Ukraine asks to “urgently” join the European Union

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. 47 min ago

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

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%.

From CNN’s Radina Gigova and Mark Thompson

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