Putin official apologises to Ukraine at international meetingNo justification for attack

Russia: Putin using nuclear alert as a 'distraction' says Wallace

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In a humiliating move for Russian President Vladimir Putin, the head of the Moscow delegation Oleg Anisimov apologised to Ukraine at a meeting for the approval of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) latest climate report.

Appearing at a virtual meeting of the IPCC, he said in Russian: “First of all, let me thank Ukraine and present an apology on behalf of all Russians who were not able to prevent this conflict.

“All of those who know what is happening fail to find any justification for this attack against Ukraine.”

He added: “Since we are dealing with scientific issues, we have huge admiration for the Ukrainian delegation that was able to still do its work.”

The Ukrainian delegation was forced to abandon the meeting on Thursday after Russian troops invaded the country.

The apology comes as a senior US official said on Sunday Russia could be shifting its strategy to siege warfare just as President Putin raises the risk of a catastrophic miscalculation by putting nuclear forces on heightened alert.

President Putin gave the order to his nuclear forces as Washington assesses Russian troops have made limited progress in their four-day-old invasion due to stiff Ukrainian resistance and planning failures that have left some units without fuel or other supplies, US officials said.

As missiles rained down on Ukrainian cities, hundreds of thousands of civilians, mainly women and children, were fleeing the Russian assault into neighbouring countries.

Russia has fired more than 350 missiles at Ukrainian targets so far, some hitting civilian infrastructure, the senior US defence official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Still, it had so far mainly focused on military targets.

Citing a Russian offensive on the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, north of Kyiv, the official cited early indications Russia might be adopting siege tactics.

“It appears that they are adopting a siege mentality, which any student of military tactics and strategy will tell you, when you adopt siege tactics, it increases the likelihood of collateral damage,” the official said.

READ MORE: Ukraine army claims Russian troops ‘ready to surrender’ in Chernihiv

So far, the Russian offensive cannot claim any major victories. Russian has not taken any Ukrainian city, does not control Ukraine’s airspace, and its troops remained roughly 30km (19 miles) from Kyiv’s city centre for a second day, the official said.

Siege tactics typically involve encircling enemy positions, cutting off supply and escape routes, then attacking with a combined force of armour, ground troops and engineers.

The senior US defence official said it remained to be seen what Russian forces would do next, but the early signs were worrying.

“The indications are enough in terms of how they’re positioning their forces around the city (of Chernihiv), how they’re beginning this barrage using rockets, that gives us concern,” the official said.

“In order for a siege … to be successful, you basically, by design, are going to be targeting civilian infrastructure and causing civilian harm.”

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Images on social media showed some Russian military vehicles in Ukraine, including battle tanks, that had apparently been abandoned after running out of fuel, raising questions about logistical failures.

“They simply don’t have a lot of experience moving on another nation state at this level of complexity and size,” the official said.

The official said it was unclear whether it was a failure in planning or execution, but added Russian forces were likely to adapt and overcome the challenges.

Russia has still not moved into Ukraine about a third of the troops that Putin had arrayed around its borders, the official said. But it has rapidly increased the number of forces Moscow has sent into Ukraine in recent days.

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