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US tells nationals to consider leaving Russia

February 27, 2022

The European Union said it will spend €450 million on weapons and equipment for Ukraine. Kyiv and Moscow have sent envoys to peace talks on the Belarus border. DW has the latest.

A Boeing 777 on the tarmac at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport
The US warned that flights in and out of Russia could be increasingly difficult to findImage: Marina Lystseva/dpa/ TASS/picture alliance
  • US tells nationals to consider leaving Russia immediately
  • The EU will buy weapons for Ukraine to fight Russia
  • Putin has ordered nuclear deterrence be put on alert
  • Ukraine agrees to talks at the Belarus border

We are now closing these live updates. Please head to our new article for all the latest developments. 

Bolsonaro says Brazil will remain neutral on Russia's invasion

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has decided to not condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine and instead as opted for neutrality.

The right-wing populist leader said he had talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the phone where he discussed Brazil's position.

The two leaders had met earlier in the month for talks in Moscow. At a press conference on Sunday Bolsonaro said: "We will not take sides, we will continue being neutral, and help with whatever is possible."

Security Council calls for rare emergency General Assembly session

The United Nations Security Council on Sunday called to hold a special session of the General Assembly as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

The emergency session will be held on Monday and affords members of the global body an opportunity to express their views on the crisis.

Russia did not have the power to veto the move due to it being a procedural action falling under a 1950 resolution called "Uniting for Peace."

The emergency session was adopted with 11 yes votes, to Russia's no vote.

China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstained.

Russian airline Aeroflot suspends flights to European destinations

Russian carrier Aeroflot said it is cutting off flights to all European destinations. 

The airline said that fellow Russian carrier Rossiya Airlines would also be impacted, and gave an explanation for the decision on Twitter.

"Due to the closure of the airspace of a number of European countries, Aeroflot cancels flights and suspends flights from Moscow and St. Petersburg (including flights operated by Rossiya Airlines) to a number of destinations," Russia's flag carrier tweeted.  

A number of European countries have taken the decision to bar Russian aircraft from their airspace, including Germany, Italy, Iceland, the Netherlands, the UK and most Eastern European EU member states.

Tsikhanouskaya: Lukashenko 'shares the responsibility' for the invasion

Belarus' strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko is trying to repay Russia's support after stealing the election in August 2020, exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya told DW.

"Lukashenko shares the responsibility for the invasion of Ukrainian territory," she said, noting that the regime was hosting Russian troops which are used to invade Ukraine. 

"I think that Lukashenko is not controlling our territory anymore. He's like the Kremlin's vassal, and he has to show his loyalty for the support he got after the fraudulent elections," Tsikhanouskaya said.

At the same time, ordinary people in Belarus were protesting against the war, according to the exhiled politician.

"We want to support our Ukrainian neighbors because they are fighting not only for themselves, they are fighting for the future of Belarus and the whole region," she told DW.

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

US tells nationals to consider leaving Russia immediately

Americans in Russia should consider leaving the country immediately, the US Embassy in Russia said, pointing to multiple airlines canceling flights to and from Russia. Many countries, including all of the EU, have already closed their airspace to Russian aircraft. US diplomats said Americans in  Russia should use commercial flights that are "still available."

The US State Department has also told its citizens not to travel to Russia.

G7 threatens more sanctions against Russia

The G7 group of top industrialized nations warned Moscow that it could face additional sanctions if the war in Ukraine continues.

Foreign ministers from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States also agreed on Sunday that any Russian military gains in Ukraine would not receive international recognition.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who met with the G7 ministers, said the top diplomats discussed "new painful sanctions to stop Putin’s war."

BP abandons stake in Russia's Rosneft

British energy giant BP said it was pulling its 19.75% stake in Russian state-owned gas and energy company Rosneft.

BP did not detail how it would exit its stake but said it expected to write off a total $25 billion at the end of the first quarter. Rosneft accounts for around half of BP's oil and gas reserves and a third of its production.

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, BP's chief executive Bernard Looney announced he was resigning from the Russian energy company's board "with immediate effect." Looney's predecessor as CEO, Bob Dudley, is also stepping down from the Rosneft board.

"I have been deeply shocked and saddened by the situation unfolding in Ukraine and my heart goes out to everyone affected. It has caused us to fundamentally rethink bp's position with Rosneft," Looney said in a statement on Sunday.

BP operated in Russia for over 30 years.

EU prepares for millions of Ukrainian refugees

After just four days, Russia's war on Ukraine has displaced over 7 million people as Ukrainians flee their homes for other relatively safer parts of the country or leave Ukraine, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic told reporters.

"We are witnessing what could become the largest humanitarian crisis on our European continent in many, many years," Lenarcic said.

The European Commission announced it would propose rules to help Ukrainian refugees. The proposal, expected to be presented Thursday, would allow displaced persons to receive immediate temporary protection without a drawn-out asylum procedure.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said she does not know how many people will come but that the 27-memberbloc should "prepare for millions."

Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have come to the EU because of the Russian war against Ukraine, she said.

UNHCR officer in Kyiv talks to DW

Sweden, Denmark join countries sending arms to Ukraine

Sweden has said it would send anti-tank launchers, field rations, helmets and body armor to Ukraine.

The move is a break from a longstanding policy of not arming nations in an active conflict. Sweden last sent weapons to a country in an armed conflict when the Soviet Union invaded Finland in 1939.

In Denmark, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the country would donate up to 2,700 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine.

Over 2,000 anti-war protesters arrested in Russia

Anti-war activists took to the streets across Russia to protest the country's invasion of Ukraine and the bloody war in its fourth day there.

Protests on Sunday were smaller than earlier demonstrations, which saw hundreds of people detained by riot police.

Police on Sunday detained more than 2,000 people at anti-war protests that occurred in 45 Russian cities, according to OVD-Info, a group that counts participation in opposition protests. The group said about 5,250 people have been detained at protests since the war began four days ago.

"It is a crime both against Ukraine and Russia," Olga Mikheeva, who protested in the Siberian city of Irkutsk, told the AP news agency. "I think it is killing both Ukraine and Russia. I am outraged, I haven't slept for three nights, and I think we must now declare very loudly that we don't want to be killed and don't want Ukraine to be killed.''

In Moscow and St. Petersburg, many people went to memorials for Boris Nemtsov, a top Russian opposition figure who was shot dead near the Kremlin on February 27, 2015.

Ukrainian president 'skeptical' of talks with Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was willing to "try" talks with Russia but added he is "skeptical" they will lead to a ceasefire.

"I will be honest, as always: I do not really believe in the outcome of this meeting, but let them try," Zelenskyy said in a video statement.

If there was a "chance" to end the war, he should take part in the talks, he added.

EU to buy, send weapons to Ukraine

For the first time in its history, the European Union will purchase weapons for a country under attack, said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

In a meeting on Sunday, EU foreign minister agreed to budget €450 million ($502 million) for weapons and equipment for Ukraine. Poland agreed to work as a logistic hub for the delivery of weapons.

She also said EU airspace would be closed to Russia-owned, registered or controlled aircraft, explicitly mentioning that the ban would apply to "the private jets of oligarchs." 

Additionally, von der Leyen announced the 27-member bloc would take steps to stop "the Kremlin's media machine in the EU" by banning state-owned Russia Today, Sputnik and their subsidiaries.

"We are developing tools to ban their toxic and harmful disinformation in Europe," she said.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the move was aimed at "turning off the tap for Russia's disinformation in Europe."

In addition to the measures against Russia, von der Leyen added that the EU agreed to sanction Russia's ally Belarus, which she called "the other aggressor in this war."

In a message to the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Ukraine, von der Leyen said they would be welcomed with "open arms."

Germany advises against travel to Russia

The German Foreign Ministry on Sunday advised Germans against traveling to Russia. It also warned people not to travel to the southern Russian areas that border Ukraine.

The Foreign Ministry also noted that travel to and from Russia was increasingly difficult as several countries, including Germany, close their airspace to Russian flights and airlines stop flying to Russian airports.

A map showing locations of clashes in and around Kyiv
Kyiv is also under attack by the Russian forces

Two Russian billionaires come out against war

Russian oligarchs Oleg Deripaska and Mikhail Fridman called for an end to the invasion of Ukraine.

Fridman, who was born in western Ukraine, called it a tragedy for both Russia and Ukraine. In a letter to his staff, he wrote that the war was creating divisions between Russians and Ukrainians who he said have been brothers for centuries.

He wrote, "My parents are Ukrainian citizens and live in Lviv, my favorite city."

Deripaska posed on Telegram a message calling for peace talks "as fast as possible." On February 21, Deripaska incorrectly surmised there would be no military conflict.

DW analyst says Putin's order on nuclear alert not clear

Former Russian military officer Konstantin Eggert says he had "trouble discerning" what Putin meant when he said nuclear forces are on higher alert.

"The expression he used to indicate some heightened state of alert does not exist in Russian military manuals," Eggert, DW's Russia affairs analyst, told our TV channel.

There are four levels of alert in the Russian military, Eggert explained. Those four levels are: regular, heightened, threat of war and full or complete.

"Nuclear forces are pretty much always on heightened alert," Eggert noted.

'Putin wants to create a Russian empire,' says Scholz

Turkey invokes treaty to limit Russian warships

Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey's foreign minister, said during a live interview on CNN Turk that Turkey would implement the 1936 Montreux Convention, limiting the passage of Russia's warships through the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus straits.

The Montreux Convention gives Turkey control of the two waterways and permits it to cut off access to warships during wartime or if threatened. The two waterways connect the Mediterranean and Black seas.

Earlier Sunday, NATO member Turkey called the Russian invasion of Ukraine a "war," a shift that made it possible to block Russia's battleships.

Zelenskyy says Ukraine delegation ready to start peace talks

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy agreed to start peace talks with Russia, his office said Sunday.

Following a phone call with Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko, Zelenskyy's office said he is ready to send a delegation to a meeting on the Belarusian-Ukrainian border near the Pripyat River.

Zelenskyy willing talk to Russia - but not in Minsk

The talks would be the first to take place since Russia invaded Ukraine. Zelenskyy's aides said the talks would be held "without preconditions."

"We agreed that the Ukrainian delegation would meet with the Russian delegation without preconditions on the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, near the Pripyat River," Zelenskyy said in a statement.

Belarus leader Lukashenko assured Zelensky that "all planes, helicopters and missiles stationed on Belarus territory will remain on the ground during the travel, negotiations and return of the Ukrainian delegation," according to Kyiv.

Russian nuclear deterrence on high alert

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered that Russia's nuclear deterrence forces be put on high alert.

"I order the defence minister and the chief of the general staff of the Russian armed forces to put the deterrence forces of the Russian army into a special mode of combat service," Putin said in a televised address.

The move comes following a wave of sanctions over Russia's invasion of Ukraine that look set to cripple the Russian economy.

5 fakes of the war in Ukraine

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called Russian President Vladimir Putin's call to raise the alert level of his nuclear forces "irresponsible."

Stoltenberg told CNN Sunday, "This is dangerous rhetoric."

Ben Hodges, the former commanding general of the US Army Europe, told DW, "No one should be surprised he would do this."

Ukraine says it controls Kharkiv after Russian attack

Ukrainian forces said on Sunday afternoon that the city of Kharkiv was still in their hands following an attack earlier in the day by Russian forces. 

The city and its surroundings, including a gas pipeline, had been the target of strikes overnight with gunfire and the presence of Russian vehicles reported over the course of the morning.

But later in the day Oleh Sinegubov, the local governor, wrote on Telegram that "Kharkiv is fully under our control," after claiming that Ukrainian forces had expelled Russian troops during a "clean-up" operation.

UN says more than 360,000 refugees have fled Ukraine

The head of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees Filippo Grandi said that the number of people who have fled Ukraine has now surpassed 368,000.

The number marks a rapid increase in refugees with the total number doubling in just one day.

Meanwhile, Germany's national rail operator has said that it will offer free train journeys for refugees coming from Ukraine.

People carrying Ukrainian passports or ID can travel for free on Deutsche Bahn trains running from several Polish cities to the German city of Frankfurt an der Oder on the Polish border.

The move is being made in conjunction with neighboring countries "at short notice," but the company plans to expand its capacities in the coming days.

DW's Max Zander describes refugee situation in Poland

Germany bans Russian planes from air space

Germany's Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure has announced that Russian planes will be banned from 3 p.m. (1400 UTC) today.

The minister in charge, Volker Wissing, made the decision after numerous other countries closed their air space to Russian aircraft.

Germany joins most Eastern European members of the EU, as well as the UK in taking this step.

Several other countries also followed suit on Sunday, including Italy, Iceland and the Netherlands.

Scholz vows to increase defense spending

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has spoken about the Russian invasion in the Bundestag, saying that the decision to allow the delivery of weapons to Ukraine was the only "response possible to Putin's aggression."

"It was Putin who chose this war, not the Russian people, so we must see clearly that this is Putin's war," the chancellor reiterated. 

Scholz also announced a plan to beef up the German military, pledging €100 billion ($112.7 billion) for the 2022 budget for the armed forces and repeating his promise to reach the 2% of GDP spending on defense in line with NATO demands.

"In attacking Ukraine, Putin doesn't just want to eradicate a country from the world map, he is destroying the European security structure we have had in place since Helsinki," Scholz said in his speech to German lawmakers.

Chancellor Scholz: Putin's attack 'heralds a new age'

Ukraine calls Moscow's offer of Belarus talks 'propaganda'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has turned down a Russian offer of peace talks in Belarus on the grounds that the Russian ally has played an integral part in the invasion of Ukraine, acting as a launchpad for Russian troops entering the country from the north.

The Kremlin said on Sunday that it had sent delegates to the Belarusian city of Homel for talks.

"The Russian delegation is ready for talks, and we are now waiting for the Ukrainians," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.

Zelenskyy said that his government was open for talks with the Russians, but that they would have to take place elsewhere, suggesting Warsaw, Bratislava, Istanbul, Budapest or Baku as alternatives.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks at a podium
Zelenskyy also asked the Belarusian people for their support in opposing the Russian invasionImage: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/REUTERS

Moscow said on Saturday that it had recommenced its military operations in Ukraine after Putin allegedly called for a suspension of hostilities to allow for peace talks. However, Ukrainian officials said that during that time frame, Russian strikes continued against Ukrainian cities.

On Sunday, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko confirmed to state-run media Belta that two Russian rockets had indeed been fired from positions in Belarus. He claimed this was because Ukraine had stationed "two to three rocket divisions on the border" with Belarus.

He rejected claims that Belarusian soldiers had taken part in the invasion. The close ally of Putin also called on Ukraine to sit down for talks with Russia, Russia's RIA news agency reported.

Anti-war protests around the world

Russian troops enter Kharkiv

After a night of bombing, Russian troops have entered Ukraine's second-biggest city, Kharkiv, close to the northeastern border with Russia, local government officials reported. 

Anton Herashchenko, a Ukrainian Interior Ministry advisor, wrote on Telegram that Russian soldiers had been spotted on the city's streets.

Regional governor Oleh Sinegubov told residents to stay inside, saying Ukrainian forces were battling Russian troops in the city. 

"The Russian enemy's light vehicles have broken into Kharkiv, including the city center," Sinegubov said. "We ask civilians not to go out."

Russian forces also said on Sunday morning that they had surrounded the southern city of Kherson and southeastern city of Berdyansk.

"Over the past 24 hours, the cities of Kherson and Berdyansk have been completely blocked by the Russian armed forces," Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

Soldiers silhouette
Ukrainian soldiers seen before dawn Sunday at a military airbase outside KyivImage: Maksim Levin/REUTERS

Civilian infrastructure targeted during 'brutal' night of attacks

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that Russian strikes overnight targeted civilian infrastructure.

"The past night in Ukraine was brutal, again shooting, again bombardments of residential areas, civilian infrastructure," Zelenskyy said in a post shared online.

"Today, there is not a single thing in the country that the occupiers do not consider an acceptable target. They fight against everyone. They fight against all living things; against kindergartens, against residential buildings and even against ambulances," Zelenskyy said. 

Gas pipelines and depots were also hit overnight, leading to dramatic, fiery scenes. Russian gas giant Gazprom said deliveries of gas from Russia to Europe were continuing.

Sunday morning brought reports of air raid sirens and explosions in the capital Kyiv, with unverified videos being shared on social media showing what appear to be residential buildings on fire.

Oil and gas facilities attacked

Ukraine's nuclear authority said a radioactive waste site outside Kyiv was hit by Russian missiles overnight.

There was no immediate evidence of a radioactive leak, the Ukraine State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate said on Facebook.

"The hit was on the fence. The building and containers are intact," the service told Interfax.

The service said that once it was safe, inspectors would properly assess the damage. 

Russian forces pounded several cities overnight. In the town of Vasylkiv, on the outskirts of Kyiv, the bombardment set an oil depot ablaze.

"The enemy wants to destroy everything," the town's mayor, Natalia Balasinovich, said in a social media post.

Authorities have warned residents to close their windows because the burning depot is emitting smoke and toxic fumes.

The State Service of Special Communications said a natural gas pipeline was also blown up in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city.

Ukraine's State Emergency Service said a nine-story residential building in the eastern city was also hit by "enemy artillery."

One person died, and 80 others had to be rescued. Most of the building's residents had been sheltering in the basement.

Macron tells Lukashenko to kick Russia out

French President Emmanuel Macron urged Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko to order Russian troops to leave his country. 

In a phone call, Macron told Lukashenko that fraternity between the people of Belarus and Ukraine should lead Belarus to "refuse to be a vassal and an accomplice to Russia in the war against Ukraine," his office said in a statement. 

Russia used Belarus as a springboard for part of its attack on Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Belarusian opposition leader in exile Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya expressed solidarity with Ukraine, telling DW that most people in her home country "don't support this war."

Trump condemns Russia's invasion

In an about-face, former US President Donald Trump has condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking at the CPAC conservative gathering in Florida, he called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy "a brave man" and praised him for "hanging in."

"The Russian attack on Ukraine is appalling, it's an outrage and an atrocity that should never have been allowed to occur," Trump said, adding that it would never have happened had he been president.

The remarks are in sharp contrast to his words earlier in the week when he called Russian President Vladimir Putin "genius" and told donors at his Mar-a-Lago Club that Putin's moves were "pretty smart."

On Saturday, Trump again lauded Putin as "smart"

'Fighting for their very existence'

Ukraine envoy praises German decision to send arms

The Ukrainian ambassador to Berlin has welcomed Germany's decision to supply weapons to Ukraine.

"We are glad that Germany has finally made this 180-degree turn," Ambassador Andrij Melnyk told Germany's DPA news agency, calling it a historic step.

The German government said Saturday it would provide Ukrainian forces with 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 "Stinger" surface-to-air missiles. Berlin had long held back on sending such weapons due to its long-standing policy of not exporting arms to conflict zones. 

"I have always said to my German friends and to the German government that they will not be able to bear the terrible images of the war in Ukraine for long without reacting," Melnyk said.

"The task now is to get the German weapons systems to the Ukrainian defenders as soon as possible."

He also called for Germany to play a leading role in putting together "a comprehensive economic rescue plan" for Ukraine.

Russia restricts social media access

Moscow has restricted access to certain social media platforms to try and keep information of the situation in Ukraine from the Russian public, the latest British defense intelligence update suggests.

The update from the Ministry of Defense also said Russian forces were "not making the progress they had planned."

According to internet monitoring group NetBlock, Twitter was heavily restricted and, in some instances, even blocked in Russia on Saturday.

DW's Melinda Crane on German arms deliveries to Ukraine

SpaceX Starlink active in Ukraine

Billionaire Elon Musk says SpaceX has activated its Starlink satellite broadband service in Ukraine.

Internet connectivity in the country has been affected by the Russian invasion.

Starlink beams signals for high-speed internet from space but isn't yet available worldwide.

Musk wrote on Twitter that his company was sending internet terminals to Ukraine to use the service, though it was unclear how many.

He was responding to Ukraine's vice prime minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, who tweeted, "@elonmusk, while you try to colonize Mars Russia try to occupy Ukraine! While your rockets successfully land from space. Russian rockets attack Ukrainian civil people!"

Fight for Kyiv intensifies 

Air raid sirens could be heard as night fell in Kyiv.

A curfew is in place in the city until Monday. Residents have been seeking shelter in subway stations.

Ukraine: Heavy fighting in Kyiv outskirts

Small numbers of Russian troops were reportedly inside Kyiv, but Britain and the US said the bulk of Russian forces were still 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the city's center as of Saturday afternoon.

The Reuters news agency cited witnesses inside Kyiv as reporting occasional blasts and gunfire in the city.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's office said an explosion hit an oil depot south of the capital early on Sunday. 

Some Russian banks to be cut off from SWIFT

The EU, US, UK and Canada have pledged to cut off a number of Russian banks from the SWIFT interbank payments system.

The allies also agreed to place restrictions on the Russian Central Bank's international reserves.

"All of these measures will significantly harm Putin's ability to finance his war and they will have a severely eroding impact on his economy," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

She said Western leaders would continue imposing costs on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

"Putin embarked on a path aiming to destroy Ukraine but what he is also doing in fact is destroying the future of his own," she added. 

Ursula von der Leyen
Ursula von der Leyen said the sanctions would harm Russia's ability to trade with most of the worldImage: Dursun Aydemir/AA/picture alliance

Summary of events in Ukraine-Russia crisis on Saturday

EU foreign ministers said they planned to convene a virtual gathering on Sunday to discuss further assistance for Ukraine and punitive measures towards Russia.

In a move that marks a major change of course for Germany, the Bundeswehr will send 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger-class surface-to-air missiles to Ukraine amid the ongoing Russian invasion, the government announced.

Kyiv is under curfew until Monday. The mayor, Vitali Klitschko, ordered residents to stay indoors, warning that people outside would be considered "members of sabotage and reconnaissance groups."

Filippo Grandi, the UN's high commissioner for refugees, said on Twitter that the number of Ukrainians who have already fled to neighboring countries was now more than 150,000.

Demonstrators in cities across the globe have expressed solidarity with Ukraine, with many expressing anger at Russia's decision to invade its neighbor.

The Russian owner of Chelsea FC, Roman Abramovich, said he is handing over the club to the trustees of its charitable foundation.

Anti-war protests around the world

ab,lo/wmr (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)