Russia-Ukraine live updates: Kyiv and Moscow prepare for talks | Russia-Ukraine crisis News

  • High-level talks between Kyiv and Moscow set to take place on the Ukraine-Belarus border.
  • President Volodymyr Zelenskyy calls the next 24 hours “crucial” for Ukraine.
  • Ukraine’s military claims the pace of Russia’s assault has slowed.
  • Civilian death toll now stands at 352 people, including 14 children, Ukraine’s health ministry says.
  • Moscow shifts its nuclear forces to a high alert footing.
    INTERACTIVE Russia-Ukraine map Who controls what in Ukraine DAY 5(Al Jazeera)

Here are all the latest updates:

Ukrainian delegation arrives for talks

Ukrainian officials have arrived for talks with Russia at the Ukraine-Belarus border.

The negotiations are expected to get under way imminently.

Bulgarian defence minister set to be sacked over Ukraine rhetoric

Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov has said he will move to sack the country’s defence minister after his reluctance to describe the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a war prompted calls for his removal.

Petkov said his centrist coalition government will hold talks later on Monday to decide on Stefan Yanev’s dismissal and line up a potential replacement.

China urges calm after Putin puts nuclear forces on high alert

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin has called for all sides to 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.

Beijing has previously called for Russia’s concerns over the eastward expansion of the United States-led NATO military alliance to be addressed.

But in a move that Western countries viewed as an indication of Russia’s international isolation, China abstained from voting on a draft UN Security Council resolution last week that would have deplored Moscow’s invasion, rather than vetoing it.

Ukraine denies Russian troops in control of Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant: Report

Ukraine’s state-run nuclear company Energoatom has denied reports that Russian forces have seized control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, according to a report by the Interfax Ukraine news agency.

Last week Russian forces gained control over the site of the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

Delegations ‘arriving’ for talks

Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull, reporting from the city of Lviv, in western Ukraine, says the talks between Kyiv and Moscow are due to begin in about “two hours”.

“The delegations we understand, are arriving … We don’t know who makes up these delegations but they are described as fairly high-level, though clearly not leader level,” Hull said.

“And they are set to take place on the Ukraine-Belarus border in a place called Pripyat … the so-called ghost town at the centre of the exclusion zone close to the Chernobyl reactor that was abandoned at the time of the disaster there in 1986,” he added.

“Apparently, that is the potentially rather eerie setting for these talks, but it is not clear what the form of the talks is, how long they will last, or indeed what even is on the table.”

Venue for Ukraine-Russia talks ready, Belarusian spokesman says

The venue for upcoming talks between Russia and Ukraine has been readied, Belarusian state-run news agency Belta reports, quoting a spokesman for the country’s foreign ministry.

Anatoly Glaz said the talks will begin as soon as delegations from both sides arrive at the venue, Belta reported.

UK says Russian advance on Kyiv slowed by staunch Ukrainian resistance

Russian forces’ advance on Kyiv has been slowed by logistical failures and fierce Ukrainian resistance, the United Kingdom’s defence ministry says.

“The bulk of Putin’s ground forces remain more than 30km 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.”

Heavy fighting continues around Chernihiv, a city in northern Ukraine, and the northeastern city of Kharkiv, the defence ministry said in an intelligence update posted on Twitter. Both cities remain under Ukrainian control, it added.

Will escalating sanctions shift Fortress Russia? It’s not a given

Experts warn the West’s economic response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may not be enough to force Putin to change course.

“New sanctions are designed to bog Russia down in the long-term, but not to impose enough pain for Putin to pull out of Ukraine” Nikolas Gvosdev, a Russia expert and editor of world affairs journal Orbis, told Al Jazeera.

Read more here.

Ukrainian military service members guard a road that leads to a government block in Kyiv, UkraineUkrainian military service members guard a road that leads to a government block, after Russia attacked Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 24 [Umit Bektas/Reuters]

Ukraine says Russian troops ‘reduced pace of offensive’

The Ukrainian military says Russian troops have slowed down their assault.

“The Russian occupiers have reduced the pace of the offensive, but are still trying to develop success in some areas,” the general staff of the armed forces said.

Vatican says ready to ‘facilitate dialogue’ between Russia and Ukraine

The Vatican is ready to “facilitate dialogue” between Russia and Ukraine to end the war, its top diplomat has said.

Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who ranks second only to the pope in the Vatican hierarchy, told Italian newspapers that “despite the war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine” he was “convinced there is always room for negotiations”.

A woman walks in front of a destroyed building.A woman walks in front of a destroyed building after a Russian missile attack in Vasylkiv, near Kyiv [File: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP]

UK says it is targeting Russian central bank

The United Kingdom says it is taking further measures against the Russian central bank (CBR).

“The UK Government will immediately take all necessary steps to bring into effect restrictions to prohibit any UK natural or legal persons from undertaking financial transactions involving the CBR, the Russian National Wealth Fund, and the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation,” the government said.

Singapore to impose ‘sanctions and restrictions’ on Russia

Singapore intends to impose “appropriate sanctions and restrictions” on Russia, foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan has told the country’s parliament, The Straits Times newspaper reported.

“Singapore intends to act in concert with many other like-minded countries to impose appropriate sanctions and restrictions against Russia,” The Straits Times quoted Balakrishnan as saying.

He said Singapore, a major financial and shipping hub, would impose export controls on items that could be used as weapons to harm or subjugate people in Ukraine, the report said.

S.Korea bans exporting strategic items to Russia, joins SWIFT sanctions

South Korea has decided to tighten export controls against Russia by banning exports of strategic items, and join Western countries’ moves to block some Russian banks from the SWIFT international payments system, Seoul’s foreign ministry said.

Belarus prepares to join Russia invasion on Ukraine: Reports

Belarus is preparing to send soldiers into Ukraine to support Russia’s invasion in a deployment that could begin “within hours”, Ukraine’s Kyiv Independent news website reports, citing unnamed sources.

A US administration official also told the Washington Post that Belarusian forces would Russian troops.

“It’s very clear Minsk is now an extension of the Kremlin,” the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said.

INTERACTIVE- Ukraine Russia head-to-head

Rouble plunges to all-time low against the dollar

The Russian rouble has plummeted to a record low against the US dollar amid an accelerating Western-led campaign to punish Moscow economically.

Read more here.

An infographic details new US sanctions on Russia

UN says Ukraine radioactive waste site struck

The UN nuclear watchdog says missiles have hit a radioactive waste disposal site in Kyiv, but there are no reports of damage to the buildings or indications of a release of radioactive material.

In a statement, International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi said Ukrainian authorities informed his office of the overnight attack and the agency expects to receive the results of on-site radioactive monitoring soon. A day earlier, an electrical transformer at a similar disposal facility in the eastern city of Kharkiv was damaged.

Such facilities typically hold low-level radioactive materials such as waste from hospitals and industry, but Grossi said the two incidents highlight a “very real risk.” He added that if the sites are damaged there could be “potentially severe consequences for human health and the environment”.

Japan: Tokyo working on anti-Russian SWIFT measures

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno says Japan has been asked by Western nations to join in with measures blocking Russia from the SWIFT global payments system and is working with them to make the moves effective.

He said Japan will continue to cooperate with other nations, including the Group of Seven, but declined to comment when asked about sanctions on the Russian central bank.

INTERACTIVE - Sanctions on Russia SWIFT payment network(Al Jazeera)

Biden to discuss Russia’s Ukraine attack with allies on Monday

US President Joe Biden will host a call with allies and partners on Monday morning at 11:15am ET (16:15 GMT) to discuss the latest developments in Russia’s attack on Ukraine and to coordinate a united response, according to the White House.

FINA cancels World Junior Championships in Russia

Swimming’s global governing body FINA has called off the World Junior Swimming Championships that were set to take place in Kazan, Russia, in late August.

“FINA will not be holding any future events in Russia if this grave crisis continues,” the group said in a statement, saying also it had decided to cancel the biennial event after consulting athletes and stakeholders.

Switzerland-based FINA added that it would provide whatever practical support it could to members of the aquatics family impacted by Russia’s invasion.

Russia’s nuclear forces high alert is a ‘psychological ploy’: Analyst

Robert Hunter, a former US ambassador to NATO, said Putin’s decision to put Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert is meant as a warning to the West not to get involved.

“This is a psychological ploy to try to increase his leverage, as he decides how far he wants to go in Ukraine,” Hunter told Al Jazeera.

“I don’t believe it’s a threat at all, because the Russians would have just as much to lose, if not more, if they went in this direction.”

Two media companies in Canada drop Russia’s state TV channel

The two largest media companies in Canada have decided to drop Russian state TV channel RT from their cable offerings.

Rogers spokesman Andrew Garas said Russia Today will no longer be available on its channel lineup as of Monday. The Bell media company also is removing RT.

Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez has commended the action, saying Russia has been conducting warfare in Ukraine since 2014 and information warfare across the world. He added RT is the propaganda arm of Putin’s government that spreads disinformation.

Australia to provide lethal military equipment to Ukraine

The Australian government says it will provide lethal military equipment to Ukraine to help it resist the Russian invasion but gave no details on what material it may be sending.

The move follows an offer on Friday of non-lethal military equipment, medical supplies and a $3m contribution to a NATO trust fund for the country.

Australia has imposed sanctions on more than 350 Russian individuals, including Putin, since Thursday. It has also targeted with sanctions 13 individuals and entities in Belarus, including that country’s defence minister, Viktor Khrenin.INTERACTIVE- NATO members military expenditure

Blasts heard in Kyiv, Kharkiv

Blasts were heard in the capital Kyiv and the major city Kharkiv, Ukraine’s State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection has said.

Kyiv had been quiet for a few hours prior to that, it said in a brief statement on the Telegram messaging app.

Ukraine calls for Russia and Belarus to be expelled from International Tennis Federation

The Ukrainian Tennis Federation has urged the International Tennis Federation to immediately expel Russia and Belarus.

The federation said the action was warranted given Russia and Belarus’ “unprecedented, cynical and bloody” attacks on Ukraine over the past four days.

Belarus votes to give up non-nuclear status

Belarusians voted to allow the country to host nuclear weapons and Russian forces permanently, results have showed, part of a package of constitutional reforms that also extended the rule of leader Alexander Lukashenko.

The agencies cited the Belarus central elections commission as saying 65.2 percent of those who took part voted in favour, while 10.07 percent voted against.

The new constitution could see nuclear weapons on Belarusian soil for the first time since the country gave them up after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Russia’s invasion kills 352 civilians, 14 children

Ukraine’s health ministry said 352 civilians, including 14 children, have been killed since the beginning of Russia’s invasion.

It also said 1,684 people, including 116 children, have been wounded.

NATO, US, must take Putin announcement ‘seriously’: Analyst

Jim Walsh, an expert in international security and a research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Security Studies Program, said NATO and the US have to take Putin’s announcement on placing Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert “seriously”.

“If an adversary goes on nuclear alert, and you are a target of that, then you’re going to begin to make preparations in case your adversary moves higher along the alert chain,” Walsh told Al Jazeera. “But I think politically, it’s hard to believe that anyone takes it seriously,” he said.

“My guess is … that, in particular, people in the Pentagon, military officials, are reaching out to their counterparts in Russia in quiet closed conversations. I think back channel communication, reassurance – that’ll be the main emphasis, at least in the US and in NATO, because there’s obviously no reason for this to escalate into a nuclear war,” he added.

Google temporarily disables Google Maps live traffic data in Ukraine

Alphabet Inc’s Google confirmed it has temporarily disabled in Ukraine some Google Maps tools that provide live information about traffic conditions and how busy different places are.

The company said it took the action for the safety of local communities after consulting with sources, including regional authorities.

European subsidiary of Russia’s Sberbank ‘failing or likely to fail’: ECB

The European subsidiary of Russia’s state-owned Sberbank is likely to fail in the wake of sanctions, the European Central Bank has said.

“The European Central Bank (ECB) has assessed that Sberbank Europe AG and its two subsidiaries in the banking union, Sberbank d.d. in Croatia and Sberbank banka d.d. in Slovenia, are failing or likely to fail owing to a deterioration of their liquidity situation,” the ECB said in a statement.

EU chief says bloc wants Ukraine as a member: ‘They are one of us’

Ukraine belongs in the European Union and the bloc would like to see the country be a part of it in time, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has told Euronews.

“Indeed, over time, they belong to us. They are one of us and we want them in,” Von der Leyen said.

Her comments came hours after the 27-nation EU decided to supply weapons to Ukraine, a first in the bloc’s history.

Satellite images show new military activity

US company Maxar Technologies has released a series of new satellite images that appear to show a large deployment of Russian ground forces, including tanks, moving in the direction of Kyiv, from approximately 64km (40 miles) away.

The images showed a deployment comprised of hundreds of military vehicles and extending more than 5km (3.25 miles).

The convey was northeast of the Ukrainian city of Ivankiv and included fuel, logistics and armored vehicles including tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and self-propelled artillery, Maxar said.

A satellite image shows Russian ground forces northeast of Ivankiv heading in the direction of Kyiv, Ukraine, February 27, 2022.A satellite image shows Russian ground forces heading towards Kyiv, February 27 [Maxar Technologies/Handout via Reuters]

Bolsonaro won’t condemn Putin, says Brazil will remain neutral

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has declined to condemn Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, while departing from his government’s official stance at the UN to say Brazil would remain neutral.

Bolsonaro, a far-right populist, recently snubbed US entreaties not to visit Putin in Moscow ahead of the invasion, and angered Western allies by saying he was “in solidarity with Russia”, without elaborating.

At a press conference, Bolsonaro said Russia and Ukraine were “practically brother nations”. “We will not take sides, we will continue being neutral, and help with whatever is possible,” Bolsonaro said.

Next 24 hours crucial for Ukraine: Zelenskyy tells UK’s Johnson

Zelensyy told the UK prime minister by telephone that the next 24 hours are crucial for Ukraine, according to a Downing Street spokesperson.

Johnson said the UK and its allies would do everything possible to guarantee that defensive aid reached Ukraine, the spokesperson said in a statement.

Ukrainian military says Sunday was difficult for its forces

The general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces described Sunday as “a difficult time” for the military, saying Russian troops “continue shelling in almost all directions”.

In an English-language post on Facebook, the general staff said defence force members in the Vasylkiv military airbase southwest of Kyiv were resisting artillery and other attacks.

Russia-Ukraine talks to begin on Monday morning, says TASS

Talks between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations will begin in the morning on Monday, a source has told Russian news agency TASS.

“It is not a postponement. The meeting will begin in the morning. The reason is the Ukrainian delegation’s logistics,” the source said.

Ukrainian and Russian officials are due to meet for talks at a venue on the Belarus border with Ukraine, Zelenskyy’s office said earlier.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

Read all the updates from Saturday, February 27, here.