Live updates: US official: Belarus may join Ukraine invasion

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A senior US intelligence official says Belarus is expected to send troops into Ukraine as soon as Monday to fight alongside Russian forces that invaded Ukraine last week

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The latest on the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine:

WASHINGTON — A senior US intelligence official says Belarus is expected to send troops into Ukraine as soon as Monday to fight alongside Russian forces that invaded Ukraine last week.

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Belarus has been providing support for Russia’s war effort, but so far has not taken a direct part in the conflict.

The American official has direct knowledge of current US intelligence assessments and says the decision by Belarus’ leader on whether to bring Belarus further into the war depends on talks between Russia and Ukraine happening in the coming days. The official spoke anonymously to discuss the sensitive information.

Russian forces have encountered strong resistance from Ukraine defenders, and US officials say they believe the invasion has been more difficult, and slower, than the Kremlin envisioned, though that could change as Moscow adapts.

— James LaPorta

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CLEVELAND — Russia has apparently rendered Facebook largely unusable across leading Russian telecommunications providers amid rising friction between Moscow and the social media platform.

The London-based internet monitor NetBlocks reports that Facebook’s network of content-distribution servers in Russia was so badly restricted Sunday that “content no longer loads, or loads extremely slowly making the platforms unusable.”

Russian telecoms regulator Roskomnadzor on Friday announced plans to “partially restrict” access to Facebook. That same day, Facebook’s head of security policy had said the company was barring Russian state media from running ads or otherwise profiting on its platform anywhere in the world.

Facebook says it has also refused a request by the Kremlin not to run fact checks related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the platform for users inside Russia.

NetBlocks reported earlier that access to Twitter was similarly restricted Saturday. That was a day after Twitter said it was temporarily halting ads in both Ukraine and Russia.

The Twitter and Facebook restrictions can be circumvented inside Russia using VPN software, just as users do in mainland China.

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TOKYO — Asian stock prices have fallen after Western nations moved to tighten sanctions against Russia and as President Vladimir Putin escalated tensions by ordering Russian nuclear forces on high alert.

US futures fell, with the contract for the S&P 500 down 2.5% early Monday. The stock markets in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai declined while Sydney was higher.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused markets to swing wildly, given the potential impact on inflation, energy supplies and other areas. The Russian ruble has weakened sharply but was steady early Monday at 83.86 to the dollar.

Japan joined moves by the US and Western nations to impose sanctions on Russia, including blocking some Russian banks from the SWIFT global payment system.

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BERLIN — The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog says missiles have hit a radioactive waste disposal site in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, but there are no reports of damage to the buildings or indications of a release of radioactive material.

In a statement late Sunday, International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi says Ukrainian authorities informed his office about the overnight strike. He says his agency expects to soon receive the results of on-site radioactive monitoring.

The report came a day after an electrical transformer at a similar disposal facility in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv was damaged.

Such facilities typically hold low-level radioactive materials such as waste from hospitals and industry, but Grossi says the two incidents highlight a “very real risk.” He says if the sites are damaged there could be “potentially severe consequences for human health and the environment.”

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CANBERRA, Australia — Australia will provide lethal military equipment to Ukraine to help the Ukrainians resist the Russian invasion.

The Australian government’s announcement Monday gave no details on what material it may be sending. The move follows an offer on Friday of non-lethal military equipment, medical supplies and a $3 million contribution to a NATO trust fund for support of the besieged country.

Australia has imposed sanctions on more than 350 Russian individuals, including Russian President Vladimir Putin since Thursday.

Australia has also targeted with sanctions 13 individuals and entities in Belarus, including that country’s defense minister, Viktor Khrenin. Belarus is supporting Russia in its war with Ukraine.

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TORONTO — The two largest media companies in Canada are dropping Russian state TV channel RT from their cable offerings.

Rogers range Andrew Garas says Russia Today will no longer be available on its channel lineup as of Monday.

The Bell media company is also removing RT.

Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez is commending the action, saying Russia has been conducting warfare in Ukraine since 2014 and information warfare across the world. He says RT is the propaganda arm of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime that spreads disinformation.

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FRANKFURT, Germany — An Austria-based subsidiary of Russia’s state-owned Sberbank has been ruled likely to fail after depositors fled due to the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The European Central Bank said early Monday that the bank had 13.6 billion euros in assets at the end of last year, but has experienced “significant deposit outflows” due to “geopolitical tensions.”

The ECB says Vienna-headquartered Sberbank Europe AG “is likely to be unable to pay its debts or other liabilities as they fall due.” The bank is a fully owned subsidiary of Russia’s Sberbank, whose majority shareholder is the Russian government.

Europe’s bank resolution board separately says it has imposed a payments ban on money owed by the bank and a limit on how much depositors can withdraw. The board will decide on further steps, which could include restructuring, selling or liquidating the bank.

Sberbank Europe operates 185 branches and has more than 3,933 employees.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s Interior Ministry says 352 Ukrainian civilians have been killed during Russia’s invasion, including 14 children. It says an additional 1,684 people, including 116 children, have been wounded.

he ministry’s statement Sunday does not give any information on casualties among Ukraine’s armed forces.

Russia has claimed that its troops are targeting only Ukrainian military facilities and says that Ukraine’s civilian population is not in danger.

Russia has not released any information on casualties among its troops. The Russian Defense Ministry acknowledged on Sunday only that Russian soldiers have been killed and wounded, without giving any numbers.

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RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says his government will remain neutral regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Bolsonaro said he had a two-hour long conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday to talk about the war and assured Russia’s leader that Brazil will keep a neutral position. However, Brazil’s foreign ministry later said Bolsonaro did not speak to Putin on Sunday, but was rather referring to his two-hour meeting with the Russian during a visit to Moscow earlier this month.

Brazil’s ultra conservative president said Sunday that he does not want to “bring the consequences of the conflict” to Brazil.

Bolsonaro says that Russia has no intention of carrying out any massacres and that in some regions of Ukraine “90% of the people want to get closer to Russia.”

The Brazilian president also criticized Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, saying people “entrusted the fate of the nation to a comedian.”

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WASHINGTON — The US for the first time has approved the direct delivery of Stinger missiles to Ukraine as part of a package approved by the White House on Friday.

The exact timing of delivery is not known, but officials say the US is currently working on the logistics of the shipment. The officials agreed to discuss the development only if not quoted by name.

The decision comes on the heels of Germany’s announcement that it will send 500 Stinger missiles and other weapons and supplies to Ukraine.

The high-speed Stingers are very accurate and are used to shoot down helicopters and other aircraft. Ukrainian officials have been asking for more of the powerful weapons.

The Baltic states have also been providing Ukraine with Stingers since January, and in order to do that had to get US permission.

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TORONTO — Canada will send an additional $25 million worth of defensive military equipment to Ukraine in an effort to help the country defend against Russia’s invasion.

Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly says the equipment includes helmets, body armor, gas masks and night-vision gear.

She says it will be routed through Poland to get there as quickly as possible.

Anand says Canada will offer up cybersecurity experts who can help Ukraine “defend its networks against cyber attacks that are increasingly forming part of modern-day warfare.”

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UNITED NATIONS — The UN Security Council has voted for the 193-member General Assembly to hold an emergency session on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Monday.

The vote on Sunday to authorize an emergency meeting was 11 in favor, Russia opposed, and China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstaining. That was the exact same vote on a resolution Friday demanding that Moscow immediately stop its attack on Ukraine and withdraw all troops. But in that case, Russia used its veto and the resolution was defeated.

Ukrainian UN Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya asked for the General Assembly meeting to be held under the so-called…

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Credit: abcnews.go.com /

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