Live coverage: Peace talks reported between Russia, Ukraine

Russian forces entered Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, on Sunday as Moscow’s invasion of its neighbor intensifies.

The Kremlin also said Russia was sending a delegation to Belarus for peace talks. But Ukraine’s president rejected the location, which was used as a staging ground for Russian troops.

Follow The Hill’s live coverage of the latest developments:

Biden will speak on Ukraine, ‘optimism’ in State of the Union

10:53 a.m.

President BidenJoe BidenTrump tears into Biden as he moves toward 2024 campaign Biden says he hopes his legacy ‘is that I restored the soul of this country’ Cyber officials urge federal agencies to armor up for potential Russian attacks MORE will speak about the Russian invasion of Ukraine during Tuesday’s State of the Union address, White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiUS, NATO seek to shore up defenses as Russia-Ukraine conflict rages Sunday shows preview: Russia invades Ukraine; Biden nominates Jackson to Supreme Court Europe braces for wave of Ukrainian refugees MORE said, but he will also send a message of optimism.

ABC’s “This Week” host George StephanopoulosGeorge Robert StephanopoulosAlec Baldwin, ‘Rust’ crew sued by late cinematographer’s family Sunday shows: No breakthrough in Russia-Ukraine tensions Pelosi says ‘defund the police’ is ‘not the position of the Democratic Party’ MORE asked Psaki on Sunday how Biden’s address had changed with the invasion of Ukraine this past week.

“I think there’s no question that in the State of the Union, the American people and anybody watching around the world will hear the president talk about the efforts he has led over the past several months to build a global coalition to fight against the autocracy and the efforts of President Putin to invade a foreign country,” Psaki said.

“But what people will also hear from President Biden is his optimism and his belief in the resilience of the American people and the strength of the American people,” she added.


NATO chief calls Putin’s nuclear threats ‘dangerous rhetoric’

10:36 a.m.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinCyber officials urge federal agencies to armor up for potential Russian attacks Rick Scott: Putin a ‘murderous thug,’ will ‘continue to try to swallow up more and more territory’ Biden says Putin is ‘producing the exact opposite effect that he intended’ MORE‘s threats of using nuclear defense systems “dangerous rhetoric.”

“This is dangerous rhetoric. This is behavior which is irresponsible,” Stoltenberg said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“If you combine this rhetoric with what they’re doing on the ground in Ukraine- waging war against the independent sovereign nation, conducting full fledge invasion of Ukraine- this adds to the seriousness of the situation,” he also said.

“That’s the reason why we both provide support to Ukraine but also why we over the last weeks and months have significantly increased the presence of NATO in the eastern part of the alliance,” he added.


US ambassador not surprised by Putin’s threat of nuclear deterrence

10:33 a.m.

Linda Thomas-GreenfieldLinda Thomas-Greenfield Sunday shows preview: Russia invades Ukraine; Biden nominates Jackson to Supreme Court Photos of the Week: Ukraine, Ketanji Brown Jackson and stallions Live coverage: Ukrainian president says Russia will ‘assault’ Kyiv tonight MORE, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said on Sunday that she is not surprised by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s apparent threats of nuclear deterrence in response to the international condemnation for invading Ukraine.

Thomas-Greenfield was asked during an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation” about Putin’s order earlier Sunday to put Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces on high alert.

“It means that President Putin is continuing to escalate this war in a manner that is totally unacceptable, and we have to continue to condemn his actions in the strongest possible way,” said Thomas-Greenfield.


Romney calls Putin ‘a small, feral-eyed man’

10:24 a.m.

Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt Romney Sunday shows preview: Russia invades Ukraine; Biden nominates Jackson to Supreme Court The Hill’s Morning Report – Russia attacks Ukraine Lawmakers to receive briefing from Biden administration on Thursday MORE (R-Utah) on Sunday called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “a small, feral-eyed man” amid the Russian full scale military invasion of Ukraine.

“We’re seeing a small, feral-eyed man who was trying to shape the world in the image where, once again, Russia would be an empire, and that’s not going to happen,” Romney said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“The people of the world see him and see Russia for what it is and they say, ‘no, we will fight for freedom,'” the senator added.


Condoleezza Rice describes Putin as ‘delusional,’ ‘erratic’

10:21 a.m.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that Russian President Vladimir Putin “seems erratic,” adding he has an “ever-deepening, delusional rendering of history.”

Rice said on “Fox News Sunday” that she’s met with Putin many times, noting that he was always a “KGB man” and “calculating and cold.”

Today, however, he is very different, she said.

“He seems erratic,” Rice said. “There is an ever-deepening, delusional rendering of history, it was always a kind of victimology of what had happened to them, but now it goes back to blaming Lenin for the foundation of Kyiv in Ukraine. So he’s descending into something that I personally haven’t seen before.”


Ukrainian ambassador to the US calls on American businesses to cut ties with Russia

9:47 a.m.

Ukraine Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova on Sunday called on American businesses to cut their ties with Russia as a way of supporting her country as its fends off Russia’s military invasion.

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Markarova expressed gratitude for the support that the international community has given Ukraine so far, but said more defensive weapons and more sanctions were still needed.

Markarova said Russia needed to “clearly see that and feel” that it is not OK to attack “a sovereign country without any reason.”

“I also would like to use this opportunity also to call on American business, because you know this is a full-fledged, unjust war,” Markorova said.


US ambassador to UN vows more sanctions on Russia

9:44 a.m.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield on Sunday vowed that the Biden administration would impose more sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and said that U.S. officials had not “taken anything off the table.”

“We’re continuing to look at this. We’re ramping up as the Russians ramp up, so there’s more to come,” Thomas-Greenfield said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“While energy is not in this current announcement, it doesn’t mean it’s off the table, but we also want to do everything we can to protect our own economy from the impact of this,” she added.


Peace talks reported between Russia, Ukraine

9:14 a.m.

Multiple media organizations are reporting that Ukraine and Russia will hold peace talks on the border of Ukraine and Belarus. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed to Sky News that the two sides would hold the talks on the border of Ukraine and Belarus, where some of the Russian troops invading his country had been held. 

Zelenskyy had refused to agree to an earlier request for talks in Belarus, arguing it was not neutral territory. 

Sunday was the fourth day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has been slowed by fierce resistance from Ukrainian troops and private citizens. 

Several cities including the capitol of Kyiv have been bombarded by Russia, and there has additionally been fighting in the streets.

Sky News, referring to a statement from Zelenskyy’s office, said the two delegations will meet “without preconditions” near the Pripyat River.

Earlier in the day, Zelenskyy had spoken with Belarus strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Alexander Lukashenko has taken responsibility for ensuring that all planes, helicopters and missiles stationed on Belarusian territory remain on the ground during the Ukrainian delegation’s travel, talks and return,” the statement said, according to Sky News. 

— Ian Swanson

US announces additional $54M in humanitarian assistance to Ukrainians

8:56 a.m.

The U.S. State Department announced nearly $54 million in humanitarian on Sunday for Ukrainians who have been affected by Russia’s invasion.

The State Department said it would be providing nearly $26 million as well as $28 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

These funds will move through humanitarian organizations will deliver assistance with “impartiality, humanity, neutrality, and independence,” Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenNorth Korea launches suspected missile in 8th test this year Ukraine’s real-life challenge for democracy Defense Department says Russia frustrated by Ukrainian resistance MORE said in a statement

“This additional assistance will enable international humanitarian organizations to further support the people of Ukraine, working closely with the Government of Ukraine and European allies and partners at the forefront of any response,” Blinken said. “This includes the provision of food, safe drinking water, shelter, emergency health care, winterization, and protection.”


Putin orders nuclear deterrent forces put on high alert

8:54 a.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his country’s nuclear defense systems be put on higher alert, citing what he says are threats from the West amid Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Western countries aren’t only taking unfriendly actions against our country in the economic sphere, but top officials from leading NATO members made aggressive statements regarding our country,” Putin said in a televised address on Sunday, The Associated Press reported.


Zelenskyy calls on top UN court to stop Russian invasion

8:47 a.m.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday announced Ukraine has requested that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) hold Russia accountable for its military invasion.

“Ukraine has submitted its application against Russia to the ICJ. Russia must be held accountable for manipulating the notion of genocide to justify aggression. We request an urgent decision ordering Russia to cease military activity now and expect trials to start next week,” Zelenskyy tweeted.


Russia hits Ukraine fuel supplies, airfields in new attacks

8:30 a.m.

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia unleashed a wave of attacks on Ukraine targeting airfields and fuel facilities in what appeared to be the next phase of an invasion that has been slowed by fierce resistance. The U.S. and EU responded with weapons and ammunition for the outnumbered Ukrainians and powerful sanctions intended to further isolate Moscow.

Huge explosions lit up the sky early Sunday south of the capital, Kyiv, where people hunkered down in homes, underground garages and subway stations in anticipation of a full-scale assault by Russian forces.

Flames billowed into the sky before dawn from an oil depot near an air base in Vasylkiv, where there has been intense fighting, according to the town’s mayor. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office said another explosion was at the civilian Zhuliany airport.


Ukraine internet disrupted

8:18 a.m.

Internet connectivity in Ukraine’s eastern and southern regions has been disrupted by Russia’s military invasion of the country.

Connectivity to Ukraine’s largest internet provider, GigaTrans, temporarily dropped below 20 percent of normal levels on Friday before returning to normal, Reuters reported.

“We currently observe national connectivity at 87 percent of ordinary levels, a figure that reflects service disruptions as well as population flight and the shuttering of homes and businesses since the morning of the 24th,” Alp Toker, director of the internet monitoring organization NetBlocks, said, according to the news service.

“While there is no nation-scale blackout, little is being heard from the worst affected regions, and for others there’s an ever-present fear that connectivity could worsen at any moment, cutting off friends and family,” he added.


EU official says Russian flights could be banned from its airspace

7:58 a.m.

Russia may be banned from Europe’s airspace due to its invasion of Ukraine.

As the BBC reported, a European Union  official said Russia may be barred from the bloc’s airspace, as many countries have already moved to restrict Russian flights.

A formal EU vote on the decision is expected later Sunday.

Countries including the U.K., Ireland, Poland, Finland, Latvia and Romania have all announced airspace bans against Russia. Germany, Italy and Denmark have announced intentions to do the same.

Many airlines have also declared plans to avoid Russian airspace. These plans will result in longer times for flights that usually cross over Russia.


Zelenskyy says Russia should be removed from UN Security Council

7:45 a.m.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said he had called for Russia to be effectively removed from the U.N. Security Council over its invasion of his country. Zelenskyy said he had brought up the potential action to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“To deprive the aggressor country of the right to vote in the UN Security Council, to qualify [Russian] actions & statements as genocide of [Ukrainian] people, to help with the delivery of corpses of [Russian] soldiers. Talked about it in a conversation with the #UN Secretary General @antonioguterres,” Zelenskyy tweeted on Saturday.

Guterres said he “conveyed the determination of the @UN to enhance humanitarian assistance to the people of Ukraine” during his phone call with Zelenskyy.

The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote on Sunday to hold an emergency meeting on Russia’s military action against Ukraine. This would mark the council’s 11th time convening an emergency session since 1950. The action would need a simple majority vote and could not be vetoed by Russia, a permanent member of the council.


Russians enter Ukraine’s second-largest city

7:36 a.m.

Russian forces have moved into Ukraine’s second-largest city, resulting in street fighting and damage to Kharkiv’s infrastructure.

Russian troops had remained on the outskirts of Kharkiv until Sunday, when they moved into the city of 1.4 million people. Videos posted on social media showed Russian vehicles moving across the city and Ukrainian soldiers firing at the Russian forces.


‘Saturday Night Live’ opens with tribute song to Ukraine

7:27 A.M.

NEW YORK (AP) — “Saturday Night Live” normally kicks off each show with some humor, but the comedy sketch series opened with a tribute performance to Ukraine amid the ongoing Russian invasion.

The Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York performed a “Prayer for Ukraine” during the opening of “SNL” on Saturday. Cast members Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong introduced the choir.


World judo body suspends Putin as its honorary president

7:26 A.M.

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Vladimir Putin temporarily lost his most senior official position in world sports on Sunday.

The International Judo Federation cited “the ongoing war conflict in Ukraine” for suspending Putin’s honorary president status.

The Russian president is a keen judoka and attended the sport at the 2012 London Olympics.


Germany commits 100 billion euros to new armed forces fund

7:22 a.m.

BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Sunday that Germany is committing 100 billion euros to a special fund for its armed forces, raising its defense spending above 2 percent 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,” Scholz told a special session of the Bundestag in Berlin Sunday morning.

The move is a significant one for Germany, which has come under criticism from the United States and other NATO allies for not investing adequately in its defense budget.


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