Russia and Ukraine live news: Putin puts Russian nuclear deterrents on alert; The Russians entered the second largest city in Ukraine, Kharkiv

KIU, Ukraine – President Vladimir Putin has ordered that Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces be put on high alert amid tensions with the West over its invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking at a meeting with top officials, Putin said on Sunday that NATO’s leading nations had made “aggressive statements” along with the West about imposing tough financial sanctions on Russia, including the president himself.

Putin has ordered Russia’s defense minister and chief of staff to transfer nuclear deterrents to a “special combat duty regime.”

His order threatened that tensions with the West over the invasion of Ukraine could lead to the use of nuclear weapons.

The Russian leader this week threatened harsh revenge on any state that directly intervenes in the conflict in Ukraine.

This is an update on the latest news. A preliminary version of this report is provided below.

Street fighting erupted in Ukraine’s second-largest city, and Russian troops pinned strategic ports in the south on Sunday, achievements that seemed to mark a new phase of Russia’s invasion after a wave of attacks on airfields and fuel facilities elsewhere.

The capital Kiev was terribly quiet after the morning sky was lit by huge explosions, and authorities reported explosions at one of the airports. Only from time to time the car appeared on a deserted main boulevard, as a strict 39-hour curfew did not allow people to go outside. Frightened residents instead staggered to homes, underground garages and subway stations in anticipation of a full-scale Russian attack.

“Last night was difficult – more shelling, more bombing of residential areas and civilian infrastructure,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. “There is not a single object in the country that the occupiers would not consider acceptable objects.”

WATCH: Fighting in Ukraine creates humanitarian crisis in the country

Following the achievements in the east of Kharkiv and several ports, Russia has sent a delegation to Belarus for peace talks with Ukraine, the Kremlin reports. Zelensky suggested other places, saying his country did not want to meet in Belarus because it was a platform for invasion.

Until Sunday, Russian troops remained on the outskirts of Kharkiv, a city of 1.4 million people, about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) south of the border with Russia, while other forces passed by to push the offensive deeper into Ukraine.

The video published in the Ukrainian media and social networks shows Russian vehicles moving around Kharkiv and Russian troops wandering around the city in small groups. One shows how the Ukrainian military fired on the Russians and damaged the Russian cars left nearby.

The images underscore the strong resistance faced by Russian troops in trying to enter Ukraine’s major cities. Ukrainians have volunteered en masse to help defend the capital, Kyiv and other cities by seizing weapons distributed by the authorities and preparing incendiary bombs to fight Russian forces.

The Ukrainian government is also releasing prisoners with military experience who want to fight for the country, prosecutor’s office spokesman Andrei Sinyuk told Hromadske TV channel on Sunday. He did not specify whether this step applies to prisoners convicted of crimes of all degrees.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has not revealed his final plans, but Western officials say he is determined to overthrow the Ukrainian government and replace it with his own regime, redrawing the map of Europe and reviving Moscow’s Cold War influence.

SEE ALSO: What you need to know about Russian President Vladimir Putin

Pressure on strategic ports in southern Ukraine has emerged in order to seize control of the country’s coastline, which stretches from the border with Romania in the west to the border with Russia in the east. A spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, Major General Igor Kanashenko, said that Russian forces had blocked the cities of Kherson on the Black Sea and the port of Berdyansk on the Sea of ​​Azov.

He said that Russian forces also took control of the air base near Kherson and the Azov city of Genichesk. Ukrainian authorities also report fighting near Odessa, Mykolaiv and other areas.

Reducing Ukraine’s access to seaports will deal a serious blow to the country’s economy. It could also allow Moscow to build a land corridor to Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014 and has so far been connected to Russia by a 19-kilometer (12-mile) bridge, the longest bridge in Europe, which opened in 2018.

According to the mayor, in the city of Cornflower, 37 kilometers (23 miles) south of Kiev, where there are intense fighting, the flames broke out of the oil depot near the air base. Russian forces blew up a gas pipeline in Kharkiv, forcing the government to warn people to cover windows with damp cloth or gauze to protect against smoke, the president’s office said.

Deputy Military Commander of Ukraine Lieutenant General. Yauhen Maisyuk was challenged in a message to the Russian troops.

“Unload your weapons, raise your hands so that our military and civilians understand that you heard us. This is your ticket home,” Maisyuk said in a Facebook video.

The death toll from Europe’s largest land conflict since World War II remains unclear amid the fog of hostilities.

MORE: Why is Russia invading Ukraine? Countries share a complex history

Ukraine’s health minister said on Saturday that 198 people, including three children, had been killed and more than 1,000 injured. It was unclear whether these figures included both military and civilian casualties. Russia has not released any reports of casualties.

Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN, Sergei Kislitsa, wrote on Twitter on Saturday that Ukraine had appealed to the International Committee of the Red Cross to “facilitate the repatriation of thousands of bodies of Russian soldiers.” The accompanying chart claimed that 3,500 Russian servicemen had been killed.

Leticia Courtois, the ICRC’s permanent observer at the UN, told the Associated Press that the situation in Ukraine was “a limitation for our teams on the ground” and “so we cannot confirm the figures or other details.”

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (Refugees) said on Sunday that about 368,000 Ukrainians had arrived in neighboring countries since the invasion began on Thursday. The UN estimates the conflict could lead to 4 million refugees, depending on how long it lasts.

Zelensky condemned Russia’s offensive as “state terrorism.” He said attacks on Ukrainian cities should be investigated by an international war crimes tribunal and cost Russia a seat as one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

“Russia is on the path to evil, and the world must come to deprive it of its seat on the UN Security Council,” he said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that a Russian delegation of military officials and diplomats arrived in the Belarusian city of Gomel on Sunday to hold talks with Ukraine. Zelensky on Friday offered to hold talks on a key demand of Russia: to abandon its ambitions to join NATO.

The President of Ukraine stated that his country is ready for peace talks, but not in Belarus.

“Warsaw, Bratislava, Budapest, Istanbul, Baku, we have all offered to the Russian side and will accept any other city in the country that was not used to launch missiles,” said Zelensky. “Only then could the talks be honest and end the war.”

Peskov said that Ukraine had offered to hold talks in Gomel. He added that Russian hostilities continue until talks begin.

Zelensky’s adviser Mikhail Podalak rejected Moscow’s offer as “manipulation”, adding that Ukraine did not agree to talks in the Belarusian city.

As Russia moves forward in its offensive, the West is working to equip predominant Ukrainian forces with weapons and ammunition, punishing Russia with far-reaching sanctions aimed at further isolating Moscow.

The United States has pledged an additional $ 350 million in military aid to Ukraine, including anti-tank weapons, body armor and small arms. Germany has said it will send missiles and anti-tank weapons to the country under siege and close its airspace to Russian aircraft.

WATCH: Ukrainian Americans in fury and fear after Putin’s military action

The United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom have agreed to block “selected” Russian banks from SWIFT’s global financial messaging system, which moves money to more than 11,000 banks and other financial institutions around the world as part of a new round of sanctions against Moscow. for the invasion. They also agreed to impose “restrictive measures” against Russia’s central bank.

Responding to a request from Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation, technical billionaire Elon Musk said on Twitter that his satellite Internet system Starlink now operates in Ukraine and that “more terminals” are on the way.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday that his country is allocating 100 billion euros ($ 112.7 billion) to a special fund for its armed forces, increasing defense spending above 2% of gross domestic product. Scholz said at an extraordinary session of the Bundestag that investment is needed “to protect our freedom and our democracy.”

Putin sent troops to Ukraine after denying for weeks that he intended to do so, while building up nearly 200,000 troops along the country’s borders. He claims that the West has failed to take seriously Russia’s security concerns about NATO, the Western military alliance that Ukraine seeks to join. But he also expressed contempt for Ukraine’s right to exist as an independent state.

Russia says its attack on Ukraine is aimed only at military targets, but has affected bridges, schools and neighborhoods.

Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, said Ukraine was gathering evidence of shelling of neighborhoods, kindergartens and hospitals to refer them to the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague as possible crimes against humanity. The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said he was closely monitoring the conflict.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Trass warned on Sunday that Putin could use “the most unpleasant means”, including banned chemical or biological weapons, to defeat Ukraine.

“I urge the Russians not to escalate this conflict, but we must be prepared for the fact that Russia will seek to use even worse weapons,” Rabbit told Sky News.


Isachenko reported from Moscow, and Miller from Washington. Francesca Ebel, Joseph Federman and Andrew Drake in Kiev; Mstislav Chernov and Nick Dumitrache in Mariupol, Ukraine; and other AP journalists from around the world contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Russia and Ukraine live news: Putin puts Russian nuclear deterrents on alert; The Russians entered the second largest city in Ukraine, Kharkiv

Source link Russia and Ukraine live news: Putin puts Russian nuclear deterrents on alert; The Russians entered the second largest city in Ukraine, Kharkiv