Live Ukraine Updates: Russians Shell Ukraine’s No. 2 City and Menace Kyiv
The latest developments on the Russia-Ukraine war:
Amid ever-growing international condemnation, Russia found itself increasingly isolated five days into its invasion, while also facing unexpectedly fierce resistance on the ground in Ukraine and economic havoc at home.
For the second day in a row, the Kremlin raised the specter of nuclear war, announcing that its nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarines, and long-range bombers had all been put on high alert, following President Vladimir Putin’s orders over the weekend.
Stepping up his rhetoric, Putin denounced the U.S. and its allies as an “empire of lies.”
Peace Talks Wrap up After Five Hours
A top Putin aide and head of the Russian delegation, Vladimir Medinsky, said that the first talks held between the two sides since the invasion lasted nearly five hours and that the envoys “found certain points on which common positions could be foreseen.” He said they agreed to continue the discussions in the coming days.
As the talks along the Belarusian border wrapped up, several blasts could be heard in Kyiv, and Russian troops advanced on the city of nearly 3 million. The convoy of armored vehicles, tanks, artillery, and support vehicles was 17 miles from the center of the city, according to satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies.
People in Kyiv lined up for groceries after the end of a weekend curfew, standing beneath a building with a gaping hole blown in its side.
Ukraine Welcomes Foreign Volunteer Soldiers
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s president has signed a decree 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 decree by President Volorymyr Zelenskyy takes effect Tuesday and will remain in effect as long as martial law is in place.
NHL Suspends Business With Russia
NEW YORK — The National Hockey League is suspending all business dealings in Russia and has ruled out the possibility of holding events there in the near future because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The league issued a statement Monday condemning Russia’s actions.
It also says: “We also remain concerned about the well-being of the players from Russia, who play in the NHL on behalf of their NHL clubs, and not on behalf of Russia. We understand they and their families are being placed in an extremely difficult position.”
Canada Sends Weapons, Bans Russian Oil Imports
TORONTO — Canada will be supplying Ukraine with anti-tank weapons systems, upgraded ammunition and is banning all imports of crude oil from Russia.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the shipments are in addition to the three previous shipments of lethal and non-lethal equipment. Canada announced this week it would be sending new shipments of military supplies, including body armor, helmets, gas masks, and night-vision goggles.
Canada does not import much oil from Russia.
Trudeau called for the end to the war, saying its costs would only grow steeper and that those responsible will be held accountable.
US Says It’s Expelling Russian UN Diplomats
UNITED NATIONS — The United States says it is expelling 12 Russian diplomats at the United Nations for engaging in activities not in accordance with their responsibilities and obligations as diplomats.
U.S. deputy ambassador Richard Mills confirmed the expulsions after Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the U.N. Security Council on Monday afternoon that he had just been informed of “yet another hostile step undertaken by the host country” against the Russian Mission.
Nebenzia called the U.S. expulsions a “gross violation” of the U.N. agreement with the United States as the host of the United Nations and of the Vienna Convention governing diplomatic relations.
FIFA Boots Russia Out of the World Cup
GENEVA — Russian teams have been suspended from international soccer after the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
The decision came Monday from FIFA and UEFA, saying Russia’s national teams and clubs were suspended “until further notice.”
“Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine,” FIFA and UEFA said. “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.”
UEFA also ended its sponsorship with Russian energy giant Gazprom.
The move comes as the International Olympic Committee urged sports bodies to exclude Russian athletes and officials from international events, including soccer’s World Cup. The Olympic body’s call also applied to athletes and officials from Belarus, which has abetted Russia’s invasion by allowing its territory to be used to station troops and launch military attacks.
Ukraine Applies to Join the European Union
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he has signed an application for Ukraine to join the European Union.
The action comes five days after Russia invaded its smaller neighbor, touching off widespread international condemnation and offers of military assistance from the 27-member nation EU and elsewhere.
Andrii Sybiha, head of Zelenskyy’s office, said on his official Facebook page that the documents “are on the way to Brussels.”
Photos of Zelenskyy were posted on Facebook. He was flanked by Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and chairman of the parliament Ruslan Stefanchuk.
“The history is being created now,” the post said.
The application was largely symbolic, however. The process could take years. EU membership must be unanimously approved by all members. Ukraine has been weakened by endemic corruption for many years, making the benchmarks of approval extremely hard to reach.
Europe’s Joint Mission with Russians to Mars Now ‘Unlikely’
BERLIN — The European Space Agency says the planned launch of a joint mission with Russia to Mars this year is now “very unlikely” due to sanctions linked to the war in Ukraine.
Following a meeting of officials from its 22 member states Monday, the agency said in a statement that it was assessing the consequences of sanctions for its cooperation with Russia’s Roscosmos space agency.
“Regarding the ExoMars program continuation, the sanctions and the wider context make a launch in 2022 very unlikely,” it said.
The launch was already postponed from 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak and technical problems.
The mission’s goal is to put a lander on the red planet to help determine whether there has ever been life on Mars.
On Saturday, Roscosmos said it was pulling its personnel from the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
UN Emergency Session Begins With Pleas for Peace
UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations General Assembly opened an extraordinary emergency session Monday with pleas for peace in Ukraine, starting a day of frenzied diplomacy at the U.N.
Assembly President Abdulla Shahid asked envoys from the U.N.’s 193 member nations to stand for a moment of silence at the start of the session, the assembly’s first emergency meeting in decades. Shahid repeated calls for an immediate cease-fire, maximum restraint by all parties and “a full return to diplomacy and dialogue.”
Meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council was due to meet later Monday to discuss the spiraling humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.
With Russian and Ukrainian officials holding talks on the Belarus border, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the assembly he hoped those discussions could lead to a halt in the fighting.
“The guns are talking now, but the path of dialogue must always remain open,” he said. “We need peace now.”
Seven Killed, 44 Injured in Kharkiv
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian authorities say at least 44 people have been wounded in fighting in Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv, and that seven of them died in hospitals.
It wasn’t clear if the casualties, which covered the past 24 hours, were all civilians. The state emergencies agency said the casualties could be higher because the damage from Monday’s shelling of residential areas is still being assessed.
Ukrainian social networks featured videos showing residential quarters hit by a series of powerful explosions amid fighting with Russian forces.
The Russian military has consistently denied targeting residential areas despite abundant evidence of shelling of residential buildings, schools, and hospitals.
Arab League Wants Crisis Resolved Via Diplomacy
CAIRO — The Arab League has voiced concerns about the war in Ukraine, but it refrained from demanding an end to the Russian invasion.
The pan-Arab organization says in a communique Monday it supports all ongoing efforts to resolve the crisis “through dialogue and diplomacy.”
The communique comes after a meeting of representatives of the 22-member Arab League in Cairo.
The communique didn’t mention Russia, which has close ties with regional powers like Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
Most governments in the Arab regions have avoided criticizing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The UAE, which holds a temporary seat at the U.N. Security Council, has joined China and India in abstaining during a vote on a U.S. resolution condemning the invasion.
Slovakia Seeks EU’s Help on Border
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia’s interior Ministry said the country has asked the European Union border agency Frontex to help it guard its border with Ukraine as thousands of Ukrainian refugees flee after the Russian military invasion.
Slovakia’s 61-mile border with Ukraine is also the outer border of the EU’s visa-free Schengen zone.
The Slovak government has already agreed to deploy up to 1,500 soldiers to help the border police deal with lrge numbers of refugees. Some 30,000 Ukrainians have crossed the border since Russia attacked Ukraine on Thursday and their numbers are on the rise.
Swiss President: Russia Invasion Is ‘Unacceptable’
GENEVA — The Swiss president says Russia’s attack on Ukraine is “unacceptable” and Switzerland will adopt European Union sanctions, including asset freezes, targeting Russians – all but depriving well-heeled Russians of access to one of their favorite havens to park their money.
Ignazio Cassis told a news conference Monday that Russia’s invasion was intolerable on moral and political grounds. Switzerland’s government has been trying to balance its condemnation of Russia’s actions with its history of neutrality and as an intermediary between opposing countries.
Referring to the Swiss executive body, he added: “The Federal Council has decided to take up fully the sanctions of the European Union, including the asset freezes.”
Switzerland is not a European Union member but is all but surrounded by four EU countries: Austria, France, Germany, and Italy.
Russian Media Moguel Implore Putin to End Invasion
LONDON — Russia-born media mogul Evgeny Lebedev has used the pages of a British newspaper he owns to implore Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the invasion of Ukraine.
London’s Evening Standard on Monday features a front-page statement by Lebedev headlined “President Putin, please stop this war,” alongside an Associated Press photo of medics battling to save a 6-year-old girl killed by shelling in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol. Lebedev wrote: “As a Russian citizen I plead with you to stop Russians killing their Ukrainian brothers and sisters. As a British citizen I ask you to save Europe from war.”
Lebedev, whose oligarch father Alexander Lebedev once worked for the KGB, was made a member of the House of Lords in 2020.
Oligarchs Oleg Deripaska, an ally of Putin, and Mikhail Fridman, who is on a U.S. sanctions list, have also urged an end to the violence.
Meanwhile, Roman Abramovich, the billionaire Russian owner of Chelsea Football Club, has offered to help broker peace. A spokesman said Abramovich “was contacted by the Ukrainian side for support in achieving a peaceful resolution, and that he has been trying to help ever since.” It was unclear what help he could provide.
Russia Cancels UN Visit
GENEVA — Russia’s diplomatic mission says a planned visit by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to the United Nations in Geneva has been canceled after EU countries closed their airspace to flights from Russia.
Lavrov had been expected to attend high-level meetings at the Human Rights Council and the Conference on Disarmament, followed by a planned news conference.
The mission tweeted that the cancellation of the trip to landlocked Switzerland was due to an “unprecedented ban” on Lavrov’s flight by “a number of EU countries that have imposed anti-Russian sanctions.”
France Ready to Seize Assets of Russian Officials
PARIS — French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire says France is getting ready to seize all assets of Russian officials and business leaders who are being targeted by EU sanctions.
Le Maire said France is in the process of listing property including financial assets, real estate, yachts and luxury cars.
French authorities are also seeking to identify other Russian individuals who could be added into the EU list of people targeted by sanctions due to “their proximity with the Russian leadership,” he added.
“We will get legal means to seize all these assets,” Le Maire said, speaking after a special defense meeting on Ukraine at the Elysee presidential palace.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian confirmed France will take part in the European effort to bring military equipment to Ukraine, to be sent via a hub in Poland. France will also provide more humanitarian aid to Ukraine in the coming days, he said.
Japan Applies Financial Pressure to Russia
TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says Japan is stepping up sanctions against Russia by joining the United States and other Western nations in restricting transactions with the Russian central bank.
Kishida announced the measures after speaking on the phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Kishida said Japan will also freeze assets of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and other Belarusian individuals and organizations, while restricting exports, because of the country’s “evident involvement in the invasion (of Ukraine).”
Kishida said his government will also allow visa extensions for Ukrainian residents in Japan who fear returning to their country amid the conflict. Earlier Monday, Japan announced plans to allow Ukrainians fleeing their country to temporarily stay in Japan without proper refugee status.
Russia Closes Airspace to 36 Countries
MOSCOW — Russia has closed its airspace to carriers from 36 nations, including European countries and Canada, responding in kind to their move to close their respective airspaces to all Russian aircraft.
The move, announced Monday by the state aviation agency, follows a decision by the EU and Canada over the weekend to close their skies to the Russian planes in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
It added that planes from those countries could only enter Russia’s airspace with special permission.
US Shutters Embassy in Belarus
WASHINGTON, D.C — The State Department has closed the U.S. Embassy in Belarus and is allowing non-essential staff at the U.S. Embassy in Russia to leave the country due to the war in Ukraine.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the suspension of operations at the Minsk embassy and the authorized departure from Moscow in a statement on Monday.
“We took these steps due to security and safety issues stemming from the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine,” he said.
Russian Media Sites Hacked
MOSCOW — Websites of several Russian media outlets were hacked on Monday, with a message condemning Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine appearing on their main pages.
The state news agency TASS, the pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia, St. Petersburg news isite Fontanka, and a number of others suffered from the hacking attack on Monday afternoon. The independent news site Meduza posted screenshots of a message, signed by the hacker group Anonymous and “indifferent journalists in Russia”, that appeared on the main pages of some of the hacked websites.
The developments may reflect a growing anti-war sentiment among Russians, though it’s unknown who was responsible. Protests against the devastating attack on Ukraine have been taking place all across the country for days, and nearly 1 million people signed an online petition demanding an end to the war.
Norwegian Oil Giant Ends Russian Investment
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Norwegian oil giant Equinor ASA says it has decided to stop new investments into Russia and divest from its joint ventures in Russia after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Norway-based energy group has been in Russia for over 30 years and made a cooperation agreement with state-controlled Russian oil and gas company Rosneft in 2012.
CEO Anders Opedal said the company was “deeply troubled by the invasion of Ukraine, which represents a terrible setback for the world, and we are thinking of all those who are suffering because of the military action.”
He added that “we regard our position as untenable” and added that the company was exiting “in a manner that is consistent with our values.”
Russian Nuclear Forces on High Alert
MOSCOW — The Russian military says its nuclear deterrent forces have been put on high alert in line with President Vladimir Putin’s order.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has reported to Putin that command posts of all of Russia’s nuclear forces have been boosted with additional personnel. The Defense Ministry said that the high alert status applies to all components of Russian nuclear forces — the Strategic Missile Forces that oversee land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, the Northern and Pacific Fleets that have submarine-launched intercontinental ballistic missiles, and the long-range aviation that has a fleet of nuclear-capable strategic bombers.
Putin ordered Russia’s nuclear forces to be put on high alert Sunday, citing Western sanctions and “aggressive statements” by NATO powers. It’s not immediately clear what specific steps the measure implies, but it has raised fears that the war in Ukraine could lead to a bigger and even more dangerous confrontation.
Lithuania Wants War Crimes Investigated
VILNIUS, Lithuania — Lithuania says it wants the United Nations’ highest court to investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Russia and Belarus.
The Baltic country’s Justice Minister Evelina Dobrovolska said the proposal was sent to The Hague, Netherlands-based International Criminal Court. The prosecutor has been asked to verify it and possibly launch an investigation, she said.
“In the face of such brutal aggression of the Putin regime against Ukraine, immediate action is needed,” Dobrovolska said in a statement.
The proposal said the case was directed at “the responsibility of specific individuals” namely Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
On Saturday, Ukraine launched a case against Russia with the International Court of Justice accusing Moscow of planning genocide and asking the court to intervene to halt the invasion and order Russia to pay reparations.
South Korea Will Ban Exports of Weapons to Russia
SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea says it will ban exports of strategic materials to Russia, including weapons and missile-related technologies, and support international efforts to exclude major Russian banks from a key global payment system as it joins a global push to economically pressure Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
The plans drew an angry response from Russian Ambassador Andrey Kulik, who warned of a major setback in bilateral relations.
In a news conference , Kulick said Seoul’s move could jeopardize its aspirational plans to bring Russian gas through North Korea to South Korea’s industrial hubs through cross-border pipelines.
500,000 People Flee Ukraine
GENEVA — The head of the United Nations refugee agency says more than a half a million people had fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion on Thursday.
Filippo Grandi of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees conveyed the latest update in a tweet Monday, saying more than 500,000 people had fled to neighboring countries.
Shabia Mantoo, a spokesperson for the Geneva-based agency, said she had no details about the numbers by country.
China Critical of Western Sanctions on Russia
BEIJING — China is criticizing the imposition of Western sanctions on Russia over the war in Ukraine, saying that will harm the chances of finding a political settlement.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Monday reiterated China’s standard opposition to “unilateral sanctions that have no basis in international law,” despite Beijing’s own use of such measures against countries such as Lithuania over its stance on Taiwan.
“Facts have long proven that sanctions could not help solve problems but create new issues,” Wang told reporters at a daily briefing. “It will not only result in a lose-lose or multi-lose situation economically, but also disrupt the process of political settlement.”
China, along with India and the United Arab Emirates, abstained in Friday’s 11-1 vote on a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding that Moscow immediately stop its attack on Ukraine.
UN: 102 Civilians Killed
GENEVA — U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet says her office has confirmed that 102 civilians, including 7 children, have been killed, and 304 others injured in violence in Ukraine since Thursday, as she cautioned that the tally was likely a vast undercount.
“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,” Bachelet told the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday. “The real figures are, I fear, considerably higher.”
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres told the council: “The escalation of military operations by the Russian Federation in Ukraine is leading to escalating human rights violations.”
Russia Denies Targeting Residential Areas
MOSCOW — The Kremlin has denied that the Russian military targeted populated areas in Ukraine despite abundant evidence that residential buildings, schools and hospitals have been hit during the Russian invasion.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov alleged Monday that civilian casualties have resulted from members of right-wing Ukrainian nationalist groups using civilians as shields and putting military equipment in populated areas. Peskov’s claims couldn’t be independently confirmed and they contradicted statements from Ukrainian officials who accused Russia of targeting civilians.
Peskov did not comment on Russian demands in planned talks with Ukrainian officials, saying it’s necessary to allow negotiations to proceed before making public comment. He also declined to spell out Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order to put Russian nuclear forces on high alert.
Prime Ministers Call for Action by Social Media Giants
WARSAW, Poland – The prime ministers of the three Baltic states and Poland are calling on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Google to restrict the spread of misinformation by Russia about its invasion of Ukraine.
In a letter dated Sunday the prime ministers of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland directly called on Mark Zuckerberg, Susan Wojcicki, Parag Agrawal and Sundar Pichai to take action immediately, saying the steps they’ve been taking so far are “not enough.”
“The Russian government seeks to spread lies, confusion and doubt about what is happening and to undermine the morale and unity of the democratic world,” the letter read.
Russia’s “massive disinformation campaign” is to “justify to the world and to its own people its war of aggression and to hide the crimes that are being committed in its course,” it said.
Ukraine President Says 16 Children Killed
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s president says 16 Ukrainian children have been killed and another 45 have been injured in the Russian invasion.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video message Monday that “every crime, every shelling by the occupiers bring our partners and us even closer.”
He hailed the sanctions that the West slapped on Russia, saying they have brought the Russian currency down. Zelenskyy asked the European Union a special quick path to membership.
Zelenskyy said that over 4,500 Russian troops have been killed and called on Russian soldiers to lay down their guns and leave. “Don’t trust you commanders, don’t trust your propaganda, just save your lives,” he said.
Huge Ukrainian Transport Plane Heavily Damaged
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s defense industry conglomerate says the world’s largest plane that was in regular operation was heavily damaged in fighting with Russian troops at the airport outside Kyiv where it was parked.
The Ukroboronprom company said in a statement that the Antonov-225 was “destroyed” but would be repaired. The An-225, which is operated by Ukroboronprom’s subsidiary Antonov Airlines, is used to move exceptionally large cargos. Its arrivals and departures at overseas airports often attract aviation buffs to observe the lumbering plane with a 290-foot wingspan.
Only two planes have been built with larger wingspans — the Stratolaunch and the Hughes “Spruce Goose” — but each was used only for a single flight.
Russian Military Points to Safe Corridor for Kyiv Residents
MOSCOW — The Russian military says that residents of the Ukrainian capital can use a safe corridor to leave the city if they want.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Monday that Kyiv residents can safely use a highway leading to Vasylkiv just southwest of the Ukrainian capital. The statement came as fighting raged in various parts of the Ukrainian capital, with Ukrainian authorities saying that they were fighting small groups of Russian forces in various sectors of the capital.
Konashenkov charged that Ukrainian “nationalists” were deploying military equipment using the city residents as shields, the allegations that can’t be independently verified. Despite Russian military claims that it wasn’t targeting populated areas, residential buildings, hospitals and schools have been hit all across Ukraine during the Russian invasion that began Thursday.
Konashenkov also announced new land gains, saying Russian troops have taken control of the area around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in the south.
Russia Key Interest Rate Soars to 20%
MOSCOW — Russia’s Central Bank has sharply raised its key rate from 9.5% to 20% in a desperate attempt to shore up the plummeting ruble and prevent the run of banks amid crippling Western sanctions over the Russian war in Ukraine.
The bank’s action follows the Western decision Sunday to freeze its hard currency reserves in an unprecedented move that could have devastating consequences for the country’s financial stability. It was unclear exactly what share of Russia’s estimated $640 billion hard currency coffers will be paralyzed by the move, but European officials said that at least half of it will be affected.
The move will dramatically raise pressure on the ruble by undermining the financial authorities’ ability to conduct hard currency interventions to prevent the ruble from sinking further and triggering high inflation. The ruble has sharply dived in early Monday trading.
The Central Bank also ordered a slew of measures to help the banks cope with the crisis by infusing more cash into the system and easing restrictions for banking operations.
Russia Says It’s Investigating Torture of Its Soldiers
MOSCOW — Russia’s investigative agency says it has opened a probe into allegations of torture of Russian prisoners of war by members of Ukrainian forces.
The Investigative Committee, the main state criminal investigation agency, said Monday that the probe will track down people responsible for torturing Russian prisoners.
The move followed the claim by Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, who pointed at alleged incidents in which Ukrainian forces tortured Russian prisoners and vowed to track all the culprits down and bring them to justice. He didn’t provide details or evidence to back the claim.
Russian officials have sought to cast members of Ukraine’s right-wing groups as “neo-Nazis.“