Russia-Ukraine live updates: Putin puts nuclear forces on high alert; Ukraine announces talks with Russia

Russia-Ukraine live updates: Putin puts nuclear forces on high alert; Ukraine announces talks with Russia

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and he has allowed Russian troops to assemble in Belarus and conduct large-scale military drills there. If Belarus joins the Russian invasion, it would significantly complicate proposed talks between Russia and Ukraine, which the two sides had planned to hold at the Ukrainian border with Belarus.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the talks earlier Sunday — the first diplomatic discussion since the invasion began — but he did not say when they would occur.

Adding to tensions, Putin stated Sunday that he had put his nuclear deterrence forces into alert, attributing the move to “aggressive statements” from the West. The White House called the order an example of “manufacturing threats that don’t exist.”

The European Union, meanwhile, announced it will shut down airspace to Russian planes and finance weapons purchases to Ukraine as several nations, including the United States, vow to block the Kremlin’s access to its sizable foreign currency reserves in the West and to cut off some Russian banks from the SWIFT financial messaging system.

Here’s what to know

Russian forces pushed into Kharkiv, sparking a battle for control in Ukraine’s second-largest city, but by afternoon, Kharkiv’s governor said the city remained in government control.British oil giant BP said it will “exit” its 20 percent stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, in one of the biggest signs yet of the Western business world cutting ties over the Kremlin’s actions.More than 350 civilians have been killed, including 14 children, Ukrainian officials said Sunday. According to a U.N. refugee agency, 400,000 people have fled Ukraine after several days of fighting.UNDERSTANDING THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE CONFLICT

‘A pretty tricky day to celebrate’: At the SAG Awards, celebrities share support for UkraineReturn to menu

At the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday night, celebrities from Lady Gaga to Ariana DeBose shared support for Ukraine, while Andrew Garfield noted it was “a pretty tricky day to celebrate.”

“It’s weird, it’s definitely odd that we are dressing up in this moment,” he told Laverne Cox, host of E!’s red carpet, adding that everyone was “keeping what’s happening in Ukraine in our hearts.”

Cox, who started the pre-show by saying she was praying for the safety of “our friends in Ukraine,” agreed. “Hopefully this can be an escape, too; hopefully our work and our art can be an escape for people in these very trying times,” she said. Elsewhere, Tyler Perry and Michael Douglas attached blue and yellow ribbons to their suits to show solidarity with the colors of the Ukrainian flag, and Lisa Ann Walter wore blue and yellow flowers on her dress.

After the show began, Brian Cox took the microphone when “Succession” won for best ensemble in a drama series, and he praised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as a “wonderful comic performer.” (Zelensky was a comic actor before he became president.) Cox urged the Hollywood stars to support Russian actors who are against the invasion and face consequences for speaking up. “They are told under pain of high treason that they cannot say a word about Ukraine, and I think that is pretty awful,” he said. “And I think we should all stand together.”

Michael Keaton also called out Zelensky in his acceptance speech for “Dopesick”: “I will tell you, we have a fellow actor in Zelensky who deserves some credit tonight for fighting the fight.”

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Video: For displaced Ukrainians, a long, wrenching wait at the Polish borderReturn to menu

At the busiest border post between Ukraine and Poland, the line of cars stretches for over 20 miles with families fleeing war. Their hearts are still at home. (Jon Gerberg, Alice Li/The Washington Post)At the most-trafficked border post between Ukraine and Poland on Sunday, the line of cars was backed up for more than 20 miles over gray and frozen country roads, almost halfway to Lviv, the biggest city in western Ukraine. Drivers swapped shifts between naps to lurch forward sporadically.

Many had driven furtively for days after fleeing shelling elsewhere, just to arrive in a place where they feel trapped. Many had abandoned their vehicles and pushed forward on foot.

“I can’t feel my feet anymore. I think they are frozen,” said Olga Balaban, 26, who came on her own after making a wrenching decision to leave behind her parents, who refused to leave.

Maksym Kozytskyy, the head of the Lviv’s state administration, said there were 30,000 people waiting outside or in their cars for as long as three days at the region’s train stations and six border crossings with Poland. The state’s emergency services have set up tents, with snow falling on Sunday night.

“For three days, I didn’t eat a single bite of food, only water,” said Somnath Gaud, 22, a Nepalese citizen who was studying hotel management in Kyiv. “ … If I slept, I would have lost my place in line.”

Ukrainian border authorities said that numerous factors contributed to such scenes of misery but that ultimately their border posts were not built to handle the sheer number of people trying to cross now.

“It’s a wartime situation, people are worried about their lives, everybody is tense,” said Roman Pavlenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s border guards in the Lviv region. He said staff at the crossing used by Gaud and tens of thousands of others were working as fast as they could, with at least 12 people checking passports.

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With preemie twins born to a Ukrainian surrogate, a U.S. family fights to get babies to safety Return to menu

CHICAGO — Alexander Spektor didn’t immediately recognize the number on the video call that came through on his phone Thursday.

For the past week, Spektor, 46, and his partner, Irma Nuñez, 48, have been glued to their devices, waking at 5 a.m. each day to immerse themselves in the latest news from Ukraine and digest the stream of messages flooding their phones from 5,000 miles away.

In Kyiv, their surrogate was carrying twins for the couple, and she and the babies had endured weeks of terrifying health complications. There were seven more weeks until the due date, and Russian forces were bearing down on Ukraine’s capital city.

“I get a video call from this beautiful young woman, who appears a little bit drunk, and I’m like, ‘I’m sorry, who are you?’ ” Spektor recalled. “And she says, ‘You have two beautiful sons.’ ”

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‘Positive, beautiful chaos’: Londoners donate diapers, clothes for fleeing Ukrainians Return to menu

LONDON — Hundreds of Londoners came together Sunday to help fleeing Ukrainians by donating supplies that were being loaded into vans destined for the Poland-Ukraine border.

People turned up at a Polish community center in South London with diapers, bedding, blankets, clothes, toys, tea, food, flashlights and first aid kits. Someone donated child car seats. Another a bassinet. Another brought a doll dressed in pink clothes. The community center quickly became so full that new arrivals were told to drop off donations in an outdoor parking lot.

“I wanted to help. It’s as simple as that,” said Anna Dobosz, 45, as she handed over bags of baby clothes.

Londoners donated diapers, sleeping bags, first aid necessities and more for Ukrainians fleeing to Poland. Volunteers sorted the donations on Feb. 27. (Allie Caren, Karla Adam/The Washington Post)Many of the Londoners who spoke to The Washington Post said they were touched by the scene, and several said they’d like to see the U.K. government do more at the national level. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come under increasing pressure in recent days to do more to help Ukrainian refugees. Johnson on Sunday said he would ease restrictions for those with close family in the United Kingdom; Britain is offering far less for refugees than many other European countries.

Dia Day, 19, a student who was lifting boxes of bedding into a van, described the scene in south London as “positive, beautiful chaos.” She said she had family members in Poland near the Ukrainian border who were taking in refugees and wondered if the U.K. could do something similar.

“They are very vulnerable citizens. It would be ideal to see the U.K open its doors,” she said.

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From Berlin to Bangkok, the world shows solidarity with Ukraine in a weekend of protestsReturn to menu

Demonstrators across the world took to the streets on Feb. 25-27, the first weekend since Russia invaded Ukraine. (Reuters)People around the world continued to show their solidarity with Ukraine over the weekend, showing up by the thousands to protest the Russian invasion.

More than 100,000 turned out in Berlin on Sunday, a sea of people waving Ukrainian flags and denouncing Putin. Elsewhere in Europe, 80,000 protesters crowded into Prague’s central square, waving signs that read “Hands off Ukraine,” a poignant display in a country whose buildings still bear bullet holes from a Soviet invasion in 1968.

“We cannot appease tanks coming to some country, crushing the desire for freedom and democracy,” Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala told the crowd.

The rallies this weekend extended far beyond the continent facing its most significant conflict since World War II, with pro-Ukrainian demonstrations held from Sydney to Tokyo. In Australia’s largest city, hundreds marched through the rain. And in Japan’s capital, Ukrainian nationals and others joined calls for Russia to lose its seat on the United Nations Security Council.

In Bangkok, a multinational crowd of several dozen protesters demanded the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine and sang the Ukrainian national anthem. And in Tehran, about 50 people assembled near the Ukrainian embassy to Iran, some holding candles and chanting, reported a correspondent for Agence France-Presse.

And the Associated Press reported that hundreds of people across at least 12 Belarusian cities held antiwar demonstrations on Sunday, a striking show of defiance in a country where the authoritarian government has closely aligned itself with the Kremlin. According to the AP, more than 170 people were arrested during the protests in Belarus.

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U.S. announces $54 million in humanitarian aid to UkraineReturn to menu

The United States announced $54 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine on Sunday as a host of other countries vowed similar help.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the U.S. is one of Ukraine’s biggest humanitarian donors and that this new commitment would help provide food, water, health care and other vital needs.

“As with any refugee situation, we call on the international community to respond to the needs of those seeking protection in a way consistent with the principle of non-refoulement and our shared obligations under international law,” Blinken said. Non-refoulement is the international principle against sending asylum seekers back to a country where they face persecution.

The international community has been unwilling to join the fighting in Ukraine, which is not a member of NATO. But many nations have pledged other forms of support, including military equipment and disaster aid, and sweeping sanctions on Russia’s financial institutions and elites.

Italy’s foreign minister said this weekend that his country would send Ukraine 110 million euros. Denmark announced a donation of weapons, including combat tanks. The United Kingdom announced 40 million British pounds in humanitarian aid Sunday to help provide “basic necessities and medical supplies.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Zelensky spoke Sunday, both leaders said. Zelensky told Johnson “he believed the next 24 hours was a crucial period for Ukraine,” according to a British readout of the call.

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‘She is not afraid’: Ukrainians in Europe speak to their loved ones back homeReturn to menu

LONDON — Oleg Paska says his mother may be an “old woman,” but she is not scared.

Paska, 56, recently moved to the United Kingdom after years traveling for work. He was born and raised in Ukraine, where many members of his family live, including his “brave” 84-year-old mother in the western city of Khmelnitsky.

“My mother and grandmother were nearly killed during the Second World War,” Paska said, explaining that his mother “still remembers the terror” of Nazi atrocities in Europe.

This time she is preparing and she is ready, Paska said. “She tells me she is not afraid.” Many others he knew in his native country were making their own preparations: “They are ready to fight.”

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U.S. Embassy in Russia says Americans should leave ‘immediately’ as airlines cancel flightsReturn to menu

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow on Sunday advised Americans to leave Russia “immediately,” citing the potential for U.S. citizens to be stuck there as more airlines cancel flights into and out of the country.

“An increasing number of airlines are canceling flights into and out of Russia, and numerous countries have closed their airspace to Russian airlines,” the embassy advised in a security bulletin. “U.S. citizens should consider departing Russia immediately via commercial options still available.”

On Friday, the State Department urged Americans to “avoid the areas of Russia along its border with Ukraine.”

Last month, the State Department issued its highest-level travel advisory for Russia — “Level 4: Do Not Travel” — pointing to “ongoing tension along the border with Ukraine, the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens, the embassy’s limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia” and the coronavirus pandemic, among other concerns.

U.S. officials have also been telling Americans to leave Ukraine as soon as possible. The state department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs said in a tweet that U.S. citizens should “consider routes & risk” when seeking a way out of the country.

“Many Polish land border crossings & main Moldavian crossings have long waits,” the agency said. “We recommend Hungary, Romania & Slovakia border crossings. Waits may be hours.”

France on Sunday also urged its citizens to leave Russia and avoid travel there.

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Ukraine asks U.N.’s ‘World Court’ to intervene against RussiaReturn to menu

Ukraine has asked the United Nations’ judicial body to reject Russia’s claims of “genocide” as a rationale for invasion and order the country to halt and make reparations for its attack.

Ukraine filed its request with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) this weekend, saying Russia has turned a decades-old treaty against genocide “on its head — making a false claim of genocide as a basis for actions on its part that constitute grave violations of the human rights of millions of people across Ukraine.”

Ukrainian officials accuse Russia of “planning acts of genocide,” killing Ukrainians as Putin uses “vile rhetoric denying the very existence of a Ukrainian people.”

Based in The Hague and sometimes called the “World Court,” the ICJ settles legal disputes between countries — for instance, by investigating whether one nation has violated a treaty. The U.N. has little ability to enforce its decisions. The ICJ is a civil court, in contrast to the International Criminal Court, which prosecutes war crimes and other atrocities.

Russian leaders have publicly justified their invasion by accusing Ukraine of committing “genocide” in two Moscow-backed separatist areas. Ukrainian officials wrote to the ICJ that the country “emphatically denies that any such genocide has occurred” and wants the court to declare this a false pretext.

The U.S. State Department says that there are “no credible reports of any ethnic Russians or Russian speakers being under threat from the Ukrainian government,” and that the international community has overwhelmingly rejected Russia’s stated reasons for invading.

Ukraine asks that the ICJ order “full reparation for all damage caused by the Russian Federation” with the purported aim of intervening in genocide.

The U.N.’s General Assembly will meet Monday for a rare emergency session to discuss the Russian invasion.

Map: Latest ground advances of Russia into Ukraine Return to menu

Russian troops have moved into Ukraine from the north, south and east of the country. Earlier Sunday, Russian forces pushed into Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, but it remains under Ukrainian control. According to the Pentagon, Russia is facing more resistance in the capital, Kyiv, than it was expecting.

E.U. may grant temporary asylum to fleeing UkrainiansReturn to menu

The European Union may grant temporary asylum to Ukrainians for up to three years, E.U. officials said Sunday.

E.U. Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said Sunday that a majority of members are in favor of the plan, which could move ahead this week.

About 368,000 Ukrainians have fled to European neighbors — including Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova — since Russia invaded Ukraine, the United Nations refugee agency said Sunday.

With people lined up at border crossings, Europe is preparing to host a steep influx of new arrivals. The United Nations estimated that up to 5 million of Ukraine’s 44 million people could become refugees.

E.U. countries have expressed some willingness to welcome Ukrainians, including a number in Eastern Europe that have been tightening their border policies and trying to discourage arrivals from other parts of the world.

Ukrainian fencers refuse to compete against Russians at world championshipsReturn to menu

Putting down their foils in favor of antiwar signs, a fencing team representing Ukraine at the world championships in Egypt on Sunday refused to participate in a scheduled match against Russia.

“We cannot fight today against them while our families are in danger,” a member of the team said after both sides assembled on the floor of Cairo Stadium Indoor Halls Complex.

Lo sport e la guerra

L’Ucraina di fioretto maschile rifiuta di affrontare la Russia nella prova di Coppa del Mondo di scherma al Cairo.

Negli ottavi di finale (fioretto a squadre) gli ucraini decidono di non gareggiare contro i russi e si ritirano:”Stop the war”#RussiaUkraine pic.twitter.com/PO9lQtG187

— Lia Capizzi (@LiaCapizzi) February 27, 2022

In the world of sports as in a host of other sectors, Russia has faced boycotts and other measures aimed at punishing the country for its invasion of Ukraine. After a number of competitors reportedly pulled out, a World Cup women’s epee event being held in Sochi, Russia, this weekend was called off shortly before the semifinal round.

“Stop Russia! Stop the war!” read the signs held by the Ukrainian team, according to Agence France-Presse. “Save Ukraine! Save Europe.”

Satellite images show long convoy of Russian troops a few dozen miles from KyivReturn to menu

New satellite images taken Sunday show a large convoy of Russian ground troops approaching Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, where forces over the weekend were engaged in a fierce battle for control of the city.

The images, captured by the U.S. firm Maxar Technologies, show a line of Russian military vehicles — stretching for more than three miles — traveling in the direction of Kyiv. At the time the photographs were taken, on Sunday morning, the convoy was northeast of the Ukrainian city of Ivankiv, about 40 miles from the capital.

The convoy includes fuel, logistics and armored vehicles, such as tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and self-propelled artillery, Maxar reported. Separate video circulating on social media Sunday also appeared to show a number of Russian vehicles traveling through Ukraine, though it was unclear whether it was the same convoy as the one seen in the Maxar images.

Hundreds in D.C. demonstrate in support of UkraineReturn to menu

In D.C., several enthusiastic rallies have been held at the White House and the Ukrainian and Russian embassies over the past several days. On Sunday, there was another, larger gathering at Farragut Square, where at least 100 people waved the Ukrainian flag and sang patriotic songs, according to social media posts.

In live footage from Reuters, one person held a sign that read “STOP NEW HITLER,” and others were holding placards calling for peace and “No War.” During one song, people knelt, held each other’s hands and bowed their heads. “President Biden, the world is watching you!” chanted the crowd at the end of the song.

At one point, Damon Wilson, the president and CEO of the National Endowment for Democracy — which describes itself as an independent foundation dedicated to strengthening democratic institutions around the world — addressed the crowd, urging the “free world” to rally for Ukraine and for a stop to Putin’s aggressions.

“Their success is crucial to democracy’s future. It is crucial to defeating Putinism,” Wilson said. “Only when Putin is out of Ukraine, only when Putin is out of the Kremlin, will our freedom be safe and secure.”

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