Live coverage: Russian military convoy stretching 40 miles outside Kyiv

Delegations from Kyiv and the Kremlin met near the border between Ukraine and Belarus for peace talks on Monday, one day after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his country’s nuclear defense systems be put on higher alert.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday also asked for his nation to be admitted to the European Union as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters its fifth day.

Read The Hill’s complete coverage of the latest developments in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine below:

Russian military convoy stretching 40 miles outside Kyiv 

10:59 p.m.

A Russian military convoy stretching some 40 miles has reached the outskirts of Kyiv as fighting rages in Ukrainian cities including Mariupol and Kharkiv. 

Satellite images released by Maxar Technologies on Monday show hundreds of armored vehicles, tanks, towed artillery and other vehicles about 17 miles from the center of Ukraine’s capital, per Reuters

U.S.-based Maxar also reported additional ground forces buildup and ground attack helicopter units in southern Belarus, near the Ukraine border. 

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) tweeted Monday that “Russia will try to encircle and cut off Kiev in the next several weeks,” adding “The fight for Kiev will be long and bloody and Ukrainians are rapidly preparing for street to street combat.”

— Colin Meyn

Disney to pause new film releases in Russia

8:32 p.m.

Disney says it plans to pause new film releases in Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine.

“Given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, we are pausing the release of theatrical films in Russia, including the upcoming Turning Red from Pixar,” read a Monday statement from The Walt Disney Company.

Disney said that its future releases in Russia would depend on the country’s actions going forward.

The company added that it is working with NGO partners to provide Ukrainian refugees with aid and other humanitarian assistance.

— Chloe Folmar

Eight EU countries endorse fast-tracking Ukraine membership process

7:48 p.m.

Eight European Union member countries announced on Monday that they endorse fast-tracking  Ukraine’s push to join the bloc amid its war with Russia. 

In a statement, the leaders of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia said they “believe that Ukraine deserves receiving an immediate EU accession perspective,” referring to the process for new members. 

“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,” the statement added. “In this critical moment, we reiterate our full solidarity with Ukraine and its People.”

Zelensky on Monday signed a membership application formally requesting that Ukraine join the EU. 

— Olafiimihan Oshin

Ukraine responds to tweet of support from Stephen King: ‘we will prevail over those langoliers for you, sir’

7:36 p.m.

Ukraine’s official Twitter account responded Monday evening to a tweet from acclaimed author Stephen King showing support for the country during its ongoing war conflict with Russia. 

In a tweet on Monday, King shared to his 6.6 million followers a photo of him wearing a Black T-shirt that had an “I stand with Ukraine” tagline on it. 

“I don’t usually post pictures of myself, but today is an exception,” King wrote. 

“We will prevail over those langoliers for you, sir,” Ukraine official Twitter said in a quoted tweet, a reference to King’s 1990 novella “The Langoliers” from the collection “Four Past Midnight.”

— Olafimihan Oshin

Zelensky urges West to impose no-fly zone over Ukraine

7:20 p.m.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is urging Western powers to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine amid the ongoing conflict with Russia, Reuters reported.

In a video address on Monday, Zelensky said it is time to block Russian missiles planes and helicopters from the country’s airspace. 

“Fair negotiations can occur when one side does not hit the other side with rocket artillery at the very moment of negotiations,” Zelenskiy said. 

Ukrainian officials have reported that Russian forces have started attacks in the city of Kharkiv, killing multiple citizens, including children.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki earlier on Monday ruled out the possibility of a U.S.-enforced no-fly zone, saying it could lead to direct war between the U.S. and Russia.

“That is definitely escalatory, that would potentially put us in a place where we are in a military conflict with Russia. That is not something [President Biden] wants to do,” Psaki said during an interview on MSNBC. “Those are all the reasons why that’s not a good idea.”

— Olafimihan Oshin

Met says it will no longer work with artists with Putin ties

7:09 p.m.

The Metropolitan Opera in New York said on Monday that it will stop engaging with artists or institutions supported by Russian President Vladimir Putin amid Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

In a video message on Facebook, General Manager Peter Gelb said that the Met can no longer engage with those who support Putin or are supported by him, “not until the invasion and killing has been stopped, order has been restored, and restitutions have been made.”

He added, however, that The Met still believes in the “warm friendship and cultural exchange that has long existed between the artists and artistic institutions of Russia and the United States.”

“The Metropolitan Opera opens its heart to the victims of the unprovoked war in Ukraine and salutes the heroism of the Ukrainian people,” Gelb said in a less-than-two-minute video, adding that Putin “seems intent on the destruction of Ukraine, its people and all personal freedom in Ukraine and Russia” and that “as an international opera company, the Met can help ring the alarm and contribute to the fight against oppression.” 

— Sarakshi Rai

Canada bans Russian oil imports

7:06 p.m.

Canada will ban all Russian oil imports and provide Ukraine with more ammunition and equipment to resist Russia’s invasion, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday.

Trudeau tweeted that the country will block imports of Russian crude oil, saying that “even though Canada has barely imported any Russian oil and gas in recent years, this move sends a powerful message” because a third of Russia’s budget comes from exporting oil.

Trudeau also said that Canada would send Ukraine anti-tank weapons systems and upgraded ammunition in addition to the equipment announced Sunday. The provisions will be the fourth shipment sent from Canada to Ukraine.

Trudeau added that Canada is also working on reviewing Russia Today’s content before allowing it to be shared on the radio, “because we cannot allow falsehoods, propaganda, and disinformation about Russia’s war to continue spreading in Canada.”

— Chloe Folmar  

UN: Half a million Ukrainians have fled country as refugee numbers are ‘rising exponentially’

6:57 p.m.

Some 520,000 Ukrainians have fled their home since the start of Russian invasion, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said Monday, adding that refugee totals are expected to run in the millions, taxing the resources of neighboring counties.

The figure has grown 10 times in just last week, when the UN High Commissioner for Refugees on Friday estimated that 50,000 Ukrainians had left the country. Russia launched its invasion on Feb. 24.

“This figure has been rising exponentially hour after hour, literally since Thursday. I have worked in refugee crises for almost 40 years, and I have rarely seen such an incredibly fast rising exodus of people,” Commissioner Filippo Grandi said in a speech before the UN Security Council.

The majority of refugees — over 280,000 — have fled to Poland, while 94,000 have crossed the border into Hungary, roughly 40,000 are in Moldova, 34,000 are in Romania, 30,000 are in Slovakia, while Grandi said tens of thousands have landed in other European countries. 

Other estimates indicate as many as 100,000 Ukrainians may be internally displaced.

— Rebecca Beitsch

Great Britain blocks Russian ships from UK ports

5:56 p.m.

Great Britain has announced a new list of sanctions against Russia which include blocking Russian ships from accessing its ports amid the ongoing war conflict between Russia and Ukraine. 

In a tweet on Monday, Britain Transport Secretary Grant Shapps shared he has informed all U.K shipping ports to not provide access to Russian ships. 

“Today I’ve written to all UK ports asking them not to provide access to any Russian flagged, registered, owned, controlled, chartered or operated vessels,” Shapps wrote in a tweet. 

“Given Putin’s action in #Ukraine I’ve made clear these vessels are NOT welcome here with prohibiting legislation to follow.”

— Olafiimihan Oshin

ICC prosecutor to open probe into possible war crimes in Ukraine

5:26 p.m.

A International Criminal Court prosecutor announced Monday that he will open an investigation into possible war crimes perpetrated by Russia in Ukraine.

“I have reviewed the Office’s conclusions arising from the preliminary examination of the Situation in Ukraine, and have confirmed that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with opening an investigation,” said Prosecutor Karim A. A. Khan.

“In particular,” he continued. “I am satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to believe that both alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Ukraine in relation to the events already assessed during the preliminary examination by the Office.”

Khan said that his investigation would expand as the Russia-Ukraine conflict continues to include any potential future crimes falling within the ICC’s jurisdiction.

–Chloe Folmar

Warner warns of Russian cyberattacks against US in ‘coming days and weeks’ 

5:23 p.m.

The chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee said the United States should expect Russian cyberattacks against the U.S. in the “coming days and weeks” in response to crippling sanctions. 

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said while there is a possibility of Russian spy services launching cyber-attacks on the U.S., attacks from Russian ransomware gangs are likely.    

“I think we will probably see that in the coming days and weeks as Putin tries to lash out against these crippling level of sanctions we’ve put on him,” Warner said while appearing on a Washington Post live event. 

The White House and the European Union have unleashed unprecedented economic sanctions in recent days that have strangled the Russian economy, sending the value of the ruble plummeting. 

Warner has also raised the possibility that cyber-attacks launched by Putin could trigger NATO’s Article 5 collective defense principle, which says an attack on one NATO country is an attack on all, as well as warning of a dangerous cyber tit-for-tat between global powers. 

“These can be extraordinarily destructive and if you get into the cyber escalation, you don’t know where it would end,” he said Monday.


European Space Agency: Planned joint mission with Russia ‘very unlikely’

5:02 p.m.

The European Space Agency said Monday that the launch of a mission to Mars with Russia later this year is “very unlikely” after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We are fully implementing sanctions imposed on Russia by our Member States,” the agency said in a statement

“Regarding the ExoMars program continuation, the sanctions and the wider context make a launch in 2022 very unlikely,” the statement added after a meeting with its nearly two dozen member states, noting that the director general would prepare to make a formal decision on the matter.

The launch, which intended to put a lander on Mars in an effort to determine if life had ever been there, was already postponed once amid COVID-19 concerns when it was initially scheduled for 2020, according to The Associated Press

Russia’s Roscosmos space agency announced on Saturday that it would remove its personnel from the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, the AP added.

— Monique Beals

First lady signals support for Ukrainian people

3:46 p.m.

First lady Jill Biden wore a mask with a sunflower on it on Monday to show her support for the Ukrainian people, according to the White House.

The mask, which was white with a sunflower on the side of it, was donned at a Black History Month event held at the White House in the afternoon. The sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine.

— Alex Gangitano

France moving embassy to Lviv

2:38 p.m.

France is the latest Western country to move its diplomatic presence in Ukraine after Russia’s invasion of the country last week.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday that France will move its embassy in Ukraine from the capital of Kyiv to Lviv, a city in western Ukraine, Reuters reports.

— Chloe Folmar

Ukraine wants UN inquiry into possible Russian war crimes

2:33 p.m.

Ukraine and its allies called for a United Nations inquiry into possible Russian war crimes committed in the invasion of the country. 

“Russian forces attempt to sow panic among the population by specifically targeting kindergartens and orphanages, hospitals and mobile medical aid brigades, thus committing acts that may amount to war crimes.” Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations Yevheniia Filipenko said to the Human Rights Council, Reuters reported. 

— Monique Beals

MIT severing ties with Russian school

1:29 p.m.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced that it would sever ties with a Russian research university it helped create a decade ago.

MIT said that it notified the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in Moscow that it would end the MIT Skoltech Program as a result of Russia’s “the unacceptable military actions against Ukraine.”

“This step is a rejection of the actions of the Russian government in Ukraine. We take it with deep regret because of our great respect for the Russian people and our profound appreciation for the contributions of the many extraordinary Russian colleagues we have worked with,” MIT said in a statement.

The Moscow school is closely connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government and has been targeted by critics who argue that U.S. universities should not play a role in helping the Russian government create an advanced technology institute, according to GPH News, an NPR affiliate in Boston.


Senior defense official: No sign yet of Belarusian forces fighting in Ukraine

12:50 p.m.

U.S. officials have not seen Belarusian troops involved in or preparing to join the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a senior U.S. defense official said Monday.  

“We have seen no indications that Belarusian troops are being readied to move into Ukraine and certainly no indications that they are in fact moving or are in Ukraine,” the official told reporters. “Our best information is that the forces inside Ukraine are all Russians.” 

Reports emerged earlier Monday that Belarus is preparing to send troops into Ukraine in support of the Russian invasion which began last week. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin so far has sent into Ukraine “just under 75 percent” of the more than 150,000 troops he had assembled for the assault, and forces have fired more than 380 missiles, the official said. 

The Kremlin has already used Belarus as a location from which to pour its troops quickly across the border into Ukraine after insisting the large number of forces assembled there were for joint military drills.  

The U.S. has also “seen some indications” that Russia in some areas of Ukraine is employing mercenaries from the shadowy Russian military contractor the Wagner Group, though details on where or how many are not clear.  

The official also said Russian forces are frustrated they have not yet taken the capitol city of Kyiv, which could lead them to take a “more aggressive approach” militarily.  

“They have been slowed and they have been frustrated by their lack of progress on Kyiv,” they said. “One of the things that that could result in 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.” 

The Russians are “running out of gas and they’re having logistics problems” on the way south to Kyiv and have also met significant Ukrainian resistance.  

Still, the Kremlin forces are roughly 16 miles away from the capital city, which they hope to encircle, according to the official.  

“We do believe that their plans are to encircle the city and they try to take it that way because that has really been where the heaviest fighting has been,” they said.  


Zelensky signs EU membership application

12:45 p.m.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday signed a membership application formally requesting Ukraine join the European Union amid a Russian invasion of his country.

Ukrainian Deputy Head of the President’s Office Andriy Sybiha said in a tweet that Head of the Parliament Ruslan Stephanchuk and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal had also signed a joint statement.

“The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky has just signed a historical document-Ukraine’s application for European Union membership,” Sybiha wrote on Twitter.

“Glory to Ukraine!” he added.

The tweet included photos of the application and the three men signing the papers.

In a Facebook post cited by Interfax Ukraine, Sybiha said the documents were on their way to Brussels.

Zelensky had asked earlier Monday that Ukraine be added to the bloc as his country fights off an invasion by Russia.

“Our goal is to be together with all Europeans and, most importantly, to be on an equal footing,” Zelensky said during a video address, according to The New York Times. “I’m sure it’s fair. I’m sure it’s possible.”


First round of Ukraine-Russia talks ends

12:38 p.m.

A top adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed on Monday that the first round of talks with Moscow had ended.

“Negotiations are difficult. However, without any obligatory ultimatums already. Unfortunately, the Russian side is still extremely biased regarding the destructive processes it launched,” the adviser said on Twitter.

Former Olympic gold medalist boxer joins Ukraine defense battalion

12:26 p.m.

Former Olympic boxer Vasiliy Lomachenko joined a territorial defense battalion in Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The 34 four-year-old shared an image to this Facebook page showing him armed and donning military gear on Sunday.

Lomachenko, a two-time gold medal winner, was in Greece when the invasion began, according to ESPN, and his flight home was delayed on Friday after air traffic in the region started being grounded. He reportedly flew into Bucharest instead, and traveled through Romania on Saturday to reach his home outside of Odessa to be with his family.

“We are so proud of our boxers, our real champions in boxing and champions in this war,” Mykola Kovalchuk, president of WBC Ukraine, said, according to ESPN. “We are proud to be Ukrainians.”

ESPN noted that Lomachenko, a former three-division champion, is closing in on a fight in Australia on June 5 against undisputed lightweight champion George Kambosos.

His decision to join the defense battalion comes after Hall of Fame boxer Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, announced he was taking up arms to defend the city against the Russian invaders, the sports news outlet reported. The mayor’s brother, fellow Hall of Famer and former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, also enlisted in the Ukrainian army reserve earlier this month before the invasion.


Biden holds calls with allies

12:18 p.m.

President Biden on Monday morning held a call with allied leaders to discuss the latest developments in Ukraine.

Biden convened a phone call at 11:32 a.m. with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Polish President Andrzej Duda and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel were also on the call.

The leaders spoke as the U.S. and its allies continued to ratchet up sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. The countries agreed over the weekend to cut certain Russian banks out of the SWIFT international banking system, and the U.S. announced Monday morning additional sanctions on the Russian Central Bank in a bid to limit how Moscow could boost its currency to sidestep sanctions.


Suspected cluster munitions strike Ukraine’s second-largest city, killing 11

12:02 p.m.

At least 11 people were killed on Monday by suspected cluster munitions that struck Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine.

Oleh Synehubov, the head of the Kharkiv Regional State Administration, said at least 11 people had died as a result of the suspected cluster munitions, according to The Washington Post. He also said “dozens are dying.”

Reuters, citing the Ukrainian military, reported that dozens of people had died and hundreds were wounded in Kharkiv on Monday.

Synehubov said the acts constituted “a war crime,” according to the Post. Attacks took place in three areas of the city, which the Post said is mainly Russian-speaking and is considered more friendly toward Moscow.

The shelling occurred when several individuals in the city were waiting to enter grocery stores and other shops to replace supplies amid the Russian invasion, the newspaper noted.

“The Russian enemy is shelling entire residential areas of Kharkiv, where there is no critical infrastructure, where there are no positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine that the Russians could aim at,” Synehubov said in a Telegram message, according to the Post.


Ukraine foreign minister says nation ‘not ready to surrender or capitulate’

11:50 a.m.

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dymtro Kuleba on Monday said the country will not capitulate to Russia’s demands as delegations from both countries held talks at the Belarus border.

In an interview with CNBC, Kuleba said he wasn’t convinced the talks would be successful. 

“I’m a diplomat, I have to believe in the success of talks, but at the same time my main goal as a diplomat now is to impose more sanctions on Russia, to bring more weapons to Ukraine and to isolate Russia as much as we can in the international arena so I’m focused on this part of diplomacy,” he said.

“We stand not only for ourselves but for the world order as we all know it,” he added.

According to The Associated Press, Ukraine sent its defense minister and other top officials, while the Russian delegation was led by Putin’s adviser on culture.

Kuleba tweeted on Sunday that what is happening now in Ukraine is a “real people’s war.”

“We will not fall. We will not stop or get tired. We are determined to fight back fiercely as long as it is needed to defend our land and our people,” he said on Sunday.


Russian restaurant in DC vandalized

11:42 a.m.

A Russian restaurant in Northwest Washington, D.C. was vandalized twice this weekend after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine sparked condemnation worldwide.

Individuals broke windows and spray-painted “anti-Russian” graffiti on the Russia House building, according to NBC Washington, which cited D.C. police. It is unclear how many vandals may have been involved.

The building was reportedly vandalized on Feb. 25 and 27. Authorities are investigating the possibility of hate bias in the incident.


Calm reported in Kyiv after weekend curfew

11:37 a.m.

The Ukrainian capital of Kyiv was calm on Monday morning as authorities relaxed a curfew and permitted residents to go out.

Residents who had been under a curfew since Saturday amid Russia’s invasion patiently waited in lines to enter grocery stores and pharmacies, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Citizens had been encouraged to remain at home during the curfew.

NBC News reported that restrictions are expected to be reimposed around 10 p.m. and remain in effect until around 8 a.m. on Tuesday.

“Neighborhood people gave us all this—old washing machines, tires, roofing, anything they could throw out of their windows—to create this barricade,” 30-year-old Taras Oleksandovych, a volunteer at a checkpoint and member of Ukraine’s new Territorial Defense force, told the Journal.

Peace talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations began near Ukraine’s border with Belarus on Monday.


Switzerland breaks from policy of neutrality, adopting EU sanctions against Russia

11:12 a.m.

Switzerland will adopt the European Union’s sanctions against Russia, marking a break from its traditional policy of neutrality.

The Swiss government announced on Monday that it would impose financial sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and Foreign Ministry Sergey Lavrov. Switzerland, a longtime safe haven of Russian assets, also said it would target the assets of certain companies and individuals.

The country will also close its airspace to flights from Russia except for humanitarian, medical or diplomatic purposes. In addition, it will ban entry to people linked to Switzerland with a connection to Putin.

Switzerland has had a ban on imports, exports and investments from Crimea and Sevastopol since 2014, but that policy will also be expanded to the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, the government said.

It also said it would deliver rounds of relief supplies for Ukrainians fleeing their country to Poland, a neighboring nation that has taken in thousands of refugees since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.


IOC executive board recommends Olympic ban of Russian, Belarus athletes

10:41 a.m.

The executive board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Monday recommended that athletes from Russia and Belarus not be invited or permitted to participate in the Games.

“While athletes from Russia and Belarus would be able to continue to participate in sports events, many athletes from Ukraine are prevented from doing so because of the attack on their country,” the board’s statement said, adding that it is “a dilemma which cannot be solved.”

The board went on to say that the recommendation came with a “heavy heart.” Its statement also called on organizers of international sports to do “everything in their power to ensure that no athlete or sports official from Russia or Belarus be allowed to take part under the name of Russia or Belarus” even if it is not possible to prevent the participation of those athletes entirely.

FIFA, which is the global governing body of soccer, has prohibited matches in Russia and banned the Russian flag and national anthem in any competition. Russian would instead play under the name “Football Union of Russia (RFU).”


World’s largest plane destroyed in Russian invasion of Ukraine

10:36 a.m.

The Antonov-225 cargo plane, which was the world’s largest plane, was destroyed by Russian forces at an airfield in Gostomel near Kyiv, according to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

Kuleba confirmed the news on his Twitter account on Sunday, and said that “Russia may have destroyed our ‘Mriya’. But they will never be able to destroy our dream of a strong, free and democratic European state. We shall prevail!”


Ukraine’s Zelensky enlists foreign fighters in ‘international legion’

10:12 a.m.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday announced that an “international legion” would be created to enlist non-Ukrainian fighters who want to join the fight against Russia, according to USA Today.

A spokesperson for the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said that thousands of foreign people had offered to enlist and could now do so by reaching out to the Ukrainian embassies in their respective countries, the newspaper noted.

“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,” the spokesperson said.

Ukraine has already asked that its own civilians participate in the fight against Russian invasion forces and has barred men between the ages of 18 and 60 from leaving the country so that they can assist the military.


EU ready to allow Ukrainians to stay for up to three years

10:01 a.m.

The European Union is preparing to allow Ukrainians fleeing their country amid Russia’s invasion to remain in the EU for up to three years.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said at least 400,000 Ukrainians have entered the bloc thus far, according to Reuters.

“We have to prepare for millions (to arrive in the EU),” Johansson said during a news conference, the news service reported. She added that she hoped the EU’s interior ministers could provide plans for those leaving Ukraine as soon as Thursday.

Johansson was reportedly asked by the ministers to prepare proposals that would invoke the EU temporary protection directive, which is meant to provide protections for displaced people in the bloc for one to three years. The directive was created after the war in the Balkans in the 1990s, but has yet to be used, Reuters noted.

After Russia’s attack, many refugees have escaped to Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary, all of which are EU-member states that share a border with Ukraine.


Hungary says it won’t allow weapons bound for Ukraine to cross its territory

9:55 a.m.

Hungary announced on Monday that it will not allow weapons headed to Ukraine to cross its territory in an effort to keep the country safe.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, after meeting with Kosovo Foreign Minister Donika Gervalla, said the country decided to bar lethal weapons bound for Ukraine from crossing its land because “such deliveries might become targets of hostile military action,” according to Reuters. 

“And … we have to ensure the security of Hungary … that we are not getting involved in that war,” he added, according to the news service.

The move will likely block weapons that would have supported forces resisting the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Szijjarto also said Hungary would not dispatch troops or weapons to Ukraine.

Hungarian Defense Minister Tibor Benko announced on Tuesday that the country would send troops close to the Hungarian-Ukrainian border for humanitarian and security purposes.


Japan tightening sanctions on Russia

9:50 a.m.

Japan is tightening its sanctions against Russia roughly four days after Moscow began its invasion of Ukraine.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced in a series of tweets on Monday that Japan “will further strengthen our sanctions in response to the outrage of the invasion of Ukraine,” including restrictions on transactions with the Russian central bank.

The Treasury Department on Monday also announced that it was banning transactions with the Central Bank of Russia.

Kishida also said Japan was levying new sanctions against Belarus, including freezing the assets of President Alexander Lukashenko and other officials and groups in the country, according to The Associated Press. Additionally, the prime minister announced Japan would allow any Ukrainians living in Japan to get a visa extension if they seek one “To more solidly demonstrate our wish for solidarity with the people of Ukraine.”

He said he spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky before unveiling the new sanctions.

Japan had already sanctioned Russia after President Vladimir Putin ordered a military operation in Ukraine last week. The country had suspended the issuance of visas to specific Russian entities and individuals, placed export controls on certain items, and froze assets held by financial institutions in Russia.


France planning to seize Russians’ assets

9:46 a.m.

France on Monday announced it is preparing to seize assets from Russian officials and business leaders targeted by EU sanctions.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said France is in the process of listing real estate, financial assets, yachts and luxury cars owned by the wealthy Russians close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to The Associated Press

“We will get legal means to seize all these assets,” Le Maire said while speaking at the Elysee presidential palace after a special defense meeting on Ukraine, the AP reported.

He added French authorities are working to identify other Russian individuals who could be added to the EU sanctions due to “their proximity with the Russian leadership.”

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian confirmed that France would work with other European countries to send military equipment to Ukraine via a hub in Poland, the AP reported. France will also give humanitarian aid to Ukraine soon.


Russia banning airlines from 36 nations

9:22 a.m.

Russia announced on Monday that it would close its airspace to flights from 36 nations including members of the European Union and Canada after those countries announced that Russian flights would be barred from their skies, according to The Associated Press.

The state aviation agency noted that planes from those countries could only enter Russia’s skies with special permission.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was scheduled to visit the United Nations, but that meeting was canceled due to the closure of the EU’s airspace to Russian flights, the AP noted.

The U.S. Embassy in Russia also issued a security alert on Sunday encouraging Americans to leave the country amid Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, especially as more countries began to close their airspace.

“An increasing number of airlines are cancelling flights into and out of Russia, and numerous countries have closed their airspace to Russian airlines,” the embassy said, adding that “U.S. citizens should consider departing Russia immediately via commercial options still available.”


China: Sanctions will make ‘political settlement’ between Ukraine, Russia more difficult

9:17 a.m.

China is condemning Western sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, arguing that such penalties will make a “political settlement” between Moscow and Kyiv more difficult.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters at a briefing on Monday said Beijing is against “unilateral sanctions that have no basis in international law,” according to The Associated Press. The news service, however, noted that China has imposed sanctions against countries, including Lithuania, because of their viewpoints regarding Taiwan.

He also argued that sanctions will lead to poor economic outcomes while stymying the “political settlement” process.

“Facts have long proven that sanctions could not help solve problems but create new issues,” Wang said, according to the AP. “It will not only result in a lose-lose or multi-lose situation economically, but also disrupt the process of political settlement.”

The U.S and its allies have levied sweeping sanctions against Russia and its top figures, including President Vladimir Putin, since Moscow began its invasion of Ukraine last week.


800 arrested as Belarus votes to ditch non-nuclear status

9:00 a.m.

Roughly 800 people were reportedly arrested during protests in Belarus after the country abandoned its non-nuclear status in a referendum.

Official data showed that the vote passed by 65 percent, allowing for the possibility of nuclear weapons in Belarus for the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union, according to Reuters.

In videos posted to social media, dozens of people could be seen at Belarusian polling places chanting, “No to war,” the news service reported.

The vote sparked mass protests in the streets despite President Alexander Lukashenko’s crackdown on dissenters.

On Sunday, Lukashenko threatened to return nuclear weapons to Belarus should the West place them in neighboring countries, the news service added.

“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,” the president said.

Belarus served as a staging ground for the Russian invasion of Ukraine and peace talks are occurring on its border with Ukraine on Monday.


Kremlin knocks EU’s ‘hostile’ measures

8:53 a.m.

The Kremlin on Monday knocked the European Union’s “hostile” measures after the bloc announced that it was funding weapons and equipment deliveries to Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters at a news briefing that the EU was “taking an unfriendly position” toward Russia and “taking measures that are not friendly, but hostile towards us,” according to Reuters.

He also argued that the latest moves from the bloc confirmed that Moscow was correct in launching a military operation against Ukraine.

“This, once again, confirms that Russia was right about the measures that are being taken in order to ensure the demilitarization of the country,” Peskov reportedly said.

The comments come after EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Twitter Sunday that the bloc would be financing the purchase and delivery of weapons to Ukraine. She noted that it marked the first time the union had made such a move.

Peskov on Monday said weapons sent to Ukraine would become “an extremely dangerous and destabilizing factor” that could cause dangerous long-term consequences rather than bring stability back to the region, according to Reuters.


Airbnb offering free, short-term housing to Ukraine refugees

8:37 a.m.

Airbnb announced on Monday that it would offer free, short-term housing to up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine.

The company said that the refugees’ stays would be funded by Airbnb, Inc., donors to the Refugee Fund, and through hosts on the site.

Company leaders and co-founders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk wrote to European leaders in Poland, Germany, Hungary and Romania to offer support to refugees arriving in their countries.

“While is committing to facilitate short-term housing for up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine, it will work closely with governments to best support the specific needs in each country, including by providing longer-term stays,” the company’s announcement said.

The announcement comes on the same day that United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi estimated in a tweet that over 500,000 refugees have fled Ukraine into neighboring countries amid the Russian invasion.


Russia has fired 350+ missiles at Ukraine targets, US defense official says

8:25 a.m.

Russia has fired upward of 350 missiles at Ukrainian targets since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine started on Thursday, a U.S. defense official told Reuters.

Some of the missiles have struck civilian infrastructure, the news service reported.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said a missile struck an apartment building near the Zhuliany airport on Saturday, according to Al Jazeera.

The new total is a large increase from Thursday, when a senior Defense Department official told reporters that the Kremlin launched “in total more than 160 missiles for airstrikes” from both group- and naval-based platforms. The official said most of the projectiles were short-range ballistic missiles, but noted that the airstrikes included “a mix of medium-range as well as cruise missiles.”


More than 500K refugees have fled Ukraine: UN

8:19 a.m.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi announced in a tweet on Monday that more than 500,000 refugees have fled Ukraine into neighboring countries.

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, long lines of cars and buses were seen at the borders of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova. Other refugees traveled on foot to neighboring countries.

Shabia Mantoo, a UNHCR spokeswoman, told The Associated Press that the latest count included approximately 281,000 Ukrainian refugees in Poland, more than 84,500 in Hungary, roughly 36,400 in Moldova, over 32,500 in Romania and about 30,000 in Slovakia.

A great majority of refugees are likely women and children, as Ukraine has barred men between the ages of 18 to 60 from leaving the country to have them available to fight in the military.


Russian military says nuclear deterrent forces on high alert after Putin order

8:07 a.m.

Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces are on high alert after President Vladimir Putin’s order on Sunday, according to the country’s military.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told Putin that all Russian nuclear forces, including the Strategic Missile Forces that manage land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, the Northern and Pacific Fleets that includes submarine-dispatched intercontinental ballistic missiles, and the long-range aviation that is armed with nuclear-capable strategic bombers, were put on high alert, according to The Associated Press.

Shoigu also said that more personnel were added to command posts,  the AP noted.

Putin on Sunday ordered his nation’s nuclear defense system to be put on high alert, pointing to what he called “aggressive statements” regarding Russia from top officials in NATO countries.

The AP reported that it is not clear what putting the nuclear forces on high alert entails, but noted that the order has heightened concerns that the Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine could result in higher and more dangerous tensions.


Belarus expected to send troops into Ukraine, US official says

7:52 a.m.

Belarus is expected to send troops into Ukraine, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official.

The unidentified source told The Associated Press that Belarusian troops are expected to join Russian forces in Ukraine as soon as Monday.

Belarus has been supporting Russia in its invasion of Ukraine, the AP noted, though the country has not directly involved itself in the unfolding situation.

The Ukrainian State Border Guard Service announced early Thursday morning, after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a military operation in Ukraine, that Russian troops had attacked Ukraine from Belarus. Additionally, Russia and Belarus extended their military drills days before the invasion, which further heightened fears that Moscow was preparing to invade Ukraine.

News of Belarusian troops likely being sent to Russia came the same day that Ukrainian and Russian officials met for peace talks on the border of Ukraine and Belarus.


State Department closes embassy in Belarus, allows US diplomats to leave Russia

7:50 a.m.

The State Department said Monday it has suspended operations at its embassy in Belarus and authorized U.S. diplomats at the embassy in Russia to leave voluntarily.

The move came as tensions rose over Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine.

“We took these steps due to security and safety issues stemming from the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement Monday morning.


US imposes sanctions on Russian central bank

7:45 a.m.

The Treasury Department on Monday banned transactions with the Central Bank of Russia and the Russian foreign investment fund, imposing strict financial sanctions on a Russian economy already in free fall.

The new penalties effectively cut the Russian central bank from the U.S. dollar and severely limit Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ability to dampen the blow of previous sanctions.


Ceasefire talks begin between Ukraine, Russian officials

7:33 a.m.

Ceasefire talks between Ukrainian and Russian officials began on Monday, several days into an invasion launched by Moscow that is still unfolding.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told Reuters in a text message that the ceasefire talks, which are taking place on the Belarusian border, had started.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office previously said that Kyiv had the goal of reaching a ceasefire and compelling Russian forces to leave Ukraine.


Zelensky calls for Ukraine to be given immediate EU membership

6:57 a.m.

President Volodymyr Zelensky is asking for Ukraine to be admitted to the European Union as his country fights off Russian forces amid a full-scale invasion.

“Our goal is to be together with all Europeans and, most importantly, to be on an equal footing,” Zelensky said during a video address, according to the New York Times.

“I’m sure it’s fair,” he added. “I’m sure it’s possible.”


Ruble plummets as sanctions bite, sending Russians to banks

6:53 a.m.

MOSCOW (AP) — Ordinary Russians faced the prospect of higher prices and crimped foreign travel as Western sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine sent the ruble plummeting, leading uneasy people to line up at banks and ATMs on Monday in a country that has seen more than one currency disaster in the post-Soviet era.

The Russian currency plunged about 30 percent against the U.S. dollar Monday after Western nations announced moves to block some Russian banks from the SWIFT international payment system and to restrict Russia’s use of its massive foreign currency reserves. The exchange rate later recovered ground after swift action by Russia’s central bank.

People wary that sanctions would deal a crippling blow to the economy have been flocking to banks and ATMs for days, with reports in social media of long lines and machines running out.


UN: 500,000+ people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded

6:50 a.m.

GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. refugee agency said Monday that more than 500,000 people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded the country last week.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi gave the estimate in a tweet.

The latest and still growing count had 281,000 people entering Poland, more than 84,500 in Hungary, about 36,400 in Moldova, over 32,500 in Romania and about 30,000 in Slovakia, UNHCR spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo said.

The rest were scattered in unidentified other countries, she said.


Ukraine slows Russian advance under shadow of nuclear threat

6:48 a.m.

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — 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 met Monday on Ukraine’s border with Belarus. It’s unclear what, if anything, those talks would yield.


Tags Antony Blinken Belarus Boris Johnson Chris Murphy economy Emmanuel Macron hungary Jen Psaki Jill Biden Joe Biden Justin Trudeau Mark Warner nuclear Russia Russia Russia-Ukraine conflict sanctions Ukraine Ukraine Vladimir Putin

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