Russia-Ukraine news live: Putin puts Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces on alert; Russians enter Ukraine’s 2nd-largest city Kharkiv

KIEV, Ukraine – President Vladimir Putin has ordered Russian nuclear deterrents to sound the alarm amid tensions with the West over its invasion of Ukraine.

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

Putin has ordered the Russian Defense Minister and the chief of the General Staff of the army to put the nuclear deterrent forces in a “special combat 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 threatened this week that he would respond harshly to any nations that intervened immediately in the conflict in Ukraine.

This is an emergency update. An earlier version of this report is below.

Street battles broke out in Ukraine’s second largest city and Russian troops tightened strategic ports in the south of the country on Sunday, advances that seemed to signal a new phase of the Russian invasion following a wave of attacks on airports and fuel facilities elsewhere. .

The capital, Kiev, was terribly quiet after huge explosions lit up the morning sky and authorities reported explosions at one of the airports. Only one occasional car appeared on a deserted central boulevard as a strict 39-hour curfew kept people off the streets. Terrified residents were instead chased into houses, underground garages and subway stations in anticipation of a full-scale Russian attack.

“Last night was hard – more bombing, more bombing of residential areas and civilian infrastructure,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. “There is not a single facility in the country that the occupiers do not consider acceptable targets.”

SEE: The fighting in Ukraine creates a humanitarian crisis in the country

Following its gains east of the city of Kharkov and multiple ports, Russia sent a delegation to Belarus for peace talks with Ukraine, according to the Kremlin. Zelensky suggested other locations, saying his country was reluctant to meet in Belarus because it served as a backdrop for the invasion.

As of Sunday, Russian troops remained on the outskirts of Kharkov, a city of 1.4 million about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) south of the Russian border, while other forces crossed in to push deeper into Ukraine.

Videos posted on Ukrainian media and social networks showed Russian vehicles moving in Kharkov and Russian troops roaming the city in small groups. One showed Ukrainian troops firing on the Russians and destroying abandoned Russian light utility vehicles that had been abandoned nearby.

The images underscored the resolute resistance faced by Russian troops as they tried to enter Ukraine’s largest cities. The Ukrainians volunteered en masse to help defend the capital, Kiev, and other cities, taking up arms distributed by the authorities and preparing bombs to fight Russian forces.

The Ukrainian government is also releasing prisoners with military experience who want to fight for the country, a prosecutor’s official, Andriy Sinyuk, told Hromadske television on Sunday. He did not specify whether the move concerned detainees convicted of all levels of crime.

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, redesigning the map of Europe and reviving Moscow’s influence. Cold War.

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

Pressure on strategic ports in southern Ukraine appeared to be aimed at seizing control of the country’s coastline, which stretches from the border with Romania to the west to the border with Russia to the east. A spokesman for Russia’s Defense Ministry, Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, said Russian forces had cordoned off the Black Sea cities of Kherson and the port of Berdyansk in the Sea of ​​Azov.

He said Russian forces had also taken control of an air base near Kherson and the city of Henichesk in the Sea of ​​Azov. Ukrainian authorities also reported fighting near Odessa, Mykolaiv and other areas.

Cutting off Ukraine’s access to its seaports would deal a significant blow to the country’s economy. It could also allow Moscow to build a land route to Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014 and has so far been connected to Russia by a 19-kilometer bridge, the largest bridge in Europe that opened in 2018.

Flames erupted from an oil depot near an air base in Vasylkiv, a town 37 kilometers (23 miles) south of Kiev where heavy fighting broke out, according to the mayor. Russian forces have blown up a gas pipeline in Kharkov, prompting the government to warn people to cover their windows with a damp cloth or gauze to protect them from smoke, the president’s office said.

The Ukrainian military deputy commander Lieutenant General. Yevhen Moisiuk heard a provocative note in a message aimed at Russian troops.

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

The number of casualties so far from Europe’s largest land conflict since World War II remains unclear amid the fog of battle.

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 casualties for both the military and civilians. Russia has not released any casualties.

Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN, Sergiy Kyslytsya, wrote on Twitter on Saturday that Ukraine had called on the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to “facilitate the repatriation of thousands of Russian soldiers”. An accompanying diagram claimed that 3,500 Russian soldiers had been killed.

Laetitia Courtois, the UN’s permanent observer at the UN, told the Associated Press that the situation in Ukraine was “a constraint on our ground teams” and “therefore we can not confirm numbers or other details.”

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

Zelensky denounced the Russian attack as “state terrorism.” He said attacks on Ukrainian cities should be investigated by an international war crimes tribunal and cost Russia its position as one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

“Russia has taken the path of evil and the people should go so far as to deprive it of its seat on the UN Security Council,” he said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peshkov said a Russian delegation of military officials and diplomats had arrived in the Belarusian city of Gomel on Sunday for talks with Ukraine. Zelensky offered on Friday to negotiate a key Russian demand: the abandonment of NATO aspirations.

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

“Warsaw, Bratislava, Budapest, Istanbul, Baku, we have offered everything to the Russian side and we will accept any other city in a country that has not been used for rocket fire,” Zelensky said. “Only then could the talks be honest and put an end to the war.”

Peshkov claimed that Ukraine had proposed holding talks in Gomel. He added that Russian military action was continuing in anticipation of the start of talks.

Zelenskyy’s adviser Mykhailo Podolyak rejected Moscow’s offer as a “manipulation”, adding that Ukraine had not agreed to talks in the Belarusian city.

As Russia launches its offensive, the West is working to equip large numbers of Ukrainian forces with weapons and ammunition, while punishing Russia with extensive sanctions aimed at further isolating Moscow.

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

ATTENTION: Ukrainian-Americans furious, scared after Putin’s military action

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

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

German Chancellor Olaf Solz, meanwhile, said Sunday that his country is committing € 100 billion ($ 112.7 billion) to a special fund for its armed forces, increasing its defense spending by more than 2% of gross domestic product. Product. Scholz told a special Bundestag meeting that the investment was necessary “to protect our freedom and our democracy”.

Putin sent troops to Ukraine after denying for weeks that he intended to do so, while creating a force of 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 aspires to join. But it has 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 damaged bridges, schools and residential neighborhoods.

Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, said Ukraine was gathering evidence of bombings in residential areas, kindergartens and hospitals to bring to the International Criminal Court in The Hague as possible crimes against humanity. The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said that he is closely monitoring the conflict.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Tras 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 Russia to seek to use even worse weapons,” Tras told Sky News.


Isachenkov reported from Moscow and Miller from Washington. Francesca Ebel, Josef Federman and Andrew Drake in Kiev. Mstyslav Chernov and Nic Dumitrache in Mariupol, Ukraine. and other AP journalists from around the world contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Russia-Ukraine news live: Putin puts Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces on alert; Russians enter Ukraine’s 2nd-largest city Kharkiv Source link Russia-Ukraine news live: Putin puts Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces on alert; Russians enter Ukraine’s 2nd-largest city Kharkiv

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