Live updates: Ukraine rejects Belarus as venue for talks | Radio WGN 720

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The latest on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine:

KYIV, Ukraine – Ukraine’s president has said his country is ready for peace talks with Russia, but not with Belarus, which was a staging ground for the invasion of Moscow three days ago.

Speaking in a video message on Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelensky named Warsaw, Bratislava, Istanbul, Budapest or Baku as alternative locations. He said other locations were also possible, but clarified that Ukraine did not accept Russia’s selection of Belarus.

The Kremlin said on Sunday that a Russian delegation had arrived in the Belarusian town of Homel for talks with Ukrainian officials. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the delegation included military officials and diplomats.

“The Russian delegation is ready for the talks, and now we are waiting for the Ukrainians,” Peskov said.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday, with troops flowing in from Moscow’s ally Belarus in the north, as well as from the east and south.

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MOSCOW — The Kremlin has announced that a Russian delegation has arrived in the Belarusian town of Homel for talks with Ukrainian officials.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the delegation included military officials and diplomats. “The Russian delegation is ready for the talks, and now we are waiting for the Ukrainians,” Peskov said.

There was no immediate comment from Ukrainian officials, who had previously expressed their own willingness for peace talks with Russia but did not mention specific details about their location and timing.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday and its troops are closing in on the capital, Kyiv, and making significant gains along the country’s coast.

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KYIV, Ukraine – Ukrainian authorities said Russian troops have entered Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, and fighting is ongoing in the streets.

Oleh Sinehubov, the head of the Kharkiv regional administration, said on Sunday that Ukrainian forces were fighting Russian troops in the city and asked civilians not to leave their homes.

Russian troops approached Kharkiv, which is located about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) south of the border with Russia, shortly after Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine on Thursday. But until Sunday they remained on its outskirts without trying to enter the city as other forces moved past, pushing their offensive deeper into Ukraine.

Videos circulating on Ukrainian media and social media showed Russian vehicles driving through Kharkiv and a light vehicle on fire in the street.

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TEL AVIV, Israel — An organization that facilitates Jewish immigration to Israel says it is stepping up efforts along Ukraine’s borders to absorb what it expects will be a wave of new immigrants fleeing the Russian invasion.

The Jewish Agency for Israel said late Saturday that it plans to open six treatment facilities along Ukraine’s borders with Poland, Moldova, Romania and Hungary. The organization said in a statement that it also plans to help Ukrainian Jews find temporary housing in border countries until they can move to Israel.

The agency said it helped a group of new immigrants enter Poland on Saturday where they were waiting for a flight to Israel.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry estimates that there are at least 120,000 Jews in Ukraine. Israel also has a large population of Ukrainian emigrants.

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LOS ANGELES — Elon Musk says his company SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service is now “active” in Ukraine.

The tech billionaire made the announcement on Twitter in response to a tweet from Ukraine’s digital transformation minister saying that while Musk is trying to “colonize Mars”, Russia is trying to occupy Ukraine. The minister called on Musk to equip his country with Starlink stations.

In his response on Saturday, Musk said, “Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals along the way.

Starlink is a satellite internet system that SpaceX has been building for years to bring internet access to underserved areas of the world. It bills itself as “ideally suited” for areas where internet service is unreliable or unavailable.

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UNITED NATIONS – The International Committee of the Red Cross says it is aware of requests by Ukraine’s UN ambassador and others to repatriate the bodies of Russian soldiers killed in action in Ukraine, but no there are no numbers.

Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya tweeted on Saturday that Ukraine had called on the ICRC “to facilitate the repatriation of the thousands of bodies of Russian soldiers” killed during its invasion of Ukraine. An accompanying chart indicated that 3,500 Russian soldiers had been killed.

Kyslytsya tweeted that parents in Russia should be given the opportunity “to bury them with dignity”. “Don’t let (Russian President Vladimir) Putin hide the scale of the tragedy,” he urged.

Laetitia Courtois, the ICRC’s permanent observer to the United Nations, told The Associated Press on Saturday evening that the current security situation “is a major concern and a limitation for our teams on the ground” and “we therefore cannot confirm the figures or other details”.

She said “the ICRC can act as a neutral intermediary” on the restitution of bodies and other humanitarian issues in times of conflict, including clarifying the fate of missing persons, reuniting families and advocating for the protection of detainees “as far as possible”.

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KYIV, Ukraine — The Ukrainian president’s office said Russian forces blew up a gas pipeline in Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city.

The state Communications and Information Special Protection Service warned that the blast, which it said resembled a mushroom cloud, could cause an “environmental disaster” and advised residents to cover their windows with a damp cloth or gauze and drink plenty of fluids.

Ukraine’s chief prosecutor Iryna Venediktova said Russian forces were unable to take Kharkiv, where a fierce battle was underway.

The city of 1.5 million people is located 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Russian border.

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GENEVA – The United Nations says it has confirmed at least 240 civilian casualties, including at least 64 people killed, in fighting in Ukraine that erupted since Russia invaded on Thursday – although it believes the “actual numbers are significantly higher. higher” because many reports of the casualties remain to be confirmed.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs of the United Nations relayed on Saturday evening the count of the office of human rights of the United Nations, which has strict methodologies and procedures for verifying the toll of conflicts.

OCHA also said damage to civilian infrastructure had deprived hundreds of thousands of people of access to electricity or water, and produced a map of “humanitarian situations” in Ukraine – mainly in the north, eastern and southern Ukraine.

The human rights office had reported on Friday morning a first count by its staff of at least 127 civilian victims – 25 people killed and 102 injured – mainly as a result of bombardments and air strikes.

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PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron has asked his Belarusian counterpart to demand that the country, a neighbor of Ukraine, quickly order the departure of Russian troops.

In a phone conversation on Saturday, Macron denounced “the seriousness of a decision that would allow Russia to deploy nuclear weapons on Belarusian soil,” a statement from the presidential palace said.

Macron told Alexander Lukashenko that the brotherhood between the Belarusian and Ukrainian peoples should lead Belarus to “refuse to be a vassal and an accomplice of Russia in the war against Ukraine,” the statement said.

Belarus was one of several axes used by Russia to launch attacks on Ukraine, with Belarus poised to move to the capital Kiev, a senior US defense official said.

Macron has been persistent in trying to broker a ceasefire amid the war, using the phone to talk to all sides, diplomacy and European Union sanctions.

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MOSCOW — Russia is closing its airspace to planes from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Slovenia, a move that comes as Moscow’s ties with the West plunge to new lows following its invasion of Ukraine .

Russia’s state aviation agency, Rosaviatsia, announced early Sunday that the action was taken in retaliation for the four nations closing their airspace to Russian planes.

On Saturday, the agency also reported the closure of Russian airspace to planes from Romania, Bulgaria, Poland and the Czech Republic in response to their action.

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WASHINGTON — The United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom agreed on Saturday to block “selected” Russian banks from the global financial messaging system SWIFT and to impose “restrictive measures” on its central bank in retaliation for his invasion of Ukraine.

The measures were jointly announced as part of a new round of financial sanctions intended to exact a heavy toll on Russia for the invasion.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she would also push the bloc to “cripple the assets of the Central Bank of Russia” so that its transactions are frozen.

Removing several commercial banks from SWIFT “will ensure that these banks are disconnected from the international financial system and will harm their ability to operate globally”, she said.

As a third measure, she said the EU would “commit to taking action to limit the sale of citizenship – the so-called golden passports – which allow wealthy Russians linked to the Russian government to become citizens of our countries and to access our financial systems”.

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COPENHAGEN – Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet says two freelancers working for the paper were injured when the car they were traveling in was hit by gunfire near the village of Ohtyrka in eastern Ukraine.

The journalist and photographer were taken to a local hospital, Ekstra Bladet said, adding that their injuries were not life-threatening. The newspaper was working with a security company to evacuate the two journalists.

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Follow AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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