Ukraine: What happened today?

Ukraine: What happened today?

On Day Five of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, explosions and gunfire continued in embattled cities in Ukraine.

Thousands more terrified Ukrainians fled their homes in search of refuge.

The first face-to-face talks between Ukrainian and Russian officials since the war began were held.

As the day draws to a close, here are today’s updates on the ever-evolving situation.

A Ukrainian girl pets her cat in her coat inside Lviv railway station, Monday, Feb. 28, 2022, in Lviv, west Ukraine. Picture: AP Photo/Bernat Armangue
  • Ukraine’s ambassador to US says Russia used a vacuum bomb on Monday. READ MORE
  • The first round of talks aimed at stopping the fighting between Ukraine and Russia ended Monday with no agreement except to keep talking, while an increasingly isolated Moscow ran into unexpectedly fierce resistance on the ground and economic havoc at home. READ MORE 
  • President Volodymyr Zelensky has applied for Ukraine to join the 27-nation European Union on the fifth day of the Russian invasion of his country.READ MORE 
  • The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court says he plans to open an investigation “as rapidly as possible” into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine. READ MORE 
  • Russian artillery bombarded residential districts of Ukraine’s second largest city Kharkiv on Monday, with Moscow facing increasing international isolation as talks to resolve the conflict failed to make a breakthrough. READ MORE
  • The parent company of Facebook and Instagram says it is restricting access to Russia’s RT and Sputnik in Europe over concerns the two state-controlled media outlets are being used to spread disinformation and propaganda. READ MORE
  • The Russian military says its nuclear deterrent forces have been put on high alert in line with President Vladimir Putin’s order. READ MORE 
  • A six-year-old girl has died as a result of Russian shelling in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. READ MORE 
  • More than 500,000 people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded the country last week, according to the UN refugee agency. READ MORE 
  • The latest round of US sanctions has limited the ability of the Russian central bank to defend the rouble, sending the currency plunging and increasing the economic pressure on the country for its invasion of Ukraine. READ MORE 
  • Bank of Ireland faces no direct hit from the Ukraine conflict but most corporate and personal customers will be affected one way or another as further price inflation works through the Irish economy, CEO Francesca McDonagh has said. READ MORE 
  • Russia have been suspended from all FIFA and UEFA competitions, the governing bodies have confirmed. READ MORE 

WHAT IS HAPPENING ON THE GROUND?

A Russian armored personnel carrier burns amid damaged and abandoned light utility vehicles after fighting in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Picture: AP Photo/Marienko Andrew

Kyiv’s outgunned but determined troops slowed Russia’s advance and held onto the capital and other key cities — at least for the time being.

US officials say they believe the invasion has been more difficult than the Kremlin envisioned, though that could change as Moscow adapts.

The British Defense Ministry said Monday that the bulk of Putin’s forces were 30 kilometers (20 miles) north of Kyiv.

Long lines formed outside Kyiv supermarkets Monday as residents were allowed out of bomb shelters and homes for the first time since a curfew was imposed Saturday. Some found food but others didn’t.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians have have sought safety at night in Kyiv’s subway system and other makeshift shelters around the country, where parents try to calm their children’s fears.

Despite the shortages, lack of privacy and other challenges, Ukrainians were trying to put on a brave face.

“It’s much harder for soldiers at the front. It’s embarrassing to complain about the icy floor, drafts and terrible toilets,” said 74-year-old Irina, who sought safety in a Kyiv underground station and would not give her last name. Her grandson Anton is among those fighting in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian authorities said at least 44 people have been wounded in fighting in Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv, and that seven of them died in the hospital.

The state emergencies agency said the casualties could still go higher because the damage from Monday’s shelling of residential areas is still being assessed.

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said her office has confirmed that 102 civilians, including seven children, have been killed in the Russian invasion and 304 others wounded in Ukraine since Thursday.

She cautioned that the tally was likely a vast undercount.

IS THERE ANY CHANCE FOR DIPLOMACY?

Ukrainian and Russian national flags are placed on the table ahead of peace talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations in a guest house in the Gomel region, Belarus. Picture: Sergei Kholodilin/BelTA Pool Photo via AP

That’s hard to tell. Ukrainian and Russian delegations met Monday on Ukraine’s border with Belarus.

The meeting ended with no immediate reports of agreements, but Mykhailo Podolyak, a top advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said further talks could take place “in the near future.” Before the meeting, Zelenskyy’s office said Ukraine would demand an immediate ceasefire.

While Ukraine sent its defense minister and other top officials, the Russian delegation was led by Putin’s adviser on culture — Vladimir Medinsky — an unlikely envoy for ending the war and a sign of how Moscow viewed the talks.

Medinsky said the sides “found certain points on which common positions could be foreseen.” He also said the talks would continue in the coming days on the Polish-Belarusian border.

Western officials believe Putin wants to overthrow Ukraine’s government and replace it with a regime of his own, reviving Moscow’s Cold War-era influence.

His comments Sunday raised fears that the invasion of Ukraine could lead to nuclear war, whether by design or mistake.

On Monday afternoon, Macron spoke by phone with Putin for 90 minutes, according to the French presidency.

It said that Putin expressed his “will to commit” to stopping all strikes against civilians and residential areas and to preserving civilian facilities.

Macron asked him to end the military offensive in Ukraine and reaffirmed the need for an “immediate ceasefire.” 

DOES UKRAINE WANT TO JOIN THE EUROPEAN UNION?

People lie on the floor in the improvised bomb shelter in a sports center, which can accommodate up to 2000 people, in Mariupol, Ukraine. Picture: AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka

In a move sure to antagonize the Kremlin, Zelenskyy signed an application Monday asking that Ukraine be allowed to join the 27-nation European Union.

He posted photos online of himself signing the application, and his office said the paperwork was on its way to Brussels, where the EU is headquartered.

The move was largely symbolic, as Ukraine is very far from reaching the EU’s membership standards, and the bloc is expansion-weary and unlikely to take on new members anytime soon.

WHAT’S GOING ON WITH THE UNITED NATIONS?

The UN’s two major bodies — the 193-nation General Assembly and the more powerful 15-member Security Council — were holding separate meetings Monday.

The Security Council gave a green light Sunday for the first emergency session of the General Assembly in decades.

It will give all UN members an opportunity to speak about the war Monday and vote on a resolution later in the week.

WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH RUSSIA’S NUCLEAR DETERRENT?

German citizen Margarete holds her baby Josephine in the train station on February 28, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Josephine was born two days ago from a surogate mother in Kyiv. Margarete and her husband Boris are registered on German embassy’s evacuation list. Picture:  Pierre Crom/Getty Images

The Russian military said its nuclear deterrent forces have been put on high alert in line with Putin’s order on Sunday.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to Putin that command posts of all components of Russia’s nuclear forces have been beefed up with additional personnel.

The Defense Ministry said the high alert status applies to all components of Russian nuclea

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