What you need to know right now
- Russian artillery bombarded residential districts of Ukraine's second largest city Kharkiv on Monday, killing at least 11 people, the city's mayor said, as Moscow's invading forces met stiff resistance on a fifth day of conflict.
- Talks on a ceasefire ended without a breakthrough. A member of the Ukrainian delegation said the discussions were difficult and the Russian side was biased.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin told France's Emmanuel Macron that a Ukraine settlement was only possible if Kyiv was neutral, "denazified" and "demilitarised" and Russian control over annexed Crimea was formally recognised, the Kremlin said.
- The United States expects Russian forces to try to encircle Kyiv in the coming days and could become more aggressive out of frustration with their slow advance on the Ukrainian capital, a senior U.S. defense official said on Monday.
- The United States has still not seen any "muscle movements" after Russian President Vladimir Putin's weekend announcement that he was putting his nuclear forces on high alert, a senior U.S. defense official said on Monday. Earlier in the day, Russia's defence ministry said its nuclear missile forces and Northern and Pacific fleets had been placed on enhanced combat duty.
- Ukraine's Western allies increased weapons transfers in support, and Britain called for such aid to be expanded. Finland agreed to ship 2,500 assault rifles and 1,500 anti-tank weapons.
- Russia's foreign ministry said those supplying lethal weapons to Ukraine will bear responsibility should they be used during Russia's military campaign there. It said the steps taken by the EU against Russia would meet a harsh response. Read full story
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy signed a letter formally requesting immediate membership of the European Union for Ukraine - a request unlikely to shorten the admission process, but an emphatic statement of commitment to Western values. Several EU countries came out in support of Zelenskiy's petition.
- The United Nations said on Monday that more than 500,000 people have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries since the start of Russia's invasion.
Sanctions and economic fallout
- The United States on Monday imposed sanctions on Russia's central bank and other sources of wealth, dealing a crushing blow to the country's economy and further punishing Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
- Europe's financial market on Monday began severing Russia's ties to its critical plumbing for trading, clearing and settling securities as sanctions on Moscow started to bite.
- The Russian rouble fell to fresh record lows on Monday while world stocks slid and oil prices jumped, as the West ramped up sanctions against Russia over its Ukraine invasion, with steps including blocking banks from the SWIFT global payments system.
- Russia's central bank more than doubled its key policy rate on Monday and introduced some capital controls as the country faced deepening economic isolation, but its governor said sanctions had stopped it selling foreign currency to prop up the rouble.
- Airlines on Monday braced for a potentially lengthy dispute after the European Union banned Russian airlines from its airspace and Moscow responded in kind, barring carriers from 36 countries including all 27 members of the EU.
- Britain on Monday ordered its ports to block any vessels that are Russian-flagged or believed to be registered, owned or controlled by any person connected with Russia.
- Energy giant BP, global bank HSBC and the world's biggest aircraft leasing firm AerCap joined a growing list of companies looking to exit Russia on Monday, as Western sanctions tightened the screws on Moscow.
21:40pm: The United States has expelled 12 Russian diplomats at the United Nations over national security concerns, U.S. and Russian diplomats said on Monday.
The U.S. mission to the United Nations described the Russian diplomats as "intelligence operatives" who had been "engaging in espionage activities that are adverse to our national security."
"This action has been in development for several months," said U.S. mission spokesperson Olivia Dalton.
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters the diplomats had been asked to leave by March 7th. He said Russia would respond to the move "because it's diplomatic practice."
It comes as the U.N. Security Council is currently meeting to discuss the ongoing situation in Ukraine.
"The mere idea of a nuclear conflict is simply inconceivable.
Nothing can justify the use of nuclear weapons."
-- @antonioguterres at #UNGA special session on situation in Ukraine. https://t.co/QvH6np6Yi8 pic.twitter.com/Yvmbkd7CrHAdvertisement
— United Nations (@UN) February 28, 2022
21:30pm: U.S. President Joe Biden discussed with world leaders during a conference call on Monday efforts to further impose "severe costs and consequences" on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, the White House said.
The leaders also discussed maintaining global economic stability, including with regard to energy prices, the White House said.
Today, the United States and our allies and partners are preventing Putin from accessing his war chest to cushion the blow of our sanctions and fund his invasion of Ukraine. https://t.co/NtWvxpR28Z
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 28, 2022
20:00pm: At least 11 people were killed on Monday in rocket strikes by Russian forces on residential districts of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, the head of the regional administration Oleg Synegubov said.
The northeastern city, Ukraine's second largest, has become one of the major battlegrounds since Russia invaded Ukraine last week in the biggest assault on a European state since World War Two. Read full story
Synegubov said Russian forces were firing artillery at residential areas of Kharkiv where there are no Ukrainian army positions or strategic infrastructure.
"This is happening in the daytime, when people have gone out to the pharmacy, for groceries, or for drinking water. It's a crime," he said.
⚡️⚡️⚡️Another Air raid in Kyiv.
People must urgently go to the nearest shelter.
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) February 28, 2022
It was not immediately possible to independently verify the casualty figures. Earlier Interior Ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko said Russian rocket strikes on Kharkiv on Monday had killed dozens of people.
Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” that it says is not designed to occupy territory but to destroy its southern neighbour's military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists.
On Sunday, Ukraine's health ministry said 352 civilians, including 14 children, had been killed since the beginning of the invasion.
5:20pm: The United States expects Russian forces to try to encircle Kyiv in the coming days and could become more aggressive out of frustration with their slow advance on the Ukrainian capital, a senior U.S. defense official said on Monday.
Air raid sirens wailed across the largely empty streets of Kyiv on Monday warning of another possible missile attack by Russia as the city girds for worse battles to come as Russian forces approach.
"We expect that they're going to want to continue to move forward and try to encircle the city in the coming days," the official said, adding that Russian troops were about 25 km (16 miles) from Kyiv's city center.
U.S. officials believe that stiff Ukrainian resistance has slowed the progress of Russian troops and planning failures have left some Russian units without fuel or other supplies.
— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) February 28, 2022
3:45pm: At least 44 people have been wounded in fighting in Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv, and seven of them died in hospitals, Ukrainian authorities said.
It was not clear if the casualties, which covered the past 24 hours, were all civilians.
The state emergencies agency said the casualties could be higher because the damage from Monday’s shelling of residential areas is still being assessed.
2:30pm: Russia's defence ministry said on Monday its nuclear missile forces and Northern and Pacific fleets had been placed on enhanced combat duty, Interfax news agency reported, in line with an order the previous day from President Vladimir Putin.
2:05pm: The European Union's energy policy chief said on Monday she expected ministers from EU countries to back a proposal for Ukraine's electricity grid to be synchronised with the European network as soon as possible.
"I expect that energy ministers will support the emergency synchronization of Ukraine's power grid with the European grid as soon as possible," EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson said on her arrival to a meeting of EU energy ministers in Brussels.
Ukraine has started testing its power grid in a step to link it to a European network and decouple from a grid linked to Russia, which invaded the country on Thursday.
1.50pm: Joining the European Union is not something that can be done in a couple of months, but Ukraine is part of the "house of Europe" in which it is welcome, German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said on Monday.
"And it's not that we woke up in a different world just now because the European Union has always been a house whose doors were open," Baerbock said in a joint press conference after a meeting with her Slovenian counterpart Anze Logar.
She added Ukraine's accession would not signal that the EU wished to partition it off from Russia but would reflect a desire to fulfil the wish of many Ukrainians to join. The EU was not the only Europe-wide body seeking to preserve peace and security that countries could join, she added.
Talked with Prime Minister of Japan @kishida230. Thanked for a strong support to 🇺🇦 in countering aggression. 🇯🇵 allocates $100 million to the already approved aid of $100 million, fully supports tough sanctions against Russia. Thank you! A truly global anti-war coalition works.Advertisement
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) February 28, 2022
1.35pm: Russia has a system that can replace the SWIFT international payments system internally, Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina said on Monday, stressing the need to support clients of banks.
Nabiullina said all banks in Russia will fulfil their obligations and all funds on their accounts are secured.
1.20pm: Russia has barred airlines from 36 countries including Britain, Germany, Spain, Italy and Canada from using Russian airspace in a retaliatory move after sweeping sanctions targeting its aviation sector.
1.05pm: Slovakia will ask the European Union's border and coastguard agency Frontex to help secure the country's border with Ukraine that has been under pressure due to tens of thousands of refugees fleeing Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the country's interior ministry said on Monday.
12.55pm: Operations at the US embassy in Minsk have been suspended and non-emergency employees and family members are authorised to voluntarily depart the US embassy in Moscow, secretary of state Blinken said in a statement on Monday.
"We took these steps due to security and safety issues stemming from the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine," Blinken said.
12.45pm: The US has cut off the Russian central bank and sanctioned the state investment fund in a hard-hitting retaliation for the Ukraine invasion.
12.40pm: Ukraine and its allies on Monday called for a United Nations inquiry into possible war crimes committed by Russia during its actions in Ukraine.
A Ukrainian draft resolution will be considered at an urgent UN debate on Thursday.
A commission of three independent experts would investigate all alleged violations of international law in Crimea and the Donetsk and Luhansk regions since 2014 and in other areas of Ukraine since Russia's invasion last week.
12.25pm: France will uphold the presence of its embassy in Ukraine despite the war, foreign affairs minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told journalists after a senior government crisis meeting at president Macron's Elysee department.
12.15pm: Russian businessman Roman Abramovich, who owns English football Premier League club Chelsea, has accepted a Ukrainian request to help negotiate an end to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, his spokeswoman said
11.40am: Ukraine’s president says 16 Ukrainian children have been killed and another 45 have been injured in the Russian invasion.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video message that “every crime, every shelling by the occupiers bring our partners and us even closer”.
He hailed the sanctions that the West slapped on Russia, saying they have brought the Russian currency down.
11.35am: Ukrainian MP Lesia Vasylenko has said that she expects nothing from today's talks – except perhaps a reprieve from the Russian barrage.
11.25am: The European arm of Sberbank, Russia's biggest lender, faces failure, the European Central Bank (ECB) warned, after a run on its deposits sparked by the backlash from Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Sberbank Europe and two other subsidiaries were set to fail, after "significant deposit outflows" linked to "geopolitical tensions", according to the ECB. Austria's Financial Market Authority imposed a moratorium on Sberbank Europe, which is based in the country.
11.15am: The head of a UN agency said on Monday that more than 500,000 people have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries since the start of Russia's invasion last week.
Filippo Grandi, head of the UN refugee agency UNHCR, made the remarks on his Twitter feed as the global agency's chief said its teams were stepping up humanitarian efforts amid escalating rights abuses there.
More than 500,000 refugees have now fled from Ukraine into neighbouring countries.
— Filippo Grandi (@FilippoGrandi) February 28, 2022
11am: Russia is not considering recalling its ambassadors from European countries, Interfax news agency cited Evgeny Ivanov, a deputy foreign minister, as saying at a time when Moscow's relations with the West have plumbed new lows.
10.50am: Greece has suspended the issuance and renewal of residence permits to wealthy Russians investing in Greece "until further notice," the migration ministry said.
The ministry said the decision affects applications currently being considered as well as new ones.
10.40am: Talks between Ukraine and Russia have started at the Belarussian border, Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak told Reuters via text message on Monday.
Earlier the Ukrainian president's office said Ukraine's goal for the talks was an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine.
10.25am: Volkswagen temporarily suspended deliveries of cars already in Russia to local dealerships, the RIA news agency said on Monday, citing the company's statement.
Separately, Volkswagen decided to halt production for a few days this week at two German factories after a delay in getting parts made in Ukraine.
10.10am: The Kremlin said Russia's economic reality had changed but saw no reason to doubt the effectiveness and reliability of the central bank, which hiked interest rates to 20 per cent as it sought to shield the economy from unprecedented Western sanctions.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said president Vladimir Putin would meet with several officials during the day, including the finance minister and central bank governor.
He said Russia had a plan to react to sanctions and was now carrying it out.
10am: Euroclear has closed its link to rival settlement house Clearstream Banking for settling trades in Russian securities in response to European Union financial sanctions, it said on Monday.
Brussels-based Euroclear and Clearstream, part of Deutsche Boerse, settle securities transactions, the final leg of a trade when legal ownership is swapped between the two sides of the transaction.
9.50am: The European Union is preparing to grant Ukrainians who flee the war the right to stay and work in the 27-nation bloc for up to three years, senior EU and French officials said.
At least 300,000 Ukrainian refugees have entered the EU so far, and the bloc needs to prepare for millions more, they said. EU members Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary have land borders with Ukraine.
9.35am: Russia has ordered Alphabet Inc's Google to immediately restrict access to information posted as part of Google Ads that it said contained inaccurate information about casualties sustained by Russian forces and Ukrainian civilians.
State communications regulator Roskomnadzor said it had sent a letter to Google demanding that the offending materials be removed and said it would block internet resources that publish such information.
9.30am: Nato partners are providing Ukraine with air-defence missiles and anti-tank weapons, Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg said in a tweet on Monday, adding that he had held another phone conversation with Ukraine's president earlier.
I just spoke with President @ZelenskyyUa & commended him for the bravery of the people & armed forces of #Ukraine. #NATO Allies are stepping up support with air-defence missiles, anti-tank weapons, as well as humanitarian & financial aid.
— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) February 28, 2022
9.20am: Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy asked the European Union to allow Ukraine to gain membership under a special procedure immediately as it defends itself from invasion by Russian forces.
"Our goal is to be with all Europeans and, most importantly, to be equal. I'm sure that's fair. I am sure we deserve it," he said in a video speech shared on social media.
9.10am: UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said on Monday that the escalation of Russia's military operations in Ukraine was leading to rising human rights violations and that the global body was monitoring them with teams on the ground.
"The escalation of military operations by the Russian Federation in Ukraine is leading to escalating human rights violations," Guterres said in a recorded speech at the opening of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Human rights cannot be confiscated by dictators or erased by poverty.
They are inescapable – and powerful.
The @UN works every day, everywhere, to uphold and promote human rights for all.
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) February 28, 2022
"We must show all people in Ukraine that we stand by them in their time of need."
In the same speech, Guterres said that a report due to be published later on Monday by a UN panel on adaptation to climate change represented "another death knell for the world we know", and urged compliance with the 2015 Paris accord.
8.55am: A Ukrainian delegation has arrived at the border with Belarus for talks with Russian representatives that will focus on achieving an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian forces, the Ukrainian presidency said in a statement.
The delegation includes defence minister Oleksii Reznikov and presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak among others, it said.
8.45am: Bulgarian prime minister Kiril Petkov said he would propose the dismissal of defence minister Stefan Yanev after Yanev's reluctance to describe the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a war prompted calls for his removal.
Petkov said the centrist coalition government will have a meeting later on Monday to decide on Yanev's dismissal, when he would also propose a new defence minister.
8.35am: European Union defence ministers will meet virtually later on Monday to coordinate their assistance for Ukraine after the bloc decided for the first time to jointly fund weapons and send them to Kyiv, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Twitter.
I am convening today the EU defence ministers, to discuss the latest situation on the ground in #Ukraine in view of Russia’s unprovoked assault.
We will discuss further urgent needs & coordinate our assistance, with help of the clearing house managed by the EU Military Staff.
— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) February 28, 2022
8.25am: India plans to send four senior ministers to Ukraine's border nations, a government source said on Monday, to help in the rescue of thousands of its citizens who remain trapped more than four days after Russia's invasion of the country.
Prime minister Narendra Modi met senior officials on Monday to discuss evacuation efforts, amid rising concerns back home about the safety of some 16,000 Indians still in Ukraine, most of them students.
8.20am: Russian invasion forces seized two small cities in southeastern Ukraine and the area around a nuclear power plant, the Interfax news agency reported on Monday.
8.05am: Ukraine's state-run nuclear company Energoatom has denied reports that Russia has taken over the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, Interfax Ukraine news agency said.
Last week Russian forces gained control over the site of the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant, site of the world's worst nuclear disaster.
7.55am: China's foreign ministry on Monday reiterated its opposition to the use of what it calls illegal and unilateral sanctions, after western countries moved to block some Russian banks from the SWIFT international payments system.
Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin was speaking at a regular daily news briefing.
7.40am: Russian President Vladimir Putin raised the prospect of readying a nuclear deterrent in order to distract from a lack of progress in the invasion of Ukraine, British defence secretary Ben Wallace said
7.30am: The Russian central bank raised its key interest rate to 20 per cent from 9.5 per cent on Monday in an emergency move, and authorities told export-focused companies to sell foreign currency as the rouble tumbled to record lows.
"External conditions for the Russian economy have drastically changed," the central bank said in a statement.
"The increase of the key rate will ensure a rise in deposit rates to levels needed to compensate for the increased depreciation and inflation risks. This is needed to support financial and price stability and protect citizens' savings from depreciation."
The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog says missiles have hit a radioactive waste disposal site in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
In a statement late on Sunday, International Atomic Energy Agency director general Rafael Grossi said Ukrainian authorities informed his office about the overnight strike, but there are no reports of damage to the buildings or indications of a release of radioactive material.
He said his agency expects to soon receive the results of on-site radioactive monitoring.
The report came a day after an electrical transformer at a similar disposal facility in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv was damaged.
Such facilities typically hold low-level radioactive materials such as waste from hospitals and industry, but Mr Grossi said the two incidents highlight a “very real risk”.
He said if the sites are damaged there could be “potentially severe consequences for human health and the environment”.
It comes as Russian troops drew closer to the Ukrainian capital whose mayor warned the city was encircled, and president Vladimir Putin ordered Russian nuclear forces to be put on high alert
In an interview with the Associated Press (AP) on Sunday, after a gruelling night of Russian attacks on the outskirts of the city, mayor Vitali Klitschko was silent for several seconds when asked if there were plans to evacuate civilians if Russian troops managed to take Kyiv.
“We can’t do that, because all ways are blocked,” he finally said.
“Right now we are encircled.”
A senior US intelligence official has also said Belarus is expected to send troops into Ukraine as soon as Monday to fight alongside Russian forces that invaded last week.
Belarus has been providing support for Russia’s war effort, but so far has not taken a direct part in the conflict.
Meanwhile, in the port city of Mariupol, Ukrainians are trying to fend off a Russian advance.
An ambulance raced into a city hospital on Sunday, carrying a six-year-old girl who was mortally injured in Russian shelling.
She was pale. Her brown hair was pulled back with a rubber band. Her bloody pyjama pants were decorated with cartoon unicorns. She was brought in with her wounded father, his head bloodied and bandaged.
A medical team pumped her chest, fighting desperately to revive her. Her mother stood outside the ambulance, weeping.
“Take her out! Take her out! We can make it!” a hospital worker shouted, pushing a gurney to the ambulance.
The girl was raced inside and doctors and nurses huddled around her. One gave her an injection. Another tried to revive her with a defibrillator. A nurse wept.
A doctor in blue medical scrubs, pumping oxygen into her, looked straight at the camera of an Associated Press video journalist who had been allowed inside.
“Show this to Putin,” he said angrily. “The eyes of this child, and crying doctors.”
The girl, whose name was not immediately known, could not be saved. The doctor reached gently over her face to close her eyes.
Her body was left alone in the room, covered by her brightly coloured polyester jacket, now spattered with blood.
The Russian rouble sank nearly 26% against the US dollar early on Monday after Western nations moved to block Russian banks from the Swift global payment system.
The rouble was trading at a record low 105.27 per dollar (£78.95), down from about 84 per dollar (£63) late on Friday.
Earlier, Mr Putin ordered Russian nuclear forces to be put on high alert in response to what he called “aggressive statements” by leading Nato powers.
The order to put Russia’s nuclear weapons in an increased state of readiness for launch raised fears that the crisis could boil over into nuclear warfare, whether by design or miscalculation.
Amid the mounting tensions, Ukraine announced that a delegation would meet with Russian officials for talks.
But the Kremlin’s ultimate intentions towards Ukraine – and what steps might be enough to satisfy Moscow – remained unclear.
Hours after Mr Putin’s announcement, the top official in the European Union said the 27-nation bloc will close its airspace to Russian airlines and fund the purchase of weapons for Ukraine and ban some pro-Kremlin media outlets, she said.
Street fighting also broke out in Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, and strategic ports in the country’s south came under pressure from the invading forces.