Russia claims that both sides heard each other during peace talks, as violence rages in Ukraine

Russian forces heavy shelled Kharkiv on Monday, making it the second-largest Ukrainian city.

Russia claims that both sides heard each other during peace talks, as violence rages in Ukraine

On Monday, fighting erupted around major cities of Ukraine as Ukraine's first talks concluded with Russia after last week's invasion. However, there was no immediate breakthrough .

Even though Moscow claimed that officials at the border had "heard" one another, Ukraine stated that its second-largest town was under attack by heavy Russian shelling.

During this time, Russian President Vladimir Putin was facing the increasing fallout from an attack on his democratic neighbour that has rallied West behind Kyiv, against the Kremlin and marginalized Moscow on the international stage.

Latest updates on Ukraine :

  • Russian and Ukrainian officials met to discuss the Belarus border. France's Macron had separate telephone calls with Putin, Zelenskyy.

  • Britain stated that the Russian advance is being hampered by "staunch resistance".

  • As Moscow's economy was reeling, the U.S. increased sanctions against Russia's central banks. also announced sanctions against Switzerland, breaking away from its neutral status.

  • Ukraine applied for membership in the European Union.

  • The U.S. announced that it would expel 12 Russian intelligence operatives who were part of the Russian Mission to United Nations.

  • The International Criminal Court will launch a investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s position has been bolstered by its staunch early resistance, military assistance from countries across the world and a growing sanctions effort that has sent Moscow’s economy reeling.

The Russian military said Monday that its nuclear deterrent force had been placed on high alert following Putin's orders.

'A lot to resolve'

While increasing numbers have fled the Russian advance in Crimea, those who remained were subject to an air attack which Kyiv and international watchdogs claimed was increasingly hitting civilians.

Russian forces were accused in massive shelling of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city. A graphic video posted on social media Monday showed the aftermath of the attack. One video shows bodies covered in blood on the ground.



 

Anton Gerashchenko , an adviser to the Ukrainian interior ministry, shared a video showing flashes in smoke filling the air. He claimed that hundreds had been injured and that many were dead.

He said, "This horror must all be seen by everyone."

NBC News confirmed the authenticity of the video, but has not confirmed any reports about casualties. Russia repeatedly denies targeting civilians.

Prosecutor Karim Khan stated in a statement Monday that the International Criminal Court would open an investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.

Khan stated that there is "reasonable grounds" to believe Russia has done both.

Michelle Bachelet, United Nations human rights chief, stated Monday that 102 civilians including seven children have been killed in Ukraine since Thursday. She said that these figures may not reflect the true extent of the death toll in Ukraine.

In the meantime, the head of U.N. refugee agency stated that over half a million people fled the 44-million-strong country in the aftermath of the Russian attack.

Others sought refuge in metro stations or parking garages when gunfire and missile strikes hit the cities.

The Russian troops encamped in the capital and a strict 39-hour curfew kept people away from Kyiv's streets throughout the weekend was lifted.

Monday was a busy day for residents as they rushed to stock up on supplies, and then waited in line at the supermarkets while the sirens of an air raid siren blared.

Vadym Khortiuk (28), said that he is calm and has a lot to resolve. He also added that he was encouraged by the support he received from his friends from the West.

This support came in the form of increased pledges of weapons, other military equipment, and a concerted effort by the international community to make Putin pay for the invasion.

Finland announced Monday that it will ship to Ukraine approximately 2,500 assault rifles and 150,000 bullets. It also plans to send 1,500 anti-tank weapons, 70,000 food packages, and 150,000 rounds.

Ukraine applied to the European Union to strengthen its ties with the West Monday to try to do so. Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian President, posted photos of himself signing and appealing to the E.U. to "accept Ukraine immediately."

The ruble plunged to record lows Monday morning due to the US and its allies imposing severe sanctions. Russia's central banking closed the stock exchange and raised its interest rates to 20% from 9.5 percent to try to stabilize the currency's fall and stop a bank run.
The U.S. increased pressure by announcing that it would increase sanctions against the country's central banks. This will prevent Americans from doing business with the bank and also freeze assets it holds in the U.S.

According to Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, the United States has also begun the process of expulsion 12 Russian intelligence operatives from Russia's Mission to the United Nations.

Psaki stated that the move was in the making for several months because the operatives were engaged in activities she called "adversely to our national security."

Switzerland, a country that has been neutral in international affairs for centuries, announced Monday that it would also sanction Russia.

Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson, admitted that Russia's "economic reality has changed" because of the "heavy sanctions. However, he said that the country was ready and able to deal with the damage. Putin spoke to advisers Monday on the economy and called the West an "empire full of lies" in comments broadcast on state TV.

In retaliation to the bloc's ban on all Russian flights over its airspace, Russia also closed its airspace for airlines from the European Union as well as several other countries.

The U.S. encouraged its citizens to leave Russia immediately, given the diminishing number of commercial options. Washington authorized the voluntary departure from Moscow of non-emergency family members and employees, and also announced it had suspended operations at Minsk, Belarus.

The U.N. General Assembly met in a rare emergency session Monday to address global pressure. U.S. U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield stated that she hopes to see the U.N. vote on a resolution condemning Russia's actions by Wednesday.

Following the invasion, Russian cultural institutions and sports organizations have taken steps to isolate Russia . FIFA and UEFA announced Monday the suspension of Russian national soccer teams and clubs from international competitions.

Russia's progress has slowed

Zelenskyy stated that he was skeptical of the results of talks with Russia.

His country's forces held Russia back and are still holding the capital, Kyiv and Kharkiv near the Russian border.

The Ministry of Defense of Britain tweeted Monday morning that "the bulk of Putin's ground troops remain more than 30km [18 miles] north of Kyiv." "The Russian advance is still being thwarted by logistical problems and stubborn Ukrainian resistance."

According to NATO Secretary General Jens Scholtenberg, Russia was bringing in more troops and weapons, as the operation moved slower than expected.

Stoltenberg said that they underestimated the resistance they would face and that is why they are making less progress. He spoke to NBC News Monday morning in Brussels.

He said that Russia and Belarus are bringing in a new wave of heavy armor and artillery.

Officials in Ukraine's southeast confirmed that Russian forces took control of Berdyansk, as they traveled along the coast towards Mariupol, a crucial port considered a prime Russian target.

Zelenskyy, in a video statement issued Monday morning, praised Ukraine's military and stated that 4,500 Russian soldiers had been killed so far in the conflict. NBC News hasn't verified the exact number of people killed by either side.

Civilians have contributed to strengthening their army's effective but still desperate resistance by using government-issued machine gun, homemade Molotov cocktails, and shovels for building barricades. Zelenskyy said that they will soon be joined in the future by combat-experienced prisoners who will be released.

According to Zelenskyy, and Western officials, Putin plans to overthrow Ukraine's pro–Western government and replace it with a Moscow friendly regime. This would restore influence in the Kremlin's efforts to destroy the post-Cold War order across the continent.

Europe is now facing the worst security crisis it has seen in decades, as a result of the conflict.

Putin made this even clearer Sunday, when he issued an order to increase Russia's nuclear deterrent force readiness. He cited "aggressive statements” by NATO and tough financial sanctions imposed on the U.S., Europe, and other countries.

Like NATO and the U.S.A, Russia has thousands of nukes in its arsenal.

Stoltenberg referred to Putin's actions as "reckless" and "dangerous."

"There is no reason to do that." He said that NATO was not a threat to Russia.

NATO attempted to increase its presence in Eastern Europe following the invasion of Ukraine, but Stoltenberg reiterated that it had no intention of getting involved in the conflict.

He said, "We have a responsibility not to allow this spiral out of control." This will be very dangerous.

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