The announcement, which came after Zelensky had rejected a Russian offer to hold talks in Belarus, did not specify when the meeting might occur. However, the Kremlin said the talks would take place in the Gomel region, in the south of Belarus; Ukraine previously called talks in a country supporting the invasion a non-starter.
But hostilities remained intense, with street fighting in Ukrainian cities and an announcement from Russian President Vladimir Putin Sunday that he had put his nuclear deterrence forces into high alert, attributing the move to “aggressive statements” from the West against Russia. The White House called the order an example of “manufacturing threats that don’t exist.”
Earlier Sunday, Russian forces pushed into Kharkiv, sparking a battle for control in Ukraine’s second-largest city. By afternoon local time, the city was quieter, with the sounds of bombardment fading from downtown and Kharkiv’s governor announcing the city remained under government control.
Over four days of fighting, the United Nations’ refugee agency said Sunday that 368,000 people have fled Ukraine. In a sign of how the war is quickly upending Europe’s status quo, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a major boost in defense spending, saying it was time to “invest significantly more” in security and protecting democracy.
Here’s what to know
- The Biden administration and its European allies vowed Saturday night to block the Kremlin’s access to its sizable foreign currency reserves in the West and to cut off Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system, a network that connects banks around the world. The actions could send Russia’s financial market into free fall and cripple the Kremlin’s ability to pay for its new war, which has intensified in recent days.
- Russian troops have moved into Ukraine from the north, south and east. Russian successes in the south contrast with difficulties to take Kyiv, which is resisting more than Russia was expecting.
- Zelensky also called on Russia to lose its seat at the United Nations Security Council and said he had spoken with the U.N.’s secretary general, António Guterres, about the possibility.
UNDERSTANDING THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE CONFLICT