There was calm in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday. But gunfire and explosions were heard in eastern Ukraine, where Russia’s invasion met with unexpectedly strong resistance.
As a massive military convoy moved toward Kyiv, the Russian military attack on Ukraine entered its fifth day. A Ukrainian delegation met with Russian officials near the border to Belarus. However, they did not reach any agreements other than to continue talking. Emmanuel Macron, the French President, called Putin to urge him to halt this offensive.
The ruble plunged due to Western sanctions, prompting ordinary Russians lined up at ATMs and banks. The Russian soccer teams were also banned from any international matches, even qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup. This pushed the country towards sports pariah status.
WHAT’S GOING ON AT THE GROUND?
The determined, outgunned troops of Kyiv slowed Russia’s advance and resisted the Russian attack . They also retained the capital and other important cities, at least for the moment.
Officials from the United States believe that the invasion was harder than the Kremlin intended. However, this could change as Moscow adapts.
Many blasts could be heard in Kyiv as talks between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations were wrapping up close to the Belarusian border.
The Russian troops are slowly moving on the capital of almost 3 million people. According to satellite imagery provided by Maxar, a convoy of hundreds of tanks, armored vehicles and support vehicles travelled 17 miles (25 km) from Kyiv’s center. These images also showed signs of fighting, including vehicles that were destroyed and a bridge that was damaged.
HOW DO ORDINARY UKRAINIANS COPE?
As residents were permitted out of their bomb shelters, and homes for the first-time since Saturday’s curfew, long lines formed outside Kyiv’s supermarkets. Some people found food while others did not.
Many thousands of civilians sought safety in Kyiv’s subway system at night. There are also other shelters that exist around the country where they can calm their fears. Despite all the difficulties, including lack of privacy, Ukrainians tried to be brave.
It’s more difficult for soldiers at war. It’s embarrassing to complain of the icy floor and drafts and terrible toilets,” stated Irina, a 74-year old woman who sought safety at a Kyiv underground station. She refused to give her last name. Anton, her grandson, is fighting in eastern Ukraine.
According to Ukrainian authorities, at least seven people were killed in fighting in Kharkiv. Several others were hurt in the conflict. Social media videos show apartment buildings being bombarded. They cautioned that actual numbers could be higher.
Michelle Bachelet, U.N. human rights chief, stated that her office confirmed that 102 civilians were killed in the Russian invasion, seven of them children, and that 304 more were wounded since Thursday. However, she warned that the total was likely to be a large undercount.
ISN’T THERE A CHANCE OF DIPLOMACY?
Monday’s meeting saw Russian and Ukrainian delegations meet to discuss Ukraine’s border with Belarus. Although there were no immediate reports of any agreements, MykhailoPodolyak (a top advisor to the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy) said that further discussions could be held “in the near future.”
Zelenskyy’s Office stated that Ukraine would require an immediate cease-fire before the meeting.
The Ukrainian defense minister and other top officials were sent to Ukraine, but the Russian delegation was led in Moscow by Vladimir Medinsky, Putin’s cultural advisor. This unlikely envoy was crucial for the end of the war and shows how Moscow views the talks.
Medinsky stated that both sides had “found certain points upon which common positions could possibly be foreseen.” He added that the talks on the Polish-Belarusian border would continue in the days ahead.
Western officials believe Putin is trying to overthrow Ukraine’s government and replace it by a more compliant one, reinforcing Moscow’s Cold War-era power. These comments raise fears that an invasion of Ukraine could result in nuclear war, either by mistake or design.
According to the French presidency, Macron spoke with Putin by phone for 90 minutes on Monday afternoon. According to the French presidency, Putin said that he was willing to “commit” to stop all strikes against civilians or residential areas as well as to preserve civilian facilities. Macron asked him for an immediate cease-fire and reiterated his desire to stop the military offensive in Ukraine.
WOULD UKRAINE LIKE TO JOIN EUROPEAN UNION
Zelenskyy submitted Monday a request to the European Union for Ukraine to be admitted to the 27-nation European Union. This was a tactic sure to anger the Kremlin.
His office posted online photos of him signing the application. It said that the paperwork was currently being shipped to Brussels, the EU’s headquarters. This was symbolic as Ukraine is still far from meeting EU membership standards. The bloc is also expansion-weary and is unlikely to accept new members any time soon.
WHAT IS GOING ON WITH UNITED NATIONS?
The two largest U.N. bodies, the 193-nation General Assembly (with 15 members) and the more powerful Security Council (15-members), were holding separate meetingsMondays to discuss war.
The opening news of the United States’ expulsion from the U.N. 12 diplomats from Russia, Washington claims is spying, was the start of the council meeting.
The International Criminal Court’s chief procuror stated that he will open an investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraine and crimes against humanity “as quickly as possible”. Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, stated that the investigation will focus on crimes committed prior to the Russian invasion but also that it will investigate any new crimes either side may have committed since then.
WHAT ARE THE RANDOM OPPORTUNITIES TO GO TO UKRAINE?
Filippo Grandi, U.N. High Commission for Refugees, stated that more than 520,000 people had fled Ukraine, and that this number has been “increasing exponentially, hour by hour.”
He said that the U.N. expected the total to rise to 4 million within the next few weeks.
Shabia Mantoo, UNHCR spokesperson, stated that the total count included 281,000 people in Poland, more over 84,500 in Hungary and 36,400 in Moldova. She also said that the count includes 32,500 in Romania, and around 30,000 in Slovakia. She said that the rest were scattered to other countries.
WHAT ABOUT THE ECONOMIC FALLOUT OF INVASION?
After Western countries moved to block certain Russian banks from the SWIFT international payments system, and to limit Russia’s use its vast foreign currency reserves, the Russian currency fell around 30% against the U.S. Dollar on Monday. After swift actions by Russia’s central banks, the ruble recovered some ground. All day, the Moscow stock exchange was shut down
The U.S. Treasury Department has announced new sanctions against the Russian central bank as well as state investment funds. The move effectively blocks any assets held by Americans or Russian central bank assets in the United States, it said.
Monday’s official sanctions by the EU were imposed on 26 additional Russians. This includes oligarchs and senior officials as well as an energy insurance company. The total number of those targeted now stands at 680. 53 Russian entities are also being targeted by EU sanctions. These entities include banks, companies, and agencies.
The president of neutral Switzerland stated that his country would follow the EU’s sanctions against Russia, which include asset freezes. This will essentially block well-off Russians from having access to their safe havens to store money.
People in Russia have been flocking for days to ATMs and banks to exchange rubles for dollars, euros, or dollars. Social media reports show that there are long lines and machines running low.
Analysts and economists believe that a sharp decline in the ruble will lead to a decrease in the standard living standards for average Russians. Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson, described the new sanctions Monday as “heavy” but claimed that Russia has the ability to compensate for the damage.
WHAT ARE THE WORLD SPORTS BODY’S VIEWS ON RUSSIA?
World soccer body FIFA and European soccer authority UEFA have banned Russian national and club teams from their competitions. This was “until further notice.” Russia had been due to participate in World Cup qualifying playoffs within three weeks.
After the International Olympic Committee forced dozens of sports governing boards to expel Russian and Belarusian athletes from international events, this was the first time that such a high-level punishment for sports and politics had been seen in decades. This was required to protect the integrity of international sports competitions as well as the safety of all participants, according to the IOC.
Russia should be denied a place on the international stage. This will cause a psychological and financial blow to Russia, as well as tarnish its image of elite sports powerhouse.