerful negotiating position.
“After that the presidents will meet. It could take two weeks, three.”
He was speaking as it emerged Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer would meet President Putin in Moscow on Monday. The Austria Press Agency reported Nehammer told reporters in Vienna he plans to make the journey which follows a trip on Saturday to Kyiv where he met President Zelensky and aims to encourage dialogue between the two countries.
It comes after President Zelensky said stopping the invasion was essential for the security of all democracies in Europe.
In alate night address to Ukrainians, Zelensky said Russian aggression “was not intended to be limited to Ukraine alone,” and the “entire European project is a target for Russia.”
“That is why it is not just the moral duty of all democracies, all the forces of Europe, to support Ukraine’s desire for peace,” he said. “This is, in fact, a strategy of defence for every civilized state.”
President Zelensky‘s words about the threat to Europe come as Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said the military alliance could be set to launch a permanent military presence on its border to combat Russian aggression.
As part of the “reset,” forces will be stationed on the alliance’s eastern flank to negate an attempted invasion of member states such as Estonia and Latvia.
Newly released Maxar satellite imagery collected on Friday showed an 8-mile (13-kilometer) convoy of military vehicles headed south to the Donbas region through the Ukrainian town of Velykyi Burluk.
Western military analysts said an arc of territory in eastern Ukraine was under Russian control, from Kharkiv - Ukraine’s second-largest city - in the north to Kherson in the south.
But counterattacks are threatening Russian control of Kherson, and Ukrainian forces are repelling Russian assaults elsewhere in the Donbas, a largely Russian-speaking and industrial region.
Britain's Defence Ministry said on Sunday the Russian military was seeking to respond to mounting losses by boosting troop numbers with personnel who have been discharged from military service since 2012.
Register now for one of the Evening Standard’s newsletters. From a daily news briefing to Homes & Property insights, plus lifestyle, going out, offers and more. For the best stories in your inbox, click here. Source: MSN