(NEW YORK) — Russia’s military launched a long-feared invasion of Ukraine early Thursday, attacking its ex-Soviet neighbor from multiple directions despite warnings of dire consequences from the United States and the international community.
Thursday’s attacks followed weeks of escalating tensions in the region. In a fiery, hourlong speech on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he was recognizing the independence of two Russia-backed separatist areas in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region: the self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Russia has blamed Ukraine for stoking the crisis and reiterated its demands to NATO that Ukraine pledges to never join the transatlantic defense alliance.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Feb 28, 6:47 am
Russia hikes key rate to 20% as ruble tumbles
Russia’s central bank on Monday raised its key interest rate to 20% from 9.5% in an apparent effort to slow the fallout from severe international sanctions.
The rate hike came as the Russian ruble tumbled, trading down as much as 30% against the U.S. dollar on Monday, according to Bloomberg. The currency traded about 17% lower midday in Moscow.
The Russian stock market reportedly closed for the day.
-ABC News’ Zunaira Zaki
Feb 28, 6:23 am
500,000 refugees have fled Ukraine, UN says
More than 500,000 people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on Thursday, the U.N. Refugee Agency said on Monday.
More than half have crossed the border into Poland, the agency said. Filippo Grandi, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, had said on Sunday that 368,000 people had fled to neighboring countries.
-ABC News’ Zoe Magee
Feb 28, 5:00 am
Ukraine delegation arrives for talks with Russia
The Ukrainian delegation sent for talks with Russia arrived Monday morning at the Belarus-Ukraine border, where the meeting will be held.
Ukraine has said the key issue for the talks is an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops.
Russia has signalled it wants to discuss Ukraine adopting “neutral status.”
The head of Russia’s delegation has said the two sides will meet within about an hour. They are meeting on the Pripyat River, north of Chernobyl.
The Ukrainian delegation includes the Minister of Defense Oleksiy Reznikov, the head of Zelenskyy’s parliamentary party, as well as advisors to the president and MPs.
Russia’s delegation includes officials from the Foreign and Defense ministries, and the presidential administration.
The talks were agreed to on Sunday in a call between Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Belarus’ leader Alexander Lukashenko.
Fighting continued throughout the night, as Russia attempted to advance and bombarded Ukrainian forces.
-ABC News’ Patrick Reevell and Julia Drozd
Feb 28, 3:29 am
Russian advance slows north of Kyiv, UK military says
The U.K. Ministry of Defence said on Monday that the advance of Russian ground forces had been slowed by Ukraine’s defense of an airport in Hostomel, about 19 miles north of Kyiv.
“Logistical failures and staunch Ukrainian resistance continue to frustrate the Russian advance,” the ministry said on Twitter.
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