Countries tightened the vise around Russia’s economy on Monday, announcing new sanctions on its central bank and individuals, with even Switzerland breaking its neutral stance to join the EU in its actions.The moves came as Ukrainian and Russian delegations met at the Belarusian border for their first direct talks since Russia’s invasion began on Thursday.Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office said it would demand an immediate cease-fire.
In response to Russia’s invasion, the U.N.was meeting in two separate forums: The General Assembly gathered for only its 11th emergency meeting, and the 15-member Security Council came together again to discuss the crisis in Ukraine.
Also Monday, the U.S.announced it was expelling 12 Russian diplomats stationed at U.
headquarters in New York.for engaging in “espionage activities” that undermine U.S.national security.
Battered by global sanctions, Russia’s Central Bank dramatically hiked interest rates to try to slow the ruble’s plunge.
Russia’s conventional military assault on Ukraine moved toward the end of its fourth day with fighting in the streets of the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, and troops moving closer to the capital Kyiv.
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FACT CHECK: What’s true and what’s false about the Russian invasion of Ukraine
RUSSIA’S RICHEST TARGETED: Biden hits yacht-riding elites with sanctions.Will it help?
U.S.expels 12 Russian diplomats from U.N.headquarters for spying The United States is expelling 12 Russian diplomats stationed at the United Nation’s headquarters in New York.for engaging in “espionage activities” that undermine U.S.national security.
Olivia Dalton, a spokesperson for the U.S.
Mission to the UN, said the U.S.action has been in the works for “several months.”
She did not elaborate on the accusations that the Russians were spying on the U.S.but referred to the 12 individuals as “intelligence operatives from the Russian Mission who have abused their privileges of residency in the United States.”
– Deirdre Shesgreen
Ukraine official: 5 million rubles and full amnesty for Russian soldiers who stop fighting Ukraine is offering Russian soldiers cash to stop fighting in a Kremlin-ordered invasion of the country.
“We offer Russian soldiers a choice: to die in an unjust war or a full amnesty and 5 million rubles in compensation.If they lay down their arms and surrender voluntarily,” Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said in a statement posted to the department’s Twitter account.
The offer of 5 million rubles is worth less than $50,000 dollars as the currency has cratered amid global sanctions levied against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
– Rick Rouan
Durbin requests Temporary Protected Status for Ukrainians in U.S.Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told reporters that he plans to send a bipartisan letter to President Biden this evening asking for Temporary Protected Status for all Ukrainians currently in the U.S.
“There are 29,500 Ukrainians in the United States now on visas,” said Durbin, the second most powerful Democrat in the Senate.”They include tourists and students and people working here.”
More: Fact check: False claim about Ukraine, Clinton Foundation resurfaces amid Russian invasion
He said some have expired visas and are now expected to return to Ukraine, which is “unacceptable under these current circumstances.” Temporary Protected Status would allow them to stay in the U.S.temporarily without fear of deportation.
“That is something we could and should do immediately,” he said.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about TPS during Monday’s briefing but said she had no update to provide.
“That’s a process that’s run by the Department of Homeland Security: evaluate through an interagency process what everybody’s recommendations are and obviously the conditions on the ground in Ukraine,” she said.
– Dylan Wells and Rebecca Morin
not ruling out closing airspace to Russian planes The U.S.has not ruled out the possibility of banning Russian flights from its airspace in retaliation for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the White House said Monday.
“There are obviously a range of options that remain on the table,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.“So it’s not off the table.”
Canada and the 27-nation European Union have closed their airspace to Russian planes.
Russia has responded by closing its airspace to airlines from 36 countries.
– Michael Collins
U.S.has no plans to update nuclear threat level The U.S.sees no reason to update its nuclear threat level despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to put his nuclear forces on high alert, the White House said Monday.
The U.S.is assessing Putin’s directive, but “at this time, we see no reason to change our own alert levels,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
Neither the U.S.nor NATO has any desire for conflict with Russia, Psaki said, “and we think provocative rhetoric like this regarding nuclear weapons is dangerous, adds to the risk of miscalculation, should be avoided and will not indulge in it.”
– Michael Collins
Q poll: Majority of Americans fear Russia could deploy nuclear weapons Most Americans are wary that Russia could use nuclear weapons if the United States and its NATO allies step in to stop the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, a new poll found.
A Quinnipiac University poll conducted mostly before Russian President Vladimir Putin put his country’s nuclear forces on high alert found that more than six in 10 Americans are worried Russia could deploy nuclear weapons.
President Joe Biden says they shouldn’t.
Asked Monday by a reporter as he attended a Black History Month celebration at the White House whether Americans “should be worried about nuclear war,” Biden answered with a simple ‘no’.”
Still, there is growing support among Americans for U.S.military involvement.The share of respondents who support President Joe Biden’s decision to send U.S.troops to shore up NATO’s eastern flank increased from 54% in a Feb.
16 poll to 70% in the most recent survey.
About 70 percent of respondents said American troops should get involved if Russia moves beyond Ukraine and into a NATO country, a prospect that nearly two-thirds believe Putin has in his sights.
The poll surveyed 1,364 U.S.adults between Feb.25-27.
— Rick Rouan
First Lady Jill Biden dons sunflower face mask to show unity with Ukraine In a show of support for the Ukrainian people, first lady Jill Biden on Monday wore a face mask donning a sunflower, the national flower of Ukraine.
Biden wore the white mask, with a yellow sunflower on one side, during a White House event commemorating Black History Month on the eve of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday.
During his remarks, President Biden stayed largely away from Russia’s war in Ukraine, except when he was applauding the efforts of his U.S.
ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
Biden caught himself when he accidentally referred to Russia as “the Soviet Union,” then added, “They’re trying to reestablish the Soviet Union basically.”
– Joey Garrison
Shell to cut ties with Russian natural gas company Shell will exit a joint-venture with the Russian-owned natural gas company Gazprom a day after BP said it was cutting ties with a Russian state-owned oil company amid the Kremlin’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
“We are shocked by the loss of life in Ukraine, which we deplore, resulting from a senseless act of military aggression which threatens European security,” Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said in a prepared statement .
The company said it had about $3 billion in assets tied up in Russian ventures at the end of 2021.
That includes interests in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and other joint ventures.
– Rick Rouan
Ukraine, Russia wrap up talks Ukraine and Russia have finished talks about ending fighting that has raged for five days since Russia declared war and began its invasion.
Citing a top adviser to Ukraine President Volodomyr Zelenskyy, the Associated Press reported that the initial talks near Ukraine’s border with Russian ally Belarus had been completed.It included discussion about a cease-fire.
The adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, left open the possibility of a second round of talks.
– Rick Rouan
Twitter to flag tweets sharing Russian state media content Twitter will begin flagging content shared on its platform from Russian state media as it tries to stem the tide of disinformation flowing from the Kremlin.
The social media platform announced its plan on Monday .Twitter already labeled the accounts of state media outlets, but now it will flag tweets from any account sharing that content, the company’s head of site integrity Yoel Roth said.
Roth said about 45,000 tweets a day are sharing links to Russian state-affiliated media outlets.
– Rick Rouan
Macron: France will bring resolution to UN security council French President Emmanuel Macron said he will bring a resolution to the United Nations Security Council after reinforcing to the Kremlin the need to protect civilians in the invasion of Ukraine.
Macron tweeted on Monday that he asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to adopt a ceasefire and to stop attacks against civilians, residences and infrastructure.He asked Putin to respect humanitarian law, according to a translation of his tweet, and said France would bring the resolution to the UN.
The UN general assembly is scheduled to meet in an emergency special session on Monday.
Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States previously accused Russia of committing war crimes in the attack, including the use of heavy missiles and artillery to hit hospitals and kindergartens as well as infrastructure.
– Rick Rouan
Zelenskyy asks European Union to grant Ukraine immediate membership Ukraine President Volodomyr Zelenskyy has formally made his appeal for membership into the European Union.
Zelenskyy signed an application to grant Ukraine membership in the EU on Monday after urging the union publicly to expedite the process under a special procedure.
The request came after the European Union announced new actions against Russia , including plans to close its airspace to Russian airlines, bankroll weapons for Ukraine and ban pro-Kremlin media outlets.
— Rick Rouan
More: Mapping and tracking Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
Russian forces within 15 miles of Kyiv’s city center The main Russian force has advanced slowly in the last 24 hours to within about 15 miles of Kyiv’s city center as they continue to face stiff Ukrainian opposition and their own logistical problems.
Ukrainian forces have attacked Russian troops and combat vehicles with small arms and surface-to-air missiles, a senior Defense Department official told reporters on Monday.
The official discussed the military operations on condition of anonymity.Ukrainians have also blunted the Russian advance by blowing up bridges, the official said.
Since Sunday, the Russians have moved about three miles closer to the Ukrainian capital, the official said.
They appear intent on encircling the city.Nearly 75% of the combat troops Russian President Vladimir Putin deployed for the war are inside Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Russian vehicles have been running out of gas, the official said.
It’s unclear if that represents a failure of Russian officials to plan or their troops’ inability to execute it.
Russia has also failed to control Ukraine’s airspace, with Ukrainian forces still able to fly warplanes and operate anti-aircraft missiles.
The heaviest fighting is centered around Kharkiv, the official said.The Russians appear aimed at securing that city, Ukraine’s second largest after Kyiv, and connecting with a force near Mariupol in the south.That would sever eastern Ukraine from the rest of the country.
— Tom Vanden Brook
Space Agency: Mission with Russia ‘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 space port in Kourou, French Guiana.
— Associated Press
Fact check roundup: What’s true and what’s false about the Russian invasion of Ukraine
Ruble-to-bitcoin trades surge after sanctions crater Russian currency Holders of Russian currency are turning to bitcoin as the ruble cratered in the aftermath of global sanctions that have cut off Russia from western financial institutions.
Coindesk, a cryptocurrency news organization, reported a spike on Monday in trading volume between the Russian ruble and bitcoin.Trading volumes have hit a nine-month high , according to Coindesk.
The increase came after the U.S., European allies and other countries around the globe imposed financial sanctions that have crippled Russia’s economy in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The value of the ruble compared with the U.S.dollar has plunged since the announcement of those sanctions.
— Rick Rouan
Kremlin: Sanctions ‘problematic,’ worsened economy At the outset of a brewing financial crisis, the Kremlin conceded Monday that Western sanctions were affecting the economy but remained confident effects could be dampened.
“The economic reality has considerably changed,” Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesperson, said during a press call with reporters, according to Reuters and CNN.”These are heavy sanctions, they are problematic, but Russia has the potential to offset the harm.”
The U.S.and EU have sanctioned top Kremin officials and Russian elites as well as taken steps to remove Russian banks from the SWIFT network, which allows for payments between financial institutions.
The West also took steps to stop the Kremlin from accessing its $640 billion in foreign reserves which Russian banks could use to buoy the isolated economy.
“Russia has been making plans for quite a long time for possible sanctions, including the most severe ones.There are response plans, they were developed and are being implemented as problems appear,” Peskov said.
He added that sanctions on Russian elites and Russian President Vladimir Putin himself were “pointless.”
On Monday, the value of Russia’s currency, the ruble, tumbled.The Russian Central Bank stopped the Moscow Exchange, Russia’s stock market, from opening after multiple days of severe losses.The Central Bank also increased interest rates from 9.5% to 20% in a bid to stop bank runs.
It also began buying gold again on its domestic market.
– Matthew Brown
EU Foreign Affairs chief: ‘Sanctions have a cost’ Days after the United States and European Union levied stringent sanctions on the Russian elite and financial system, the EU’s foreign affairs chief reiterated that sanctions will have a negative effect on the global economy.It’s a price that the West must be ready to pay, he stressed.
“This is not a free lunch.Sanctions will backlash.Sanctions have a cost,” Josep Borrell, vice president of the European Commission, said Monday.
Borrell said it is important to “explain to public opinion” the costs of sanctions on the global economy.
“We have to be ready to pay this price now because if not, we will have to pay a much bigger price in the future,” Borrell continued.He noted there would be turbulence in global energy markets that would especially impact Europe in the short term, which the EU and U.S.are working to mitigate.
While the U.S.is more insulated from the economic pain of isolating Russia than Europe, President Joe Biden has also cautioned Americans that the sanctions will have ripple effects for the U.S.economy that will be felt in the stock market and energy prices
– Matthew Brown
Learn more: Mapping and tracking Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
IOC calls for exclusion of athletes from Russia, Belarus GENEVA – In a sweeping move to isolate and condemn Russia after invading Ukraine, the International Olympic Committee urged sports bodies on Monday to exclude the country’s athletes and officials from international events .
The IOC said it was needed to “protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants.”
The decision opened the way for FIFA, the governing body of soccer, to exclude Russia from a World Cup qualifying playoff match on March 24.Poland has refused to play the scheduled game against Russia.
The Olympic body’s call also applied to athletes and official from Belarus, which has abetted Russia’s invasion.
– Associated Press
Are Snake Island soldiers alive? A group of Ukrainian soldiers who garnered worldwide attention after telling a Russian warship to “Go f— yourself” may be alive, according to Ukrainian officials.
The soldiers on Snake Island, a small island in the Black Sea, rose to fame last week after a Russian warship asked them to surrender or be bombed, according to a tweet from the Ukrainian Embassy in Georgia.
Ukrainian officials last week said all 13 of the soldiers were killed.
But the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine in a statement said the soldiers may have been captured by Russian forces and are still alive.Read more here.
– Marina Pitofsky
Russia closes its airspace 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.
– Associated Press
Putin’s mind: ‘Erratic?’ ‘Delusional?’ Lawmakers question Putin’s stability as he puts nuclear forces on alert
Swiss adopt EU sanctions The Swiss government on Monday took the extraordinary step of joining in the EU’s sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Switzerland’s Federal Council decided to adopt the financial sanctions, whiich include freezing the assets of individuals and companies, as well as levying sanctions upon Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
The Swiss government is also joining the EU in closing its airspace to all flights from Russia and to aircraft with Russian markings.
The Federal Council is suspending visas for Russian nationals, excluding diplomatic passports, and is blocking entry for “a number of individuals who have a connection to Switzerland and are close to the Russian president.”
– Katie Wadington
U.S.imposes sanctions on Russia’s Central Bank The U.S.on Monday imposed new sanctions on Russia targeting the country’s Central Bank, dealing a major blow to Moscow’s economy, which holds more than $630 billion in foreign currency reserves.
The sanctions effectively cut off Russia’s Central Bank from accessing assets either held in the U.S.or in U.S.
dollars, severely restricting any effort by Russian President Vladimir Putin to blunt the effects of previous sanctions that have sent the country’s economy into a free fall.
The new restrictions, in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, also target Russia’s National Wealth Fund and the Ministry of Finance.
More: What sanctions does Russia face? Here’s a list by country
The measures prohibit foreign financial firms with U.S.dollars from sending it to Russia’s Central Bank, National Wealth Fund or finance ministry, according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the announcement.
The official said the U.S.wanted to put the penalties in place before markets opened Monday after learning from allies over the weekend that the Russian Central Bank was attempting to move assets beginning Monday morning from institutions around the world.
The announcement came after Russia’s Central Bank sharply raised its key borrowing rate from 9.5% to 20% in an attempt to shore up the plummeting ruble amid the crippling Western sanctions hitting the country.
The U.S.and European allies have announced severe economic measures on Russian banks, oligarchs and their families and the country’s access to the SWIFT international payment system that connects the network of global banks.
– Courtney Subramanian
More: What Is SWIFT? How would a removal from SWIFT affect Russia?
Zelenskyy creates ‘international legion,’ enlists foreign fighters President Volodomyr Zelenskyy announced the creation of an “international legion” to enlist non-Ukrainians who want to support the war effort against Russia.
“We already have thousands requests from foreigners, who want to join the resistance to the (Russian) occupiers and protect the world security from Putin regime,” a spokesperson for the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said Monday.
While no other country has sent its own troops to Ukraine, the U.S., European Union and NATO have all ramped up the delivery of weapons to the eastern European country amid the Russian invasion.
Anyone interested in joining the new unit should reach out to the Ukrainian embassies in their home countries, the statement said.
The Ukrainian government has also called on the support of its civilians to assist in defending the country from Russian invasion by directly resisting and confusing invading forces.
– Matthew Brown
U.S.closes embassy in Belarus The State Department has shut down the U.S.Embassy in Minsk, Belarus, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Monday morning.
Non-emergency personnel and family members at the embassy in Moscow have also been authorized to leave.
Blinken said the steps were taken “due to security and safety issues stemming from the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine.”
Belarus has served as a staging area for Russian troops for weeks ahead of the invasion that started on Thursday.
– Katie Wadington
Ukraine demands cease-fire at talks Ukrainian and Russian delegations met Monday on Ukraine’s border with Belarus but it was unclear what, if anything, those talks would yield.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office said Kyiv’s delegation would demand an immediate cease-fire.
While Ukraine sent its defense minister and other top officials, the Russian delegation is led by Putin’s adviser on culture — an unlikely envoy for ending the war and a sign of how Moscow views the talks.It wasn’t immediately clear what Putin is seeking in the talks or from the war itself.
– Associated Press
Russia boosts staffing at nuclear command posts 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.
– Associated Press
UN: Attacks have killed 102 civilians, including 7 kids The UN’s Human Rights Council reported Monday that at least 406 civilians have been killed our wounded since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on Thursday.
Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told a meeting of the council in Geneva that between Thursday morning and Sunday night, 102 civilians, including seven children, have been killed, with 304 people injured.
“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,” Bachelet said.Millions of people are hiding to escape the attacks, she added.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, tweeted Monday that over 500,000 Ukrainians have fled for neighboring countries.
– Katie Wadington
Kremlin says it didn’t target civilians 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.
– Associated Press
Ukraine delegation arrives in Belarus for talks with Russia The Ukrainian delegation has arrived in Belarus for a meeting with Russian officials and the talks are under way, according to reports from CNN and the Associated Press.
Ukraine demanded an “immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Russian troops,” CNN reported, citing a statement from the Ukraine presidency.
The delegation includes several senior Ukrainian officials but President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was not planning to attend.
– Caren Bohan
Fighting eases overnight in Kyiv KYIV, Ukraine – Outgunned but determined Ukrainian troops slowed Russia’s advance and held onto the capital and other key cities — at least for now.In the face of stiff resistance and devastating sanctions, President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s nuclear forces put on high alert, threatening to elevate the war to a terrifying new level.
Explosions and gunfire that have disrupted life since the invasion began last week appeared to subside around Kyiv overnight, as Ukrainian and Russian delegations prepared to meet Monday on Ukraine’s border with Belarus.
Terrified Ukrainian families huddled in shelters, basements or corridors, waiting to find out.Exact death tolls are unclear, but Ukraine’s president says at least 16 children have been killed and another 45 wounded, among hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other casualties.Millions have fled homes or the country all together.
“I sit and pray for these negotiations to end successfully, so that they reach an agreement to end the slaughter, and so there is no more war,” said Alexandra Mikhailova, weeping as she clutched her cat in a makeshift shelter in the strategic southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
Around her, parents sought to console children and keep them warm.
The relative lull in warfare Monday morning in Ukraine was unlikely to last.
Neighboring Belarus could send troops to help Russia as soon as Monday, according to a senior American intelligence official with direct knowledge of current U.S.intelligence assessments.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
– Associated Press
Ukraine civilian death toll estimated at 352 but is likely much higher, officials say The civilian death toll from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has risen to 352, including 14 children, the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal affairs said Sunday.The ministry said 1,684 people had been injured.
The United Nations had announced the civilian death toll had reached 240 by Saturday, but stressed that the actual figure was potentially “considerably higher.”
– Jay Cannon
Pope Francis offers to help solve Ukraine crisis ROME – The Vatican is offering to help in any negotiations to end the war in Ukraine.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s No.2 official, told several Italian newspapers in an interview published on Monday that the Holy See is “offering its willingness to facilitate dialogue with Russia.”
On Friday, Pope Francis took the extraordinary step of visiting the Russian Embassy to the Holy See to meet with the Russian ambassador.The pontiff urged an end to fighting and a return to negotiations, Parolin said.
While Orthodox Christians are predominant among the faithful in Ukraine, the Catholic Church has a discreet presence in that country through believers who follow the Eastern Rite of Catholicism.
– Associated Press
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson: ‘Putin must fail’ British Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed that Western allies would impose the harshest economic sanctions possible against Russian President Vladimir Putin for his “abhorrent campaign against Ukraine.”
The European Union has announced unprecedented new actions against Russia, outlining plans to close its airspace to Russian airlines, fund a weapons purchase to assist Ukraine and ban some pro-Kremlin media outlets, while the Associated Press reported the United States approved the delivery of anti-aircraft Stinger missiles to Ukraine.
Western powers in support of Ukraine could soon be joined by Switzerland, an oftentimes neutral country that on Monday is set to review potential sanctions and asset freezes against Russia, said President Ignazio Cassis via Reuters.Cassis said it was “very probable” the country would follow suit, the outlet reported.
“Putin must fail,” the British prime minister wrote on Twitter.
– Caren Bohan and Associated Press
Russia, Ukraine to hold talks After rejecting Putin’s offer to meet in the Belarusian city of Homel on the grounds that Belarus was helping the Russian assault, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy agreed to send a Ukrainian delegation to meet Russian counterparts at an unspecified time and location on the Belarusian border.
CNN quoted a Ukrainian official saying the talks are expected to take place Monday .
Ukraine’s announcement that it would meet came hours after Russia said its delegation had flown to Belarus to await talks.Ukrainian officials initially rejected the location, saying any discussions should take place elsewhere.Belarus has allowed Russia to use its territory as a staging ground for the invasion of Ukraine.
– Associated Press
Russia signals plans for fresh onslaught on Kyiv, offers residents ‘safe corridor’ out The Russian military offered to allow residents to leave Kyiv via a safe corridor while it has beefed up for an onslaught on the capital.
With Russian troops closing in around Kyiv, a city of almost 3 million, the mayor of the capital expressed doubt that civilians could be evacuated.Authorities have been handing out weapons to anyone willing to defend the city.Ukraine is also releasing prisoners with military experience who want to fight, and training people to make firebombs.
But Russian Defense Minister Maj.
Gen.Igor Konashenkov said the military would let Kyiv residents use a highway that leads out of the city to the southwest — an offer that appeared to signal a new onslaught is coming.
A nearly 40-hour curfew in Kyiv ended on Monday morning.The curfew will resume each night, from 10 p.m.-7 a.m.Ukraine is seven hours ahead of Eastern U.S.
– Associated Press
Neutral Switzerland ‘probable’ to hit Russia with financial sanctions, president says After days of fence-sitting, Swiss President Ignazio Cassis said on Sunday it was “very probable” that neutral Switzerland would follow the European Union’s lead and sanction Russia and freeze Russian assets in the country.
Reuters reported that Cassis , who was interviewed on French-language Swiss public television, said the nation’s seven-member Federal Council would meet Monday and review recommendations by finance and economy officials.
“It is very probable that the government will decide to do so tomorrow, but I cannot anticipate decisions not yet taken,” Cassis said, via Reuters.
Switzerland, a global financial hub and commodities trading center, has so far resisted calls for it to levy sanctions and possibly freeze Russian assets, especially after the EU and U.S.
It was not known immediately how many wealthy Russian elites, especially oligarchs close to Putin, have stashed money in Swiss banks, known for their strong privacy firewalls.But various leaks of banking documents over the years suggest they have a sizable amount invested in Switzerland.
In 2018, Swiss banks reportedly frozen $1 billion in the accounts of one oligarch alone – Russian metals tycoon Viktor Vekselberg – over fears that they could be fined for doing business with him after Washington levied sanctions against the businessman, the Moscow Times reported at the time.
– Josh Meyer
Roundup: What sanctions does Russia face? Here’s a list by country
US official: Belarus may join Ukraine invasion A senior U.S.intelligence official says Belarus is expected to send troops into Ukraine as soon as Monday to fight alongside Russian forces that invaded Ukraine last week.
Belarus has been providing support for Russia’s war effort, but so far has not taken a direct part in the conflict.
The American official has direct knowledge of current U.S.
intelligence assessments and says the decision by Belarus’ leader on whether to bring Belarus further into the war depends on talks between Russia and Ukraine happening in the coming days.The official spoke anonymously to discuss the sensitive information.
— Associated Press
Two United Nations sessions scheduled for Monday The U.N.’s two major bodies – the 193-nation General Assembly and the more powerful 15-member Security Council – will hold separate meetings Monday on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a reflection of widespread international demands for an immediate cease-fire and escalating concern for the plight of millions of Ukrainians caught up in the war.
The Security Council gave a green light Sunday for the first emergency session of the General Assembly in decades.
It will give all U.N.members an opportunity to speak about the war Monday and vote on a resolution later in the week that U.S.
Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said would “hold Russia to account for its indefensible actions and for its violations of the U.N.Charter.”
French Ambassador Nicolas De Riviere announced that the Security Council will hold a meeting Monday afternoon on the humanitarian impact of Russia’s invasion, a session sought by French President Emmanuel Macron to ensure the delivery of aid to growing numbers of those in need in Ukraine.
Both meetings follow Russia’s veto Friday of a Security Council resolution demanding that Moscow immediately stop its attack on Ukraine and withdraw all troops.The vote was 11-1, with China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstaining.
– Associated Press
Contributing: The Associated Press.