Ukraine-Russia Updates: Russia's Economy Hit by Boycotts as Ninth Day Closes

Live Updates

Countries and corporations around the world looked to continue pressuring the Russian economy as the invasion of Ukraine continues. Here's the latest as day nine of the war comes to a close:

  • The assault across Ukraine reached a boiling point as Russian forces took control of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, the largest nuclear facility in Europe.
  • Heavy casualties have been seen on both the Russian and Ukrainian sides, with the war showing no sign of slowing down.
  • Calls continue for NATO and its allies to enact a no-fly zone around Ukraine, potentially helping to halt the progress of Russian airstrikes.
  • Amidst the war, the international community has taken aim at Russia's economy. Numerous corporations have either paused their Russian operations or pulled out of the country entirely.
  • A number of countries have also continued to target the personal assets of Russian oligarchs in an attempt to put additional economic pressure on Russia. This includes seizing megayachts, mansions and other luxury goods from Russian billionaires.
  • Conglomerates in nearly every sector of the economy have pledged to donate millions of dollars to Ukrainian relief.

The live updates for this event have now ended.

Russian invasion of Ukraine
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Samsung To Donate $6M In Humanitarian Aid

Tech giant Samsung says that it will donate $6 million in humanitarian aid to the people of Ukraine, joining a number of other companies that have pledged financial assistance.

At least $1 million of this will go towards providing consumer electronics, the company said in a statement.

Samsung also announced that all shipments of its products to Russia would be suspended going forward, adding the company to a long list of corporations that are blacklisting the country. A press release from the company cited the "current geopolitical developments" in Russia.

Another notable company to weigh in, although in a different sector of the economy, was IKEA, who announced Thursday that it was temporarily closing all of its Russian stores. This resulted in the loss of employment for at least 15,000 Russians, the furniture conglomerate said.

Journalists Seen On Video Being Ambushed By Russians

A video shared by on social media appears to show a Russian operatives ambushing a group of journalists covering the invasion of Ukraine.

The video, which made its way across Twitter on Friday, showed footage from what was purported to be a news van with British outlet Sky News driving down a road in Ukraine, before shouting is heard and the footage goes dark.

The sound of gunshots can be heard as glass shatters around the van. The people within the vehicle can be heard shouting at their assailants that they are journalists and pleading for them to stop firing.

The footage was accompanied by a voiceover from a journalist with Sky News, who narrated the events as they unfolded.

"The government has warned of days of Russian saboteurs who've infiltrated the country to bring terror—death squads who are attacking civilians in their cars as they flee," the voice begins.

As the footage transitions to the actual ambush, the man says that the attack continued even after the group identified themselves as journalists.

"Somehow, we have to get out of this, but the rounds keep coming. It's a professional ambush, the bullets just don't miss."

The footage ends with the man saying that he was hit by gunfire, but eventually made his way down a nearby embankment to safety.

Nearly 3/4 of Americans Want No-Fly Zone in Ukraine: Poll

Nearly 3/4 of Americans—including both Democrats and Republicans—think that the United States and NATO should implement a no-fly zone around Ukraine, according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll.

The poll showed that 74 percent of people surveyed agreed that NATO should enforce a no-fly zone, something that the organization's governing board has decided against. A no-fly zone would like hinder Russia's abilities to attack Ukraine from the air.

The poll represents a wave of bipartisan feelings that have been sweeping the United States when it comes to views on the Ukrainian invasion.

A similar survey from Reuters/Ipsos found that even more Americans—80 percent—felt that the United States should pause its purchasing of Russian petroleum, something that the Biden administration has not yet done. This is despite President Joe Biden enacting a series of sanctions against Russia, including cutting them off from significant portions of the American economy.

Another poll also showed that more Americans are now approving of Biden's handling of the Ukraine crisis compared to when the invasion began. This week, 43 percent of those polled now say they back Biden's agenda, compared to 34 percent prior to the State of the Union address.

Russian and Belarusian Gymnasts Banned From Competing

As the invasion of Ukraine continues into its second week, the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) says that it has banned all Russian and Belarusian gymnasts from participating in international competition.

FIG previously announced at the end of February that the flags of the two countries would not be allowed to be displayed during competitions, in addition to cancelling all upcoming events that were planned in Russia.

On Friday, though, FIG announced that: "Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials, including judges, are not allowed to take part in FIG competitions or FIG-sanctioned competitions from 7 March 2022 until further notice."

This means that athletes and officials from these two federations will not participate in the Acrobatic Gymnastics World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan from 10 to 13 March 2022," FIG said.

"The FIG would like to stress that these exceptional and emergency measures are decided and issued in view of the above-mentioned extraordinary circumstances," FIG also said. "They constitute preventive measures aiming at preserving the integrity of Gymnastics, the safety and integrity of members and all athletes and participants, and at fighting against all forms of violence and of sports injustice."

FIG said that it would continue to monitor the ongoing situation in Ukraine.

Nearly 90 Companies Blacklist Russia, More Continue To Leave

Nearly 90 businesses have either suspended operations in Russia or pulled out of the Russian market entirely. The list of corporations that are blacklisting the country continues to grow as the Ukrainian invasion wages on.

The list includes major conglomerates in a variety of sectors, including technology, entertainment, and the service industry.

Numerous tech companies have shut off business in Russia, including Google, Amazon, Apple, Intel, and Twitter. The auto industry has similarly seen an exodus, with brands such as Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and General Motors suspending Russian production.

As the list of companies leaving Russia continues to climb, the entertainment industry is perhaps the sector that has sheltered itself from Russia the most. Nearly every Hollywood studio has pledged to halt theatrical releases and film productions in the country until further notice.

FedEx, DHL and UPS have also suspended Russian operations, dealing another significant blow to the nation's ability to move products—doubly challenging given the economic sanctions levied against Russia.

Italy Seizes $27M Yacht Owned By Richest Man in Russia

Italian officials have seized a $27 million, 215-foot megayacht that was owned by Alexei Mordashov, the richest man in Russia prior to being hit with sanctions from the European Union earlier this week.

The move comes as part of an effort to put additional economic pressure on Russian officials.

The yacht, known as Lady M, was reportedly impounded in northern Italy on Friday as numerous Russian oligarchs continue to be hit with trances of sanctions.

Lady M was one of numerous luxury assets owned by Mordashov, who Forbes estimates was worth $29.1 billion prior to being sanctioned. This includes a $72 million villa, owned by Mordashov, that is reportedly located on the Italian island of Sardinia, according to Italian media.

The seizure of Lady M comes as a second megayacht owned by another Russian billionaire, Gennady Timchenko, was also blocked into the same port. Timchenko is reportedly a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Zelensky Denies Having Left Ukraine, Says False Info Spread By Putin

Amidst reports that he was forced to flee his country, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denied that information, reiterating that he remained in Ukrainian territory.

The president said in a short video message that he was still in Ukraine. He also added that the reports of him being forced to flee were actually spread not by propaganda, but by Russian government officials and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It is not clear where Zelensky was when he was being filmed.

As the war in Ukraine continues, a variety of reports regarding Zelensky continue to leak out from the country. This includes recent news that he has allegedly survived three different assassination attempts since the fighting began.

Russian Forces Closing in on Ukraine's Second Largest Nuclear Plant

Russian forces are reportedly just 19 miles from Ukraine's second-largest nuclear facility, the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant in Mykolaiv province, according to Ukrainian officials. Heavy fighting continues in the area surrounding the plant.

The news comes after Europe's largest nuclear plant, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, was captured by the Russians as plant administrators rushed to shutdown the nuclear reactors. Some experts feared that, if the Russian attack caused a meltdown, the resulting disaster could be worse than the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear explosion.

Amidst the attack, a large fire was spotted breaking out at the plant Friday morning, leading to additional concerns that nuclear material could potentially be leaking from the facility. Authorities were able to put the fire out within a few hours, with Ukrainian officials saying that no deaths resulted from the blaze.

Additionally, United Nations officials have also reiterated that no spiking levels of radiation have been reported from the plant.

With the Russian forces closing in on the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant, though, officials have expressed concerns that a similar attack could occur.

Zelensky Blames NATO for Any Deaths From No Fly Zone Refusal

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says that people will die because of NATO's refusal to implement a no fly zone in Ukraine.

The 30 members of NATO met in Brussels to discuss the potential of a no fly zone prohibiting Russian airplanes from flying over Ukrainian territory. This could potentially prevent the Russians from carrying out additional airstrikes.

As Ukraine is not an official member of NATO, the body decided against implementing this zone, a move that was strongly criticized by Zelensky. NATO has previously been reluctant to get involved in wars that do not involve its member states.

"This is the self-hypnosis of those who are weak, insecure inside, despite the fact they possess weapons many times stronger than we have," Zelensky said in an address to the nation.

Zelensky additionally told NATO that: "All the people who will die from this day will also die because of you, because of your weakness, because of your disunity," describing NATO's summit as "a weak summit, a confused summit."

Harris Headed to Europe Wednesday in Support of NATO

Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Poland and Romania in a display of "strength and unity" for the European region as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine.

Harris will depart this coming Wednesday for the two nations' respective capital cities of Warsaw and Bucharest, where the White House says she will spend the three-day trip meeting with the leaders of both countries.

"During her meetings with the leaders of Poland and Romania, the Vice President will advance our close coordination in response to Russia's unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine," said White House Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh. "They will discuss our continuing support for the people of Ukraine through security, economic, and humanitarian assistance and our determination to impose severe economic consequences on Russia and those complicit in Russia's invasion."

"The Vice President's meetings will also focus on how the United States can further support Ukraine's neighbors as they welcome and care for refugees fleeing violence," Singh said.

Harris previously spoke to the Polish and Romanian prime ministers via phone this past Tuesday, in addition to a conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zalensky.

President Joe Biden has said that he will not send American troops into Ukraine, but his administration continues to assert that it will defend and support its NATO allies.

CNN, Bloomberg Suspend Reporting in Russia

CNN and Bloomberg announced Friday that they will cease reporting within Russia following the passage of a law that criminalizes the distribution of "fake news" about the Russian military.

CNN's chief media correspondent, Brian Stelter, tweeted out a statement from a CNN spokesperson who said the network "will stop broadcasting in Russia while we continue to evaluate the situation and our next steps moving forward."

Bloomberg's editor-in-chief made a similar statement on Friday.

"We have with great regret decided to temporarily suspend our news gathering inside Russia," Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait said Friday, according to a report from Bloomberg News.

"The change to the criminal code, which seems designed to turn any independent reporter into a criminal purely by association, makes it impossible to continue any semblance of normal journalism inside the country."

Bloomberg noted that the new law carries a prison term of up to 15 years for those who violate it.

The BBC also announced Friday that it was suspending its journalists' work in Russia in the wake of the new law.

White House Rejects Lindsey Graham's Call for Putin's Assassination

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded to comments Senator Lindsey Graham made on Thursday suggesting Russian citizens should attempt to assassinate Russian President Putin.

"Is there a Brutus in Russia? Is there a more successful Colonel [Claus von] Stauffenberg in the Russian military? The only way this ends is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out. You would be doing your country - and the world - a great service," Graham, a Republican from South Carolina tweeted.

Asked about Graham's comment on Friday, Psaki said, "that is not the position of the United States government, and certainly not a statement you'd hear come from the mouth of anybody working in this administration."

She later added, "we are not advocating for killing the leader of a foreign country, or regime change. That is not the policy of the United States."

Blinken Highlights NATO, EU Coordination in Brussels

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with a slew of allies and partners in Brussels Friday to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

Blinken said the U.S. and its NATO and EU partners are entering a "new kind of cooperation."

"Never before has NATO, the European Union and other partner nations worked so close together," he said during a press briefing. "Russia has never been more isolated and we have never been more united."

These are the allies and partners Blinken met with Friday:

NATO Foreign Ministers

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg

According to the State Department, Blinken and Stoltenberg reiterated their support for Ukrainian sovereignty and encouraged NATO allies to continue to provide supplies and equipment to Ukraine.

"They welcomed Ukrainian President Zelenskyy's diplomatic initiatives, while condemning President Putin's continued belligerence, escalation, and refusal to negotiate in good faith," the State Department said in a statement.

G7 Leaders

Blinken met with his counterparts from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom to condemn Russia's actions and the role of the Belarussian government in enabling the "unprovoked and unjustifiable war of choice" against Ukraine.

They called on Russia to stop its ongoing assault against Ukraine and uphold its obligations to respect international humanitarian law and human rights law.

"We will hold accountable those responsible for war crimes, including indiscriminate use of weapons against civilians, and we welcome the ongoing work to investigate and gather evidence, including by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC)," the leaders said in a statement.

"Russia's blatant violation of the fundamental principles of international peace and security and the breach of international law have not gone unanswered."

The leaders also condemned the "widespread" use of disinformation by the Russian government and its state-run media.

European Union Leaders

Blinken met with European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU High Representative Josep Borrell.

He said President Joe Biden's first priority when he took office was to "revitalize, re-energize" U.S. alliances in Europe.

Blinken called the swift actions from the EU "remarkable" and "historic."

The leaders condemned the actions of Russia, reiterated their support for Ukraine and its sovereignty and agreed to continue sending economic, defensive and humanitarian support to Ukraine.

Blinken said their coordination also protects the "fundamental principles" to maintain peace and security that President Putin is "egregiously violating every single day."

"Your visit to Europe illustrates how very close the cooperation is between the European Union and the United States in response to Putin's reckless invasion of Ukraine," von der Leyen said. " And thanks to this coordination, we have together designed, developed, and deployed sanctions in record time, sanctions that demonstrate our determination to make Putin pay a price for his war."

She said the U.S. and European Union coordination is "at the core of this effective response" and has pulled together an "ever-growing number" of countries taking similar measures.

Boris Johnson Says 'Putin Must Fail' in Address to Ukrainians

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the United Kingdom and its allies have imposed the "biggest package of global sanctions ever" on Russia and that they will go further "unless and until this aggression stops."

"The world is turning its back on Putin and his regime," Johnson said in a recorded video address he posted on Twitter Friday afternoon.

At the beginning of the speech, he noted that he wanted to speak "directly" with Ukrainians in the U.K. and neighboring countries.

He said the British are doing "everything we can" to help Ukrainians fleeing the conflict, noting that the government has made it easier for Ukrainians to bring family members into the country.

The prime minister also said that he has "marveled" at the bravery of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and the "heroism and resolve of the Ukrainian people."

"And I know that however long it takes, however arduous, Putin must fail," he stated.

Pentagon Says Deconfliction Hotline With Russia is 'Prudent'

The Pentagon gave an update on the deconfliction phoneline set up between the U.S. and Russian military.

Defense Spokesperson John Kirby would not say if the phoneline has been used yet but acknowledged it was tested and does work.

This bilateral channel is a direct line to the Russian defense ministry out of the U.S. military command headquarters in Europe. The line is operated by military staff working under General Tod Wolters, the head of the U.S. European Command.

Kirby said it was established as a communication vehicle to reduce the risk of miscalculation and communicate about concerns about the contested airspace over Ukraine "in real time." Kirby would not say if it was used after the attack near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Kirby said setting up the line a few days ago was "the smart and prudent thing to do."

The line could be used to convey messages of concern to Russia on behalf of other NATO allies or to discuss non-military issues including humanitarian efforts.

Kirby also said that no Pentagon leaders have spoken to their Russian counterparts since the invasion began.

Thousands of Georgians Gather to Cheer on Zelensky

Thousands of Georgians gathered to watch a broadcasted address from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday, and cheered him on from afar.

"Massive pro-Ukraine rally tonight in Tbilisi, Georgia - a country invaded by Russia in 2008," Matthew Luxmore, a reporter with the Wall Street Journal wrote on Twitter, including video footage of the rally.

"Thousands of Georgians are watching Volodymyr Zelensky's latest speech. Come to the streets, support Ukraine," he says. "If Ukraine falls, so does all of Europe," Luxmore added.

The video shows demonstrators cheering and waving Ukrainian flags as Zelensky speaks.

For days, Georgians have been protesting in Tblisi, urging the country's government to do more to support Ukraine as it faces the invasion from Russian forces.

Protesters have also demanded Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili step down, Radio Free Europe reported.

NATO Chief Confirms Russian Use of Cluster Bombs

The head of NATO confirmed Russian military forces are using banned cluster bombs in attacks in Ukraine.

"We have seen the use of cluster bombs and we have seen reports of use of other types of weapons which would be in violation of international law," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said during a press briefing following a meeting with leaders Friday.

According to the BBC, cluster bombs, or cluster munitions, are "rockets or missiles that deploy a large number of small explosives." They are usually fired from the ground and as the projectile reaches its target, "it opens up and disperses all its bomblets."

The use of cluster bombs are banned under the United Nations Geneva Convention.

Stoltenberg called Russia's actions "brutality" and "inhumane" and said the alliance is collecting information and monitoring the situation in Ukraine "very closely."

Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven world powers also called on Russia to be held accountable amid reports that their military is using cluster bombs and other banned weapons systems in attacks against Ukrainian civilians.

Russia Blocks Facebook After Restricting Access to Twitter, Apps

Russia's media regulator, Roskomnadzor, said Friday it is blocking Facebook within the country. The move comes as Russian officials have eliminated access to several other websites and news sites, including Twitter and Google's app stores.

According to Radio Free Europe, Roskomnadzor accused Facebook of discriminating against Russian media sources including RT and Sputnik, and specifically noted "26 instances of discrimination toward Russian media" since October of 2020.

In response to the news, Nick Clegg, the President of Global Affairs at Meta, Facebook's parent company wrote: "Soon millions of ordinary Russians will find themselves cut off from reliable information, deprived of their everyday ways of connecting with family and friends and silenced from speaking out."

Clegg added that Meta will "continue to do everything we can to restore our services."

According to Radio Free Europe, in addition to social media sites, Russia has also blocked access to news sites including the BBC and Deutsche Welle.

BBC Suspending Work in Russia as It 'Assesses' Law Criminalizing Journalism

The BBC said Friday that its journalists will no longer work within Russia while the news service assesses the "full implications" of a newly passed Russian law that criminalizes the distribution of "fake news" about the Russian military.

The legislation, part of a crackdown against critical reporting on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, appears to "criminalize the process of independent journalism," the BBC wrote in a statement.

"The safety of our staff is paramount and we are not prepared to expose them to the risk of criminal prosecution simply for doing their jobs," the BBC stated.

The BBC noted that its journalists in Russia would continue to operate from outside the country and said it remains "committed to making accurate, independent information available to audiences around the world, including the millions of Russians who use our news services."

U.S. Ambassador Says the World 'Narrowly Averted Nuclear Catastrophe'

The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations said the world "narrowly averted a nuclear catastrophe last night" when military activity near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said she is "gravely" concerned that Ukrainian operators are doing their jobs under "extreme duress" and that Russian forces now in charge of the facility have not allowed shift changes.

She called Russian attacks near the plant "reckless and dangerous" and a threat to civilians across Ukraine, Russia and Europe.

"We've just witnessed a dangerous new escalation that represents a dire threat to all of Europe and the world," she said.

According to the Geneva Convention, attacks on nuclear power facilities go against international humanitarian law and violate the U.N. charter.

U.N. Undersecretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo said military operations around nuclear sites are "unacceptable and highly irresponsible."

Thomas-Greenfield called on Russian forces to withdraw troops from the plant and ensure the Ukrainian staff has full control of operations to assess the situation and provide medical aid to injured staff.

She said Russian sent its troops on a "suicide mission against a nuclear power plant and states nuclear facilities cannot become part of conflict."

She also wants Russian to ensure that an attack like that will not happen again, as she said, "this imminent danger continues," as Russian forces are now 20 miles from Ukraine's second-largest nuclear facility.

"Mr. Putin must stop this madness, and he must stop it now," she said. "Cooler heads must prevail."

IAEA Chief Provides Update on Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant

The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) gave an update on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during the U.N. Security Council meeting Friday.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said he and the agency are in constant contact with nuclear regulations agency and government officials in Ukraine. He confirmed that the Russian military is now in control of the facility.

He said a projectile hit a building adjacent to six reactors Thursday, resulting in a fire that was soon extinguished. None of the security or safety systems were compromised and no reactors were hit.

Operations continue as normal, Grossi said, but there "is no normalcy about this situation when there are military forces in charge of the site."

Grossi said he is ready to travel to Ukraine to consult with counterparts if necessary to establish a stable safety framework. He said this mission will be technical and will "not have anything to do with the political and diplomatic aspects."

He asked for the members of the council to support his efforts.

Grossi outlined seven indispensable pillars of nuclear safety and security at a meeting with IAEA board of governors. Those pillar include maintaining physical integrity of the facilities, ensuring safety systems are fully functional, ensuring operating staff are fulfilling security duties and securing power supply and constant communication with regulators.

Where Nuclear Power Plants Are in Ukraine

After a Russian attack last night, a fire broke out on a Ukrainian nuclear power plant site. According to information from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi, a Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant training center near the reactors, was hit by a projectile.

According to Statista, this infographic shows the nuclear power plant is located in South-Eastern Ukraine. The region is contested, but as of March 3, not yet occupied by Russia. The IAEA also said that according to the Ukrainian government, no increased radioactivity had been measured in the vicinity of the plant and that staff had taken "measures to minimize the risk."

There had already been fighting last week near the site of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, where the worst nuclear accident in history occurred in 1986. Russian troops now control the atomic ruin. The Rivne, Khmelnytskyi, and South Ukraine nuclear power plants, on the other hand, are not yet under Russian command.

Should Putin continue to pursue his goal of bringing all of Ukraine under his control, these nuclear power plants will also be threatened by combat operations.

nuclear power plants in ukraine
Ukraine's Nuclear Power Plants statista

Microsoft Suspends Product Sales in Russia

Microsoft has joined the growing band of technology companies to announce they have suspended selling their products and services in Russia, cutting off sales of the Windows PC operating system standard in Russian life.

The software company, acting two days after Apple stopped sales in Russia, said it was "horrified, angered, and saddened" by the events in Ukraine.

Russia has tried to wean itself from dependence on Windows in recent years, fearing that using US software in government systems could expose it to spy. So, three years ago, it started adopting a version of the Linux operating system for military computers in place of the Microsoft software.

However, according to Statcounter, Windows remains the dominant operating system in Russia and accounts for 55 percent of computers in use in the country. The smartphone operating systems of Google and Apple make up another 38 percent, with Linux representing less than 1 percent.

Microsoft would not comment on the level of support it would continue to give existing customers in Russia or whether it would supply upgrades and patches for its software. However, its statement referred only to cutting off "new sales."

Microsoft's move came the day after rival software makers Oracle and Cisco said they had suspended their businesses in Russia.

U.N Security Council Holds Emergency Meeting on Nuclear Plant Attack

The United Nations Security Council is set to hold an emergency meeting on the situation in Ukraine.

This meeting will focus on Russia's latest attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

The session will begin at 11:30 a.m. ET and will stream live on the U.N website and YouTube channel.

Third Round of Russia, Ukraine Talks Set for This Weekend

Ukraine and Russia will sit for a third round of talks this weekend.

During a press briefing Friday, Mykhailo Podolyak, the head adviser of the Ukrainian presidential office, confirmed the negotiations with the Russian delegation will resume in the next few days. Podolyak was part of the first two rounds of talks with Russia. The second took place Thursday and yielded little results, Podolyak said. The two sides did agree on civilian evacuation corridors.

Podolyak said President Zelensky's position on negotiations "remain tough."

"Ukraine will not make any concessions that could undermine our struggle for territorial integrity," he said in a statement.

Russian Convoy Remains Stalled 15 Miles From Kyiv

The convoy of Russian troops is roughly 15 miles from Kyiv; a senior defense official told reporters on Monday. Since then, little has changed in that regard this entire week.

"Russian troops specifically aiming to gain control of Kyiv, including the convoy, have been stalled as they face more resistance than anticipated," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters during Wednesday's briefing.

On Wednesday, the defense official noted they had indications that Ukrainian forces were targeting the convoy to prevent Kyiv's falling.

"We've seen indications that at times and at certain places, the convoys may have been resisted by Ukrainian forces, and I think I have to leave it at that," the official said. "But we've seen indications that we are in no position to refute Ukraine claims they have hit the convoy."

Kirby noted that after their setback, the Pentagon officials "believe the Russians are deliberately, actually, regrouping themselves, and reassessing the progress that they have not made, and how to make up the lost time," however he also said these troops "have experienced logistics and sustainment challenges, challenges that we don't believe they have fully anticipated."

Russia Media Reports Zelensky Left Ukraine

There are conflicting reports about the whereabouts of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky Friday.

Russian state media initially reported that Zelensky had left Ukraine and moved to Poland, according to a report from Russian State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin.

The Ukrainian parliament refuted this report, claiming that Zelensky never left the country and remains in Kyiv.

UN Security Council To Hold Emergency Meeting on Nuclear Plant

The U.N. Security Council has scheduled an emergency open meeting over the Russian shelling of Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant—Ukraine's largest nuclear power plant.

The meeting is set to take place at 4:30 p.m. GMT Friday, and was requested by the United States, United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Norway and Albania.

Council members will be briefed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, council diplomats said.

Ukraine said Friday morning that Russian troops had seized the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant where a fire had broken out after it had been targeted by shelling.

The International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) director general Rafael Mariano Grossi told a press conference on Friday morning that there has been no reported release of radiation.

Two people were injured in the incident, Grossi said.

Russian Shelling Destroyed Over 160 Educational Institutions in Ukraine

More than 160 educational institutions in Ukraine have been partially or completely destroyed as a result of shelling by Russian forces, Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said on Friday.

"According to the Minister of Education of Ukraine, more than 160 educational institutions in Ukraine have been partially or completely destroyed by the shelling of Russian troops," the MFA tweeted, citing the Minister of Education of Ukraine.

On Friday morning, a Russian air strike hit a school in Ukraine's Zhytomyr, according to the city's mayor.

NATO Rejects Ukraine No-Fly Zone

Nato allies on Friday rejected Ukraine's appeal for no-fly zones, saying that doing so could result in a full-scale war in Europe.

"Our assessment is that we understand the desperation, but we also believe that if we did this, we would end up in a full-scale war in Europe, one involving many more countries, which would lead to much more human suffering," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said after chairing a meeting of the alliance's foreign ministers.

"We are not going to move into Ukraine, neither on the ground, nor in the Ukrainian airspace," he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly called on the West to enforce a no-fly zone since Russia launched an invasion on February 24.

Lukashenko: Belarus Joining Invasion Would Be a 'Gift' to the West

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, a Putin-backed politician, on Friday denied reports that Belarus intends to send troops into Ukraine to support Russia's full-scale invasion.

"The Belarusian army has not taken part in the special operation and does not intend to do so," he said in remarks on television.

"The hybrid war that has been waged against Belarus, especially the sanctions war in the economic and finance [sectors], has been going on for a long time," said Lukashenko.

"They have an iron grip on us. You will understand. They are pushing us into the war in Ukraine. If we intervened now in this conflict, where we are not expected, it would be a gift to them."

A U.S. administration official earlier this week told The Washington Post that Belarus had plans in place deploy troops into Ukraine. Some Russian troops have accessed Ukraine through Belarus.

UN: 1.2 Million Refugees Have Fled Ukraine

Some 1.2 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russian launched an invasion against the country on February 24, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) Filippo Grandi said in an update Friday.

"I have worked in refugee emergencies for almost 40 years, and rarely have I seen an exodus as rapid as this one," Grandi said in a statement when the figure hit one million. "Hour by hour, minute by minute, more people are fleeing the terrifying reality of violence. Countless have been displaced inside the country."

It marks the fastest movement of refugees during this century, according to the Associated Press.

About half of the people who successfully exited the country arrived in Poland, while many others went to countries including Hungary, Moldova, Romania and Slovakia.

Russia Exhausted Most of Its Reserves Trying to Take Kyiv: Official

Russia exhausted the majority of its operational reserves trying to take Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, the press service of the General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces said in a statement Friday.

"The main goal of the enemy is to cordon off Kyiv and weaken resistance in the blocked settlements. In the course of carrying out this task, the groups of the Russian Armed Forces exhausted the bulk of the operational reserves," the statement said.

It said Russia is now moving to transfer additional forces and equipment from "the Southern and Eastern military districts."

Kyiv's mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Friday that the city "continues to prepare for defense."

Residents have for days been preparing for a 40-mile-long convoy of Russian tanks and armoured vehicles.

Since launching an invasion of Ukraine last week, Russia's military still hasn't captured the country's capital city despite deploying nearly all of the 150,000 troops it has amassed on the border, according to a Pentagon update Thursday.

The Pentagon said Russian forces have "stalled" across across northern Ukraine and are possibly facing "problems with logistics and sustainment" or are pausing to redirect their efforts.

Russian Forces Advancing on Key City: Official

Russian troops are advancing on Mykolaiv, a strategic port city in southern Ukraine, the region's governor said.

In a video posted on social media, Mykolaiv Oblast Gov. Vitaliy Kim said Russian forces are advancing from two directions, and that the city is prepared to defend itself.

"Don't panic. At the moment, the enemy is approaching from two directions but they're not on our streets yet. We're preparing the defenses, so women and children should get home now and the men join the defense lines," he said.

New York Times investigative reporter Michael Schwirtz tweeted Friday that the city is preparing for "imminent attack."

"Ukrainian artillery is firing at Russian positions all around the city. The one bridge out of town is rigged to blow and soldiers at the entrance are armed with anti-tank rockets," he wrote.

Putin: Russia Has 'No Ill Intentions Toward Its Neighbors'

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow has "no ill intentions toward its neighbors," as he urged nations against escalating tensions.

"There are no bad intentions towards our neighbours. And I would also advise them not to escalate the situation, not to introduce any restrictions. We fulfil all our obligations and will continue to fulfil them," Putin said in a televised address Friday.

"We do not see any need here to aggravate or worsen our relations. And all our actions, if they arise, they always arise exclusively in response to some unfriendly actions, actions against the Russian Federation."

A day earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Putin to sit down and talk in person amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

"I don't bite. What are you afraid of," Zelensky said, according to the Associated Press. "Any words are more important than shots."

Ukraine: At Least 28 Children Killed in 8 Days

At least 28 children were killed and 64 were injured in the eight days since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky's website said in an update Friday.

The Ukrainian President's website cited adviser, authorized head of state for children's rights and children's rehabilitation Daria Herasymchuk.

"Maternity hospitals, kindergartens, schools have been destroyed. About one and a half million children are in the territories suffering from shelling and under siege, among them there are orphans and children with disabilities who need immediate help," Herasymchuk said.

The update came as the U.N. Human Rights Council voted overwhelmingly to approve a probe of alleged rights violations by Moscow during its invasion of Ukraine.

Three Assassination Attempts on Zelensky Foiled

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky has survived three assassination attempts in one week, The Times of London reported.

Zelensky has been able to avoid these attacks from mercenaries of the Kremlin-backed Wagner group and Chechen special forces, thanks to the cooperation of anti-war intelligence officers in Russia's Federal Security Services (FSB) who tipped off the Ukrainian forces, according to reports.

Read the full story here.

Blinken: NATO Ready for Conflict, but Not Seeking It

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday affirmed NATO's readiness to defend its allies and territory against a Russian attack, but said the alliance seeks "no conflict."

"Ours is a defensive alliance. We seek no conflict. But if conflict comes to us we are ready for it and we will defend every inch of NATO territory," Blinken told reporters ahead of a meeting of the alliance's foreign ministers in Brussels.

"In the wake of Russia's unprovoked and premeditated aggression against Ukraine, this alliance came together with speed and determination," Blinken added. "Every ally in one way or another is coming to Ukraine's assistance."

Chernihiv Death Toll Rises to 47: Officials

Ukrainian authorities on Friday updated an official death toll after Thursday's Russian airstrikes against residential areas in city of Chernihiv.

Regional authorities said 47 people—38 men and 9 women—were killed, updating an earlier death toll of 33.

The Chernihiv Regional State Administration added that 18 people were rescued.

Mariupol Remains Under Ukrainian Control: Officials

Ukrainian forces are still in control of the southeastern city of Mariupol, but is likely "encircled" by Russian troops, Britain said in an intelligence update on Friday morning.

"The city's civilian infrastructure has been subjected to intense Russian strikes," the Ministry of Defence said.

Hours earlier, the city's deputy mayor said Russian military forces are creating a "humanitarian crisis."

"The situation in [the] city is quite critical...the city is surrounded by Russian troops, Russian army," Deputy Mayor Sergei Orlov said during an interview with CNN's John Berman on Thursday. "[The] city is internally Ukrainian. It's controlled by the Ukrainian army and national guard. But the situation in [the] city goes to humanitarian crisis because [the] Russian army, their style of war is to make [a] humanitarian crisis."

"For example, we do not have electricity in [the] whole city, we do not have water supply, we do not have a sanitary system and we do not have heating," Orlov continued. "Only natural gas supply is left."

Orlov also said that at least 200 civilians in Mariupol have died but noted that the number could change as city officials "cannot collect all the bodies."

Read the full story here.

Russia Blames Nuclear Plant Attack on Ukraine

Russia's defense ministry on Friday blamed an attack on the site of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant on Ukraine saboteurs.

Ukrainian officials earlier said a fire had broken out at Europe's largest nuclear power plant, after it had been targeted by shelling from Russian forces.

Russian defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the area had been under Russian control since Feb. 28.

"However, last night on the territory adjacent to the power plant, an attempt was made by the Kyiv nationalist regime to carry out a monstrous provocation," Konashenkov claimed.

"On March 4 at about 2 a.m. during a patrol of guarded territory adjacent to the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, a mobile patrol of the National Guard came under attack from a Ukrainian sabotage group," he said.

"To provoke return fire on the building, heavy small arms fire was opened on Russian National Guard servicemen from the windows of several floors of a training complex located outside the power plant."

The spokesman claimed that Russian forces returned fire to counter an attack by a Ukrainian "sabotage group," who then allegedly set fire to the training complex before they left the area.

The International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) director general Rafael Mariano Grossi told a press conference on Friday morning that there has been no reported release of radiation.

Two people were injured in the incident, Grossi said.

Russia Passes 'Fake News' Law

Russia's parliament on Friday passed legislation that would impose a prison sentence of up to 15 years for intentionally spreading "fake" information about the country's military.

"If the fakes lead to serious consequences then imprisonment of up to 15 years threatens," Russia's lower house of parliament, the Duma, said in a statement.

"Literally by tomorrow, this law will force punishment - and very tough punishment - on those who lied and made statements which discredited our armed forces," said Vyacheslav Volodin, chairman of the Duma.

The amendments to Russia's criminal code must now be approved by the upper house of parliament before heading to Russian President Vladimir Putin's desk to be signed into law.

On Thursday, independent radio station Ekho Moskvy, and independent television channel TV Rain (Dozhd), suspended their operations indefinitely under mounting pressure from the Kremlin.

Russian authorities have prohibited media from calling Putin's invasion of Ukraine a "war"—state-run media outlets adopt the term "special military operation."

Airbnb Suspending Operations in Russia and Belarus

The Chief Executive Officer of home rental company Airbnb announced late Thursday that he is suspending all operations in Russia and Belarus. 

CEO Brian Chesky announced the decision in a statement on Twitter, without elaborating.

The company joins a growing list of firms to boycott Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

On Monday, Airbnb pledged to host up to 100,000 Ukrainian refuges "for free."

"We need help to meet this goal. The greatest need we have is for more people who can offer their homes in nearby countries, including Poland, Germany, Hungary and Romania," Chesky tweeted.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, one million people fled Ukraine in the week after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a "special military operation" in Ukraine.

Russia Ukraine refugees
Helena (R) and her brother Bodia (L) from Lviv are seen at the Medyka pedestrian border crossing, in eastern Poland on February 26, 2022, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP/Getty Images

No Radiation Release at Ukraine Plant: UN Atomic Agency

There has been no reported release of radiation at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, the head of the United Nations' atomic watchdog told a press briefing Friday morning.

The International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) director general Rafael Mariano Grossi said two people, part of security personnel, were injured in the incident.

"This was a localized fire that was distinguished by the local fire brigade at the plant. All of the safety systems at the plants were not affected at all, and there has been no release of radioactive material," he told reporters.

Grossi said that only one of six nuclear reactors is operating at about 60 percent of its capacity.

"The situation continues to be extremely tense and challenging because of the circumstances," he said.

"I'm concerned about the situation, this is a place where there is a military situation is ongoing," Grossi told reporters.

Ukraine's Parliament in an appeal Friday morning, shortly after the Russian military took over the plant, accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of committing crimes that have "reached global proportions and threaten the existence of Europe and possibly humanity."

"Russia has put Europe and the world on the brink of nuclear Armageddon. Russian occupation forces are deliberately shelling the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. This is not a coincidence, but a deliberate attack to cause a global catastrophe," officials wrote on Telegram.

Russian Air Strike Hits School in Ukraine's Zhytomyr

A Russian air strike hit a school in Ukraine's Zhytomyr on Friday morning, the city's mayor said said in a video address.

"A missile or a bomb [strike] has just been launched. The information on casualties will be released later. In fact, half of school was ruined. Rescue operations are underway," Serhiy Sukhomlyn, mayor of the city in northern Ukraine said, Ukrinform reported.

Emine Dzheppar, Ukraine's Deputy Foreign Minister, shared an image of the school, which is located near the central part of the city.

"Russian orks fired a missile at the school №25 in #Zhytomyr. The school is completely destroyed," she wrote.

The school strike came on day nine of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and after days of heavy fighting between Russian troops and Ukraine armed forces in the city.

International Atomic Energy Agency To Hold Meeting

The International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) general director Rafael Mariano Grossi is expected to hold a press conference on the attack on Europe's largest nuclear power plant, Zaporizhzhia, at 10:30 a.m. CET on Friday.

The nuclear power plant provides more than a fifth of Ukraine's total electricity generation.

Grossi said the IAEA is putting its Incident and Emergency Centre in full response mode due to the situation.

Meanwhile, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said there was no indication of elevated radiation levels at the Zaporizhzhia plant.

An official at the state enterprise that runs Ukraine's four nuclear plants said the Zaporizhzhia plant was back to operating as usual, and that fighting had ceased.

"(Nuclear power plant) personnel are on their working places providing normal operation of the station," the official said, Reuters reported.

Russia Captures Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

Ukraine has said that Russian troops had seized the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant where a fire had broken out after it had been targeted by shelling.

At around 6.20 a.m. on Friday, Ukrainian responders put out the fire which has not appeared to have affected the reactor sites.

Located in Enerhoda, Zaporizhzhia is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and among the 10 largest in the world. Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba warned that if the plant "blows up, it will be 10 times larger" than the explosion at Chernobyl.

Ukraine's nuclear inspectorate said that so far there is no information about casualties and that "at present, no changes in the radiation situation have been registered."

Fire at Nuclear Plant Marks End of Eighth Day of Fighting

Russian troops bombed the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Europe's largest power plant, causing a fire and failure in its power generators.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke with U.S. President Joe Biden about the situation. Ukrainian emergency services have since said that the radiation levels at the plant are at normal levels.

Igor Terekhov—the mayor of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second most populated city—has said he believes that Russia is "intentionally trying to eliminate" civilians.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has said he believes that Russia has committed war crimes, issued a tweet stating that someone should assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, Russia's media regulator shut down three international news websites. The country's legislature is considering a bill that would punish any "unofficial" reporting on the Russia-Ukraine war with up to 15 years in prison.

Both are part of a larger crackdown on independent media factually reporting on Russia's invasion.

Ice T, Andy Serkis Weigh In On Ukraine Invasion

Actor Andy Serkis, rapper Ice T and other celebrities have weighed in on the Ukraine invasion.

On a recent installment of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Serkis imitated Russian President Vladimir Putin using his vocal impression of Gollum/Smeagol, the mentally unstable antagonist Serkis played in The Lord of the Rings film series. Often Gollum would speak to himself, weighing his own nastiness against the kinder considerations of his Smeagol persona.

In the villainous Gollum voice, Serkis said, "We wants it. We needs it. We must have Kyiv!"

Switching to the kinder and more reasonable Smeagol persona, Serkis said, "No Precious, they're to impose sanctions!"

Then, switching back to Gollum, Serkis said, "Sanctions? Sanctions, my Precious? If they do anything, we're going to give them s*** back."

In a Wednesday tweet, Ice T shared an image of a nuclear mushroom cloud, writing, "Here's the Situation: As soon as the US fires ONE bullet at a Russian solider. From the Ground or Air.... WE are at War with Russia. Not good."

Numerous actors like Lady Gaga, Brian Cox and Michael Douglas expressed solidarity with Ukraine at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday night.

Pop star Katy Perry said, "F*** Putin" at a recent concert just before she sang her song "Not The End of the World."

Many other celebrities have spoken out on what's happening in Ukraine including Ashton Kutcher, Stephen King, Sean Penn, Ryan Reynolds, Bella Hadid, Angelina Jolie, and Hayden Panettiere.

Tucker Carlson Blames Biden for His Downplaying of Russia-Ukraine War

Fox News host Tucker Carlson has blamed U.S. President Joe Biden for downplaying the possible threat of the Russia-Ukraine war.

As proof, Carlson said he was misled by Vice President Kamala Harris' presence at the Munich Security Conference last month. There, she met with several European heads of state.

Because Harris didn't do a good job resolving the immigrant crisis when she visited the U.S. southern border in 2021, Carlson said her presence at the conference led him and others to believe the possibility of coming conflict at the Russia-Ukraine wasn't particularly serious.

"We assumed that if things were dire, serious people would be involved in fixing them," Carlson said. "If the situation in Ukraine had been legitimately serious, if the future of Europe and the world hung in the balance as now so obviously it does, of course, the Biden administration would not have sent Kamala Harris to fix it, because that's not her job."

Carlson didn't overestimate Russian President Vladimir Putin, he said, but rather he "overestimated Joe Biden."

Leading up to Russia's invasion, Carlson said the Ukraine crisis was a "border dispute" in an "obscure" part of the world. He also said the government wasn't a democracy and only existed to aid Biden's family in their corruption.

Last week, Carlson asked why the Biden Administration was so opposed to Putin.

"Has Putin ever called me a racist? Has he threatened to get me fired for disagreeing with him? Has he shipped every middle-class job in my town to Russia? Did he manufacture a worldwide pandemic that wrecked my business and kept me indoors for two years?" Carlson asked.

His comments were later rebroadcast on Russian television.

On a recent episode of New York Times reporter Kara Swisher's podcast, satirist Jon Stewart called Carlson a "dishonest propagandist" and said that Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of the Fox Corporation which owns Fox News, of "trying to destroy the fabric of this country" by broadcasting Carlson's views.

"I don't know if it's ideological or he just thinks, this is where the money is," Stewart said. "But how somebody can in good conscience put a s***head like that on television every night to say those types of things, that's where the responsibility lies in my mind," Stewart said.

Lindsey Graham Calls for a Russian 'Brutus' to Assassinate Putin

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has publicly said that an assassin needs to kill Russian President Vladimir Putin in order to stop Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"Is there a Brutus in Russia? Is there a more successful Colonel Stauffenberg in the Russian military?" Graham said in a Tuesday evening tweet. "The only way this ends is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out. You would be doing your country - and the world - a great service."

Graham's tweet referenced Marcus Junius Brutus, the Roman politician who assisted in the stabbing death of Roman dictator Julius Caesar in 44 BC.

Graham's tweet also referenced Claus von Stauffenberg, a German army officer who unsuccessfully attempted to assassinate Nazi leader Adolf Hitler on July 20, 1944. A firing squad executed Stauffenberg the following day.

"The only people who can fix this are the Russian people," Graham added in a follow-up tweet. "Easy to say, hard to do. Unless you want to live in darkness for the rest of your life, be isolated from the rest of the world in abject poverty, and live in darkness you need to step up to the plate."

On Wednesday, Fox News host Sean Hannity suggested on his radio show that Putin should be assassinated.

"If you invade an innocent sovereign country, and you kill innocent men, women and children, you don't deserve to live," Hannity said. "You cut the head of the snake off, and you kill the snake. And right now, the snake is Vladimir Putin."

A 1976 executive order by President Gerald Ford officially prohibits the U.S. government from committing political assassinations.

Last week, Alex Konanykhin, a U.S.-based Russian businessman, offered $1 million to any military officer who apprehends Putin "dead or alive."

Assassinating Putin could make the Russian president a martyr, causing his aggressive ideology to spread among those who currently oppose it, according to Steven Fish, a political science professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

"We need to leave the honor of taking Putin down to the Russian people who do not want this war and have already begun to turn against him," Fish told The Washington Post.

Safety Secured at Largest Nuclear Power Plant Following Fire: Officials

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) has been secured with radiation at normal levels, according to Ukrainian officials, after Russian troops bombed it earlier today leaving it on fire. Fighting near the plant has also stopped.

The Ukrainian state emergency service said that only one power generation unit out of the plant's six units is operational. Both the radiation and fire conditions at the plant are within normal limits, the emergency service said.

Firefighters were initially met with guns and unable to access the plant when they first arrived, ZNPP spokesperson Andrii Tuz said on Telegram.

The bombing didn't affect the plant's essential equipment or stop workers from leaving the premises, the service added. The emergency service shared this information with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the organization tasked with nuclear safety worldwide.

"The director of the plant said that the nuclear safety is now guaranteed," said Oleksandr Starukh, governor of Zaporizhzhia Oblast, the region containing the plant.

Despite the service's report, ZNPP's Acting General Director Igor Murashov said, "Nuclear safety at ZNPP is violated. We are doing everything possible, but the fire continues, firefighters were not allowed. There are huge risks. Fighting at the station. Reactors are in danger."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russia resorted to "nuclear terror" in attacking the plant.

In a Thursday night call with U.S. President Joe Biden, Biden joined Zelensky in urging Russia to cease military activities near the plant. Biden will receive updates on the plant's condition as developments occur.

Ukrainian Phone Tower Company Pivots to Building Anti-Tank Traps

Ihor Tokarivsky, the owner of a company that erects mobile telephone towers across Ukraine, has purchased steel to make anti-tank weapons for fighting off Russian forces.

With a group of seven employees and 10 other volunteers from neighboring businesses, he has made over 50 881-pound tank traps. The traps can hook and lift vehicles that drive into them. The traps immobilize the vehicles and make their undersides more vulnerable to weapons, according to Military Times.

The group is also making "hedgehogs," smaller objects made of spiky sharpened steel rods that will puncture even the heaviest tires upon military vehicles. Tokarivsky said he had enough steel to make 11,000 hedgehogs.

Last Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked citizens to take up weapons against Russian invaders. In addition to his request, numerous Ukrainians have helped assemble camouflaged nets, make Molotov cocktails, dig trenches, set up roadblocks and remove road signs to impede Russian forces.

Men Arrested At Ukraine Embassy in Washington D.C. With Weapons

Two men were arrested on weapons charges at the Ukrainian embassy in Washington D.C. on Thursday.

The men, whose names weren't publicly released, reportedly visited the embassy to ask how they could volunteer in the country's "International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine", an attack force made up of volunteer foreign fighters.

Police found a shotgun and at least one machete inside the men's vehicle, according to WRC-TV. Another man was reportedly arrested on Monday outside the same embassy, also with weapons.

An estimated 16,000 people have already volunteered for Ukraine's international attack force, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

A Russian military spokesperson said that Moscow would not treat foreign volunteers fighters the same as Ukrainian soldiers—threatening them with more severe repercussions if they are captured. Russia also threatened to bring "criminal" prosecution against any captured foreign fighters.

Kharkiv Mayor Says Russia 'Intentionally Trying to Eliminate' Civilians

Igor Terekhov—the mayor of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second most populated city—has said he believes that Russia is "intentionally trying to eliminate" civilians.

In an interview with CNN anchor Erin Burnett on her show OutFront, Terekhov said that the city has been hit with "constant bombardment" from Russian planes. The explosives have destroyed entire residential blocks and administrative buildings. As a result, people and even schools have been moved into underground bomb shelters.

"I look around and I see that there are no military troops stationed in our residential blocks," Terekhov told Burnett. "And what does that mean? That means that [Russians are] purposefully hitting at the residential buildings, intentionally trying to eliminate the Ukrainian people."

"We definitely have a great number of people who have already been killed or are being killed," he continued. "The casualties are enormous."

On Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden said "it's clear" that Russian forces are intentionally targeting civilian areas. That same day, the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine reported 752 civilian casualties.

Russian forces have attacked a kindergarten and orphanage in northeastern Ukraine and a hospital in the southeast, according to Human Rights Watch.

On Thursday, Ukrainian and Russian negotiators agreed that humanitarian corridors should be created to allow civilians to flee. It's unclear when the corridors might go into effect.

Russian Law Would Punish 'Fake' News About Ukraine Invasion With 15 Years

On Friday, the State Duma, the lower house of Russia's legislature, will consider a bill that would make "unofficial" reporting on the Russia-Ukraine war punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

The bill would give prison sentences of three years for the fabrication of false information; 10 years for disseminating false information through an official position, the internet, or a group of people; and 15 years for disseminating false information with socially dangerous consequences, according to Kommersant, the independent Russian nationally distributed daily newspaper.

"[This bill] is an obvious threat to free speech and the independent press," said Gulnoza Said, the Europe and Central Asia program coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists.

"The State Duma should withdraw this proposed legislation, and authorities must allow the media to freely cover all events related to the invasion of Ukraine," Said added.

If passed, the bill will head to the upper house of the Russian parliament before heading to the desk of Russian President Vladimir Putin to be signed into law.

The bill is part of the Russian government's wider crackdown against "unofficial Russian information outlets."

Largest Nuclear Plant in Europe On Fire Following Shelling

Europe's largest nuclear power plant, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in the city of Enerhodar, has caught fire after being bombed by Russian troops.

Video footage showed flames flickering from the plant at night. The plant provides a quarter of Ukraine's power.

Andriy Tuz, a spokesperson for the plant said, "We demand that [the Russians] stop the heavy weapons fire. There is a real threat of nuclear danger in the biggest atomic energy station in Europe."

As Russian tanks and infantry moved towards the plant, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) called the situation "critical" and called on military forces to avoid violence near the site.

McCaul Says No Fly Zone Over Ukraine Could Cause 'World War III'

Texas Representative Michael McCaul, a ranking Republican member of Foreign Affairs Committee, said that establishing a no fly zone over Ukraine would escalate violence in Russia's invasion of Ukraine, even though Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has asked Western nations to establish one.

"It would put NATO aircraft in direct conflict with Russian aircraft," McCaul said on the Thursday broadcast of Wolf Blitzer's CNN program The Situation Room. "You can imagine the outcome of that. One of the planes will be shot down, and then we are in World War III, war with Russia."

A no fly zone would seek to stop Russian fighter aircraft from bombing Ukraine. But such a zone would require Western-allied nations in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to be willing to shoot down aircraft, essentially turning the invasion into a multi-nation conflict.

Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby shared a similar sentiment.

"The thing about a no fly zone is it has to be enforced," Kirby told CNN. "That escalates this conflict to a level President [Joe] Biden is not willing to do."

Near the end of February, Russian President Vladimir Putin essentially warned that a no fly zone would trigger an extreme escalation in the conflict.

"To anyone who would consider interfering from the outside: If you do, you will face consequences greater than any you have faced in history," Putin said. "I hope you hear me."

International News Websites Blocked in Russia

The Russian government's media regulator, Roskomnadzor, has blocked at least three additional international news websites: the news aggregation site Meduza in English, the investigative news broadcaster Svoboda Radio and the German-government-owned international broadcaster Deutsche Welle Russian.

The websites offered Russian citizens independent viewpoints on the Ukrainian invasion. Their removal will make citizens more dependent on the "official Russian information outlets" preferred by Roskomnadzor.

The websites' censorship is just the most recent development in Russia's larger crackdown on any news that describes Russia's actions as an "assault," "invasion" or a "declaration of war." Roskomnadzor has also written letters telling Russian-language media outlets to remove any articles that mention antiwar protests, attacks on cities or the killing of civilians.

In a Wednesday statement, the State Department said that Russian authorities are engaged in a "full assault on media freedom and the truth" which prevents Russian citizens from knowing about "the human costs of this senseless war."

U.S. to Provide Ukrainians in Country Temporary Protected Status

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced that Ukrainian nationals who are present in the United States as of March 1 will receive temporary protected status (TPS). TPS allows foreign nationals to live and work in the United States for a limited time.

"We condemn Vladimir Putin's unprovoked attack against the Ukrainian people. Our hearts stand with Ukrainian people who are suffering so much tragedy and so much loss," Mayorkas said in a Twitter video announcing the program.

The Biden administration officials are preparing to send $54 million in humanitarian assistance for Ukrainian refugees. More than a million Ukrainians have already fled the country since the start of Russia's invasion, the United Nations reported on Wednesday.

The Democratic governors of New York, New Jersey, Colorado and Rhode Island have all announced their readiness to accept Ukrainian refugees.

Moldova 'on Alert,' Watching Russian Troops in Country

Officials in Moldova are closely monitoring Russian troops that have already been deployed on the country's territory, Newsweek reported Thursday.

Moldova contains roughly 1,500 Russian troops acting as "peacekeepers" in a section of the country where Moscow-aligned rebels carved out their own breakaway state in the 1990s.

"We are very concerned with the Russian troops on the ground," Moldova's ambassador in Washington, Eugen Caras, told Newsweek.

Caras said that while Russian troops in the territory, known as the Transnistria region, haven't taken any action, "one cannot rule out anything these days after this invasion of Ukraine by Russia."

"We are on alert because of the worries in neighboring Ukraine," Caras added.

In an address on Tuesday, Transnistria President Vadim Krasnoselsky said: "We have never had any plans of an aggressive nature with respect to our neighbors, and we never will."

Kharkiv Under Shelling, Mobile Communications Lost

On Thursday, European Media outlet NEXTA tweeted that residents report that the Kharkiv region is under attack.

"According to local residents, Izyum, Kharkiv region is under shelling," NEXTA tweeted.

"The city lost mobile communications," the European media outlet added.

Initially, NEXTA reported that strong explosions were heard again in Kharkiv.

"Strong explosions are heard again in Kharkiv," NEXTA tweeted.

Ukrainian Official Calls on Allies to Provide Military Aircraft

Ukraine's minister of foreign affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, urged Ukraine's allies to provide the country with military aircraft amid the Russian invasion.

"Our aces heroically defend our skies. But Russia has advantage. Dear partners who still have not provided Ukraine with military aircraft: how can you sleep when Ukrainian children are under bombs in Mariupol, Kherson, Kharkiv, other cities? You can take this decision now. Do it!" Kuleba said in a tweet on Thursday.

His comments came days after a deal to allow Ukraine to use fighter jets donated by European Union countries collapsed, according to Politico.

On Tuesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that while Ukraine's allies would provide the country with assistance including military support including anti-tank weapons, air defense systems, humanitarian aid, and financial assistance, NATO would not "send the troops into Ukraine or move planes into Ukrainian airspace."

The President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, who appeared with Stoltenberg during a press conference Tuesday said: "We are not sending any jets to Ukraine because that would open a military interference in the Ukrainian conflict."

In Photos: Ukrainians Survey Damage After Shelling Hits

The battle in Ukraine continues as major cities face shelling hits.

Emergency services in Ukraine work to put out fires and survey damaged buildings as civilians rush to the borders to evacuate.

Damage in Kharkiv
Serviceman Walks Past Fire
Fire From Shelling Attack
Ukraine Military Surveys Damage
Biker Rides Past Damaged Building
Damaged Cars in Kharkiv
Man Surveys Damage
Shelling Strike Kyiv

Ikea and Volkswagen Suspend Business With Russia

Volkswagen and Ikea have become the latest companies to suspend business in Russia as Kremlin forces pressed ahead, firing missiles at Kyiv overnight and stepping up their campaign to take critical cities.

Volkswagen said it would stop producing vehicles in Russia and exporting to that market until further notice because of the invasion of Ukraine.

The German carmaker joins an exodus of companies from Russia, reversing three decades of investment by Western and other foreign businesses there following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Firms ranging from energy giants Exxon Mobil and Shell to fashion retailers Burberry and HandM have announced they are curtailing operations or leaving entirely.

According to The Kyiv Independent, furniture store giant Ikea announced it was pausing all operations in Russia and Belarus on Thursday.

U.S. Has No Plan to Ban Russian Oil at This Time

The White House does not plan to ban Russia oil imports at this time.

"We don't have a strategic interest in reducing the global supply of energy," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing Thursday.

President Joe Biden's objective, Psaki said, is to maximize impact on Vladimir Putin and Russia while minimizing impacts on Americans and our allies.

Psaki said that reducing the supply would increase gas prices in the U.S. and around the world and could also potentially pad Putin's pockets.

"It's as simple as less supply raises prices," she said.

Instead, Biden has carved out areas to pay for energy trade and transfer from the economic sanctions issued against Russia.

Psaki added that the U.S. has been taking steps to reduce Russia's status as a lead energy supplier overtime, including shutting down Nord Stream 2, pushing for more energy diversification in Europe and cutting U.S. dependence on Russian energy.

She said Russian energy makes up only 10 percent of U.S. imports.

President Biden has ordered a release from the domestic strategic petroleum reserve to decrease domestic gas prices while maintaining the global energy supply.

Psaki added that the U.S. needs to also invest in other sources of clean energy.

What is the 'Moscow Mechanism?' Nations Invoke Tool to Address Human Rights

On Thursday, 45 countries that participate in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) invoked the "Moscow Mechanism" in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The U.S. Embassy in Belarus has described the Moscow Mechanism as a tool that allows 10 or more countries that participate in OSCE to "establish a mission of independent experts to look into a particularly serious threat to the fulfillment of human rights commitments in a participating State."

On Thursday, Canada's ambassador to OSCE, Jocelyn Kinnear, said the 45 countries would be sending a letter to the Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

The countries are requesting that the organization ask Ukraine if it would invite a "mission of experts" to address the "human rights and humanitarian impacts" of the Russian invasion.

The letter states that the mission could look into potential "violations and abuses of international human rights law and international humanitarian law" and "establish the facts and circumstances" regarding possible war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of committing war crimes after a military strike hit the city of Kharkiv.

The States Seeing the Highest Gas Prices Since Russian Invasion

As the conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues, gas prices rapidly rise in some states across the U.S.

According to a Newsweek analysis of AAA data, Michigan has seen the highest statewide average increase over the last week.

A gallon of regular unleaded gas costs about 38.2 cents more on Thursday than it did one week ago. Indiana recorded an increase of nearly 36 cents in the last week, and Illinois and Ohio each recorded increases between 30 and 31 cents.

Meanwhile, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Tennessee all recorded statewide average gas price increases between 20 and 30 cents over the last week, with all other U.S. states seeing increases somewhere between 10 and 20 cents.

Terminally Ill Ukrainian Child is 'Fighting Two Wars At Once'

In 2021, Ukrainian resident Iryna Pradunets' newborn daughter Dana was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) type 1, the most severe form of spinal muscular atrophy. The life expectancy is only a few years.

"It was terrifying, and that feeling just doesn't go away," Pradunets said.

On February 22, 2022, the Pradunets left with Dana for treatment in Poland. After the Russian invasion began, the family is stuck in Poland and hoping Dana can receive treatment.

"We haven't claimed refugee status yet, we are just trying to get some documentation so Dana can get access to treatment here," Pradunets said. "The medicine she takes was distributed from Kharkiv in Ukraine, which is currently under attack, and we only have enough left for two more weeks now we're in Poland."

Pradunets and her husband are trying to find jobs in Poland to get medical insurance in order to be receive another treatment for their daughter. The family has also started a fundraiser.

If Dana doesn't get treatment for a few months, she could lose all the progress she has made and her condition will likely get worse, Pradunets said.

"Dana is relatively weak, even with treatment because she has the most severe form of SMA," she said. "We know that, for her, breaks in treatment are really not an option."

Pradunets said she doesn't take the ability for Dana to breathe for granted and wishes she and her family could return home.

"I just want to go back home," she said. "I have really started loving my country in a new way. The only thing I don't understand is why my 1-year-old has to fight two wars at once?

Read the full essay below:

One Million Refugees Flee to Neighboring Countries

The U.N.'s top refugee official said on Wednesday that 1 million people have now fled across the borders of Ukraine since Russian forces invaded a week ago.

"In just seven days we have witnessed the exodus of one million refugees from Ukraine to neighboring countries," U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi wrote in a tweet on Wednesday.

According to BBC News, refugees are heading to countries to the west, such as Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, and Moldova. At the same time, smaller numbers have gone to Russia and Belarus.

White House Expands Sanctions on Russian Elites Who 'Enable Putin'

The White House announced that it will be targeting additional members of the Russian elite "who continue supporting President Putin despite his brutal invasion of Ukraine."

The Biden administration released a list of new list of "Russian elites and their family members who enable Putin" and will be facing sanctions.

In a statement, the White House said that those impacted by the sanctions "will be cut off from the U.S. financial system, their assets in the United States will be frozen and their property will be blocked from use. "

They include Dmitry Peskov, Putin's press secretary, Igor Shuvalov, a former Russian deputy prime minister who has five companies, and Alisher Burhanovich Usmanov, one of Russia's "wealthiest individuals and a close ally of Putin."

Announcing the sanctions against Usmanov Thursday, the White House tweeted out pictures of a plane and a yacht.

"Usmanov's property is blocked from use in the United States and by U.S. persons – including his superyacht and his private jet," the White House wrote.

White House Rejects Call for No Fly Zone Over Ukraine

The U.S. does not plan to issue a no fly zone over Ukraine, despite Ukrainian President Zelensky call on Western allies to close the skies.

That is not a step President Biden is willing to take because it would require U.S. military implementation, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a press briefing Thursday.

Implementation would require the U.S. military to shoot down Russian planes and would prompt a direct war with Russia, " the exact step we want to avoid," Psaki said.

Psaki said the U.S. will continue to provide humanitarian and defensive support to Ukraine in its effort to combat Russian forces.

Biden Plans Fresh Sanctions for Russian Oligarchs

President Joe Biden is planning to impose new sanctions on Russian oligarchs and their families.

In a Tweet, Biden said that fresh sanctions on oligarchs will be a point of discussion during a meeting he has scheduled with his Cabinet Thursday afternoon.

"This afternoon, I'll be meeting with my Cabinet at the White House. We'll be discussing additional sanctions on Russian oligarchs, our plans to lower costs for Americans, our unity agenda, and more," Biden tweeted Thursday afternoon.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki said she expects more sets of sanctions in the future with details to be announced this afternoon.

On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced it had launched a new task force to enforce sanctions imposed on oligarchs and others following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Russia, Ukraine Agree to Build Corridors to Evacuate Civilians

Ukrainian officials were left dissatisfied after their meeting with Russian counterparts in Belarus Thursday.

"Unfortunately, the results Ukraine needs are not yet achieved," Mykhailo Podoliyak, an adviser to Ukraine President Zelensky, said.

The only solution to come out of the talks, he said, was the agreement on humanitarian corridors.

Russian Cultural Minister Vladimir Medinsky confirmed that the delegations agreed to build of corridors to evacuate civilians and deliver food and medicine, according to Russian state media.

Medinsky said the two sides found an understanding on some points and "discussed in detail all three blocks of issues," that also included immediate ceasefire and armistice.

Kyiv and Moscow also agree to continue negotiations, the Ukrainian Presidential Office said.

Biden Seeks $10 Billion for Security, Humanitarian Assistance in Ukraine

The Biden administration on Thursday urged Congress to provide an additional $10 billion to support Ukraine amid the Russian invasion.

In a statement, Shalanda Young, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote that the funding would be used "to deliver additional humanitarian, security, and economic assistance in Ukraine and the neighboring region in the coming days and weeks."

She said the money would provide more defense equipment for Ukrainians, emergency food assistance, "stronger sanctions enforcement," and support for U.S. troops deploying to nearby countries.

"Resources will also bolster regional efforts to counter Russian cyberattacks and disinformation, and strengthen the stability of Ukraine's electrical grid by integrating it with the European Network of Transmission System of Operators," Young wrote.

The U.S. has provided over $1.4 billion in assistance to Ukraine since 2021, Young noted.

How to Watch White House Press Briefing

White House press secretary Jen Psaki is set to provide a press briefing at 1 p.m. amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Here's how to watch:

Secretary Blinken Begins 6 Day Trip to Europe

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is traveling to Europe to consult with NATO allies and other European partners as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine.

Blinken will travel to Belgium, Poland, Moldova, and the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia from March 3 to 8, State Department spokesperson Ned Price, said in a statement.

Blinken's trip comes as Russia's war with Ukraine has entered its eighth day. Still, fighting is projected to escalate despite Ukraine's defense thus far.

Kherson Resident Believes City is 100% Under Russian Control

Russia has reportedly captured the city of Kherson. As a result, the Black Sea port has become the first primary Ukrainian target to fall under the de facto control of Russian forces.

A Kherson resident believes that Russian troops have gained control of 100% of the city.

"There is no Ukrainian military here. So I believe that the city is 100% in Russian control, actually," Kherson resident Zainish Hussain said after spotting tanks outside his home in Ukraine on Wednesday. He said soldiers were firing "warning shots" at civilians to go back inside, which he described as "horrifying."

As the international criminal court said it had begun collecting evidence of possible war crimes in Ukraine, Kherson's mayor Igor Kolykhaiev, said in a Facebook post today Russian troops were in control of the city hall and that residents should obey a curfew imposed by "armed visitors."

The Ukrainian military has also denied claims that Russia is now in control of Kherson.

Ukraine Forces Battle to Defend Europe's Largest Nuclear Plant

Ukraine forces are battling Russian troops outside the city of Enerhodar, the site of Europe's largest nuclear plant.

Enerhodar Mayor Dmytro Orlov urged residents to leave the city Thursday as a large Russian convoy is approaching, the Associated Press reported.

This major energy hub is located on the left bank of the Dnieper River and the Khakhovka Reservoir. It is home to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and accounts for about one quarter of the country's power generation.

Russia and Ukraine Talks Underway in Belarus

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak said he and other officials had begun talks with Russian delegates in Belarus.

The Ukrainian delegation's agenda is to agree on an immediate ceasefire and humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to leave front-line communities.

A tweet shared by the adviser to the head of the office of President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky shows Ukrainian officials and Russian representatives at the meeting.

The Russian Embassy UK also tweeted a photo with the caption, "Second Round of Russia-Ukraine talks has started in Belovezhskaya Pushcha."

Zelensky Says Russian Actions are 'the End of the World'

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky says the Ukrainian people are continuing to resist Russian forces.

"We are here defending our country, our people," he told a group of journalists during a news conference Thursday. "If I were given the ultimatum to put down my weapons and go the other way, I wouldn't do it. We're here defending our country, we're not trying to take anything from anyone."

Zelensky said that the Russian invasion is the "end of the world."

"This is the end of the world. Russian actions are the end of the world," he said. "The point is that we are the fence, the wall between the Russians and civilization."

He adds that Russian forces brought in crematoria to the battlefield. There are reports that Russia's intelligence agency has drafted plans for public executions in Ukraine after cities are captured. Zelensky also said Russian missiles hit Holocaust memorials.

"That's horrible," he said. "I don't understand what kind of person can plan this act. That's genocide, that's Nazism."

Zelensky warns that if Ukraine falls to Russia, Vladimir Putin will go after other eastern European countries.

"If Ukraine ceases to exist, other countries will be targeted," he said, including Latvia, Moldova and Poland.

Zelensky said he is thankful for the support from foreign leaders and people around the world, but notes that the efforts from allies come too late. He said little has been done now that Russia is advancing.

"The world came too late for Ukraine," he said. "We gave these countries a window of opportunity and that window cost lives."

He is now asking for allies like the U.S., France and Germany to send aircrafts and issue a "no fly zone" over Ukraine.

In response to reports that Putin wants to kill him, Zelensky said that as a person, he is fearful for his life and the lives of his family. But as the president, he said, he has "no right to be afraid." His main fear is losing his home.

"I fear the idea that I won't have my country and when I'm asked where I'm from I might say that country doesn't exist anymore," he said. "I fear for the next generation."

Zelensky continues to speak with world leaders, saying he makes 20 or 30 calls a day. He said talks with President Joe Biden have been positive.

"The conversation was good, but it's a shame that this contact didn't start until after the war started," he said.

He added that he needs to speak directly with Putin.

"It's not what I would talk to Putin about. I have to talk to Putin," he said. "The world has to talk to Putin. There is no other way to end this war."

Macron Says Putin Plans to Take 'Entire Ukraine'

French President Emmanuel Macron believes "the worst is to come" in Ukraine after a 90-minute phone call with Vladimir Putin who appears intent on seizing "the whole" of the country, an aide to the French leader said.

"The expectation of the president is that the worst is to come, given what President Putin told him, "a senior aide to the French leader told reporters on condition of anonymity.

"There was nothing in what President Putin told us that should reassure us. He showed great determination to continue the operation," the aide continued.
He added that Putin "wanted to seize control of the whole of Ukraine. So he will, in his own words, carry out his operation to 'de-Nazify' Ukraine to the end."

"You can understand the extent to which these words are shocking and unacceptable, and the president told him that it was lies," the aide said.

Video: Ukrainian Village Near Kyiv In Ruins

Gorenka, a small Ukrainian village on the outskirts of Kyiv, was left shellshocked after being caught up in Russia's assault on the capital.

Residents said a Russian plane bombed the village early Wednesday morning, destroying several homes.

Georgia Formally Applies For EU Membership

More breaking news to bring you...

The former Soviet republic followed Ukraine in asking the EU to fast-track its application for membership.

Irakli Garibashvili, the Prime Minister of Georgia, signed the country's formal application to join the 27-member-state union, stating that Georgia is striving to become a "full member of the European family."

"Since gaining its independence, our country has been consistently progressing and this day is yet another manifest of our effort," Garibashvili said in a statement, adding the state was "closer to the European Union as never before".

In the past eight years Georgia has been successfully fulfilling the commitments assumed under the 2014 EU Association Agreement and has made significant progress towards legislative, economic and political approximation with the EU, the Prime Minister concluded.

Earlier on Thursday Georgia's former prime minister Mamuka Bakhtadze told Newsweek that the European Union should accelerate his country's bid for membership together with those of Ukraine and Moldova after Russia launched a war on Ukraine.

Putin Tells Macron Russia Will Achieve Its Goals

Breaking news...

Russian President Vladimir Putin has told Emmanuel Macron, his French counterpart, on Thursday that Russia will achieve its goals, the Kremlin has said.

A readout of the call issued by Russia's government on Thursday read:

"Vladimir Putin outlined in detail the fundamental approaches and conditions in the context of negotiations with representatives of Kyiv. It was confirmed that, first of all, we are talking about the demilitarisation and neutral status of Ukraine, so that a threat to the Russian Federation will never emanate from its territory."

It added: "It was emphasised that the tasks of the special military operation will be fulfilled in any event, and attempts to gain time by dragging out negotiations will only lead to additional demands on Kiev in our negotiating position."

Special military operation is Russia's preferred name for the invasion.

Russians Flock to IKEA Ahead of Closure

Social media video has emerged, appearing to show Russian shoppers flocking to IKEA after the company announced it would temporarily close in Russia.

Moscow residents crammed into the furniture store in shopping mall MEGA Teply Stan after hearing the news, according to a post on Telegram.

One shopper reportedly said "even napkins" were sold out in the rush.

Earlier, the Swedish outlet's owners said: "The war has both a huge human impact and is resulting in serious disruptions to supply chain and trading conditions, which is why the company groups have decided to temporarily pause IKEA operations in Russia."

On Wednesday, Swedish clothing giant H&M, and U.K.-headquartered online fashion retailer ASOS paused sales in Russia.

Muscovites formed long lines at an IKEA
Muscovites formed long lines at an IKEA outlet in the city on Thursday, according to social media video, after the Swedish store vowed to temporarily close its stores in the county. Telegram

The Briton Helping Foreigners Join Ukraine Defence

Foreigner Fighting For Ukraine Reveals How He’s
Macer Gifford. Twitter

A British man has told Newsweek about his experience helping non-Ukrainian nationals fight the Russian invasion.

Macer Gifford went to Kyiv even before Ukraine called for foreign fighters to help stem the advance of Putin's troops, helping set up a battlefield first aid program.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Sunday the formation of an "international legion" volunteer force to defend his country

Now Gifford is helping those who want to go.

"I will happily help someone who wishes to go and advise people but they must be absolutely clear that if they decide to go, it is entirely on them," he said.

Read his story here.

Zelensky: 16,000 Foreigners Volunteer To Fight for Ukraine

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed that 16,000 foreign volunteers have arrived to assist with their fight against Russia.

In a video address one week into the conflict, Zelensky reiterated how Ukraine is prepared to continue to stand up against Russia's attacks and has now "started welcoming foreign volunteers" who are coming to the country to join the war.

What Are Russians Googling About Ukraine?

As Putin wages war in Ukraine, it is increasingly clear that many Russians are opposed to the invasion, which the Kremlin calls a "special military operation."

Since fighting began, thousands of Russians have taken to the street in protest, while a Russian petition to end the war has collected 1.5 million signatures.

Analysis of Google searches in Russia over the last 7 days of war also suggests a desperation for peace.

The top 9 search terms on Ukraine were all focused on peace negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv. The tenth translated as "lists of the dead in Ukraine."

In Ukraine, Google searches were similar, Newsweek analysis shows; although several search terms were more focused on the second round of talks.

Other searches translate as "neutral status of Ukraine" and "Starlink Ukraine"—U.S. billionaire Elon Musk's dishes sent to guarantee internet in the country (more on that here).

Putin to Address War Casualties During Upcoming Security Council Meeting — Kremlin Spokesman

Dmitry Peskov also addressed questions about Russia's losses in the war so far. While he did not give a precise figure, he said the topic will be discussed in Putin's meeting with the security council.

"We are all in awe of the heroism shown by our troops, their feat will become part of history," he added.

Shortly after it launched its Ukraine offensive, the Russian government banned news outlets from publishing "unverified information" about the "special operation," which covers any claims that are not sourced from official government statements.

Until Wednesday the Russian Defense Ministry did not publish any official data of its casualties in Ukraine. On March 2 the Ministry of Defense admitted for the first time that the Russian army incurred losses, including 498 dead and 1597 wounded.

Ukraine's Defense Ministry most recently claimed that as many as 9,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded in Ukraine over the past week.

Russian Lawmaker: Invasion Planned for 'a Year, Maybe More'

A Russian lawmaker has suggested that Putin's invasion of Ukraine had been in the making since early 2021.

State Duma member Rifat Shaykhutdinov told state-controlled Channel One TV on Wednesday: "We did not prepare this, this operation spontaneously.

"It had been in preparation for a year, maybe more," he added in comments first reported by the BBC. "We understood what [was happening] and had been warning them in advance," he said in remarks on Channel One's daily talk show Time Will Tell.

Where Are Ukrainian Refugees Fleeing to?

United Nations officials believe more than 1 million people have now fled Ukraine.

Millions more Ukrainians are likely internally displaced due to the fighting.

This graph, produced by Statista, maps the path Ukrainians have taken.

Map of where Ukrainian refugees are fleeing
This chart shows the number of Ukrainian refugees by target country. Statista

More From Peskov's Press Briefing

The spokesman also responded to questions about closure of Echo Moskvy, one of the most popular radio stations and news outlets in Russia, saying that the "decision to liquidate Echo Moskvy was made by its shareholders" after the outlet "broke Russian laws."

As of 2018 Echo of Moscow is majority owned by Gazprom-Media, a subsidiary of state-owned Gazprom, which holds 66% of its shares.

Rumors of Martial Law in Russia 'Just A Hoax' — Kremlin Spokesman

Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for the Kremlin, addressed a number of questions about Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the government's plans.

Speculation that the government is set to introduce martial law in the country was "just a social media hoax," Peskov insisted in a press briefing on Thursday, March 3.

The rumors began to circulate following the announcement that president Vladimir Putin is set to take part in an "unplanned" Security Council meeting. The previous such meeting culminated in his decision to begin the Ukraine offensive (which the Kremlin continues to refer to as a "special operation").

"This is a hoax, it's all coming from social media, pure hoaxes, which users are sharing with each other," the official claimed, cited by the Tass state news agency. "You have to treat such information carefully, and avoid falling for rumors and lies."

UNICEF Worry For Ukrainian Children Increases

UNICEF spokesperson James Elder said (above) that children at the Ukrainian border should not have to know what "trauma" looks like, as he described their experience of fleeing from Ukraine from Russian conflict.

He added that "They know the air raid siren means get out of bed and run to a bunker."

Elder said from speaking to children under 10 that all they do is draw or do anything that occupies "the time to take away from the stress they see written over their mother's face".

Zelensky Wants Reparations, Says Russian Army 'Doomed'

Volodymyr Zelensky during a televised address
President Volodymyr Zelensky's televised addresses have become required daily viewing in Ukraine, as people look to stay across the conflict. Getty Images

President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered another televised address to the Ukrainian people early on Thursday morning.

"We will rebuild every house, every street, every city," he vowed.

And told Putin's Russia: "learn words of reparation and contribution. You will pay back the full price for everything that you did to us, to our country and to every Ukrainian," according to AP's translation.

He confirmed this morning's explosions in Kyiv, but stressed that rocket attacks showed Russian forces "could not do anything significant" to take the city.

In a message delivered more for Russia, he added: "Our air defense systems worked," he said, according to Ukrainian news agency UNIAN.

Chernihiv, Sumy and Mykolaiv are "holding out," he noted. "They wanted to destroy our Odessa, but they will only see it from the bottom of the Black Sea, because they are on the bottom."

"The first hours and days of this great war were very difficult, but we were alone, which means we were very strong and survived," he said.

"We will continue to do this and we will continue to stand." He added: "They were oppressed. They are doomed."

British Foreign Secretary Meets Baltic NATO States

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is holding talks with Baltic allies this morning.

Speaking Vilnius, she told her Lithuanian and Latvian counterparts that the war in Ukraine was a "struggle ... for all of our freedom and security."

"By continuing to respond with strength we will together ensure that Putin loses
and we stand with our brave allies here in the Baltics to do just that," she said.

Lithuania and Latvia joined NATO in 2004.

Ukraine Kills Russian General Sukhovetskiy—Report

Breaking news...

Unconfirmed reports are emerging that Ukrainian forces have killed a high-ranking Russian Major General Andrey Sukhovetskiy.

Sergey Chipilev, of Russian Veterans group Combat Brotherhood, announced the death on Facebook.

"With great anguish we received the news about the death of our friend, general major Sukhovetsky Andrey Aleksandrovich during the special operation in Ukraine," he wrote, using the Kremlin's official name for the invasion.

Sukhovetskiy commanded the Russian Army's seventh division of paratroopers, and Novorossiysk guards mountain air assault.

We'll bring you more as we have it.

How Many Have Died? Death Toll Latest

It is incredibly difficult to know the number killed in this conflict so far.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed on Wednesday that approximately 9,000 Russian troop have been killed in the first seven days.

Later that same day, Russian Defense Ministry released its own figure for the first time in the conflict, confirming 498 Russian casualties.

Civilian deaths are perhaps even harder to know.

More than 2,000 civilians have been killed in the fighting, Ukraine's emergency service said on Wednesday; though these figures are currently unverifiable.

The United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine said that it has recorded 752 civilian casualties in Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion.

Until midnight on March 1, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recorded 227 killed, including 15 children, and 525 injured.

Russian Petition Against Ukraine War Gets 1.5M Backers

Russian police have launched a crackdown on Ukraine War protesters. But an online petition suggests widespread dissent against Vladimir Putin's war.

More than 1.5 million people signing a petition organized by a Russian human rights activist calling for an end to the conflict.

Lev Ponomaryov, a prominent political activist, started the petition titled "Stop the War with Ukraine" after Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine a week ago.

"We demand an immediate ceasefire by the Russian Armed Forces, and their immediate withdrawal from the territory of the sovereign state of Ukraine," the petition said, which as of Thursday, had surpassed its goal of 1.5 million signatures.

Read more here.

What's Happening in Kyiv? Latest

Welcome to Newsweek's coverage on Thursday. Here's the latest on Kyiv:

British intelligence has found the once 40-mile-long convoy of Russian tanks and other military vehicles has been held about 20 miles north of the capital.

It's been "delayed by staunch Ukrainian resistance, mechanical breakdown and congestion. The column has made little discernible progress in over three days," the British government said in an update about 2 a.m. ET.

Two hours earlier, sirens blared out over Kyiv again as Russian forces launched more rocket attacks on the city. Four major explosions were filmed in the skies.

A damaged railway station in Kyiv
A damaged heating water pipeline blows steam over a railway station in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 3. A loud blast was reported here last night, an area near the Ibis Kiev Railway Station hotel, not far near Ukraine's Defense Ministry. Pierre Crom/Getty Images

U.S. State Department Condemns Russia's Crackdown on Independent News

The U.S. State Department issued a statement cracking down on Russia's "assault" on independent news networks.

"Russia is engaged in an unprovoked war on Ukraine," department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement late Wednesday night. "At home, the Kremlin is engaged in a full assault on media freedom and the truth, and Moscow's efforts to mislead and suppress the truth of the brutal invasion are intensifying."

This comes after Russia's Prosecutor General ordered restrict access to independent radio and TV access by blocking their websites and ability to broadcast. Russia accused the news sites of "calling for extremist activity and violence" as well as sharing "deliberately false information" about the Russian military and government.

'The people of Russia did not choose this war," Price said. "Putin did. They have a right to know about the death, suffering, and destruction being inflicted by their government on the people of Ukraine."

Price stated Russia's government is throttling access to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, major social media sites millions of Russian citizens rely on for independent information.

France President Emmanuel Macron said Russia's action will only intensify from here. Macron warned that Russia's aggression towards Ukraine is ushering a "new era" of instability.

"War in Europe is no longer confined to our history books or our school books, it is here before our eyes," Macron said Wednesday. "Faced with this brutal return of tragedy in our history, we must respond with historic decisions."

Govt. Says Reports Of Indian Students Held Hostage Are False

An Indian government official says it has not corroborated any reports that Indian students stuck in Ukraine are being held hostage.

A number of stories of students that had been located in the city of Kharkiv being captured by the Russians ran across social media Wednesday. However, Indian officials walked backed that assertion on Twitter.

"Our embassy in Ukraine is in continuous touch with Indian nationals in Ukraine," said Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for India's Ministry of External Affairs. "Many students have left Kharkiv yesterday. We have not received any reports of any hostage situation regarding any student."

"A large number of Indian nationals have been evacuated from Ukraine in the past few days," Bagchi added.

India has been coordinating efforts with surrounding countries near Ukraine in order to allow them to receive Indians fleeing the country. This includes Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia, all of whom have been able to successfully take in a number of Indian nationals.

India said it would continue to monitor the situation as it unfolded, but did not believe any Indians were being used as hostages at this time.

UN Reports over 750 Ukraine Civilian Casualties

Since Russia's military strike against Ukraine, the United Nations reports over 750 civilian casualties, and it believes the true number of casualties is even higher.

The UN says an estimated total of 752 civilians have been killed, including 15 children. An additional 525 civilians have been injured.

"Most of these casualties were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multi-launch rocket systems, and air strikes," the UN office said in a statement on Wednesday.

"These are only the casualties we were able to cross-check, and the real toll is likely to be much higher," the statement added.

However, Ukraine is reporting a number far higher than that. Ukraine's State Emergency Service says over 2,000 civilians, but that has not been independently confirmed.

"Children, women and our defense forces are losing their lives every hour," Ukraine's State Emergency Service said in a statement before deleting it.

Russian Shelling Destroys 3 Schools, Numerous Residential Buildings

A barrage of Russian shelling has destroyed at least three schools in Ukraine's second-largest city, Kharkiv. In addition, numerous residential buildings were leveled in another city, Okhtyrka.

The Kyiv Independent reported that both towns sustained heavy damage from the Russian shelling, which does not appear to be lightening as the invasion of Ukraine crosses the one-week milestone.

Beyond the homes that have been destroyed, the large Assumption Cathedral in Kharkiv was also turned to rubble by the Russians, the Independent stated.

As the shelling continues, cities and towns throughout Ukraine continue to see heavy fighting. The violence comes as the Russian invaders look poised to potentially capture the city of Kharkiv, having already locked down the port city of Kherson.

Chinese State Media Says Door For Peaceful Resolution Is "Not Completely Shut"

An online post from a Chinese state-run media company says that the window to peacefully resolve the ongoing crisis in Ukraine is "not completely shut," despite Russian forces having captured at least one major city within the country and thousands of people feared dead.

"War is cruel to everyone," tweeted China Daily, an English-language newspaper run by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). "Shipping lethal weapons to Ukraine and pointing fingers to blame others do not help ease the tension, but will only make it worse."

The tweet was accompanied by a cartoon and additional tweet from a high-ranking Chinese party official, which appears to partially blame the situation in Ukraine on the United States. The cartoon shows the United States, represented by Uncle Sam, pouring gasoline on a Ukrainian fire as he asks: "Why can't China do more to help put out the fire?"

China Daily has been accused by Western media of spreading disinformation and being a significant source of propaganda from the Chinese state. Chinese President Xi Jinping is also known as a close ally and friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia To Hold School Lesson On 'Dangers' Of NATO

Russia's Ministry of Enlightenment will hold an "open lesson" for all school children warning them about NATO's "threat" against Russia.

The lesson will be streamed online on March 3, noon Moscow time, which is 4 a.m. ET in the United States. It will focus on Russia's taking of Ukraine and explain the "danger" of Western nations.

The children will be propagandized into believing the "liberation mission in Ukraine" conducted by the Russian military is a "necessity." Russian President Vladamir Putin argues that Ukraine has no right to exist, that it is historically Russian land and a fictional country. Putin's justification of "liberating" Ukraine will be taught.

Specifically, the lesson will teach children " about the danger NATO represents to our country." It aims to help children "to distinguish the truth from lies in the huge stream of information, photos and videos that are flooding the Internet today."

This is Russia's latest effort to spread disinformation and propaganda across the internet and the world.

"It is deeply concerning that pro-Russia disinformation is reported to have more than doubled in the region in recent weeks," said Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). "Social media companies must quickly expand efforts to detect Russian falsehoods and prevent their platforms from being exploited in the conflict."

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Russian Warships Headed Towards Odessa For Possible Amphibious Assault

A slew of Russian warships are reportedly on their way towards Odessa, the third-largest city in Ukraine, and could potentially be gearing up for an amphibious assault.

Officials at the Pentagon told reporters that the ships had left from the Russian-annexed territory of Crimea, adding that the vessels could potentially reach Odessa by Thursday.

The news comes as amphibious assaults, along with ground warfare, continue to cause massive death and destruction within Ukraine. As the invasion passes the one-week mark, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said 9,000 Russian troops have already been killed, in addition to unspecified numbers of Ukrainian freedom fighters and citizens.

Russian fighters have also reportedly captured the city of Kherson, making it the first major Ukrainian metropolis to fall to the opposition forces.

Ukraine Says 9,000 Russian Troops Have Been Killed

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said his troops have thwarted Russia's "sneaky" plans, and furthermore said he was proud of the "heroic" resistance to Moscow's invasion.

"We are a nation that broke the enemy's plans in a week. Plans written for years: sneaky, full of hatred for our country, our people," Zelensky said in a video.

Zelensky claims nearly 9,000 Russian troops have been killed since the invasion began a week ago. He reported the number of Ukraine troops killed was less than 500.

"About 9,000 Russians were killed in a week. In the direction of Mykolaiv, they had to take 200, 300 (Russian soldiers) 19-20 years old with dozens of helicopters," Zelenskyy said.

Zelensky said he "sincerely admired the heroic residents" of cities who have resisted Russia's attack.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings To Donate $1M To Ukraine Relief

Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings announced that he will be donating $1 million to Razom, a non-profit human rights organization dedicated to helping Ukraine. The donation comes just hours after the streaming giant announced it would suspend all productions within Russia.

"$1m donation on the way for emergency relief to Razom, thanks to @evgeny_director," Hastings tweeted. "Every dollar helps."

Hastings, who co-founded Netflix in 1997, raised the donation in conjunction with director Evgeny Afineevsky, who previously helmed the 2015 documentary Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom. The film documented revolts in Ukraine in 2013 and 2014 during demonstrations calling for the then-president of the country to resign.

"These people will not be slaves. They will not go back into the former Soviet Union," Afineevsky told Deadline Hollywood last week following the Russian invasion. "They have a taste of freedom. They became a part of the European society, and they wanted to go a completely different direction...they will be fighting until the last drop of blood."

Netflix is following in the footsteps of numerous production studios and Hollywood companies who have paused work in Russia. This has resulted in a near-total blacklist of the entertainment industry within Russia, dealing a major blow to one of the largest Hollywood markets outside of the United States.

A Million Have Fled Ukraine, United Nations Says

The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported that more than a million people have fled from Ukraine during Russia's attack.

The massive flow of people seeking refuge has happened in just one week. The UN says Ukraine's plight to safety is a fast-growing refugee emergency.

"In just seven days we have witnessed the exodus of one million refugees from Ukraine to neighbouring countries," said High Commissioner Filippo Grandi.

Many refugees have headed west to Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is urging governments in those countries to give access to all those who are forced to escape the violence in Ukraine.

However, many citizens are still in Ukraine, hiding in make-shift bomb shelters.

"For many millions more, inside Ukraine, it's time for guns to fall silent, so that life-saving humanitarian assistance can be provided."

Ukraine's Largest Children's Hospital Hunkers Down

More than 190 sick children are being cared for underground, in the basement of Ohmatdyt Children's Hospital in Kyiv—Ukraine's largest children's hospital, ABC reports.

"These are patients who cannot receive medical treatment at home, they cannot survive without medication, without medical treatment and medical workers," said chief surgeon Volodymyr Zhovnir.

The children, some with terminal illnesses like cancer, were abruptly removed from their rooms, and are now on gurneys in the hallway of the basement— the safest place for them as explosions continue throughout Kyiv.

The underground bunker houses dozens of babies and parents on cots.Patients in intensive care that could not be moved have been placed in relatively safe areas of the building.

Ohmatdyt Children's Hospital usually has around 600 patients being cared for, but now that number sits now around 200.

The hospital has been lucky so far and spared bombardment by Russia's attacks. However, staff said they have heard gunfire in recent days, Reuters reports.

VOA Respond To Russia Threat of Blocking News Website

The Russian government warned the Voice of America (VOA) it would block the VOA Russian language service's news website unless it removes coverage of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Russia claims the VOA website "contains false messages about terrorist attacks or other kinds of information of public concern."

VOA says its website publishes factual reporting of Russia's attack, including statements from witnesses as well as reporters inside Ukraine.

"Any attempts to interfere with the free flow of news and information are deeply troubling. We find this order to be in direct opposition to the values of all democratic societies," says Acting VOA Director Yolanda López.

VOA's warning follows Russia's widespread crackdown on journalists and news sites. The regulator also aimed to shut down Russian news organizations that broadcast to large audiences.

"The Russian people deserve unfettered access to a free press and, therefore, we cannot comply with the Roskomnadzor's request," said López.

BBC Launches Shortwave Radio Service in Ukraine

The BBC has decided to launch a shortwave radio service to keep people in Ukraine up-to-date with news as Russia continues to attack.

BBC said on Wednesday that the two new shortwave radio frequencies – 5735 kHz and 5875 kHz – will broadcast World Service news in English for four hours a day. These frequencies can be received clearly in Kyiv and parts of Russia, the BBC stated.

"It's often said truth is the first casualty of war. In a conflict where disinformation and propaganda is rife, there is a clear need for factual and independent news people can trust – and in a significant development, millions more Russians are turning to the BBC," said BBC Director-General Tim Davie.

The BBC says Russian citizens are increasingly turning to other sources of news. The weekly audience for BBC's Russian news website more than tripled following the invasion.

BBC reports a record of 10.7 million listeners last week compared to its average of 3.1 million.

Ukraine Under Attack Again Tonight From Kyiv to Lviv

Air raid sirens rang through Ukraine early Thursday morning as explosions were reported in the capital city Kyiv. The western Ukrainian city of Lviv, has heard air raid sirens as well.

The air raid alerts signal civilians to seek the nearest shelter immediately. In videos posted on social media flashes of bright lights and explosive sounds can be heard.

This comes after Western officials warned that Russia would ramp up its attacks in the upcoming days.

France President Says History is Unfolding Before Our Eyes

France President Emmanuel Macron made a televised address on Wednesday warning that the war in Ukraine could intensify in the upcoming days.

Macron said Russia's aggression towards Ukraine is ushering a "new era" of instability. Macon praised Ukraine for its strength and bravery and warned that "the days ahead will probably be increasingly difficult" as Russian forces continue to aggressively push against major cities.

"War in Europe is no longer confined to our history books or our school books, it is here before our eyes," Macron said. "Faced with this brutal return of tragedy in our history, we must respond with historic decisions."

Macon called out Russia for the invasion saying the West nor NATO had anything to do with the war. He placed the blame solely on Rusia.

"This war is not a conflict between NATO and the West on the one hand, and Russia on the other," Macon said. "There are no NATO troops or bases in Ukraine," he added. "Russia is not the victim, it is the aggressor."

Ukraine Special Forces Say They'll Kill, Not Capture Russian Artillerymen

As the Ukraine-Russia war continues, Ukraine's military has become more aggressive in defending its territory.

Ukrainian Special Forces said they will no longer hold Russian military men hostage. In a Facebook post, Special Forces said they will begin killing all those who are captured.

"From now on, there will be no more captured Russian artillery," the post said. "No mercy, no "please don't kill, I surrender" will be getting away."

This is a response to Russia's "brutal shelling" of civilians over the past few days. Ukraine says Russia bombarded its peaceful cities and became its number one target. The Facebook post was directly addressed to the Russian Artillery unity, with harsh threats.

"Every calculation, no matter: commander, driver, guide, charger - will be slaughtered like pigs. Tie your pants up, we've already come for you."

The post ended with Ukraine telling Russian soldiers to call their mothers and say goodbye one last time.

Russia Claims Its Forces Have Control of Kherson

A Russian official claims Russian troops have taken the Ukrainian port city of Kherson, the Associated Press reports.

"The city is under Russian soldiers' complete control," Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said Wednesday.

Konashenkov claimed talks are underway among Russian commanders, city administrators and regional authorities on maintaining order in the city, AP added.

The Ukrainian military has denied the claims.

Kherson Mayor Ihor Kolykhaiev said there were "armed visitors in the city council" in a Facebook post Wednesday.

The Pentagon said it appears to remain a "very contested fight" in Kherson, as of late Wednesday afternoon.

"I know the Russians have claimed that they got the town of Kherson," Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said during a briefing Wednesday. "We're not in a position to call it either way. It appears to us that the Ukrainians are certainly fighting over that town."

He noted Russian troops generally seem to be experiencing less resistance in southern Ukraine.

Flight Map Shows Planes Avoid Ukraine

A map above Eastern Europe shows a glaring void over several countries whose airspace remains closed nearly one week after Russia began its invasion into Ukraine.

The live flight tracker provided by FlightRadar24 shows no flights over Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus and parts of Russia late Wednesday.

Ukraine closed its airspace to civilian flights on February 24, the day Russia began its invasion. The notice is valid until May 24, unless revised, Newsweek reported.

Moldova followed, closing its airspace late Thursday night. Airspace was also closed over parts of Belarus and Russia.

Flight map

Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced the U.S. will follow Canada and the European Union in closing its airspace to Russian planes.

"I am announcing that we will join our allies in closing off American airspace to all Russian flights, further isolating Russia and adding an additional squeeze on their economy," Biden said.

Missile Hits Kyiv Near Major Railway Station

A missile strike was reported near the Southern Railway station in central Kyiv, according to the office of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

A large explosion was reported between the station and the Ibis Hotel, near the Ukraine Defense Ministry.

The office does not know the extent of the damage, if there are any casualties or where exactly the missile hit, the Associated Press reported.

The Southern Railway station is being used by thousands of passengers to flee the city over the past week. Officials believe Russian forces targeted the station to prevent people from evacuating Ukraine.

The rail company reports the station building suffered minor damage.

"Russian terrorists launched an air strike on the South Railway Station in Kyiv, where thousands of Ukrainian women and children are being evacuated," the national railway company said.

Convoy Headed to Kyiv Is Still Stalled

The Pentagon says the 40-mile Russian convoy headed to Kyiv remains stalled as of Wednesday.

"The northern push by the Russians down south toward Kyiv remains stalled," Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said during a briefing Wednesday. He said best estimates show "no appreciable progress, geographically speaking, in the last 24 to 36 hours."

Kirby listed three possible reasons for the stall. First, he says Russia is deliberately regrouping themselves, reassessing the progress they have not made and how to "make up the lost time."

Second, the Pentagon believes Russia has experienced logistics and sustainment challenges, including fuel and food. "Challenges that we don't believe they think fully anticipated," he explained.

Third, is ongoing resistance from Ukrainians as they defend their country.

Kirby says it still appears Putin's goal is to topple the Ukrainian government, and to do so, needs Kyiv. In its attack the past seven days, Kirby says the Russians have taken missteps they are trying to "learn" from.

"They have been surprised by the stiff resistance they are facing by the Ukrainians and I don't believe they fully factored that in," he said. "The Ukrainians are fighting bravely and creatively. They're making a difference."

While Russia may have lost a sense of "momentum," Kirby cautioned its significant amount of combat power in Ukraine and additional combat power not yet engaged in the fight.

Pentagon press briefing
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington on March 2. Balce Ceneta/AP Photo

Blinken Announces Sanctions on Russian 'Defense-Related Entities'

U.S. Secretary Antony Blinken announced the U.S. will impose sanctions on 22 Russian "defense-related entities," in addition to new sanctions against Belarus.

"These very systems are now being used against the Ukrainian people in violation of human rights and international humanitarian law," Blinken said.

He said the sanctions and consequences for Russia's actions will continue if Putin continues to escalate military actions.

"President Putin may have assumed that the United States and our allies were bluffing when we warned of massive, unprecedented consequences but as President Biden likes to say, big nations can't bluff," he said. "The United States doesn't bluff and Putin has gravely miscalculated."

While he cannot put himself in the mind of Vladimir Putin, Blinken said he can only focus on Putin's actions has taken and the U.S. response.

"The Achilles heals of autocracies is the inability to speak truth to power," Blinken said.

On Putin's nuclear posture, Blinken reiterated that the U.S. and Russia have long agreed that the use of nuclear weapons would be "devastating" and that a nuclear war "cannot be won and should never be fought."

"Provocative rhetoric about nuclear weapons is a height of irresponsibility," he said. "It's dangerous. It adds to the risk of miscalculation. It needs to be avoided."

The U.S. has no reason to change its alerts at this time and Blinken said door to diplomacy with Russia remains open only if the Kremlin de-escalates its military forces.

Blinken also applauded the "overwhelming and historic" United Nations vote this morning.

Over 140 countries voted to hold Russia accountable, five voted no and 34 abstained.

Those who voted against the resolution included Russia, Belarus, Syria and North Korea. To quote the comedian Groucho Marx, Blinken said, "this is not a club want to be a member of."

In regard to the nations that abstained from voting, Blinken said in some cases, an abstention speaks louder than a "no" vote.

Pentagon Postpones Missile Test Launch

The Pentagon has postponed the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile test launch scheduled for this weekend.

This announcement comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin put Russian nuclear forces on special alert.

"In order to demonstrate that we have no intention of engaging in any actions that could be misunderstood or misconstrued, the secretary of defense has directed that our minute man three intercontinental ballistic missile test launch scheduled for this week to be postponed," Defense Department spokesperson John Kirby said.

Kirby said this decision is a sign to "demonstrate that we are a responsible nuclear power." There is no reschedule date for the nuclear test.

He added that this is not "a step backwards in our readiness."

"We remain confident in our strategic posture as I've said before and our ability to defend the homeland, and our allies and our partners, remains fully intact and ready," Kirby said.

Blinken to Travel to Eastern Europe

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to eastern Europe to show support for Ukraine.

Blinken will visit Belgium, Poland, Moldova, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia from March 3 to March 8, the State Department announced.

He will begin in Brussels where he will meet with NATO, European Union and G7 allies and partners.

Then he will travel to Poland and Moldova to meet with leaders to discuss humanitarian efforts, as these two countries are currently receiving and assisting thousands of Ukrainian refugees.

Finally, Blinken will visit to the Baltic nations to speak with leaders to "strengthen NATO's deterrence and defense, promote democracy and human rights, and pursue deeper economic and energy cooperation."

White House Details New Sanctions on Belarus, Russia

The White House detailed new sanctions against Russia and Belarus Wednesday, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine entered a seventh day.

The actions slam Belarus for "enabling" Russia's invasion, target Russia's top sources of wealth, weaken Russia's defense sector and ban Russian airlines from U.S. airspace.

"We are preventing Putin from accessing his war chest to soften the blow of our actions and support his invasion of Ukraine," a White House statement reads.

"The United States and governments all over the world are going after Putin's cronies and their families by identifying and freezing the assets they hold in our respective jurisdictions – their yachts, luxury apartments, money, and other ill-gotten gains."

More than 30 countries have announced sanctions against Russia, according to the White House. The U.S. warns of further sanctions so long as Russia continues its attack.

Here's a breakdown of the latest U.S. actions:

  • Restrictions on Belarus, targeting its import of technological goods: This action will help prevent diversion of items, technologies and software through Belarus to Russia and will significantly degrade both countries' ability to sustain their military aggression and project power. The goal is to limit Belarus and Russia's abilities to secure materials needed to support military aggression.
  • Full blocking sanctions on Russian defense entities: This action will impose significant costs on Russian weapon development and production companies. A total of 22 Russian defense-related entities will be designated, including firms that make combat aircraft, infantry fighting vehicles, electronic warfare systems, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles for Russia's military.
  • Export controls targeting oil refining: Through export controls on oil and gas extraction equipment, the Commerce Department will impose restrictions on technology exports that would support Russia's refining capacity over the long term.
  • Targeting entities that support the Russian and Belarusian military: These actions will ensure that the military as well as the aerospace, maritime and high-technology sectors do not obtain U.S. technology goods and technology that can be used to support Russian technical maintenance and innovation.
  • Russian airlines banned from U.S. airspace: Russian aircraft is banned from entering and using domestic U.S. airspace. The goal is to further isolate Russia and add an "additional squeeze" on its economy.

WATCH: Secretary Blinken Gives Remarks to the Press

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will deliver remarks at a press briefing soon.

Blinken spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba earlier on Wednesday.

The pair talked about Russian sanctions and Kuleba said he emphasized Ukraine's need for additional weapons, especially for its Air Force.

Blinken is set to speak to the press at 2 p.m. ET.

The remarks will stream live on the State Department website and on the department YouTube channel.

Ukraine Foreign Minister Says Putin is 'At War With Children'

A Ukraine official said Russia President Vladimir Putin "is at war with children."

Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukraine Minister of Foreign Affairs, shared images of Russian children who "spent the night behind bars" for protesting the Kremlin's invasion in Ukraine with "No to War" signs.

"This is how scared the man is," Kuleba said in a tweet.

This comes in addition to reports of Russian missiles hitting Ukraine kindergartens and orphanages.

875,000 Refugees Have Fled Ukraine, Most to Poland

Nearly 875,000 refugees have fled Ukraine into neighboring countries since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine last Thursday.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi provided the updated number Wednesday, an increase of nearly 200,000 from the day prior.

"At this rate, the situation looks set to become Europe's largest refugee crisis this century, and UNHCR is mobilizing resources to respond as quickly and effectively as possible," UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo said.

UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency, is sending more resources, staff and relief items into the region to assist refugees.

"[UNHCR is] preparing to provide cash assistance via cards as needed," Mantoo added. "UNHCR child welfare and protection specialists are also ready to support national authorities."

According to U.N. data, nearly half of the refugees (450,000) have entered Poland.

Most of those seeking refuge are women and children. Heartbreaking photos show moments of children leaving male relatives behind in Ukraine as they flee to safety. The photo below shows a child on the phone saying goodbye to his relative, as he leaves Kramatorsk on a train.

Ukrainian refugees leave on train
A child speaks on the phone as he says goodbye to a relative looking out the window of a train carriage waiting to leave Kramatorsk for western Ukraine at the railway station in Kramatorsk on March 2. Andriy Andriyenko/AP Photo

Russia Give First Troop Casualty Update

Russia gave its first statement on Russian troop casualties since the start of the Ukraine conflict.

The Russian Ministry of Defense said 498 soldiers have died and 1597 were injured since the invasion into Ukraine began last week.

Ukraine government officials have previously said more that 6,000 Russian troops have been killed since start of the invasion. U.S. Defense officials warned that the public should be skeptical of any information shared by the Russian Defense Ministry.

Russian Major General Igor Konashenkov dismissed reports of "incalculable losses" as disinformation, according to the Associated Press. He also said conscripts nor cadets are involved in operations in Ukraine, despite media reports.

Konashenkov also said more than 2,870 Ukrainian troops have been killed and some 3,700 were injured, while 572 others have been captured by the Russians. Those figures have not been confirmed.

U.N. Condemns Russia's Attack in Overwhelming Vote

The United Nations General Assembly voted to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine Wednesday, demanding Russia immediately withdraw its troops.

The vote was an overwhelming 141 to 5, with 35 abstentions, as most of the world condemned Russia's actions.

Belarus, Cuba, North Korea and Syria are among the countries that spoke up for Russia, the Associated Press reports.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky praised Wednesday's vote.

"I praise the approval by the U.N. GA [General Assembly] with an unprecedented majority of votes of the resolution with a strong demand to Russia to immediately stop the treacherous attack on Ukraine," Zelensky said.

"I'm grateful to everyone & every state that voted in favor. You have chosen the right side of history. A global anti-Putin coalition has been formed and is functioning. The world is with us. The truth is on our side. Victory will be ours!"

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said the world's message against Russia's attack is "loud and clear."

"End hostilities in Ukraine, now," Guterres said. "Silence the guns, now. Open the door to dialogue and diplomacy, now. The territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine must be respected in line with the UN Charter. We don't have a moment to lose. The brutal effects of the conflict are plain to see."

Ukrainians Confront Russian Soldiers as They Fire Guns

Russian soldiers opened fire while confronted by Ukrainians in Melitopol.

Video shows a chaotic scene as Ukrainians shouted at the troops. After approaching officers, dozens of gunshots are heard. It is unclear if anyone was hurt.

The soldiers appeared to retreat as the crowd approached them.

Many Ukrainians held large flags as they defended their country. Melitopol is located in southeastern Ukraine.

U.S. Launches Task Force to Target Russian Oligarchs

The U.S. Justice Department launched a new task force to enforce sanctions against Russian oligarchs and government officials.

Task Force KleptoCapture is an interagency law enforcement task force built to ensure the full effect of U.S. sanctions, designed to isolate Russia from international markets and impose serious costs for its attack on Ukraine.

"The Justice Department will use all of its authorities to seize the assets of individuals and entities who violate these sanctions," Attorney General Merrick Garland said.

"We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to investigate, arrest, and prosecute those whose criminal acts enable the Russian government to continue this unjust war. Let me be clear, if you violate our laws, we will hold you accountable."

President Joe Biden previewed the new task force during Tuesday's State of the Union address.

"Tonight, I say to the Russian oligarchs and corrupt leaders who have bilked billions of dollars off this violent regime -- no more," Biden said. "I mean it."

"We are joining with our European allies to find and seize their yachts, their luxury apartments, their private jets. We are coming for your ill-begotten gains."

U.S. Ambassador Says Russia Has 'Betrayed the United Nations'

During the United Nation special session on Ukraine, the U.S. delegation praised the "brave" Ukrainian defense efforts and promised to take actions against Russia.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield reiterated President Joe Biden's remarks during his State of the Union address, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin was "met a wall of strength he never imagined. He met the Ukrainian people."

Thomas-Greenfield outlined Russia's "brazen and indiscriminate" attack on Ukrainian civilians and vital infrastructure and warned that the Kremlin is preparing to "increase the brutality of its campaign against Ukraine."

She said the U.S. has seen video confirming Russia is moving "exceptionally lethal weaponry" into Ukraine, including cluster munitions and vacuum bombs. These weapon systems are banned under the Geneva Convention.

Thomas-Greenfield also thanked Russian protesters for their bravery and called on Russian troops to lay down their weapons and go back home.

"You leaders are lying to you," she said. "Do not commit war crimes. Do everything you can to put down your weapons and leave Ukraine."

Finally, Thomas-Greenfield turned to the members before her. She said Russia's actions in Ukraine have "betrayed the United Nations" and pledged to hold the Kremlin accountable.

The purpose of the United Nations is the prevent and condemn war, she said, adding that "Russia's actions go against everything this body stands for."

UN members will soon vote on a resolution to hold Russia accountable. Thomas-Greenfield encouraged every member to vote "yes."

"Vote yes if you believe UN members state have right a sovereignty and territorial integrity, vote yes if you believe Russia should be held to account for its actions, vote yes if you believe in upholding the UN charter and everything this institution stands for," Thomas-Greenfield said.

Biden May Ban Russian Oil imports

President Joe Biden told a White House press gaggle he is following reports of war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine "very closely."

When asked if Russia was deliberately targeting Ukrainian civilians, Biden said "they are" and added that "nothing is off the table" when considering banning Russian oil imports.

Biden said it is up to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky whether he wants to remain in his country and reiterated the U.S.'s support.

"I think it's his judgment to make and we're doing everything we can to help him," he said.

Biden added that when he received his ashes for Ash Wednesday this morning, he and the Cardinal "both prayer for the people of Ukraine."

Ukrainians Block Road to Nuclear Power Plant

Hundreds of Ukrainians have blocked the road leading to a major power plant in Enerhodar, Ukraine, as Russian troops move into the area.

Enerhodar Mayor Dmitry Orlov said the blockade was "one kilometer long." Video shows the crowd chanted "Glory to Ukraine," with some holding Ukrainian flags.

The road leads to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, the largest power plant in Europe.

More Than 870,000 Refugees Have Fled Ukraine

Estimates show a skyrocketing number of refugees fleeing Ukraine as Russia's attack stretches into its seventh day.

As of Wednesday, the United Nations refugee agency estimates 874,000 people have fled Ukraine, according to the Associated Press. It is a staggering increase of nearly 200,000 the agency reported the day prior.

The map below, provided by Statista, shows the various countries where Ukrainians have fled in the span of a few days.

Nearly half of the refugees, 450,000, have fled to Poland, followed by nearly 120,000 into Hungary. Another 67,000 have crossed into Slovakia and 65,000 into Moldova.

Map of where Ukrainian refugees are fleeing
This chart shows the number of Ukrainian refugees by target country.

Civilian deaths and casualties:

Ukraine's State Emergency Service reported more than 2,000 civilians have died, as of Wednesday. The United Nations has recorded at least 550 civilians casualties, including 142 deaths between February 24-28.

"Most of these casualties were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and Multiple Launch Rocket Systems as well as air strikes," the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Tuesday.

Ukraine, Russia to Hold Second Round of Talks

Ukrainian and Russian officials will hold a second round of talks Wednesday evening.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the Russia delegation is set to meet with Ukraine representatives.

"Our delegation will be in place to await Ukrainian negotiators," he told reporters. "Russia's demands remain the same as [Russian President Vladimir] Putin announced in his address before the war started."

Putin's culture adviser Vladimir Medinsky remains the main negotiator for Russia, Peskov said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said his delegation was ready to resume discussions, but that Russia's demands have not changed and he would not accept any ultimatums, the Associated Press reported.

Neither Peskov nor Kuleba said where the talks will take place.

The first round of talks Monday lasted several hours and did not yield any significant gains.

Schumer on Ukraine Aid: 'Nothing Would Make Putin Happier' Than Division

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer praised President Joe Biden on doing an "incredibly great job" on Ukraine, stating "I believe the country wants to follow his lead" on Tuesday.

He added that "Nothing would make Putin happier than having Democrats and Republicans divided" as he called for bipartisanship as congressional Democrats and Republicans showed support for providing $6.4 billion or more in aid to Ukraine and its neighbors.

"We're going to work on a bipartisan, robust aid package with both military and security needs" Schumer added, disclosing that discussions are already ongoing to make it happen.

Donald Trump Blasts 'Holocaust,' Says U.S. Could Have Made 'Fortune'

Donald Trump has likened the Russian attack on Ukraine to a "holocaust."

The U.S. ex-president told Fox Business: "We're fighting Russia. We're watching a holocaust. We're watching something that I've never seen before.

"They're blowing up buildings, with children, with women, with professionals, with people, just people, they're blowing up indiscriminately. They're just shooting massive missiles and rockets into these buildings and everybody is dying."

Asked if U.S. President Joe Biden should put sanctions on the oil sector of Russia, Trump replied: "You should open it up in the United States and you should buy no oil whatsoever from Russia.

"He should open it up—it'll take a while, that's the problem, we had it there already—our country would have made an absolute fortune, more money that has ever made, on this situation."

'At Least Hundreds of People Are Dead' in Mariupol

Latest from Mariupol...

Hundreds are feared dead in Mariupol and a district "nearly totally destroyed."

Intense fighting has been taking place in the city, which has strategic importance for Russia because it is in between enclaves in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

Deputy Mayor Sergiy Orlov told the BBC: "We cannot count the number of victims there, but we believe at least hundreds of people are dead. We cannot go in to retrieve the bodies."

Russian forces are shelling the city from several miles away on all sides.

"The Russian army is working through all their weapons here - artillery, multiple rocket launch systems, airplanes, tactical rockets. They are trying to destroy the city," Orlov added.

 Ukraine's industrial port city of Mariupol
This file image shows a couple walking a dog on a pier at a coast of the Sea of Azov in Ukraine's industrial port city of Mariupol on February 23, 2022. The city has been under heavy attack from Russian forces. ALEKSEY FILIPPOV/AFP/Getty Images

"The Ukrainian army is very brave and they will continue to defend the city but the style of the Russian army is like pirates. They do not fight with their army, they just destroy entire districts," Orlov says.

UN Nuclear Watchdog 'Gravely Concerned' by War

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Russia's invasion of Ukraine is raising the risk of nuclear power plant accidents, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog has warned

International Atomic Energy Agency's Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said on Wednesday: "The situation in Ukraine is unprecedented and I continue to be gravely concerned."

He added: "The safety and security of nuclear facilities, and nuclear and other radioactive material, in Ukraine must under no circumstances be endangered."

And he warned that damage to any nuclear power plants could have "consequences, aggravating human suffering and causing environmental harm."

The world's worst nuclear disaster took place at Ukraine's Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986.

Rafael Mariano Grossi gesticulates
Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, speaks to media on day six of the COP26 at SECC on November 05, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

Who Were Chechen Hit Squad Who Failed To Kill Zelensky?

A Chechen hit squad allegedly tried to assassinate Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky this week (more on that here). But who are they?

The would-be assassins were part of an elite Chechen special forces—known as Kadyrovites—Ukraine's security chief Oleksiy Danilov said.

The Chechen fighters are led by the authoritarian Ramzan Kadyrov, who pledges unswerving loyalty to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and is accused by human rights groups of torture, forced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings.

The Chechen strongman shared multiple images and videos of what some in Russia call his "private army" on his Instagram (which was later removed by the platform) and Telegram pages.

Some featured the Chechen troops on the march in Grozny, while later videos purportedly showed some of them en route to the Ukraine border.

Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine
Above, Zelensky attends a joint press conference with his counterparts from Lithuania and Poland following their talks in Kyiv on February 23. Photo by Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images

Sberbank Shares Hit 2 Cents on London Stock Exchange

Russia's largest bank announced it was closing its operations in Europe amid unprecedented sanctions from the West that have devastated Russia's economy and banking sector.

Sberbank has announced closure of its European subsidiaries following the rush by depositors to withdraw their money in response to the sanctions.

"In the current environment, Sberbank has decided to withdraw from the European market," it said in a statement cited by Russian news agencies on Wednesday.

The value of Sberbank's shares plunged to just two cents per share on the London Stock Exchange on March 2, down from $21.25 just three months ago.

The Russian ruble continued its steep decline, now trading at 110 rubles per U.S. dollar, with president Vladimir Putin signing an executive decree Tuesday to limit the amount of foreign currency allowed to be transported out of Russia to just 10,000 euros, and imposing limits on wire transfers out of the country.

Zelensky: Russian Troops Have Orders To 'Erase Our Country'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday that nearly 6,000 Russians had been killed since they invaded his country.

In a video posted a video on Facebook, he praised Ukrainians for being "a symbol of invincibility," and that, "We've hardly slept for seven nights."

The Kremlin would not be able to take his country with airstrikes, he said.

Russian forces striking Babyn Yar—a site of a World War II massacre of Jews by Nazis troops—Zelensky said, "proves that for many people in Russia our Kyiv is absolutely foreign.

"They don't know a thing about Kyiv, about our history. But they all have orders to erase our history, erase our country, erase us all."

Today Ukrainians are a symbol of invincibility. A symbol that people in any country can become the best people on earth at any moment. Glory to Ukraine!

Ukrainians Use Tractor to Salvage Russians' Missile System

Ukrainians have reportedly used a tractor to recover an abandoned Russian surface-to-air missile system.

BBC journalist Marc Urban shared a video purportedly showing the salvage operation, on Twitter.

Talks With Russia Could Resume Tonight — Zelensky's Office

Ceasefire negotiations between Kiev and Moscow could continue as soon as Wednesday night, according to president Volodymyr Zelensky's office.

"The talks will continue tonight, it will be the second round. I think it will be the same, nothing is going to change. We will stick to our position," said Oleksiy Arestovich, an advisor to president Zelensky, at a press conference.

Earlier today similar sentiment was emanating from Moscow. Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said "later this afternoon or evening our delegation will be expecting to meet Ukraine's negotiators."

The first round of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine was held in a town on the Belarusian border with Ukraine on February 28. The follow-up meeting's location is yet to be announced, but it could reportedly take place on the border of Belarus and Poland.

"Third World War Would Be Nuclear And Destructive" — Sergey Lavrov

The Russian Foreign minister issued an ominous warning as the Russian assault on Ukraine escalates.

Sergey Lavrov, Russia's chief diplomat, issued a stark warning to the West, saying that if a third World War were to take place, it would involve nuclear weapons and be destructive.

He reiterated that Russia would "face real danger" if Kyiv acquired nuclear weapons, as cited by Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.

Ukraine's non-nuclear status was formalized in the Budapest Memorandum of Security Assurances, signed by Kyiv, Moscow, Washington and London, among others, which guaranteed Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity in exchange for giving up its nuclear weapons in 1994.

Russia Claims City of Kherson—Would Be Biggest City to Fall

Russian forces say they have taken the southern city of Kherson, located on the Black Sea; however the city's mayor says it is still under Ukrainian control.

If it has been taken, the city of about 300,000 people would be the largest Ukrainian city to fall to Russia since the conflict began.

"The Russian divisions of the armed forces have taken the regional centre of Kherson under full control," defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in televised remarks on Wednesday.

But Kherson's Mayor, Igor Nikolayev, retorted in a post on Facebook: "We are still Ukraine. Still firm."

Russian Newspapers Condemn Ukraine War: 'Madness'

A newspaper group in Russia has risked the Kremlin's wrath by publishing stern anti-war messages.

VK-media published editions of its papers in the Urals region with a cover dedicated to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The message "This madness must be stopped" sits above the fold of Wednesday's editions of Vecherniy Krasnoturinsk, Vecherniy Karpinsk, Pro Severouralsk and Globus.

Read Newsweek's Russian newspaper review.

Putin-opponent Alexei Navalny Rallies Protesters

In the last hour..

Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has called for daily demonstrations against Putin and Lukashenko.

"We - Russia - want to be a nation of peace. Alas, few people would call us that now," he tweeted from a maximum-security prison east of Moscow.

"It's the third decade of the 21st Century, and we are watching news about people burning down in tanks and bombed houses," he says. "We are watching real threats to start a nuclear war on our TVs."

He called on people in Russia and Belarus to protest in city squares, and for people elsewhere to head to Russian embassies.

"Let's not "be against the war." Let's fight against the war," he added.

Protests across Russia have faced a fierce crackdown.

Russian police detained more than 2,000 people at anti-war protests held in 48 cities across Russia on Sunday, according to monitoring group OVD-Info.

Mayor Vitali Klitschko Says Kyiv Will Fight for 'Every Street'

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko has said Ukrainians will fight for "every square" and "every street," as Russian forces advance on the capital city.

A 40-mile-long convoy of Russian military vehicles is about 15 miles north of Kyiv, where the main TV tower was taken out on Tuesday.

"We expect a huge fight," Klitschko told CNN via video link on Tuesday evening. "But we're fighting for our families."

The former heavyweight boxing champion added: "There is a huge patriotic movement right now. Old people—can you imagine—doctors, actors, actors from theater, many professions that never had expectation to fight, to keep weapons, but right now they (are) coming to us."

Klitschko called for "more hard sanctions against Russia," saying Putin's aggressive agenda is a risk for the "whole democratic world," and without Western support it will be "difficult to survive."

Video Shows Kharkiv Buildings on Fire, as Paratroopers Storm Hospital

Residential and administrative buildings in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, were on fire Wednesday morning, following Russian missile attacks.

Video released by Ukraine's ministry of emergency situations shows firefighters battling a fire at a regional headquarters of the ministry of internal affairs.

A military academy has been ablaze for about 12 hours, Ukrainian news site Hromadske reports.

The city—home to about 1.5 million people—has been under siege by Russian forces since early Tuesday.

Russian paratroopers reportedly stormed a military hospital there in the early hours of Wednesday.

What Joe Biden Said About Vladimir Putin Last Night

Good morning, welcome to Newsweek's continued live coverage on Ukraine.

Joe Biden delivered his first State of the Union address last night. The Ukraine war and Vladimir Putin's Russia were high on the agenda.

Here's what the U.S. President said in an hour-long televised speech:

  • Biden announced that Russian aircraft will be banned from U.S. air space, following similar moves by Canada and European countries
  • Biden appeared to deviate from his prepared speech, vowing further economic sanctions and warning Putin: "He has no idea what's coming"
  • "Putin's war was premeditated and unprovoked," Biden said. "He rejected repeated efforts at diplomacy. He thought the West and Nato wouldn't respond. And he thought he could divide us here at home."
  • And Biden warned Russia: "Putin may circle Kyiv with tanks, but he will never gain the hearts and souls of the Ukrainian people"