The EU has banned Russian flights from its airspace and promised weapons for Ukraine. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military said it is facing shelling from all directions.
 
Talks begin at Belarus border
The advisor to Ukraine President Volodymyr Yelenskyy, Mykhailo Podolyak, says talks with Russia have begun near the border with Belarus. 
However, with his government reporting hundreds of civilian deaths and Russian troops besieging key cities, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was skeptical about the talks. “As always: I do not really believe in the outcome of this meeting, but let them try,” he said.
Meanwhile, Zelensky’s office said its main goal of talks with Russia is to spur an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Russian troops.
Ukraine calls for instant EU membership
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy demanded on Monday “immediate” EU membership for Ukraine under a “new special procedure.”
“I’m certain that this is possible,” Zelenskyy said in his address, adding that Ukraine deserved to join the bloc.
Zelenskyy also said that 4,500 Russian soldiers had been killed so far during Moscow’s attack on Ukraine.
UN debates at request of Kyiv
The UN Human Rights Council voted Monday to hold an urgent debate about Russia’s ongoing attack on Ukraine.
The debate was requested by Ukraine, and supported by 29 of the council’s 47 members.
Among the five states that voted against were Russia and China. 13 countries abstained from voting.
Russia claims towns, Ukraine defends airfield
Russian forces have taken over the towns of Berdyansk and Enerhodar in Ukraine’s southeastern Zaporizhzhya region as well as the area around the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, Interfax quoted Russia’s defence ministry as saying on Monday.
The plant’s operations continued normally, it said. Meanwhile, Britain’s defense ministry said that Russia’s advance on Kyiv has been slowed by logistical failures and fierce Ukrainian resistance.
“The bulk of [President Vladimir] Putin’s ground forces remain more than 30km [18.6 miles] to the north of Kyiv their advance having been slowed by Ukrainian forces defending Hostomel airfield, a key Russian objective for day one of the conflict,” the ministry said. “Logistical failures and staunch Ukrainian resistance continue to frustrate the Russian advance.”
The Ukrainian military also accused Russia of launching a missile strike on residential buildings in the cities of Zhytomyr and Chernigiv, cities in the country’s northwest and north.
“At the same time, all attempts by the Russian invaders to achieve the goal of the military operation failed,” the military said. “The enemy is demoralized and bears heavy losses,” it claimed.
Russian interest rate skyrockets
Russia’s Central Bank has announced that it will raise its key interest rate to an unprecedented 20%, up from 9.5%, in the face of new sanctions over the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
“External conditions for the Russian economy have drastically changed,” the bank said in a statement. “The increase of the key rate will ensure a rise in deposit rates to levels needed to compensate for the increased depreciation and inflation risks. This is needed to support financial and price stability and protect citizens’ savings from depreciation.”
In another attempt to support the rouble, the central bank and the finance ministry also jointly ordered Russian exporting companies to sell 80% of their foreign currency revenues on the market.
The moves come after Britain said that it was taking further measures against Russia in coordination with the United States and European Union. The sanctions on the part of Western countries effectively cut off Moscow’s major financial institutions from Western financial markets.
Belarus leader tightens grip
Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has gained further power after a referendum on Sunday.
The electoral commission in Minsk said that around 65% of votes were cast in favor of changing the country’s constitution, the TASS news agency reported. 10% voted against the change.
The change to the constitution gives Lukashenko lifelong immunity from prosecution and allows him to secure further time in office.
The amendment would also allow Russian troops and nuclear weapons to be permanently stationed in Belarus.
Lukashenko has ruled Belarus since 1994.
Russian ruble plummets in the wake of sanctions
The Russian ruble plunged almost 30% against the dollar on Monday after sanctions imposed by Western states.
According to financial publication Bloomberg News, the currency on Monday was as low as 117.81 against the dollar in offshore trading.
Senior members of the Russian government, including the president, have been hit with sanctions, while there were pledges to cut off a number of banks from the SWIFT interbank payment system.
There have been threats of further sanctions if Russia does not stop its invasion of Ukraine.
Canada investigating Russian flight ban violation
Canada’s transport authority said it would be launching a review after an Aeroflot flight allegedly violated a ban on Russian flights using Canadian air space.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Transport Canada said: “We are launching a review of the conduct of Aeroflot and the independent air navigation provider, NAVCAN, leading up to this violation.”
The authority warned that it wouldn’t hesitate to take “appropriate enforcement action.”
On Sunday, Canada joined a number of European countries to close air space to Russian aircraft, due to the ongoing invasion.
Australia to provide ‘lethal’ military equipment to Ukraine
The Australian government announced that it would be providing equipment and resources to Ukraine. According to a government statement issued on Monday, Australia would work with NATO to “provide lethal as well as non-lethal military equipment, medical supplies, and financial assistance to support the people of Ukraine.”
Australia said it was “deeply concerned at Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine,” and held the president, the foreign minister and defence minister directly responsible for the invasion.
“President Putin joins a very small group that includes Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya and Bashar al-Assad of Syria,” the statement added.
Australia instituted financial sanctions and travel bans on senior members of Russia’s government, and more than 350 individuals, over the weekend.
Hundreds detained in Belarus for anti-war protests
In Belarus, over 500 people have been detained for demonstrating against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Viasna human rights centre — the most well-known human rights watchdog in Belarus — provided the names of 530 people who had been detained across the country.
In a tweet the organization posted up a tally of those who had been detained as of Sunday night.
There have been demonstrations in cities around Belarus. In Minsk, protesters carried flags and piled flowers outside the Ukrainian embassy.
Belarus appears to have played a key role in Russia’s invasion strategy, with the two countries having conducted large-scale military exercises together shortly before the attack.
EU chief keen on Ukraine joining bloc
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has expressed her desire to have Ukraine join the EU. Speaking to French news network Euronews, von der Leyen said: “Indeed over time they belong to us. They are one of us and we want them in.”
The EU chief also pointed out that a number of areas of cooperation already existed with the country.
Her comments on Ukraine came shortly after an unprecedented EU decision to supply weapons to Kyiv.
On Monday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted about a phone conversation with von der Leyen and tweeted that they had spoken about “concrete decisions on strengthening Ukraine’s defense capabilities, macro-financial assistance and Ukraine’s membership in the EU.”
Sunday ‘a difficult time’ for Ukraine’s military
Ukraine’s armed forces described Sunday as “a difficult time” for the military.
“Occupiers continue shelling in almost all directions,” read a statement posted on Facebook by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
According to the statement the air force was “confronting the aggressor both in the sky and on the ground.”
Ukraine’s military said there had been rocket strikes on six Russian columns. Anti-aircraft units were reported to have shot down an enemy helicopter and drone.
A Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicle also reportedly engaged a Russian column with a Buk missile system.
The British Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) intelligence update from Sunday said that Ukrainian forces had engaged Russian forces for a second night running within Kyiv, although fighting was said to be “at a lower intensity than the previous evening.”
The update stated that there had been “intensive exchanges of rocket artillery overnight” which was followed by heavy fighting in Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv.
The MOD said that Russian forces were continuing to advance into Ukraine “from multiple axes” but pointed out they were being “met with stiff resistance from the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”
Summary of events in Ukraine-Russia crisis on Sunday
Ukraine agreed to start negotiations with Russia without preconditions. Kyiv said the talks would be held at the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, but it’s not clear when.
Russian President Vladimir Putin put his country’s nuclear deterrent forces on high alert in response to what he called “aggressive statements” by NATO members.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told Parliament that as a result of Russia’s invasion, his government would allocate €100 billion ($111 billion) extra for the German armed forces in the 2022 budget.
The European Union will, for the first time in its history, purchase weapons for a country under attack, said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The bloc will also ban state-owned Russia Today (RT), Sputnik and their subsidiaries.
Anti-war demonstrators rallied in dozens of cities across Russia, defying the country’s strict protest laws to express their anger at the worsening conflict. More than 2,000 people were arrested, according to an independent monitor.
At least 100,000 people took to the streets of Berlin to show their support for Ukrainians.
Ukraine said 352 civilians have been killed since Thursday, including 14 children. Nearly 1,700 people have been wounded.
Almost 400,000 people have now fled Ukraine since the conflict started, according to the UN.
The UN Security Council called for a special session of the General Assembly as a result of the conflict, to be held on Monday.

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