By Doug Faulkner
BBC News

Boris Johnson says Ukrainians are “fighting heroically” and with “great success” in some places.

Following a call with the Ukrainian president, the prime minister said things “are not going all the way of President [Vladimir] Putin”.

But he said more had to be done to “change the heavy odds that Ukraine faces” from the Russian invasion.

Tougher sanctions, including a move to shut Russia out of the global payments system Swift, were needed, he said.

Shortly after Mr Johnson’s comments on Saturday night the European Commission alongside the US, Canada and UK announced that selected Russian banks would be removed from the Swift messaging system.

On Sunday morning, local officials reported Russian troops had entered Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv, where they are battling Ukrainian forces in the streets. Residents have been urged to stay indoors.

The advance came after missiles rained down across the city overnight. A nearby natural gas pipeline and an oil terminal outside Kyiv have also been hit by the Russians.

A strict curfew is in place in capital Kyiv until Monday – only police, military and volunteers are currently on the streets.

So far, the fighting across Ukraine has resulted in at least 240 civilian casualties, including 64 deaths, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Ireland and Finland are the most recent countries to announce they are closing their airspace to Russian planes. Ireland’s foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney urged other EU partners to do the same, and called for “new wide-ranging sanctions to be agreed” on Sunday.

Russia attacks Ukraine: More coverage

Speaking during a visit to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire on Saturday, Boris Johnson said the UK was sending humanitarian, military and financial supplies to Ukraine.

He added that 1,000 troops were being sent to the region to help with the influx of refugees and he said the government would “of course help people fleeing for their lives”.

“Things are not going all the way of President Putin. Very far from it, the Ukrainians are fighting heroically, and in some places with great success,” Mr Johnson said.

Mr Johnson said some “terrible atrocities” were being committed and there would be some “very grim days ahead for Ukraine”.

He added Europe had to face the “hideous reality” that previous attempts at diplomacy with Mr Putin were “a charade”.

Image source, Reuters

Image caption,

People take cover as an air-raid siren sounds near an apartment building damaged by shelling in Kyiv on Saturday

During a call with Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday evening, Mr Johnson paid tribute to the “incredible heroism and bravery” of the Ukrainian president and his people, Downing Street said.

They expressed concern for the role Belarus was playing in the violence and agreed on the need for “the international community to isolate Russia completely diplomatically and financially”.

In a tweet Mr Zelensky said he was grateful to Mr Johnson and said they had agreed on further steps to “counter the aggressor”.

So far, sanctions have included freezing the assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, as well as halting Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

Liz Truss announced that the Foreign Office is preparing a “hit list” of Russian oligarchs to be targeted by sanctions in the coming months, with new names added every few weeks.

The foreign secretary told the Sunday Times: “We have to make it deeply painful for the oligarchs that support the Putin regime. There are over 100 Russian billionaires.

“Nothing is off the table in terms of who or what we are targeting. We are very clear about that – we are very prepared to do what it takes.”

Image source, Reuters

Image caption,

Ukrainian servicemen have a meal at the military airbase Vasylkiv in the Kyiv region

Mr Johnson also said that “of course” the UK would take Ukrainian refugees, saying the country had a “historic and proud role of taking refugees from all conflicts”.

It comes after some criticism from opposition MPs that the government had continued to apply the existing rules for Ukrainians seeking to come to the country. Mr Johnson suggested that there was “fake news” on the internet about the government’s willingness to help refugees.

Immigration minister Kevin Foster was criticised on social media after writing, in a later deleted tweet, that there were a number of routes to the UK which Ukrainians could qualify for, “not least our seasonal worker scheme”.

The prime minister also said that it was “inconceivable” to imagine that normal sporting relations could continue with “Putin’s Russia” after Poland and Sweden refused to play world cup play-off fixtures with Russia.

It comes after Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich handed over “stewardship” of the football club to the trustees of its charitable foundation.