220103 Convoy
A satellite image shows northern end of convoy logistics and resupply vehicles, southeast of Ivankiv, Ukraine, February 28, 2022. Image Credit: Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement that his nuclear forces were on alert sparked outcry in the West as the troops faced stiff resistance in Ukraine on Monday, day five of Russia-Ukraine crisis. Here are the latest updates:

Russia attacks Ukraine: Major developments so far

Disney pausing film releases in Russia over Ukraine invasion

The Walt Disney Co said Monday it is pausing the release of theatrical films in Russia, including the upcoming Pixar Animation Studios release, "Turning Red," citing the "unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis."

Disney is believed to be the first major Hollywood studio to pause theatrical releases in Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine.

"We will make future business decisions based on the evolving situation" Disney said in a statement. "In the meantime, given the scale of the emerging refugee crisis, we are working with our NGO partners to provide urgent aid and other humanitarian assistance."

Russia, Belarus suspended by World Rugby

Russia and Belarus were Tuesday suspended from all international rugby "until further notice", the world governing body said, as it announced "full and immediate" sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine.

Russia's membership of World Rugby was also suspended indefinitely, meaning the country's slim hopes of qualifying for next year's Rugby World Cup in France are over.

Russian convoy 64km long bears down on Kyiv

Satellite images taken on Monday show a Russian military convoy north of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv that stretches for about 64 kilometres, substantially longer than the 27 kilometres reported earlier in the day, a US private company said.

Maxar Technologies also said additional ground forces deployments and ground attack helicopter units were seen in southern Belarus, less than 32 kilometres north of the Ukraine border.

ICC to proceed with investigation into alleged war crimes in Ukraine

The office of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on Monday said it will seek court approval to open an investigation into alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

The move comes just days after Russia’s attack on its neighbour and prosecutor Karim Khan said on Friday he was following developments with concern.

Prosecutor Khan said his office would seek support and funding from the ICC’s 123 member states for investigations.

“The importance and urgency of our mission is too serious to be held hostage to lack of means”, he said.

Zelensky calls for no-fly zone

Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky said on Monday it was time to consider imposing a no-fly zone for Russian missiles, planes and helicopters in response to Russian shelling of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

In a video address, Zelensky did not specify how and by whom a no-fly zone would be enforced. He said Russia had launched 56 rocket strikes and fired 113 cruise missiles against Ukraine in the past five days.

Canada to supply more weapons, bans import of Russian oil

Canada will supply anti-tank weapons and upgraded ammunition to Ukraine to support its fight against a Russian invasion, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday, and it will ban imports of crude oil from Russia.

"Canada will continue to deliver support for Ukraine's heroic defence against the Russian military," Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa.

"We are announcing our intention to ban all imports of crude oil from Russia, an industry that has benefited President Putin and his oligarchs greatly."

Canada imported C$289 million worth of energy products in 2021, according to Statistics Canada.

US shuts Minsk embassy

The United States shuttered its embassy in Minsk and allowed non-emergency employees and family members to leave its embassy in Moscow on Monday as Russia pushed on with its invasion of Ukraine for a fifth day.

"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.

Facebook to limit access to Russian state media

Meta Platforms, parent company of Facebook, will restrict access to Russian state media outlets RT and Sputnik across the European Union, the company's head of global affairs, Nick Clegg, said in a tweet on Monday.

Clegg said the social media company had received requests from a number of governments and the EU to take further steps in relation to Russian state-controlled media on its platforms.

Biden says Americans should not worry about nuclear war

Americans should not be worried about nuclear war, US President Joe Biden said on Monday, the day after Russian President Vladimir Putin put Russia’s nuclear deterrent on high alert amid Moscow’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Hungary says won't allow Ukraine-bound weapons to pass

Hungary said on Monday it would not allow weapons to be transported through its territory after the European Union pledged military aid to Kyiv. Prime Minister Viktor Orban has sought to foster close ties with Moscow but Hungary has closed ranks with the rest of the EU on tough sanctions against Russia.

"We will not allow the transfer of deadly weapons across the Hungarian territory," Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto wrote on Facebook. He said the decision was taken to ensure the safety of Hungarians both in their country and across the border in Ukraine.

"These shipments can easily become the target of military attacks," Szijjarto said.

"Our most important task is to guarantee the safety of the country and the Hungarian people, therefore we must not get involved in the war taking place next door." EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the bloc would give 450 million euros ($500 million) for EU member states to buy arms for the beleaguered country.

The fiercely anti-migration Orban has opened the EU and NATO member's door to Ukrainians.

Nearly 85,000 people have so far crossed from Ukraine into Hungary, UNHCR said.

Several border towns such as Zahony have set up public buildings as reception centres, with ordinary people donating food and clothes, the interior ministry said.

UEFA breaks partnership with Russian state energy giant Gazprom

UEFA on Monday ended its partnership with Russian state energy giant Gazprom, one of its main sponsors, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, European football's governing body said.

"The decision is effective immediately," UEFA said after ending the deal which was due to run until 2024 and was widely believed to be worth around 40 million euros ($45 million) a year.

Russia expelled from 2022 World Cup

Russia has been expelled from the 2022 World Cup and its teams suspended from all international football competitions "until further notice" after its invasion of Ukraine, FIFA announced in a joint statement with UEFA on Monday.

The men's team had been due to play in qualifying play-offs in March for the World Cup in Qatar later this year, while its women's side had qualified for the European Championship in England, to be held in July.

The announcement also affects Russian clubs involved in European competitions.

Norway to send weapons to Ukraine, in change of policy

The Norwegian government will send weapons to Ukraine, it said in a statement on Monday, the latest European nation to do so following Russia's invasion.

The decision overturns a Norwegian policy in place since the 1950s of not sending arms to non-NATO countries that are at war or at risk of armed conflict.

Explosion heard in Kyiv

Several reports of explosions in Kyiv were reported soon after the delegations from Russia and Ukraine announced possible second round of peace talks on the Poland Belarus border. 

The United States expects Russian forces to try to encircle Kyiv in the coming days and could become more aggressive out of frustration with their slow advance on the Ukrainian capital, a senior U.S. defense official said on Monday.

Air raid sirens wailed across the largely empty streets of Kyiv on Monday warning of another possible missile attack by Russia as the city girds for worse battles to come as Russian forces approach.

"We expect that they're going to want to continue to move forward and try to encircle the city in the coming days," the official said, adding that Russian troops were about 25 km (16 miles) from Kyiv's city center.

Ukraine submits request to join EU

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he has signed an official request for Ukraine to join the EU to allowing the country to gain membership immediately under a special procedure as it defends itself from invasion by Russian forces

UK bans Russian vessels from its ports

20220228 grant
Britain's Transport Secretary Grant Shapps leaves after attending a Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street, in London. Image Credit: AFP

British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Monday ordered all UK seaports to turn away Russian vessels, in response to the country's invasion of Ukraine.

The banning order applied to "any ship which they have reason to believe is owned, controlled or operated by any person connected with Russia" or on a sanctions list, "flying the Russian flag; registered in Russia", he tweeted.

Moscow, Kyiv plan 'second round' of conflict talks

Following the talks on Monday, it has been announced that the delegations will return for a second round of talks. 

Belta: Russian delegation said 'we have identified certain points from which we can predict general positions'.

Negotiators from Ukraine and Russia will return to their capital cities for consultations and have plans for fresh talks, both sides announced Monday after meeting for their first talks since the outbreak of war last week.

"The delegations are returning to their capitals for consultations and have discussed the possibility of meeting for a second round of negotiations soon," Ukrainian negotiator Mikhailo Podolyak said.

"We agreed to keep the negotiations going," the Russian delegation head, Vladimir Medinsky said.

FIFA discussions to suspend Russian team

FIFA is in "advanced discussions" to suspend the Russian national team from international competitions including the World Cup following the invasion of Ukraine, a source with knowledge of the talks told AFP on Monday.

The source said Russia would be expelled from the World Cup "unless the situation improves".

The Russian team are due to play Poland in a World Cup qualifying play-off semi-final on March 24, and would go on to face Sweden or the Czech Republic on March 29 for a place at the finals in Qatar later this year.

FIFA announced on Sunday that Russian teams would be allowed to continue playing under the name of the Football Union of Russia, playing home games on neutral territory and behind closed doors, and with the Russian flag and anthem banned.

French president appeals to Putin

Macron's office said that in a 90-minute phone call he had asked the Russian leader to stop attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, and secure major roadways, in particular the road from the south of Kyiv.

"President Putin confirmed his willingness to make commitments on these three points," the statement said.

Ukraine neutrality, demilitarisation key to ending conflict: Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin told his French counterpart on Monday that the demilitarisation of Ukraine and Western recognition of Russian sovereignty over the Crimean peninsula were prerequisites to ending fighting in Ukraine, the Kremlin said.

"Vladimir Putin stressed that a settlement is possible only if Russia's legitimate security interests are unconditionally taken into account, including the recognition of Russian sovereignty over Crimea, the demilitarisation and denazification of the Ukrainian state and ensuring its neutral status," according to a Kremlin readout of the call.

Russia also banned all residents from transferring money abroad earlier today. The government added that Russian exporters must convert 80 per cent of revenue into rubles.

All Russian banks will have their assets frozen within days, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on Monday, as part of plans to ramp up economic sanctions.

"We will being in a full asset freeze on all Russian banks in days, looking to coordinate with our allies," Truss told parliament, saying it was designed to prevent the Kremlin funding its invasion of Ukraine.

Russia tells civilians to leave Kyiv

20220228 kyiv night
A glow is seen over the city's skyline during a shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine. Image Credit: Reuters

The Russian army tells residents of the Ukrainian capital they can "freely leave" on one highway as it hints of attacks on civilian areas.

Ukraine's army says it fought off several attempts by Russian forces to storm the outskirts of Kyiv overnight with the capital also hit by three missile strikes.

Pleas to stop 'Russian disinformation'

The Baltic states and Poland on Monday urged global social media networks to curb "Russian disinformation" focused on the war in Ukraine, Lithuania's government said.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, and counterparts in Latvia, Estonia, and Poland called on them to "prevent Russia's disinformation on the war in Ukraine from spreading across these platforms", it said in a statement.

The open letter was addressed to the heads of Facebook parent company Meta, Twitter, Google and YouTube.

It called on them to ban accounts responsible for "warmongering and spreading false information". The bans should extend to the accounts of state leaders, institutions and state media, the statement added.

IOC withdraws Olympic Order 

The International Olympic Committee on Monday urged sports federations and organisers to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from international events following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The IOC also withdrew the Olympic Order, its highest award, from all high-ranking Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin.

In a statement, the IOC said its executive board "recommends that International Sports Federations and sports event organisers not invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions".

If not possible for "organisational or legal reasons", the IOC called on sports officials to do "everything in their power" to prevent athletes from the two countries from taking part under the name of Russia or Belarus.

Pro-Kremlin media sites hacked

Hacker group Anonymous claimed responsibility on Monday for disrupting the work of websites of pro-Kremlin Russian media in protest of the invasion of Ukraine.

The group targeted the websites of state news agencies TASS and RIA Novosti, as well as taking over websites of newspapers Kommersant and Izvestiya and Forbes Russia magazine.

It posted messages appealing to Russians to try to stop the war and not participate as fighters.

"In a few years we'll live like in North Korea. What's in it for us? For Putin to make the history books? It isn't our war, let's end it!", said a message in Russian posted on Forbes Russia's site.

"This message will be deleted and some of us will be sacked and even jailed. But we can't stand this any longer," said the writer, signing off as "concerned journalists of Russia".

The latest cyberattacks come after Thursday's hacking of RT state-funded television channel.

Russian shelling kills 11

At least 11 civilians have been killed in Russian shelling on Ukraine's second most populated city Kharkiv on Monday, the regional governor said, adding dozens more had been injured.

"The Russian enemy is bombing residential areas," Oleg Sinegubov, wrote on the Telegram messaging app, saying that: "As a result of the bombardments that are ongoing, we cannot call on the emergency services... currently there are 11 dead and dozens wounded".

Flights banned by Russia

Russia announced Monday it was banning flights by airlines from 36 countries including Britain and Germany after many have barred Russian planes over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Russia's civil aviation authority said it was bringing in the restrictions "as a retaliatory measure for the ban by European states on flights by civil aviation operated by Russian airlines or registered in Russia."

Belarus changes non-nuclear status

20220228 borrell
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. Image Credit: AP

The EU warned Monday that Belarus could start hosting Russian nuclear weapons after a "very dangerous" decision at a referendum to drop the country's non-nuclear status.

"We know what does it mean for Belarus to be nuclear. It means that Russia will put nuclear weapons in Belarus and this is a very dangerous path," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.

'Immediate ceasefire'

Ukraine demands an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops as talks with the Kremlin start on Ukraine's border with Belarus, the launchpad for Russia's attack on Kiev.

Ukraine's President Volodymr Zelensky appeals to the EU to grant his country "immediate" membership, as Russia's assault against the pro-Western country enters its fifth day.

Russia-Ukraine commence first talks

20220228 Members of delegations
Members of delegations from Ukraine and Russia, including Russian presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky (2L), Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak (2R), Volodymyr Zelensky's lawmaker Davyd Arakhamia (3R), hold talks in Belarus' Gomel region.

Russian and Ukrainian delegations on Monday began their first talks since Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to invade Ukraine last week, Belarusian state news agency Belta reported.

"Russia and Ukraine are holding the first talks," Belta said. Ahead of the talks, the Ukrainian presidency had demanded an immediate Russian ceasefire and troop withdrawal.

Ukraine has said its goal for the talks is an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine. The Kremlin declined to comment on Moscow's aim in negotiations.

Russia is not considering recalling its ambassadors from European countries: IFAX

Russia-Ukraine crisis day five
Image Credit: Seyyed de Llata/Gulf News

UK says no 'significant change' in Russia's nuclear posture

The UK government has seen no major change to Russia's nuclear posture despite President Vladimir Putin placing his strategic forces on high alert, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on Monday.

"We've looked at their posture. There isn't a significant change," Wallace said on LBC radio, accusing Putin of trying to "flex muscles" with his invasion of Ukraine bogged down.

Russian army says Ukraine civilians can 'freely' leave Kyiv

The Russian army said Monday that Ukrainian civilians could "freely" leave the country's capital Kyiv and stressed it had air superiority over Ukraine as its invasion went into its fifth day.

"All civilians in the city can freely leave the Ukrainian capital along the Kyiv-Vasylkiv highway. This direction is open and safe," Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in televised remarks.

"Russian aviation has gained air superiority over the entire territory of Ukraine," he added, accusing Ukrainian troops of using civilians as human shields.

China urges calm after Putin puts nuclear deterrent on high alert

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Monday that all sides should remain calm and avoid further escalation, after Russian President Vladimir Putin put his country's nuclear deterrent on high alert.

Wang, speaking at a regular daily media briefing, also reiterated China's view that all countries' legitimate security concerns should be taken seriously.

Russia's central bank hikes key rate to 20 percent

Russia's central bank announced Monday it was raising its key interest rate to 20 percent from 9.5 percent as the West pummelled the country with sanctions over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

"The Bank of Russia's board of directors has decided to raise the key rate to 20 percent," the central bank said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies.

Russian army says Ukraine using civilians as human 'shield'

Oil surges, equities mostly fall on growing Ukraine fears

Oil prices and safe havens surged Monday while equities mostly fell and the rouble plunged after world powers imposed fresh sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, fanning fears about a possible global energy crisis that could further stoke inflation.

Adding to the unease among investors was news that Putin had put his nuclear forces on a higher alert in reaction to the latest stiff measures.

"Removing some Russian banks from SWIFT could result in a disruption of oil supplies as buyers and sellers try to figure out how to navigate the new rules," Andy Lipow, of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston, noted.

Crude surged, with WTI climbing more than six percent to close in on the $100 mark, while Brent bounced more than five percent to climb back above that level after slipping on Friday.

Other commodities rallied, with wheat up eight percent, while aluminium and nickel were also sharply higher.

Traders will be closely watching a meeting this week of OPEC and other major producers led by Russia, where they will discuss plans for further output.

The group had agreed previously to increase production gradually each month, but the Ukraine crisis could throw those plans into disarray.

Gold and the yen, go-to assets in times of uncertainty, rose, while the dollar was up against all other currencies.

The euro was under pressure owing to Europe's reliance on Russian energy.

The surge in prices is adding to worries about inflation, which is running at a 40-year high in the United States, with central banks already fighting an uphill battle to get it under control.

The conflict is "likely to boost energy prices significantly, resulting in immediate inflationary effects and a large drag on global growth," Silvia Dall'Angelo, senior economist at Federated Hermes, wrote in a note.

"It's fair to say that the crisis increases the room for central banks' policy mistakes."

On equity markets Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, Singapore and Bangkok were in negative territory, though there were some gains in Sydney, Manila and Wellington.

Pictures: Ukrainian refugee tally tops 368,000 and continues to rise

Volunteers prepare sandwiches
Volunteers prepare sandwiches for refugees crossing the border from Ukraine at the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Siret, Romania. As hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians seek refuge in neighboring countries, cradling children in one arm and clutching belongings in the other, leaders in Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Moldova and Romania are offering a hearty welcome. Image Credit: AP

Biden to hold call with allies to coordinate Ukraine response

US President Joe Biden will hold a secure call with allies and partners on Monday to discuss "developments" in Russia's attack on Ukraine and "coordinate our united response," the White House said.

The administration did not elaborate on who would participate in the call, which will take place at 11:15 am (1615 GMT).

UN General Assembly to hold a rare emergency session

The UN General Assembly will hold a rare emergency session Monday to discuss the conflict, which has claimed dozens of lives and raised fears that it will displace millions of people. Ukraine has also said it had agreed to send a delegation to meet Russian representatives on the border with Belarus, which would be the two sides' first public contact since war erupted.

Rouble tumbles to record low as West steps up Russian sanctions

The Russian rouble tumbled to a record low against the dollar on Monday, after Western nations announced a harsh set of sanctions over the weekend to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, including curbs on the country's currency reserves.

The rouble fell as far as 119.50 per dollar in Asian trading, a record low for the currency and a steep drop of 30% from Friday's close. It subsequently recovered to around 110 per dollar.

Ukraine's President Zelensky says the next 24 hours will be 'crucial'

Ukraine's President Zelensky says the next 24 hours will be "crucial" in a call with the UK's Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Key developments in the last 24 hours

Ukraine forces, backed by Western arms, are stymieing the advance of Russian troops, according to the United States, which has led Western condemnation and a campaign of sanctions.

Putin ordered Sunday Russia's nuclear forces onto high alert in response to what he called "unfriendly" steps by the West. Russia has the world's largest arsenal of nuclear weapons and a huge cache of ballistic missiles.

The United States, the world's second largest nuclear power, slammed Putin's order as "totally unacceptable".

Germany said Putin's nuclear order was because his offensive had "halted" and was not going to plan.

Ahead of the planned talks with Russia and as Ukrainian forces defended key cities, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba voiced defiance.

"We will not capitulate, we will not give up a single inch of our territory," Kuleba said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was sceptical about the talks.

"As always: I do not really believe in the outcome of this meeting, but let them try," he said.

'Brutal' night

On day four of an invasion that stunned the world, Ukrainian forces said Sunday they had defeated a Russian incursion into Ukraine's second city Kharkiv, 500 kilometres east of Kyiv.

A regional official, Oleg Sinegubov, said Kharkiv had been brought under Ukrainian control and the army was expelling Russian forces.

Moscow has made better progress in the south, however, and said it was besieging the cities of Kherson and Berdyansk.

Both are located close to the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014,.

Ukrainian officials said they were fighting off Russian forces in several other areas, and claimed that 4,300 Russian troops had been killed.

In Kyiv, many residents spent another night in shelters or cellars as Ukrainian forces said they were fighting off Russian "sabotage groups".

But Sunday was relatively calm compared to the first days of fighting and the city was under a blanket curfew until Monday morning.

Ukraine has called on its own civilians to fight Russia, with a brewery in Lviv in the country's west switching its production line from beers to bombs, making Molotov cocktails for the volunteer fighters.

Western sources said the intensity of the resistance had apparently caught Moscow by surprise.

Ukraine has reported 198 civilian deaths, including three children, since the invasion began and Russia has acknowledged for the first time that a number of its forces had been killed or injured.

The UN has put the civilian toll at 64 while the EU said more than seven million people could be displaced by the conflict.

'Stand together'

The United States and its allies continued to try and build economic and military pressure.

The US and Europe "need to really stand together... to both the aggressive actions of Russia against Ukraine but also the threatening rhetoric coming from Moscow," said NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.

NATO will deploy its rapid response force for the first time to bolster its eastern flank.

EU member states also closed their airspace to Russian planes and many pledged arms for Ukraine - but stressed they would not themselves intervene militarily.

Brussels also announced it would provide 450 million euros ($500 million) for Ukraine to buy weapons and ban Russian central bank transactions, as well as restricting two Moscow-run media outlets.

SWIFT bank block

The West said it would remove some Russian banks from the SWIFT bank messaging system, and freeze central bank assets.

The Kremlin has brushed off sanctions, including those targeting Putin personally, as a sign of Western impotence.

Swift ban Russia
Image Credit: Seyyed de la Llata, Senior Designer