KYIV: The Ukrainian president’s office has confirmed that a delegation will meet with Russian officials as troops from Moscow close in on Kyiv.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office said on the Telegram messaging app on Sunday that the two sides would meet at an unspecified location on the Belarusian border and did not give a specific time for the meeting.
News of the meeting came shortly after President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s nuclear forces to be on high alert in response to what he called “aggressive statements” from the world’s major powers. NATO.
From Moscow to Siberia, Russian anti-war activists took to the streets again on Sunday to protest the Russian invasion of Ukraine, despite police arresting hundreds of protesters daily.
Demonstrators picketed and marched through city centers chanting “No to war! as President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s nuclear deterrent to be put on high alert, upping the ante in the Kremlin’s standoff with the West and stoking fears of nuclear war.
“I have two sons and I don’t want to give them to that damn monster. War is a tragedy for all of us,” Dmitry Maltsev, 48, who joined the rally in St. Petersburg, told The Associated Press.
Demonstrations against the invasion began in Russia on Thursday and have continued daily since, even as Russian police moved quickly to quell the rallies and arrest protesters. The Kremlin has sought to play down the protests, insisting that a much larger share of Russians support the assault on Ukraine.
In St. Petersburg, where several hundred people gathered in the city center, police in full riot gear grabbed one protester after another and dragged some into police vans, even though the demonstration was peaceful. Footage from Moscow showed police throwing several female protesters to the ground before leading them away.
According to rights group OVD-Info which tracks political arrests, on Sunday night police arrested at least 1,474 Russians in 45 cities for anti-war protests that day.
Four days after the start of fighting that left dozens dead, Putin dramatically raised the stakes on Sunday, ordering Russian military forces to be on high alert, citing Western countries “taking hostile action against our country in the economic sphere” and “senior officials of the main NATO members have made aggressive statements regarding our country.”
The day before, the United States and its European allies warned that the next round of sanctions could include freezing the Russian Central Bank’s hard currency reserves and cutting Russia off from the SWIFT international payment system. This unprecedented decision could quickly plunge the Russian economy into chaos.
Ordinary Russians fear that harsh sanctions will deal a crippling blow to the country’s economy. Since Thursday, Russians have been flocking to banks and ATMs to withdraw cash, creating long queues and reporting on social media that ATMs are running out of cash.
According to Russia’s Central Bank, Russians withdrew 111 billion rubles (about $1.3 billion) in cash on Thursday alone.
Sunday’s anti-war protests appeared smaller and more dispersed than those on the first day of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, when thousands gathered in Moscow and St Petersburg, but their true scale was hard to gauge and seemed to pick up speed as the day progressed.
“This is a crime against Ukraine and Russia. I think it is killing both Ukraine and Russia. I am outraged, I have not slept for three nights and I think we must now declare loudly that we don’t want to be killed and Ukraine doesn’t want to be killed,” said Olga Mikheeva, who demonstrated in the Siberian city of Irkutsk.
About 100,000 people came to Berlin to protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and show their solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
Police said large crowds filled the area originally planned for the protest, around the Brandenburg Gate in central Berlin, and were allocating additional space to accommodate protesters.
Sunday’s protest was peaceful, including many families with children.
People waved yellow and blue Ukrainian flags to show their support.
Some carried placards with slogans such as “Hands off Ukraine” and “Putin, go to therapy and leave Ukraine and the world in peace.”
Beate Schmid, who works as a scientist in Berlin, said she works closely with Ukrainian academics.
“Their sons, brothers and husbands are now conscripted to fight the Russians,” she said.
“It’s so sad. Just amazing.”