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Russia-Ukraine talks due to begin at 9 am GMT; Russian currency plummets as sanctions hit; Belarus referendum result could lead to Russian nuclear arms on its soil

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  • How Ukrainian defiance has derailed Putin’s plans
  • Tell us: how have you been affected?

Talks between Ukraine and Russia have started, Ukrainian presidential advisor, says

Talks between Ukraine and Russia have started at the Belarussian border, Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak has told the Reuters news agency.

Earlier the Ukrainian president’s office said Kyiv’s goal for the discussions was an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of all Russian forces from Ukraine.

The Kremlin has accused the European Union of hostile behaviour towards Russia, saying weapons supplies to Ukraine were dangerous and destabilising and proved that Russia was right in its efforts to demilitarise its neighbour.

The West has stepped up arms supplies to Ukraine in order to help it defend against a Russian invasion that Moscow calls a “special military operation” aimed at protecting civilians, Reuters reported.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on the number of casualties Russian forces have suffered, or to elaborate on President Vladimir Putin’s instructions at the weekend for Russia’s nuclear deterrence forces to be placed on a “special regime”.

PEN International, the literary and free expression organisation, has released a letter signed by 1,040 writers from around the world, expressing solidarity with writers, journalists, artists and the people of Ukraine.

The letter condemns the Russian invasion and calls for an immediate end to the bloodshed, with signatories including Nobel laureates Svetlana Alexievitch, Orhan Pamuk, Maria Ressa, and Olga Tokarczuk.

Among the writers who have signed it are Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Max Porter, Paul Auster and Edmund de Waal.

Lithuania’s government has announced it will ask prosecutors at the International Criminal Court to investigate “war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine”.

“There is new material coming in every day, but we have enough of it by now to file the request,” Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said in a televised cabinet meeting.

A Ukrainian MP who has taken up arms to defend the country’s capital city from the Russian invasion has said she will do so “as long as needed”.

Kira Rudik, the leader of the Voice party in the Rada parliament, said she was confident she could shoot a Russian soldier if one came to her home.

Her comments came as the economic toll of sanctions against Russia started to become clear, with the rouble falling by 26% against the US dollar after western nations moved to block Russian banks from the Swift global payment system.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland on Monday, the MP said:

“”I don’t have any plans to leave. This is my city, this is my country, and I plan to defend it for as long as will be needed.

There is no chance that some Russian crazy dictator would be able to push me away from where I live and where I love.””

Families have been torn apart in the biggest European conflict since the second world war, as Ukrainian women and children left their husbands and fathers behind after the authorities ordered men aged 18-60 to stay and fight Russian forces.

“We left dad in Kyiv and dad will be selling things and helping our heroes, our army, he might even fight,” Mark Goncharuk, a young boy choking with tears, said as he and his relatives fled the capital.

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