Russia-Ukraine War: Fifth Day of Fighting Continues With No End in Sight

Live Updates
  • Heavy fighting continues as Russian forces look to takeover Ukraine on the invasion's fifth day. Satellite images showed a miles-long convoy preparing to enter the capital city of Kyiv in what could present a major blow to the Ukrainian resistance.
  • Beyond Kyiv, Russian heavy artillery continues to rain rockets down on Ukraine's second-largest city, Kharkiv.
  • While an exact death toll remains hard to pinpoint, the United Nations is estimating significant casualties on both the Ukrainian and Russian sides. Additionally, over 500,000 Ukrainians have been forced to flee their country as refugees, and up to four million people could be displaced in the coming weeks.
  • The international response to the invasion continues to be prolonged, with countries enacting further sanctions against both Russian individuals and companies.
  • U.S. and international intelligence communities have said that, despite the mounting pressure, Russian forces were likely unprepared for the significant defensive that has been mounted by Ukrainian freedom fighters.
Ukrainian Fighters
People take part in a basic military training session on February 28, 2022 in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine. Ukrainians from the eastern and central parts of the country have increasingly fled to western cities as Russian forces advance toward Kyiv from three sides. Russia launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine last week, prompting widespread condemnation from European countries, coupled with sanctions on Russia and promises of military support for Ukraine. Photo by Alexey Furman/Getty Images

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Air raid sirens blare as invasion of Ukraine continues

Three administrative regions in western Ukraine have been warned of air raids, according to a tweet from The Kyiv Independent.

As the Russian military continues its incursion into Ukraine, the regions of Volyn, Ternopil and Rivne have all been put on alert for air raids. Volyn shares a border with Poland, a member of NATO.

Russian forces began launching air strikes in Ukraine as part of the invasion of the country. So far, there are indications that Russian airstrikes have been surgical and have damaged military facilities while keeping some assets, like airfields, in tact, according to a Newsweek analysis.

Earlier on Monday, multiple European countries and the U.S. said they would provide military aid to Ukraine, including fighter jets.

United Nations Planning For Up To 4M Ukrainian Refugees In Coming Weeks

The United Nations (U.N.) says that up to four million refugees could be forced out of Ukraine in the coming weeks if the invasion by Russia doesn't subside.

At least 520,000 people have already been forced to flee as a result of the fighting, said U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. It does not appear that that number is going to slow down anytime soon, Grandi added.

Despite the impending crisis, numerous countries surrounding Ukraine have pledged to let refugees cross their borders to safety. This includes Hungary, Moldova, Bulgaria, and Romania, all of whom have welcomed Ukrainian refugees with open arms.

Additionally, Ukrainian refugees do not currently require a visa to enter the European Union. This has caused some people to flee to nations that are situated farther towards the western edge of Europe, such as Germany - where at least 1,800 Ukrainians have already arrived.

The United States, along with a number of other NATO allies, has also pledged to take in as many refugees from the area as possible.

Taiwan ships medical supplies in act of solidarity with Ukraine

Taiwan has shipped 27 tons of medical supplies to Ukraine in a gesture it described as helping fight "the expansion of authoritarianism."

Announcing the donation on Twitter, foreign minister Joseph Wu referenced the close alliance between Russia and China, which has laid claim to Taiwan as a breakaway province.

"While #China sides with #Russia in an "unlimited alliance," #Taiwan is with freedom & democracy fighting the expansion of authoritarianism," wrote Wu. "I have faith: Democracy will prevail!"

China has called for negotiations over Ukraine despite its increasingly close strategic relationship to Russia.

Ukraine Sets Up Hotline For Families of Russian Prisoners Of War

Ukrainian officials have set up a phone hotline that will help connect Russian families with prisoners of war in order to shed light on the conditions in Ukraine.

This hotline, according to the Army Times, is reportedly called Ishchi Svoikh or 'Look For Your Own' and is designed to show Russian citizens the true happenings in Ukraine following the invasion, as opposed to what is shown on Russian state television.

Among the services offered by the hotline will be a channel in which Russian mothers can call in to see if their sons have been killed in the fighting. This was reportedly done in an effort to drum up sympathy for the Ukrainian cause among Russians, many of whom have already expressed their opposition to war.

As the push to get factual information through Russian lines continues, varying reports over the weekend said that both Twitter and Facebook have been blocked in Russia in an attempt to downplay the violence in Ukraine.

Russian invasion already spurring changes to Europe's energy infrastructure

Calling the war against a Ukraine a "watershed moment" for Europe's energy system, a EU official outlined how the conflict is already reshaping how gas and electricity flow across the continent.

EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson on Monday described the steps being taken by member states and Ukraine to reduce reliance on energy-rich Russia. Speaking to reporters following a meeting of the EU's energy council, Simson said the Russian military attacked Ukraine the same day the country was conducting tests that would pave the way for its synchronize its grid with the EU.

Ukraine's energy minister German Galushchenko said his nation will not reconnect its grid back to Russia and will instead seek and emergency synchronization with the EU, said Simson.

In the meantime, he said Ukraine needs "our very practical, immediate help" covering diesel, petrol, jet fuel, and generators.

While the EU can get through the winter safely, he said it's looking for alternative gas supplies, increased storage and infrastructure upgrades to make sure it gets where it's most needed.

"Following the measures taken by the EU and the international community to sanction Russia, we cannot exclude that Russia will take retaliatory steps that will impact energy trade," he said. "A full disruption would be a challenge for us, but we have tools in place to handle the implications."

Warner Bros Follows Disney's Lead, Halts Release of 'The Batman' in Russia

Just hours after The Walt Disney Company announced it would stop showing new theatrical films in Russia as a result of the invasion of Ukraine, Warner Bros. Pictures says it will pause the release of the upcoming movie The Batman in Russia as well.

"In light of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, WarnerMedia is pausing the release of its feature film The Batman in Russia," Warner Bros. parent company WarnerMedia said in a statement. "We will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves. We hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to this tragedy."

One of the most highly anticipated films of 2022, The Batman was slated to be released in Russia on March 3. Another large Warner Bros. production, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, is due to be released on Russian screens on April 14, and it remains to be seen if Warner Bros. will similarly pull the plug.

The decision follows Monday's announcement from Disney that the media conglomerate was halting the release of new theatrical films in Russia, dealing a major blow to one of the largest Hollywood markets outside of the United States. This includes films being produced or made by any subsidiaries of The Walt Disney Company.

The Motion Picture Association (MPA), the entertainment industry's main lobbying group, also released a statement on the Russian invasion, saying that the organization "stands with the international community in upholding the rule of law and condemning Russia."

The International Ice Hockey Federation indefinitely bans Russian teams

The International Ice Hockey Federation issued a blanket suspension of all Russian and Belarusian teams in all of its competitions "until further notice."

The federation's extraordinary move is the latest in the ongoing economic, cultural and diplomatic fallout Russia faces over its invasion of Ukraine.

"The IIHF strongly condemns the use of military force and urges the use of diplomatic means to solve conflict," the federation said in a statement.

The federation's council made the decision follow a meeting on Monday where it evaluated "the impact of the current war." The decision means teams from Russia and its ally Belarus won't be able to participate in multiple upcoming events.

In addition to banning participation by all clubs from the countries, the federation is also withdrawing 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship hosting rights from Russia over what the federation says is concern for the safety of players, officials and fans.

"The IIHF is not a political entity and cannot influence the decisions being taken over the war in Ukraine," said IIHF President Luc Tardif in a statement. "We nevertheless have a duty of care to all of our members and participants and must therefore do all we can to ensure that we are able to operate our events in a safe environment for all teams taking part in the IIHF World Championship program."

Ukraine Asks U.S. For More Weaponry to Fight Russian Aggression

While a number of countries have sent Ukraine additional resources in their fight against the Russian invasion, Ukrainian officials have asked the United States to procure additional weaponry.

Oksana Markarova, Ukraine's Ambassador to the U.S., said Monday following a meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill that her nation needs significantly higher numbers of weapons in order to push back against the Russian military. Following the meeting, news emerged that the U.S. is preparing additional funding to help Ukraine.

Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) called the attack a "David versus Goliath" scenario.

"I think that any human being reading the reports coming out of there realize that this is dire," Risch said, adding that Congress was implementing an "all of the above" effort to help the Ukrainians.

This sentiment was echoed by Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.), who stressed that the Ukrainian soldiers were in desperate need of more guns.

The request for additional arms comes as other countries, many of which have often remained neutral during recent conflicts, have pledged to send weapons to Ukraine. This includes Finland, who sent a cache of military supplies and anti-tank armaments to the Ukrainian people.

Canada has also pledged to provide similar military-based assistance to Ukraine while also banning oil imports from Russia.

The White House and President Joe Biden, meanwhile, are requesting a total of $6.4 billion in humanitarian aid for Ukraine.

Secretary of State reinforces "steadfast support" to Ukraine following phone call

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated the U.S. remains committed to "holding Russia accountable for its brutal, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine."

Blinken made the comment in a tweet following a conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba. The two discussed what Blinken called America's "steadfast support" for the country's people.

"We stand with Ukraine," said Blinken.

Kuleba, in a corresponding tweet, said Blinken "affirmed that the U.S. support for Ukraine remains unfaltering."

"I underscored that Ukraine craves for peace, but as long as we are under Russia's assault we need more sanctions and weapons," Kuleba said. "Secretary assured me of both. We coordinated further steps."

On Friday, the White House approved $350 million in military assistance to Ukraine.

Senator Chris Murphy Says Russians "Have Fallen Behind Their Timeline" For Invasion

Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) says that Russians have "fallen behind their timeline" for the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Murphy made the comments Monday following a classified intelligence briefing on the situation. The senator said on Twitter that: "Ukrainian resistance has been fierce and there have been multiple Russian equipment and logistics failures."

Murphy, Connecticut's junior senator, added in a string of tweets that U.S. government agencies were working to pass a federal budget in order to provide further aid to Ukraine.

"There is no way for our national security agencies to be nimble enough to support Ukraine if they are operating on the 2020/21 budget," Murphy said.

In terms of the logistics of the war, Murphy said that U.S. intelligence officers believe: "The ability to keep supply lines running to Ukraine remains alive, but Russia will try to encircle and cut off Kiev in the next several weeks."

"The fight for Kiev will be long and bloody and Ukrainians are rapidly preparing for street to street combat," Murphy added. "The U.S. and allies are coordinating to not only freeze the assets of Putin and his oligarch allies, but to seize those assets as well. This is likely a further step than Putin's inner circle anticipated."

Murphy is one of a number of politicians who have called for harsher restrictions to be imposed on Russia as the invasion of Ukraine continues.

Finland to Send 1,500 Anti-Tank Weapons to Assist Ukraine

Finland says that it will send 1,500 anti-tank weapons, along with a number of other armaments, to Ukraine to assist them in defending against Russian invaders.

The anti-tank weapons are designed to stop the advancement of Russian tanks and artillery.

"The anti-tank weapons can be used to fight armoured vehicles," Finnish Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen told reporters Monday.

In addition to this weaponry, the Finnish military is also giving Ukraine numerous other tools to help supply their army. This includes 2,500 assault rifles, 1,500 charges for the anti-tank devices, 70,000 ration packs, and 150,000 ammunition cartridges.

Two large mobile field hospitals will also be provided for use by the Ukrainian military.

The assistance marks a change in Finnish foreign policy. Since 1956, the country has maintained a neutral or non-aligned stance with the Soviet Union - later Russia.

Finland also had a policy of not supplying deadly weapons to other nations, which now appears to have been scrapped.

Stephen King posts rare selfie in support of Ukraine

Renowned horror author Stephen King tweeted Monday he would throw his support behind Ukraine.

King, the author of It and The Shining, posted a photo of himself wearing a T-shirt with the slogan "I stand with Ukraine" against a backdrop of a bookcase. The shirt included an image of a raised fist, cast in Ukraine's national colors of yellow and blue.

"I don't usually post pictures of myself, but today is an exception," said King, in the tweet.

A day earlier, King took a swipe at Russian President Vladimir Putin, writing on Twitter: "For the first time in a long and infamous career, Putin looks stupid. It must come as a shock to him."

Eastern European allies sending over 70 aircraft to Ukraine

Three NATO members in eastern Europe are donating fighter jets to Ukraine as it seeks to repel the better-armed Russian military.

Ukraine's parliament on Monday Tweeted that it would get the aircrafts from Bulgaria, Poland and Slovakia.

"+70 planes for the Ukrainian army!" the tweet said. "Our partners give us the MiG-29 and Su-25!"

The tweet referenced two Soviet-designed aircrafts. The MiG-29, which was designed in response to the American F-15 and F-16. The Su-2 is a subsonic fighter jet.

Poland will provide the most support with 28 MiG-29s, along with 12 from Slovakia and 16 from Bulgaria, along with 14 Su-25s from Bulgaria.

European Union security head Josep Borrell Fontelles said over the weekend that defense ministers had approved a package of support for Ukraine. He called the EU's support for Ukraine "a turning point in history of European integration."

Ukrainian Woman Shows How To Operate Abandoned Russian Tank

As Ukrainians continue to fight back against the invasion of their country from Russia, some people are taking to social media to help people learn aspects of warfare. This includes one woman who posted a now-viral video on TikTok in which she describes how to operate and drive an abandoned Russian tank.

In the first frame of the video, the woman is seen climbing out of the tank before the footage transitions to the driver's cabin. At this point, the woman, who appears to be speaking in either Ukrainian or Russian, then walks through the different controls of the tank.

This includes showing off the different buttons, knobs and switches used to control the vehicle, as well as describing how to turn on the engines, operate the gas and brakes, and steer.

It is unclear where the video takes place, or the conditions in which the woman came across the abandoned tank.

Following the Ukrainian invasion, videos of the Ukrainian people fighting against Russian soldiers continue to make the rounds on social media.

One such video showed people being handed weapons to use in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Another video showed a line of people donating used bottles in order to make molotov cocktails.

Facebook blocking Russian state media in EU

Facebook's parent company Meta says it's restricting Russian-backed state media RT and Sputnik in the European Union after authorities complained they were spreading misinformation.

Nick Clegg, the company's vice president for global affairs, said on Twitter Monday that it clamp down on the pair of Kremlin-funded and controlled media outlets "given the exceptional nature of the current situation." He said the company made the move in response to requests from a "number of governments" and the European Union.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, announced in a statement Sunday that the union would take new measures to responding to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Those measures included the "unprecedented step" of banning "the Kremlin's media machine."

"The state-owned Russia Today and Sputnik, as well as their subsidiaries will no longer be able to spread their lies to justify Putin's war and to sow division in our Union," she said. "So we are developing tools to ban their toxic and harmful disinformation in Europe."

TikTok Blocks Russian Networks RT, Sputnik in European Union

The social media company TikTok says that it has blocked access to RT and Sputnik, two Russian state-backed government news agencies, in the European Union.

RT, in particular, has been named as one of the greatest sources of misinformation relating to the invasion. The channel has also broadcast American media such as Fox News' Tucker Carlson.

As Russia's invasion of Ukraine escalates, TikTok, along with a number of other social media platforms, is being used to disseminate misinformation about the attack, according to reports. Despite this, Russian authorities continue to deny that this is part of a coordinated effort to spread false information.

Following the announcement from TikTok, the French digital affairs minister, Cédric O, urged other platforms to similarly block access to RT and Sputnik.

"I want to thank @tiktok_France for responsible decisions made today," O said in a tweet translated from French. "Russian propaganda does not fall under freedom of information. We ask other social networks to apply the same decisions."

Despite these actions, though, it was noted that access to these networks on TikTok is still available in both the United Kingdom as well as Ukraine itself.

Ukrainians Stand at Attention for National Anthem Inside Bomb Shelter

A viral video shows Ukrainians standing at attention inside a makeshift bomb shelter as a man plays the Ukrainian national anthem on a trumpet.

As the man plays, numerous people can be seen surrounding him, many with their hands over their hearts. The performance took place in an underground subway tunnel that was being used to shield people from Russian bomb blasts.

A number of people on Twitter noted that the title of the Ukrainian national anthem translated into English means: "Glory and Freedom of Ukraine Has Not Yet Perished," and the song has been making its way across social media in the aftermath of the Russian attack.

Subway stations, in particular, have become one of the main sources of makeshift bomb shelters as the Russians continue their invasion of Ukraine. Those who were unable to make it to a subway were encouraged to seek safety in a basement or other underground area.

Disney To Stop Releasing Films In Russia

The Walt Disney Company says it will stop releasing theatrical films in Russia due to the country's 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," a spokesperson for Disney said. "We will make future business decisions based on the evolving situation. In the meantime, given the scale of the emerging refugee crisis, we are working with our NGO partners to provide urgent aid and other humanitarian assistance to refugees."

Disney becomes one of the first major movie production studios to pause its film distribution amidst the Ukrainian invasion.

It was noted that Russia is one of the largest overseas markets for American studios. In 2021, Box Office Mojo listed box office returns in the country of $445 million.

Deadline Hollywood noted that the Motion Picture Association is also expected to address the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

26 New Russians Have Been Added To European Union Blacklist

The European Union (EU) has slapped 26 more Russian individuals with sanctions, restricting them from conducting business within the EU. A total of 680 people and 53 organizations in Russia have now been sanctioned by the EU.

These 26 people include Russian "oligarchs and businessmen active in the oil, banking and finance sectors, as well as government members, and high level military personalities, and propagandists," the EU said in a press release.

The restrictions on the 26 people include a variety of obstacles designed to put pressure on Russian businesses. This includes the freezing of assets within the EU, during which European funds will not be available to any of the sanctioned Russians.

A travel ban on these Russians also prevents them from entering the EU, the press release said.

"With these additional sanctions, we are targeting all who are having a significant economic role in supporting Putin's regime, and benefit financially from the system," said Josep Borrell, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. "These sanctions will expose the wealth of Putin's elite. Those who enable the invasion of Ukraine will pay a price for their action."

Russia Used Deadly Vacuum Bomb, Says Ukrainian Ambassador

As the invasion of Ukraine continues, Russian forces have used a deadly vacuum bomb, according to Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova.

"They used the vacuum bomb today, which is actually prohibited by the Geneva Convention," Markarova said. "The devastation that Russia is trying to inflict on Ukraine is large."

A vacuum bomb, also called an aerosol bomb or thermobaric bomb, sucks in oxygen from the surrounding atmosphere to generate a longer and higher-temperature explosion. This makes vacuum bombs much deadlier than conventional explosives, with reports that the weapons can destroy entire city blocks and vaporize bodies.

CNN reported over the weekend that a Russian vehicle used to launch vacuum bombs was seen crossing the Ukrainian border.

"[Russia] should pay a heavy price," Markarova told reporters Monday following a meeting with Congress. She added that Ukraine was working with President Joe Biden to implement additional sanctions against Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Canada Prohibits Imports of Russian Crude Oil

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government is banning all imports of Russian crude oil in an effort to ratchet up economic pressure on the country for its invasion of Ukraine.

Trudeau made the announcement on Monday, saying on Twitter that the sector accounts for more than one-third of Russia's federal budget revenue. However, he said the measure is symbolic because Canada "has barely imported any Russian oil and gas in recent years," adding, that "this move sends a powerful message."

In addition to the ban on Russian crude oil, Trudeau announced other measures.

He said he will ask Canadian regulators to begin reviewing the presence of Russia Today, a Kremlin-backed television network commonly referred to as RT, in the country's airwaves.

"Because we cannot allow falsehoods, propaganda, and disinformation about Russia's war to continue spreading in Canada," said Trudeau.

Canada will also supply Ukraine with anti-tank weapon systems and upgraded ammunition, following its previous shipments of military equipment.

U.S., Allies Discuss Ongoing Response to Russia

President Joe Biden hosted a call with U.S. Allies and partners Monday regarding the unified response against Russia's invasion into Ukraine.

The 11 leaders spoke on the "secure" call late Monday morning about continued support and consequences.

"The leaders recognized the bravery of the Ukrainian people in the face of Russian aggression and discussed their continued support to Ukraine, including security, economic, and humanitarian assistance," the White House said in a statement. "They also discussed their coordinated efforts to impose severe costs and consequences to hold Russia accountable while working to maintain global economic stability, including with regard to energy prices."

The leaders who joined Biden on the call, included: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Polish President Andrzej Duda, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

U.S. Expels 12 Russian Diplomats Over 'Undiplomatic Activities'

The U.S. says it is expelling 12 U.N. Russian diplomats for engaging in activities that don't follow their responsibilities and obligations as diplomats.

U.S. deputy ambassador Richard Mills confirmed the expulsions after Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the U.N. Security Council on Monday afternoon that he had just been informed of "yet another hostile step undertaken by the host country" against Russia.

Nebenzia told reporters that the diplomats had been asked to leave by March 7, adding, that Russia would respond to the move "because it's diplomatic practice."

He also called the U.S. expulsions a "gross violation" of the U.N. agreement with the U.S. as it's the host of the U.N. and the Vienna Convention governing diplomatic relations.

Psaki 'Thanks' Putin for Unifying NATO

The U.S. has not ruled out the possibility of imposing a policy to ban the purchase of Russian gas, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. Psaki, however, pointed to the private sector for choosing where products are acquired.

"The U.S. government doesn't dictate where the U.S. market sells our own oil and gas products nor where it acquires crude or refined products for domestic consumption," she said during Monday's briefing. "This is all up to the private sector."

Psaki explained further energy sanctions are being weighed to maximize the impact on Putin while minimizing the impact on the global markets and the American people.

"We have not taken some steps on energy sanctions in part because we weigh that," Psaki said, who also referenced the growing concern in Europe as gas prices there skyrocket.

"Sanctioning energy would affect Russia's income stream, certainly that would be a reason to do it, but it would also have extreme consequences on the world energy markets, particularly for our allies in Europe," she said.

Psaki "thanks" Putin for unifying NATO:

Psaki explained escalatory sanctions, including those announced over the weekend, have been made in coordination and alignment with the Europeans.

"President Putin has been one of the greatest unifiers of NATO in modern history," Psaki said. "So I guess that is one thing we can thank him for."

U.S. response to Zelensky's no-fly zone request:

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has asked President Joe Biden and NATO to impose a no-fly zone over "significant parts" of Ukraine. Psaki said Biden is against the move, as he's stated his intention to not send U.S. troops to fight Russia.

"The president has been very clear that he is not intending to send U.S. troops to fight a war with Russia," Psaki explained. "That is essentially what this would be a step toward."

"A no-fly zone would require implementation, it would require deploying U.S. military to enforce which would be a potential direct conflict, potentially a war with Russia, which is something we are not planning to be a part of."

White House press briefing
Above, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki answers questions during a press briefing at the White House on Feb. 28. Patrick Semansky/AP Photo

ICC Prosecutor Opens Investigation on Situation in Ukraine

International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor, Karim A.A. Khan QC, announced Monday in a statement that he has decided to open an investigation into the situation in Ukraine as quickly as possible.

"In particular, 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. Given the expansion of the conflict in recent days, it is my intention that this investigation will also encompass any new alleged crimes falling within the jurisdiction of my Office that are committed by any party to the conflict on any part of the territory of Ukraine," he said in a statement.

He added that he'd be asking for budgetary support for voluntary contributions.

"I will also be asking for the support of all States Parties and the international community as a whole as my Office sets about its investigations. I will be calling for additional budgetary support, for voluntary contributions to support all our situations, and for the loan of gratis personnel. The importance and urgency of our mission is too serious to be held hostage to lack of means."

Khan said he would continue to closely follow developments on the ground in Ukraine, and call for restraint and strict adherence to the applicable rules of international humanitarian law.

Economic Impacts of U.S. Sanctions Against Russia

The U.S. sanctions against Russia are already impacting Russian financial institutions, the State Department said.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the U.S. has seen the Russian financial system react as expected to the severity and scale of those measures.

Some of those impacts include:

  • The ruble, Russia's currency, has fallen 20 percent and is currently at its "weakest level ever," Price said.
  • Russia's stock market was closed Monday and will remain closed tomorrow. Price said this was likely due to fear of capital flight if it were to open and added that keeping the stock market closed means Russia is in a "precarious situation."
  • The Central Bank of Russia more than doubled its key interest rate to 20 percent. Price said this interest rate is the highest in almost 20 years and is "not something a country can sustain."
  • The Central Bank also instituted capital control by ordering domestic brokers to reject foreign bids to sell Russian securities.
  • Russian authorities are forcing exporters to sell at least 80 percent of their foreign currency that they receive to "prop up the rapidly weakening [Russian] currency."
  • The S&P downgraded Russia's credit rating to "junk status" following the announcement of the U.S. sanctions.

Price said that the U.S. has "cut off" Putin's ability to weather the sanction storm from the West.

President Biden Says Americans Shouldn't Fear Nuclear War

President Joe Biden reassured Americans who may be concerned about a nuclear war.

As he was leaving a Black History Month event at the White House on Monday, the president was asked whether or not Americans should be worried about a nuclear war breaking out.

His response? "No."

Less than a week into the invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the country's nuclear forces to be put on high alert after the international community piled on sanctions and isolated the country.

Though the U.S. and Russia have the largest nuclear arsenal globally, Russia has reportedly never used a nuclear weapon during war.

U.S is Prepared to Escalate Sanctions Against Russia

The U.S. is ready to escalate sanctions against Russia if the invasion into Ukraine continues.

"If Russia continues to escalate, these measures will be calibrated accordingly. We are prepared to escalate further," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said during a press briefing Monday.

He said sanctions are a "means to an end" and the end the U.S. wants to achieve means an end to conflict, war and the loss of life in Ukraine.

"Economic measures will apply pressure on Russia to do the right thing, to bring end to [the] conflict," Price said, adding, that if Russia does engage in genuine deescalation, the U.S. is also prepared to scale back its sanctions.

Russian Forces Attempt to Move Closer to Kyiv, Pentagon Says

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said Russian forces are trying to move closer to Ukraine's capital of Kyiv, but still are outside of the city center.

Ukrainians are resisting the Russian invasion "quite effectively around Kyiv" making it "a tough slog for the Russians to move further south," he said Monday during a briefing at the Pentagon.

"You got to hand it to the Ukrainians, who have been fighting very hard for their country and making an impact and making a dent on Mr. Putin's abilities," Kirby said, adding that the Kremlin is dealing with "stiff and determined resistance" as well as "logistics and sustainment problems" of its own.

Kirby responded with an emphatic "no" when asked whether the U.S. considers instituting a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

Norway to Send Weapons to Ukraine

Norway has joined a growing list of countries sending weapons to Ukraine to combat Russia's invasion.

Norway will donate up to 2,000 M72 anti-tank weapons, the government announced Monday.

"The government decided this afternoon that Norway will offer arms support to enable Ukraine to defend itself against the military attack from Russia," Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said.

"We are therefore aligning our actions with our close allies and the other Nordic countries. Norway has a restrictive policy with regard to exporting defence-related products, but Ukraine is now in a desperate and extraordinary situation."

Monday's decision overturns the country's policy of not sending arms to non-NATO countries at war or at risk of armed conflict, Reuters reports. The policy has been in place since the 1950s.

WATCH: White House Press Briefing

The White House daily press briefing is set to begin momentarily, as Russia's invasion into Ukraine continues for a fifth day.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki will hold Monday's briefing, set to begin at 3 p.m. ET. Watch live on the White House YouTube page or below:

U.S. State Department Offers More Aid to Ukraine

The U.S. State Department has authorized additional assistance to Ukraine as the Russian invasion continues.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken approved a package up to $350 million over the weekend for immediate support to Ukrainian defense.

The U.S. has also provided an additional $54 million in humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. This comes after the U.S. has already supplied $52 million in humanitarian aid over the last year.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the U.S. is the largest provider of humanitarian aid to Ukraine in the world.

Over the past year, the U.S. has provided more than $1 billion in support to Ukraine's defense against Russia's "premeditated, unprovoked, unjustified, and unlawful war."

How to Watch Pentagon News Briefing Update

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby will hold a news briefing update amid Russia's attack on Ukraine.

Here's how to watch:

DWTS Maksim Chmerkovskiy Arrested in Ukraine, Trying to Leave

Maksim Chmerkovskiy, a Ukrainian-born dancer and fan-favorite alum of "Dancing With the Stars," says he's now trying to leave Ukraine after revealing that he had been arrested and released by Russian forces.

In a brief video update from Kyiv posted on his Instagram Monday, Chmerkovskiy said he will now attempt to make his way toward the Polish border, explaining how a friend of his has been traveling for days trying to reach Poland despite a relatively short distance by bus.

"I'm going to try and make my way out. I'm going to try to start getting towards the border. I have options. My options are better than most people, unfortunately," he said. "I'm just a little nervous, to be honest with you. But I think it's going to be alright. I know it's going to be OK."

He also mentioned that he was briefly arrested since his last social media update.

"All good, I promise. But that was probably the least traumatizing moment of this whole thing as far as Ukraine is concerned. But for me, it was a reality check. No matter what it is, it was a crazy reality check," he said.

Chmerkovskiy also asked followers to do him a favor and "don't panic if I disappear for a bit" over the next few days as he makes his trip toward the border. He finally addressed rumors of racism and mistreatment at the Ukrainian-Poland border. He added that while he's hardly a fact-checker, "if there's any bit of smoke" to the rumors, "it's inhumane."

Chef Jose Andres Feeds Refugees at Ukraine-Poland Border

Chef Jose Andres is feeding refugees along the Ukraine-Poland border with his nonprofit World Central Kitchen (WCK).

"People of the world, like you, I am distraught watching Ukraine under attack," Andres tweeted Friday. "We must come together as a force for good!"

WCK was setup along the Poland-Ukraine border and has since expanded into Ukraine and soon headed to Romania.

Andres said the team served 4,000 hot meals in Medyka, Poland on Sunday alone.

"Tonight we are setting up a tent and tomorrow will begin providing meals 24 hours a day as families continue to cross the border at all hours of the night in search of safety," WCK tweeted.

The team also setup a kitchen in Odessa, Ukraine, where 1,000 plates of pasta and bread were served to residents and those defending the city on Sunday.

Monday, WCK was serving meals at a gymnasium in Ustrzyki Dolne, Poland, which has been converted into a donation center.

WATCH: State Department Holds Press Briefing

The U.S. State Department will give its daily press briefing soon.

Department Spokesperson Ned Price is set to begin the briefing at 2 p.m. ET.

The briefing will stream live on the State Department website and YouTube channel.

FIFA Suspends Russian Teams From Competition

The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) and the Union of European Football Association (UEFA) have suspended all Russian teams from competition.

Both the Russian national and professional club teams will be banned from competing until further notice.

"Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine," FIFA said in a statement. "Both Presidents hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people."

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the decision as a message that the international sporting community "will not tolerate Putin's abhorrent assaults on freedom and liberty."

"Well done FIFA and UEFA," he said in a tweet.

Border Wait Times Top 50 Hours as Refugees Flee Ukraine

More than half a million refugees have fled Ukraine, as wait times top 50 hours at some border crossings in neighboring countries.

Refugees fleeing to parts of Romania stand to wait more than two days to cross the border, according to an update Monday from U.S. Embassy Kyiv. The embassy said land borders were still open for those fleeing Ukraine, but warned of long lines.

Wait times in Siret, Romania top 50 hours and reached 38 hours at Palenca, Moldova Monday.

Update from U.S. Embassy Kyiv:

"Land borders are still open to those departing Ukraine. Some have very long lines, particularly in Poland. Ubla and Vysne Nemecke (Slovakia) and Halmeu (Romania) have relatively shorter waits (<10 hours). Tudora (Moldova) has a reported wait of 13 hours.

Please note: Conditions can change quickly. Bring supplies (extra batteries for cell phones, diapers, water, food, clothing, sleeping bags or blankets etc.). Prepare to walk long distances.

Bring hard copies of important documents (birth certificates, passports (even if expired), any other identification, don't rely on cell phones and computer batteries.

Familiarize yourself with Ukrainian exit requirements. Research accommodation options prior to arrival; many hotels near the border are booked. Romania, Poland and Moldova have welcome centers."

Long lines in Poland:

The Embassy also warned of long lines in Poland, where the government said more than 200,000 crossed as of Sunday.

Half a million refugees have fled Ukraine:

More than 500,000 refugees have fled from Ukraine into neighboring countries as of Monday, the United Nations estimates.

The estimate is a large bump from the day prior, when about 368,000 refugees had crossed into Poland, Hungary, Romania, Moldova and other countries.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi provided both figures.

"The governments and people of those countries are welcoming refugees. It is now urgent to share this responsibility in concrete ways," Grandi tweeted.

First Round of Talks Concluded Between Russia and Ukraine

The first round of talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations held at the border with Belarus has ended.

The Kyiv Independent tweeted Monday, "after six hours, the first round of the Ukrainian-Russian negotiations is over".

Negotiators from Ukraine and Russia will return to their capital cities for consultations. The Russian delegation head, Vladimir Medinsky, said the two sides had "agreed to keep the negotiations going."

"The delegations return to Kyiv and Moscow and will meet again in the coming days," The Kyiv Independent added.

Ukraine's UN Ambassador Compares Invasion to Start of WWII

The United Nations General Assembly met for a rare emergency special session Monday morning as Russia's invasion into Ukraine stretches into its fifth day.

It is the 11th time the United Nations has convened for an emergency session since 1950.

What did Ukraine say?

Ukraine's Ambassador to the United Nations Sergiy Kyslytsya compared Russia's invasion into Ukraine to the beginning of WWII.

"We have been prompted to call for an emergency special session as the level of the threat to the global security has been equated to that of the second World War, or even higher following Putin's order to put an alert Russian nuclear forces," Kyslytsya said. "What a madness."

"If [Putin] wants to kill himself, he doesn't need to use nuclear arsenal. He has to do what the guy in Berlin did in a bunker in May 1945."

Kyslytsya said as of Monday morning, it's estimated 352 Ukrainians, including 16 children, have been killed. He added more than 2,000 Ukrainians have been wounded and the number grows "nonstop."

He warned of future implications if the invasion isn't stopped now.

"If Ukraine does not survive, international peace will not survive," Kyslytsya said. "If Ukraine does not survive, the United Nations will not survive, have no illusions."

During his remarks, he switched to Russian, reading an emotional text message exchange between a Russian soldier and his mother.

What did Russia say?

Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya made remarks following Kyslytsya, outlining various Russian actions being "distorted" and "thwarted" by Western media and social media.

He blamed current Ukrainian leadership and Western colleagues for the current situation.

He said the goal of the "special operation" is protecting people who have been "subject to torment and genocide by the Kyiv regime" for eight years. He reiterated the "need" to "demilitarize and denazify Ukraine."

"We constantly hear lies, fakes about indiscriminate shelling of Ukrainian cities, hospitals, schools, kindergartens," Nebenzya claimed.

"The Russian army does not pose a threat to the civilians of Ukraine, is not shelling civilians' areas and cities where Russian armed forces have taken control."

He warned Ukraine's membership into NATO would be a "red line."

Vasily Nebenzya address UN
Vasily Nebenzya, Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations, leaves the podium after speaking during an emergency meeting of the UN General Assembly on Feb. 28. John Minchillo/AP Photo

What did UN leaders say?

United Nations General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid called for an immediate ceasefire, saying the military offensive is inconsistent with the UN charter.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres echoed his statements, calling the escalating violence "totally unacceptable."

"We are facing a tragedy for Ukraine, but also a major regional crisis with potentially disastrous implications for us all, "UN Secretary-General António Guterres said.

"Yesterday, Russian nuclear forces were put on high alert. This is a chilling development. The mere idea of a nuclear conflict is simply inconceivable. Nothing can justify the use of nuclear weapons."

Guterres said he has appointed Amin Awad as the UN Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine.

Putin Agrees to Spare Ukrainian Civilian Areas

French President Emmanuel Macron called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to spare civilians in Ukraine on Monday.

Macron's office says that in a 90-minute phone call, he had asked the Russian leader to stop attacks against civilians, civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, and certain significant roadways, particularly the road from the south of Kyiv.

"President Putin confirmed his willingness to commit on these three points," the Elysee palace said, adding that Macron and Putin also agreed to stay in contact over coming days.

The call was the latest in a series of exchanges between both men. Macron first sought to prevent the Russian invasion and then limit its damage.

Zelensky Signs Application for EU Membership

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky signed an application for Ukraine's European Union membership.

"Today I signed an application for Ukraine's membership in the European Union," Zelensky said in a Facebook post. "Pretty sure this is real."

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The Ukraine Parliament called this move "a historic moment."

Switzerland Breaks Neutrality, Sanctions Russia

Switzerland has adopted the European Union sanctions against Russia, breaking its historically neutral stance.

"The Swiss Federal Council has decided today to fully adopt EU sanctions," President Ignazio Cassis said during a news briefing Monday. "It is an unparalleled action of Switzerland, who has always stayed neutral before."

Cassis described Russia's actions as an "attack on freedom, an attack on democracy, an attack on the civil population, and an attack on the institutions of a free country."

"This cannot be accepted regarding international law, this cannot be accepted politically, and this cannot be accepted morally," Cassis added.

Switzerland will join the EU in freezing assets of Russian officials and institutions involved in the invasion on Ukraine, including direct sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

"Switzerland reaffirms its solidarity with Ukraine and its people; it will be delivering relief supplies for people who have fled to Poland," the Swiss Federal Council said in a statement.

FIFA discusses expelling Russia from World Cup

Sweden announced it would not play the soccer World Cup qualifiers against Russia following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Sweden football officials also expressed their disappointment in FIFA for keeping the Russians in World Cup qualifying.

"The Swedish Football Association is disappointed with FIFA's decision but is determined to continue to work together with other federations to cancel Russia's matches in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers," the body said.

"We, therefore, urge FIFA to decide that the playoff matches in March in which Russia participates will be canceled. But regardless of what FIFA chooses to do, we will not play against Russia in March."

Meanwhile, FIFA president Gianni Infantino refused to decide the playoffs when he held a press conference hours after the invasion began on Thursday.

He said, "FIFA condemns the use of force," adding he was "shocked" by what he had seen but would not be rushed into a decision over moving the matches.

"The first match is in a month; we hope, of course, that this situation will be resolved well before then," he said.

U.S. Issues Further Sanctions on Russian Bank

The United States issued more sanctions against Russia's financial system as the invasion of Ukraine continues.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has prohibited U.S. persons from engaging in transactions with the Central Banks of the Russian Federation, the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation.

This action "effectively immobilizes any assets of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation held in the United States or by U.S. persons, wherever located," according to the Treasury Department.

These sanctions come after President Joe Biden directed the OFAC to take action against the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), a fund on which Russian President Vladimir Putin and his allies relied to raise funds abroad.

Kirill Aleksandrovich Dmitriev, the CEO if RDIF and a close partner of Putin, was also sanctioned by the U.S. Monday.

"The unprecedented action we are taking today will significantly limit Russia's ability to use assets to finance its destabilizing activities, and target the funds Putin and his inner circle depend on to enable his invasion of Ukraine," Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen said in a statement. "Today, in coordination with partners and allies, we are following through on key commitments to restrict Russia's access to these valuable resources."

Canada has issued its own sanctions against the Russia Central Bank.

All Canadian financial institutions are now prohibited from engaging in transactions with the Russian Central Bank, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

Japan has also joined the West in sanctioning Russia's Central Bank, as well as placing new sanctions against Belarus after Prime Minister Fumio Kishida spoke with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Kyiv Mayor Imposes Fresh Curfew

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko announced a new 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew on Monday.

People may only leave their homes to seek shelter if air raid alerts are issued, he said. Those who are seen on the streets during curfew will be considered members of Russian sabotage groups, he said on his Telegram channel.

"I ask everyone to follow the rules," he wrote. "Because sabotage groups continue to be killed in the capital."

He added, "And even in the permitted hours, go out into the city only when absolutely necessary. To the store, the pharmacy."

Earlier on Monday, the Ukrainian military commander leading the capital's defense said Ukraine troops successfully repelled Russian attacks in Kyiv overnight on Sunday.

Nearly 350,000 Without Power, Gas in Ukraine Due to Russian Shelling

Attacks by Russian forces have left more than 330,000 people without electricity, and 11,700 consumers in Ukraine without gas, Ukraine's Ministry of Energy said Monday.

"Due to damage caused by hostilities, 316 settlements and 332,000 consumers remained de-energized (in whole or in part). On the territory of Zhytomyr, Rivne, Zaporizhia, Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Kharkiv regions, 11,675 consumers are left without gas supply due to hostilities," the ministry said in a statement, Ukraine's Interfax news agency reported.

The ministry noted that Ukraine's energy system is currently working "stably" and that it currently has sufficient energy reserves for consumers.

Rocket strikes by Russian forces on the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Monday morning killed dozens of people, Ukraine's interior ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko said.

Kremlin: Putin Issued Nuclear Order Over Liz Truss Comments

Russian President Vladimir Putin placed Russia's nuclear forces on high alert over comments made by Britain's foreign secretary Liz Truss, the Kremlin said Monday.

"Statements were made by various representatives at various levels on possible altercations or even collisions and clashes between Nato and Russia," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told a press briefing. "We believe that such statements are absolutely unacceptable."

"I would not call the authors of these statements by name, although it was the British foreign minister," he added.

Truss warned Sunday that Putin may use the most "unsavory" means—including the use of chemical or nuclear weapons—to win the war in Ukraine.

"This could well be the beginning of the end for Putin. I fear that he is prepared to use the most unsavory means in this war," she told Sky News, adding that she fears the conflict "could be very, very bloody."

"I urge the Russians not to escalate this conflict but we do need to be prepared for Russia to seek to use even worse weapons. I think it would be hugely devastating. We need to avoid this at all costs," Truss said.

How Russia Has Destroyed Its Economy, in Six Charts

Russia is currently facing the most punitive financial measures and sanctions ever imposed on a country in the modern financial system.

The invasion of Ukraine has prompted a severe political backlash and international condemnation, combined with an exclusion from markets that will, if it persists, have a hugely harmful effect on the Russian economy.

Whether President Putin sees the economic hardship as a price worth paying for the annexation of Ukraine remains to be seen.

And, at some point, the money to fund an invasion will become harder to find.

See the financial effect on Russia in the following charts here.

Russia Closes Airspace to 36 Nations

Russia has shut off its airspace to carriers from 36 nations, including European countries and Canada, the state aviation agency announced Monday.

The measure comes after Canada and the EU on Sunday announced they would close their airspace to Russian airlines over Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to launch a full-scale invasion against Ukraine on February 24.

The affected nations are: Austria, Albania, Anguilla (British Overseas Territory), Belgium, Bulgaria, British Virgin Islands, United Kingdom, Hungary, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Denmark (including Greenland, the Faroe Islands and the territorial sea), Jersey , Ireland, Iceland, Spain, Italy, Canada, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Finland, France, Croatia, Czech Republic, Sweden, Estonia.

Carriers from those countries can enter Russia's airspace only with special permission from the Federal Air Transport Agency or the Russian Foreign Ministry, it added.

Russian Forces Drop 'Vacuum Bomb' on Oil Depot in Sumy Province: Official

Russian forces allegedly dropped a vacuum bomb on an oil depot in Okhtyrka, in Ukraine's Sumy province, according to Mayor Pavlo Kuzmenko.

"Again, the enemy is waging a vile war. A fuel-air bomb was dropped on an oil depot, oil tanks were blown up," Kuzmenko said in a video uploaded to Facebook, according to a translation by Ukrinform.

"Okhtyrka. The oil depot has been hit. 12:30," said Dmytro Zhyvitsky, head of the Sumy Regional State Administration, sharing an additional video of the incident, which shows plumes of smoke rising in the sky.

"There is a danger of street fighting! Be in a safe place at home, stay away from the windows," Zhyvitsky said on his Telegram channel.

Vacuum bombs, also known as an aerosol bombs or a thermobaric weapon, use oxygen from the surrounding air to generate a high-temperature explosion. Their use has been condemned by multiple non-governmental organizations.

U.S. Tells Most Embassy Staff to Leave Moscow, Minsk Over Ukraine War

The U.S. Department of State announced Monday that it was suspending operations at its Embassy in Minsk, Belarus.

The U.S. has also authorized the voluntary departure of non-emergency employees and family members at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia, said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The decision was made "due to security and safety issues stemming from the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine," Blinken said.

It comes as negotiations between Russia and Ukraine are currently underway at the Belarusian border.

"We ultimately have no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens, and that includes our U.S. government personnel and their dependents serving around the world," Blinken added.

Dozens Killed in Kharkiv Rocket Strikes, Official Says

Dozens of people were killed Monday morning in rocket strikes by Russian forces on the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, Ukraine's interior ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko said.

"Kharkiv has just been massively fired upon by grads (rockets). Dozens of dead and hundreds of wounded," he said in a statement on Facebook.

Ukraine's Armed Forces separately posted videos of what appears to be shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city.

Russian forces first entered Kharkiv on Sunday morning, but the city's mayor said Ukraine had taken back control of the region by the evening.

At Least 102 Civilians Killed, 304 Injured: UN

The death toll for civilians in Ukraine has surpassed 100 since Thursday, when Russian launched its invasion, United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Monday.

At least 102 civilians civilians have been killed and a further 304 injured, said Bachelet, addressing the opening session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

"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," she said.

Ukraine-Russia Peace Talks Begin With Statement From Belarusian Official

Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei addressed the delegations of Ukraine and Russia, as negotiations kicked off near the Ukrainian border on the bank of the Pripyat River.

"Dear friends, the President of Belarus has asked me to welcome you & facilitate your work as much as possible. As it was agreed with the Presidents Zelenskyy and Putin, you can feel completely secure. It is our sacred duty," Makei said, according to his office.

Makei's office said Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, a Putin-backed politician, "sincerely hopes that during today's talks it will be possible to find solutions to the critical issues."

"And all Belarusians are praying for this," it said.

A Ukrainian delegation arrived at the Belarusian border for talks with Russian officials earlier today.

Negotiations will focus on "an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of troops from the territory of Ukraine," the Ukrainian presidency said in a statement Monday.

Facebook Refuses Ukraine's Request to Shut Social Sites in Russia

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has announced it will not comply with Ukraine's suggestion to block Russians from accessing the social media site, as doing so would "silence important expression" amid the ongoing war.

Nick Clegg, vice president of Global Affairs and Communications at the company, confirmed on Sunday that it will not be blocking Russians using Facebook and Instagram.

"People in Russia are using FB and IG to protest and organize against the war and as a source of independent information," Clegg said. "The Russian Government is already throttling our platform to prevent these activities. We believe turning off our services would silence important expression at a crucial time."

Read the full story here.

Ukraine Will Release Prisoners With Combat Experience Amid Russia Invasion

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced Monday that he will release prisoners who have combat experience to help Ukrainian forces defend the country against Russian troops.

"Under martial law, participants in hostilities—Ukrainians with real combat experience—will be released from custody and will be able to compensate for their guilt in the hottest spots of war," Zelenskyy said in a video address.

Zelenskyy on February 24 said weapons would be given to "anyone who wants to defend the country."

"Be ready to support Ukraine in the squares of our cities," he said, shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Intensive Shelling Continues in Chernihiv: Officials

The Ukrainian city of Chernihiv is being hit by "intensive shelling," the State Emergency Service of Ukraine said Monday.

"The enemy is mercilessly shelling Chernihiv. As of 12:20 on February 28, intensive shelling of the city lasted 20 minutes... Private residences and multi-storey residential buildings are in the affected area," the service said, noting that a shopping center was hit and set on fire.

Earlier, the U.K. Ministry of Defence said in an intelligence update that Chernihiv, located some 93 miles north from Kyiv, remained under Ukrainian control amid heavy fighting.

More Than 500,000 Ukrainian Refugees Have Fled the Country: UN

More than 500,000 Ukrainian refugees have fled the country and into neighboring countries, five days after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a "special military operation" against the country.

"More than 500,000 refugees have now fled from Ukraine into neighbouring countries," UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi tweeted Monday.

On Saturday, he said that half all those who have fled have entered Poland.

"Displacement in Ukraine is also growing but the military situation makes it difficult to estimate numbers and provide aid," Grandi said.

The Polish Border Guard said on Twitter Monday that so far, more than 280,000 Ukrainian refugees have crossed into Poland.

Ukrainians are also seeking refuge in Moldova, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary.

In a televised address on Monday morning, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said 16 Ukrainian children have been killed and another 45 have been injured since February 24.

"Every crime, every shelling by the occupiers bring our partners and us even closer," he said.

Slovakia Ukraine Russia
A Slovak soldier helps a Ukrainian woman to carry her luggage after after she crossed the border in Vysne Nemecke, eastern Slovakia, on February 26, 2022. PETER LAZAR/AFP/Getty Images

Zelenskyy Asks EU To Admit Ukraine 'Immediately'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on the European Union to allow Ukraine to join the bloc "immediately," during a televised speech on Monday.

He insisted that the country had earned the right to join the EU and this could be achieved through a "new special procedure."

"We appeal to the European Union to immediately admit Ukraine as a member under a new special procedure," he said during his speech, according to a translation.

"I'm convinced Ukraine has earned the right and that this is possible."

Read the full story here.

Google Maps Temporarily Disables Live Traffic Function in Ukraine

Google Maps temporarily disabled some of its tools in Ukraine following Russian President Vladimir Putin's full-scale invasion of the country, a spokesman said Sunday.

Certain tools which provide live details about traffic conditions and how busy places such as restaurants and stores are, are currently not available in Ukraine, the spokesman said, citing safety reasons, Reuters reported.

Canada Sends Warning After Russian Airline Aeroflot Violates Its Airspace

Canada issued a warning after Russian airline Aeroflot violated a ban on using Canadian airspace on Sunday, according to Transport Canada.

The violation occurred on the same day Canada and Europe said they would close their airspace to Russian airlines in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, raising pressure on the U.S. to follow suit.

"We are aware that Aeroflot Flight 111 violated the prohibition put in place earlier today on Russian flights using Canadian airspace," Transport Canada said in a tweet late on Sunday.

Flight 111, heading from Miami, Florida to Moscow, took off at 15:12 ET on Sunday, according to FlightRadar24.

Transport Canada said it will launch a review into the conduct of Aeroflot and Canada's air-traffic control service provider Nav Canada following the violation.

Read the full story here.

Kyiv Lifts Weekend-Long Curfew

Kyiv residents emerged from shelters Monday morning and flocked to local shops to stock up on essentials, as a weekend-long curfew was lifted.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko on Saturday afternoon imposed a 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. curfew on the capital's residents, as clashes between Russian and Ukrainian forces intensified.

Klitschko said it would allow "for a more effective defense of the capital and the security of its residents" and would be enforced until the morning of February 28.

It replaced a 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew that was rolled out on February 24—when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a "special military operation" against Ukraine.

Kyiv-based freelance journalist Oz Katerji reported that shelves were quickly emptying as residents shopped for food.

"Chaos in central Kyiv, curfew has been lifted and hundreds are flocking to the only open shops to stock up on food," he tweeted. "The shelves here are getting bare and there's little chance of a resupply. If the fighting doesn't stop soon we're heading for a humanitarian disaster here."

Russian Troops Repelled from Kyiv, Ukrainian Commander Says

Ukrainian troops successfully repelled Russian attacks in Kyiv overnight Sunday, the Ukrainian military commander leading the capital's defense said.

In a Facebook post Monday morning, Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi said that columns of Russian soldiers repeatedly attempted to infiltrate the city.

"The occupier's equipment columns were destroyed," Syrskyi said in a statement published by Ukraine's military general staff. "The opponent suffered significant losses of personnel."

In an interview with the Associated Press on Sunday, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said that the city was "at the border of a humanitarian catastrophe" and lacks the infrastructure necessary to receive food and medical deliveries.

However, he maintained optimism and offered a message of unity for Ukrainians. "We are strong," he said. "Every Ukrainian is proud to be independent, proud to be Ukrainian, and we are proud to have our own country."

Russia Doubles Interest Rate to 20% in Emergency Decision

Russia's central bank on Monday more than doubled interest rates to 20 percent in an emergency move before markets opened, after the ruble slumped by 30 percent against the U.S. dollar.

The central bank's board of directors announced the interest hike in a press release, saying it would raise rates from 9.5 percent.

"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 statement said.

Further decisions would "depend on the evaluation of risks from external and internal factors and financial markets' reaction to them," the bank noted, adding that "external conditions for the Russian economy have drastically changed."

Ukrainian Delegation Arrives at Belarus Border For Russia Talks

A Ukrainian delegation has arrived at the Belarusian border for talks with Russian officials, the Ukrainian presidency said in a statement.

"The Ukrainian side landed on a helicopter near the location for talks," Belarusian state-run agency BelTA reported.

The Ukrainian presidency said defense minister Oleksii Reznikov and presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak are among those participating in the highly-anticipated talks.

Negotiations will focus on "an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of troops from the territory of Ukraine," the statement said, noting that the talks will be held near the Ukrainian border on the bank of the Pripyat River.

Vladimir Medinsky, aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, earlier told BelTA that negotiations would begin on Monday at 12:00 p.m. local time.

Belarus Russia Ukraine
A view of the venue in Gomel, Belarus that Russia proposed as the location for talks on February 28, 2022, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that a delegation of the Ukrainian government agreed to meet for talks near the Pripyat River in Belarus. SERGEI KHOLODILIN/BELTA/AFP/Getty Images

Belarus Prepared To Join Russia Invasion of Ukraine-Report

Preparations are underway in Belarus to send troops into Ukraine to support Russia's full-scale invasion, a U.S. administration official told The Washington Post, as tensions soar ahead of scheduled negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv on the Belarusian border.

"It's very clear Minsk is now an extension of the Kremlin," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A senior U.S. intelligence official separately told the Associated Press that Belarus could send forces into Ukraine as soon as Monday.

On Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Belarus of being complicit in Russia's invasion as he rejected Belarus as a location for talks with a Moscow delegation.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, a Putin-backed politician, has denied his country's troops were taking part, although some Russian troops accessed Ukraine through Belarus.

On Sunday Ukraine's Interior Minister Anton Herashchenko said in a statement on his Facebook page that Russia used Iskander missile systems to attack Zhytomyr International Airport. Herashchenko said the airstrikes were conducted from Belarus, using Russian ballistic missile launchers.

Russian Military Says It Now Dominates All Ukrainian Airspace

Russia's military said Monday it had taken control of Ukraine's airspace, as President Vladimir Putin's full-scale invasion entered a fifth day.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov made the announcement at a press briefing on Monday.

Konashenkov also claimed that Russian forces had take control of the Ukrainian cities of Berdyansk and Enerhodar, and captured "the territory around" a nuclear power plant in Zaporizhiya, in southeastern Ukraine.

"The plant personnel are continuing to service the site and control the radioactive situation as usual. Background radiation levels are normal," the ministry said.

Kharkiv, Chernihiv Remain Under Ukrainian Control Amid Heavy Fighting: Officials

The Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv and Chernihiv remain under Ukrainian control amid heavy fighting, the U.K. Ministry of Defence said in an intelligence update Monday morning.

Russian forces entered Ukraine's second largest city, Kharkiv, on Sunday morning, but Kharkiv's mayor said Ukraine had taken back control of the city by the evening.

In Chernihiv, located some 93 miles north from Kyiv, a Russian missile struck a residential building in the early hours of Monday morning. Two lower floors were set on fire, according to the State Communications Service. It wasn't immediately clear whether there were any casualties.

"Logisitical failures and staunch Ukrainian resistance continue to frustrate the Russian advance," the ministry said.

Tensions Soar Ahead of Ukraine-Russia Peace Talks

Tensions soared on Sunday as Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian nuclear forces put on high alert, while Ukraine's leader agreed to negotiations with a delegation from Moscow at an unspecified location on the Belarusian border.

The U.S. and NATO were quick to denounce Putin's order amid heightened fears that Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine could lead to nuclear war.

It isn't yet clear when a meeting will take place between Russia and Ukraine, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier rejected talks in the Belarusian city of Gomel, accusing Belarus of being complicit in Russia's invasion.

"I do not really believe in the outcome of this meeting," Zelenskyy warned Sunday of the Russia talks.