Ukraine demands ′immediate′ cease-fire — as it happened | News | DW | 14.03.2022

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Ukraine demands 'immediate' cease-fire — as it happened

Ukraine says it wants an immediate ceasefire and Russia's withdrawal of troops as talks resume. A top negotiator said only then could regional relations and political differences be discussed.

Over 2.8 million people have left Ukraine since the start of the Russian Invasion

A Ukrainian father waves to his wife and children as they leave on a train bound for Poland

  • Fourth round of Ukraine-Russia talks on "technical pause" until Tuesday
  • Refugee exodus reaches 2.8 million
  • Zelenskyy says Kyiv's negotiators pushing for direct talks with Putin
  • Ukraine's army expects fresh attacks by Russian forces
  • Ukrainian officials to try to evacuate more citizens through corridors

This live updates article is now closed. For the latest, please click here.

UNHCR Ukraine emergency response raises $200 million

Companies, foundations and philanthropists have donated $200 million (roughly €183 million) to the UN Refugee Agency's Ukraine emergency response, the UNHCR agency said in a statement on its website.

The UNHCR said that it was urgently appealing for $510 million (€466 million) "to provide initial emergency assistance to those displaced inside the country and for refugees throughout the region."

The agency said that the contributions allowed it to "respond quickly" since the start of the crisis by organizing airlift and truck convoys of assistance for displaced people. The agency has also provided "emergency cash assistance to those in need so they can find shelter, warmth, and food."

Former Kremlin official, FIDE chief slams war

The head of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) Arkady Dvorkovich decried the war in Ukraine.

Dvorkovich, who served as the Kremlin's top economic advisor before moving to deputy prime minister between 2012 and 2018, told the Mother Jones magazine his thoughts were with Ukrainian civilians.

The 49-year-old also notably used the word "war" to describe the conflict, which all the current Russian officials describe as a "special military operation."

"Wars are the worst things one might face in life," he was quoted as saying to the US magazine.

Dvorkovich added that wars do more than claim lives.

"Wars kill hopes and aspirations, freeze or destroy relationships and connections," he said.

As one of the sports federations with the closest financial and personnel ties to Russia, following decades where Russian and former Soviet chess players were either dominant or among the best in the world, FIDE has been put in a particularly sensitive position by the conflict. 

US warns China against helping Russia in 'intense' seven-hour meeting

Jake Sullivan, security adviser to US President Joe Biden, met with Chinese Foreign Policy Advisor Yang Jiechi in Rome for the seven-hour negotiations concerning Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Sullivan and his team "raised directly and very clearly our concerns about [Beijing's] support to Russia in the wake of the invasion, and the implications that any such support would have for PRC's relationship not only with us, but for its relationships around the world," said State Department spokesman Ned Price, using the acronym PRC to refer to the People's Republic of China.

The White House described the talks as "intense."

Watch video 00:58

Guterres: Further escalation of the war threatens all of humanity

China has been careful not to blame Russia for the invasion, saying instead that US and NATO caused the crisis with their "Cold War" mentality. But many in the West were alarmed by recent reports in the US media that Russia was asking China for assistance, including military support, during the Ukraine crisis. Both China and Russia have denied these reports.

However, US officials said that Washington believed China had signaled to Russia that it was ready to support Moscow militarily and help financially as the Russian economy faces severe sanctions.

"We do have deep concerns about China's alignment with Russia," a senior US official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Zelenskyy wants to extend martial law until late April

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked the Ukrainian lawmakers to extend martial law for another 30 days.

Martial law was originally declared when the invasion started on February 24, and was previously set to expire on March 24.

The two sides have signaled progress in cease-fire talks yesterday but the negotiations are currently on hold until Thursday as fighting continues.

Russia suspends grain exports to several neighboring nations

Russian authorities were halting grain exports to the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union, which includes Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in addition to Russia itself. The Russian government was also temporarily stopping the exports of white sugar and raw sugar to countries outside the bloc.

The move comes amid fears that the war in Ukraine would disrupt the food supply in Europe. Russian officials said the suspension on grain would stay in place until the end of June, while restrictions on exporting sugar would last until the end of August this year.

"The decision was made to protect the internal food market in the conditions of external limits," they said.

Ukraine: Thousands of civilians evacuated on Monday

Over 4,000 civilians were transported away from the fighting on Monday, said Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk.

She added that only 7 out of 10 agreed humanitarian corridors were used. Ukraine and Russia have repeatedly traded blame for sabotaging agreed evacuation corridors, especially related to the port city of Mariupol.

On Monday, Vereshchuk said that Russian troops were continuing to block an aid convoy trying to deliver food, water, and medicine to Mariupol. At the same time, 150 cars managed to leave the besieged city, giving hope that the convoy would be able to reach it, she said.

According to Vereshchuk, around 150,000 people were able to evacuate via humanitarian corridors since the war started.

Watch video 02:02

Ukrainians left homeless by shelling in Kyiv

World Bank approves more money for Ukraine

The World Bank said it was making nearly $200 million (€183 million) in additional and reprogrammed financing to bolster Ukraine's social services for vulnerable people.

The money is in addition to the $723 million emergency financing package of loans and grants the World Bank announced last week.

"The ongoing war continues to have severe human costs and has created financing gaps that jeopardize the ability of vulnerable people in Ukraine to meet basic needs," World Bank Group President David Malpass said.

"This rapid support will help to bridge those gaps during a time of extreme disruption as we work on broader support efforts for Ukraine and the region," he added. 

Russian TV worker disrupts broadcast with anti-war sign

Marina Ovsyannikova, an editor at Channel One interrupted a live broadcast on Russian state TV waving a placard reading: "No war, stop the war."

"Don't believe the propaganda, here they are lying to you, Russians against war," her Russian sign reads.

Her anti-war protest on the channel where she worked was only on air for seconds.

Pavel Chikov, a Russian lawyer and human rights activist, said on Twitter Ovsyannikova was arrested moments later for "discrediting the Russian armed forces."

She pre-recorded a video message before her protest and posted it on her Facebook page, "What is going on in Ukraine is a crime," she said. 

"Unfortunately, I've spent the last years working on Channel One and spreading Kremlin propaganda. And I am ashamed." Ovsyannikova added.

Leonid Volkov, the aide to imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny, said their organization was ready to pay the fine on behalf of Ovsyannikova.

"And any other employee of the broadcaster who does likewise," Volkov said on Twitter.

Fox News journalists injured outside Kyiv

Fox News reported one of its journalists covering the war in Ukraine was injured outside Kyiv.

The US news channel did not say how correspondent Benjamin Hall was injured or what the extent of his injuries were.

"We have a minimal level of details right now," Fox News CEO Suzanna Scott said in a memo to employees.

Earlier, Ukraine's Prosecutor General, Irina Venediktova, posted on Facebook Hall was in "intensive care under the supervision of doctors."

Without naming him, she added, "This man was not at a military facility, where according to Russian officials, they are constantly targeting. Not being at a military facility, he suffered serious injuries."

Brent Renaud, an award-winning filmmaker and journalist on assignment for Time magazine, was killed over the weekend in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy offered his condolences to Renaud's family on Monday. 

Israeli PM Bennett discuss Ukraine with Putin

The Kremlin said Israeli Prime Miniter Naftali Bennett spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday. 

Bennett requested the call and told Putin about his recent contacts with leaders of several countries. They agreed to continue their dialogue, according to the Kremlin.

Over the weekend, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy discussed the prospects for peace talks with Putin with the Israeli Prime Minister.

Zelenskyy told international journalists, he would be ready to meet Putin in Jerusalem but only if a cease-fire is in place.

Putin has ignored numerous previous offers of talks from Zelenskyy.

Watch video 05:43

Russian demands on Ukraine have changed very little: DW's Nick Connolly

Deadly strike on television tower in northern Rivne region

At least nine people were killed and nine more wounded in an airstrike on a television tower in Ukraine's northern Rivne region, Governor Vitaliy Koval said.

"There are still people under the rubble," he said in an online post.

It's not the first time a television tower has been targeted in the war.

At the start of March, five people were killed in the Russian attack on the main television tower in Kyiv.

More than 2.8 million flee war in Ukraine

The International Organization for Migration said more than 2.8 million people had fled Ukraine for neighboring countries.

The UN agency said it included 127,000 third-country nationals.

European Union officials have estimated 5 million may end up crossing its borders.

Poland, which has welcomed well over half of the total number fleeing, said about 1.76 million people had entered the country since the fighting started.

Meanwhile, the Russian Defence Ministry said 250,000 people have opted to flee to Russia.

The UN refugee agency chief Filippo Grandi said while the spotlight is on the refugee crisis in Europe, desperate people are also fleeing other areas.

"All of you are following what is happening in Ukraine. It is a very big crisis and also refugee crisis, but I came here also to say that there is not just Ukraine, there are other crisis in the world, other situations that need attention, and Afghanistan is a priority for us,'' Grandi said in Kabul.

The UN estimates that more than 90 percent of Afghans live below the poverty level.

Russia accuses Ukraine of killing 20 civilians in Donetsk

Russia's defense ministry said Ukraine shelled a residential area of Donetsk, killing 20 civilians and seriously wounding  28 more people in the eastern city. Donetsk is a stronghold of pro-Russian rebels currently fighting alongside Russian forces in Ukraine.

According to the Russian military, Ukrainian troops used a Tochka-U missile carrying a shrapnel warhead.

"Using these weapons… intentionally against civilians is a war crime," the Russian Defense Ministry said in an online post. Their claims could not be independently verified.

The news comes after Ukrainian officials reported a Russian shell hitting a residential building in Kyiv and killing two people in the Ukrainian capital.

Watch video 03:10

DW talks to warfare expert John Spencer

Ukrainians say Russia detonated ammunition near nuclear plant

Ukraine's nuclear energy watchdog Energoatom accused Russian forces of detonating parts of an ammunition depot not far from Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The blast allegedly took place near a destroyed military training facility.

Energoatom said the Zaporizhzhia plant itself was controlled by the Russians, with 11 representatives of Russia's Rosatom present.

Ukrainian officials decried the attackers as "idiots" and said the occupiers intended to "continue carrying out explosions at Europe's largest nuclear facility."

The claims could not be independently verified.

Guterres warns impact of war goes 'far beyond Ukraine'

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sounded the alarm that war in Ukraine is now impacting the most vulnerable worldwide.

In remarks at the UN, Guterres said the "the war goes beyond Ukraine" and the "sword of Damocles hangs over the global economy, especially in the developing world."

Russia and Ukraine supply half of the world's sunflower oil and 30% of the world's wheat. Ukraine provides more than 50% of the World Food Programme's wheat supply.

"Food, fuel, and fertilizers prices are skyrocketing. Supply chains are being disrupted, and cost and delays the transportation of important foods when available are at record levels. And all of this is hitting the poorest the hardest and planting the seeds for political instability and unrest around the world," he said.

The UN chief again called for an end to the fight and "serious negotiations."

"Ukraine is on fire, the country is being decimated before the eyes of the world. The impact of civilians is reaching terrifying proportions. Countless innocent people, including women and children, are being killed," he said.

Guterres said the UN was going to allocate a further $40 million (€43.9 million) from its Central Emergency Response fund to ramp up humanitarian assistance for Ukraine.

EU finalizes new sanction package against the Kremlin

The EU's  foreign policy head, Josep Borrell, confirmed on Monday that the bloc is finalizing a new package of sanctions against Russia for its "barbaric" invasion of Ukraine.

The sanctions underway will be a "major blow" to Russia's trade, membership in international financial bodies and steel and energy sectors, the EU chief said on Monday.

"This will be another major blow to the economic and logistic base upon which the Kremlin is building the invasion and taking the resources to finance it," Borrell said after talks in Skopje with North Macedonia's Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski.

"We are listing more companies and individuals playing an active role in supporting the people who undermine Ukrainian sovereignty," he added.

The EU also plans to sanction Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich and other oligarchs considered to be supporting Russia's invasion of Ukraine, two diplomats told AFP on Monday.

The diplomats added that the EU is drafting a list of individuals whose assets in the EU, including yachts and mansions, could be seized and entry to the union refused.

Watch video 05:11

Are cultural boycotts constructive?

Russia to suspend grain exports

Russia plans to suspend wheat, meslin, rye, barley, and corn exports from 15 March to the end of June, the Agriculture Ministry told the Interfax news agency.

"The Ministry of Agriculture, together with the Ministry of Industry and Trade, has prepared a draft government decree, which envisages the introduction of a temporary ban on the export of major grain crops from Russia from 15 March to 30 June this year inclusive," it said.

Russia is the world's top wheat exporter, and countries in the Middle Eastern and North Africa rely heavily on imports from Russia and Ukraine.

The current war could lead to a severe food crisis in a region already under pressure.

UN agencies warn that the number of people in war-torn Yemen starving in famine conditions is projected to rise five-fold this year to 161,000, amid fears of a dire shortfall of life-saving aid.

Meanwhile, Russian fertilizer billionaire Andrei Melnichenko warned fertilizer prices were soaring so fast that many farmers could no longer afford soil nutrients.

"The events in Ukraine are truly tragic. We urgently need peace," Melnichenko told the Reuters news agency.
"One of the victims of this crisis will be agriculture and food," he warned.

Ukraine-Russia talks takes a 'technical pause'

Ukrainian negotiator, Mykhailo Podoliak, wrote on Twitter a "technical pause" has been taken in the Ukraine-Russia talks until Tuesday.

He said the negotiations would continue, but negotiators needed a break to do "additional work in the working subgroups and clarification of individual definitions."

Ukrainian and Russian were more optimistic going into Monday's fourth round of talks than on previous occasions when negotiations between the two nations had ended without a resolution.

Squatters occupy Russian oligarch's London mansion

Squatters have occupied a London mansion that is believed to belong to Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who was hit by British sanctions last week.

The protesters have been seen waving the Ukrainian flag and holding a banner saying "This property has been liberated."

Metropolitan Police said they were called in the early hours of Monday after receiving reports that people had entered the mansion in Belgrave Square, in an upmarket area home to several foreign embassies.

"By occupying this mansion, we want to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine, but also the people of Russia who never agreed to this madness," read a statement from the squatters, who described themselves as anarchists.

"You occupy Ukraine, we occupy you," it said.

The police tweeted it had "completed a search of the property in Belgrave Square and are satisfied there are no protesters inside."

The UK froze the assets of Deripaska last Thursday, one of a number of Russian oligarchs who have been targeted.

Zelenskyy to address US House and Senate

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will give a virtual address to US Congress on Wednesday.

"We look forward to the privilege of welcoming President Zelenskyy's address to the House and Senate and to convey our support to the people of Ukraine as they bravely defend democracy," House leader Nancy Pelosi and her Senate counterpart Chuck Schumer said in a joint letter to lawmakers.

Last week, Congress approved $13.6 billion (€12.4 billion) in humanitarian, military, and economic assistance to Ukraine.

Zelenskyy had already received standing ovations from the UK and Polish parliaments after speaking to their lawmakers in recent weeks.

More than 160 private cars leave besieged Mariupol

After days of failed attempts, more than 160 civilian cars have been able to drive out of the besieged Mariupol along a humanitarian evacuation route.

In a Telegram post, the Mariupol city council said the convoy carrying Ukrainian civilians was heading towards Berdyansk.

Russian forces have surrounded Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine for two weeks.

The roughly 400,000 people remaining in the city are running out of food, water, and basic supplies.

Ukrainian officials said that a humanitarian convoy headed to the city on Sunday never left a nearby town because of Russian bombing.

Ukraine foreign minister urges more sanctions 

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has called for sanctions to be ramped up further against Russia, urging a global boycott of international companies keeping their operations open in Russia.

He also called for international ports to bar entry to Russian ships and cargo. "International businesses must leave Russia, both for moral and practical reasons," Kuleba said.

Russia has been hit by a series of international sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Kuleba said he believed another round of sanctions was now imminent.

Watch video 03:45

'The mood is very tense': Alexandra von Nahmen reports from Odesa

Red Cross chief — History is watching in Mariupol

The war in Ukraine is now "nothing short of a nightmare" for people living in besieged cities, a top Red Cross official says.

Robert Mardini, who is director-general of the International Committee of the Red Cross, also said the war was "catastrophic" for civilians, with people run out of drinking water, food, medical supplies, and fuel for heating.
The situation was particularly bad in the surrounded Ukrainian city of Mariupol, Mardini said, with medical facilities also still being targeted in attacks.

The official said there was still no established route for people to reach safety from Mariupol and some other areas where the fighting is at its most intense.

"History is watching what is happening in Mariupol and other cities and civilians must be protected," the AP news agency quoted Mardinio as saying.

"When we look at the devastation, when we look at how some neighborhoods are looking like today, it is really frightening," Mardini said. "And it tells a lot about a situation that is nothing short of a nightmare for people living there.''

Watch video 01:51

Fears of more civilian deaths in Ukraine

Zelenskyy cancels address for 'very urgent' reasons

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was supposed to speak to the Council of Europe on Monday, but his address has been cancelled due to "very urgent, unforeseen circumstances," the organization said.

It is not clear what the circumstances are, but it is expected that Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal will take Zelenskyy's place at a slightly delayed time.

Chernobyl power supply damaged for second time since invasion

The decommissioned nuclear power plant Chernobyl, located in Ukrainian territory north of Kyiv, has been cut off from the power grid for the second time since Russia invaded Ukraine and took control of the facility, according to a statement Ukraine's grid operator Ukrenerho.

The operator said a power line had been damaged, and the site was relying on diesel generators. It also demanded that it be given access to the site to carry out necessary repairs.

The nearby town of Slavutych was also without power, Ukrenerho chief Volodymyr Kudrystkyy said on national television.

Ukrenerho reported last Wednesday that the plant had been temporarily disconnected from the power grid, leaving essential systems reliant on power generators.

Power is necessary to keep cooling the spent fuel for the site, decades after the 1986 meltdown that led to the spread of radioactive contamination.

Watch video 05:46

Nuclear plant attack 'dangerous on many levels'

Fourth round of Ukraine-Russia talks kick off

Ukrainian and Russian delegations have met for a fourth round of talks, this time meeting online rather than in person, Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak wrote on Twitter.

Podolyak said that "communication is being held yet it's hard" which he said was down to "too different political positions."

He said earlier that the talks will focus on achieving a ceasefire ahead of political discussions.

Watch video 02:02

Ukrainian and Russian negotiators set to meet again

London mayor slams Russian money laundering in UK capital

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has called for the empty buildings owned by Russian oligarchs to be used to house Ukrainian refugees, in an interview with broadcaster Times Radio.

Khan said that many of the properties bought up by wealthy Russians remained unused and existed simply as "gold bricks used to launder money."

He said that the government should take back the houses and allow Ukrainians fleeing the violence to stay there, which he said would be a form of "poetic justice."

The UK government has come under fire for the complicated visa system that Ukrainian refugees face to enter the country. UK sanctions against Russia and key Russian oligarchs have also been questioned for their failure to target individuals close to the Kremlin who have business dealings in the UK.

Ukraine: 2 Dead in strike on aircraft factory

Ukrainian authorities say 2 people were killed and 7 were injured after an aircraft factory was hit.

The Antonov factory is known for producing many of the world's largest cargo planes.

Authorities said a large fire broke out after the plant, which also makes passenger planes, was hit. 

Russians lose access to Instagram

The popular social media app Instagram was no longer accessible in Russi from Monday after it appeared on a list of "restricted" online resources published by Russia's media regulator Roskomnadzor.

The block follows similar steps taken by Moscow against Facebook and Twitter in early March as it aims to crackdown against criticisms of its invasion into Ukraine.

Instagram is the most used app among young Russians, but on Monday only those with a VPN could refresh the feed.

The social media platform also plays a key role for many small businesses that use it to advertise, conduct sales and communicate with clients.

Watch video 03:03

Odesa prepares to counter Russian offensive

Ukraine to demand immediate ceasefire and withdrawal

One of the Ukrainian negotiators that has been taking part in the rounds of talks between Russia and Ukraine, Mykhailo Podolyak, said ahead of the fourth meeting on Monday that the new talks will focus on achieving a ceasefire.

Podolyak said Ukraine wanted "immediate withdrawal of all troops and security guarantees."

"Only after this can we talk about regional relations and about political differences," Kyiv's lead negotiator Mikhailo Podolyak said in a video statement, adding that there was a "difficult conversation" to be had.

"Although Russia realizes the nonsense of its aggressive actions, it still has a delusion that 19 days of violence against Ukrainian peaceful cities is the right strategy," he added.

Previous talks between the two sides tried to establish humanitarian corridors, which often ended up quickly falling apart.

High-level talks between the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers in Turkey on Thursday failed to result in an agreement on ending the conflict.

Watch video 02:48

Thousands of foreigners help Ukraine fight Russia

Ukraine announces new corridor plan

Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereschuk says the country is set to try to evacuate trapped civilians through 10 humanitarian corridors.

The routes to be established would run from towns near the capital Kyiv and in the eastern region of Luhansk.

Vereschuk also said the government would try again to move a humanitarian convoy carrying food and medicine into the surrounded port city of Mariupol.

Ukraine calls for more weapons and sanctions

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has called on western states to increase their sanctions against Russia and to supply Ukraine with more weapons. 

"To those abroad scared of being 'dragged into WWIII.' Ukraine fights back successfully. We need you to help us fight. Provide us with all necessary weapons," Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

"Apply more sanctions on Russia and isolate it fully. Help Ukraine force Putin into failure and you will avert a larger war."

The EU and US, among others, have already brought in a raft of sanctions against Russia, that have seen the value of the ruble fall to historic lows. However, while the US and UK have pledged to stop buying Russian oil and gas, some EU countries, including Germany, have so far refused this proposal due to their reliance on Russia's fossil fuels.

Kyiv has also repeatedly called for a no-fly zone, but NATO has rejected this idea saying that it risks bringing Russia and NATO countries into direct conflict and triggering a much larger-scale war.

Australia and Netherlands take action over downing of MH 17

Australia and the Netherlands have begun joint legal action with the Netherlands against Russia at the International Civil Aviation Organization over the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014.

They added they would rely on  "overwhelming evidence" the plane was struck down by a Russian missile driven from Russia into eastern Ukraine.

"Today’s joint action by Australia and the Netherlands is a major step forward in both countries’ fight for truth, justice and accountability for this horrific act of violence, which claimed the lives of 298 victims, 38 of whom called Australia home," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement on Monday.

The joint action will be taken under Article 84 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation. The Netherlands is separately trying four suspects for murder individually.

Shell hits residential building in Kyiv

Ukrainian emergency services say a shell that hit a residential building in Kyiv's Obolon district has killed one person. 

The emergency services had earlier said two bodies were found in the 9-story apartment building, but later revised the figure down.

The online news site Ukrayinska Pravda tweeted a video of the burning and damaged building, which has said to have been hit at about 7:40 am local time.

Russia accuses West of seeking 'artificial default'

The Russian Finance Ministry has accused foreign countries of trying to force Russia into an "artificial default" through unprecedented sanctions over Moscow's war in Ukraine. 

The ministry said it might have to repay some loans in roubles as Western sanctions take their toll on the economy.

"The freezing of foreign currency accounts of the Bank of Russia and of the Russian government can be regarded as the desire of a number of foreign countries to organize an artificial default that has no real economic grounds," Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said in a statement.

The ministry said it had approved a temporary method for repaying foreign currency debt, but added that sanctions could — in the future — prevent banks from honoring debts in the currency of issue.

In the statement, the ministry said Russia had enough funds to meet its debt obligations.

Germany plans stealth jets after Ukraine rethink — report

Germany is planning to equip its air force with US-built F-35 stealth military jets, according to the dpa news agency.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz last month announced a massive boost in defense spending as the Ukraine conflict forces Berlin to reassess its foreign and defense policies.

Berlin is reportedly seeking to use the Lockheed Martin planes to replace the country's Tornado fleet, introduced more than 40 years ago.

The F-35 is considered the world's most modern combat aircraft. Its unique shape and outer coating, make the jet difficult for enemy radar to detect.

According to sources, Germany plans to buy up to 35 of the planes.

In light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Scholz said he would bring the nation's investments above a key NATO commitment 2% of GDP.

Concerns had previously arisen that buying the F-35 aircraft could scupper joint plans with France to build a joint European combat aircraft.

Taiwan says ASUS withdraws business and staff from Russia

Taiwanese computer maker ASUS will be putting in place a plan to "evacuate" its business and staff from Russia, said economy minister Wang Mei-hua on Monday.

He said Taiwan stands with other democracies and has taken action against Russia, but could not comment on what individual companies were doing.

"Russians have no moral right to use your brilliant technology! It's for peace, not for war!" said Ukraine's vice prime minister, who is also the minister for digital transformation. He had shared a letter on Thursday to ASUS Chairman Jonney Shih calling on the company to end its business in Russia. 

Zelenskyy calls for direct talks with Putin

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said he will continue negotiating with Russia and said that his delegation "has a clear task" to do everything to facilitate a meeting between him and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Zelenskyy has repeatedly called for a meeting with Putin, but says that his requests have so far gone unanswered by the Kremlin.

Moscow has not ruled out the idea of a Zelenskyy-Putin meeting, according to Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

However, "we need to understand what should be the result and what will be discussed at this meeting," the spokesman was quoted as saying on Sunday by the Interfax news agency.

Zelenskyy said representatives of the two countries hold daily talks via video conference, adding that they were necessary to allow the establishment of a cease-fire and more humanitarian corridors.

On Sunday, both sides signaled cease-fire talks were making headway. Talks are expected to continue on Monday.

Ukrainian army expects fresh attacks

The Ukrainian army said on Monday that Russian troops were trying to gain a foothold in occupied positions and were preparing several fresh attacks.

"The enemy is forming and moving strategic reserves to our borders," the Ukrainian general staff said in a daily bulletin.

Ukraine's military said that new attacks on Kharkiv, Sumy and Kyiv suburb Brovary were expected.

Ukraine accused Russian forces of destroying stationary military and civilian infrastructure in the country, in contravention of international humanitarian law.

The bulletin said that Russian forces in the eastern Luhansk region were concentrated on advancing towards the city of Severodonetsk. According to the Ukrainian military, Russian forces suffered casualties and retreated from the towns of Topolske and Shpakivka in the Kharkiv region.

Summary of events in Ukraine-Russia crisis on Sunday

Russia said its forces hit a military training facility in western Ukraine, near the Polish border. A Ukrainian regional governor said 35 people were killed and 134 wounded in the attack. 

A US filmmaker and journalist was also killed Sunday. 

Watch video 02:36

Western Ukraine: At least 35 killed in airstrikes

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on software companies Microsoft, SAP and Oracle to stop offering support for their products in Russia.

The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kristalina Georgieva, said Russia is at risk of a deep recession that might make it unable to pay its debts.

Russian NGO OVD-Info said that more than 800 people were detained during peace rallies in 37 Russian cities.

Ukraine said it fixed a broken power line to the Chernobyl power plant, which has been seized by Russian troops.

A far-right group has staged a protest in the Serbian capital Belgrade in support of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier on Sunday, a new mayor was reportedly installed in southeastern Ukraine's city of Melitopol after the previous mayor Ivan Fedorov was abducted by Russian troops, according to media reports.

lo/sdi/fb (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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