Russia-Ukraine war latest news: 40-mile-long Russian army convoy nears Kyiv, satellite images show – live updates

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Russia-Ukraine war latest news: 40-mile-long Russian army convoy nears Kyiv, satellite images show – live updates” was written by Martin Farrer (now); Sam Levin, Gloria Oladipo, Léonie Chao-Fong, Tom Ambrose and Samantha Lock (earlier), for theguardian.com on Tuesday 1st March 2022 03.40 UTC

Mastercard said late on Monday US time that it has blocked multiple financial institutions from its payment network as a result of sanctions imposed on Russia over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Mastercard will continue to work with regulators in coming days, the company said in a statement. It also promised to contribute a $2m for humanitarian relief.

Russian invasion is behind schedule – US classified briefing

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has fallen behind schedule thanks to fierce local resistance, and multiple Russian equipment and logistics failures, according to a classified US government briefing attended by US senator Chris Murphy.

1/Confirmation that the Russians have fallen behind their timeline. Ukrainian resistance has been fierce and there have been multiple Russian equipment and logistics failures.

In a series of tweets in the last hour, Murphy adds that the defence department and the homeland security department are pushing hard for Congress to approve Joe Biden’s plan for at least $6.4bn in supplemental funding to help Ukraine, which will require cooperation from both parties.

A burned-out Russian army vehicle in Kyiv.
A burned-out Russian army vehicle in Kyiv.
Photograph: Sergei Chuzavkov/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock

He adds that it is expected that the fight for Kyiv will be “long and bloody”.

2/DoD and DHS are pressing hard for Congress to end the continuing resolution and get a budget passed. There is no way for our national security agencies to be nimble enough to support Ukraine if they are operating on the 2020/21 budget.

3/ The ability to keep supply lines running to Ukraine remains alive, but Russia will try to encircle and cut off Kiev in the next several weeks. The fight for Kiev will be long and bloody and Ukrainians are rapidly preparing for street to street combat.

4/ The U.S. and allies are coordinating to not only freeze the assets of Putin and his oligarch allies, but to seize those assets as well. This is likely a further step than Putin’s inner circle anticipated.

Some of Britain’s biggest businesses have already pulled out of Russia in what is a highly significant move for UK plc.

Shell and BP have both profited enormously from their joint ventures in Russia’s huge oil fields but they have now withdrawn. Our business team looks at the “great decoupling” of British business here, while our business commentator Nils Pratley argues that there is no going back for the oiil giants.

The rush to disinvest from Russia is impressively quick since it’s possible to imagine an alternative script in which the oil companies’ boards tried to buy time by issuing woolly “all options are open” statements. A definitive statement to sell its 20% stake in Rosneft (in BP’s case) and ditch all partnerships with Gazprom (Shell’s position) leaves no ambiguity. There can be no going back.

The sanctions arraigned against Russia seem to spread by the hour, with Hollywood film studios Disney and Warner the latest organistations to cut ties with Vladimir Putin’s state.

The Walt Disney Co said on Monday US time that it is pausing the release of theatrical films in Russia, starting with the upcoming Pixar release, Turning Red.

Within hours, WarnerMedia said it would pause this week’s release of The Batman in Russia.

The Batman stars Robert Pattinson and Zoe Kravitz at the film’s premiere in London in February.
The Batman stars Robert Pattinson and Zoe Kravitz at the film’s premiere in London in February.
Photograph: Anthony Harvey/REX/Shutterstock

“We will make future business decisions based on the evolving situation” Disney said in a statement. “In the meantime, given the scale of the emerging refugee crisis, we are working with our NGO partners to provide urgent aid and other humanitarian assistance.”

The Ukrainian Film Academy created an online petition that called for an international boycott of Russian cinema and the Russian film industry following the invasion.

Still on the space theme, AFP reports that Nasa is looking at how it can manage the international space station without Russian help.

The collapse of the rouble provided a big talking point in Monday’s coverage and was followed by a dramatic doubling of interest rates by the Central Bank of Russia to protect the currency.

Our Moscow correspondent Andrew Roth went out on the streets to talk to people trying to withdraw money from the banks “before it was worth zero”.

The country could soon be facing a severe recession and one businessman told Andrew: “I’m going to tell them that we are going into a crisis that we have never experienced before. It’s like flying on a plane with no engines or the engines are on fire.”

The rouble relatively stable in early trading on Tuesday at around 105 to the US dollar. But this chart has a dramatic graph shwoing how far the rouble has crashed in value against the greenback in the past decades.

Here’s our latest roundup of what we know so far about day six of the invasion of Ukraine:

Ukraine has received donated Starlink satellite internet terminals from SpaceX.

“Starlink here. Thanks, @elonmusk,” Ukraine’s vice prime minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, tweeted, days after asking SpaceX’s billionaire chief executive officer Elon Musk for help.

The terminals look like home satellite television dishes and can provide relatively fast internet service, by residential standards, by connecting to a fleet of satellites in low orbit.

Fedorov’s tweet included a picture of the back of a military-looking truck, loaded with terminals.

Musk tweeted back, “You are most welcome”.

Taiwan has sent 27 tonnes of medical supplies to Ukraine, the government announced on Tuesday, saying it was extending a helping hand as a member of the “democratic camp” in the international community, Reuters reports.

Taiwan has joined with Western allies in putting sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, and expressed cross-party sympathy for the Ukrainian people, seeing parallels with what Taipei views as Beijing’s threats against the island.

A skyscraper in Taipei is lit up in the colours of the Ukrainian flag .
A skyscraper in Taipei is lit up in the colours of the Ukrainian flag .
Photograph: Annabelle Chih/Reuters

Taiwan’s foreign ministry said the supplies left on Monday night on a flight to Frankfurt and will be sent onwards to Ukraine via “appropriate routes and channels”.

There’s a lot of focus in the British press on Tuesday morning about the deaths of children in Russian bombardment of cities, as some of the front pages show below.

Worth flagging then that the Guardian’s Emma Graham-Harrison, who is in Kyiv, filed this very powerful report on the impact on children on Sunday, including the story of a 10-year-old girl called Polina who was allegedly killed by “Russian saboteurs”.

Updated

Here’s a new video in which Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Ukraine’s president, says Russia continued to bomb Ukrainian cities on Monday while negotiations to end the conflict were taking place on the Belarus border.

Zelenskiy also accused Russia of committing war crimes in Kharkiv and said his country had applied to join the European Union.

 

The United States has promised more sanctions against Russia and more weapons for Ukraine’s military, according to Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba.

After speaking on the phone to US secretary of state Anthony Blinken, Kuleba has tweeted that “US support for Ukraine remains unfaltering”.

“I underscored that Ukraine craves for peace, but as long as we are under Russia’s assault we need more sanctions and weapons. Secretary assured me of both. We coordinated further steps.”

Russian tank column outside Kyiv ‘is 40 miles long’ – report

Satellite images taken on Monday show a Russian military convoy north of Kyiv that stretches for about 40 miles (64 km) in an area north-west of Kyiv. It is substantially longer than the 17 miles (27 km) reported earlier in the day, according to the US company Maxar, Reuters reports.

Satellite overviews around Ivankiv, north-west of Kyiv.
Satellite overviews around Ivankiv, north-west of Kyiv.
Photograph: Maxar Technologies Handout/EPA

Maxar, which filed a series of satellite images on the Russian military buildup on the Ukraine border, also said additional ground forces deployments and ground attack helicopter units were seen in southern Belarus, less than 20 miles (32 km) north of the Ukraine border.

A satellite image claiming to show the southern end of convoy, east of the under-siege Hostomel airport, north-west of Kyiv.
A satellite image claiming to show the southern end of convoy, east of the under-siege Hostomel airport, north-west of Kyiv.
Photograph: Maxar Technologies/Reuters

Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations, Sergiy Kyslytsya, has read aloud a text message exchange between a Russian solider in Ukraine and his mother before he was killed.

When the mother purportedly asks her son if he is still in the Crimea on training exercises he tells her:

“Mama, I’m in Ukraine. There is a real war raging here. I’m afraid,” the message allegedly reads, adding that “we are bombing all the cities”, “even civilians”.

 

Updated

More from Kharkiv, where Monday saw some very heavy bombardment.

The BBC Ukrainian service report that contains quotes from the city’s mayor saying nine people have been killed also quotes a city official saying on Telegram that “dozens” of bodies could be seen in the city’s streets. He called it a “war crime”.

In quotes also reported by Agence France-Presse, Oleg Sinegubov, head of the Kharkiv military state administration, said the Russians had bombarded civilian areas where there was no critical infrastructure or armed forces. He estimated “there are 11 dead and dozens wounded”.

He added:

Dozens of dead civilians are lying in the middle of the streets, there are very seriously injured. Affected cars along with passengers burned to the ground.

What is happening in Kharkiv now is a war crime! It is a genocide of the Ukrainian people.

The struggle continues! We will survive, residents of Kharkiv region, we help each other, we are one!

Updated

Nine dead in Kharkiv shelling, says mayor

Hello. I’m Martin Farrer taking over the reins from Sam Levin.

There are more details coming out about the bombing of Kharkiv. The city’s mayor, Igor Terekhov, says at least nine people have been killed and 37 wounded in one day after the shelling in the city, according to CNN and the BBC.

“Today alone, 37 people were injured, including 3 children. Four people came out of the bomb shelter to collect water and died. A family, two adults and three children were burned alive in a car. It’s really horrible,” Terekhov said, according to the BBC’s Ukrainian service.

A destroyed Ukrainian armoured personnel carrier in Kharkiv.
A destroyed Ukrainian armoured personnel carrier in Kharkiv.
Photograph: Vitaliy Gnidyi/Reuters

“The city of Kharkiv has never known such destruction in recent history,” the Kharkiv mayor said.

Updated

Summary

Some key developments:

Updated

UN reports at least 406 civilian casualties and more than 160,000 displaced

The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has reported at least 406 civilian casualties, including at least 102 dead.

“The real figure could be considerably higher, as many reported casualties have yet to be confirmed,” said Martin Griffiths, under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, briefing the Security Council from Geneva. At least 160,000 people have been internally displaced, and the actual figure could be substantially higher.

The 102 fatal victims includes seven children, the UN high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, said earlier:

More from Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s video address late Monday night, via the AP:

Zelenskiy says Russian troops have intensified shelling of Ukraine, calling it an effort to force his government into making concessions during talks held Monday.

In a video address, Zelenskiy says that “the talks were taking place against the backdrop of bombing and shelling of our territory, our cities. Synchronizing of the shelling with the negotiating process was obvious. I believe Russia is trying to put pressure (on Ukraine) with this simple method.”

The president did not share details about the talks, but said he was not prepared to make concessions “when one side is hitting each other with rocket artillery”, the AP said.

The Ukrainian president has called for a no-fly zone for Russian missiles, planes and helicopters following the attack on Kharkiv.

Volodymr Zelenskiy said Russia had carried out 56 rocket strikes and sent 113 cruise missiles over five days.

Earlier on Monday, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the administration did not support a no-fly zone ban, since it would draw the US into direct military conflict with Russia: “It would essentially mean the US military would be shooting down planes, Russian planes,” Psaki said on MSNBC. “That is definitely escalatory… That is not something the president wants to do.”

Russia used vacuum bomb, says Ukrainian ambassador to US

Russia used a vacuum bomb on Monday in its invasion of Ukraine, according to Oksana Markarova, the Ukrainian ambassador to the US.

Markarova raised questions about whether this was prohibited by the Geneva convention, after briefing members of the US Congress, Reuters reported. “The devastation that Russia is trying to inflict on Ukraine is large.” Vacuum bombs are “high-pressure explosives” that can have hugely destructive impacts.

The laws of war prohibit “indiscriminate attacks”, as Human Rights Watch (HRW) explained in its recent breakdown of relevant international law. “Indiscriminate attacks are those that strike military objectives and civilians or civilian objects without distinction. Examples of indiscriminate attacks are those that are not directed at a specific military objective or that use weapons that cannot be directed at a specific military objective.”

HRW also noted restrictions on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, and that “heavy artillery and aerial bombs (weapons with a wide blast radius)” can pose “the gravest threats to civilians in contemporary armed conflict”.

More background here from the Guardian’s Peter Beaumont on the weapons Russia is deploying:

Updated

Canada will supply upgraded ammunition and anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, prime minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa.

“Canada will continue to deliver support for Ukraine’s heroic defense against the Russian military,” he said, according to Reuters. “We are announcing our intention to ban all imports of crude oil from Russia, an industry that has benefited President Putin and his oligarchs greatly.”

Canada had sent non-lethal support to Ukraine earlier and has backed sanctions against Russia. Canada’s foreign minister on Sunday had also left the door open for citizens of Ukrainian descent to join the new foreign legion and take up arms against Russia.

“We understand that people of Ukrainian descent want to support their fellow Ukrainians and also that there is a desire to defend the motherland and in that sense it is their own individual decision,” Mélanie Joly told reporters. “Let me be clear: we are all very supportive of any form of support to Ukrainians right now.”

Ukraine opens to foreigners willing to fight

Ukraine’s president is temporarily lifting the requirement for entry visas for any foreigner willing to join Ukraine’s International Defense Legion and fight on Ukraine’s side against invading Russian troops, the AP reports.

Volorymyr Zelenskiy’s decree takes effect Tuesday and will remain in effect as long as martial law is in place.

The call for for foreign volunteers comes after Russian forces launched rocket attacks that killed “dozens” of civilians in Kharkiv and renewed its attack on the capital Kyiv.

Updated

US senator Dick Durbin is requesting that the White House grant “temporary protected status” to Ukrainians currently in the US, NBC News reported.

The Senate majority whip, who is also chair of the judiciary committee, told reporters that there are 29,500 Ukrainians in the US on visas, including tourists and students. Temporary protected status would allow them to remain without risk of deportation, if their visas run out. He said he was sending a letter to the Biden administration making the request.

“Some of them – the visas have expired and they’re supposed to return to Ukraine. That’s unacceptable under the current circumstances,” the Democratic senator told reporters, adding that he believed Republicans would support his calls as well.

Facebook and Instagram are blocking access to Russian state media outlets across the European Union, the social media parent company Meta, has announced.

Nick Clegg, the company’s head of global affairs, said it had received requests from multiple governments and the EU to take steps against state-controlled Russian media outlets RT and Sputnik:

Meta said it had uncovered a “relatively small” disinformation network targeting Ukraine, made up of about 40 accounts, pages and groups on the two social media platforms, reported the Guardian’s technology editor, Dan Milmo. The network ran websites posing as independent news entities and created fake personas across social media including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram as well as Odnoklassniki and VK in Russia, Meta said.

Here’s more reporting on life in Ukraine as local residents shelter in bunkers to keep safe, from the Guardian’s Ekaterina Ochagavia and Katie Lamborn:

From inside a makeshift bunker in the basement of their block of flats in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, Olia and her neighbours give an insight into their lives as they reach day five of heavy shelling from Russian forces.

Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second biggest city, was the focus of dozens of Grad missiles targeting civilian areas in an apparent change of tack by Moscow. Olia, a young artist, reflects on the conflict so far and explains how she is keeping her spirits up.

 

As Ukrainians across the country evacuate amid Russia’s full-out attacks, African, Caribbean, and Asian citizens have faced discrimination at the Ukraine-Poland border, denied entry into Poland.

From the Guardian’s Emmanuel Akinwotu and Weronika Strzyżyńska:

A deluge of reports and footage posted on social media in the past week has shown acts of discrimination and violence against African, Asian and Caribbean citizens – many of them studying in Ukraine – while fleeing Ukrainian cities and at some of the country’s border posts.

They are among hundreds of thousands of people trying to escape the country as civilian casualties and destruction mount.

The Nigerian government has condemned the treatment of thousands of its students and citizens fleeing the war in Ukraine, amid growing concerns that African students are facing discrimination by security officials and being denied entry into Poland.

A deluge of reports and footage posted on social media in the past week has shown acts of discrimination and violence against African, Asian and Caribbean citizens – many of them studying in Ukraine – while fleeing Ukrainian cities and at some of the country’s border posts.

More than half a million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began last week, according to the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR.

The Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, said on Monday: “All who flee a conflict situation have the same right to safe passage under UN convention and the colour of their passport or their skin should make no difference,” citing reports that Ukrainian police had obstructed Nigerians.

“From video evidence, first-hand reports, and from those in contact with … Nigerian consular officials, there have been unfortunate reports of Ukrainian police and security personnel refusing to allow Nigerians to board buses and trains heading towards Ukraine-Poland border,” he said.

Read the full article here.

More on what the experience is on-the-ground for Ukrainian people:

From the Kyiv Independent’s Illia Ponomarenko:

Sitting alone in a wartime city in the night, sipping iced whiskey, listening to the sound of air raid sirens roar, looking into the dark of the street. I will never forgive them for what they did to the Kyiv we love.

Updated

More on the US expelling 12 Russian diplomats: US officials have said that the Russian diplomats “have abused their privileges” by engaging in espionage that is harmful to national security, calling the expelled diplomats “intelligence operatives.”

From journalist Jack Detsch:

The White House further confirmed that that expulsion of said diplomats has been in the works for months, reported Reuters.

The US has ordered 12 Russian diplomats at the United Nations to leave by 7 March, reported Reuters.

At a news conference held by Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Nebenzya took a phone call and confirmed shortly afterwards that 12 diplomats had been declared “persona non grata” by US authorities and instructed to leave by 7 March, according to the New York Times.

Nebenzya called the expulsion of Russian diplomats a “gross violation” of the US’s position as the UN host country.

“There are a lot of countries that understand what the Russian position is and what it is doing and why,” said Nebenzya.

Updated

More on Turkey banning all warships from crossing the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits leading to the Black Sea from the Guardian’s Ruth Michaelson:

Turkey controls the straits under the 1936 Montreux Convention, which stipulates that in a time of war Turkey may block access to warships belonging to states bordering the Black Sea, providing they are not returning to their permanent bases there.

Turkish officials including Çavuşoğlu declared yesterday that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine constitutes a war, a shift in tone after officials previously described it as a “military operation,” even while condemning Russia’s actions.

According to the convention, Black Sea nations must notify Turkey eight days in advance of their warships, including submarines, transiting the straits while warships belonging to other nations require 15 days notice. The decision to block ships could affect an estimated 16 Russian warships and submarines currently in the Mediterranean, some of which are part of their Black Sea fleet.

Following a meeting of his cabinet, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated earlier today that “we have decided to exercise the authority granted to our country by the Montreux Convention regarding vessel traffic on the straits in order to prevent the escalation of the crisis.”

Erdogan has repeatedly offered to mediate between Russia and Ukraine, amid efforts to maintain its alliances with both parties. Turkey imports roughly a third of its natural gas from Russia and previously bought Russia’s S400 missile defense system, but has recently enhanced its economic and defense ties to Ukraine, including selling Kyiv Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones.

“Throughout this process, we have maintained our multifaceted diplomatic initiatives uninterruptedly to ensure peace and stability, and we continue to do so,” said Erdoğan.

International criminal court opening investigation amid widespread use of indiscriminate weapons

The international criminal court’s prosecutor is seeking the court’s approval to investigate alleged war crimes in Ukraine, reports Reuters.

The international criminal court in The Hague, Netherlands.
The international criminal court in The Hague, Netherlands.
Photograph: Peter de Jong/AP

Prosecutor Karim Khan spoke on Friday, expressing his concerns about Russia’s war on Ukraine and saying that the court could investigate war crimes arising from the invasion.

“The next step is to proceed with the process of seeking and obtaining authorisation from the pre-trial chamber of the court to open an investigation,” said Khan today about seeking approval to investigate.

Lithuania previously called on the ICC to open an investigation into war crimes committed by Russia and Belarus in Ukraine, with Lithuania’s prime minister, Ingrida Simonyte, telling the Washington Post: “What Putin is doing is just a murder and nothing else, and I hope he will be in The Hague.”

Updated

Several presidents of EU member states have published an open letter calling for Ukraine’s swift candidacy into the EU.

The letter reads as follows:

We, the Presidents of the EU member states: the Republic of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Lithuania, the Republic of Poland, the Slovak Republic, and the Republic of Slovenia strongly believe that Ukraine deserves receiving an immediate EU accession perspective.

Therefore, we call on the EU Member States to consolidate highest political support to Ukraine and enable the EU institutions to conduct steps to immediately grant Ukraine a EU candidate country status and open the process of negotiations.

In this critical moment, we reiterate our full solidarity with Ukraine and its People.

The open letter follows an appeal earlier today from Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy for Ukraine to be granted EU membership immediately under a special procedure, with Ukraine formally applying for membership.

 

Turkey has warned both Black Sea and non-Black Sea countries not to pass warships through its Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits, reported Reuters.

Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, spoke on the decision today, reported Turkey’s state news agency, Anadolu, saying:

We implemented what Montreux says, and we will do so from now on. There has been no request for passage through the straits until today.

The 1936 Montreux Convention, which Çavuşoğlu refers to, allows Turkey to restrict naval transit on its straits during wartime, though allowing warships to return to their registered bases.

At least four Russian ships were waiting on Turkey’s decision to cross from the Mediterranean Sea.

Updated

The launch of a joint Europe-Russia space mission to Mars due this year is now “very unlikely”, says the European Space Agency, due to sanctions linked to Russia’s declaration of war on Ukraine, reports the Associated Press.

The agency said after a meeting of officials from its 22 member states that it was assessing the consequences of sanctions for its cooperation with Russia’s Roscosmos space agency.

“The sanctions and the wider context make a launch in 2022 very unlikely” for the Europe-Russia ExoMars rover mission, the agency said in a statement.

The launch was already postponed from 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak and technical problems. It was due to blast off from the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan in September, using a Russian Proton rocket. Postponing a launch often means waiting for months or years until another window opens when planets are in the right alignment.

The goal is to put Europe’s first rover on the red planet to help determine whether there has ever been life on Mars. A test rover launched in 2016 crash-landed on Mars, highlighting the difficulty of putting a spacecraft on the planet.

Read the full article here.

Updated

Summary

Here is a round-up of the latest headlines:

  • Dozens of people have been killed and hundreds more wounded in rocket strikes by Russian forces on the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, the Ukrainian interior ministry has said.
  • Blasts were heard in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. About 90 miles (150km) north-east of Kyiv in Chernihiv, a missile reportedly hit a residential building in the city centre, causing a fire to break out.
  • High-level talks between Ukraine and Russia that took place on the border with Belarus on Monday morning ended without a breakthrough. Both sides agreed to keep the negotiations going and a second round of talks could take place in the coming days.
  • The French president, Emmanuel Macron, spoke with the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, in a phone call on Monday, where he reiterated demands to halt Russia’s offensive in Ukraine.
  • Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said he had signed an official request for Ukraine to join the EU. A senior EU official said leaders may discuss the possibility of Ukrainian membership at an informal summit in March.
  • The EU is preparing to grant Ukrainians who flee the war the right to stay and work in the 27-nation bloc for up to three years, EU officials said.
  • Ukraine’s western allies increased weapons transfers in support of the country. Finland agreed to ship 2,500 assault rifles and 1,500 anti-tank weapons.
  • Fifa and Uefa have suspended Russia’s national and club teams from all international competitions until further notice due to the country’s invasion of Ukraine, the two football bodies said in a joint statement.
  • The International Olympic Committee’s executive board also recommended that international sports federations ban Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from competing in events.

That’s it from me, Léonie Chao-Fong, for now. I’ll be back tomorrow. My colleague Gloria Oladipo will be along shortly to continue bringing you all the latest news from Ukraine.

Updated

In the UK, Labour MPs who equivocate over blame for the Russian invasion of Ukraine have no place in the party, Keir Starmer has told his MPs, a direct threat that any future statements will lead to suspension of the whip.

Speaking at a private meeting of Labour MPs on Monday, the Labour leader said that MPs should talk up the founding of Nato in the same breath as the NHS – as a key Labour achievement.

Starmer said:

Labour’s commitment to democracy, the rule of law and the sovereignty of independent nations is unshakable. Vladimir Putin is attacking all those things. Nato is defending them.

There are groups in this country who haven’t seemed to understand that difference. There will be no place in this party for false equivalence between the actions of Russia and the actions of Nato.

But Starmer said that MPs should be honest that economic sanctions “will have a knock-on effect here” and said that the UK government should cancel the increase in national insurance contributions from April.

The idea that Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson’s tax rise on working people can still go ahead in April now is just laughable.

Updated

Satellite imagery taken on Monday showed that Russian ground forces continued to move closer to Ukraine’s capital with a military convoy that stretched over 17 miles, Reuters reports.

According to the private US company Maxar Technologies Inc, the satellite images show the convoy on the eastern edge of Antonov airport – containing hundreds of armoured vehicles, tanks, towed artillery and logistics support vehicles – continuing to move south towards Kyiv.

Maxar satellite image shows a large deployment of ground forces in and around the town of Zdvyzhivka, Kyiv, Ukraine.
Maxar satellite image shows a large deployment of ground forces in and around the town of Zdvyzhivka, Kyiv.
Photograph: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Tech/AFP/Getty Images
This satellite image shows the southern end of a convoy, east of Antonov airport.
This satellite image shows the southern end of a convoy, east of Antonov airport.
Photograph: AP
Destroyed vehicles and bridge damage shown in satellite image of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, Ukraine.
Destroyed vehicles and bridge damage shown in satellite image of Irpin, north-west of Kyiv.
Photograph: AP

Updated

Finland will provide weapons and ammunition to Ukraine, the country’s prime minister, Sanna Marin, has said.

The shipment will include 2,500 assault rifles, 150,000 bullets, 1,500 anti-tank weapons and 70,000 food packages, Finland’s defence minister, Antti Kaikkonen, added.

Speaking after a government meeting today, Kaikkonen told reporters:

The anti-tank weapons can be used to fight armoured vehicles.

Kaikkonen hinted yesterday that the Finnish government was considering scrapping Finland’s long-standing policy of not allowing weapons to be exported to war zones.

The minister also said that Finland, which is not a Nato member and shares a long border with Russia, had given the green light to Estonia to send previously Finnish-owned field guns to Ukraine.

Updated

Ukraine’s defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov, has appealed directly to Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine, saying they would receive full amnesty and monetary compensation if they voluntarily laid down their weapons.

In a Twitter, Reznikov writes:

Those of you who do not want to become a murderer and die can save yourselves.

Updated

Russia’s stock market will remain closed on Tuesday, Russia’s central bank has confirmed.

The bank initially delayed trading on Moscow’s stock exchange on Monday until at least 3pm local time, before saying it would stay closed all day. It has now said trading will not resume on 1 March.

Updated

The European parliament will adopt a resolution on Tuesday calling on EU institutions to work towards granting EU candidate status to Ukraine and in the meantime to continue to work towards integration into the EU single market, the Guardian’s Daniel Boffey writes.

The call from MEPs follows images from Kyiv of president Volodymyr Zelenskiy signing a formal letter of application for EU membership.

An EU official has explained the process. The letter of application is written to the president of the council of the EU which is currently held by France.

Member states, the European parliament and national parliaments are then informed of the application by the council.

A meeting of the 27 EU affairs ministers, known as the general affairs council, needs to take a decision to formally seek the European Commission’s opinion on the application.

It would normally take 15 to 18 months for the commission to issue its opinion, although that period could be significantly shortened “depending on the political considerations”, the official said.

There is a pre-accession period of varying length, during which the candidate country adapts its institutions, standards and infrastructure to enable it to meet its obligations as a member state. The accession process involves compliance with the accession criteria including adoption and implementation of EU law.

Updated

More than 360,000 people have already fled their homes in Ukraine since the beginning of Vladimir Putin’s invasion, according to the UN refugee agency, and more than 4.5 million more could follow if the fighting spreads.

But among the bloodshed, moments of hope and defiance from the nation stood out and captured hearts and minds around the world, encapsulating the Ukrainian people’s resilience and determination.

 

Updated

Turkey will limit Russian access to Black Sea – Erdoğan

Turkey’s president, Tayyip Erdoğan, has said Turkey cannot abandon its ties with Russia or Ukraine, adding that Ankara would implement a pact on maritime passage from its straits to prevent an escalation of the war, Reuters reports.

Turkey described Russia’s invasion as a “war” on Sunday, which allowed it to invoke articles under a 1936 international accord that will limit the passage of some Russian vessels from Turkish straits. Turkey shares a maritime border with Ukraine and Russia and has good ties with both.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Erdoğan criticised what he called the “indecisive” stance by the US and western powers to Ukraine’s invasion, saying the approach was a sign of a failing international order.

He said Turkey would not compromise from its commitments to its alliances, including Nato, but that it could also not turn back on “national interests” in its region. He repeated that he found the Russian invasion unacceptable.

Updated

Fifa and Uefa have suspended all Russian clubs and national teams from all of their competitions, Uefa has confirmed.

A statement by Uefa says all Russian teams, whether national representative teams or club teams, shall be suspended from participation in both Fifa and Uefa competitions until further notice.

Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine.

Both presidents hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people.

Updated

Talks between Ukraine and Russia that took place earlier today were “very difficult”, the Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said.

Podolyak described the Russian side as “extremely biased”.

Updated

Russian forces could become more aggressive and try to encircle Kyiv in the coming days, Reuters quotes a senior US defence official as saying.

The official told reporters that Russian troops were about 16 miles from Kyiv’s city centre.

We expect that they’re going to want to continue to move forward and try to encircle the city in the coming days.

The official, who was speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the US believes stiff Ukrainian resistance has slowed the progress of Russian troops and planning failures have left some Russian units without fuel or other supplies.

One of the things that could result is a reevaluation of their tactics and the potential for them to be more aggressive and more overt, in both the size and scale of their targeting of Kyiv.

Ukraine demands Russian expulsion from Interpol

Ukraine has demanded that Russia be expelled from the International Police Criminal Organization, commonly known as Interpol, accusing it of abusing the organisation and using it to target political opponents worldwide and in Ukraine, the Guardian’s Ruth Michaelson writes.

The Ukrainian minister of internal affairs, Denis Monastyrsky, demanded Russia’s immediate expulsion. “Russia should be expelled from Interpol for violating its basic principles and massive misuse of tools and services to cover up its crimes and persecute political enemies, particularly in Ukraine,” the Ukrainian broadcasting organisation Hromadske reported. The Guardian has approached Interpol for comment.

Interpol is a supranational police force focused on information-sharing among its 195 member states, primarily through its “red notice” system intended to alert member nations about the cross-border movement of criminals.

In recent years it has increasingly drawn criticism for abuse of the red notice system by oppressive regimes including Russia, with anti-democratic nations using it to flag political dissidents in exile or escaping abuse rather than those proven to commit crimes.

The former US ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul said that Russia should be expelled from Interpol in 2018, when critics warned that doing so risked turning it into a haven for criminals.

It is unclear how the process to expel a member state from Interpol’s general secretariat could work, or whether a similar action has ever been taken before.

Currently North Korea is the only large country that is a member of the United Nations but not part of Interpol. Taiwan has long campaigned to be readmitted to Interpol, after it was forced to withdraw when China became a member in 1984.

“There’s process in having Russia suspended from Interpol, but throwing them out to me seems unlikely,” said Ben Keith, a barrister specialising in Interpol and extradition at International Human Rights Advisors.

“We don’t know how or why Syria were suspended and then allowed back in again. It’s like trying to throw Russia out of the United Nations, it’s just not realistic,” he said. Syria was quietly readmitted to Interpol in October last year.

Home secretary Priti Patel told parliament today that “the Ukrainian government has today requested that the Russian government be suspended from its membership of Interpol and we will be leading all international efforts to that effect.”

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Ukraine’s prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, has shared a photograph of the president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, formally asking to join the European Union.

Updated

Large explosions have been heard in Kyiv, according to reports.

Air raid sirens have also been reported across the Ukrainian capital.

The EU has formally approved making available €500m to finance the provision of equipment and supplies to the Ukrainian armed forces, including – for the first time – lethal weapons, our Brussels bureau chief, Daniel Boffey, reports. Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, said:

Following the request by the Foreign Affairs Minister of Ukraine, we are immediately responding by mobilising the European Peace Facility for two emergency assistance measures to finance the supply of lethal and non-lethal material to the Ukrainian army.

This is the first time in history that the EU will be providing lethal equipment to a third country. We are doing everything we can to support Ukraine, we stand by the Ukrainian people.

EU member states have also approved a proposal to deny permission to land in, take off from or overfly their territories to any aircraft operated by Russian air carriers, including as a marketing carrier, or to any Russian registered aircraft, or to non-Russian registered aircraft which are owned or chartered, or otherwise controlled by a Russian legal or natural person.

Finally, it will be prohibited to make transactions with the Russian Central Bank or any legal person, entity or body acting on behalf or at the direction of the Russian Central Bank.

Updated

The UK’s foreign secretary, Liz Truss, announced further economic sanctions on Monday to cripple Russian state companies and banks, the Guardian’s Jessica Elgot writes.

Truss said she would legislate to introduce new powers to prevent Russian banks from clearing payments in sterling, measures that will be applied to Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank. There will be a full asset freeze on three additional Russian banks – Otkritie, Sovcombank and VEB.

Legislation will ban the Russian state from raising debt in the UK and Russian companies – more than 3m in total – will be prevented from accessing UK capital markets.

There will also be an export ban further imposed across a number of key sectors including microelectronics, marine and navigation equipment.

The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said he had written to all UK ports asking them not to provide access to any Russian flagged, registered, owned, controlled, chartered or operated vessels.

Truss reiterated that she had a “hit list” of oligarchs who would face further sanctions and said the UK was also looking to go further than individuals.

She said the UK would “target the families of oligarchs, the people that work for them, the people who support them and the people who enable them,” a hint at the disquiet of the use of London law firms, banks and reputation agencies.

For live updates from the House of Commons, please follow our UK politics blog.

Updated

Ukraine formally requests to join the European Union

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said he has signed a request for Ukraine to join the European Union, Reuters reports.

EU leaders may discuss the possibility of Ukrainian membership at an informal summit in March, according to a senior EU official.

The official said:

I think one of the reasons that this is important for President Zelenskiy is also potentially in some of the discussions with Russia on a way out.

But he added that no process had been started yet.

On the application (of Ukraine for EU membership) I think it’s important not to get ahead of ourselves.

It obviously has not yet been received, but this whole question of the Ukraine situation is something that’s very much on the minds of the leaders.

Updated

Talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials have ended at the Belarusian border, the Russian state news agency Tass cited a source as saying.

Ria news agency quotes a Ukrainian official as saying that both sides will return to their respective capitals for further consultations, before participating in a second round of talks.

The next round of Ukraine-Russia talks will be held in coming days, the Belarusian state news agency cited the Russian delegation as saying.

The Russian delegation told Belta that they had “identified certain points from which we can predict general positions”.

Updated

Russia’s actions in Ukraine are being “distorted and thwarted”, Russia’s UN ambassador, Vasily Nebenzya, has said.

Speaking at the United Nations, Nebenzya blamed the crisis on Ukraine and claimed it had been unwilling to engage in dialogue.

Nebenzya said:

The root for the current crisis lies in the actions of Ukraine itself. For many years it sabotaged and flouted its direct obligations under the Minsk package of measures.

He continued:

Just recently there was a hope that in Kyiv they would reconsider and that they would indeed comply with what they signed on to in 2018.

However, the latest confirmation from the senior leadership of the country was that Ukraine was unwilling to engage in this dialogue, and they were unwilling to take steps to grant special status to Donbas.

Russian ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya addresses the UN General Assembly on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
Russian ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya addresses the UN General Assembly on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
Photograph: Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Updated

Switzerland, a favourite destination for Russian oligarchs, has set aside its tradition of neutrality and announced that it will adopt all the sanctions already imposed by the European Union on Russia.

Following a government meeting on Monday, Switzerland’s president, Ignazio Cassis, said the country would immediately freeze the assets of Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, the prime minister, Mikhail Mishustin, and the foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, as well as all 367 individuals sanctioned last week by the EU.

Cassis told reporters today:

This is a big step for Switzerland.

In a statement, the Swiss government said it will implement the sanctions in coordination with the EU, adding that these were “primarily goods and financial sanctions”.

In so doing, Switzerland is responding to the serious violations of international law for which these individuals are responsible.

Swiss president Ignazio Cassis.
Swiss president Ignazio Cassis.
Photograph: Peter Schneider/EPA

Updated

Macron speaks to Putin

At the request of the Ukrainian government, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, has spoken to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, the Élysée Palace has said in a statement:

The president reiterated the international community’s demand that [Russia] halt its offensive against Ukraine, and reaffirmed the necessity of immediately establishing a ceasefire.

With ceasefire talks between Kyiv and Moscow under way on the Belarus border, Macron also asked Putin to ensure that for the duration of the negotiations all strikes and attacks on civilians and their homes would be halted, civilian infrastructure would be preserved, and all main roads – particularly the road south out of Kyiv – would remain safe to use.

Putin “confirmed his willingness to commit to all three points”, the Élysée statement said.

Macron also called on Putin to ensure international humanitarian law was respected and civilian populations and aid transports protected, and asked the Russian president to “stay in touch over the coming days to avoid the situation worsening”.

Updated

UK home secretary says waiving visa requirements would pose security risk

Priti Patel, the UK home secretary, is currently talking about the proposals for Ukrainians wanting to come to the UK.

She summarises the rules in place. Some requirements and salary threshold have already been lowered, she says. She says an extra 100,000 Ukrainians will be able to come to the UK as a result of her changes.

Patel says some MPs are calling for visa waivers for Ukrainians. But she says she will not agree to that. She says biometric checks are an essential part of the system. She says, on the basis of security advice, they need to stay. She says Russians are infiltrating Ukrainian forces, and extremist groups are active in the war zone.

The UK foreign secretary, Liz Truss, is due to speak shortly in the House of Commons. You can follow her statement on our UK politics live blog:

Updated

The BBC is reporting that Fifa is set to suspend Russia from international football.

This hasn’t yet been confirmed, but would follow the announcement by several countries that they would refuse to play a Russian team.

In further evidence that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is radically changing European views, a survey for the Finnish public broadcaster YLE has found a majority of the country’s population is in favour of joining Nato for the first time.

According to the poll, conducted last week over three days before and immediately after the attacks with a representative sample of nearly 1,400 people, 53% of Finns would now support Finland’s accession to Nato, with 28% opposed and 19% unsure.

In 2017, the last time YLE’s market researchers polled on the same question, only 19% of Finns were in favour of joining the alliance, while a survey for private broadcaster MTV in January showed 30% supported membership.

Juho Rahkonen, the pollster’s research director, said described the shift in public opinion as radical and historic. “Basically, the percentages of those in favour of Nato membership and those against have changed places,” Rahkonen said.

Russia’s invasion has also increased support for Nato membership in Sweden, with a survey commissioned last week by Swedish public broadcaster SVT showing 41% in favour and 35% opposed. The Finnish poll suggested that if Sweden applied to join the alliance, support for Finnish membership would rise to 66%.

Finland, an autonomous part of the Russian empire for more than a century until 1917, shares a 1,340km (833 miles) border with Russia, the longest of any EU state. Though not members, Finland and Sweden closely cooperate with Nato, allowing, among other things, the alliance’s troops to exercise on their soil.

Helsinki and Stockholm have also substantially intensified their bilateral defence cooperation in the past years, and secured close military cooperation with the US, Britain and neighbouring Nato member Norway.

Russia warned last week that if either country sought to join the alliance they would face “serious military-political consequences” from Moscow.

Updated

Reuters’ military and intelligence correspondent reports that the EU has asked for satellite intelligence to be supplied to Ukraine, to enable it to monitor troop movements:

Updated

Until this week, Daniel Mediakovskyi was a history student in the Ukrainian city of Lviv. Since Sunday, however, he has been sticking rubber bands and plastic tops on to home-made bombs. “It’s practical history. It’s time for this right now,” he explained, loading another molotov cocktail into a crate.

Around him, about a dozen students and young creative professionals stood around a makeshift table. All wore masks and washing-up gloves. Each had a role in a busy production line. The basement bomb factory smelled strongly of petrol and paint remover – two molotov ingredients, along with polystyrene and silver dust.

Mediakovskyi – who is 20 – said his mother had woken him early last Thursday to tell him Russia had invaded Ukraine. “I knew it was going to start. My hands started shaking,” he said. After spending a day doom-scrolling on social media, he decided he would try to help.

“My parents know I’m volunteering. I haven’t told my granny. She’s worried enough about things already,” he admitted. He acknowledged that a molotov wouldn’t stop the mighty Russian army. But he stressed: “It will break Russian soldiers mentally, and show them they are not welcome here.”

Updated

Canada’s foreign minister has left open the door for citizens of Ukrainian descent to join the new foreign legion and take up arms against Russian troops.

“We understand that people of Ukrainian descent want to support their fellow Ukrainians and also that there is a desire to defend the motherland and in that sense it is their own individual decision,” Mélanie Joly told reporters on Sunday. “Let me be clear: we are all very supportive of any form of support to Ukrainians right now.”

With 1.4 million residents of Ukrainian heritage, Canada has the largest diaspora populations outside of Russia.

Canadian officials have advised against travel to the country due to the current conflict, but Joly’s comments on foreign fighters echo similar support from officials in both the UK and Latvia.

Ukraine’s ministry of defence tweeted Monday they had already received “thousands” of requests by foreigners to join the fight.

Swiss officials have concluded that Russia is unlikely to use its nuclear weapons against the West in a conflict over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Defence Minister Viola Amherd said on Monday.

The comments came after Switzerland adopted EU sanctions against Russia.

“We are, of course, looking at all scenarios, but our investigations indicate that the likelihood of these nuclear weapons being used is low,” she told a news conference in Bern.

Russian rocket attacks killed dozens of people in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv as ceasefire talks between Kyiv and Moscow got under way, with the Kremlin facing unprecedented international sanctions that have created “a new economic reality” for Russia.

After four days of fighting and a slower Russian advance than many expected, the Ukrainian interior ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko said Kharkiv had been “massively fired on”, leaving “dozens of dead and hundreds of wounded”.

The news came hours after the Ukrainian presidency said it had begun negotiations with a Russian delegation on the border with Belarus, aimed at achieving “an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian forces”.

With fighting continuing around several cities and the Russian rouble in free fall, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, urged Russian troops to abandon their equipment and leave the battlefield to save their lives, claiming 4,500 were already dead.

A man looks at a shell crater a day after a shelling on a residential area in Kiev, Ukraine, 28 February 2022.
A man looks at a shell crater a day after a shelling on a residential area in Kiev, Ukraine, 28 February 2022.
Photograph: Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA

Updated

We visited the Przemysl train station, near the border between Poland and Ukraine. At platform number four, trains arrive with Ukrainian refugees fleeing the country.

At platform number five, dozens of Ukrainians are instead returning to the country to join the fighting. They are Ukrainians living in Poland.

A man in his 50’s says:

We can’t stand by and watch.

We are going back to Ukraine. We are going to fight.

Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter must do more to tackle disinformation related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the heads of government in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have said.

In a joint letter to the chief executives of the four companies, the four prime ministers said criticised the tech giants for not doing enough to “address the Russian government’s unprecedented assault on truth”.

The letter reads:

Russia’s disinformation has been tolerated on online platforms for years; they are now an accessory to the criminal war of aggression the Russian government is conducting against Ukraine and the free world.

They urged the companies to suspend the official accounts of Russian and Belarusian government institutions, state-controlled media and personal accounts of the countries’ leadership that consistently disseminate disinformation about the situation in Ukraine.

Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has cancelled his visit to the United Nations in Geneva due to “anti-Russian sanctions” imposed by EU countries, Russia’s mission in Geneva has said.

Lavrov had been scheduled to address the UN human rights council and the conference on disarmament in person on Tuesday.

But he has cancelled his trip “due to an unprecedented ban on his flight in the airspace of a number of EU countries that have imposed anti-Russian sanctions”, the mission tweeted.

RIA news agency quoted a diplomatic source as saying the decision was because Lavrov’s plane would not be able to pass through airspace that the EU has closed to Russian airlines as part of sanctions against Moscow.

Updated

A Ukrainian woman and her 15-year-old diabetic daughter say they are feeling increasingly distraught after escaping the conflict in Ukraine only to be blocked from a visa the UK government announced on Sunday evening for which they are eligible.

Yakiv Voloshchuk, 60, a British citizen, rescued his wife, Oksana Voloshchuk, 41 and their daughter, Veronika Voloshchuk, from Poland on 26 February.

He drove from his home in London to the Polish border and waited for them to get across Ukraine’s border with Poland. He then did a return 24-hour journey by road across Europe before reaching Paris on Sunday where he hoped he would get the green light from British officials to bring his wife and daughter on the last leg of the journey to the UK.

The family hoped it would be straightforward to reach the UK, especially after the publication of new Home Office guidance giving permission for some immediate family members of British citizens to apply free of charge to join their loved ones in the UK.

But when Oksana and Veronika tried to apply for the new visa online they were blocked from proceeding unless they paid thousands of pounds, even though the application is supposed to be free.

“We just don’t know what to do,” Voloshchuk told the Guardian on Monday morning. “My wife’s bank account in Ukraine is frozen. We have booked into a hotel in Paris for a couple of days but I want to bring my family back to the UK to my home in London.

“We are getting very worried about my daughter because she is type 1 diabetic and is running out of insulin. We also don’t have a lot of money for food. She needs to eat regularly.”

Updated

There is great admiration in Brussels for the leadership of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Sources disclosed that Zelenskiy had been forced to cut short a telephone conversation with president Charles Michel on Friday evening as his location appeared to be under attack.

“The president had to cut the call short. He said, ‘Charles Charles Charles, I’ve got to stop, we are under fire’,” an EU official recalled.

Updated

The European Union is preparing to grant Ukrainians who flee the war the right to stay and work in the EU for up to three years, Reuters reports.

At least 400,000 Ukrainian refugees have entered the EU so far, EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson said after a visit to a border crossing between Romania and Ukraine.

We have to prepare for millions (to arrive in the EU).

Ministers on Sunday asked Johansson to prepare proposals to trigger the EU temporary protection directive, drawn up after the 1990s war in the Balkans, but never used so far.

Designed to deal with mass arrivals of displaced persons in the 27-nation bloc, the directive provides for the same level of protection in all EU states, including a residence permit and access to employment and social welfare.

Johansson said she hoped EU interior ministers would agree by Thursday on the protection scheme for those fleeing Ukraine.

Updated

Vladimir Medinsky, the head of the Russian delegation (second left), and Davyd Arakhamia, faction leader of the Servant of the People party in the Ukrainian Parliament (third right), attend talks in Belarus.
Vladimir Medinsky, the head of the Russian delegation (second left), and Davyd Arakhamia, faction leader of the Servant of the People party in the Ukrainian Parliament (third right), attend talks in Belarus.
Photograph: Sergei Kholodilin/AP
Russia’s deputy defence minister Alexander Fomin (L) and Russian ambassador to Belarus Boris Gryzlov at Russian-Ukrainian talks.
Russia’s deputy defence minister Alexander Fomin (left) and Russian ambassador to Belarus Boris Gryzlov at Russian-Ukrainian talks.
Photograph: Sergei Kholodilin/BELTA/TASS
Ukrainian defence minister Oleksii Reznikov attending Russia-Ukraine negotiations in the Gomel region, Belarus.
Ukrainian defence minister Oleksii Reznikov attending Russia-Ukraine negotiations in the Gomel region, Belarus.
Photograph: Sergei Kholodilin/BelTA/EPA

Updated

The mayor of the Ukrainian city of Vasilkiv says residents are “dreaming of peace”, the Guardian’s Shaun Walker reports.

I’ve been speaking to Natalia Balasynovych, the mayor of Vasilkiv, which came under heavy fire as Russian troops tried to disable the air defence system here and capture the airport over recent days.

Asked what she would like to see at the peace talks between Russia and Ukraine currently taking place, Balasynovych said she believed most people in her town would accept a compromise to stop the war.

We would like to see compromise but not a capitulation. Maybe neutral status for Ukraine, if it will stop them shooting now. Because to live like this is not possible.

If they will offer us only the condition of capitulation then we have to fight to the end. But I would like our children never to wake up with these bombs. Our children will have serious trauma, and people are dreaming of peace already.

People used to think about a new car or iPhone, but nobody was thinking about peace. But now, they are really dreaming of peace.

When old people used to wish each other peace, we didnt understand the sense of this word. Now we really understand.

Updated

Russia has closed its airspace to 36 countries, Russian state news agency Tass reports.

Among those countries barred from using Russian airspace are the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Canada.

The move follows the EU’s announcement yesterday that it would close its airspace to Russian airlines. EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said:

We are proposing a prohibition on all Russian-owned, Russian registered or Russian-controlled aircraft. These aircraft will no more be able to land in, take off or overfly the territory of the EU.

Updated

The US has suspended operations at its embassy in Minsk, Belarus, and non-emergency employees and family members are being authorised to voluntarily depart the US embassy in Moscow.

In a statement on Monday, US secretary of state Antony Blinken said the decision was taken “due to security and safety issues stemming from the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine”.

US administration officials have been briefing this morning about the decision to block dollar assets of Russia’s Central Bank and its Direct Investment Fund this morning, before markets opened, the Guardian’s Julian Borger writes.

One senior administration official said:

We wanted to put these actions in place before our markets open because what we learned over the course of the weekend from our allies and partners was the Russian Central Bank was attempting to move assets and there would be a great deal of asset flight starting on Monday morning from institutions around the world. So we’re taking these actions in a way that they will be effective immediately.

The official said about the planning behind these measures, which date back to the much more limited US sanctions imposed after the annexation of Crimea in 2014:

When we took those actions, [the Russians] decided that they were going to try and build a war chest to try and defend against the actions that we may take, if they were to take further actions in Ukraine or elsewhere in the world. We knew that this existed and we knew that ultimately, one of the things that we would need to do to ensure that our sanctions would be effective is at some point to go after that war chest and that’s exactly what we’ve done today.

The US is expanding sanctions on Russia’s central bank in a move that will block Americans from engaging in any transactions with it and freezing any assets it holds in the US.

People use Sberbank ATM machines in Moscow, Russia on 28, February, 2022.
People use Sberbank ATM machines in Moscow, Russia, on 28 February.
Photograph: Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS

 

In a statement today, the US treasury department said the decision would apply to the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, Russia’s national wealth fund – which is run by a close ally of Vladimir Putin – and its ministry of finance.

Secretary of the treasury Janet Yellen said:

The unprecedented action we are taking today will significantly limit Russia’s ability to use assets to finance its destabilizing activities, and target the funds Putin and his inner circle depend on to enable his invasion of Ukraine.

Today, in coordination with partners and allies, we are following through on key commitments to restrict Russia’s access to these valuable resources.”

Updated

The EU has warned that Belarus could start hosting Russian nuclear weapons after a “very dangerous” decision at a referendum to drop the country’s non-nuclear status, AFP reports.

The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said:

We know what does it mean for Belarus to be nuclear.

It means Russia will put nuclear weapons in Belarus and this is a very dangerous path.

Updated

The Kremlin has claimed that President Vladimir Putin placed Russia’s nuclear deterrence forces on high alert after statements from the UK’s foreign secretary Liz Truss, PA Media news agency reports.

According to the Interfax news agency, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a press briefing:

Statements were made by various representatives at various levels on possible altercations or even collisions and clashes between Nato and Russia. We believe that such statements are absolutely unacceptable.

I would not call the authors of these statements by name, although it was the British foreign minister.

Updated

The website of Russian state news agency Tass was hacked on Monday with the site replaced with messages claiming Russian president Vladimir Putin is forcing them to lie, Reuters reports.

According to Reuters, the message read:

We urge you to stop this madness, do not send your sons and husbands to certain death.

Putin is forcing us to lie and is putting us in danger … It’s not our war, let’s stop him!

The message has since been removed. The website now says: “Sorry, the page you are looking for is currently unavailable. Please try again later.”

Updated

Dozens killed and hundreds wounded in Kharkiv rocket strikes, Ukrainian ministry says

Dozens of people have been killed and hundreds more wounded in rocket strikes by Russian forces on the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Monday morning, the Ukrainian interior ministry has said.

Scene of today’s missile strike which blew woman’s legs off in Kharkiv.
Scene of today’s missile strike which blew woman’s legs off in Kharkiv.
Photograph: The Guardian

Ukrainian interior ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko said in a post on Facebook:

Kharkiv has just been massively fired upon by grads (rockets). Dozens of dead and hundreds of wounded.

Updated

Roman Abramovich has accepted a Ukrainian request to help negotiate an end to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, his spokesperson has said.

A spokesperson for the Chelsea football club owner said:

I can confirm that Roman Abramovich was contacted by the Ukrainian side for support in achieving a peaceful resolution, and that he has been trying to help ever since.

Considering what is at stake, we would ask for your understanding as to why we have not commented on neither the situation as such nor his involvement.

The Jerusalem Post reports that Abramovich is in Belarus assisting in the Ukraine-Russia talks, at the request of Ukraine.

Russia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrei Rudenko, Russia’s Deputy Defence Minister Alexander Fomin (3rd L seated) and Ukrainian Parliament member Davyd Arakhamia (3rd R seated) are seen during Russian-Ukrainian talks in Gomel, Belarus.
Russia’s deputy minister of foreign affairs Andrei Rudenko, Russia’s deputy defence minister Alexander Fomin (3rd left seated) and Ukrainian parliament member Davyd Arakhamia (3rd right seated) are seen during Russian-Ukrainian talks in Gomel, Belarus.
Photograph: Alexander Kryazhev/TASS

Updated

The Guardian’s Italy and migration correspondent, Lorenzo Tondo, arrives at the main border crossing Poland and Ukraine.

Smoke rises over a long queue of people trying to flee Ukraine after the Russian invasion, on the Ukrainian side of the border checkpoint in Medyka, Poland, February 28, 2022.
Smoke rises over a long queue of people trying to flee on the Ukrainian side of the border checkpoint in Medyka, Poland, on Monday.
Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

We arrived this morning in Medyka, a village in eastern Poland and the main border crossing Poland and Ukraine.

More than 300,000 Ukrainians have left the country since the beginning of the Russian invasion. More than half went to Poland and the majority of them passed through Medyka.

They are mostly women, with their children or grandchildren. There are also many foreigners, from the Congo, Morocco, Turkey, Ghana and Pakistan. Some were students in Kyiv universities, others worked in cities bombed by the Russians.

Their fate is uncertain. It is unclear whether the Polish authorities will allow them to stay. Some would like to go back to their country. Others fear they will be sent back.

As for the Ukrainians, the European Commission will soon ask member states to grant temporary asylum to all Ukrainians for up to three years.

Updated

Volodymyr Zelenskiy has appealed to the European Union to allow Ukraine to gain membership immediately under a special procedure, as it defends itself from invasion by Russian forces.

‘Our goal is to be with all Europeans and, most importantly, to be equal. I’m sure that’s fair. I am sure we deserved it,’ he said in a speech shared on social media.

 

Updated

Talks between Ukraine and Russia begin

Talks between Ukraine and Russia have begun, the foreign ministries of both countries have confirmed.

Ukraine has said its goal for the talks is an “immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Russian troops”. Its delegation includes several high-ranking officials, but not its president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, himself.

The Kremlin has declined to comment on its aim in negotiations, but Russian negotiator Vladimir Medinsky has said Russia wants to reach an agreement that was in the interests of both sides.

Hello. I’m Léonie Chao-Fong and I’ll be bringing you all the latest developments on the unfolding crisis in Ukraine. Feel free to get in touch on Twitter or via email.

Updated

Summary

It has just gone 1pm in Ukraine. Here is a round-up of the latest headlines:

  • Talks between Ukraine and Russia got under way on the border with Belarus this morning. Ukraine had agreed to talks with Russia “without preconditions”, the office of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said yesterday.
  • Recent British intelligence appears to corroborate a recent report from Ukraine’s military that Russia had “slowed down” its offensive. Britain’s defence ministry has said Russia’s advance on Kyiv has been slowed by logistical failures and fierce Ukrainian resistance.
  • The Russian central bank has increased interest rates to 20% from 9.5% after the rouble plunged up to 40% on Monday in the wake of western sanctions.
  • The EU is expecting Ukraine’s application to join the European Union “imminently” and officials in Brussels said “this will need to be assessed very rapidly by the council and the decision made as to whether to request an urgent opinion from the European Commission”.
  • Residents in Mariupol this morning said the port city on the Sea of Azov was surrounded by Russian forces and under heavy attack.
  • Amnesty International has condemned Russia’s reported use of cluster munitions in Ukraine, saying an attack on a pre-school “may constitute a war crime”.
  • Russian invasion forces seized two small cities in south-eastern Ukraine and the area around a nuclear power plant, the Interfax news agency reported on Monday, but ran into stiff resistance elsewhere as Moscow’s diplomatic and economic isolation deepened.
  • The UK government announced a slew of measures “to prohibit any UK natural or legal persons from undertaking financial transactions involving the Russian central bank, the Russian national wealth fund, and the country’s ministry of finance”.
  • The Russian rouble plunged nearly 30% to an all-time low versus the US dollar on Monday as markets opened for trading on the first day after western nations announced punishing economic sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
  • The US stepped up the flow of weapons to Ukraine, announcing on Sunday it will send Stinger missiles as part of a package approved by the White House.
  • At least 102 civilians in Ukraine have been killed since Russia launched its invasion last Thursday, with a further 304 injured, but the real figure is feared to be “considerably higher”, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Monday.
  • An update from Ukraine’s interior ministry late last night said 352 Ukrainian civilians have so far been killed during Russia’s invasion, including 14 children.The ministry said a further 1,684 people, including 116 children, have been wounded.
  • Blasts were heard in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and in the major city of Kharkiv early on Monday morning, Ukraine’s state service of special communications reported. Meanwhile, about 150km north-east of Kyiv in Chernihiv, a missile reportedly hit a residential building in the centre of the city, causing a fire to break out, the agency added.
  • About 800 people were arrested as Belarus voted to ditch its non-nuclear status in a referendum that raises the stakes at a time when the country has become a staging ground for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the government said on Monday.
  • Forty Ukrainian civil society groups have come together to call on the West to establish safe zones for refugees inside Ukraine, and provide technology to help document Russian war crimes as part of a plan to make Vladimir Putin and his inner circle face justice at the international criminal court.

That’s it from me, Tom Ambrose, for now. My colleague Léonie Chao-Fong will be along shortly to continue bringing you all the latest news from Ukraine.

A satellite image taken on Sunday Feb 27, 2022 by private satellite company Maxar shows Russia army ground forces northeast of Ivankiv heading in the direction of Kyiv.
A satellite image taken on Sunday Feb 27, 2022 by private satellite company Maxar shows Russia army ground forces northeast of Ivankiv heading in the direction of Kyiv.
Photograph: EyePress News/REX/Shutterstock

Updated

EU expects Ukraine application ‘imminently’

The EU is expecting Ukraine’s application to join the European Union “imminently” and officials in Brussels said “this will need to be assessed very rapidly by the council and the decision made as to whether to request an urgent opinion from the European commission”.

Earlier today, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy had made a video address in which he appealed to the European union for urgent accession to the 27-member bloc for the country under special procedures.

For Ukraine to become an EU member state it will go through a pre-accession period of varying length, during which the candidate country adapts its institutions, standards and infrastructure to enable it to meet its obligations as a member state.

Albania, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey are currently candidate countries.

Updated

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is trying to broker a peaceful end to the war in Ukraine, his spokesman said.

The Russian-Israeli billionaire has come under pressure to speak out following the invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin’s forces, PA Media reported.

There have been calls in parliament for him to face sanctions as a major oligarch “with links to the Russian state”.

A spokesman for the Chelsea owner said:

I can confirm that Roman Abramovich was contacted by the Ukrainian side for support in achieving a peaceful resolution, and that he has been trying to help ever since.

Considering what is at stake, we would ask for your understanding as to why we have not commented on neither the situation as such nor his involvement.

Abramovich’s involvement followed a request from the Ukrainian film producer Alexander Rodnyansky. There were no further details about Abramovich’s role, although it was acknowledged his influence was “limited”.

“I can confirm that the Ukrainian side have been trying to find someone in Russia willing to help them in finding a peaceful resolution,” Rodnyansky said. He added:

They are connected to Roman Abramovich through the Jewish community and reached out to him for help. Roman Abramovich has been trying to mobilise support for a peaceful resolution ever since.

Although Roman Abramovich’s influence is limited, he is the only one who responded and taken it upon himself to try.

If this will have an impact or not, I don’t know, but I am in contact with (Ukraine president Volodymyr) Zelenskiy’s staff myself, and know that they are grateful for his genuine efforts.

Abramovich stepped back from day-to-day running of Chelsea on Saturday night, handing stewardship to the west London club’s charitable foundation trustees.

Updated

Amnesty International has condemned Russia’s reported use of cluster munitions in Ukraine, saying an attack on a pre-school “may constitute a war crime”.

FILE- Russian Army BM-27 Uragan self-propelled multiple rocket launcher system during a live firing drill at the ‘Opuk’ interspecific training ground in Crimea, 15 February 2022.
FILE- Russian Army BM-27 Uragan self-propelled multiple rocket launcher system during a live firing drill at the ‘Opuk’ interspecific training ground in Crimea, 15 February 2022.
Photograph: Russian Defence Ministry Press Service Handout/EPA

The human rights charity said “a 220mm Uragan rocket dropped cluster munitions on the Sonechko nursery and kindergarten in the town of Okhtyrka in Sumy Oblast” on Friday. It added: “The strike may constitute a war crime.”

Amnesty said three people were killed in the attack, including a child, while another child was wounded, PA Media reported.

Cluster munitions scatter or release smaller munitions or bomblets over a wide area, increasing the potential for casualties and damage. More than 100 countries have committed never to use the weapons under the Convention on Cluster Munitions, including the UK, but neither Russia nor Ukraine have signed the agreement.

Agnes Callamard, secretary-general of Amnesty International, said:

It is stomach-turning to see an indiscriminate attack on a nursery and kindergarten where civilians are seeking safe haven. Plain and simple, this should be investigated as a war crime.

As this human tragedy unfolds in Ukraine, any person who commits war crimes should be held individually accountable before the International Criminal Court (ICC) or another international criminal justice process at the national or international level.

It is imperative that UN member states and the ICC urgently consider how to ensure the timely and effective collection and preservation of evidence of any crimes under international law committed in Ukraine.

Human Rights Watch said it has also identified examples of cluster munition use.

Updated

The Kremlin has accused the European Union of hostile behaviour towards Russia, saying weapons supplies to Ukraine were dangerous and destabilising and proved that Russia was right in its efforts to demilitarise its neighbour.

The west has stepped up arms supplies to Ukraine in order to help it defend against a Russian invasion that Moscow calls a “special military operation” aimed at protecting civilians, Reuters reported.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on the number of casualties Russian forces have suffered, or to elaborate on President Vladimir Putin’s instructions at the weekend for Russia’s nuclear deterrence forces to be placed on a “special regime”.

Updated

PEN International, the literary and free expression organisation, has released a letter signed by 1,040 writers from around the world, expressing solidarity with writers, journalists, artists and the people of Ukraine.

The letter condemns the Russian invasion and calls for an immediate end to the bloodshed, with signatories including Nobel laureates Sveltana Alexievitch, Orhan Pamuk, Maria Ressa, and Olga Tokarczuk.

Among the writers who have signed it are Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Max Porter, Paul Auster and Edmund de Waal.

It reads:

To our friends and colleagues in Ukraine,

We, writers around the world, are appalled by the violence unleashed by Russian forces on to Ukraine and urgently call for an end to the bloodshed.

We stand united in condemnation of a senseless war, waged by President Putin’s refusal to accept the rights of Ukraine’s people to debate their future allegiance and history without Moscow’s interference.

We stand united in support of writers, journalists, artists, and all the people of Ukraine, who are living through their darkest hours. We stand by you and feel your pain.

All individuals have a right to peace, free expression, and free assembly. Putin’s war is an attack on democracy and freedom not just in Ukraine, but around the world.

We stand united in calling for peace and for an end to the propaganda that is fuelling the violence. There can be no free and safe Europe without a free and independent Ukraine. Peace must prevail.

Updated

Members of the Ukrainian delegation arrive for talks with Russian representatives in the Gomel region.
Members of the Ukrainian delegation arrive for talks with Russian representatives in the Gomel region.
Photograph: BELTA/Reuters
Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov (2L) arrives to attend the talks between delegations from Ukraine and Russia in Belarus’ Gomel region.
Ukrainian defence minister Oleksii Reznikov (secomd left) arrives to attend the talks between delegations from Ukraine and Russia in Belarus’ Gomel region.
Photograph: Sergei Kholodilin/BELTA/AFP/Getty Images

Updated

Lithuania’s government has announced it will ask prosecutors at the international criminal court to investigate “war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine”.

“There is new material coming in every day, but we have enough of it by now to file the request,” Lithuanian prime minister Ingrida Simonyte said in a televised cabinet meeting.

Damage to the upper floors of a building in Kyiv after it was reportedly struck by a Russian rocket.
Damage to the upper floors of a building in Kyiv after it was reportedly struck by a Russian rocket.
Photograph: Daniel Leal/AFP/Getty Images

Updated

A Ukrainian MP who has taken up arms to defend the country’s capital city from the Russian invasion has said she will do so “as long as needed”.

Kira Rudik, the leader of the Voice party in the Rada parliament, said she was confident she could shoot a Russian soldier if one came to her home.

Her comments came as the economic toll of sanctions against Russia started to become clear, with the rouble falling by 26% against the US dollar after western nations moved to block Russian banks from the Swift global payment system.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland on Monday, the MP said:

I don’t have any plans to leave. This is my city, this is my country, and I plan to defend it for as long as will be needed.

There is no chance that some Russian crazy dictator would be able to push me away from where I live and where I love.

Rudik is one of many in Ukraine who have taken up the offer of arming themselves, with military forces looking to bolster key positions.

“We received rifles in the Ukrainian parliament and for the last couple of days I was training to use it, so right now I’m pretty confident I would be able to shoot somebody if they come to my home,” she said.

“I assembled a resistance crew which now consists of 15 people, and we were able to stand up for ourselves and help our army patrol the streets.”

She predicted the invasion would last between 10 days and two weeks, due to Russia’s high casualties, low morale and unpreparedness for a drawn-out conflict.

Updated

At least 102 civilians in Ukraine have been killed since Russia launched its invasion last Thursday, with a further 304 injured, but the real figure is feared to be “considerably higher”, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Monday.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet delivers a speech at the opening of a session of the UN Human Rights Council on February 28, 2022 in Geneva.

United Nations high commissioner for human rights Michelle Bachelet delivers a speech at the opening of a session of the UN human rights council on 28 February in Geneva.

Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Bachelet, addressing the opening session of the Human rights council in Geneva, said:

Most of these civilians were killed by explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multi-launch rocket systems, and air strikes. The real figures are, I fear, considerably higher.

Some 422,000 Ukrainians have fled their homeland, with many more displaced within the country, she told the Geneva forum which earlier agreed to hold an urgent debate on Ukraine later this week.

Updated

Forty Ukrainian civil society groups have come together to call on the West to establish safe zones for refugees inside Ukraine, and provide technology to help document Russian war crimes as part of a plan to make Vladimir Putin and his inner circle face justice at the International Criminal Court.

The appeal called the Kyiv Declaration has been put together by the groups in Kyiv and other cities coordinating via encrypted app’s, and face-to-face in underground shelters. The signatories include Ukrainian Helsinki Group for Human Rights, Come Back Alive, Ukraine Crisis Media Centre and Women’s Perspectives says the world has to act now before the Russians seize power.

The Declaration is a sign that despite the huge practical difficulties Ukrainian civil society is still operating, largely supporting its government and trying to urge the West to maintain the momentum of its support.

The six humanitarian demands include safe zones for refugees inside the country; the provision of anti-tank missiles; sanctions to be broadened to include a ban on energy trading with Russia; a faster crack down of the wealth of Russian oligarchs abroad including withdrawal of family visas; requisition fuel, logistics support and emergency medical equipment, such as field hospitals, mobile clinics and trauma supplies. It also calls for the supply of technology and support to human rights groups, as well as lawyers, recording Putin’s war crimes.

Safe or buffer zones were set up in North East Syria in 2019 following an agreement between Turkey and Russia. A less consensual zone was declared by US Britain and France in Iraq to protect the Kurdish minority after the Gulf War of 1991, when the US, Britain and France declared two no-fly zones in the north and south.

An imposed safe zone in Ukraine would require air power, something that so far has been ruled out by Nato leaders since it would take Nato into direct conflict with the Russian air force.

Lyubov Maksymovych, Chair of Women’s Perspectives, said:

We are issuing this declaration on behalf of Ukrainian women and men who stand together to fight for their liberty and freedoms. At this moment, it’s not too late to draw a line in the sand, here in Ukraine rather than through the centre of Europe – which is what will happen if we fail. We hope that western powers have learnt from the long failures of appeasement, and the obvious duplicity and inhumanity of Vladimir Putin. This is the most important declaration I have ever signed. If it is not answered, it could also be my last.

Olga Aivazovska, Chair of Elections Watchdog Opora, said:

Now is the moment the world must demonstrate its support not only for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, but also for the values of democracy, human rights and freedom. With the Kyiv Declaration, we ask for your help in defeating an autocratic dictator to defend not only Ukraine but the whole democratic world and the principles it is founded on.

Oleksandr Pavlichenko, the Executive Director of Ukrainian Helsinki Group for Human Rights, said:

Vladimir Putin and his henchmen believe they are above the law, that they can get away with this bloodshed because the world needs their gas and oil. We must prove them wrong. We must expose the truth. We must hold them to account in a court of law.

Residents in Mariupol this morning said the port city on the sea of Azov was surrounded by Russian forces and under heavy attack.

People take shelter inside a building in Mariupol, Ukraine. Street fighting broke out in Ukraine’s second-largest city and Russian troops squeezed strategic ports in the country’s south.
People take shelter inside a building in Mariupol, Ukraine. Street fighting broke out in Ukraine’s second-largest city and Russian troops squeezed strategic ports in the country’s south.
Photograph: Evgeniy Maloletka/AP

They were not able to confirm that Russian marines had landed on the coast and seized the port, home to Ukraine’s tiny fleet and the command ship Donbas.

“We hear planes in the sky. It’s overcast and we can’t tell whether there are ours or Russians,” Anatoliy Lozar told the Guardian this morning, speaking from a Mariupol basement where he was sheltering with his family.

Lozar said he was helping evacuate civilians following another night of heavy bombardment. He said Russian warplanes had bombed the village of Shyrokyne, 20km west of Mariupol, with Ukrainian soldiers wounded.

The village on the frontline with the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic was still under Ukrainian control, he said.

He added: “We have become the new Stalingrad. We are killing Russians. Some have been taken prisoner. Families are sheltering in basements. They are terrified by what is happening. Huge numbers of volunteers have been joining the army. We have weapons. We will fight to the last man.”

Lozar said attempts had been made to evacuate the wounded by helicopters, which has come under Russian fire. He said some Russian diversionary groups had rented apartments inside the city ahead of the invasion and had been plotting attacks.

Despite a slow start to its military offensive, and fierce Ukrainian resistance, Russia was getting closer to its strategic goal of capturing the 250km strip along the Sea of Azov, between the Crimean peninsula and Mariupol.

Russian forces captured the small port city of Berdyansk last night, its mayor, Oleksandr Svidlo, confirmed last night, and took over the administration building.

Video showed armoured vehicles marked with “Z” patrolling Berdyansk’s residential streets.

Updated

Families have been torn apart in the biggest European conflict since the second world war, as Ukrainian women and children left their husbands and fathers behind after the authorities ordered men aged 18-60 to stay and fight Russian forces.

“We left dad in Kyiv and dad will be selling things and helping our heroes, our army, he might even fight,” Mark Goncharuk, a young boy choking with tears, said as he and his relatives fled the capital.

Here is the full video.

 

Updated

There was fighting around the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol throughout last night, Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk regional administration, said on television on Monday.

He did not say whether Russian forces had gained or lost any ground or provide any casualty figures.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian negotiating team have arrived for talks with Russia on the border with Belarus, according to a tweet from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence.

Members of the Ukrainian delegation disembark from a helicopter as they arrive for talks with Russian representatives in the Gomel region, Belarus.
Members of the Ukrainian delegation disembark from a helicopter as they arrive for talks with Russian representatives in the Gomel region, Belarus.
Photograph: BELTA/Reuters

This is the building where the crucial talks will take place…

An outside view of the venue of the forthcoming Russian-Ukrainian talks.
An outside view of the venue of the forthcoming Russian-Ukrainian talks.
Photograph: Sergei Kholodilin/BELTA/TASS
The venue of the forthcoming Russian-Ukrainian talks.
The venue of the forthcoming Russian-Ukrainian talks.
Photograph: Sergei Kholodilin/BELTA/TASS

The Ukrainian president’s office has said it’s main aim for the talks is to secure a ceasefire and a complete withdrawal of Russian troops from the country.

Updated

As Moscow’s economy appears to be going into meltdown, all European airspace is closed to Russian airlines, sanctions are proliferating, and Russian oligarchs are moving their superyachts out the harm’s way, it’s worth recalling a key theory of how authoritarian leaders hold on to power.

This theory – known as “coup-proofing” – was popularised by Edward Luttwak in his book Coup D’Etat: A Practical Handbook.

The essence of Luttwak’s argument is that non-democratic leaders require other tools than simply coercion to coup-proof their regimes. Crucially that includes securing broader support among financial, political and security elites by sharing the spoils and prestige.

In the Russian context it’s always been clear that there are enormous financial benefits to supporting Putin for a small circle. But the benefits that a lot of other individuals lower down the food chain have enjoyed are now seriously under threat.

Updated

Russian invasion forces seized two small cities in south-eastern Ukraine and the area around a nuclear power plant, the Interfax news agency reported on Monday, but ran into stiff resistance elsewhere as Moscow’s diplomatic and economic isolation deepened.

Blasts were heard before dawn on Monday in the capital of Kyiv and in the major city of Kharkiv, Ukrainian authorities said. But, Russian ground forces’ attempts to capture major urban centres had been repelled, they added.

Russia’s defence ministry, however, said its forces had taken over the towns of Berdyansk and Enerhodar in Ukraine’s south-eastern Zaporizhzhya region as well as the area around the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, Interfax reported. The plant’s operations continued normally, it said.

Ukraine denied that the nuclear plant had fallen into Russian hands, according to the news agency.

Updated

About 800 people were arrested as Belarus voted to ditch its non-nuclear status in a referendum that raises the stakes at a time when the country has become a staging ground for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the government said on Monday.

The vote sparked the biggest protests in months as thousands took to the streets in Belarus, where President Alexander Lukashenko has imposed a sweeping crackdown on dissent after a contested election challenged his grip on power in 2020.

The vote to change the constitution, passed by 65% according to official data, could see nuclear weapons on Belarusian soil for the first time since the country gave them up after the fall of the Soviet Union, Reuters reported.

It comes at a time when Lukashenko has fallen in line behind Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military assault on Ukraine after earlier playing an intermediary role between the two neighbours.

Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko talks to reporters at a polling station after casting his vote in the 2022 Belarusian constitutional referendum.
Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko talks to reporters at a polling station after casting his vote in the 2022 Belarusian constitutional referendum.
Photograph: Peter Kovalev/TASS

“Despite the numerous calls from destructive Telegram channels to destabilise the situation, which were spread by citizens outside the country, mass protests did not happen. Police officers were focused on prompt response and suppression of provocations,” the interior ministry said.

The new constitution also gives powers to an assembly created by Lukashenko and populated by party loyalists, officials and pro-government activists, and gives lifetime immunity from prosecution to the president if he leaves office.

On Sunday, speaking at a polling station, Lukashenko said that he could ask Russia to return nuclear weapons to Belarus.

“If you (the west) transfer nuclear weapons to Poland or Lithuania, to our borders, then I will turn to Putin to return the nuclear weapons that I gave away without any conditions,” Lukashenko said.

Updated

Russia-Ukraine talks on border to begin at 9am GMT

Russia is interested in coming to an agreement that is in the interests of both sides at talks with Ukraine, Russian negotiator Vladimir Medinsky claimed on Monday, as officials prepare to meet near the border.

Medinsky said talks were expected to begin at 12pm local time (9am GMT).

Ukraine had agreed to talks with Russia “without preconditions”, the office of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said yesterday.

Zelenskiy did not sound hopeful of success, but said: “Let them try so that later not a single citizen of Ukraine has any doubt that I, as president, tried to stop the war.”

Updated

Hello. Tom Ambrose here. I’ll be bringing you the latest news from Russia’s war in Ukraine over the next couple of hours.

We start with news that the British defence minister Ben Wallace has said he does not expect Vladimir Putin to use nuclear weapons in his pursuit of Ukraine.

“We should be worried that a state like Russia believes that the rules don’t apply to them, whether that is invading Ukraine or using nerve agent in Salisbury, but fundamentally a deterrent is what it is, a deterrent,” Wallace told Times Radio.

“As much as he might be ambitious for Ukraine, I don’t think he wants to go into that space.”

It comes after Putin ordered his military to put Russia’s nuclear deterrence forces on high alert, in the latest signal from the Russian leader that he is prepared to resort to the most extreme level of brinkmanship is his effort to achieve victory.

Summary

It is 9.30am in Ukraine. Here is where the crisis currently stands:

  • Recent British intelligence appears to corroborate with a recent report from Ukraine’s military that Russia had “slowed down” its offensive. Britain’s defence ministry has said Russia’s advance on Kyiv has been slowed by logistical failures and fierce Ukrainian resistance.
  • The Russian central bank has increased interest rates to 20% from 9.5% after the rouble plunged up to 40% on Monday in the wake of western sanctions.
  • The UK government announced a slew of measures “to prohibit any UK natural or legal persons from undertaking financial transactions involving the Russian central bank, the Russian national wealth fund, and the country’s ministry of finance”.
  • Meta Platforms, the company formerly known as Facebook, said a hacking group used Facebook to target a handful of public figures in Ukraine, including prominent military officials, politicians and a journalist.
  • The Russian rouble plunged nearly 30% to an all-time low versus the US dollar on Monday as markets opened for trading on the first day after western nations announced punishing economic sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
  • The US stepped up the flow of weapons to Ukraine, announcing on Sunday it will send Stinger missiles as part of a package approved by the White House.
  • A referendum in Belarus on Sunday reportedly approved a new constitution renouncing the country’s non-nuclear status at a time when the former Soviet republic has become a launchpad for Russian troops invading Ukraine, Russian news agencies report.
  • A US official believes Belarus is preparing to send soldiers into Ukraine in support of the Russian invasion. The Washington Post spoke to an unnamed US administration official on Sunday evening who said the deployment could begin as soon as Monday.
  • An update from Ukraine’s interior ministry late last night said 352 Ukrainian civilians have so far been killed during Russia’s invasion, including 14 children.The ministry said a further 1,684 people, including 116 children, have been wounded.
  • Blasts were heard in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and in the major city of Kharkiv early on Monday morning, Ukraine’s state service of special communications reported. Meanwhile, about 150km north-east of Kyiv in Chernihiv, a missile reportedly hit a residential building in the centre of the city, causing a fire to break out, the agency added.

For any tips and feedback please contact me through Twitter or at samantha.lock@theguardian.com

Updated

Logistical failures and Ukrainian resistance stall Russian offence: British defence ministry

Recent British intelligence appears to corroborate with a recent report from Ukraine’s military that Russia had “slowed down” its offensive.

Britain’s defence ministry has said Russia’s advance on Kyiv has been slowed by logistical failures and fierce Ukrainian resistance.

The ministry said on Monday:

The bulk of [President Vladimir] Putin’s ground forces remain more than 30km to the north of Kyiv their advance having been slowed by Ukrainian forces defending Hostomel airfield, a key Russian objective for day one of the conflict.

Logistical failures and staunch Ukrainian resistance continue to frustrate the Russian advance.”

Heavy fighting continues around Chernihiv, a city in northern Ukraine, and the north-eastern city of Kharkiv, the defence ministry said in an intelligence update posted on Twitter. Both cities remain under Ukrainian control, it said.

Updated

According to the latest operational report released by the Ukrainian military this morning, Russia has “slowed down its offensive” after firing on military and civilian airfields, military control points, air defence facilities and critical infrastructure.

The force added that Ukrainian artillery fire destroyed “more than five columns of enemy equipment and enemy manpower”.

“The enemy is demoralised and bears heavy losses,” the general staff of the armed forces said.

“Frequent cases of desertion and disobedience were noted. The enemy realised that propaganda and reality were different.”

Meanwhile, the military said approximately 5,300 Russian personnel had died since the invasion begun, as well as the destruction of 191 tanks, 29 planes, 29 helicopters and 816 armoured fighting vehicles.

The Guardian has not been able to independently verify these numbers.

Tensions are rising at the £3bn Surrey estate in England where Russian oligarchs call home.

The secretive owners of mansions at St George’s Hill will be nervous about making an appearance on Liz Truss’s hitlist after the foreign secretary warned rich Russians linked to Putin that the UK government “will come after you” and ensure oligarchs have “nowhere to hide”.

Russians and those from former Soviet states own more than a quarter of the 430 luxurious homes in St George’s Hill, a heavily guarded 964-acre estate near Weybridge, Surrey, where mansions have changed hands for more than £20m each.

Read the full story from the Guardian’s Rupert Neate below.

Russia hikes rates to 20%

The Russian central bank has increased interest rates to 20% from 9.5% after the rouble plunged up to 40% on Monday in the wake of western sanctions.

Updated

More on the financial curbs announced in the UK this morning. The government said:

The UK government will immediately take all necessary steps to bring into effect restrictions to prohibit any UK natural or legal persons from undertaking financial transactions involving the CBR, the Russian national wealth fund, and the ministry of finance of the Russian Federation.”

Britain said there would be more designations announced this week.

“These measures demonstrate our determination to apply severe economic sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” finance minister Rishi Sunak said.

“The Bank of England continues to take any and all actions needed to support the government’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey said.

The new sanctions also include new restrictions on Russian financial institutions and measures to prevent Russian companies from issuing transferable securities and money market instruments in the UK.

Britain said it would have “a power to prevent designated banks from accessing sterling and clearing payments through the UK”.

Updated

UK announces extra curbs on financial dealings with Russia

The UK government has just announced a slew of measures “to prohibit any UK natural or legal persons from undertaking financial transactions involving the Russian central bank, the Russian national wealth fund, and the country’s ministry of finance”.

Specifically, it also aims to:

  • prevent the Central Bank of Russia from using its foreign reserves of $630bn “in ways that undermine sanctions imposed by us and our allies”;
  • stop designated banks from accessing sterling and clearing payments through the UK;
  • strengthen significantly trade restrictions against Russia;
  • prevent Russian companies from issuing transferable securities and money market instruments in the UK.

Updated

The Moscow Exchange has also delayed the start of trading this morning.

The exchange platform will open forex and money market trading at 10am Moscow time on Monday, three hours later than the usual opening time for the forex market, and will suspend trading on the forex repo market, the bourse said.

The Belarusian currency and stock exchange similarly said it would push back the start of trading by one hour on Monday as the market braced for a huge sell-off.

The news comes as the Russian rouble plunged to an all-time low on Monday, and the dollar soared against nearly all peers after western nations announced fresh sanctions to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

Updated

Russia’s central bank confirmed on Monday it has ordered brokers to suspend the execution of all orders by foreign legal entities and individuals to sell Russian securities.

The bank also said in a statement it had yet to decide whether to open markets other than the forex and money market on Monday.

Powerful photos of Ukrainian citizens preparing homemade molotov cocktails to defend their territory are emerging.

Below, a group of women use empty bottles and other materials in the city of Uzhhorod in western Ukraine.

Local residents prepare Molotov cocktails to defend the city of Uzhhorod, Ukraine.
Local residents prepare Molotov cocktails to defend the city of Uzhhorod, Ukraine.
Photograph: Serhii Hudak/Reuters
A woman uses an empty bottle and other materials to make a handmade weapon.
A woman uses an empty bottle and other materials to make a handmade weapon.
Photograph: Serhii Hudak/Reuters

More than 90% of Ukrainians say they support president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, according to a poll conducted by the Rating Sociological group this weekend.

According to the data compiled from 2,000 respondents from across Ukraine, 91% of respondents backed Zelenskiy, while 6% said they did not support him and 3% remained undecided.

The support is a threefold increase from December last year.

Residents in Crimea and the rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine were excluded from the survey, according to the BBC.

When asked about the chances of Ukraine being able to repel the Russian assault, 70% said they believed it was possible.

Updated

The Belarusian foreign ministry has published a photo of the venue of today’s Russia-Ukraine negotiations.

“In Belarus, everything is ready to host Russia-Ukraine negotiations. Waiting for delegations to arrive,” the ministry said in a tweet around 9am local time.

It follows the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s announcement on Sunday that Ukrainian and Russian delegations will meet without preconditions at Pripyat in Belarus.

Zelenskiy said he was not confident that any progress would be made, but that he would try.

“I’ll say frankly, like always, that I don’t believe in the result of this meeting,” he said. “But let’s try, so that no citizen of Ukraine would have any doubt that I, as president, tried to stop the war when there was even a chance.”

While thousands of refugees are fleeing Ukraine as Russia continues its invasion, others have sought to return to their embattled homeland from Poland – some to reunite with family, some to fight.

“I am afraid, but I am a mother and I want to be with my children”, Lesa explained, as she readied herself to enter Ukraine, adding “it’s scary, but I have to”.

Watch their stories in the video below.

 

We also have a fantastic rundown from the Guardian’s Shaun Walker in Kyiv detailing the past week for those currently in Ukraine.

It was a week of grim transformation for the lives of almost every Ukrainian, after Vladimir Putin’s decision to launch a ruthless assault on the supposed “brotherly nation” of Ukraine, which began in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Hundreds of thousands have fled to the west of the country to avoid Putin’s advancing troops and missiles, with many spending long hours in queues at checkpoints on the way and at the borders with Poland and Hungary. Many more have stayed and made the decision to fight.

“I’ll be honest, I’m really scared. It’s the first time I’ve held a gun,” said 50-year-old Alexander, brandishing a shotgun at a barricade near a village outside Kyiv on Saturday. Behind him, an elderly man looked out across nearby fields through a pair of binoculars, while women were preparing crates of molotov cocktails, as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

Here’s a report from the Guardian’s diplomatic editor, Patrick Wintour, on how the phone has become the Ukrainian president’s most effective weapon.

In a string of phone calls from a besieged Kyiv, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has persuaded the west to agree to a set of sanctions against Russia that were inconceivable a week ago.

Sensing how European public opinion is responding to the bravery of his people, Zelenskiy has been constantly on the phone to western leaders, using his Twitter feed to cajole, encourage, scold and praise his allies. In the process, sanctions regarded as unthinkable a week ago have become a moral baseline. The pace at which the west has been agreeing to the new sanctions has also left the lawyers, officials and bankers gasping for air, officials admit, as they work under severe pressure to turn headlines into reality.

One leader’s office said: “We are in awe of him. He may not eventually be able to save Ukraine, or change Russia, but he is changing Europe.”

Read the full story here:

Meta Platforms, the company formerly known as Facebook, said a hacking group used Facebook to target a handful of public figures in Ukraine, including prominent military officials, politicians and a journalist, amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of the country.

Meta said in the last 48 hours it had also separately removed a network of about 40 fake accounts, groups and pages across Facebook and Instagram that operated from Russia and Ukraine targeting people in Ukraine, for violating its rules against coordinated inauthentic behaviour, Reuters reports.

A Twitter spokesperson said it had also suspended more than a dozen accounts and blocked the sharing of several links for violating its rules against platform manipulation and spam.

It said its ongoing investigation indicated the accounts originated in Russia and were attempting to disrupt the public conversation around the conflict in Ukraine.

In a blog post on Monday, Meta attributed the hacking efforts to a group known as Ghostwriter, which it said successfully gained access to the targets’ social media accounts.

Meta said the hackers attempted to post YouTube videos from the accounts portraying Ukrainian troops as weakened, including one video which claimed to show Ukrainian soldiers coming out of a forest and flying a white flag of surrender.

Rouble crashes 30% as market opens

The rouble plunged nearly 30% to an all-time low versus the US dollar on Monday as markets opened for trading on the first day after western nations announced punishing economic sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

The rouble dropped to as low as 119 per dollar, and was last down 28.77% at 118 from its closing price 83.64 on Friday.

The sanctions include blocking some Russian banks from the Swift international payments system, leading investors to anticipate a run on the Russian currency as people try to change their money for dollars and other denominations.

“The escalating crisis in Ukraine will force markets to price in a substantially higher geopolitical risk premium,” strategists at the Australian bank Westpac said on Monday. “The Ukrainian situation is volatile.”

Amid the mounting tensions, western nations have said they will tighten sanctions and buy and deliver weapons for Ukraine, including Stinger missiles for shooting down helicopters and other aircraft.

The US stepped up the flow of weapons to Ukraine, announcing on Sunday it will send Stinger missiles as part of a package approved by the White House.

Germany also plans to send 500 Stingers and other military supplies.

However, the Biden administration has said the US will not “put boots on the ground” and US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield reiterated this stance in an interview with CNN on Sunday.

Ukraine received shipment of military aid including Stinger anti-aircraft missiles form Lithuania at an airport outside Kyiv earlier this month.
Ukraine received shipment of military aid including Stinger anti-aircraft missiles form Lithuania at an airport outside Kyiv earlier this month.
Photograph: Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters

Updated

We will not give up the capital, Ukraine is already winning,” are the remarks Ukraine’s minister of defence has given this morning in response Russia’s attempt to break into the capital overnight.

Oleksii Reznikov said it has so far been “96 hours of resistance” and “4 days of dedication, courage and faith” for the Ukrainian people, vowing his country will win the war.

In an statement given late last night which has seen been published on the Ukrainian ministry of defence website, Reznikov said: “The enemy who came to our land will go in a known direction. Therefore, we advise the occupiers to go home. It’s not too late.

“It is useless to intimidate Ukrainians. It will not be possible to break our defenders.”

Updated

Amid reports of a referendum in Belarus approving a proposal to renounce its non-nuclear status, a US official believes Belarus is preparing to send soldiers into Ukraine in support of the Russian invasion.

The Washington Post spoke to an unnamed US administration official on Sunday evening who said the deployment could begin as soon as Monday.

It’s very clear Minsk is now an extension of the Kremlin,” they said.

The Guardian has not been able to independently verify the claim.

Belarus referendum approves proposal to renounce non-nuclear status: reports

A referendum in Belarus on Sunday reportedly approved a new constitution renouncing the country’s non-nuclear status at a time when the former Soviet republic has become a launch pad for Russian troops invading Ukraine, Russian news agencies report.

The move could theoretically allow Russia to place nuclear weapons on Belarusian soil for the first time since the country gave them up after the fall of the Soviet Union. The referendum result will come into force 10 days after its official publication, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported.

On Sunday, Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said: “If you [the west] transfer nuclear weapons to Poland or Lithuania, to our borders, then I will turn to Putin to return the nuclear weapons that I gave away without any conditions.”

According to RIA, the head of the Belarus central elections commission, Igor Karpenko, said that 65.16% of citizens voted for the amendments to the constitution in a referendum.

This number was also reported in the Kyiv Independent newspaper, also citing that 65.16% of citizens allegedly supported these constitutional amendments.

The west has already said it will not recognise the results of the referendum, which is taking place against the background of a sweeping crackdown on domestic opponents of the government.

An update from Ukraine’s interior ministry late last night said 352 Ukrainian civilians have so far been killed during Russia’s invasion, including 14 children.

The ministry said an additional 1,684 people, including 116 children, have been wounded.

Morning update: blasts heard in Kyiv and attack on Chernihiv

Blasts were heard in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and in the major city of Kharkiv early on Monday morning, Ukraine’s state service of special communications reported.

Kyiv had been quiet for a few hours prior to that, it said in a brief statement on the Telegram messaging app.

“Explosions are heard again in Kyiv and Kharkiv. Before that, it was calm in the Ukrainian capital for several hours,” the agency said.

The mood in the city, however, remains defiant.

Meanwhile, about 150km north-east of Kyiv in Chernihiv, a missile reportedly hit a residential building in the centre of the city, causing a fire to break out, Ukraine’s state service of special communications also reported.

“A rocket hit a residential building in the centre of Chernihiv. A fire broke out, two lower floors are on fire. The number of injured is currently unknown,” the agency said in a brief statement on the Telegram messaging app.

The development follows reports from the Kyiv Independent newspaper of an air raid alert that sounded in the city about 4.30am local time with residents being urged to head to the nearest shelter.

Updated

Summary

Hello it’s Samantha Lock with you as we unpack all the latest developments on the unfolding crisis in Ukraine.

As dawn breaks in Kyiv and Ukrainians across the country wake for the fifth day since their Russian neighbour invaded, here is where the situation currently stands:

For any tips and feedback please contact me through Twitter or at samantha.lock@theguardian.com

  • Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered his military command to put nuclear deterrence forces on high alert, in response to what he called “aggressive statements” by Nato countries. The US condemned the order and said Putin was “manufacturing threats that don’t exist in order to justify further aggression”.
  • The rouble plunged nearly 30% to an all-time low versus the US dollar on Monday as markets opened for trading on the first day after western nations announced punishing economic sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. The European Central Bank said on Monday morning that Sberbank Europe, a fully owned subsidiary of Sberbank Russia, which in turn is majority owned by the Russian state, is failing or likely to fail.
  • Belarus reportedly approved in a referendum a new constitution renouncing the country’s non-nuclear status at a time when the country has become a launch pad for Russian troops invading Ukraine, Russian news agencies report. The move could theoretically allow Russia to place nuclear weapons on Belarusian soil for the first time since the country gave them up after the fall of the Soviet Union. The package of constitutional reforms also extended the rule of leader Alexander Lukashenko.
  • Ukraine’s interior ministry says 352 Ukrainian civilians have been killed during Russia’s invasion, including 14 children. It says an additional 1,684 people, including 116 children, have been wounded. The ministry did not give any information on casualties among Ukraine’s armed forces. Ukraine’s deputy defence minister, Hanna Malyar, claimed Russian forces had lost about 4,300 servicemen, a figure it was not possible to verify independently.
  • Satellite imagery taken on Sunday showed a large deployment of Russian ground forces including tanks moving in the direction of the capital Kyiv from approximately 40 miles (64 km) away. The city remains in Ukrainian hands. The images released by Maxar Technologies showed a deployment comprising hundreds of military vehicles and extending more than 3.25 miles (5km), the company said. The convoy contained fuel, logistics and armoured vehicles including tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and self-propelled artillery, it said.
  • Ukraine has agreed to peace talks with Russia “without preconditions”, the office of Volodymyr Zelenskiy said. The Ukrainian president said he was not confident that any progress would be made, but “let’s try, so that no citizen of Ukraine would have any doubt that I, as president, tried to stop the war when there was even a chance”.
  • British prime minister Boris Johnson said he called the Ukrainian president who said he believed the next 24 hours was a “crucial period” for Ukraine. Johnson said he would do all he could to help ensure defensive aid from the UK and allies reached Ukraine.
  • The EU will buy weapons for Ukraine. Multiple European countries are offering military aid to Ukraine, including Sweden, which hasn’t sent weapons to a country in armed conflict since the Soviet Union’s invasion of Finland in 1939.
  • The EU plans to close its airspace to Russian aircraft, including the private jets of Russian oligarchs. The bloc will also ban Russian-state backed television channels RT and Sputnik.
  • A rare emergency special session of the UN general assembly is due to be held on Monday in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, marking the first time in 40 years the security council has made such a request.
  • The UN refugee agency has said more than 368,000 people have fled Ukraine into neighbouring countries. Up to 4 million people could become refugees if the situation continues to worsen, the UN said.
  • The World Health Organization warned that thousands of lives are at risk from falling Ukrainian oxygen supplies.
  • Russian billionaires Mikhail Fridman and Oleg Deripaska have spoken out against Putin’s invasion. Fridman said: “I am deeply attached to Ukrainian and Russian peoples and see the current conflict as a tragedy for them both.” Deripaska called for peace talks to begin “as fast as possible”.
  • Pope Francis said he was “heartbroken” by the war and appeared to take direct aim at Putin by condemning people who “trust in the diabolic and perverse logic of weapons”.
  • The UK will send an additional £40m in humanitarian aid to Ukraine, while the US said it is sending nearly $54m (£40m) in new humanitarian aid
  • Russian police detained more than 1,400 people at anti-war protests on Sunday, an independent monitoring organisation said, lifting the tally for crackdown arrests to over 4,000.

Updated

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