February 28, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Rob Picheta, Ed Upright, Maureen Chowdhury, Jason Kurtz, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022
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6:30 a.m. ET, February 28, 2022

Nearly 6,000 detained across Russia after fourth day of anti-war protests

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio and Anna Chernova in Moscow

Russian authorities have detained a total of 5,942 people for participating in anti-war protests across the country since the Kremlin ordered an invasion of Ukraine, independent monitoring site OVD-Info said on Sunday. 

According to the latest data, 2,802 people were detained for taking part in unsanctioned demonstrations in 57 cities throughout the country on Sunday, OVD-Info also reported. In Moscow alone, 1,275 people were detained.

So far there have been no indications of protests on Monday.  

Under Russian law, large demonstrations require protesters apply for a permit, which has to be submitted no more than 15 but no less than 10 days before the event. Heavy fines -- and in some cases even prison time -- can be imposed on those who protest without a permit.

Individuals are allowed to stage solo protests, but it is not unheard of for people to be detained for those as well.

On Thursday, Russia’s Investigative Committee warned that participation in any anti-war protest was illegal. It also said that offenses could be entered on participants’ criminal records which would “leave a mark on the person’s future”

9:14 a.m. ET, February 28, 2022

Ukraine-Russia talks start in Belarus

Russian Presidential Aide Vladimir Medinsky, left, and Russian State Duma member Leonid Slutsky, followed by the Ukrainian delegation arrive for Russian-Ukrainian talks in Belarus on February 28.
Russian Presidential Aide Vladimir Medinsky, left, and Russian State Duma member Leonid Slutsky, followed by the Ukrainian delegation arrive for Russian-Ukrainian talks in Belarus on February 28. (Alexandr Kryazhev/ Sputnik/AP)

Talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations in Belarus began just before 1 p.m. Ukrainian time (6 a.m. ET) on Monday.

Ukraine's delegation includes several high-ranking officials, but not Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky himself.

The country demanded an “immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Russian troops” in the lead-up to the meeting.

5:52 a.m. ET, February 28, 2022

The Moscow stock exchange will stay closed on Monday

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio in Moscow

Moscow's stock exchange will not open Monday, the Russian Central Bank said, after the country's currency plummeted in the wake of Western sanctions.

“Due to the current situation, the Bank of Russia has decided not to open a stock market section, a derivatives market section, or a derivatives market section on the Moscow Exchange today,” the statement from the bank read. 

The Russian Central Bank also said it would announce the opening times for Tuesday on the day, at 9:00 a.m. local time (1 a.m. ET) 

The suspension of trading comes after the Russian currency, the ruble, plunged nearly 30% on Monday, as markets began to assess the impact of sanctions imposed by the United States and NATO allies on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. 

7:37 a.m. ET, February 28, 2022

Ukrainians line up to buy food after lengthy curfew ends

From CNN’s Gul Tuysuz in Kyiv

People joined lines to buy provisions in Kyiv after restrictions on staying at home ended Monday.
People joined lines to buy provisions in Kyiv after restrictions on staying at home ended Monday. (Gul Tuysuz/CNN)

Long lines have been forming at supermarkets across Kyiv, after a 36-hour curfew lifted in the Ukrainian capital Monday.

The curfew was in place from 5 p.m. on Saturday until 8 a.m. on Monday morning and required all residents to stay at home.

A CNN producer who went to three supermarkets said the lines were extremely long and that shelves were emptying fast. 

Kyiv citizens queued up as food stores reopened, after many closed when bombing started last week.
Kyiv citizens queued up as food stores reopened, after many closed when bombing started last week. (Gul Tuysuz/CNN)

One person in a queue told CNN: “I think everyone in Ukraine is confused. I didn’t expect what happened, to happen. I am between feeling scared and totally angry.” 

Many food stores were shuttered since bombings in Kyiv started last week. People have reported shortages of certain supplies. 

Kyiv municipal authorities said grocery stories will be open and city public transport system will run at limited capacity.

5:32 a.m. ET, February 28, 2022

Kremlin declines comment on progress of invasion after facing days of strong resistance

From CNN's Anna Chernova and Nathan Hodge in Moscow, and Allegra Goodwin in London

The Kremlin declined to comment Monday on the progress of Russia's so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine, referring questions on the matter to the military.

“I don’t think this is the time to sum up the results of the [military] operation, we need to wait for completion of the operation,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in a conference call with journalists.

The Russian military has acknowledged casualties but has not given exact figures.

Moscow's invasion has encountered "stiffer than expected" resistance from the Ukrainian military as well as unexpected difficulties supplying its forces, two senior US officials with direct knowledge told CNN on Sunday.

Official civilian death toll reaches triple figures: The latest toll for civilian deaths in Ukraine stands at 102, with 304 people injured, but the true figure is feared to be “considerably higher,” the UN’s Michelle Bachelet said Monday. 

The death toll includes seven children, Bachelet said, adding: “Most of these civilians were killed by explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multi-launch rocket systems, and air strikes.” 

According to Bachelet, 422,000 people have fled Ukraine, while other civilians still in the country are “forced to huddle in different forms of bomb shelters, such as underground stations, to escape explosions.” 

5:19 a.m. ET, February 28, 2022

Ukraine asks to "urgently" join the European Union

From CNN's Radina Gigova

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers a video message from Kyiv as he asks the European Union to "urgently admit Ukraine" to the bloc on February 28.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers a video message from Kyiv as he asks the European Union to "urgently admit Ukraine" to the bloc on February 28. (President of Ukraine)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked the European Union on Monday to "urgently admit Ukraine" to the bloc.

"We appeal to the European Union to urgently admit Ukraine using a new procedure," Zelensky said in his latest video message.

"We are grateful to partners for standing with us. But our goal is to be with all Europeans and, to be equal to them. I am sure we deserve it. I am sure it is possible."

Zelensky said he spoke on Sunday with the Presidents of Portugal, Lithuania, France and Poland as well as the Prime Ministers of Belgium, Spain and the United Kingdom. "Support of our anti-war coalition is unconditional and unprecedented," Zelensky said. 

9:14 a.m. ET, February 28, 2022

The Russian ruble has plunged in value as sanctions impact banking systems

From CNN Business' Mark Thompson

Russia's currency crashed to a record low against the US dollar Monday as the country's financial system reeled from crushing sanctions imposed by Western countries in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

The ruble lost more than 30% of its value to trade at 109 to the dollar at 2.30 a.m. ET after earlier plummeting as much as 40%. The start of trading on the Russian stock market was delayed.

The latest barrage of sanctions came Saturday, when the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada said they would expel some Russian banks from SWIFT, a global financial messaging service, and "paralyze" the assets of Russia's central bank.

President Vladimir Putin's government has spent the last eight years preparing Russia for tough sanctions by building up a war chest of $630 billion in foreign currency reserves, but his "fortress" economy is now under unprecedented assault and at least some of that financial firepower is now frozen.

"We will also ban the transactions of Russia's central bank and freeze all its assets, to prevent it from financing Putin's war," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement Sunday.

The collapse in the currency prompted the Russian central back to implement emergency measures on Monday, including a huge hike in interest rates to 20% from 9.5%.

Read more here:

9:14 a.m. ET, February 28, 2022

Analysis: Is the Ukraine-Russia meeting a path forward or political sideshow?

Analysis by CNN's Nathan Hodge in Moscow

The stage is set for a meeting between Russia and Ukraine Monday on the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, near the Pripyat River.

Is this a diplomatic breakthrough or a political sideshow while Russia continues its offensive in Ukraine?

Let's be clear what this isn't: The meeting is not a summit between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Instead, it's a meeting between delegations from both sides. Zelensky's office said Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko called the Ukrainian President Sunday and offered safety guarantees, saying Lukashenko had "taken responsibility for ensuring that all planes, helicopters and missiles stationed on the Belarusian territory will remain on the ground during the Ukrainian delegation's travel, meeting and return."

But can Ukraine accept any guarantees from Lukashenko? This is the same leader whose authorities forced down a Ryanair flight over Belarusian airspace last year, alleging a "security alert," and arrested a young Belarusian dissident, prompting international outcry.

Monday's planned meeting follows a flurry of statements from the Kremlin, which claimed earlier the Ukrainian side had countered Russia's proposal to meet in Belarus with a proposal to meet in Warsaw and then dropped contact. Zelensky's office denied claims they refused to negotiate.

What should we expect from talks? Zelensky himself on Sunday set low expectations for the meeting, and it is tempting to guess that the meeting on the border will yield little. But it does offer Putin at least some potential room for an exit from the war in Ukraine, if his troops continue to encounter battlefield setbacks against Ukrainian forces.

Putin's offensive is still in its very early days, and Russia can commit more combat power to Ukraine. Quite ominously, Ramzan Kadyrov, the pro-Kremlin leader of Russia's Chechnya region, called on the Russian military Sunday to expand its offensive in Ukraine.

Read the full analysis here:

4:29 a.m. ET, February 28, 2022

Ukraine demands "immediate ceasefire" and withdrawal of Russian forces

From CNN’s Ivana Kottasova in Kyiv

Ukraine demanded an “immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Russian troops” on Monday as the country’s delegation arrived for talks with Russia at the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, a statement from the Ukrainian presidency said. 

The delegation includes several high-ranking officials, but not Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky himself.