Moscow/Keiv — Russia placed its nuclear arsenal and other heavy weapons, such as Kinzhal and Zircon hypersonic missiles — on “special” alert;, the highest form of combat readiness for these units.
President Vladimir Putin ordered the Ministry of Defense to issue the alert on Sunday; citing sanctions and “aggressive statements” from NATO member states.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that the EU would buy and deliver; weapons and equipment to Ukraine in what she said was “a watershed moment” on Sunday evening.
More sanctions on top of the ones announced by the bloc on Saturday include “a prohibition on all Russian registered; Russian-owned, or Russian-controlled aircraft” as well as an EU-wide ban of “the Kremlin’s media machine,” including RT and Sputnik.
Sanctions were also imposed against the Belarusian regime of Alexander Lukashenko, who von der Leyen said was “complicit with the vicious attack.”
Meanwhile, the office of the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said; in a statement that he agreed to send in a team of negotiators to meet with their Russian counterparts; near the border with Belarus after assurances from Minsk.
Over 200 civilians are reported dead in the war in Ukraine, a defense official said, as heavy fighting was reported in the country’s second-largest city Kharkiv. A regional governor later claimed that the town was back under Ukrainian control.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Sunday that his country would not “capitulate” to Moscow; denouncing the alerting of Russian nuclear deterrents as an attempt at “pressure.”
“What is happening in Ukraine now is real people’s war… We are determined to fight back as long as it is needed to defend our land and our people,” the foreign minister added on Twitter.
Russia has put its nuclear arsenal on alert, with President Putin citing sanctions as the reason behind the decision. Zelenskyy agreed to have a Ukrainian delegation hold talks with their Russian counterparts at its Belarus border.
In the EU’s first, the bloc decided to purchase and deliver weapons and military equipment to Ukraine while also introducing further sanctions banning RT and Sputnik in Europe.
Also, the number of refugees fleeing Ukraine since Thursday hit 368,000, said UNHCR, but the capital remains under Ukrainian control.
Meanwhile, protests against the Russian invasion continue across Europe. In Belarus, the protests came despite the authoritarian Belarusian government having sided with Moscow.
Demonstrators marched through different parts of the city in the capital Minsk carrying Ukrainian flags.
In France, hundreds of people protested in Paris and Nice against the invasion, with Ukrainian flags and other eastern European nations hoisted high. Russians opposed to the war joined the crowd in Paris.
The famed Promenade des Angla is a hub for Ukrainians in Nice, saw hundreds of people protesting against the war; and urged NATO nations to protect them from Russian bombs.
Protesters carried Ukrainian, Moldovan, Georgian, Chechen flags and banners denouncing Putin.
According to Hungary’s foreign minister, over 66,000 refugees have entered Hungary from Ukraine, with more than 23,000 entering on Saturday alone.
Hungary’s government has said it will permit all citizens and legal residents of Ukraine to enter Hungary as refugees.
Speaking from a border station between Zahony and Chop in Ukraine on Sunday, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said; that his government would send 100,000 liters of diesel and gasoline and diesel to Ukrainian authorities for use by disaster management authorities. Nearly 28 tons of food aid have also been sent into Ukraine so far.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the ‘needless and bloody war in another development’. The war in Ukraine is a tragedy for both countries; Johnson said in his message to the people of Ukraine and Russia on Sunday.
Johnson praised the “fierce bravery and patriotism” of the country and its people.
He added that although Russia has shaped Europe’s history and culture, the actions of President Putin are “leading to [its] complete isolation [being] shunned by the rest of the international community, hit by immense economic sanctions.”
Johnson also had a message for Russians and Ukrainians, “The world needs a free and sovereign Ukraine,” he said in Ukrainian.
Yet another European country, Spain, has announced that it will close its airspace to Russian airlines; following the lead of European countries that have taken similar action in retaliation for the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Britain’s foreign secretary has said she would “absolutely” support the citizens who choose to go to Ukraine to help fight the Russian invasion.
“Certainly, if people want to support that struggle, I would support them in doing so,” Liz Truss said on Sunday when asked by the BBC; whether she would back British people who want to answer the president’s call for international volunteers.
Greece, too, is sending ammunition, assault rifles, and missile launchers to Ukraine in response to a request by Ukraine’s government.
A C-130 plane with the equipment has arrived in Poland, and a second one will arrive later; a Defense Ministry official said. Two more planes carrying humanitarian aid such as blankets and food have also left Athens International Airport for Poland, the spokesman said