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Invasion latest Ukraine and Russia begin talks as Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threat condemned

Blasts were heard in the capital Kyiv and in the major city of Kharkiv on Monday morning, Ukrainian officials said

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Troops engaged in street fighting in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Sunday (Marienko Andrew/AP)

Troops engaged in street fighting in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Sunday (Marienko Andrew/AP)

Ukrainian service members at a checkpoint in the city of Zhytomyr, Ukraine. Picture: Reuters

Ukrainian service members at a checkpoint in the city of Zhytomyr, Ukraine. Picture: Reuters

Russian president Vladimir Putin. Photo: Reuters/Aleksey Nikolskyi

Russian president Vladimir Putin. Photo: Reuters/Aleksey Nikolskyi

A serviceman of pro-Russian militia is seen inside a tank of armed forces of the separatist self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic (LNR) on a road in the Luhansk region, Ukraine February 27, 2022. Photo: Reuters/Alexander Ermochenko

A serviceman of pro-Russian militia is seen inside a tank of armed forces of the separatist self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic (LNR) on a road in the Luhansk region, Ukraine February 27, 2022. Photo: Reuters/Alexander Ermochenko

Mothers fleeing with their children from Ukraine stand at Nyugati station in Budapest, Hungary. Picture: Reuters

Mothers fleeing with their children from Ukraine stand at Nyugati station in Budapest, Hungary. Picture: Reuters

A child in a wheelchair who fled the conflict from neighbouring Ukraine waits for transport at the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Siret, Romania. Picture: AP

A child in a wheelchair who fled the conflict from neighbouring Ukraine waits for transport at the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Siret, Romania. Picture: AP

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Troops engaged in street fighting in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Sunday (Marienko Andrew/AP)

Talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials began on the Belarusian border on Monday, as Russia's diplomatic and economic isolation deepened four days after it invaded Ukraine, the biggest assault on a European state since World War Two.

Blasts were heard in the capital Kyiv and in the major city of Kharkiv on Monday morning, Ukrainian officials said, while a residential building in Chernihiv in northern Ukraine was on fire after being struck by a missile.

NATO partners are providing Ukraine with air-defence missiles and anti-tank weapons, NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg said in a tweet, adding that he had held another phone conversation with Ukraine's president earlier.

Airlines on Monday braced for a potentially lengthy sanctions war after the European Union banned Russian airlines and Moscow pledged to retaliate. Dozens of flights were cancelled or sent on costly detours as the crisis hit airline shares.

Britain said it was taking further measures against Russia in concert with the United States and European Union, effectively cutting off Moscow's major financial institutions from Western financial markets.

Russia's central bank more than doubled its key policy rate and introduced some capital controls as it scrambled to shield the economy from unprecedented Western sanctions that sent the rouble tumbling to record lows.

Energy giant BP, global bank HSBC and the world's biggest aircraft leasing firm AerCap joined a growing list of Western firms looking to exit Russia as Western sanctions tightened the screws on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

Crude oil jumped while the rouble plunged nearly 30pc to a fresh record low after new sanctions were imposed, including blocking some banks from the SWIFT international payments system.

The European Union will fund weapons for Ukraine to help it defend itself against Russia's invasion, top EU officials said on Sunday. Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a "special operation".

At least 352 civilians, including 14 children, had been killed since the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Ukraine's health ministry said on Sunday, with 1,684 people wounded.

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A woman fleeing Russian invasion of Ukraine hugs a child at a temporary camp in Przemysl, Poland. Picture: Reuters

A woman fleeing Russian invasion of Ukraine hugs a child at a temporary camp in Przemysl, Poland. Picture: Reuters

A woman fleeing Russian invasion of Ukraine hugs a child at a temporary camp in Przemysl, Poland. Picture: Reuters

 

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The head of a U.N. agency said on Monday over 500,000 people have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries since the start of Russia's invasion last week. Refugees poured into central Europe with queues at border crossings stretching for kilometres.

Tens of thousands of people across Europe marched in protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Sunday. More than 5,500 people have been detained at various anti-war protests in Russia since the invasion began.

Ukraine lodged a case against Russia at world court, citing erroneous allegations of genocide against Kyiv.

Vladimir Putin yesterday put Russia’s nuclear arsenal on standby amid growing fears he could deploy weapons of mass destruction to avoid the humiliation of defeat in Ukraine.

Mr Putin blamed the West’s “unfriendly steps” when ordering Russia’s military command to put its nuclear deterrent “into a special mode of combat service”.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has claimed that Putin placed nuclear deterrence forces on high alert after statements from UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

According to the Interfax news agency, Mr Peskov told a press briefing: "Statements were made by various representatives at various levels on possible altercations or even collisions and clashes between Nato and Russia.

"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."

After four days of fighting, Russia’s advance has become bogged down and troops repelled after fierce fighting in the capital Kyiv and in Kharkiv, its second city.

Military analysts claimed Russian forces had suffered their “worst day” while Kharkiv’s governor said his city had been “cleansed of the enemy”.

Russia admitted for the first time yesterday it had suffered casualties but insisted Ukraine’s claims of 4,300 soldiers killed was inaccurate.

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