The U.S. closed the gates to its embassy in Minsk, Belarus, as peace talks between delegates from Russia and Ukraine commenced in Belarus on Monday.
- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the suspension of operations at the Minsk embassy and authorized staff to depart from Moscow, the Associated Press reported, citing a statement from the U.S. State Department.
- The embassy closure comes as the world looked toward the peace talks in Belarus and the financial markets sought signs of a possible end to the conflict.
- Reuters reported on Monday that the talks had ended by 16:30 UTC and officials would now return to their respective capitals for further consultations before a second round of negotiations, citing the RIA news agency which quoted Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak.
- Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine last week, Russia has been hit with economic sanctions that have now seen the ruble tumble as much as 29%, leading to the Russian central bank raising its main interest rate to 20% on Monday.
- As with mainstream financial markets, cryptocurrency has felt the ripples of the hostilities in Eastern Europe, with bitcoin falling to a low of $34,636 last Thursday, a drop of more than 11% from the previous day.
- There has yet to be any significant movement in the crypto markets following news of talks commencing between the two countries.
UPDATE (Feb. 28, 13:22 UTC): Adds embassy closure information in lead, headline and first bullet. Adds contextual second bullet.
UPDATE (Feb. 28, 17:06 UTC): Adds news that the peace talks have ended in third bullet point.
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