Russia-Ukraine war live updates – Moscow panic as economy FREEFALLS & Putin nuclear threat sparks crunch 24 hours

PANIC is beginning to set-in in Russia as citizens begin feeling the impact of crushing sanctions.

The rouble has plunged to record lows over the past 24 hours, with thousands forming queues at ATMs desperate to withdraw their savings.

Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian Central Bank to raise its key interest rate from 9.5% to a staggering 20% – a record high.

Russians are posting screenshots of their banking apps on social media revealing roubles are selling for 120-130 to the dollar.

It comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned the next 24 hours are "crucial" for the existence of Ukraine.

Yesterday Putin ordered Russia's nuclear forces to be on high alert sparking fears he may be preparing to carry out a nuclear strike in Ukraine after his troops struggled to advance on Kyiv.

Follow our Russia-Ukraine live blog below for up to the minute updates…

  • John Hall

    Heartbreaking scenes as Ukrainian kids separated from dads

    A UKRAINIAN rail hub was swamped by desperate families fleeing to Poland yesterday — as brave fighters piled on to trains heading the other way to join the war against Russia.

    Refugees from all over the strife-torn nation have flooded west to the city of Lviv to escape Vladimir Putin’s Russian invasion force.

    The huge exodus overwhelmed the train terminus 43 miles from the Polish border, sparking a stampede across tracks towards platforms.

    But across the border in the Polish city of Przemysl, in an awe-inspiring site, hundreds of determined Ukrainian men wearing combat gear boarded trains heading towards the war zone.

    Many had shepherded loved ones to safety before leaping on to the first train back to the front line.

  • John Hall

    Russians destroy mega-plane

    The world's largest aircraft has reportedly been destroyed by Russian troops – with the restoration set to cost £2.2billion.

    Ukrainian officials say the huge plane – the only one of its kind – was parked at an airfield near Kyiv when it was struck by "Russian occupants".

    The Antonov AN-225 – known as Mriya or "dream" in Ukrainian – is the heaviest aircraft ever built and has been in service for more than three decades.

    But it is now reportedly out of action after being wrecked by Russian forces, who claimed to have captured the Hostomel airfield where the plane was located on Friday.

  • John Hall

    What's the latest from Ukraine?

    Here's our pick of the The Sun Online's stories in Ukraine this morning:

    • Ukrainian troops have destroyed a convoy of Russian special forces made up of Chechen fighters
    • A blitz from Russian forces to hold a crucial road junction five miles west of Kyiv city centre was beaten off
    • Soldiers thought to have been killed after telling Russians to "go f**k yourselves" may still be alive
    • Missiles rained down on the country in the fourth night of war
    • Western allies agreed to boot Russian banks out of the Swift system
    • Roman Abramovich gave up control of Chelsea football club
    • Freedom fighters from around the world were invited to join Ukraine’s army today and take on Putin's troops.
    • A former Miss Ukraine "has taken up arms" to fight against the Russian invasion
    • John Hall

      Russia seizes Ukrainian town with naval base 

      RUSSIAN troops have reportedly seized a Ukrainian town with a naval base as tanks rolled in and armed soldiers took over buildings.

      As Vladimir Putin's army continues their stumbling but deadly assault on Ukraine, Russian forces are said to have taken control of Berdyansk – a port city of 100,000 on the Azov Sea coast.

      Oleksandr Svidlo, acting mayor of the town close to the Crimea peninsula, confirmed on Facebook that troops had taken over on Sunday, as footage showed tanks moving in.

      "A few hours ago, you and I witnessed how heavy military equipment and armed soldiers entered the city and began advancing throughout our hometown," he said.

      "As soon as I learned about that, I tried to inform all the residents of the city so that you have the opportunity to hide in shelters."

    • John Hall

      Another night of resistance

      KYIV came through another night of siege as the brutal war between Ukraine and Russia enters day five.

      It came as high level peace talks are expected to be held at 10am UK time between Moscow and Kyiv on Belarusian-Ukrainian border.

      Ukraine continues to mount a firm resistance to the invading Russians as all Vladimir Putin's hope for a rapid victory have been crushed.

      So instead the tyrant has been forced to the negotiating table for the first time – but it is unclear how successful such talks will be.

    • Louis Allwood

      Help women & children fleeing conflict with The Sun’s Ukraine Fund

      PICTURES of women and children fleeing the horror of Ukraine’s devastated towns and cities moved Sun readers to tears.

      Many of you want to help the five million caught in the chaos — and now you can. Today we launch The Sun’s Ukraine Fund.

      Give as little as £3 or as much as you can afford and every penny will be donated to the Red Cross on the ground helping women, children, the old and the infirm.

      Your money will also provide medical help for the wounded.

      Ukrainian Red Cross teams will be providing shelter, food and water for those still trapped.

      Workers with the International Committee of the Red Cross are battling to restore water supplies and support medical facilities.

      And you will be helping Red Cross workers in countries bordering Ukraine.

    • Louis Allwood

      Putin’s forces FAIL to take Kharkiv

      Vladimir Putin’s troops were given a painful black eye yesterday in their stumbling but deadly assault on Ukraine.

      Elite Russian units surged into the country’s second city Kharkiv, where The Sun witnessed them being beaten back with tanks and rockets.

      Panic had spread through the city’s 1.4million residents when officials ordered a lockdown at dawn.

      The authorities confirmed that invading forces were inside the metropolis, which lies just 20 miles from the Russian border.

      Russian units launched a pincer move into the city with convoys of Tiger armoured vehicles.

      Later Kharkiv’s mayor said dozens of Russian soldiers had surrendered and the city was fully back under the government’s control.

    • Louis Allwood

      Piers Morgan slams Putin’s nuclear weapons threat

      Piers Morgan has blasted Vladimir Putin's nuclear weapons threat by mocking the Russian leader's "pathetic and paranoid" Covid fears.

      The TV firebrand slammed the Russian leader as an "increasingly isolated little man" and urged the world to call out his "bull***t bluff".

      Piers hit out at Putin's bizarre one-on-one meetings with foreign dignitaries and his own staff at gargantuan tables.

      He said: "Nuclear weapons? Putin’s such a tough-guy, he sits this far away from his own generals in case he catches an Omicron sniffle.

      "He’s a pathetic, paranoid, increasingly isolated little man whose evil masterplan is fast unravelling & the world should now call his bull***t bluff."

      It comes after Putin put his nuclear forces on high alert just after warning the West "may face the greatest consequences in history".

    • Louis Allwood

      Ukrainian UK embassy website is DOWN

      The Ukrainian embassy in London's website is currently down – meaning Brits can't use it to sign up to join the foreign legion.

      A message pops up to anyone trying to log onto the site saying it "can't be reached".

      Foreign nationals willing to take up arms and join the fight on the front line are being encouraged to contact Ukrainian embassies.

      Figures at the top of Ukraine's Government, including President Volodymyr Zelensky and foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba have called on foreign friends to help join the fight.

      Mr Kuleba said: "Together we defeated Hitler, and we will defeat Putin, too.

      "Foreigners willing to defend Ukraine and world order as part of the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine, I invite you to contact foreign diplomatic missions of Ukraine in your respective countries."

    • Louis Allwood

      Russia seizes Ukrainian town with naval base

      Russian troops have reportedly seized a Ukrainian town with a naval base as tanks rolled in and armed soldiers took over buildings.

      As Vladimir Putin's army continues their stumbling but deadly assault on Ukraine, Russian forces are said to have taken control of Berdyansk – a port city of 100,000 on the Azov Sea coast.

      Oleksandr Svidlo, acting mayor of the town close to the Crimea peninsula, confirmed on Facebook that troops had taken over on Sunday, as footage showed tanks moving in.

      "A few hours ago, you and I witnessed how heavy military equipment and armed soldiers entered the city and began advancing throughout our hometown," he said.

      "As soon as I learned about that, I tried to inform all the residents of the city so that you have the opportunity to hide in shelters."

    • Louis Allwood

      Putin resumes shelling Ukraine

      Shelling has reportedly resumed in Kyiv and Kharkiv as the conflict between Ukraine and Russia enters a fifth day.

      Explosions were heard in both cities on Monday morning, according to the Ukrainian National News Agency, Ukrinform.

      It comes after the West was accused of "pushing Russia into World War Three" by Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko, a close ally of Vladimir Putin.

      Lukashenko insisted sanctions being handed down by countries including the UK and US are propelling Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

    • Joseph Gamp

      Putin puts Russia's nuclear deterrent forces on 'high alert'

      Vladimir Putin has put Russia's strategic nuclear deterrent forces on alert, dramatically ratcheting up the tensions in his stand-off with the West over his invasion of Ukraine.

      The United States immediately denounced the latest escalation by the Russian President as "completely unacceptable".

      Britain's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss had earlier warned any use by Russia of its tactical battlefield nuclear weapons against Ukrainian forces would represent an "extremely serious escalation" of the conflict.

      Russian television footage showed Mr Putin meeting with his defence minister and the chief of the general staff, and instructing them to put the nuclear deterrent on a "special regime of combat duty".

      He cited "aggressive statements" coming from Western powers and hard-hitting economic sanctions – which include the exclusion of Russian banks from the Swift global payments system – as reasons for the action.

      "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," he said.

      US ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said: "President Putin is continuing to escalate this war in a manner that is totally unacceptable."

      The moves came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced he had agreed to talks with a Russian delegation on the Ukraine-Belarus border.

      The Ukrainian leader had earlier rejected an offer of talks in Belarus, saying the Russian ally had been a launchpad for the invasion of his country.

    • Joseph Gamp

      Former Strictly star slammed by fans over ‘insensitive pro Putin’ tweet

      FORMER Strictly Come Dancing pro Kristina Rihanoff has been slammed by fans for sharing an “insensitive” tweet amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

      The 44-year-old, who hails from Russia, appeared to show support for Vladimir Putin as she posted a caricature taking aim at the leaders of the West.

      The controversial image shows Boris Johnson, Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau with blood on their hands while standing on a pile of dead bodies.

      Johnson is seen with a glass of wine in his hands, while Trudeau has a black face – referencing their past controversies – and Biden is pointing, with a speech bubble that reads “Russian man bad”.

      Retweeting the cartoon, Kristina – whose partner is rugby star Ben Cohen – wrote: “Don’t even have to say anything – pure genius.”

      Her followers were very shocked, with many vowing to unfollow and report her.

    • Joseph Gamp

      Ukraine takes ‘full control’ of 2nd city Kharkiv

      UKRAINE has taken "full control" of the country's second-largest city today after bloody fighting erupted on the streets, a governor has said.

      Russian soldiers in TIGR armoured vehicles were spotted in two suburbs of Kharkiv this morning – where officials claimed a battle was raging.

      They launched a pincer move from the north entering the city from the 10 and 2 o’clock directions, officials said.

      Troops here defeated a major tank assault in one of the first key defeats of Vladimir Putin’s evil onslaught which started before dawn on Thursday.

      But now the regional governor Oleh Sinegubov has said that Ukraine is back "controlling the area fully."

      He confirmed Russian forces had breached the city limits as the explosions thundered over nearby homes.

      He said: "Control over Kharkiv is completely ours! The armed forces, the police, and the defence forces are working, and the city is being completely cleansed of the enemy."

    • Joseph Gamp

      The latest in Ukraine

      • Ukrainian troops have destroyed a convoy of Russian special forces made up of Chechen fighters
      • Fierce fighting has been taking place in Kharkiv where Ukrainian commanders say they are in "full control"
      • A blitz from Russian forces to hold a crucial road junction five miles west of Kyiv city centre was beaten off
      • Soldiers thought to have been killed after telling Russians to "go f**k yourselves" may still be alive
      • Missiles rained down on the country in the fourth night of war
      • Western allies agreed to boot Russian banks out of the Swift system
      • Roman Abramovich gave up control of Chelsea football club
      • Freedom fighters from around the world were invited to join Ukraine’s army today and take on Putin's troops.
      • A former Miss Ukraine "has taken up arms" to fight against the Russian invasion
      • Joseph Gamp

        PM doubts Putin's sincerity ahead of Russia-Ukraine peace talks tomorrow

        Boris Johnson this evening said: "There's nothing I've seen so far in his behaviour that leads me to think that he could possibly be sincere."

        The Prime Minister also criticised broadcaster RT for "peddling" material that is "doing a lot of damage to the truth".

        He added that Ofcom should look at it to assess whether it is "infringing the rules of this country".

      • Joseph Gamp

        PM pledges a further £40m of humanitarian aid to Ukraine

        Boris Johnson has announced the UK will be stepping up its support to the people of Ukraine again with £40 million of further humanitarian aid to the country.

        The Prime Minister said: "In the last days the world has witnessed awe-inspiring displays of bravery and heroism from the Ukrainian people in response to those who seek to obliterate their freedom by force. 

        "The UK will not turn our backs in Ukraine’s hour of need. We are providing all the economic and military support we can to help those Ukrainians risking everything to protect their country."

        This latest assistance package brings the total amount of UK Government aid pledged to Ukraine this year to £140 million.

      • Joseph Gamp

        Boris Johnson visits Ukrainian Cathedral of the Holy Family in London

        In his address to the Ukrainian Cathedral of the Holy Family, in Mayfair, London this evening, Boris Johnson said the UK was Ukraine's "neighbour" and compared the current crisis to the story of the Good Samaritan in The Bible.

        He said: "We are neighbours in the words of the gospel. We are neighbours to Ukraine because Ukrainians are literally our neighbours.

        "Hundreds of thousands have come to live and work in this country over the decades, making an immeasurable contribution to British society and that is the reason why we are neighbours. That's one reason.

        "And then we are neighbours because we share Ukrainian ideals of freedom and democracy and independence.

        "We must not and cannot allow those ideals to be trampled on and crushed on our European continent and we will not – and that is the second reason why we are your neighbours.

        "There is a more fundamental point and this is the point that Jesus was actually getting at in that parable of the Good Samaritan, which is that, even if we did not feel those emotional ties as we do, even if we did not have that political bond, the geo-strategic bond between us, it would still be right to help Ukraine in any way that we can."

      • Joseph Gamp

        Zelensky: Russia must be held accountable

        Ukraine has submitted an application against Russia to the Hague, following his allegation this morning that Moscow’s invasion amounted to genocide, president Volodymyr Zelenksy has claimed.

        “Ukraine has submitted its application against Russia to the [International Court of Justice],” Mr Zelensky tweeted.

        “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.”

      • Joseph Gamp

        Greece to send ‘defence equipment’

        Greece will send “defence equipment” and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, the prime minister’s office has announced today.

        Newswire AFP reports the details from Athens: “Two military transport planes were to depart for Poland on Sunday, prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ office said in a statement, without adding further details about what equipment they would be carrying.

        “A separate shipment of humanitarian aid was also to be sent the same day, accompanied by deputy defence Minister Nikos Hardalias”, it added.

      • Joseph Gamp

        Putin orders military to put nuclear deterrent forces on ‘high alert’

        Vladimir Putin has this afternoon ordered Russian nuclear deterrent forces on high alert amid tensions with the West over his invasion of Ukraine.

        Mr Putin said leading NATO powers had made “aggressive statements” after he sent thousands of Russian troops into Ukraine on Thursday.

        The West has also imposed hard-hitting financial sanctions against Russia, with some targeting the president himself.

        Today, Mr Putin ordered the Russian defence minister and the chief of the military’s general staff to put the nuclear deterrent forces in a “special regime of combat duty”.

      • Joseph Gamp

        FA: England won't play Russia 'for the foreseeable future'

        The Football Association has announced England will not play against Russia in any international fixture "for the foreseeable future" following the invasion of Ukraine.

        A statement on Sunday evening followed announcements by the football associations of Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic – all future or potential opponents of Russia in World Cup qualifying – that they will refuse to play Russia at any venue.

        The FA's statement said: "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.

        "This includes any potential match at any level of senior, age group or para football."

      • Joseph Gamp

        BP to offload shares in Russian state oil firm Rosneft

        Oil giant BP will offload its 19.75% shareholding in Russian state-owned oil firm, Rosneft, according to a statement from the company.

        "The bp board today announced that BP will exit its shareholding in Rosneft. Bp has held a 19.75% shareholding in Rosneft since 2013," the statement published on Sunday said.

        Chief Executive Officer Bernard Looney will also resign immediately from Rosneft's board, according to the statement.

        The British company had faced calls from the UK government to offload its ownership stake following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

        Looney said he “like so many" others was "deeply shocked and saddened by the situation unfolding in Ukraine," which prompted the company "to fundamentally rethink bp’s position with Rosneft."

        "I am convinced that the decisions we have taken as a board are not only the right thing to do, but are also in the long-term interests of bp," the CEO added.

        BP chair Helge Lund added that "the Rosneft holding is no longer aligned with Bp’s business and strategy."

      • Joseph Gamp

        Putin orders Russia's nuclear deterrent forces to go on high alert

        Vladimir Putin has ordered that Russia's nuclear deterrent forces are put on high alert.

        The president said aggressive statements by NATO leaders and economic sanctions against Moscow were behind the decision.

        Speaking on state television on Sunday, he said: "As you can see, not only do Western countries take unfriendly measures against our country in the economic dimension – illegitimate sanctions that everyone knows about.

        "But also the highest-ranking officials of leading NATO countries are allowing themselves to make aggressive statements in relation to our country.

        "For this reason I order the minister of defence and the chief of general staff to put deterrent forces on special combat duty."

      • Joseph Gamp

        Fears Ukraine's Antonov An-225, the world's largest plane 'destroyed'

        There are fears that the world's largest plane by length, the Antonov AN-225, has been damaged amid intense fighting in Ukraine.

        Only a single aircraft was ever completed, making its first flight in December 1988.

        Since then, it has set a variety of records for its cargo capabilities.

        Ukraine's parliament said on Sunday that the aircraft has been "destroyed" by Russian forces.

        It said in a tweet: "In 2020, the world's largest transport aircraft AN-225 Mriya began to perform humanitarian flights and deliver medical supplies to combat the coronavirus in the EU.

        "Then Ukraine defended Europe from the pandemic.

        "Today, Russian troops have destroyed the world's aviation legend."

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