Russia-Ukraine talks due; Zelenskyy says next 24 hours ‘crucial’

  • Talks between Ukraine and Russia are due to begin on Monday morning near the Belarusian border, reports TASS news agency.
  • Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tells British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the next 24 hours are a “crucial period” for Ukraine.
  • Ukraine’s military says Sunday was a “difficult time” for its troops and that Russian forces “continue shelling in almost all directions”.
  • Ukraine’s health ministry says 352 civilians, including 14 children, have been killed since the beginning of Russia’s invasion.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has put Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert.
  • Kharkiv governor says Ukrainian troops have full control of the country’s second-largest city after street fighting with Russian forces.
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Here are all the latest updates:

Putting Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert is ‘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 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.

“This is psychological warfare, 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 RT, 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 regime that spreads disinformation.

Australia will provide lethal military equipment to Ukraine

The Australian government has announced it will provide lethal military equipment to Ukraine to help the Ukrainians resist the Russian invasion.

The announcement 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 support of 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 defense minister, Viktor Khrenin.INTERACTIVE- NATO members military expenditure

Blasts heard in Ukraine’s Kyiv, Kharkiv

Blasts were heard in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and in the major city of 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 has said 352 civilians, including 14 children, have been killed since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Thursday.

It also said that 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 be to escalate into a nuclear war and less, one side just miscalculates misreads makes mistakes,” he added.

“So, communication will be one of the main ways to respond to this.”

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 which provide live information about traffic conditions and how busy different places are.

The company said it had taken the action for the safety of local communities in the country, 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 the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, from approximately 64km (40 miles) away.

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

The convey was situated northeast of the Ukrainian city of Ivankiv and contained 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 northeast of Ivankiv heading in the direction of Kyiv, Ukraine, February 27, 2022 [Maxar Technologies/Handout via Reuters]

INTERACTIVE- Ukraine Russia head-to-head

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

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has declined to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, while departing from his government’s official stance at the United Nations 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 Brazil will remain neutral in the conflict, noting 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. “A big part of Ukraine’s population speaks Russian.”

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

Zelensyy told UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson 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 air base south west of Kyiv were resisting artillery strikes and Russian 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 Belarusian 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.

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