The head of the Russian delegation stated that Russia is interested in reaching agreements with Ukraine “as soon as possible.”
Smoke rising after shelling on the outskirts of the city is pictured from Kyiv, Ukraine February 27, 2022.
(photo credit: Mykhailo Markiv/Reuters)
Talks between Russia and Ukraine were set to begin in Belarus on Monday morning, as fighting continued on the fifth day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry shared a photo of the room where negotiations would take place, tweeting that they were just waiting for delegations to arrive. The negotiations are expected to begin around 11 a.m., according to RIA Novosti.
The head of the Russian delegation, Vladimir Medinsky, stated that Russia is interested in reaching agreements with Ukraine “as soon as possible.”
Blasts were heard in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and in the major city of Kharkiv on Monday morning, Ukraine’s State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection said. Air raid sirens sounded in Kyiv later on Monday morning.
The Berdyansk district, located southwest of Mariupol along the coast of the Sea of Azov, was captured by Russian troops on Monday morning, according to the Ukrinform state news agency. One person was killed and another was injured during the Russian takeover of the city, according to the report. The city’s police department disbanded and public transport has stopped.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks alongside other Ukrainian officials in the governmental district of Kyiv, confirming that he is still in the capital, in Kyiv, Ukraine February 25, 2022 in this screengrab obtained from a handout video. (credit: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS)
The Russian Defense Ministry stated on Monday that Russian forces had taken control of Berdyansk, Enerhodar and the territory around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, located north of Crimea along the Dnieper River. The Defense Ministry additionally claimed that it had established supremacy over Ukraine’s airspace.
The general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces described the fighting on Sunday as “a difficult time” for the military, saying Russian troops “continued shelling in almost all directions.”
The general staff stated in a Facebook post that defense force members in the Vasylkiv military airbase southwest of Kyiv were resisting artillery strikes and Russian attacks.
The conflict has seen a combined 352 killed amongst civilian and military casualties in the first 4 days of the war, the Kyiv Independent reported on Sunday citing the Ukrainian Health Ministry.
The conflict has seen a combined 352 killed amongst civilian and military casualties in the first 4 days of the war, the Kyiv Independent reported on Sunday citing the Ukrainian Health Ministry. Ukraine’s Health Minister Viktor Lyashko called Russia’s soldiers “terrorists,” on Ukraine’s Rada TV channel.
Later the same day, it was reported that Viktor Medvedchuk, a Ukrainian MP and a friend and unofficial representative of Russian President Vladimir Putin, fled house arrest in Kyiv, where he was charged with treason and financing terrorism.
Humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine
The European Union will provide weapons and fighter jets worth 450 million euro (1.6 billion NIS) to Ukraine to fight against the Russian invasion, EU’s Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell said during a press conference on Sunday. “We are not talking just about ammunition; we are providing the most important arms to go to war,” said Borrell.
Borell warned that Putin’s decision to place Russia’s nuclear deterrence forces on alert was a “gigantic irresponsibility,” saying “he told us whoever will interfere in our attack to Ukraine, whoever could have the idea of supporting Ukrainians will suffer an attack as they have never suffered or imagined. This is a reference to the use of nuclear weapons.”
In an op-ed for The Guardian, Borrell stated that Russia embarks on “disinformation campaigns and information manipulation” and that “his aggression is taking innocent lives, crushing people’s wish to live in peace,” stating that Russia must stop all military operations and withdraw from Ukrainian territory.
British defense minister Ben Wallace said on Monday that he does not expect Russian President Vladimir Putin to use nuclear weapons in his pursuit of Ukraine. “What we shouldn’t really forget is that this is a big attempt to distract away from his troubles in Ukraine by just deploying into the sort of media space these phrases.”
“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.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leye told Euronews on Sunday that Ukraine is “one of us and we want them in the European Union,” adding that this is a process that will take time.
There will be a debate about making Ukraine a member of the European Union, the bloc’s chairman Charles Michel told French TV station BFM on Monday.
“This is a debate which, in any case, will be held,” said Michel, adding that the bloc already had a “very powerful” association agreement with Ukraine which could be reinforced.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson by telephone on Sunday that the next 24 hours are crucial for Ukraine, a Downing Street spokesperson said.
Johnson said the UK and its allies would do everything possible to guarantee that defensive aid reached Ukraine, the spokesperson said in a statement.
The Vatican is ready to “facilitate dialog” between Russia and Ukraine to end the war, its top diplomat said on Monday.
Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who ranks second only to the pope in the Vatican hierarchy, told Italian newspapers that “despite the war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine” he was “convinced there is always room for negotiations.”
Protests against the war were reported in Russia and Belarus on Sunday. Videos shared on social media showed crowds chanting slogans against the war in various cities. About 800 people were detained in Belarus for “violating public order,” according to TASS.
Sanctions hit Russia
In an indication of the fallout of a fresh round of sanctions, the European Central Bank on Monday warned that Sberbank Europe, a unit of Russia’s Sberbank SBER.MM, and two other subsidiaries under its watch “are failing or likely to fail”.
The ECB said it was “owing to a deterioration of their liquidity situation”, while Austria’s Financial Market Authority said it imposed a moratorium on Sberbank Europe, which is based in the country.
Britain said on Monday it was taking further measures against Russia in concert with the United States and European Union, effectively cutting off Moscow’s major financial institutions from Western financial markets.
Britain banned any British entities from undertaking transactions with the Russian central bank, finance ministry and wealth fund, and said it would prevent Russian companies from issuing transferable securities and money market instruments in the United Kingdom.
“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,” the government said.
Britain said it would have “a power to prevent designated banks from accessing Sterling and clearing payments through the UK.”
“These measures demonstrate our determination to apply severe economic sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” finance minister Rishi Sunak said.
The new sanctions also include further restrictions against Russian financial institutions and a set of measures to strengthen trade restrictions against Russia. More designations will be announced this week, Britain said.
The Russian central bank on Monday raised its key interest rate to 20% from 9.5% to counter risks of rouble depreciation and higher inflation.
The Russian finance ministry and the central bank plan to order domestic exporting companies to sell their foreign exchange revenues from Feb. 28, they both said in a statement on Monday.
The exporters should sell 80% of all forex revenues they are receiving under their export contracts, the statement said.
Greece on Monday closed its airspace for all Russian aircraft in line with a European Union decision, the country’s civil aviation authority said.
Only humanitarian and emergency flights will be allowed under a notice issued by the Greek authority. The notice will apply for three months, the authority said.