Russia attacks Ukraine: 1st UN General Assembly emergency session in 40 years set

Ukraine’s forces, outnumbered and outgunned, continued to battle with Russian troops for a fourth day on Sunday.

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Russian troops entered Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine, where fighting spilled into the streets of the northeastern Ukraine city as soldiers and volunteers put up a stubborn defense. A fuel depot located in the city’s southern outskirts was bombed early Sunday, sending up large flames and plumes of smoke.

By daybreak Monday, Kyiv remained under Ukraine control, despite a reported direct rocket hit on a radioactive waste disposal site in the capital city.

Peace talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials did not proceed as planned as fighting intensified, and at least one coastal city along the Black Sea in the south was seized by Russian troops.

Meanwhile, Russian President Putin ordered the country’s nuclear-deterrence forces to be put on alert; the European Union agreed for the first time in history to finance the purchase and delivery of weapons; and the EU banned Russian planes from its airspace.

Here are the latest updates:

Russian troops seize Ukraine city of Berdyansk

Update 11:12 p.m. EST Feb. 27: The southern Ukrainian city of Berdyansk is now in Russian control, according to its mayor, the BBC reported late Sunday.

Mayor Alexander Svidlo said in a Facebook video that Russian troops entered the city just before 3 p.m. local time Sunday. By 8 p.m. local time, the soldiers had entered city hall, the BBC reported.

The Russians, Svidlo said, “informed us that all administrative buildings were under their control and that they were taking control of the executive committee building.”

“But under the control of armed men, I consider this proposal unacceptable. So we, as all members of the operational headquarters, left the building of the executive committee,” he added.

The coastal city on the Black Sea contains a small naval base and is home to about 100,000 Ukrainians, the BBC reported.

UN watchdog: Missiles have struck radioactive waste disposal site in Kyiv

Update 11:01 p.m. EST Feb. 27: The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog says missiles struck a radioactive waste disposal site in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv overnight.

Despite the hit, there are no reports of damage to the buildings or indications of a release of radioactive material, The Associated Press reported.

In a statement issued late Sunday, International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi said that Ukrainian authorities informed his office about the overnight strike. Results of on-site radioactive monitoring are pending, he added.

The report came a day after an electrical transformer at a similar disposal facility in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv was damaged, the AP reported.

Rocket hits residential building in city of Chernihiv

Update 10:54 p.m. EST Feb. 27: As daylight broke in Ukraine, the country’s State Service of Special Communications confirmed that a rocket struck a residential building in the city of Chernihiv, about 93 miles northeast of Kyiv.

According to The Guardian, the agency issued the following statement on the Telegram messaging app: “A rocket hit a residential building in the centre of Chernihiv. A fire broke out, two lower floors are on fire. The number of injured is currently unknown.”

The development follows reports from The Kyiv Independent newspaper of an air raid alert that sounded in the city about an hour earlier, urging residents to find shelter. The newspaper later reported that one woman was injured in the residential blast.

Biden to discuss Ukraine with US allies on Monday call

Update 10:41 p.m. EST Feb. 27: U.S. President Joe Biden will hold a call with U.S. allies on Monday morning to discuss the situation in Ukraine and their coordinated response, CNN reported, citing an official White House schedule.

The call will take place at 11:15 a.m. EST, the network confirmed.

1st emergency special session of UN General Assembly in 40 years called

Update 10:26 p.m. EST Feb. 27: For the first time since 1982, the United Nations Security Council has called for a special session of the United Nations General Assembly to be held on Monday.

Russia was the only voting nation to oppose the measure in the 11-to-1 vote, while China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstained, The Guardian reported.

Google Maps suspends live traffic feature in Ukraine

Update 10:14 p.m. EST Feb. 27: Google Maps disabled two real-time features in Ukraine, the company confirmed to CNN late Sunday.

According to the network, the blocked features include Google Maps’ live traffic overlay, “a feature some researchers have used to monitor the conflict from afar,” as well as Live Busyness, which “displays how popular a location may be at a given time.”

Google stated that the changes were made in an effort to help keep Ukrainians safe.

Satellite images show craters from shelling in Kharkiv

Update 9:33 p.m. EST Feb. 27: The BBC shared images late Sunday provided by global satellite monitoring company BlackSky that show craters dotting the landscape of Kharkiv, following intensive shelling in the northwestern Ukraine city.

The craters from artillery fire can be seen near residential areas in the satellite image taken on Sunday afternoon, the BBC reported.

Despite the Russian assault, which included the predawn decimation of a natural gas pipeline in the city, authorities confirmed to the BBC late Sunday that Kharkiv remained under Ukraine control.

Rouble crashes 30% as market opens

Update 9:20 p.m. EST Feb. 27: The rouble plunged nearly 30% to an all-time low versus the U.S. dollar on Monday as markets opened for trading on the first day after western nations imposed economic sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, The Guardian reported.

The sanctions include blocking some Russian banks from the Swift international payments system, leading investors to anticipate a run on the Russian currency as people try to change their money for dollars and other denominations.

Canada sending Ukraine nearly $20M in military gear

Update 8:49 p.m. EST Feb. 27: Canada’s federal government will provide Ukraine with roughly $19.6 million in non-lethal military gear, the BBC reported.

According to the network, the Canadian gear will include helmets, body armor, gas masks and night-vision gear.

Canada has already delivered nearly $5.5 million in weapons to Ukraine, in a bid to help the country thwart a Russian invasion that will soon enter its fifth consecutive day of fighting.

According to the BBC, however, Canada’s Defence Minister Anita Anand said Sunday that deploying Canadian troops on a combat mission to Ukraine was “not on the table” for Canada or its NATO allies.

With some 1.3 million Ukrainian-Canadians, Canada has the third-largest Ukrainian population in the world, behind Ukraine and Russia, the BBC reported.

UK sending additional $53M in humanitarian aid to Ukraine

Update 8:38 p.m. EST Feb. 27: The United Kingdom will provide an additional $53 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine amid the ongoing Russian invasion of the country, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office confirmed late Sunday to CNN.

The expanded aid was approved following Johnson’s Sunday evening phone conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and meetings throughout the weekend with Ukrainian community leaders in London over the weekend.

According to a news release, obtained by the network, the funding will help “aid agencies respond to the deteriorating humanitarian situation, creating a lifeline for Ukrainians with access to basic necessities and medical supplies such as medicines, syringes, dressings and wound care packs.”

Meanwhile, Johnson also stated Sunday that “any person settled in the U.K. will be able to bring their Ukrainian immediate family members to join them here,” CNN reported.

According to the news release, the U.K. has pledged $186 million in aid to Ukraine in 2022 to date.

Zelenskyy: Next 24 hours crucial for Ukraine

Update 8:26 p.m. EST Feb. 27: In a Sunday night phone call with United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he believes the next 24 hours will be a crucial period for Ukraine as fighting continues across the country, the BBC reported.

A U.K. government spokesperson confirmed to the network that during the call Johnson praised Zelenskyy’s leadership in the days since Russia’s invasion, vowing that the U.K. will continue doing all it can to ensure defensive aid continues flowing.

Map shows latest Russian troop movements in Ukraine

Update 8:12 p.m. EST Feb. 27: Russian troops have moved further into Ukraine from the north, south and east of the country on Sunday.

According to The Washington Post, Russian forces pushed into Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, earlier in the day, but by 6 p.m. EST it remained under Ukrainian control. The photo illustration below, created by the Post, shows the latest confirmed Russian troop movements.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has stated that Russia is facing more resistance in the capital of Kyiv than anticipated, the Post reported.

Death toll rising in Ukraine, interior ministry says

Update 7:48 p.m. EST Feb. 27: Ukraine’s interior ministry stated Sunday via social media that 352 Ukrainian civilians have been killed during Russia’s invasion, including 14 children, The Guardian reported.

The ministry also stated that nearly 1,700 additional people, including 116 children, have been wounded during the assaults.

Meanwhile, Ukraine has claimed that 4,300 Russian soldiers have been killed since the invasion began, but those numbers have not been verified, the BBC reported.

Tours extended for 4K-plus US troops deployed in Europe

Update 7:34 p.m. EST Feb. 27: More than 4,000 US Army troops who were deployed to Europe on a temporary basis will now have their tours of duty extended temporarily as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, CNN reported.

According to the network, the 1st Armored Brigade Combat team of the 1st Infantry Division had been scheduled to return stateside next month following a nine-month European tour, but will now stay and “continue training and deterrence missions” with eastern European allies that could include Poland, Romania and the Baltics.

“I don’t want to speculate on a timeline, but be assured it will only be for as long as they are needed,” John Tomassi, a spokesperson for the Army in Europe, told CNN via email.

“The deployment of ready, combat-credible US forces to Europe in support US Army Europe and Africa is evidence of the strong and unremitting US commitment to NATO and Europe,” Tomassi said in a statement confirming the details, obtained by CNN.

“As we continually assess changes in the strategic and operational environment, select units have been extended to provide the forces needed to augment our NATO allies and partners. The units that have been extended provide unique skills and reinforce our role of supporting our NATO allies and partners capable, ready and resilient forces. While we understand the toll this extension takes on not only our soldiers, but also their families, we as a nation must remain committed to the security of Europe. Our presence reinforces our ironclad commitment to NATO, assures our allies and deters future aggression.”

Moscow braces for minimum 25% rouble crash as new sanctions hit

Update 7:22 p.m. EST Feb. 27: Bankers in Moscow are preparing for Monday morning panic after U.S. and European sanctions announced over the weekend take effect.

As markets open Monday morning, the rouble is expected to plummet beyond the 20% plunge already registered, The Guardian reported, noting that the latest sanctions target the Russian central bank, which intervened to prop up the rouble’s value after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Thursday order to invade Ukraine.

Read the complete report.

Ukraine claims drone attacks successful against Russian forces

Update 7:10 p.m. EST Feb. 27: The Ukrainian military claimed successful attacks by its Turkish-made drone fleet against Russian forces on Sunday.

According to CNN, the Armed Forces of Ukraine released footage showing the destruction of armor by a drone, stating the attack was carried out against a Russian BUK surface-to-air missile system.

Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the Armed Forces commander-in-chief, later confirmed that the drone attack took place near the town of Malyn, about 62 miles northwest of Kyiv, CNN reported.

US State Department details $54M in humanitarian aid to Ukraine

Update 7:03 p.m. EST Feb. 27: The U.S. State Department finalized plans early Sunday evening to provide nearly $54 million “in humanitarian assistance to those affected by Russia’s further invasion.”

According to a news release, the funding includes nearly $26 million from the U.S. Department of State and $28 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

US sending anti-aircraft Stingers to Ukraine

Update 5:37 p.m. EST Feb. 27: The U.S. has approved the direct delivery of Stinger missiles to Ukraine as part of a package that was approved by the White House on Friday, according to The Associated Press.

It is uncertain when the weapons will be delivered, but officials, who asked for anonymity, said the U.S. is working on the details of completing the shipment, according to the AP.

The highly accurate Stingers are used to shoot down helicopters and other aircraft, the news outlet reported.

Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively to match up to $1M in donations

Update 5:18 p.m. EST Feb. 27: Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively have promised to match up to $1 million in aid to Ukrainians displaced by Russia’s invasion of their country.

Reynolds, 45, issued the public plea for donations benefiting Ukrainian refugees on Twitter.

“In 48 hours, countless Ukrainians were forced to flee their homes to neighboring countries. They need protection. When you donate, we’ll match it up to $1,000,000, creating double the support,” Reynolds said in a retweet of the USA for UNHCR account.

Green Day cancels concert in Russia

Update 5:01 p.m. EST Feb. 27: Green Day became the highest-profile North American entertainment act to cancel a Russian concert date, canceling a May 29 date scheduled for Moscow.

The California-based group decided to cancel its upcoming concert at Spartak Stadium in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion into Ukraine, Variety and Rolling Stone reported.

>> Green Day cancels stadium concert in Moscow

“With heavy hearts, in light of current events we feel it is necessary to cancel our upcoming show in Moscow at Spartak Stadium,” the band said in a statement. “We are aware that this moment is not about stadium rock shows, it’s much bigger than that. But we also know that rock ‘n’ roll is forever and we feel confident there will be a time and a place for us to return in the future. Stay safe.”

Russia confirms casualties

Update 4:24 p.m. EST Feb. 27: A Russian official confirmed that the country has suffered casualties since the attack on Ukraine began on Thursday, but did not give specific numbers, The Washington Post reported.

“Unfortunately, some of our comrades have been killed or injured,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said at a news briefing, according to Interfax, an independent news agency in Russia.

According to Interfax, Konashenkov said “our losses are many times less than eliminated nationalists, as well as the losses among servicemen of the Ukrainian armed forces.”

U.N. General Assembly will meet Monday

Update 4:11 p.m. EST Feb. 27: The U.N. Security Council voted to gavel the 193-member General Assembly into an emergency session on Monday, The Associated Press reported.

Eleven nations voted for the measure and Russia opposed it. China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstained, the AP reported.

That was the same vote on a resolution Friday demanding that Moscow immediately stop its attack on Ukraine, but Russia exercised its veto power and the measure was defeated.

Kyiv’s mayor walks back ‘encircled’ comment

Update 3:57 p.m. EST Feb. 27: Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, back down from a statement he made to The Associated Press that Ukraine’s capital city was surrounded by Russian forces, according to The Guardian.

“In the evening, Russian online publications spread information with reference to me that Kyiv was allegedly surrounded and evacuation of people was impossible,” Klitschko said in a statement. “And it is strange that Ukrainian telegram channels started to spread it.

“Do not believe lies! Trust information only from official sources. Together, we will stand together. Ukraine will win!”

A spokesperson for the mayor told the Kyiv Independent that Klitschko misspoke earlier Sunday, and that information about Russian troops encircling the city is “a lie and a manipulation.”

Sweden sending weapons to Ukraine

Update 3:10 p.m. EST Feb. 27: For the first time since 1939, Sweden is sending weapons to a country involved in an armed conflict, according to The Guardian.

According to Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, Sweden will send anti-tank weapons, helmets and body armor. The last time Sweden sent weapons to another country was 83 years ago, when the Soviet Union invaded its Scandinavian neighbor, Finland.

“Sweden is now proposing direct support for Ukraine’s armed forces,” Andersson said. “It includes 135,000 field rations, 5,000 helmets, 5,000 body shields and 5,000 anti-tank weapons.

US Embassy tells American nationals in Russia to leave

Update 2:57 p.m. EST Feb. 27: The U.S. Embassy is suggesting that American nationals should consider leaving Russia “immediately,” the embassy wrote on its website Sunday.

“An increasing number of airlines are canceling flights into and out of Russia, and numerous countries have closed their airspace to Russian airlines,” the notice on the website stated. “U.S. citizens should consider departing Russia immediately via commercial options still available.”

According to the embassy, the Department of State’s travel advisory level for Russia is at Level 4, or “Do Not Travel.”

England will not play Russia in international soccer matches

Update 2:34 p.m. EST Feb. 27: English governing body for soccer, the Football Association (FA), announced that England will not play any matches against Russia “for the foreseeable future.”

“Out of solidarity with Ukraine and to wholeheartedly condemn the atrocities being committed by the Russian leadership, the FA can confirm that we won’t play against Russia in any international fixtures for the foreseeable future,” the organization said in a statement. “This includes any potential match at any level of senior, age group or para football.”

‘We are encircled’ but full of fight, Kyiv’s mayor says

Update 1:52 p.m. EST Feb 27: Kyiv’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said his city might be surrounded, but he is proud of their resolve as Russian troops try to break through defenses and take Kyiv’s capital.

Klitschko said he would be unable to evacuate citizens if the Russians take the city.

>> Fighting heart: Ex-boxer Vitali Klitschko symbol of Kyiv’s resolve as city’s mayor

“We can’t do that, because all ways are blocked,” he told The Associated Press. “Right now we are encircled.”

UPS, FedEx Stop shipments into Russia

Update 1:18 p.m. EST Feb. 27: FedEx and United Parcel Service have suspended shipments into Russia, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The American shipping giants had previously stopped packages being delivered to and from Ukraine and were preparing contingency plans for their Russian operations, the newspaper reported.

UPS said that packages en route to Russia and Ukraine will be returned free of charge to the sender if possible, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“Our focus is on the safety of our people, providing continued service and minimizing disruption to our customers,” UPS said in a service alert on its website. “UPS continues to closely monitor the situation and will re-establish service as soon as it is practical and safe to do so.”

FedEx issued a similar service alert on its website.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and have contingency plans in place,” FedEx said.

Turkey ponders closing straits to Black Sea

Update 1:02 p.m. EST Feb. 27: Turkey will implement a 1936 international treaty that would potentially ban both Ukrainian and Russian warships from passing through the straits connecting the Black Sea to the south, The New York Times reported, citing Turkey’s top diplomat.

Turkey said it decided that the invasion of Ukraine and the resulting fighting constituted a war, the newspaper reported.

The Dardanelles strait connects the Sea of Marmara with the Aegean and Mediterranean seas and allows passage to the Black Sea through the Bosphorus strait.

100,000 in Berlin protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Update 12:48 p.m. EST Feb. 27: More than 100,000 peaceful anti-war demonstrators converted in Berlin on Sunday, according to The Guardian.

“Stop War, Stop Putin” was the slogan displayed on many banners, with others asking: “Why not simply peace?”

The demonstators gathered on the boulevard between the Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column in the German capital. Authorities had to expand the designated area to accommodate the large crowd, according to The Guardian.

BP will exit stake in Russian energy giant Rosneft

Update 12:41 p.m. EST Feb. 27: BP announced it is exiting its 19.75% stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft, according to the BBC.

“Russia’s attack on Ukraine is an act of aggression which is having tragic consequences across the region,” BP chair Helge Lund said in a statement. “BP has operated in Russia for over 30 years, working with brilliant Russian colleagues. However, this military action represents a fundamental change.

“It has led the BP board to conclude, after a thorough process, that our involvement with Rosneft, a state-owned enterprise, simply cannot continue.”

CEO Bernard Looney will also resign immediately from Rosneft’s board, according to the statement.

‘SNL’ opens show with tribute to Ukraine

Update 12:28 p.m. EST Feb. 27: “Saturday Night Live” paid tribute to Ukraine in its cold opening, featuring a folk chorus singing a traditional anthem from the eastern European country.

Members of the Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York, wearing traditional embroidered outfits, sang “Prayer for Ukraine,” according to Variety.

>> ’Saturday Night Live’ opens with folk chorus tribute to Ukraine

The camera then panned to a table of candles that surrounded the spelling of “Kyiv,” the Ukrainian capital, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Japan will impose financial sanctions against Putin

Update 11:45 a.m. EST Feb. 27: Japan announced that it will freeze the financial assets of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin “and other key government officials” Prime Minister Kishida Fumio said, according to Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK.

Fumio said Russia’s actions are a violation of international law that Japan strongly condemns, according to CNN.

Top EU official says bloc’s 27 nations will close airspace

Update 11:42 a.m. EST Feb. 27: A top official with the European Union said the 27-nation bloc will close its airspace to Russian airplanes, The Associated Press reported. The EU also will fund arms supplies to Ukraine and will ban pro-Kremlin media, according to the news outlet.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that “for the first time ever, the European Union will finance the purchase and delivery of weapons and other equipment to a country that is under attack.”

“We are shutting down the EU airspace for Russians,” von der Leyen added. “We are proposing a prohibition on all Russian-owned, Russian registered or Russian-controlled aircraft. These aircraft will no more be able to land in, take off or overfly the territory of the EU.”

Spain closing airspace to Russian airlines

Update 10:52 a.m. EST Feb. 27: Spain announced it will close its airspace to Russian airlines, following the lead of several other European countries.

According to a tweet from the Spanish Ministry for Transport, the country would “proceed to close its air space to Russian airlines” following the European Union’s directives of cooperation.

Ukraine-Russia talks will take place Monday

Update 10:14 a.m. EST Feb. 27: Talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations will occur Monday morning local time, according to Ukraine’s Deputy Interior Minister, Evgeny Yenin, CNN reported.

Earlier, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office said Belarus President Aleksander Lukashenko called the Ukrainian President earlier Sunday.

Zelenskyy confirmed that a delegation from his country will meet with a delegation from Russia, The Kyiv Independent and The Associated Press reported. The meeting, which was agreed to during a call between Zelenskyy and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, would take place without preconditions on the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, near the Pripyat River, the newspaper reported.

White House responds to Putin’s decision

Update 10:06 a.m. EST Feb. 27: White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to put Russia’s nuclear deterrence forces on high alert is part of a wider pattern of unprovoked escalation and “manufactured threats.”

“This is really a pattern that we’ve seen from President Putin through the course of this conflict, which is manufacturing threats that don’t exist in order to justify further aggression -- and the global community and the American people should look at it through that prism,” Psaki told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “This Week.” “This is all a pattern from President Putin and we’re going to stand up for it, we have the ability to defend ourselves, but we also need to call out what we’re seeing here from President Putin.”

US sending $54M in humanitarian aid for Ukraine

The U.S. is sending nearly $54 million in new humanitarian aid to Ukraine, The Guardian reported.

Canada closes airspace to Russian planes

Update 9:14 a.m. EST Feb. 27: Canada’s minister of transport announced that the country will close the country’s airspace to Russian planes “immediately.”

“We will hold Russia accountable for its unprovoked attacks against Ukraine,” Omar Alghabra tweeted.

Ukraine, Russian delegations to meet at Belarus border

Update 8:55 a.m. EST Feb. 27: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed that a delegation from his country will meet with a delegation from Russia, The Kyiv Independent and The Associated Press reported. The meeting, which was agreed to during a call between Zelenskyy and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, would take place without preconditions on the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, near the Pripyat River, the newspaper reported.

“The politicians have agreed that the Ukrainian delegation will meet with the Russian delegation without preconditions on the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, near the Pripyat River,” Zelenskyy’s office said, according to CNN.

“Aleksander Lukashenko has taken responsibility for ensuring that all planes, helicopters and missiles stationed on the Belarusian territory will remain on the ground during the Ukrainian delegation’s travel, meeting and return,” Zelenskyy’s office said.

The announcement came hours after Russia announced that its delegation had flown to Belarus to await talks, the AP reported. Ukrainian officials initially rejected the move, saying any talks should take place elsewhere.

Protests erupt in Moscow, other Russian cities

Update 8:45 a.m. EST Feb. 27: Protests in Moscow and other Russian cities have increased in the wake of ominous threats from Vladimir Putin, according to The Associated Press.

Demonstrators held pickets and marched in city centers, chanting “No to war!” the AP reported.

Peaceful demonstrators in St. Petersburg’s city center were accosted by police in full riot gear, who placed some of them into police vans, the news outlet reported.

Russian police detained more than 900 people at anti-war protests in 44 Russian cities on Sunday, independent protest monitoring group OVD-Info said.

Putin orders Russian nuclear deterrent forces on alert

Update 8:11 a.m. EST Feb. 27: Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered Russian nuclear deterrent forces on high alert, The Associated Press reported.

Putin said during a meeting with his top officials that NATO powers had made “aggressive statements” along with the West imposing financial sanctions against Russia.

The alert means Putin has ordered Russia’s nuclear weapons prepared for increased readiness to launch, the AP reported. He told the Russian defense minister and the chief of the military’s General Staff to put the nuclear deterrent forces in a “special regime of combat duty.”

“Top officials in leading NATO countries have allowed themselves to make aggressive comments about our country, therefore I hereby order the minister of Defense and the chief of the General Staff (of the RF Armed Forces) to place the Russian Army Deterrence Force on combat alert,” Putin said in a televised meeting, according to CNN.

Zelenskyy reportedly speaks with Belarus leader

Update 7:45 a.m. EST Feb. 27: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he has spoken with Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko, but did not give any details about what was discussed, the BBC reported.

Russia said a delegation had arrived in Belarus, but Zelenskyy rejected the offer of talks in that country, stating that negotiations would have been possible if Russia had not attacked from there.

Zelenskyy said he remained open to the idea of negotiating in other locations, according to the BBC.

Official says Ukraine has regained control of Kharkiv

Update 7:28 a.m. EST Feb. 27: The BBC reports that Ukrainian forces have regained control of Kharkiv, according to the head of the Kharkiv Regional State Administration.

In a post on Telegram, Oleh Synyehubov said: “Control over Kharkiv is completely ours!”

“The armed forces, the police, and the defense forces are working, and the city is being completely cleansed of the enemy.”

Russian troops were able to enter the city, Ukraine’s second-largest, overnight.

UN estimates there are 386K refugees from Ukraine

Update 7:01 a.m. EST Feb. 27: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees stated that more than 386,000 Ukrainian refugees have fled the country since Russia’s invasion began on Thursday. The agency said the number continues to rise.

“#Ukraine refugee numbers have just been refreshed -- these are based on data made available by national authorities. The current total is now 368,000 and continues to rise,” UNHCR tweeted Sunday.

Germany commits 100 billion euros to armed forces fund

Update 6:53 a.m. EST Feb. 27: Germany is committing 100 billion euros to a special fund for its armed forces, The Associated Press reported. That raises the country’s defense spending above 2% of GDP.

“It’s clear we need to invest significantly more in the security of our country, in order to protect our freedom and our democracy,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told a special session of the Bundestag in Berlin. “Yesterday we decided that Germany will deliver weapons to Ukraine to defend themselves. Putin’s aggression meant we cannot give any other response.”

Scholz’s announcement is the latest policy shift for Germany and was a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

On Saturday, Germany said it would be sending weapons and other supplies directly to Ukraine, the AP reported.

Pope: ‘Heart is broken’ over invasion

Update 6:48 a.m. EST Feb. 27: Pope Francis said his “heart is broken” over Russia’s invasion into Ukraine. The pontiff, speaking at his weekly Sunday address in Vatican City, said that “God is with peacemakers, not with those who use violence,” according to Reuters.

Francis also condemned people who “trust in the diabolic and perverse logic of weapons.”

More countries close airspace to Russian planes

Update 6:43 a.m. EST Feb. 27: Denmark, Iceland and Italy joined Belgium as the latest nations to close airspace to Russian airlines, according to The Guardian.

Denmark is advocating a ban among all European Union nations.

Belgium closes airspace to Russian airlines

Update 6:37 a.m. EST Feb. 27: Belgium on Sunday became the latest European nation to close its airspace to Russian airlines, The New York Times reported. Prime Minister Alexander De Croo made the announcement in a tweet, writing, “Our European skies are open skies. They’re open for those who connect people, not for those who seek to brutally aggress.”

Fighting breaks out in Kharkiv

Update 6:24 a.m. EST Feb. 27: Street fighting broke out in the center of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, according to Oleh Synehubov, the head of the Kharkiv Regional State Administration.

Synehubov urged residents of the eastern city to remain in shelters and not to travel, CNN reported. Russian vehicles entered the city of Kharkiv on Sunday, he said.

“The Russian enemy’s vehicles advanced into the city of Kharkiv. Including the central part of the city. Warning! Do not leave your shelters!” Synyehubov said in a Facebook post. ”The Armed Forces of Ukraine are eliminating the enemy. Civilians are asked not to go out in the streets.”

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