Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

Here’s what you need to know about the Ukraine crisis right now:

* Russia’s defence ministry said on Monday its nuclear missile forces and Northern and Pacific fleets had been placed on enhanced combat duty, Interfax news agency reported, in line with an order the previous day from President Vladimir Putin.

* Ceasefire talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials began on the Belarusian border on Monday as Russia faced deepening economic isolation four days after invading Ukraine, the biggest assault on a European state since World War Two.

* Blasts were heard in the capital Kyiv and in the major city of Kharkiv on Monday morning, Ukrainian officials said, while a residential building in Chernihiv in northern Ukraine was on fire after being struck by a missile.

* NATO partners are providing Ukraine with air-defence missiles and anti-tank weapons, NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg said in a tweet, adding that he had held another phone conversation with Ukraine’s president earlier.

* Airlines on Monday braced for a potentially lengthy sanctions war after the European Union banned Russian airlines and Moscow pledged to retaliate. Dozens of flights were cancelled or sent on costly detours as the crisis hit airline shares.

* Britain said it was taking further measures against Russia in concert with the United States and European Union, effectively cutting off Moscow’s major financial institutions from Western financial markets.

* Russia’s central bank more than doubled its key policy rate and introduced some capital controls as it scrambled to shield the economy from unprecedented Western sanctions that sent the rouble tumbling to record lows.

* Energy giant BP, global bank HSBC and the world’s biggest aircraft leasing firm AerCap joined a growing list of Western firms looking to exit Russia as Western sanctions tightened the screws on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

* Crude oil jumped while the rouble plunged nearly 30% to a fresh record low after new sanctions were imposed, including blocking some banks from the SWIFT international payments system.

* Energy major BP opened a new front in the West’s campaign to isolate Russia’s economy, with its decision to quit the oil-rich country the most aggressive move yet by a company in response to Moscow’s invasion.

* The European Union will fund weapons for Ukraine to help it defend itself against Russia’s invasion, top EU officials said on Sunday. Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation”.

* At least 352 civilians, including 14 children, had been killed since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Ukraine’s health ministry said on Sunday, with 1,684 people wounded.

* The head of a U.N. agency said on Monday over 500,000 people have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries since the start of Russia’s invasion. Poland sought to ease passage into the European Union on Monday for around quarter of a million Ukrainians waiting at border crossings in freezing conditions after fleeing the Russian invasion.

* Tens of thousands of people across Europe marched in protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Sunday. More than 5,500 people have been detained at various anti-war protests in Russia since the invasion began.

* Ukraine lodged a case against Russia at world court, citing erroneous allegations of genocide against Kyiv.

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