Ukraine slows Russian advance underneath shadow of nuclear menace

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KYIV, Ukraine — Outgunned however decided Ukrainian troops slowed Russia’s advance and held onto the capital and different key cities — a minimum of for now. Within the face of stiff resistance and devastating sanctions, President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s nuclear forces placed on excessive alert, threatening to raise the conflict to a terrifying new stage.

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Explosions and gunfire which have disrupted life for the reason that invasion started final week appeared to subside round Kyiv in a single day, as Ukrainian and Russian delegations met Monday on Ukraine’s border with Belarus. It is unclear what, if something, these talks would yield.

Terrified Ukrainian households huddled in shelters, basements or corridors, ready to seek out out. Actual loss of life tolls are unclear, however Ukraine’s president says a minimum of 16 youngsters have been killed and one other 45 wounded, amongst a whole lot, maybe 1000’s, of different casualties. Greater than 500,000 individuals have fled the nation for the reason that invasion, a U.N. official mentioned Monday — among the many hundreds of thousands who’ve left their properties.

Russia’s Central Financial institution scrambled to shore up the tanking ruble Monday and the U.S. and European international locations upped weapons shipments to Ukraine. Whereas they hope to curb Putin’s aggression after he unleashed Europe’s greatest battle since World Battle II, the measures additionally risked pushing an more and more cornered Putin nearer to the sting.

“I sit and pray for these negotiations to finish efficiently, in order that they attain an settlement to finish the slaughter, and so there is no such thing as a extra conflict,” mentioned Alexandra Mikhailova, weeping as she clutched her cat in a makeshift shelter within the strategic southeastern Ukrainian metropolis of Mariupol. Round her, dad and mom sought to console youngsters and preserve them heat.

In Kyiv, lengthy traces shaped exterior supermarkets on Monday as residents have been allowed out of bomb shelters and houses for the primary time since a curfew imposed Saturday.

The relative lull in warfare Monday morning in Ukraine was unlikely to final.

Neighboring Belarus might ship troops to assist Russia as quickly as Monday, in accordance with a senior American intelligence official with direct information of present U.S. intelligence assessments. The official spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of he was not approved to talk publicly.

U.S. officers say they imagine the invasion has been harder, and slower, than the Kremlin envisioned, although that would change as Moscow adapts. The British Protection Ministry mentioned Monday that the majority of Putin’s forces are about 30 kilometers (20 miles) north of Kyiv, their advance having been slowed by Ukrainian forces.

Western nations ramped up the stress with a freeze on Russia’s arduous foreign money reserves, threatening to carry Russia’s economic system to its knees. Russians withdrew financial savings and sought to shed rubles for {dollars} and euros, whereas Russian companies scrambled to guard their funds.

Along with sanctions, the U.S. and Germany introduced they are going to ship Stinger missiles to Ukraine amongst different army provides. The European Union — based to make sure peace on the continent after World Battle II — is supplying deadly assist for the primary time, together with fighter jets.

EU protection ministers have been to fulfill Monday to debate the way to get the pledged weaponry into Ukraine. Germany’s protection minister mentioned with out elaborating that her nation has “channels and prospects” to try this, and a trainload of Czech tools arrived Sunday. Blocking these shipments will clearly be a key Russian precedence.

It stays to be seen how a lot the weaponry will assist Ukraine fend off Russia’s vastly higher arsenal.

The more and more erratic Putin made a transparent hyperlink between ever-tightening sanctions and his choice Sunday to boost Russia’s nuclear posture. He additionally pointed at “aggressive statements” by NATO as a cause for his transfer, a reference to his long-running stance that the U.S.-led alliance is an existential menace to Russia.

U.S. and British officers performed down Putin’s nuclear menace, and its sensible which means was not instantly clear. Russia and the USA sometimes have land- and submarine-based nuclear forces which are ready for fight always, however nuclear-capable bombers and different plane are usually not.

A tiny sliver of hope emerged as talks started between Ukrainian and Russian officers Monday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s workplace mentioned it could demand a direct cease-fire.

Whereas Ukraine despatched its protection minister and different high officers, the Russian delegation is led by Putin’s adviser on tradition — an unlikely envoy for ending the conflict and an indication of how Moscow views the talks. It wasn’t instantly clear what Putin is looking for within the talks or from the conflict itself.

Western officers imagine Putin desires to overthrow Ukraine’s authorities and exchange it with a regime of his personal, reviving Moscow’s Chilly Battle-era affect. His feedback Sunday raised fears that the invasion of Ukraine might result in nuclear conflict, whether or not by design or mistake.

In New York, the 193-member U.N. Normal Meeting scheduled an emergency session Monday on Russia’s invasion.

With the Ukrainian capital besieged, the Russian army supplied to permit residents to go away Kyiv by way of a secure hall, elevating fears an extra onslaught is coming. The mayor of the town of practically 3 million had earlier expressed doubt that civilians may very well be evacuated. Authorities have been handing out weapons to anybody keen to defend the town. Ukraine can be releasing prisoners with army expertise who need to struggle, and coaching individuals to make firebombs.

Battles additionally broke out in Ukraine’s second-largest metropolis, Kharkiv, and strategic ports within the nation’s south got here underneath assault from Russian forces. Mariupol, a strategic port metropolis on the Sea of Azov, is “hanging on,” mentioned Zelenskyy adviser Oleksiy Arestovich.

The Russian army claimed Monday it had taken full management of Ukraine’s airspace after showering its air bases and air protection batteries with air and missile strikes. However an analogous declare on the primary day of the invasion turned out to be unfaithful, and U.S. officers mentioned Sunday that Moscow has failed to totally management Ukrainian skies.

In Mariupol, the place Ukrainians have been making an attempt to fend off assault, a medical group at a metropolis hospital desperately tried to revive a 6-year-old woman in unicorn pajamas who was mortally wounded in Russian shelling.

In the course of the rescue try, a physician in blue medical scrubs, pumping oxygen into the woman, seemed instantly into the Related Press video digital camera capturing the scene.

“Present this to Putin,” he mentioned angrily. “The eyes of this baby, and crying medical doctors.”

Their resuscitation efforts failed, and the woman lay lifeless on a gurney, lined by her blood-splattered jacket.

Practically 900 kilometers (560 miles) away, Faina Bystritska was underneath menace within the metropolis of Chernihiv.

“I want I had by no means lived to see this,” mentioned Bystritska, an 87-year-old Jewish survivor of World Battle II. She mentioned sirens blare virtually continuously within the metropolis, about 150 kilometers (90 miles) from Kyiv.

Amongst Western sanctions is a freeze on Russia’s arduous foreign money reserves, which Putin had constructed up lately to extend the nation’s financial independence. The unprecedented transfer might have devastating penalties for the nation’s monetary system.

The U.S., European Union and Britain additionally agreed to dam chosen Russian banks from the SWIFT system, which facilitates shifting cash round 1000’s of banks and different monetary establishments worldwide.

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Isachenkov and Litvinova reported from Moscow. Ellen Knickmeyer, Eric Tucker, Robert Burns and Hope Yen in Washington; James LaPorta in Miami; Francesca Ebel, Josef Federman and Andrew Drake in Kyiv; Mstyslav Chernov and Nic Dumitrache in Mariupol, Ukraine; and different AP journalists from all over the world contributed to this report.

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Observe the AP’s protection of the Ukraine disaster at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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