Russia attacks Ukraine: Artillery fire kills 70 Ukrainian soldiers in Okhtyrka

Gunfire and blasts appeared to subside in Kyiv overnight as Russia’s invasion into Ukraine entered its fifth day Monday.

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On Sunday, Russian troops entered Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine, where fighting spilled into the streets of the northeastern Ukraine city as soldiers and volunteers put up a stubborn defense. In addition, at least one coastal city along the Black Sea in the south was seized by Russian troops.

By daybreak Monday, Kyiv remained under Ukrainian control, despite a reported direct rocket hit on a radioactive waste disposal site in the capital city.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the country’s nuclear-deterrence forces to be put on alert; the European Union agreed for the first time in history to finance the purchase and delivery of weapons; and the EU banned Russian planes from its airspace.

Here are the latest updates:

Air-raid sirens greet 6th day of fighting in Ukraine

Update 11:35 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Ukrainian media is reporting multiple air-raid sirens are sounding as day breaks on the sixth day of a Russian invasion.

The Kyiv Independent in the capital city confirmed that sirens are going off in Rivne west of Kyiv, as well as in Ternopil, Vinnytsia and Volyn.

Artillery fire kills 70 Ukrainian soldiers

Update 11:20 p.m. EST Feb. 28: More than 70 Ukrainian soldiers were killed after Russian artillery hit a military base in Okhtyrka on Sunday, the head of the region wrote on Telegram.

According to The Associated Press, Dmytro Zhyvytskyy posted photographs of the charred shell of a four-story building and rescuers scouring rubble for survivors. In a later Facebook post, he said many Russian soldiers and some local residents died in the Sunday bombardment, but The Associated Press could not immediately confirm the casualty figures.

Okhtyrka is located between Kharkiv and Kyiv.

Brazil unveils ‘humanitarian passport’ for Ukrainian refugees

Update 10:55 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Brazil is creating a “humanitarian passport” to welcome Ukrainian refugees, President Jair Bolsonaro said in a Monday interview with radio station Jovem Pan.

According to CNN, Bolsonaro said during the radio interview that the measure should be in place in the next day or two and is part of the country’s efforts to welcome “all refugees” from Ukraine.

Brazil hosts a large Ukrainian community, including about 600,000 people in the southern state of Paraná, he said.

Australia commits $50M in support for Ukraine

Update 10:50 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Australia will provide Ukraine with $50 million in missiles, ammunition and other military hardware to fight Russian invaders.

According to The Associated Press, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday elaborated on his country’s plans after revealing Monday that his government would provide Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with lethal military equipment. One week ago, Morrison promised only non-lethal military equipment to Ukraine.

“President Zelenskyy said: ‘Don’t give me a ride, give me ammunition,’ and that’s exactly what the Australian government has agreed to do,” Morrison said.

Specifically, the Australian funds will help provide both lethal and non-lethal defensive support for Ukraine through NATO, he added.

“The overwhelming majority of that ... will be in the lethal category,” Morrison said.

“We’re talking missiles, we’re talking ammunition, we’re talking supporting them in their defense of their own homeland in Ukraine and we’ll be doing that in partnership with NATO,” Morrison said.

Disney to halt film releases in Russia

Update 10:34 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Disney is pausing theatrical releases in Russia after the country invaded Ukraine.

“Given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, we are pausing the release of theatrical films in Russia, including the upcoming ‘Turning Red’ from Pixar,” a Disney spokesperson said in statement released Monday and obtained by CNN.

“We will make future business decisions based on the evolving situation,” the statement continued.

Disney had multiple films set for release in Russia in the coming months, including Marvel’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” on May 5 and Pixar’s “Lightyear” on June 16, CNN reported.

Meanwhile, WarnerMedia said it would pause this week’s release of “The Batman” in Russia just hours after Disney announced its pause, and Sony Pictures followed suit confirming that it will delay its release of the comic book film “Morbius” in Russia, The Guardian reported.

Russian troops attack Kherson, Ukraine officials say

Update 9:21 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Ukraine officials confirmed early Tuesday that Russian troops have begun an assault on Kherson, a southern Ukrainian city between Mykolaiv and New Kakhovka, the BBC reported.

“According to eyewitnesses, the enemy is advancing from the airport to the Nikolaev highway and a ring near the cold storage plant”, Ukraine’s State Service for Special Communications and Information Protection stated on its Telegram channel.

It is currently just after 4 a.m. Tuesday in Ukraine.

According to the BBC, Kherson’s regional state administration wrote on Facebook that the city is surrounded by Russian troops but not captured.

Meanwhile, the city’s mayor confirmed that Russian troops have set up checkpoints at the city’s entrances, the network reported.

“It is difficult to say how the situation will develop further,” Mayor Igor Kolykhaye wrote on Facebook, adding: “Kherson was and remains Ukrainian!”

“I ask each of you to remain calm and prudent. Do not go outside during the curfew. Do not enter into aggressive negotiations with anyone and do not provoke the enemy to conflict,” he added.

World Rugby suspends Russia, Belarus

Update 8:35 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Russia and Belarus have been suspended from all international rugby and cross-border club activities until further notice, CNN reported, citing the sport’s governing body.

In addition, the Rugby Union of Russia has been suspended from World Rugby membership until further notice, World Rugby stated on its website.

“World Rugby reiterates its condemnation of Russia’s aggressive invasion of Ukraine and the facilitation of this action by Belarus,” the organization stated.

“The global rugby family is united in standing in solidarity with everyone affected by these deeply disturbing events and joins the global community in calling for the restoration of peace.”

SpaceX’s Starlink satellite service arrives in Ukraine

Update 8:29 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation confirmed Monday that equipment to use SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service has arrived in his country.

In a Twitter post, Mykhailo Fedorov thanked SpaceX founder Elon Musk for the equipment

Musk replied with his own succinct tweet: “You are most welcome.”

Starlink is a satellite-based internet system that SpaceX has been building for years to bring internet access to underserved areas of the world. It markets itself as “ideally suited” for areas where internet service is unreliable or unavailable.

TikTok restricts access to Russian state media

Update 8 p.m. EST Feb. 28: TikTok joined Fabebook parent company Meta Platforms Inc. late Monday in restricting access to some Russian state-controlled media accounts in the European Union, including RT and Sputnik, The Wall Street Journal reported.

A spokesperson for the video-posting platform, a subsidiary of the Chinese company ByteDance Ltd., said Monday that the company has “been in communication with the EU and limited access to the Russian-government linked entities,” the Journal reported.

Russian convoy approaching Kyiv is now 40-plus miles long

Update 7:51 p.m. EST Feb. 28: New satellite images from Maxar Technologies show the Russian military convoy that reached the outskirts of Kyiv in the predawn hours of Tuesday has now grown to more than 40 miles in length, CNN reported.

Maxar told the BBC earlier Monday that the large military convoy consisted of armored vehicles, tanks, towed artillery and other logistical vehicles.

According to CNN, Maxar attributed the updated convoy length to additional satellite imagery they collected and analyzed. The new data, Maxar said, shows the convoy stretching from the Antonov airbase, about 17 miles from Kyiv’s city center, to just north of Pribyrsk, Ukraine.

Russia used vacuum bomb, Ukraine envoy says

Update 7:30 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Russia used a banned thermobaric weapon during fighting in Ukraine on Monday, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States told U.S. lawmakers.

“(Russia) used the vacuum bomb today, which is actually prohibited by the Geneva convention.” Oksana Markarova told reporters after emerging from a congressional briefing, the BBC reported, noting the network has not yet been able to independently verify Markarova’s claim.

According to the BBC, thermobaric weapons are filled with a high-pressure explosive that sucks in oxygen from the surrounding environment to generate an extremely powerful explosion and pressure wave.

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy calls for no-fly zone

Update 7:21 p.m. EST Feb. 28: In a video address issued late Monday, Ukraine President Volorymyr Zelenskyy’s called for a no-fly zone for Russian missiles, planes and helicopters following the attack on Kharkiv.

Rocket attacks kill 9 civilians in Kharkiv, mayor says

Update 7:17 p.m. EST Feb. 28: At least nine civilians died Monday as Russian rockets pummeled the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said.

The mayor confirmed that the death toll included three children, CNN reported.

“Today we had a very difficult day. It showed us that it’s not just a war, this is a massacre of Ukrainian people,” Terekhov said via his Telegram account.

“The missiles hit residential buildings, killing and injuring peaceful civilians. Kharkiv has not seen such damage for a very long time. And this is horrible,” he added.

According to CNN, Terekhov said that those killed included four people who came out of hiding to retrieve water and a family of two adults and three children found burned alive in their car.

UN reports at least 406 civilian casualties in Ukraine

Update 7:08 p.m. EST Feb. 28: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees confirmed Monday that at least 406 civilians have been wounded, resulting in at least 102 deaths, since Russia invaded Ukraine five days ago.

The fighting has also internally displaced more than 160,000 people, The Guardian reported.

“The real figure could be considerably higher, as many reported casualties have yet to be confirmed,” Martin Griffiths, under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, said during her briefing to the Security Council from Geneva.

The 102 fatalities includes seven children, Michelle Bachelet. the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, confirmed to The Guardian earlier in the day.

Canada to ban all crude oil imports from Russia

Update 6:58 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday that it will ban all imports of crude oil from Russia, making it the first G7 country to do so since Russia invaded Ukraine five days ago.

Prior to Monday’s announcement, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers estimated that Canada imports about $550 million of crude oil annually from Russia.

According to the BBC, Trudeau said that the industry has “benefited President Putin and his oligarchs greatly.”

Trudeau also confirmed Canada will help supply Ukrainian fighters with anti-tank weapons and ammunition, the network reported.

Molotov cocktails on menu after Ukrainian brewery shifts gears

Update 6:06 p.m. EST Feb. 28: A Ukrainian brewery has abandoned its business plan and joined civilian efforts to thwart invading Russian forces by shifting its production from beer to Molotov cocktails.

According to The Washington Post, the Pravda brewery in Lviv posted a social media plea with an image of emerald green glass bottles stuffed with fabrics, calling for donations as they make “more pravda molotovs.”

“Every cent will be used to bring the end of the enemy or help those who suffer,” the Instagram plea, posted in both Ukrainian and English, stated.

NHL suspends all business dealings with Russia

Update 5:57 p.m. EST Feb. 28: The National Hockey League announced Monday plans to suspend all business dealings in Russia. The league also ruled out the possibility of holding events there in the near future because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, The Associated Press confirmed.

The NHL later issued a statement condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine and stating, in part: “We also remain concerned about the well-being of the players from Russia, who play in the NHL on behalf of their NHL clubs, and not on behalf of Russia. We understand they and their families are being placed in an extremely difficult position.”

500K-plus refugees have fled Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Update 5:51 p.m. EST Feb. 28: More than 520,000 refugees from Ukraine have fled to neighboring countries since Russia invaded the independent nation five days ago, The Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal confirmed Monday.

The United Nations high commissioner for refugees said Monday that that figure could expand to more than four million refugees in the coming weeks, the Journal reported.

“This figure has been rising exponentially, hour after hour, literally, since Thursday,” High Commissioner Filippo Grandi said in an address to the U.N. Security Council.

According to the Journal, Ukrainians have been pouring into Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova since the Russian offensive began Thursday.

Ukraine welcoming foreign fighters to its cause

Update 5:40 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Ukraine on Monday temporarily lifted the requirement for entry visas for any foreigner willing to join Ukraine’s International Defense Legion and fight on Ukraine’s side against invading Russian troops, The Associated Press reported.

According to The Guardian, Ukraine President Volorymyr Zelenskyy’s decree takes effect Tuesday and will remain in effect as long as martial law is in place.

The call for foreign volunteers comes after Russian forces launched rocket attacks that killed “dozens” of civilians in Kharkiv and renewed its attack on the capital Kyiv, the Guardian reported.

Massive Russian convoy advances on Kyiv

Update 5:20 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Newly released satellite imagery, obtained by the BBC, shows a massive Russian convoy descending on Kyiv just before noon local time on Monday.

According to Maxar Technologies, the satellite-imaging company that released the photos, the convoy is nearly 17 miles long and “contains hundreds of armored vehicles, tanks, towed artillery and logistics support vehicles,” the network reported.

The images show Russian military units near Antonov airport, about 17 miles from the capital city’s center.

Meanwhile, satellite images obtained Monday by the BBC show destroyed armored vehicles and a damaged bridge near Irpin and Stoyanka.

Facebook parent to restrict access to Russian state-controlled media

Update 5:05 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Meta Platforms Inc., parent company of Facebook, confirmed Monday that it plans to restrict access to Russian state-controlled media RT and Sputnik through its services across the European Union.

Nick Clegg, president of global affairs for Meta, confirmed the step via social media.

“We have received requests from a number of governments and the EU to take further steps in relation to Russian state-controlled media. Given the exceptional nature of the current situation, we will be restricting access to RT and Sputnik across the EU at this time,” Clegg wrote in a Twitter post.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Monday’s move followed the company’s Friday announcement to block Russian state media from running advertisements or making money from ads shown on its platform.

Biden, allies discussed Ukraine support, Russia penalties

Update 4:53 p.m. EST Feb. 28: The White House confirmed late Monday afternoon that President Biden discussed continued security, economic and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine during a call Monday with U.S. allies during a Monday phone call, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Per the White House, participants on the call also “discussed their coordinated efforts to impose severe costs and consequences to hold Russia accountable while working to maintain global economic stability, including with regard to energy prices.”

Finland abandons nonintervention, will send lethal weapons into Ukraine

Update 4:44 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Officials in Finland confirmed Monday that the country will supply Ukraine with arms and ammunition, signaling a major policy shift.

According to the Finnish Defense Ministry, the shipment will include 2,500 assault rifles, 150,000 cartridges for the rifles, 1,500 single-shot antitank weapons and 70,000 combat-ration packages, The Washington Post reported.

Monday’s commitment followed Sunday’s vow by the Finnish government to send bulletproof vests, helmets and emergency medical services to Ukraine.

According to the Post, Finland and neighboring Sweden are among the European Union bloc countries not a part of NATO that have historically maintained neutrality in military conflicts.

US expelling 12 Russian diplomats from UN

Update 3:55 p.m. EST Feb. 28: The U.S. on Monday began the process to expel 12 Russian diplomats from the United Nations.

In a statement shared on social media, Olivia Dalton, spokesperson of the U.S. mission to the U.N., said the diplomats were “intelligence operatives ... who have abused their privileges of of residency in the U.S. by engaging in espionage activities that are adverse to our national security.” She added that the move had been “in the works for several months.”

Russia’s ambassador to the U.N., Vasily Nebenzya, said the diplomats from the Russian mission would be required to leave the country by March 7, The New York Times reported. He called the decision a “gross violation” of the United States’ position as the host country of the United Nations.

EU sanctions 26 more people, one more entity in response to Russian invasion of Ukraine

Update 3:50 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Officials with the European Council on Monday announced new sanctions against 26 people and one entity as part of the European Union’s ongoing response to Russian military aggression in Ukraine.

Officials said the people targeted by the sanctions include government officials, military personalities, oligarchs and businessmen active in the oil, banking and finance sectors. They also include “propagandists who contributed to spread anti-Ukrainian propaganda and promote a positive attitude towards the invasion of Ukraine,” according to a news release.

“With these additional sanctions, we are targeting all who are having a significant economic role in supporting (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s regime, and benefit financially from the system,” Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, said in a statement. “These sanctions will expose the wealth of Putin’s elite. Those who enable the invasion of Ukraine will pay a price for their action.”

The new sanctions raise the number of people facing EU sanctions to 680. In addition, 53 entities have been sanctioned.

Russian troops are near Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant, group says

Update 3:35 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Officials with the International Atomic Energy Agency said Russian forces were near Ukraine’s largest power plant on Monday.

Officials said that as of Monday night local time, the troops had not entered the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in eastern Ukraine.

Authorities have been monitoring Ukraine’s nuclear power plants in recent days as Russian forces launched an invasion of the country. Ukraine has four nuclear power plants which account for about half of the country’s electricity production.

“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. It is extremely important that the nuclear power plants are not put at risk in any way,” IAEA Director General Mariano Grossi said in a statement. “An accident involving the nuclear facilities in Ukraine could have severe consequences for public health and the environment.”

International Criminal Court to investigate invasion of Ukraine

Update 3:30 p.m. EST Feb. 28: The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court plans to ask for a court’s approval to investigate alleged war crimes in Ukraine amid the ongoing Russian invasion, according to Reuters and BBC News.

In a statement released Monday, prosecutor Karim Khan acknowledged that there is “a reasonable basis to believe that both alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Ukraine.”

“It is my intention that this investigation will also encompass any new alleged crimes falling within the jurisdiction of my office that are committed by any party to the conflict on any part of the territory of Ukraine,” Khan said, according to BBC News.

Protesters share support for Ukraine in US amid Russian invasion

Update 3:20 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Supporters of Ukraine took to the streets across the U.S. on Monday in protest of the ongoing Russian invasion of the country.

8 EU member states urge officials to support Ukraine’s entry into bloc

Update 3:15 p.m. EST Feb. 28: In an open letter released Monday, the presidents of eight European Union countries shared support for Ukraine being given “an immediate EU accession perspective” amid the ongoing Russian invasion of the country.

In the letter, the presidents of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia called on EU member states to allow Ukraine to immediately become an EU candidate country and begin the process of negotiations.

“In this critical moment, we reiterate our full solidarity with Ukraine and its people,” the letter read.

Pentagon: Russia ‘a few days’ behind planned invasion schedule

Update 3:05 p.m. EST Feb. 28: U.S. officials believe that Russian troops encountered more resistance than expected amid their ongoing invasion of Ukraine, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Monday.

Officials have seen “Ukrainians resisting quite effectively around Kyiv, and continuously,” Kirby said.

“They have made it a tough slog for the Russians to move further south‚ and as I think you’ve seen ... the Russians have ... experienced a stiff and determined resistance.”

Ukrainian efforts have put the Russian invasion a few days behind schedule, Kirby said. He declined to elaborate on the alleged Russian timeline.

Pentagon says Putin still has ‘significant combat power’

Update 2:40 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Monday that officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin “still has at his disposal significant combat power.”

Kirby said a majority of that power has already been moved into Ukraine, but he cautioned that it remained too soon Monday “to have some sweeping conclusions about the Russian military.”

“They have suffered setbacks but we wouldn’t assume they will stay set back,” Kirby said.

Microsoft barring Russian state-sponsored RT, Sputnik content from platform

Update 2:35 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Microsoft President and Vice Chairman Brad Smith said Monday that the company will not display any Russian state-sponsored RT or Sputnik content or advertisements on its platform, including on and in the Windows app store.

The company is also adjusting its Bing search engine so that it only returns results from RT or Sputnik “when a user clearly intends to navigate to those pages,” Smith said.

The efforts are part of Microsoft’s attempt to protect consumers against state-sponsored disinformation campaigns, which Smith noted “have long been commonplace in times of war.”

“The past few days have seen kinetic warfare accompanied with a well-orchestrated battle ongoing in the information ecosystem where the ammunition is disinformation, undermining truth and sowing seeds of discord and distrust,” Smith said in a blog posted Monday. “This requires decisive efforts across the tech sector – both individually by companies and in partnership with others – as well as with governments, academia and civil society.”

Russia says its hit 1,146 military installations in Ukraine

Update 2:20 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Russian officials on Monday claimed to have hit 1,146 military installations in Ukraine as part of its ongoing operations in the country.

At a briefing Monday, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said the targets included “31 command posts and communication centers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, 81 S-300, Buk M-1 and Osa anti-aircraft missile systems (and) 75 radar stations.”

Microsoft helping to defend Ukraine against cyberattacks amid Russian invasion

Update 2:10 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Officials with Microsoft said the company has been working with authorities to help mitigate cyberattacks targeting Ukraine’s digital infrastructure during the ongoing Russian invasion of the country.

In a blog posted Monday, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and vice chairman, said that the company’s Threat Intelligence Center “detected a new round of offensive and destructive cyberattacks” against Ukraine hours before fighting started in earnest on Feb. 24. The company informed the Ukrainian government about the threats and updated its anti-malware service to help curb its impact, Smith said.

Since then, Microsoft has been providing threat intelligence and defensive suggestions to Ukrainian officials.

“These recent and ongoing cyberattacks have been precisely targeted, and we have not seen the use of the indiscriminate malware technology that spread across Ukraine’s economy and beyond its borders in the 2017 NotPetya attack,” Smith said.

“But we remain especially concerned about recent cyberattacks on Ukrainian civilian digital targets, including the financial sector, agriculture sector, emergency response services, humanitarian aid efforts, and energy sector organizations and enterprises. These attacks on civilian targets raise serious concerns under the Geneva Convention, and we have shared information with the Ukrainian government about each of them. We have also advised the Ukrainian government about recent cyber efforts to steal a wide range of data, including health, insurance, and transportation-related personally identifiable information (PII), as well as other government data sets.”

Microsoft is also sharing information with NATO and American government officials.

“We will continue to share more detailed information publicly when we identify new malware that needs to be shared with the global security community,” Smith said. ”We will also continue constantly update all of Microsoft’s services, including our anti-malware Defender service, to help protect against any potential spread of malware to other customers and countries.”

Biden speaks with world leaders about Ukraine invasion

Update 1:15 p.m. EST Feb. 28: President Joe Biden joined a call Monday morning with leaders from several countries about the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The call started just after 11:30 a.m. EST, according to the White House.

Officials attending include Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Polish President Andrzej Duda, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Shell pulls out of energy investments in Russia

Update 1:05 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Shell says it pulling out of Russia as President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine costs the country’s all-important energy industry foreign investment and expertise.

Shell announced its intention Monday to exit its joint ventures with Gazprom and related entities, including its 27.5% stake in the Sakhalin-II liquefied natural gas facility, its 50% stake in the Salym Petroleum Development and the Gydan energy venture.

Shell also intends to end its involvement in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project.

Severe sanctions on Russia aimed at pressuring Putin to withdraw troops

Update 1 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Several countries have announced sanctions on Russia in response to the country’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

The sanctions are meant to hobble the country’s economy and put pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to pull back his troops.

>> Read more: Ukraine invasion: What sanctions are being imposed on Russia?

‘Negotiations are difficult,’ adviser to Ukrainian president says

Update 12:45 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Mikhaylo Podolyak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said Monday the “negotiations are difficult” after delegations from Ukraine and Russia met for hours of discussions amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Podolyak said that the talks have so far not included “any obligatory ultimatums.”

“Unfortunately, the Russian side is still extremely biased regarding the destructive processes it launched,” he said.

FIFA, UEFA suspend Russia from international soccer

Update 12:40 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Officials with the international soccer governing body, FIFA, and the Union of European Football Associations announced the suspension Monday of Russian teams from the organizations’ competitions.

The suspension will last “until further notice,” officials said. It was levied against Russia amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine,” officials with FIFA and UEFA said in a statement. “Both presidents hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can against be a vector for unity and peace amongst people.”

World Taekwondo revokes honorary black belt given to Putin

Update 12:30 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Officials with World Taekwondo, the international federation that governs the sport of taekwondo, on Monday withdrew an honorary 9th dan black belt conferred years earlier to Russian President Vladimir Putin in response to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The honorary black belt was given to Putin in November 2013.

“World Taekwondo strongly condemns the brutal attacks on innocent lives in Ukraine, which go against the World Taekwondo vision of ‘Peace is More Precious than Triumph’ and the World Taekwondo values of respect and tolerance,” the group said in a statement. “World Taekwondo’s thoughts are with the people of Ukraine and we hope for a peaceful and immediate end to this war.”

Officials with the group said they will not display the national flags of Russia or Belarus or play either of the countries’ anthems during World Taekwondo events. They will also not organize or recognize taekwondo events in either country.

Also on Monday, the executive board of the International Olympic Committee urged sports officials not to allow Russian or Belarusian athletes to compete in international events.

Explosions heard in Kyiv

Update 12 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Explosions were heard Monday night local time in Kyiv, according to multiple reports.

CNN reported that three large explosions were reported around 6:40 p.m. local time east of the capital city’s center.

Talks between Ukraine, Russia end

Update 11:55 a.m. EST Feb. 28: Negotiations between officials from Ukraine and Russia ended following hours of discussions Monday, according to multiple reports.

Mikhaylo Podolyak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, told reporters that delegates were returning to their capitals following the talks, according to CNN.

“Ukrainian and Russian delegations held the first round of negotiations. Their main goal was to discuss ceasefire and the end of combat actions on the territory of Ukraine,” he said. “The parties have determined the topics where certain decisions were mapped out. In order for these decisions to be implemented as roadmap, the parties are returning for consultations to their capitals. The parties discussed holding another round of negotiations where these decisions can develop.”

Zelenskyy signs request for Ukraine to join European Union

Update 11:50 a.m. EST Feb. 28: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a formal request Monday for his country to join the European Union, Reuters reported.

Zelenskyy earlier asked the European Union to allow for Ukraine to immediately join the EU through a special procedure, Politico reported.

“Our goal is to be together with all Europeans and, most importantly, to be on an equal footing,” he said on his Telegram channel, according to Politico. “I’m sure it’s fair. I’m sure it’s possible.”

The request was signed on the fifth day of the ongoing Russian invasion.

UN World Food Programme launches emergency operation to help Ukraine

Update 11:30 a.m. EST Feb. 28: The United Nation’s World Food Programme announced Monday that it’s launching an emergency operation to provide food assistance to people fleeing from conflict in Ukraine and the surrounding area.

The announcement came after officials got a request for help from the Ukrainian government. Officials said the operation will first cover Romania and Poland before expanding, potentially to Moldovia and Slovakia.

“We are deeply concerned for the impact of hostilities on the lives and livelihoods of civilians,” Margot van der Velden, the World Food Programme’s director of emergencies, said in a statement. “As the situation evolves, there is a need to ensure that affected communities have continued access to any humanitarian support they may require and that the safety of humanitarian staff on the ground is guaranteed.”

Officials estimate that hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have fled amid the ongoing fighting.

UN holds emergency session on Ukraine

Update 11:20 a.m. EST Feb. 28: The United Nations General Assembly on Monday met for the group’s first emergency meeting in decades amid the ongoing situation in Ukraine.

“The fighting in Ukraine must stop,” United Nations General-Secretary Antonio Guterres said at the start of the session. “We need peace now.”

Assembly President Abdulla Shahid asked envoys from the U.N.’s 193 member nations to stand for a moment of silence at the start of the session. Shahid repeated calls for an immediate cease-fire, maximum restraint by all parties and “a full return to diplomacy and dialogue.”

Meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council was due to meet later Monday to discuss the spiraling humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

World’s largest plane destroyed in attack on airfield, Ukrainian officials say

Update 10:40 a.m. EST Feb. 28: Ukrainian officials confirmed Sunday that the world’s largest plane has been destroyed by Russia on an airfield near Kyiv.

The plane, called Mriya or The Dream, was burned during the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to authorities.

>> Related: World’s largest airplane reportedly destroyed in Ukraine

“We will rebuild the plane,” officials said in a statement. “We will fulfill our dream of a strong, free and democratic Ukraine.”

In a statement posted on social media, officials with the aeronautics company behind the plane, the Antonov Company, said they could not confirm reports that the plane had been destroyed.

Toyota suspends factory operations following apparent cyberattack

Update 10:25 a.m. EST Feb. 28: Officials with Toyota Motor Corp announced Monday that the company plans to suspend its domestic factory operations following a suspected cyberattack on one of the company’s suppliers of plastic parts and electronic components, Reuters reported.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters that the government planned to investigate whether Russia was involved in the apparent attack, which came a short while after Japan joined other countries in penalizing Russia for the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, according to Reuters.

At least 44 injured in Ukraine’s second-largest city

Update 10:10 a.m. EST Feb. 28: Ukrainian authorities say at least 44 people have been wounded in fighting in Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv, and that seven of them died in hospitals.

It wasn’t clear if the casualties, which covered the past 24 hours, were all civilians. The state emergencies agency said the casualties could be higher because the damage from Monday’s shelling of residential areas is still being assessed.

Ukrainian social networks featured videos showing residential quarters hit by a series of powerful explosions amid fighting with Russian forces.

The Russian military has consistently denied targeting residential areas despite abundant evidence of shelling of residential buildings, schools and hospitals.

Negotiations between Ukraine, Russia ongoing

Update 9:55 a.m. EST Feb. 28: Negotiations between delegations from Ukraine and Russia were ongoing Monday, according to Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak.

Podolyak had told Reuters hours earlier that talks between the two parties had begun at the Belarusian border.

“In a few minutes, the third round (of negotiations) will begin,” Podolyak said in a statement posted on social media.

Officials with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office earlier said negotiations would be aimed at achieving “an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian forces,” The Guardian reported.

Switzerland adopts EU sanctions against Russia

Update 9:40 a.m. EST Feb. 28: The Swiss president says Russia’s attack on Ukraine is “unacceptable” and Switzerland will adopt European Union sanctions, including asset freezes, targeting Russians – all but depriving well-heeled Russians of access to one of their favorite havens to park their money.

Ignazio Cassis told a news conference Monday that Russia’s invasion was intolerable on moral and political grounds. Switzerland’s government has been trying to balance its condemnation of Russia’s actions with its history of neutrality and as an intermediary between opposing countries.

Referring to the Swiss executive body, he added: “The Federal Council has decided to take up fully the sanctions of the European Union, including the asset freezes.”

Switzerland is not a European Union member but is all but surrounded by four EU countries: Austria, France, Germany and Italy.

Snake Island defenders ‘alive and well,’ Ukrainian Navy says

Update 9:35 a.m. EST Feb. 28: Officials with the Ukrainian Navy confirmed in a statement Monday that soldiers who were initially believed to have died while defending Snake Island in the Black Sea are “alive and well.”

In the statement, officials said soldiers twice fought off Russian forces on the island, also known as Zmiinyi Island. However, they were unable to continue defending the island after running out of ammunition, CNN reported. Officials said Russian forces “completely destroyed the island’s infrastructure: lighthouses, towers, antennas, etc.”

Officials with the Ukrainian Border Guard Service said over the weekend that they had received information that soldiers who defended Snake Island might have been captured alive. Eighty-two soldiers were defending the island when Russia attacked Thursday, according to authorities and CNN.

International Olympic Committee: Bar Russian, Belarusian athletes from international competition

Update 9:15 a.m. EST Feb. 28: Officials with the International Olympic Committee on Monday asked international sports officials to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from international competition in response to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In a statement, members of the IOC’s executive board noted that “the Olympic Movement is united in its sense of fairness not to punish athletes for the decisions of their government if they are not actively participating in them.”

“The current war in Ukraine, however, puts the Olympic Movement in a dilemma,” the statement read. “While athletes from Russia and Belarus would be able to continue to participate in sports events, many athletes from Ukraine are prevented from doing so because of the attack on their country.”

Previously, the IOC executive board urged sports officials not to organize any sports events in Russia or Belarus.

Airbnb offering free, short-term housing to Ukrainian refugees

Update 8:55 a.m. EST Feb. 28: Officials with Airbnb on Monday announced plans to offer free, short-term housing for as many as 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine amid the ongoing Russian invasion.

>> Read more: Airbnb to house up to 100K Ukrainian refugees

The stays will be funded by Airbnb, donors to the Refugee Fund and Airbnb hosts, officials said.

Ukraine raises $20 million in cryptocurrency

Update 8:45 a.m. EST Feb. 28: A crowdfunding appeal from the government of Ukraine has raised nearly $20 million in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, according to Reuters.

Ukraine’s official Twitter account sent out the appeal for money on Saturday as Russia continued its invasion of the country. The tweet provided digital wallet addresses for tokens including bitcoin and ether.

>> Read more: Ukrainian government raises $20 million after plea for cryptocurrency

Russia closes airspace to 36 countries

Update 8:30 a.m. EST Feb. 28: Russian officials on Monday announced they have closed the country’s airspace to three dozen countries in response to bans on Russian flights enacted following the invasion of Ukraine.

Among the countries barred from using Russian airspace are the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy and Canada.

The announcement came after the 27-member European Union closed its airspace to Russian aircraft.

Canada also closed its airspace to Russian aircraft, the country’s minister of transport announced Sunday.

State Department closes US Embassy in Belarus, lets staff leave in Russia

Update 8 a.m. EST Feb. 28: The State Department announced Monday that it has suspended operations of the U.S. Embassy in Belarus and is letting nonessential employees to leave the U.S. Embassy in Russia, according to The Associated Press.

“We took these steps due to security and safety issues stemming from the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. “The Department of State continually adjusts its posture at embassies and consulates throughout the world in line with its mission, the local security environment and the health situation. We ultimately have no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens, and that includes our U.S. government personnel and their dependents serving around the world.”

Julie Fisher, the U.S. ambassador to Belarus, also tweeted about the announcement:

Russian military puts nuclear deterrent forces on high alert

Update 7:37 a.m. EST Feb. 28: Russia’s military said it has put its nuclear deterrent forces on high alert following an order by President Vladimir Putin, The Associated Press reported Monday.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said additional personnel have been stationed at the country’s nuclear command posts, according to the news agency.

UN: 500K people have fled Ukraine

Update 6:33 a.m. EST Feb. 28: The United Nations’ high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, said Monday that more than 500,000 people have fled from Ukraine since the Russian invasion began.

According to The Associated Press, an estimated 281,000 people fled from Ukraine to Poland; 84,500 to Hungary; 36,400 to Moldova; 32,500 to Romania; and 30,000 to Slovakia, with the remaining refugees scattering to other countries, a U.N. refugee agency spokeswoman said.

Zelenskyy: 16 children killed, 45 hurt in Ukraine

Update 5:41 a.m. EST Feb. 28: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says 16 Ukrainian children have died and 45 others have been injured since Russian forces invaded the country last week.

According to The Associated Press, the news came Monday in a video address by Zelenskyy, who added that 4,500 Russian troops have died so far.

“Every crime, every shelling by the occupiers bring our partners and us even closer,” said Zelenskyy, who also praised sanctions that Western countries have imposed on Russia.

Vatican offers services for negotiations

Update 4:18 a.m. EST Feb. 28: The Vatican’s second-ranked official, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said the Holy See is “offering its willingness to facilitate dialogue with Russia” in an effort to end the crisis in Ukraine, The Associated Press reported early Monday.

The statement came days after Pope Francis pushed for negotiations Friday while visiting the nearby Russian Embassy in Rome to meet with the Russian ambassador, according to the AP.

Ukrainian delegation arrives at Belarus border for talks

Update 3:50 a.m. EST Feb. 28: Ukraine’s delegation has arrived at the country’s border with Belarus, where negotiations with Russian officials are slated to take place, according to The Associated Press.

Russian military says Kyiv residents can leave safely

Update 3:41 a.m. EST Feb. 28: Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Kyiv residents can safely leave the city via a highway leading southwest to Vasylkiv, The Associated Press reported Monday.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials said its forces were fighting small groups of Russian troops in some sections of Kyiv, according to the AP.

Russia’s Central Bank raises key rate to 20%

Update 3 a.m. EST Feb. 28: Russia’s Central Bank on Monday hiked its key rate to 20% from 9.5% as the ruble sank 26% against the U.S. dollar.

According to The Associated Press, the rate increase, designed to boost the ruble and help banks cope with the crisis, came after Western countries decided to freeze Russia’s hard currency reserves.

UN General Assembly, Security Council to meet Monday

Update 2:06 a.m. EST Feb. 28: The United Nations’ General Assembly and Security Council are slated to hold separate meetings Monday about Russia and Ukraine.

According to The Associated Press, the General Assembly will have its first emergency session in decades, giving its 193 members time to discuss the conflict and vote on a resolution targeting Russia. Meanwhile, the 15-member Security Council will discuss the humanitarian impact of Russia’s attack, the AP reported.

Ruble plunges 26% following SWIFT sanctions on Russian banks

Update 1:13 a.m. EST Feb. 28: Russia’s ruble has sunk almost 26% against the U.S. dollar, The Associated Press is reporting.

According to the news agency, the ruble was trading early Monday at 105.27 per U.S. dollar, a record low. On Friday, it had been trading at about 84 per U.S. dollar.

The news came after Western nations and Japan moved to block Russian banks from the SWIFT global payment system, the AP reported.

Belarus may join Ukraine invasion, official says

Update 12:43 a.m. EST Feb. 28: Belarus could send troops into Ukraine as soon as Monday to assist Russian troops, a senior U.S. intelligence official told The Associated Press.

Belarus’ decision on whether to join the fight depends on what happens in talks between Russia and Ukraine in the coming days, the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the news agency.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

More coverage:

>> Vladimir Putin: Who is Russia’s president?

>> Volodymyr Zelenskyy: Who is Ukraine’s president?

>> What does the Russian invasion of Ukraine mean for America’s economy?

>> Russia attacks Ukraine: How to donate to people in Ukraine

>> 6 things to know about Ukraine

>> Why did Russia fight for control of Chernobyl, the site of a nuclear disaster?

>> How to talk to children about the conflict in Ukraine

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