Delegations from Kyiv and the Kremlin are meeting near the border between Ukraine and Belarus for peace talks on Monday, one day after Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinSuccession’s Brian Cox at SAG Awards: Russian attack on Ukraine is ‘truly, truly awful’ Five things to know about Ukraine’s President Zelensky US urges citizens in Russia to consider leaving ‘immediately’ MORE ordered his country’s nuclear defense systems be put on higher alert.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday also asked for his nation to be admitted to the European Union as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters its fifth day.
Read The Hill’s complete coverage of the latest developments in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine below:
Airbnb announced on Monday that it would offer free, short-term housing to up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine.
The company said that the refugees’ stays would be funded by Airbnb, Inc., donors to the Airbnb.org Refugee Fund, and through hosts on the site.
Company leaders and co-founders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk wrote to European leaders in Poland, Germany, Hungary and Romania to offer support to refugees arriving in their countries.
“While Airbnb.org is committing to facilitate short-term housing for up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine, it will work closely with governments to best support the specific needs in each country, including by providing longer-term stays,” the company’s announcement said.
The announcement comes on the same day that United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi estimated in a tweet that over 500,000 refugees have fled Ukraine into neighboring countries amid the Russian invasion.
Russia has fired upward of 350 missiles at Ukrainian targets since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine started on Thursday, a U.S. defense official told Reuters.
Some of the missiles have struck civilian infrastructure, the news service reported.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said a missile struck an apartment building near the Zhuliany airport on Saturday, according to Al Jazeera.
The new total is a large increase from Thursday, when a senior Defense Department official told reporters that the Kremlin launched “in total more than 160 missiles for airstrikes” from both group- and naval-based platforms. The official said most of the projectiles were short-range ballistic missiles, but noted that the airstrikes included “a mix of medium-range as well as cruise missiles.”
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi announced in a tweet on Monday that more than 500,000 refugees have fled Ukraine into neighboring countries.
Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, long lines of cars and buses were seen at the borders of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova. Other refugees traveled on foot to neighboring countries.
Shabia Mantoo, a UNHCR spokeswoman, told The Associated Press that the latest count included approximately 281,000 Ukrainian refugees in Poland, more than 84,500 in Hungary, roughly 36,400 in Moldova, over 32,500 in Romania and about 30,000 in Slovakia.
A great majority of refugees are likely women and children, as Ukraine has barred men between the ages of 18 to 60 from leaving the country to have them available to fight in the military.
Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces are on high alert after President Vladimir Putin’s order on Sunday, according to the country’s military.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told Putin that all Russian nuclear forces, including the Strategic Missile Forces that manage land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, the Northern and Pacific Fleets that includes submarine-dispatched intercontinental ballistic missiles, and the long-range aviation that is armed with nuclear-capable strategic bombers, were put on high alert, according to The Associated Press.
Shoigu also said that more personnel were added to command posts, the AP noted.
Putin on Sunday ordered his nation’s nuclear defense system to be put on high alert, pointing to what he called “aggressive statements” regarding Russia from top officials in NATO countries.
The AP reported that it is not clear what putting the nuclear forces on high alert entails, but noted that the order has heightened concerns that the Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine could result in higher and more dangerous tensions.
Belarus is expected to send troops into Ukraine, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official.
The unidentified source told The Associated Press that Belarusian troops are expected to join Russian forces in Ukraine as soon as Monday.
Belarus has been supporting Russia in its invasion of Ukraine, the AP noted, though the country has not directly involved itself in the unfolding situation.
The Ukrainian State Border Guard Service announced early Thursday morning, after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a military operation in Ukraine, that Russian troops had attacked Ukraine from Belarus. Additionally, Russia and Belarus extended their military drills days before the invasion, which further heightened fears that Moscow was preparing to invade Ukraine.
News of Belarusian troops likely being sent to Russia came the same day that Ukrainian and Russian officials met for peace talks on the border of Ukraine and Belarus.
The State Department said Monday it has suspended operations at its embassy in Belarus and authorized U.S. diplomats at the embassy in Russia to leave voluntarily.
The move came as tensions rose over Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine.
“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 BlinkenAntony BlinkenLive coverage: Ukraine says 352 civilians dead amid Russian invasion North Korea launches suspected missile in 8th test this year Ukraine’s real-life challenge for democracy MORE said in a statement Monday morning.
The Treasury Department on Monday banned transactions with the Central Bank of Russia and the Russian foreign investment fund, imposing strict financial sanctions on a Russian economy already in free fall.
The new penalties effectively cut the Russian central bank from the U.S. dollar and severely limit Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ability to dampen the blow of previous sanctions.
Ceasefire talks between Ukrainian and Russian officials began on Monday, several days into an invasion launched by Moscow that is still unfolding.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told Reuters in a text message that the ceasefire talks, which are taking place on the Belarusian border, had started.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office previously said that Kyiv had the goal of reaching a ceasefire and compelling Russian forces to leave Ukraine.
President Volodymyr Zelensky is asking for Ukraine to be admitted to the European Union as his country fights off Russian forces amid a full-scale invasion.
“Our goal is to be together with all Europeans and, most importantly, to be on an equal footing,” Zelensky said during a video address, according to the New York Times.
“I’m sure it’s fair,” he added. “I’m sure it’s possible.”
MOSCOW (AP) — Ordinary Russians faced the prospect of higher prices and crimped foreign travel as Western sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine sent the ruble plummeting, leading uneasy people to line up at banks and ATMs on Monday in a country that has seen more than one currency disaster in the post-Soviet era.
The Russian currency plunged about 30 percent against the U.S. dollar Monday after Western nations announced moves to block some Russian banks from the SWIFT international payment system and to restrict Russia’s use of its massive foreign currency reserves. The exchange rate later recovered ground after swift action by Russia’s central bank.
People wary that sanctions would deal a crippling blow to the economy have been flocking to banks and ATMs for days, with reports in social media of long lines and machines running out.
–THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. refugee agency said Monday that more than 500,000 people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded the country last week.
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi gave the estimate in a tweet.
The latest and still growing count had 281,000 people entering Poland, more than 84,500 in Hungary, about 36,400 in Moldova, over 32,500 in Romania and about 30,000 in Slovakia, UNHCR spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo said.
The rest were scattered in unidentified other countries, she said.
–THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Outgunned but determined Ukrainian troops slowed Russia’s advance and held onto the capital and other key cities — at least for now. In the face of stiff resistance and devastating sanctions, President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s nuclear forces put on high alert, threatening to elevate the war to a terrifying new level.
Explosions and gunfire that have disrupted life since the invasion began last week appeared to subside around Kyiv overnight, as Ukrainian and Russian delegations met Monday on Ukraine’s border with Belarus. It’s unclear what, if anything, those talks would yield.
–THE ASSOCIATED PRESS