Ukraine: Talks with Russia inconclusive as UN convenes — as it happened | News | DW | 28.02.2022

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Ukraine: Talks with Russia inconclusive as UN convenes — as it happened

Talks at the Belarusian-Ukrainian border have ended, but a second round of follow-on talks is in the works. Meanwhile, FIFA has suspended Russia from soccer competitions "until further notice." Follow DW for the latest.

Belarus Verhandlungen zwischen Russland und Ukraine in der Region Gomel

The talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials took place on the border to Belarus on Monday

  • Talks conclude near Ukraine's border with Belarus; both sides agree to reconvene soon
  • Ukraine has demanded that Russia end the offensive and withdraw
  • Ruble drops to all-time low versus the dollar 
  • Officials in Kharkiv report 11 civilian casualties from heavy shellfire
  • UN General Assembly holds emergency session
  • FIFA suspends all Russian teams from competitions
  • Half a million people have fled Ukraine, according to UN estimates

We have now closed these live updates. Please head to our new article for all the latest developments.​​​​​​​

Russia and Belarus face more sporting sanctions

World Rugby has announced that it has brought sporting sanctions against Russia and Belarus.

The sports governing body confirmed that both Russia and Belarus would be suspended from international and cross border rugby.

Russia's World Rugby membership would also be suspended.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian tennis player Elina Svitolina has refused to play against Russia's Anastasia Potapova in the Monterrey Open in Mexico.

The world ranked number 15 player said she would not play against any Russian or Belarusian player until the sports governing body to "follow the recommendations" of the International Olympic Committee and "accept Russian or Belarusian nationals only as neutral athletes, without displaying any national symbols, colors, flags or anthems," she tweeted.

Russian tennis players Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Andriy Rublev have both called for peace and Svitolina was keen to express her admiration for those who have taken a stand against the invasion.

"I do not blame any of the Russian athletes. They are not responsible for the invasion of our motherland."

"Moreover, I wish to pay tribute to all the players, especially Russians and Belarusians, who bravely stated their position against the war. Their support is essential."

EU's Borrell urges Belarusians to stand with Ukraine

The EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has posted a message, thanking the people of Belarus who have taken a stand against the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Borrell posted a video message in which he urged people to stand with Ukraine. "To the Belarusian people: many of you took huge personal risks struggling for a free and democratic Belarus. Now you are raising your voice against Russia’s war on Ukraine and Lukashenko's decision to support it. Thank you for your bravery. EU stands with you."

The country's leader Aleksander Lukashenko, has managed to tighten his grip on power, following a constitutional referendum on Sunday. 

The amendment will allow Russian troops and nuclear weapons to be stationed permanently in Belarus and also shields Lukashenko from prosecution.

Disney halts release of films in Russia

The Walt Disney Co said Monday it is halting the release of films in Russia, including the upcoming Pixar release, "Turning Red," citing the "unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis."

Nuclear watchdog 'gravely concerned' about Ukraine's power plants

The head of the UN atomic energy watchdog said he "remained gravely concerned" about Ukraine's nuclear power plants, although they were being operated "safely and securely."

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi had been informed that invading Russian forces had been advancing close to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in eastern Ukraine over the weekend.

Grossi said in a statement: "I continue to follow developments in Ukraine very closely and with grave concern, especially the conflict's potential impact on the safety and security of the country’s nuclear facilities."

The IAEA chief added that it was "extremely important that the nuclear power plants are not put at risk in any way." 

Russia anti-war protests — hundreds more arrested

Hundreds of protesters have again been arrested in Russia during anti-war demonstrations.

According to Russian human rights organization OVD-info, at least 412 people were detained in protests on Monday in cities across the country.

The bulk of arrests are reported to have taken place in Moscow, where there were 208 arrested, and St. Petersburg where 181 arrests were made.

The organization said that since anti-war demonstrations began on Thursday, there have been more than 6,440 detentions.

Shell announces intention to exit Russian partnerships

Oil giant Shell announced on Monday its intention to exit operations in Russia.

The company's chief executive officer, Ben van Beurden said in a statement: "We are shocked by the loss of life in Ukraine, which we deplore, resulting from a senseless act of military aggression which threatens European security."

“We cannot — and we will not — stand by. Our immediate focus is the safety of our people in Ukraine and supporting our people in Russia," van Beurden went on to say.

The move comes a day after BP quit its stake in Russian oil company Rosneft.

Zelenskyy calls for no-fly zone, ban on Russia port access worldwide

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for a no-fly zone over his country due to the more than 100 cruise missiles Russia has sent flying into Ukraine since last Thursday. 

He also called for air and seaports worldwide to ban Russian flagged planes and ships.

In a video posted to his Facebook page, Zelenskyy said, "We must close entry for this state in all ports, all canals and all the world's airports." He also urged the international community to consider "a total closure of the skies to Russian missiles, planes and helicopters." 

Facebook, Twitter take steps to restrict RT and Sputnik

The parent company of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, Meta Platforms, will restrict access to Russia's state-run media outlets RT and Sputnik in the EU, according to a tweet from the company's head of global affairs, Nick Clegg.

Clegg wrote that Meta Platforms would undertake the effort "given the exceptional nature of the current situation." 

Twitter's head of site integrity, Yoel Roth, said the platform would undertake adding "labels to Tweets that share links to Russian state-affiliated media websites" and added that the company is "taking steps to significantly reduce the circulation of this content on Twitter." 

Ukraine confirms arrival of Starlink internet equipment

Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine's vice prime minister and digital transformation minister, thanked Elon Musk for equipment that can be used to connect his country to the internet via satellite in the event of an attack on the country's internet infrastructure.

In a tweet, Federov wrote, "Starlink – here. Thanks @elonmusk."

US expels 12 Russian 'diplomats' to the UN

The US is expelling 12 members of Russia's diplomatic mission to the UN, ordering their departures by March 7, Russia's ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya said.

"It's bad news," Nebenzya said, but did not specify whether he was among those departing New York.

Russia called the expulsions a "hostile" act.

The deputy chief of the US mission to the UN later confirmed the report and said the move was designed to stop the dozen diplomats from harming US national security. The US mission said the Russians being removed are intelligence agents.

Russia's mission to the UN includes approximately 100 diplomatic staff.

The UN headquarters in Manhattan, New York, is international territory. However, the diplomats working there reside in the US.

Biden talks with Scholz and other world leaders

The White House announced it held a call from 11:32 a.m. to 12:54 p.m. EST (1632-1754 GMT) to brief allies on developments regarding Russia's invasion of Ukraine and continue working on coordinating a joint response.

Biden was joined on the call by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Others on the call included Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Polish President Andrzej Duda and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.

Part of the conference call focused on the effort to impose "severe costs and consequences" on Russia for invading Ukraine. Additionally, leaders turned their attention to maintaining the stability of the global economy, especially with regard to energy prices.

The national leaders were joined by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, EU Council President Charles Michel and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Turkey agrees to restrict access to Black Sea

Ankara upgraded its definition of Russia's invasion of Ukraine from a "military operation" to a full-scale war, allowing it to implement the 1936 Montreux Convention that gives it the right to bar warships from passing through the Bosporus — the short stretch connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.

Erdogan: Turkey restricts access to the Black Sea

Both Russian and Ukrainian ships may now be limited in their movement but Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu made clear that Turkey cannot bar ships that are returning to their home base in the Black Sea.

"It should not be involved in the war after declaring it will return to the base and passing through the Bosphorus," he added.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had previously asked the NATO member state to enact the ban, but strong Turkish relations with both Kyiv and Moscow have put it in a difficult position.

FIFA, UEFA kick all Russian teams out of its competitions

The international soccer federation FIFA has decided to suspend all Russian national and club teams from taking part in all competitions, including the upcoming World Cup in Qatar.

"FIFA and UEFA have today decided together that all Russian teams, whether national representative teams or club teams, shall be suspended from participation in both FIFA and UEFA competitions until further notice," a statement said on the UEFA website.

"Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine," the statement added.

The Polish national team had already said it would not play Russia in their qualifying match set for late March. FIFA's decision does not set an end date for the ban.

The move follows a call from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from international sports competitions.

Zelenskyy signs request for Ukraine to join the EU

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a formal request for his country to join the EU as EU leaders said they might discuss the possibility of Ukraine joining the 27-nation bloc during an informal summit in March.

Zelenskyy posted images signing Ukraine's application to join the EU on Facebook.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed an application for Ukraine's membership in the EU on February 28.

Zelenskyy posted the images a day after comments from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen seemed to hold out the prospect of Ukraine being admitted

Zelenskyy's appeal followed European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen saying of Ukraine "they are one of us and we want them in" in an interview with Euronews on Sunday. Kyiv said the appeal was "for the immediate accession of Ukraine via a new special procedure." 

But officials in Brussels said on Monday that no such fast-track procedure exists.

The EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell however demurred when asked about it Monday, saying: "We have to provide an answer for the coming hours, not for the coming years."

Borrell added, "Ukraine has clearly a European perspective, but now we have to fight against an aggression."

Ukraine currently has an association agreement with the EU and Ukrainian nationals can travel visa-free to the EU.

Peace talks on Belarusian border conclude for now

Russia and Ukraine broke off peace talks Monday on the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, according to both delegations. A follow-on round will take place in the coming days.

Russia's delegation head Vladimir Medinsky said, "We agreed to keep the negotiations going."

Russia-Ukraine peace talks conclude for now: DW's Emily Sherwin

Both delegations will return to their respective capitals for further consultations ahead of second-round talks. The meeting lasted for around six hours in total. 

At the UN, Russia blames Kyiv for the invasion

Vasily Nebenzya, Russia's ambassador to the UN, told the General Assembly that "for us, Ukraine joining NATO is a red line."

Nebenzya laid the blame for the Russian invasion on Ukraine, saying that Kyiv had failed to stick to the Minsk agreement as well as claiming that Ukrainian forces carried out provocations against people in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014.

"We no longer have the right to allow the residents of Donbas to suffer any further," he said.

He repeated Moscow's line on the supposed need to "demilitarize and de-nazify" Ukraine.

UN holds emergency meeting on Ukraine

Nebenzya also accused Ukraine's western partners, especially the US, of "inciting Kyiv, egging it on, repeating the senseless mantra that their obligations to the Minsk agreements are not being complied with by the Russian Federation."

"Our western colleagues have shamelessly inundated the country with weapons, have sent instructors to the country and have effectively incited Ukrainians ... to engage in armed provocation against Donbas," he said.

Ambassador tells UN 'if Ukraine does not survive, international peace will not'

Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine's ambassador to the UN, warned the members of UN General Assembly of the consequences of Russia's invasion.

"Russia uses all its military potential to attack Ukraine and has begun redeploying reserve units on the border," he said.

Russia is firing "cruise and ballistic missiles at cities, attacks with aviation, tanks and artillery, sends out subversion and reconnaissance groups which mark residential buildings in preparation for air attacks" Kyslytsya claimed.

He also accused the Russian force of attacking civilian infrastructure as well as kindergartens and hospitals, which he called war crimes. "As of today, 352 people including 16 children were killed on the Ukrainian side, and 2,040 Ukrainians including 45 children were wounded," he added.

The Ukrainian ambassador called on the UN General Assembly to be "vocal in demanding from the Russian Federation to stop its offensive against Ukraine."

"If Ukraine does not survive, international peace will not survive. If Ukraine does not survive, the United Nations will not survive… If Ukraine does not survive, we cannot be surprised if democracy fails," Kyslytsya said.

Putin sets out demands in phone call with Macron

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Monday afternoon. The two discussed the fate of Ukraine during their 90-minute phone call.

Following the call Paris said that Putin had "confirmed his willingness to make commitments on these three points," namely an end to attacks targeting civilians, the preservation of civilian infrastructure, and a secure route for people to leave Kyiv.

The Kremlin released a separate statement after the conversation saying that the Russian president had set out his demands for Ukraine that would need to be met before any possible settlement.

Moscow demanded a neutral status for Ukraine, as well as what it termed the demilitarization and "de-nazifiation" of Ukraine, and the recognition of Russian control over Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula seized by Russia in 2014.

"Russia is open to talks with representatives of Ukraine and expects the [talks] to lead to the desired results," the statement from Moscow added.

UN's Guterres hopeful for Ukraine-Russian peace talks

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke at an emergency meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on Monday, calling for an end to the conflict and expressing his gratitude to those countries that have taken in refugees fleeing the violence. 

"I am grateful for the compassion, generosity and solidarity of Ukraine's neighbors who are taking in those seeking safety," he said but added, following reports of racial discrimination at border crossings, that "it is important that this solidarity is extended without any discrimination based on race, religion or ethnicity."

He also pledged to ramp up humanitarian aid in Ukraine but emphasized that "the only true solution is peace."

"I hope that the direct talks now taking place between Ukrainian and Russian delegations will produce not only an immediate halt to the fighting but also a path towards a diplomatic solution," Guterres told the assembly.

"Some of the possible consequences of a worsening conflict are terrifying to contemplate," he warned.

The session began with a minute's silence for those killed.

The UN secretary-general also called the war a "distraction from the real challenges facing humanity: the climate crisis and biodiversity loss, the vitally needed socio-economic recovery from the pandemic, healing the divides between race and gender and so many other pressing 21st century challengers."

The UN Security Council will also convene for an emergency session later on Monday.

US suspends Minsk embassy operations

The United States is suspending its embassy operations in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, the State Department said.

It has also authorized the voluntary departure from Russia of non-essential staff at the US embassy in Moscow together with their family members.

"We took these steps due to security and safety issues stemming from the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine," the State Department said in a statement. 

The US has already evacuated its entire embassy staff from the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. Embassy operations in that country were initially moved to the western city of Lviv, before being moved again to nearby Poland with the aim of regularly traveling to Lviv to provide short-term emergency services.

Also on Monday, the US recommended that Americans in Russia leave immediately. "US citizens should consider departing Russia immediately via commercial options still available," said the State Department, which had previously urged US citizens not to travel to Russia.

The department warned that options for getting out of Russia are dwindling quickly as international sanctions bite, including many countries having closed their airspace to Russian carriers.

"The US government's ability to provide routine or emergency services to US citizens in Russia is severely limited," the statement said.

It also warned of "potential for harassment against US citizens by Russian government security officials."

Carnival celebrations in Germany take anti-war turn

The German city of Cologne has modified its famous Carnival, or "Fastelovend" in the local dialect, celebration into an anti-war demonstration. One motto for the altered festivities was "Make FasteLOVEnd, not war." 

The municipal government and Carnival clubs agreed last week to cancel the city’s traditional Rosenmontag, or Rose Monday, parade in favorite of a show of solidarity with Ukraine.

A Cologne Carnival float title the good old days depicts Vladimir Putin in a Soviet hat holding a large hammer, preparing to strike a post labeled Ukraine in the colors of Ukraine's flag.

The Carnival floats got a hasty redesign in light of the conflict, this one is ironically titled 'the good old days'

Many still wearing the Carnival costumes, but also donning the yellow and blue of the Ukrainian flag, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of the city to call for an end to the conflict.

According to the organizing committee, which said it collaborated with police on the estimate, up to 250,000 people turned out in Cologne on Monday.

Revellers march with banners for peace and placards in the Ukrainian colors in the center of Cologne, western Germany, on February 28, 2022, where a Freedom for Ukraine demonstration instead of the traditional carnival Rose Monday procession has been organized.

Turnout for the demonstration was large, with Ukrainian flag colors a common sight among the crowds

In nearby Düsseldorf, famous for its satirical parade floats, one depicted a blood-soaked dove speared by a Russian flag while another portrayed President Putin as a puppet master of Belarus' leader Alexander Lukashenko.

Russian shelling kills civilians in Kharkiv: governor

Ukraine's second-biggest city was the target of Russian shelling on Monday morning that left at least 11 people killed and dozens more injured, according to local governor Oleh Sinegubov.

"The Russian enemy is bombing residential areas," Sinegubov wrote on the Telegram messaging app. "As a result of the bombardments that are ongoing, we cannot call on the emergency services... currently there are 11 dead and dozens wounded."

Unconfirmed videos circulating on social media showed smoke rising from what appeared to be a residential neighborhood, as well as bodies of those killed in the attack.

Kharkiv resident Maria Avdeeva, the research director of the European Expert Association, confirmed that a residential building had been hit in shelling. She said conditions in the Russian-speaking city are growing dire.

"We are running out of food supplies and medical supplies," Avdeeva said. She added, "We want Russian troops to go back to Russia."

Russian missiles hit civilian targets, Kharkiv resident Maria Avdeeva tells DW

Russian forces attempted to take the city on Sunday, but the Ukrainian military claimed in the afternoon that it was in control of the city again later in the day. Kharkiv is close to Ukraine's border with Russia, some 500 kilometers east of Kyiv.

IOC calls for exclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has recommended that international sports federations ban athletes from Russia and Belarus from participating in international sporting events. 

The statement comes shortly before the Winter Paralympics, which begin on Friday in Beijing. 

"In order to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants, the IOC recommends that International Sports Federations and sports event organizers not invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions," it said in a statement on Monday.

The IOC also said it had stripped Russian President Vladimir Putin of the Olympic Order award in response to the invasion of Ukraine, saying it took the decision "based on the exceptional circumstances of the situation and considering the extremely grave violation of the Olympic Truce and other violations of the Olympic Charger by the Russian government in the past." 

The move comes after the men's Champions League final was moved from Saint Petersburg to Paris, Formula One called off its Russian Grand Prix and German soccer team FC Schalke ended its relationship with team sponsor Gazprom.

Switzerland joins EU sanctions against Russia

After initial reluctance, the traditionally neutral Switzerland has agreed to implement a raft of sanctions against Russia in line with those posed by the EU, Swiss President Ignazio Cassis said on Monday.

"This is a big step for Switzerland," Cassis told reporters. The landlocked country is home to several important international banks which will no longer be accessible to certain Russian oligarchs as well as the Russian president himself.

Five oligarchs close to Putin have also been banned from entering the country entirely, Reuters cited Swiss Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter as saying.

Russia restricts airspace for more than 30 countries

In response to the decision by multiple countries to close their airspace to Russian aircraft, Russian aviation authority Rosaviatsiya announced that it was banning flights by airlines from 36 countries including Britain and Germany in a retaliatory move on Monday.

Countries affected by the indefinite ban include all EU member states and Canada.  The list also includes Jersey, which is a dependency of the UK, and Gibraltar, a British overseas territory, and airlines will only be able to enter Russian airspace with a special permit.

Russia's civil aviation authority said it was bringing in the restrictions "as a retaliatory measure for the ban by European states on flights by civil aviation operated by Russian airlines or registered in Russia."

Airlines will only be able to enter Russian airspace with a special permit.

Last week Russia banned UK airlines after Britain barred Aeroflot, the country's flagship carrier, as well as private jets.

German FM warns Putin against 'escalating statements'

"Putin didn't expect us to be so resolved," Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said at a joint press conference with her Slovenian counterpart Anze Logar, emphasizing the unified response to Russia's invasion from the members of the EU as well as NATO.

The conference comes a day after Germany announced a set of measures to rapidly increase defense spending to meet NATO's target of 2% of GDP this year. "Putin's war is a turning point and it is absolutely appropriate for us to reassess everything we thought we knew for sure," Baerbock said.

Regarding the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Ukraine, Baerbock pledged that Europe would "take in all the refugees."

The German foreign minister underlined also the importance of giving shelter to all refugees fleeing Ukraine after reports that non-Ukrainians, especially Black people, fleeing the country were having problems crossing into neighboring countries. "We are closely looking at the problems for those civilians who don't have Ukrainian passports," Baerbock said.

She also said that Germany would support Germans in Russia to leave the country if they want to even though ordinary commercial Russian planes are banned from German airspace and German planes are banned from Russian airspace.

With regards to Putin's decision to increase Russia's nuclear alert status, Baerbock called on the Russian president to "refrain from such escalating statements."

"We have to take [Putin's] threats very seriously," she said, but also wanted to make clear that "NATO is not a threat for Russia."

Baerbock warns Putin against 'escalating statements'

Russia, Ukraine enter peace talks 

Talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials began on the Belarusian border on Monday, with Kyiv urging an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian forces. 

The Russian delegation to the peace talks is led by the Kremlin's special envoy, Vladimir Medinsky, while the Ukrainian side is led by Davyd Arakhamia, who leads President Zelenskyy's Servant of the People party in the Ukrainian parliament.

"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," Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei said at the start of talks, according to the foreign ministry's translation on Twitter.

Russian businessman Roman Abramovich, who owns English football Premier League club Chelsea, has accepted a Ukrainian request to help negotiate an end to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, his spokeswoman said.

Lavrov cancels trip disarmament talks

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minster Sergey Lavrov has canceled a trip to Geneva for disarmament talks because his plane would not be able to pass through airspace that the European Union has closed to Russian aviation as part of sanctions against Moscow, RIA news agency quoted a diplomatic source as saying on Monday.

Moscow says Russia will 'ride out' sanctions

"Western sanctions on Russia are hard, but our country has the necessary potential to compensate for the damage," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, adding that President Putin was meeting with key economic advisors on Monday to deal with broad financial penalties implemented by Western governments.

"Russia has been systematically preparing for quite a long time for possible sanctions, including the heaviest sanctions that we are now facing," Peskov said.

Sanctions against Russian banks, businesses, and leaders has sent the ruble tumbling to historically low values. The country’s central bank has had to more than double its main interest rate to 20% to try and prop up the currency. Moscow’s stock market remained closed on Monday.

Half a million flee Ukraine

More than half a million people have fled Ukraine since Russia launched a full-scale attack on the country, the United Nations said Monday.

According to the UN, more than half fled into Poland.

"More than 500,000 refugees have now fled from Ukraine into neighboring countries," UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi said in a tweet.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the German interior ministry said that 1800 refugees from Ukraine had arrived in Germany so far.

Passengers rest on camp beds in a temporary shelter inside a building

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has caused a mass exodus of refugees in need of shelter in neighboring Poland

Schalke drops Gazprom as sponsor 

German football club Schalke has announced that is ending cooperation with its main sponsor, Russian energy giant Gazprom, amid Moscow's full-scale attack on Ukraine.

Schalke said that it is now in talks with Gazprom to terminate the current deal, which would otherwise expire in 2025.

Schalke added that its financial capacity remained "unaffected by this decision." The club currently has around €200 million ($224 million) in liabilities.

"The club's management is confident that it will be able to present a new partner soon," Schalke said.

Relying on Russia's natural gas poses ever greater problems for EU

Nord Stream 2 foundation to be dissolved 

In view of the war in Ukraine, the controversial Climate and Environmental Protection Foundation of the German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, which is associated with the temporarily halted Nord Stream 2 project, is to be dissolved. 

The primary purpose of the foundation is to encourage climate and environmental protection projects. However, it can also become commercially active in the support of the further construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and critics said it could facilitate storage for products such as pipes and other materials to be used in the construction and maintenance of the controversial pipeline.

State premier Manuela Schwesig (SPD) had asked the foundation's board of directors to "initiate a dissolution of the foundation within the narrow legal possibilities." For the time being, she said, the foundation should suspend its work. Schwesig went on to say that it would "also be examined whether it is legally possible to use the foundation funds provided by Nord Stream for humanitarian purposes." 

The German government has also put the approval process for construction of the German-Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline on hold in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It is intended to transport Russian natural gas through the Baltic Sea.

DW's Nick Connolly reports from Ukraine's Vinnytsia area

EU to grant fleeing Ukrainians right to stay and work 

The EU is preparing to grant fleeing Ukrainians the right to stay and work in the 27-nation bloc for up to three years, senior EU and French officials said.

At least 300,000 Ukrainian refugees have entered the EU so far, and the bloc needs to prepare for millions more, they said. EU members Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary have land borders with Ukraine.

Refugees from Ukraine arrive in Germany

"It is our duty to take in those who flee war," French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told France 2 TV on Monday, saying the EU interior minister had on Sunday tasked the European Commission with preparing draft proposals to grant them protection.

Ministers will meet again on Thursday to agree on the details. The EU temporary protection directive, drawn up after the 1990s war in the Balkans, but never used so far, provides for the same level of protection, for one to three years, in all EU states, including a residence permit, access to employment, social welfare and medical treatment.

UN: More than 100 civilians killed

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Monday that at least 102 civilians had been killed in Ukraine since Russia began its full-scale attack on the country.

The death toll includes 7 children, according to Bachelet.

"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 airstrikes," she said.

Bachelet warned that the real figures may be considerably higher.

She added that the UN refugee agency had counted 380,000 people fleeing Ukraine as refugees, and many more had been displaced within Ukraine.

Ukrainian brewery produces Molotov cocktails instead of beer

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Monday that the escalation of Russia's military operations in Ukraine was leading to rising human rights violations.

Guterres said in a recorded speech at the opening of the Human Rights Council in Geneva that the UN was monitoring human rights violations with teams on the ground.

"The escalation of military operations by the Russian Federation in Ukraine is leading to escalating human rights violations," Guterres said.

"We must show all people in Ukraine that we stand by them in their time of need."

Talks begin at Belarus border

Ukraine demanded an immediate Russian ceasefire and troop withdrawal on Monday as its delegation arrived in Belarus for talks with Russian negotiators. Ukraine's delegation is set to meet Russian representatives for the first talks since Moscow's invasion, as the fighting for several Ukrainian cities continues and the Russian ruble collapses.

"The Ukrainian delegation arrived at the Ukrainian-Belarusian border to take part in talks with representatives of the Russian Federation," the Ukrainian presidency said in a statement. "The key issue of the talks is an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of troops from Ukraine."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a separate statement urged Russian troops to abandon their equipment and leave the battlefield in order to save their lives, claiming that more than 4,500 Russian soldiers had already lost their lives.

He also urged the European Union to give Ukraine "immediate" membership, via a special procedure. Russian state media posted videos of Ukrainian delegates arriving to the talks by helicopter.

Ukraine calls for instant EU membership

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy demanded on Monday "immediate" EU membership for Ukraine under a "new special procedure."

"I'm certain that this is possible," Zelenskyy said in his address, adding that Ukraine deserved to join the bloc.

Zelenskyy also said that 4,500 Russian soldiers had been killed so far during Moscow's attack on Ukraine. 

UN debates at request of Kyiv 

The UN Human Rights Council voted Monday to hold an urgent debate about Russia's ongoing attack on Ukraine.

The debate was requested by Ukraine, and supported by 29 of the council's 47 members.

Among the five states that voted against were Russia and China. 13 countries abstained from voting.

Talks set to begin at border

Russia is interested in coming to an agreement that is in the interests of both sides at talks with Ukraine, Russian negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said on Monday.

Hi comments came as officials prepared to meet near the border with Belarus.

Talks were expected to begin at 12 p.m. local time (0900 GMT/UTC). The talks are their first since Mosow's invasion. Ukraine said Sunday that it had agreed to send a delegation to meet Russian representatives on the border with Belarus. Belarus announced Monday that the venue for the talks had been prepared and they would start as soon as the delegations arrived.

However, with his government reporting hundreds of civilian deaths and Russian troops besieging key cities, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was skeptical about the talks. "As always: I do not really believe in the outcome of this meeting, but let them try," he said.

Meanwhile, Zelenskyy's office said its main goal of talks with Russia is to spur an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Russian troops.

Russia claims towns, Ukraine defends airfield

Russian forces have taken over the towns of Berdyansk and Enerhodar in Ukraine's southeastern Zaporizhzhya region as well as the area around the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, Interfax quoted Russia's defense ministry as saying on Monday.

The plant's operations continued normally, it said. Meanwhile, Britain's defense ministry said that Russia's advance on Kyiv has been slowed by logistical failures and fierce Ukrainian resistance. 

"The bulk of [President Vladimir] Putin's ground forces remain more than 30 kilometers [18.6 miles] to the north of Kyiv their advance having been slowed by Ukrainian forces defending Hostomel airfield, a key Russian objective for day one of the conflict," the ministry said. "Logistical failures and staunch Ukrainian resistance continue to frustrate the Russian advance."

The Ukrainian military also accused Russia of launching a missile strike on residential buildings in the cities of Zhytomyr and Chernigiv, cities in the country's northwest and north.

"At the same time, all attempts by the Russian invaders to achieve the goal of the military operation failed," the military said. "The enemy is demoralized and bears heavy losses," it claimed.

Residents of Ukraine's Vinnitsya help war effort

Russian interest rate skyrockets

Russia's Central Bank has announced that it will raise its key interest rate to an unprecedented 20%, up from 9.5%, in the face of new sanctions over the country's invasion of Ukraine. 

"External conditions for the Russian economy have drastically changed," the bank said in a statement. "The increase of the key rate will ensure a rise in deposit rates to levels needed to compensate for the increased depreciation and inflation risks. This is needed to support financial and price stability and protect citizens' savings from depreciation."

In another attempt to support the rouble, the central bank and the finance ministry also jointly ordered Russian exporting companies to sell 80% of their foreign currency revenues on the market.

The moves come after Britain said that it was taking further measures against Russia in coordination with the United States and European Union. The sanctions on the part of Western countries effectively cut off Moscow's major financial institutions from Western financial markets.

Belarus leader tightens grip

Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has gained further power after a referendum on Sunday.

The electoral commission in Minsk said that around 65% of votes were cast in favor of changing the country's constitution, the TASS news agency reported. 10% voted against the change.

The change to the constitution gives Lukashenko lifelong immunity from prosecution and allows him to secure further time in office.

The amendment would also allow Russian troops and nuclear weapons to be permanently stationed in Belarus.

Lukashenko has ruled Belarus since 1994.

Russian ruble plummets in the wake of sanctions

The Russian ruble plunged almost 30% against the dollar on Monday after sanctions imposed by Western states.

According to financial publication Bloomberg News, the currency on Monday was as low as 117.81 against the dollar in offshore trading.

Senior members of the Russian government, including the president, have been hit with sanctions, while there were pledges to cut off a number of banks from the SWIFT interbank payment system.

There have been threats of further sanctions if Russia does not stop its invasion of Ukraine.

Canada investigating Russian flight ban violation

Canada's transport authority said it would be launching a review after an Aeroflot flight allegedly violated a ban on Russian flights using Canadian air space.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Transport Canada said: "We are launching a review of the conduct of Aeroflot and the independent air navigation provider, NAVCAN, leading up to this violation." 

The authority warned that it wouldn't hesitate to take "appropriate enforcement action." 

On Sunday, Canada joined a number of European countries to close air space to Russian aircraft, due to the ongoing invasion.

Zelenskyy: Next 24 hours 'a crucial period'

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy discussed the ongoing Russian invasion.

In a statement issued by Downing Street, Zelenskyy told Johnson that the situation was reaching a critical phase.

"President Zelenskyy said he believed the next 24 hours was a crucial period for Ukraine, and the prime minister said would do all he could to help ensure defensive aid from the UK and allies reached Ukraine," the statement read.

Johnson "lauded the bravery of the Ukrainian people" while he "praised the leadership of President Zelenskyy in the face of such adversity."

The prime minister described the resistance witnessed thus far as "heroic."

Australia to provide 'lethal' military equipment to Ukraine

The Australian government announced that it would be providing equipment and resources to Ukraine. According to a government statement issued on Monday, Australia would work with NATO to "provide lethal as well as non-lethal military equipment, medical supplies, and financial assistance to support the people of Ukraine." 

Australia said it was "deeply concerned at Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine," and held the president, the foreign minister and defense minister directly responsible for the invasion.

"President Putin joins a very small group that includes Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya and Bashar al-Assad of Syria," the statement added.

Australia instituted financial sanctions and travel bans on senior members of Russia's government, and more than 350 individuals, over the weekend.

Hundreds detained in Belarus for anti-war protests

In Belarus, over 500 people have been detained for demonstrating against Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Viasna human rights center — the most well-known human rights watchdog in Belarus — provided the names of 530 people who had been detained across the country.  

In a tweet the organization posted up a tally of those who had been detained as of Sunday night. 

There have been demonstrations in cities around Belarus. In Minsk, protesters carried flags and piled flowers outside the Ukrainian embassy.

Belarus appears to have played a key role in Russia's invasion strategy, with the two countries having conducted large-scale military exercises together shortly before the attack.

EU chief keen on Ukraine joining bloc

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has expressed her desire to have Ukraine join the EU. Speaking to French news network Euronews, Von der Leyen said: "Indeed over time they belong to us. They are one of us and we want them in."

The EU chief also pointed out that a number of areas of cooperation already existed with the country.

Her comments on Ukraine came shortly after an unprecedented EU decision to supply weapons to Kyiv. 

On Monday, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted about a phone conversation with Von der Leyen and tweeted that they had spoken about "concrete decisions on strengthening Ukraine's defense capabilities, macro-financial assistance and Ukraine's membership in the EU."

Sunday 'a difficult time' for Ukraine's military

Ukraine's armed forces described Sunday as "a difficult time" for the military.

"Occupiers continue shelling in almost all directions," read a statement posted on Facebook by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

According to the statement the air force was "confronting the aggressor both in the sky and on the ground."

Ukraine's military said there had been rocket strikes on six Russian columns. Anti-aircraft units were reported to have shot down an enemy helicopter and drone.

A Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicle also reportedly engaged a Russian column with a Buk missile system.

The British Ministry of Defence's (MOD) intelligence update from Sunday said that Ukrainian forces had engaged Russian forces for a second night running within Kyiv, although fighting was said to be "at a lower intensity than the previous evening."

The update stated that there had been "intensive exchanges of rocket artillery overnight" which was followed by heavy fighting in Ukraine's second largest city, Kharkiv.

Russian casualties can become "a real PR problem" – DW’s Emily Sherwin

The MOD said that Russian forces were continuing to advance into Ukraine "from multiple axes" but pointed out they were being "met with stiff resistance from the Ukrainian Armed Forces."

Summary of events in Ukraine-Russia crisis on Sunday

Ukraine agreed to start negotiations with Russia without preconditions. Kyiv said the talks would be held at the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, but it's not clear when.

Russian President Vladimir Putin put his country's nuclear deterrent forces on high alert in response to what he called "aggressive statements" by NATO members.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told Parliament that as a result of Russia's invasion, his government would allocate €100 billion ($111 billion) extra for the German armed forces in the 2022 budget.

The European Union will, for the first time in its history, purchase weapons for a country under attack, said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The bloc will also ban state-owned Russia Today (RT), Sputnik and their subsidiaries.

EU tightens Russian sanctions and buys weapons for Ukraine

Anti-war demonstrators rallied in dozens of cities across Russia, defying the country's strict protest laws to express their anger at the worsening conflict. More than 2,000 people were arrested, according to an independent monitor.

At least 100,000 people took to the streets of Berlin to show their support for Ukrainians.

Ukraine said 352 civilians have been killed since Thursday, including 14 children. Nearly 1,700 people have been wounded.

Almost 400,000 people have now fled Ukraine since the conflict started, according to the UN.

The UN Security Council called for a special session of the General Assembly as a result of the conflict, to be held on Monday.

mm, kb, ab, lc/msh, jsi (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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