- Kyiv remains in Ukrainian hands after fierce fighting; Ukraine says it took back control of Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city.
- E.U., U.S. sanctions As the fighting continued into its fourth day, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced that the European Union would close its airspace to all Russian planes — a move that some European countries had taken individually.
- The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said Sunday the number of Ukrainian refugees fleeing the country has reached 368,000 and continues to rise.
Putin announced the discussions after putting his nuclear deterrent forces on high alert, blaming NATO members for making “aggressive comments” as reported by NBC News.
President Vladimir Putin on Sunday ordered Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces to be on high alert, ratcheting up tensions as Ukraine agreed to talks with Russian officials and the European Union moved to close its airspace to all Russian planes.
In a statement, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he had agreed to meet with the Russians on the border of Belarus “without preconditions” after speaking with that country’s president, Alexander Lukashenko.
Lukashenko, a Putin ally, “has taken responsibility for ensuring that all planes, helicopters and missiles stationed on Belarusian territory will remain on the ground during the Ukrainian delegation’s travel, talks and return,” Zelenskyy’s office said.
He later said he doubted the meeting, which was to take place near the Pripyat River, would produce results but that he went ahead with it “so that no citizen of Ukraine would have any doubt that I, as president, did not try to stop the war when there was a small chance.”
Zelenskyy added that he would remain in Kyiv while the talks proceeded.
Conflict to a deadlier level
Russia, like NATO and the U.S., has thousands of nuclear warheads in its arsenal.
By putting nuclear deterrence forces on high alert for what he called the “aggressive statements” of NATO countries, Putin raised the global stakes of the conflict to a far deadlier level.
Putin’s escalation, which the Pentagon had no reason to doubt, “could make things much, much, more dangerous,” the official said Sunday during an evening briefing held on the background.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in an earlier interview on MSNBC that Putin’s move was “exactly the kind of manufactured threats” that he has been using since the invasion started “to justify further aggressive action.”
The U.N. Security Council voted Sunday afternoon to convene a rare emergency special session of the General Assembly on Monday to address the Russian invasion.
E.U., U.S. sanctions
As the fighting continued into its fourth day, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced that the European Union would close its airspace to all Russian planes — a move that some European countries had taken individually.
The U.S. and the E.U.’s actions came after Washington and allies escalated sanctions on Russia over the weekend, including blocking certain Russian banks from accessing SWIFT, a service that facilitates global transactions among thousands of financial institutions.
Japan also said Sunday that it would join that move.
Von der Leyen also said the E.U. would deliver military equipment to Ukraine in what she called “a watershed moment” — the first time the E.U. has financed the purchase and delivery of weapons for a country under attack.
“We need more drones, more vehicles, aircraft artillery, guns, machine guns, ammunition.”
Earlier in the day, Ukraine said it had taken back control of its second-largest city, Kharkiv, after fighting pitched street battles with the Russian forces, and Kyiv residents awoke to find that the capital was still in Ukrainian hands.
“Anyone who wants to join the defence of Ukraine, Europe and the world can come and fight side by side with the Ukrainians,” Zelenskyy’s office said in a statement.
“There is no greater contribution which you can make for the sake of peace.”
“Control over Kharkiv is completely ours!”
Sinegubov said in a message on the Telegram messaging app.
Russian reconnaissance troops have tried to enter Kyiv’s centre by wearing uniforms that make them appear to be Ukrainian troops, the official said.
Russian forces were targeting residential buildings, kindergartens and even ambulances, he said.
Russia has denied it has been targeting civilians.
He later said Kyiv, a city of nearly 3 million people, was “encircled” by Russian forces, The Associated Press reported; the news service said it was unable to immediately verify Klitschko’s report or how wide the area of encirclement might be because of the curfew.
The pressure on strategic cities in the south of Ukraine, including ports, appeared aimed at seizing control of Ukraine’s coastline.
While the Russian offensive appeared to have been stymied by stiffer-than-expected resistance from highly motivated Ukrainian armed forces, thousands of Ukrainians have fled to the country’s Western borders to escape the fighting.
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Source: NBC News