Talks Start as War Rages

from The Wall Street Journal,

Ukraine Fights Off Russian Attacks as Leaders Hold Talks

Prospects for cease-fire are uncertain; Russians shell neighborhoods in Kharkiv

A delegation led by Ukraine’s defense minister held cease-fire talks on Monday with Russian officials in Belarus as Russian forces shelled two residential neighborhoods in the eastern city of Kharkiv, killing at least 10 civilians, and Ukrainian defenders repelled attacks on the capital, Kyiv. The talks on the fifth day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine come after Russian forces have struggled to make headway in most of the country, and failed so far to take any of Ukraine’s major cities as they faced fierce resistance. Russia was pouring large reinforcement convoys across the border on Monday, in what could be preparation for a renewed push on Kyiv and an attempt to besiege it.

Russia’s financial system is starting to feel the impact of Western sanctions imposed at the weekend. The ruble nosedived and Russia’s central bank raised its key interest rate to 20% to try to prevent an outflow of deposits from Russian banks as sanctions curb their access to international markets. The U.S. and the European Union said at the weekend they would hinder Russia’s central bank from using its foreign reserves and exclude a number of Russian banks from the international Swift payments network, among other measures. The EU also closed its airspace to all Russian planes. As additional Russian forces entered Ukraine, Kyiv continued to bolster its own military by mobilizing 100,000 new troops and arming its units with sophisticated new weaponry flowing in from the West.

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