Ukraine-Russia talks begin as U.S. imposes fresh sanctions on Moscow

This is CNBC’s live blog tracking Monday’s developments in Russia’s attack on Ukraine. See below for the latest updates.

A Ukrainian delegation has arrived near the border with Belarus to hold talks with Russian officials.

Ukraine’s armed forces continue to hold off Russian troops, defending and retaining control of key cities, and slowing Russia’s advance on Kyiv.

Meanwhile, the central bank of Russia more than doubled its key interest rate on Monday, as the ruble plummeted after heavy sanctions were imposed on Moscow by the West.31 MIN AGO

U.S. lawmakers to receive classified briefings on Ukraine as conflict intensifies

The statue of Grief and History at the Peace Monument is seen in front of the U.S. Capitol dome.Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

U.S. lawmakers will receive a classified briefing from Biden administration officials on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine on Monday evening.

The House briefing is slated to begin at 5:15 p.m. ET followed by the Senate at 7:15 p.m. ET, according to NBC News.

Both chambers will be briefed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo and Isobel Coleman, deputy administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

 — Amanda Macias42 MIN AGO

Switzerland imposes sanctions on Russia

The Swiss government has announced it will adopt the sanctions imposed on Russia by the EU with immediate effect.

This will include taking action to freeze the assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Switzerland will also deliver relief supplies to people who have fled Ukraine and are now in Poland.

“Switzerland is responding to the serious violations of international law for which these individuals are responsible,” the Swiss government said in a statement on Monday. “The ban on imports, exports and investments concerning Crimea and Sevastopol, which has been in place since 2014, has been extended to the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which are no longer under the control of the Ukrainian government.”

Swiss airspace will also be closed to all flights from Russia.

— Chloe Taylor1 HOUR AGO

Airbnb says it will offer free short-term housing for up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees

Airbnb announced Monday that it will offer free short-term housing for up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine.

The company had sent letters to the leaders of Poland, Germany, Hungary and Romania to offer support in welcoming refugees, Airbnb said in a statement. The company said it would work closely with governments to address country-specific needs such as providing longer-term stays.

U.N. Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Monday that more than 500,000 refugees have now fled Ukraine into neighboring countries.  

— Chloe Taylor2 HOURS AGO

U.S. expands sanctions against Russia, targets central bank and ministry of finance

Russian President Vladimir Putin enters a hall before a meeting with members of the Security Council via a video link in Moscow, Russia February 25, 2022.Alexey Nikolsky | Sputnik | Reuters

The Biden administration announced sanctions against Russia’s central bank, the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation and Russia’s Ministry of Finance, moves that effectively prohibit Americans from doing any business with the entities.

The action will also freeze any assets within the United States.

“We wanted to put these actions in place before our markets open because what we learned over the course of the weekend from our allies and partners was the Russian Central Bank was attempting to move assets and there would be a great deal of asset flight starting on Monday morning from institutions around the world,” explained a senior Biden administration official on a call with reporters.

The official said that the U.S. expects its allies to take similar steps in the coming days.

 Amanda Macias2 HOURS AGO

UN to consider whether Russia has committed war crimes in Ukraine

An urgent U.N. session will be held on Thursday to consider whether Russia has committed war crimes in Ukraine, according to Reuters.

It will involve three independent experts looking into alleged violations of international law in Crimea and eastern Ukraine since 2014, and in the rest of Ukraine since Russia invaded the country last week, the news agency reported on Monday.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Kyiv submitted documents to the U.N. last week in which it accused Russia of carrying out atrocities that amounted to war crimes.

Yevheniia Filipenko, Ukrainian ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, told a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting on Monday that Russian forces had attempted to “sow panic among [Ukraine’s] population by specifically targeting kindergartens and orphanages, hospitals and mobile medical aid brigades, thus committing acts that may amount to war crimes.”

— Chloe Taylor3 HOURS AGO

U.S. closes Minsk embassy, scales back personnel in Moscow

The U.S. embassy in Moscow, Russia.Invizbk | Istock Unreleased | Getty Images

The U.S. is suspending its operations at its embassy in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, and authorized the departure of non-emergency personnel at its embassy in Moscow, Russia.

In a statement on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the steps had been taken due to security and safety issues stemming from the Russian attack on Ukraine.

“The Department of State continually adjusts its posture at embassies and consulates throughout the world in line with its mission, the local security environment, and the health situation,” Blinken said. “We ultimately have no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens, and that includes our U.S. government personnel and their dependents serving around the world.”

— Chloe Taylor3 HOURS AGO

ECB ready to act to prevent market dislocation over Ukraine, official says

A euro currency symbol sits on display in the visitor centre at the European Central Bank (ECB) building in Frankfurt, Germany.Alex Kraus | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The European Central Bank must act prudently while uncertainty around the crisis in Ukraine persists, ECB board member Fabio Panetta said in a speech Monday.

“The dramatic conflict in Ukraine is now weighing negatively on both supply and demand conditions, making uncertainty more acute and exacerbating risks to the medium-term inflation outlook on both sides,” he said.

Panetta added that the “unjustifiable” invasion of Ukraine had made the need for caution at the ECB even greater, noting: “The world has become darker, and our steps should be smaller still.”

“In this environment, it would be unwise to pre-commit on future policy steps until the fallout from the current crisis becomes clearer,” Panetta said.

But he added that the ECB stands ready to act to avoid any dislocation in financial markets that could stem from the war in Ukraine — and that if measures did prove necessary, the ECB “should intervene with equal determination, using all our instruments.”

— Chloe Taylor3 HOURS AGO

German soccer team Schalke 04 cuts ties with Russia’s Gazprom

Schalke has decided to remove the logo of its main sponsor, Gazprom, from its jerseys. Instead the lettering ‘Schalke 04’ will appear on the players’ chests.Thomas Niedermueller | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images

German soccer club Schalke 04 has ended its sponsorship deal with Russian state-owned energy firm Gazprom.

In a statement on Monday, Schalke 04 said it was in talks with Gazprom representatives after the soccer team’s managing and supervisory boards had decided to end the partnership prematurely.

— Chloe Taylor3 HOURS AGO

NATO chief: We have no intentions of moving into Ukraine

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a press conference on the second day of a NATO Defence Ministers meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, on February 17, 2022.Kenzo Tribouillard | AFP | Getty Images

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated that the Western military alliance has “no intentions of moving into Ukraine neither on the ground or in the airspace,” in an interview with NBC News on Monday morning.

Stoltenberg said he had spoken to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday morning. In their conversation, Stoltenberg said he had “reiterated the strong support from NATO allies and also informed him that we are stepping up, so allies are providing more anti-tank air defense missiles, military aid, financial support, because we stand with Ukraine.”

However, Stoltenberg stressed that NATO would not get caught up in the conflict by sending troops in on the ground to Ukraine.

— Vicky McKeever4 HOURS AGO

Putin ‘rather indifferent’ to sanctions, Kremlin says

Sergey Guneev | Sputnik | Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits the construction site of the National Space Agency on the premises of the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Centre, in Moscow, Russia February 27, 2022.Sergey Guneev | Sputnik | Reuters

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin was “rather indifferent” to the West’s sanctions.

In a press briefing, Peskov said the sanctions included “rather absurd provisions” on Putin personally.

He added that “Russia’s economic reality had changed but there is no reason to doubt the effectiveness and reliability of the central bank.”

“The Russian Federation was preparing for the possible sanctions in advance. Even to the harshest sanctions,” he also told reporters.

— Chloe Taylor4 HOURS AGO

Russian stock market remains closed

Russia’s stock market and derivatives market will remain closed on Monday.

“Due to the current situation, the Bank of Russia has decided not to open a stock market section and a derivatives market section on the Moscow Exchange today,” the Central Bank of Russia said in a statement translated by NBC News.

“The operating hours of the Moscow Exchange on March 1, 2022 will be announced on the official website of the Bank of Russia before 09:00 Moscow time on March 1, 2022.”

— Chloe Taylor4 HOURS AGO

Japan joins further coordinated sanctions against Russia

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks to press members at Prime Minister’s official residence in Tokyo, Japan after a session on December 21, 2021.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Monday that Tokyo will impose “even stronger” sanctions against Russia.

These will include freezing the assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin and other Russian government officials and participating in the exclusion of Russian banks from the SWIFT network, Kishida said on Twitter.

Kishida said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was “an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by force” and a “clear violation of international law [that] cannot be forgiven by any means.”

In addition to the $100 million already loaned to Kyiv, Japan will provide $100 million in emergency humanitarian assistance, he added.

Kishida’s announcement came after he spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss Japan’s response to the escalating conflict.

— Chloe Taylor4 HOURS AGO

UN records at least 406 civilian casualties in Ukraine

There have been at least 406 civilian casualties in Ukraine since Thursday, according to the U.N.’s Human Rights Office.

Speaking at the organization’s 49th Human Rights Council meeting on Monday, Michelle Bachelet, U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights, said the U.N. had recorded 102 civilian deaths, including seven children, in Ukraine between Thursday morning and Sunday night.

Meanwhile, 304 civilians had been injured in the conflict.

“The military attack on Ukraine is putting at risk countless lives,” Bachelet said. “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.”

“The real figures are, I fear, considerably higher,” she added.

— Chloe Taylor4 HOURS AGO

NATO chief says alliance ready to increase Baltic presence

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg speaks as he holds a news conference following an extraordinary meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, in Brussels, Belgium, February 22, 2022.Yves Herman | Reuters

In a tweet on Monday, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the military alliance stands ready to do more to enhance its defensive presence in the Baltic region.

— Chloe Taylor5 HOURS AGO

Talks between Ukraine and Russia have begun

Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Delegations of Ukraine and Russia arrive to attend peace talks between two countries at the Gomel region, which borders both sides to the conflict in Belarus on February 28, 2022.

One of the delegates Kyiv has sent to the Belarusian border for negotiations with Moscow has said talks with Russian officials have begun, according to Reuters.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to the Ukrainian Presidential Office, confirmed in a text message to the news agency on Monday that talks were underway.

— Chloe Taylor5 HOURS AGO

Almost half a million Ukrainians have fled the country, U.N. says

Pavlo Palamarchuk | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Refugees on the platform of Lviv railway station are seen waiting for trains to Poland on Feb. 27th, 2022.Pavlo Palamarchuk | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Laura Padoan, a spokesperson for the U.N. Refugee Agency, said on Monday that 422,000 people have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries.

Meanwhile, more than 100,000 people have been displaced within Ukraine, she said on Twitter.

— Chloe Taylor5 HOURS AGO

Kremlin accuses EU of hostile behavior over supply of weapons to Ukraine

The Kremlin said Monday that the supply of weapons to Ukraine is dangerous and an example of hostile behavior from the EU toward Russia, Reuters reported.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov also told reporters that Moscow regretted the fact that talks had not started on Sunday, noting that the Ukrainian side had just arrived, according to Reuters.

He declined to comment on what Russia hoped to achieve during talks with Ukraine.

— Chloe Taylor6 HOURS AGO

Zelenskyy asks EU to immediately accept Ukraine as new member state

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has asked the EU for Ukraine’s immediate accession to the bloc.

“We appeal to the EU to accept Ukraine immediately under the new special procedure,” he said in a video address Monday, according to an NBC News translation.

“We are grateful to our partners for being with us, but our goal is to be with all Europeans and, most importantly, to be equal. I am sure it is fair, I am sure that we deserve it. I’m sure it’s possible.”

Countries must meet strict standards and criteria in order to be accepted into the EU, and there is usually “a pre-accession period of varying length,” according to the European Commission.

— Chloe Taylor7 HOURS AGO

Ukrainian officials arrive at Belarusian border for talks with Russia

Sergei Kholodilin | Reuters

Members of the Ukrainian delegation disembark from a helicopter as they arrive for talks with Russian representatives in the Gomel region, Belarus February 28, 2022.

A Ukrainian delegation has arrived at Ukraine’s border with Belarus to hold talks with Russian officials, the Ukrainian president’s office has announced.

In a statement on the Ukrainian Parliament’s official Telegram account, the government said Ukraine’s delegation included Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, Presidential Office Advisor Mykhailo Podolyak, and Deputy Foreign Minister Mykola Tochytsky, among others.

“The main subject of the negotiations is an immediate cease-fire and the withdrawal of troops from Ukraine,” the statement said.

— Chloe Taylor7 HOURS AGO

Russia’s central bank more than doubles interest rate as ruble plummets

The Central Bank of Russia announced Monday that it would raise its key interest rate to 20%, up from 9.5%, as the ruble hit a record low against the dollar.

The rate hike “is designed to offset increased risk of ruble depreciation and inflation,” the central bank said.

It comes after attempts to halt foreigners’ bids to sell Russian securities to contain the market fallout from a slew of sanctions imposed on Moscow by the West.

The ruble fell as far as 119.50 per dollar on Monday, down a whopping 30% from Friday’s close.

Read more from CNBC’s Natasha Turak here.7 HOURS AGO

Ukrainian forces slowing Russian advance on Kyiv, British government says

Ukrainian service members collect unexploded shells after a fighting with Russian raiding group in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv in the morning of February 26, 2022, according to Ukrainian service personnel at the scene.

Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images

The U.K. Ministry of Defense has said the majority of Russia’s ground forces remain more than 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) to the north of the Ukrainian capital.

The advance of Russian troops on Kyiv has been slowed by Ukrainian forces defending Hostomel Airport, the U.K. Defense Ministry added, an airfield near Kyiv which Moscow had hoped to take on the first day of its invasion.

The airport, which handles heavy cargo flights, would enable Russia to airlift troops directly into Kyiv.

Meanwhile, heavy fighting continued around the cities of Chernihiv, a northern city close to Kyiv, and Kharkiv, in northwest Ukraine, although neither city had fallen to Russia, according to U.K. government intelligence.

“Logistical failures and staunch Ukrainian resistance continue to frustrate the Russian advance,” the British MoD said in its update on Monday.

“Despite continued attempts to suppress details of the conflict from the Russian population, the Russian Armed Forces has for the first time been forces to acknowledge suffering casualties.”

— Chloe Taylor9 HOURS AGO

Russia’s nuclear weapons are Putin’s only ‘major leverage,’ says risk consultancy

Russia’s nuclear weapons are its only ‘major leverage’: Risk consultancy

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order to put his country’s nuclear deterrence forces on high alert is a “very dangerous escalation” of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, said Oksana Antonenko, director of global risk analysis at Control Risks.

As Western sanctions against Russian officials and establishments continue to increase, and as the country’s economy will soon take a “massive hit,” Russia’s nuclear weapons are Putin’s only “major leverage” against the West and Ukraine, she told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Monday.

“It is unlikely that President Putin is threatening to launch nuclear weapons against the West,” but it is still “very much a threat directed to Ukraine” as weapons are being deployed to the Western part of Russia, she said.

However, Putin isn’t showing “victories in the battlefield” and has “painted himself in a corner,” as Ukrainian forces remain highly motivated to defend their country against Russian aggression, Antonenko said.

She added that “Russia was not able to secure control of any of the major towns within Ukraine” and has yet to secure a military victory.

Planned talks between the delegates representing the Ukrainian and Russian governments are unlikely to cause a cease-fire soon as “the only agreement that is possible at the moment is for Russia to withdraw its forces from the territory of Ukraine,” but that will not be accepted by Putin at the moment, Antonenko said.

— Charmaine Jacob19 HOURS AGO

Ukrainian refugees cross border into Medyka, Poland

CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick reports from Medyka, just a few hundred yards from the Ukraine-Poland border. Support mechanisms are being put in place for those fleeing the violence in the Ukraine-Russia war.

As the severity of the fighting in Ukraine intensifies, there are fears that an exodus from the war being measured, at the moment, in the thousands could tragically be measured in the millions within the coming days.

Ukrainian refugees cross border into Medyka, Poland

—Matt Clinch9 HOURS AGO

Sophisticated weapons are still getting into Ukrainian hands

West is sending Stinger missiles and fighter jets to Ukraine: Defense One editor

Western allies are still getting arms into Ukraine unhindered since Russia invaded the country, and those weapons are getting more sophisticated, according to a national security observer.

“It’s not just ammunition. It’s now Stinger missiles. It’s now fighter jets that have come in from the European Union,” Executive Editor Kevin Baron of security publication Defense One told CNBC’s “Capital Connection” on Monday.

Stinger missiles are shoulder-fired weapons designed to shoot down helicopters and other aircraft.

“This is quite a significant increase of firepower being given to the Ukrainians,” he said.

It’s unclear by what means the allied countries are still getting weaponry into Ukrainian hands, Baron said.

No NATO troops are being deployed to Ukraine, he said, “at least not overtly.”

—Ted Kemp10 HOURS AGO

Ukraine general says Kyiv defenders inflict ‘significant personnel losses’ on Russian troops

Ukrainian soldiers examine a destroyed Russian infantry vehicle on February 27, 2022.Sergey Bobok | Afp | Getty Images

Alexander Syrsky, the Ukrainian general in command of Kyiv’s defense, said in a Facebook post that the “situation is under control” in the capital.

Syrsky’s statement is corroborated by the most recent updates from U.S. Department of Defense and U.K. Defence Ministry.

“All attempts by the Russian Occupation Forces to achieve their goal failed. Convoys of occupiers’ equipment were destroyed,” he said, according to an NBC News translation.

“The enemy suffered significant personnel losses. Russian troops are demoralized and exhausted,” Syrsky said. “We have shown that we know how to protect our home from uninvited guests.”

Individual military accounts are difficult to confirm as much of Ukraine remains inaccessible and the situation on the ground shifts constantly.

—Ted Kemp11 HOURS AGO

Support for Putin could wane if sanctions hit his inner circle hard, says analyst

SWIFT restrictions against Russia are a ‘blunt instrument,’ says think tank

Public support for Russian President Vladimir Putin will wane if people “wake up tomorrow or today and they see suddenly that their savings are worth a quarter of what they were on Friday. That has an impact,” said Douglas Rediker, a nonresident senior fellow at Brookings Institute. 

Western nations could roll out further sanctions targeting the Russian leader’s inner circle, such as the oligarchs, which could undermine his grip on power, said Rediker.

If the oligarchs are “never going to see their yachts” again or “never going to be able to go to that mansion”  — that potentially has “a chilling effect on their lives, their wealth accumulation, and their support for Putin,” he noted. 

“I think you’re certainly going to see more granularity than what was announced over the past seven years,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Monday. 

“You are going to see the list of banks that are included in the SWIFT sanctions protocol. You’re going to see oligarchs that are named. I would look for some high-profile seizures of mansions and yachts and jets in the coming days,” he added.

The U.S., European allies and Canada agreed Saturday to remove key Russian banks from the interbank messaging system, SWIFT, which serves as an internal messaging system between more than 11,000 banks and financial institutions in over 200 countries and territories. The move is an extraordinary step that will sever the country from much of the global financial system.

— Sumathi Bala13 HOURS AGO

Ukraine defenders turn back Russian attacks at Kyiv, Kharkiv, Kherson

More than four days into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the smaller country’s defenders continue to frustrate Russian attempts on its major cities.

“Russian forces are continuing to advance into Ukraine from multiple axis but are continuing to be met with stiff resistance from the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” the U.K. Defence ministry said.

Ukraine retains control of capital Kyiv and its second-biggest city, Kharkiv, despite heavy fighting, according to the latest intelligence update from the ministry, and others.

Ukrainian defenders also maintain their hold on Kherson, a third major city targeted by Moscow planners, a senior U.S. Defense official said Sunday on condition of anonymity.

Russian advances are being slowed by “fuel and logistics shortages, especially in Kharkiv, but also on the advance to Kyiv,” the U.S. Defense official said.

Meanwhile, Europe and the United States show unified opposition to Vladimir Putin’s designs on Ukraine, announcing economic sanctions and weapons shipments.

“Mr. Putin says he doesn’t want a strong NATO on his western flank,” said U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in a statement from the Pentagon on Sunday night ET. “He’s getting exactly that.”

—Ted Kemp12 HOURS AGO

Zelenskyy is trying to ‘play the long game’ as Ukraine defends Kyiv, security expert says

WATCH NOWVIDEO02:27Political consultancy firm discusses the EU supplying Ukraine with aircrafts

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a “race against time,” said Fabrice Pothier of Rasmussen Global.

While Putin is trying to take Kyiv in order to dictate the terms of “surrender, territorial grab, and the kind of regime he would like to see”, Pothier said Ukraine’s Zelenskyy is trying to “play the long game.”

The Ukrainian president is trying to delay Russia’s takeover of Kyiv as much as possible in order to garner international support and possibly even military aid, explained Pothier, who is chief strategy officer of Rasmussen Global.

“I think the talks [between Russia and Ukraine] are more about also Zelenskyy showing that he’s not giving up on diplomacy, even though he is very much focused on fighting back,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

“We’re still very much in a military competition,” he said. “The question is, who is going to control time here?”

— Chelsea Ong16 HOURS AGO

Dow futures open sharply lower amid uncertainty over the global economic fallout of Russia’s attack on Ukraine

A street sign for Wall Street is seen in the financial district in New York, November 8, 2021.

A street sign for Wall Street is seen in the financial district in New York, November 8, 2021.Brendan McDermid | Reuters

U.S. stock futures tumbled in overnight trading on Sunday amid jitters over the global economic fallout of Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

Dow futures opened down more than 500 points before recovering a bit, while the S&P 500 futures sank 2.3% and Nasdaq 100 futures dropped 2.7%.

The losses came on top of volatile trading last week, as geopolitical tensions escalated and calls for harsh sanctions on Russia added to the uncertainty. Early Thursday local time, Moscow launched military action in Ukraine.

All eyes were also on the Russian ruble, which was set to plunge at least 19% as banks offered it at around 100 rubles per dollar on Sunday, according to Reuters. It closed Friday at 84 rubles per dollar.