Thursday, June 20, 2024

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 9

Russian forces are pressing ahead with their military operation in Ukraine to counter what they call a “threat” to their national security from the pro-West Ukrainian government. Kiev and Russia’s Western adversaries call the operations an “invasion”. The situation is fluid in Ukraine right now with both sides claiming victories on the battlefield. Iran Front Page brings you the latest developments on the ground live as they unfold in Ukraine.

Borrell says gas supplies from Russia cannot be rejected by EU in few days

Russian gas supplies to the EU cannot be rejected overnight, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell stated at a press conference after the extraordinary EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting.

“Russian gas represents 40% of our gas Imports in the European Union. You can’t simply put an end to all that overnight, we can reduce it,” he added.

“We can reduce it relatively quickly. And that’s what we’re going to try to do that. That is not just what we’re going to try to do. But what we’re going to do,” Borrell continued.

Ministers of G7 urge Russia to stop attacks in vicinity of nuclear plants

G7 foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and US released a joint statement condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine and calling on Moscow to end its “aggression” and immediately withdraw its forces.

“We urge Russia to stop its attacks especially in the direct vicinity of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants,” the statement said.

“Any armed attack on and threat against nuclear facilities devoted to peaceful purposes constitutes a violation of the principles of international law. We support the initiative of IAEA Director General Grossi announced today for an agreement between Ukraine and Russia to ensure the safety and security of nuclear facilities in Ukraine,” it added.

Russian DM tells UN chief Ukrainian Neo-Nazis use civilians as human shields

Ukrainian nationalist and neo-Nazi battle units are using civilians as human shields in an act of brutal banditry, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said during a phone conversation with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

“The Russian Defense Minister drew special attention of Mr. Guterres to the fact that nationalist and neo-Nazi formations, which also include foreign mercenaries, are hiding behind civilians, using them as a ‘human shield.’ There is factual evidence of how they set up heavy military equipment (tanks, MLRS, artillery and mortars) in residential areas of cities, acting like brutal bandits, ignoring the threats posed by this to civilians,” the ministry announced in a statement.

EU says sanctions not aimed at regime change

The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said sanctions imposed by the war were not about seeking any regime change in Russia.

“Sanctions have been triggered by the war,” he added.

Ukraine’s UN envoy: Russia committing war crimes crimes against humanity: 

Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN, has accused Russia of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during its invasion of the country.

“Russia has resorted to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Russia does not even try to hide them,” Kyslytsya said.

“Residential areas of Ukrainian cities and villages across the country are being ruined by Russian bombs, shells and missiles. Peaceful civilians are being killed, critical infrastructure totally damaged,” he added.

The Ukrainian UN Ambassador has accused Russia of committing “nuclear terrorism” after an attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Russian forces have seized control of Zaporizhzhia, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.

Kyslytsya stated several people were killed and injured in the fire.

“Employees of the Zaporizhzhia NPP are monitoring the condition of power units and ensuring their operation,” he told the Security Council.

Senior Russian commanders killed trying to boost morale on front line

Senior Russian commanders are being killed in Ukraine as they push forward to “impose their personality” on the stalled Russian advance, a Western official claimed.

At least three commanders have been killed on the frontline as the Russians continue their advance into Ukraine from three directions.

IAEA chief: Normal operations continue at Zaporizhzhia & “no security or safety systems” are compromised

A top International Atomic Energy Agency official said “no security or safety systems have been compromised near the reactors themselves” at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine — the largest in Europe — which Russian troops have occupied.

“We consider from a technical point of view that operation continues normally, although as I have stressed to the board of governors to the IAEA, there is no of course normalcy about this situation when there are military forces of course in charge of the site,” IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi told the United Nations Security Council.

He added he continues to be in contact with Ukraine officials, including the company that operates the facilities and operators at Zaporizhzhia.

Mariupol without ‘food, water or electricity’

The mayor of Mariupol has said his city is without food, water, electricity and food is running out as Russian forces continue their relentless attack on the Black Sea port.

Mayor Vadym Boychenko made a televised appeal for military help and stated a humanitarian corridor should be created to evacuate civilians from the southeastern port city.

“We are simply being destroyed,” he added.

European gas prices soar to all-time high

Gas prices in Europe spiked to nearly $2,400 per 1,000 cubic meters, or €212 per megawatt-hour in household terms, on Friday for the first time in market history as Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine continues.

Kremlin reacts to US senator’s call to assassinate Putin

US Senator Lindsey Graham has been driven crazy by the ongoing tensions between Moscow and the West, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov implied, following calls from the politician for the assassination of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Not everyone can remain cool-headed these days, some [people] lose their senses,” Peskov told a press conference.

US: Russian forces still about 15 miles outside of Kyiv city center

Russian forces are still about 25 kilometers (more than 15 miles) outside of the city center of Kyiv in the north, and Russian forces remain 10 kilometers (about 6 miles) outside of the city centers of Chernihiv and Kharkiv in the north, a senior US defense official told reporters.

The Russians have not taken the southern city of Mariupol yet, according to US observations, but there is continued fighting there, the official said.

Direct attacks on a massive Russian convoy outside Kyiv, coupled with a destroyed bridge in the convoy’s path, have stalled the Russian forces about 15 miles north of the city, the official added. Ukraine retains a “significant majority” of its air combat power, as Russia remains unable to establish air supremacy.

The convoy, stretched out more than 40 miles of road, has not appreciably advanced since the weekend, the official continued.

EU official says Russian military “bombing & shelling everything” in Ukraine

The European Union’s diplomacy chief Josep Borrell said the Russian army is “bombing and shelling everything” in Ukraine.

“Today, what we see is the ugly face of war erupting again in our borders. And the Russians are bombing and shelling everything: hospitals, houses, schools. A lot of civilian casualties. It is a barbarian way of doing war,” Borrell added.

He appealed for Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop the shelling and bombing.

Two children killed in Russian air strike outside Kyiv

A Russian air strike on a rural residential area in Kyiv region killed at least seven people, including two children, Ukraine state police claimed.

Police announced the strike hit the village of Markhalivka, around 10 kilometres (6 miles) from the southwestern outskirts of the capital.

Ukraine to join NATO cyber defence centre as ‘contributing participant’

Ukraine will join the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) as a “contributing participant”, the NATO-accredited military research institution said in a statement.

“Ukraine could bring valuable first-hand knowledge of several adversaries within the cyber domain to be used for research, exercises and training,” CCDCOE Director Colonel Jaak Tarien said in a statement on the CCDCOE website.

EU wants Ukraine membership ‘as soon as possible’

Ukraine should become a member of the European Union “as soon as possible”, the deputy head of the EU Commission has noted.

“Now it is time for a strong message. It is time for signaling that the Ukrainian people are one of the European peoples. We want them in as soon as possible,” Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic stated after a meeting of EU Europe ministers in Arles in the south of France.

US ambassador to UN says world “narrowly averted” nuclear catastrophe last night

United States United Nations ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield noted the world “narrowly averted a nuclear catastrophe last night” following the fire at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

She called Russia’s reactions “reckless” and “dangerous” saying it put the largest nuclear power plant at grave risk and it threatened the safety of civilians in Russia and across Europe.

She called on Russia to withdraw its troops from the plant to ensure operators have full access to the site and are able to communicate with regulators, ensure shift changes, and the safety stability and security of the plant.

UK: Russia’s nuclear plant attack is unprecedented

The UK permanent representative to the United Nations said Russia’s attack on Europe’s largest nuclear power plant was a first in history.

Russia “must keep fighting away from and protect the safety and security of nuclear sites”, Dame Barbara Woodward stated.

Putin ready for Ukraine dialogue if ‘all Russian demands’ met

Russian President Vladimir Putin has told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in a telephone call that Russia was ready for dialogue over Ukraine if all its demands are met, the Kremlin announced.

Putin “confirmed that Russia is open to dialogue with the Ukrainian side, as well as with everyone who wants peace in Ukraine. But under the condition that all Russian demands are met”, the Kremlin added.

US can’t confirm existence, use of cluster munitions or thermobaric weapons in Ukraine

The United States can not confirm the existence or the use of cluster munitions or thermobaric weapons in Ukraine, a senior US Defence Department official told reporters.

“We cannot confirm the existence or the use of cluster munitions inside Ukraine, nor can we confirm the use or existence of thermobaric weapons inside Ukraine,” the official said.

Russia’s UN envoy blasts claims Russian military attacked Zaporozhskaya NPP in Ukraine as lie

Claims that Russian troops attacked the Zaporozhskaya Nuclear Power Plant are false, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya said.
“This is all part of an unprecedented campaign of lies and disinformation against Russia”, Nebenzya continued, adding, “You are trying to present the case in such a way that the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant was allegedly shelled by the Russian military and a fire broke out there. These statements are not true”.

According to the envoy, Russian forces are not interfering with the work of the nuclear power plant, and their goal is to provide its security.

Chinese envoy to UN says international community must stay ‘cool headed’, rational about Ukraine crisis

“The international community should stay cool headed and rational and adopt a responsible, impartial and objective approach to create a sound atmosphere and conditions for direct talks between the parties concerned,” Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations Zhang Jun stated during a UN Security Council meeting.

Ukraine accuses Russian soldiers of rape

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has claimed that Russian soldiers had committed rape in Ukrainian cities.

Kuleba did not give any evidence for his claim.

“When bombs fall on your cities, when soldiers rape women in the occupied cities – and we have numerous cases of, unfortunately, when Russian soldiers rape women in Ukrainian cities – it’s difficult, of course, to speak about the efficiency of international law,” Kuleba told an event at Chatham House in London.

“But this is the only tool of civilization that is available to us to make sure that eventually all those who made this war possible will be brought to justice,” he stated.

UN: Over 1.2 million refugees have fled

More than 1.2 million people have fled Ukraine into neighbouring countries since Russia launched its full-scale invasion on February 24, United Nations figures showed.

The UN children’s agency UNICEF estimates that around half a million of them are youngsters.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has projected that more than four million Ukrainian refugees may eventually need protection and assistance.

“The rate of this exodus is quite phenomenal,” said UNCHR communications chief Joung-ah Ghedini-Williams, adding, “We know that there are many more on the move. Also there are possibly equal numbers inside the country that are internally displaced.”

Iran sends 2nd flight to Romania to bring back citizens fleeing Ukraine

Iran has sent a second emergency flight to Romania to bring home the Iranian students and other citizens who have arrived from Ukraine, which has been the scene of a full-blown Russian military operation for over a week.

Russia warns NATO countries sending terrorist fighters to Ukraine

NATO countries are sending terrorist fighters to Ukraine, Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service warned.

According to the intelligence service, the terrorists, who are to be deployed to Donbass, were trained at the US-controlled Al-Tanf military base in Syria. Furthermore, the United States continues to form new terrorist units in the Middle East and Africa in order to send them to Ukraine via Poland, the agency pointed out.

Kiev claims Moscow ‘gradually reducing’ its demands

Russia has “gradually reduced its demands” since the beginning of negotiations with Kiev, Ukrainian presidential adviser Alexey Arestovich stated.

Speaking to the news outlet Ukraine 24, Arestovich said Russian negotiators were “gradually reducing their requirements”, and pointed to a remark allegedly made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

“If we look closely at it, we see they have stopped talking about denazification,” Arestovich noted, adding that even the issue of a neutral status for Ukraine had not been raised.

“It was a question of preventing the deployment of certain types of offensive weapons in Ukraine that was discussed,” he continued.

NATO claims Russia using cluster bombs in Ukraine

Russia has used cluster bombs, widely banned artillery in Ukraine, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has claimed.

“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,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels on Friday.

Stoltenberg added that NATO and its allies were “collecting information and monitoring very closely what is going on in Ukraine”.

World Bank warns Ukraine war is economic catastrophe

The war in Ukraine is “a catastrophe” for the world which will cut global economic growth, the president of the World Bank has told the BBC.

“The war in Ukraine comes at a bad time for the world because inflation was already rising,” stated David Malpass.

EU Commission suspends science & research programs with Russia

The European Commission has suspended cooperation with Russian entities in research, science and innovation, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the commission announced in a statement.

It is also suspending payments to Russian entities under existing contracts and “will not conclude any new contracts nor any new agreements” with Russian organizations.

Microsoft halts sales & services in Russia

Microsoft announced it will suspend “all new sales of Microsoft products and services in Russia”.

German FM claims Putin’s forces ‘targeting civilians with brutal rigor’

Russian forces in Ukraine are increasingly targeting the civilian population, Germany’s foreign minister has alleged.

“It is clear to see that this war of aggression by [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is targeting the civilian population with the most brutal rigor,” Annalena Baerbock told reporters in Brussels ahead of a meeting with her European Union counterparts.

UN says 331 civilians killed amid Russia’s offensive

The UN’s human rights office (OHCHR) says it has confirmed that 331 civilians, including 19 children, have been killed in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began on February 24.

OHCHR, which has monitors in Ukraine, added that 675 others had been wounded as of midnight on Thursday, and warned the true toll from the conflict was likely much higher.

Most of the victims were killed by explosive weapons such as shelling from heavy artillery, multi-launch rocket systems and missile and air raids, it announced.

Several explosions heard in quick succession in Kyiv

Several explosions have been heard in quick succession in Kyiv and an air raid siren blasted out, according to Reuters.

The exact origin of the explosions could not be immediately established. Russia has launched a multi-pronged invasion of Ukraine. Moscow describes its actions as a “special operation”.

UN Security Council will hold emergency meeting following attack on Ukrainian nuclear plant

Following the attack on a nuclear plant in Ukraine by Russian troops, the United Nations Security Council will hold an emergency meeting at 11:30 a.m. ET Friday in New York, according to three UN diplomats.

Ukraine reports deaths from nuclear plant blaze

Ukraine’s foreign ministry says that “several” people were killed and wounded in the now-extinguished fire that broke out as a result of Russia’s alleged attack on the Zaporizhzhia plant.

The site’s employees are monitoring the plant to make sure it is operating safely and that radiation levels do not spike following the blaze, the ministry, which did not specify an exact death toll, added in a statement of Facebook.

But it warned there could be major radioactive damage if the facility’s cooling process is disturbed.

“Thousands of people – including civilians who are currently unable to evacuate the area near the plant due to ongoing shelling and fighting – would be hurt by this,” the ministry said.

It also called for Kyiv’s allies to take “urgent steps” to force Russian troops to withdraw from the area in order to ensure the facility’s safety.

Moscow has blamed the attack at the site on Ukrainian saboteurs, calling it a “monstrous provocation”.

Google suspends all advertising in Russia

Google has suspended all advertising in Russia, the company confirmed to CNN.

NATO rejects Ukraine no-fly zone

NATO allies rejected Ukraine’s demand for no-fly zones on Friday, saying they were increasing support but that stepping in directly would lead to a broader, even more brutal European war so far limited to Russia’s assault on its neighbour.

Ukraine, a former Soviet republic that wants to join the European Union and Western military alliance NATO, is not a currently a member of either.

“We are not part of this conflict, and we have a responsibility to ensure it does not escalate and spread beyond Ukraine,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has called for Western powers to enforce a no-fly zone since Moscow’s invasion started nine days ago, with Russia shelling cities and bringing fighting to Europe’s largest nuclear plant.

“We understand the desperation but we also believe that if we did that (a no-fly zone) we would end up with something that could lead to a full-fledged war in Europe involving much more countries and much more suffering,” Stoltenberg added.

The only way for NATO to implement a no-fly zone would be to send NATO planes to shoot down Russian ones, he said, adding that the risk of escalation would be too big.

“Allies agree we should not have NATO planes operating over Ukrainian airspace or NATO troops operating in Ukrainian territory,” he continued.

UN agency says it received “credible reports” of discrimination at Ukrainian border

The International Organization for Migration has received credible and verified reports of discrimination experienced at Ukraine’s borders by foreign nationals attempting to flee violence amid Russia’s ongoing invasion, IOM Director-General Antonio Vitorino told CNN Friday.

“We have reports – credible reports, verified reports – and we are acting with the authorities on both sides,” Vitorino said.

“We have already approached the authorities both in Ukraine and the neighboring countries to make sure everybody who is fleeing the country, irrespective of their nationality, of their territory of origin, of the color of their skin, is allowed to cross,” he added.

Kremlin calls for Russians to ‘unite’ around Putin

The Kremlin has urged Russians to rally around President Vladimir Putin as Moscow continues its offensive.

“Now is not the time to divide, now is the time for all to unite, be together, and unite of course around our president,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov’s told reporters on a call.

He added that what happened next in Ukraine would depend on Kyiv’s reaction to this week’s negotiations between the two sides.

Peskov said that Russian officials had told their Ukrainian counterparts their “vision of solving this problem”.

Ukraine: Russia’s power plant grab risked nuclear disaster

Ukraine’s foreign ministry has called on the international community to take decisive action after Russian forces in Ukraine seized Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, a move the ministry said risked nuclear disaster.

Officials have said Zaporizhzhia plant in southeastern Ukraine is operating normally after it was captured by Russian forces in fighting overnight. But the ministry announced any damage to a storage facility for spent nuclear fuel could release nuclear radiation.

“As a result, a nuclear disaster of this scale may exceed all previous accidents at nuclear power plants,” it added.

3D satellite imagery shows a massive Russian military convoy at a standstill

Map: Russian troops advance in these regions inside Ukraine

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 9

UN rights body approves probe into alleged Russian violations in Ukraine

The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council has voted in favour of a resolution condemning alleged rights violations during Russia’s offensive in Ukraine and setting up a commission of inquiry to investigate them.

“It is our common duty to ensure accountability by mandating the documentation and verification of Russia’s crimes and identification of those responsible,” Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Yevheniia Filipenko, told the Council minutes before the vote.

Russia has denied targeting civilians in Ukraine. Its own delegate, Evgeny Ustinov, told the Council that the resolution’s backers “will use any means to blame Russia for the events in Ukraine”.

Ukrainian nuclear operator says management at seized plant “working at gunpoint”

Management at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Enerhodar is now working at gunpoint, the company that runs the station said.

Petro Kotin, the head of the state-owned nuclear power generator Energoatom, stated on Telegram that Russian forces “entered the territory of the nuclear power plant, took control of the personnel and management of the nuclear power plant”.

The station management works at invaders’ gunpoint,” he added.

Kotin noted staff were “were admitted in the morning to perform their duties”.

He stated the company does not have “a direct connection to the station” and is getting information from sources there.

Kotin said the six reactors at the plant have fuel in each of them, while pre-reactor pools are storing spent nuclear fuel, the irradiated byproduct of the reactors. Kotin added that if the nuclear facilities were hit by shelling, it “will lead to nuclear disaster.”

Ukraine says Russian advance on Mykolayiv has been halted

A Russian advance on the southern port city of Mykolayiv has been halted, an adviser to Ukraine’s president has said.

“We can feel cautious optimism about the future prospects of the enemy offensive – I think that it will be stopped in other areas also,” Oleksiy Arestovych stated in a televised briefing.

His remarks came after local authorities reported Russian troops had entered the ship-building hub on the Black Sea for the first time.

Governor Vitaliy Kim noted fighting was under way in parts of the city.

Zelensky demands immediate sanctions against Russia & no-fly zone over Ukraine

President Volodymyr Zelensky once again demanded the immediate strengthening of sanctions against Russia and the closure of the Ukrainian airspace.

“We need an immediate strengthening of sanctions against a nuclear terrorist country. We need an immediate closure of the sky over Ukraine,” Zelensky stated in a video message.

Zelensky also claimed that almost the entire Russian army is waging war against Ukraine.

Putin says Russia has no ill intentions towards its neighbours

President Vladimir Putin has made it clear that Russia has no ill intentions towards its neighbours.

“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 fulfill all our obligations and will continue to fulfill them”, Putin stated in televised remarks on Friday.

Referring to the ongoing Russian special operation in Ukraine, Putin stressed that Russia only responds to “negative actions by other countries”.

Beijing: US trying to dodge responsibility for Ukraine crisis by blaming China

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin has stated that the US is trying to avoid its own responsibility in the matter by accusing China of inaction over the Ukraine crisis.

“This way of abdicating responsibility and spreading slander is very hypocritical and vile,” Wang told reporters.

Ukraine’s culture minister claims Russia destroying its cultural sites

Ukraine’s Minister of Culture and Information Policy, Oleksandr Tkachenko, called “for closing the skies over Ukraine, because Russian aggressors are destroying Ukrainian cultural sites”.

Zelensky says “we will see” today if humanitarian corridor agreement with Russia works

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said that it will become clear Friday if the warring parties can successfully create humanitarian corridors to help civilians escape some of the worst fighting in the country.

Envoys from Russia and Ukraine agreed to put in place the corridors during talks in Belarus on Thursday.

 “Today we will see if the agreement works,” Zelensky added.

Germany: Next batches of weapons prepared to be delivered to Ukraine

The next batches of weapons are prepared to be delivered to Ukraine, a German defence ministry spokesperson noted, without providing any details.

“I can confirm that further cargoes are prepared for shipment in warehouses, the decision of the Security Council is awaited. I cannot give further details,” the spokesperson told reporters when asked whether new arms supplies to Ukraine are planned and what they include.

Chechnyan leader offers $500,000 for head of every ‘commander of Ukrainian nationalists’

The head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has promised a reward of $500,000 for the head of every “commander of the Ukrainian nationalists”.

“I say this not as an official, but as a volunteer on behalf of the patriots of Russia,” he said in a message posted on Telegram.

Volodymyr Zelensky needs to understand that “no bunkers will save him”, Kadyrov continued, adding, “There is only one way out of the situation – the full fulfillment of the conditions of the Russian side.”

Lukashenko: West needs war in Ukraine to drown Russia & Belarus

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko believes that the West is interested in a prolonged war in Ukraine in order to drown Russia and Belarus in the turmoil.

Russian troops enter Mykolayiv

Russian troops have entered the Ukrainian Black Sea port city of Mykolayiv for the first time, regional authorities said.

In a video statement shared online, Governor Vitaliy Kim stated fighting was under way in parts of the city, adding, “Let’s not get nervous.”

EU calls for emergency UN Security Council meeting following Russian attack on Ukrainian nuclear power plant

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has expressed his support for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council following an attack on Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant by Russian forces, warning that such attacks could have “catastrophic” consequences.

“Russian attacks in the direct vicinity of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants can have catastrophic consequences. They must stop immediately,” Borrell tweeted.

“Shelling and resulting fire at (Zaporizhzhia) power plant can endanger the whole of Europe,” he added.

IAEA: Russia’s military effectively in control of two Ukrainian nuclear plants

Russia is effectively in control of the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plants, according to Rafael Mariano Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Chernobyl was the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986. Russian forces seized control of it last week.

The Zaporizhzhia plant just fell under Moscow’s control, and during the fighting, a Russian projectile hit a building within the site, causing a localized fire.

The reactors at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine are safe despite coming under attack from Russian forces, Grossi confirmed.

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 9

Ukraine claims 3 soldiers killed, 2 wounded in Russian attack on nuclear plant

The Ukrainian state nuclear company claimed three Ukrainian troops are killed and another two are wounded in Russia’s attack on a nuclear plant overnight.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant caught fire overnight during a battle with Russian troops. The blaze was later extinguished.

Earlier, the regional military administration announced Russian forces took control of the plant and that operational personnel are ensuring its safe operation.

Mayor of town where Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant located says situation “extremely tense”

Dmytro Orlov, the mayor of the city of Enerhodar, where the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is located, said the city currently has no heating due to damage from shelling.

“Due to damage to the heating main during the shelling at night, Enerhodar has no heating. We are currently working on restoring (it),” he stated.

Orlov added those who spent the night in shelters can return home but recommended they avoid spending time outdoors due to the “extremely tense situation.”

“Regarding the situation in the city itself. Now the streets are quiet, no strangers are noticed. Those who stayed in the shelter for the night, you can return home. However, due to the extremely tense situation nearby, we recommend you spending less time outside and stay at home,” Orlov noted.

Time claims Zelensky survives three assassination attempts in days

Ukraine President Zelensky has survived at least three assassination attempts in the past week, The Times has learnt.

Two different outfits have been sent to kill the Ukrainian president — mercenaries of the Kremlin-backed Wagner group and Chechen special forces. Both have been thwarted by anti-war elements within Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).

Wagner mercenaries in Kyiv have sustained losses during their attempts and are said to have been alarmed by how accurately the Ukrainians had anticipated their moves. A source close to the group stated it was “eerie” how well briefed Zelensky’s security team appeared to be.

Ukraine: Russian forces are focused on encircling Kyiv

Russian forces are focused on encircling Kyiv, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The statement added that Russian troops were “blocked and stopped in the Makarov area”, which is about 60 km (37 miles) away from the Ukrainian capital.

The ministry announced Russia’s armed forces have exhausted most of their operational reserves and have started “preparations for the transfer of additional forces and resources from the southern and eastern military districts”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday stated the war in Ukraine was “going according to plan”, despite assessments from other countries that the Kremlin’s invasion has not gone according to plan.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry announced Russian forces continue to prepare for landings on the coast of the Black Sea.

Wallace: Putin playing with fire

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said Russia’s Vladimir Putin was playing with fire by attacking a nuclear power plant in Ukraine’s southeast and called on him to stop targeting such sites.

“We call upon the Russian president in the strongest possible terms to absolutely cease attacking sites such as that, it is incredibly dangerous,” Wallace told a news conference during a visit to Copenhagen.

“It’s not just dangerous for Ukraine and Russia, it’s dangerous for Europe, and it is playing with fire that really is beyond anything that has to do with logic or necessity,” he added.

NATO chief slams Russian ‘recklessness’

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has decried Russia’s “recklessness” over the shelling of a nuclear power plant in Ukraine and demanded Moscow stop the war against its neighbour.

“Overnight we have also seen reports about the attack against the nuclear power plant. This just demonstrates the recklessness of this war and the importance of ending it and the importance of Russia withdrawing all its troops and engaging good faith in diplomatic efforts,” Stoltenberg stated ahead of a meeting with Western foreign ministers.

He went on to reiterate the views of Antony Blinken, repeating the alliance is prepared “to protect and defend every inch of NATO territory”.

Borrell: Everything remains on table in terms of sanctions

The European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell has said that all options remained on the table about new sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

“We will consider everything,” Borrell told reporters when asked about new sanctions, and specifically about the possible suspension of the EU’s gas imports from Russia.

“Everything remains on the table,” he added on his arrival to a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels.

Blinken says NATO does not seek conflict with Russia, but warns alliance ready for it

NATO will defend all its allies and territory in the event of any Russian attack on the United States-led transatlantic military alliance, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said.

“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 as he arrived for a meeting of the alliance’s foreign ministers at its headquarters in Brussels.

“And overnight, we’ve also seen reports about the attack against a nuclear power plant. This just demonstrates the recklessness of this war and the importance of ending it and the importance of Russia withdrawing all its troops and engaging in good faith in diplomatic efforts,” he added.

Death toll from air raids in Chernihiv rises to 47

Regional authorities in Ukraine’s northern Chernihiv region have claimed that 47 people were killed during Russian air raids on a residential district yesterday, in an upwards revision of the death toll from an earlier figure of 33.

Rescue work in the affected area had to be suspended on Thursday due to heavy shelling, according to the local emergency services.

Russia blames nuclear plant attack on Ukrainian saboteurs

Russia’s Defence Ministry has blamed an attack at the site of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine on Ukrainian saboteurs, calling it a monstrous provocation.

Ukraine has claimed Russian forces attacked the plant in the early hours of Friday, setting an adjacent five-storey training facility on fire, in an incident that provoked international condemnation of Moscow, a week into its invasion of Ukraine.

A Russian defence ministry spokesman stated the nuclear plant was operating normally and 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,” spokesman Igor Konashenkov was quoted as saying.

He added that a Russian national guard patrol was attacked by a Ukrainian sabotage group on territory adjacent to the plant.

China urges all sides to ensure safety of nuclear facilities

China’s Foreign Ministry urged all sides to ensure the safety of nuclear facilities in Ukraine, after a fire broke out in a building adjacent to a nuclear plant that was later seized by Russian forces, according to Ukraine.

“We will monitor the situation and call on all sides to exercise restraint, avoid escalation and ensure the safety of relevant nuclear facilities,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a daily briefing.

China has refused to condemn Russia’s attack on Ukraine or call it an invasion.

Wang noted that China is “very concerned” about the situation.

Ukraine’s president urges Russians to protest over seizure of nuclear infrastructure

Volodymyr Zelensky has appealed to Russians to stage protests against Moscow’s seizure of nuclear power infrastructure in Ukraine.

“Russian people, I want to appeal to you: how is this possible? After all we fought together in 1986 against the Chernobyl catastrophe,” he stated in a televised address.

Russian troops destroy over 1,800 Ukrainian military facilities

The Russian troops have destroyed 1,812 Ukrainian military facilities in their special operation, including 49 planes on the ground and 13 aircraft in the air, 635 tanks and 54 unmanned aerial vehicles, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said.

“The Russian troops continue delivering strikes on Ukrainian military infrastructure facilities. Over the period of the operation, they have destroyed 1,812 facilities, including 65 command and communications centers of the Ukrainian armed forces, 56 S-300, Buk-M1 and Osa surface-to-air missile systems and 59 radar stations. They have also destroyed 49 planes on the ground and 13 aircraft in the air, 635 tanks and other armored vehicles, 67 multiple rocket launchers, 252 field artillery guns and mortars, 442 items of special military hardware and also 54 UAVs,” the spokesman added.

Russia’s envoy says US senator’s calls for Putin’s assassination ‘criminal

US Senator Lindsay Graham’s calls for the assassination of the Russian President Vladimir Putin are unacceptable and outrageous, the embassy demands official explanations from Washington, Russia’s Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said.

“It becomes scary for the US fate, which is run by such irresponsible and unprofessional politicians. We demand official explanations and a strong condemnation of the criminal statements of this American,” the Russian envoy added.

“I find the statement of the American politician to be unacceptable and outrageous. The degree of Russophobia and hatred in the United States towards Russia is off the scale. It is impossible to believe that a senator of a country that promotes its moral values as a “guiding star” for all mankind could afford to call for terrorism as a way to achieve Washington’s goals in the international arena,” Antonov noted.

Ukraine says Russian forces have lost over 9,160 soldiers

Ukraine has claimed that a total of 9,166 Russian soldiers have been killed since the start of Russia’s war on its neighbor.

In a statement, the Ukrainian General Staff said that since the beginning of the war, the Ukrainian army has destroyed 33 Russian-owned aircraft, 37 helicopters, 251 tanks, 939 armored vehicles, 105 artillery systems and two light speedboats.

Russian forces also lost 50 multiple rocket launcher systems, 404 vehicles, 60 fuel vehicles, 18 anti-aircraft warfare systems and three unmanned aerial vehicles, according to the statement.

Pentagon opens hotline with Russia

The US and Russian militaries have established a “deconfliction” line to prevent misunderstandings or accidents from escalating into a war between Moscow and NATO, the Pentagon confirmed.

Russia’s lower house passes law criminalizing “discredit of Russian military”

The lower house of the Russian Parliament has passed a law criminalizing the spreading of false information discrediting the Russian military and any calls for sanctions against Russia, state news agencies TASS and Ria Novosti reported.

Those charged with breaking the new law could face fines of 1.5 million rubles (about $14,000) or prison sentences of up to 15 years, TASS and RIA reported.

US senator asks Russian citizens to ‘take out’ Putin

US Senator Lindsey Graham called for the assassination of Russian President Vladimir Putin amid Moscow’s war on Ukraine.

“Is there a Brutus in Russia? Is there a more successful Colonel 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,” wrote Graham on Twitter, after speaking with Fox News.

Claus von Stauffenberg was a German army officer who tried to kill Adolf Hitler in July 1944.

Moscow stock exchange to remain closed

The Russian government has announced the Moscow stock exchange will remain closed through at least March 8.

The exchange was closed on February 28 as Russia’s economy went into free fall after Western sanctions. The exchange was originally closed until March 5.

‘No leak’ detected at Ukraine nuclear plant

The Ukrainian nuclear regulator has announced that no leaks of radiation have been detected at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, which caught fire overnight during a battle with Russian troops.

“Changes in the radiation situation have not been registered,” the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine stated.

Russia curbs access to BBC, Deutsche Welle & other media

Russia’s media watchdog says it has restricted access to several independent media websites, including the BBC, following a request from prosecutors.

Roskomnadzor announced other websites that it was limiting access to are the independent news website Meduza, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, and the Russian-language website of the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Svoboda.

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant captured by Russian troops

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Energodar has reportedly been seized by Russian forces after it came under attack earlier in the night.

The plant was targeted by Russian rockets and gunfire on Thursday, causing a fire onsite and worries over radiation levels.

Citing Ukrainian officials, Reuters is reporting it is now under Russian control.

The plant is Europe’s largest for nuclear power and accounts for 25 percent of Ukraine’s electricity.

IAEA: Nuclear power plant essential equipment unaffected & no change in radiation levels

Essential equipment at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was unaffected after a fire there, with no change in radiation levels, the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Friday, citing the country’s regulatory authorities.

Ukraine had said the plant in the city was shelled overnight, the IAEA added.

“The Ukraine regulatory authority said a fire at the site had not affected ‘essential’ equipment and plant personnel were taking mitigatory actions,” it said, adding, “There was no reported change in radiation levels at the plant.”

Zelensky accuses Russia of ‘nuclear terror’

Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Moscow of resorting to “nuclear terror” and wanting to “repeat” the Chernobyl disaster after he stated Russian forces shot at a nuclear power plant.

“No country other than Russia has ever fired on nuclear power units. This is the first time in our history. In the history of mankind. The terrorist state now resorted to nuclear terror,” he noted in a video message.

Johnson to seek UN Security Council meeting

The office of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he will seek an emergency UN Security Council meeting after Russian troops attacked Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and sparked a fire.

Johnson’s office announced he spoke to Volodymyr Zelensky in the early hours of the morning. He noted Britain will raise the issue immediately with Russia and close partners.

Johnson’s office added he and Zelensky agreed that Russia must immediately cease attacking and allow emergency services unfettered access to the plant. The two agree a ceasefire is essential.

Scholz calls for ceasefire

A ceasefire and further negotiations for a retreat of Russian troops from Ukraine are urgently needed to help de-escalate the situation in the country, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says.

“However unrealistic this may seem right now, we must not fail to try to do that,” the chancellor told the German ZDF broadcaster, adding, “What is going on right now is a war against the Ukrainian people.”

Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant fire extinguished

The fire at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been put out, according to a statement from the Ukrainian State Emergency Service on Friday.

Zelensky urges world leaders to stop Russia “before this becomes a nuclear disaster”

In a Facebook post early Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of intentionally firing at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, after a fire broke out at the facility following heavy shelling from Russian forces.

Ukrainian authorities say the power plant has not sustained any critical damage, and that radiation levels are currently normal, though the situation remains fluid and firefighters continue to battle the blaze.

“Russian tanks are shooting at the atomic blocks equipped with thermal imagers. They know what they are shooting at. They’ve been preparing for this (attack),” he said in the post.

Zelensky also referred to the Chernobyl tragedy and its victims in the post.

“For all Ukrainians, for all Europeans, for all people who know the word ‘Chernobyl’, how many victims there were,” he added.

Ukraine tells IAEA essential equipment was not affected at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a tweet on Friday that “essential” equipment at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant site has not been affected by the fire, according to Ukrainian authorities.

It added that the “plant personnel (are) taking mitigatory actions.”

Zaporizhzhia spokesperson: Fighting stopped near power plant & radiation levels are currently normal

Fighting has stopped near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and background radiation levels are currently normal as a fire continued at the facility, a spokesperson at the plant said.

Spokesperson Andrii Tuz added the plant has not sustained any critical damage, although only one power generation unit out of six is operational.

Kharkiv mayor: Russia “intentionally trying to eliminate Ukrainian people”

The mayor of Kharkiv, the northeastern city under siege by Russian forces, told CNN on Friday the Russian military is “intentionally trying to eliminate Ukrainian people” as it targets civilian spaces.

“The situation is extremely difficult,” Mayor Ihor Terekhov said, adding, “To date, Kharkiv has been hard impacted by continuous bombardment. Planes are flying constantly, (rockets) are being launched, grenades are launched, and residential houses are being hit.”

There are no Ukrainian troops stationed in the residential blocks, according to Terekhov.

“That means that they are purposefully hitting the residential buildings,” he continued.

While many residents are taking shelter, “a great number” have been killed, Terekhov said, adding that many are wounded and in hospital.

The state emergency services in Ukraine on Thursday morning said 34 civilians in the Kharkiv region had been killed in just 24 hours, and another 285 injured.

Biden gets update on Ukraine nuclear plant fire from Zelensky

US President Joe Biden spoke with Volodymyr Zelenskyy to receive an update on the fire at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the White House has said.

Biden joined Zelenskyy “in urging Russia to cease its military activities in the area and allow firefighters and emergency responders to access the site”, the statement reads.

Biden also received an update on the situation from the US Energy Department’s under secretary for nuclear security, it added.

Ukraine reports “no change in radiation levels” at Zaporizhzhia

Ukraine’s nuclear regulator told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) there is “no change reported in radiation levels at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant site”, the IAEA tweeted.

Ukrainian officials stated early Friday a fire had broken out at the nuclear plant as Russian forces attacked “from all sides”, with firefighters unable to reach the site.

IAEA is in contact with Ukrainian authorities over nuclear plant fire

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced it is “aware of reports of shelling at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant”, and that it was in contact with Ukrainian authorities about the situation.

Ukraine FM: Russian army “firing from all sides” on Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

The Russian army is “firing from all sides upon Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe”, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted on Friday.

“Russians must IMMEDIATELY cease the fire, allow firefighters, establish a security zone!” Kuleba stressed.

Firefighters unable to reach fire at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

Firefighters are unable to reach the fire at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, according to the mayor of the nearby town of Enerhodar, Dmytro Orlov, in a Facebook post.

“The Zaporizhzhia Power Plant is notifying of a threat at the first block of the power plant! The fire at the plant is continuing. The firefighters cannot reach the location of the fire,” he posted.

Fire breaks out at nuclear power plant in Ukraine

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine is on fire, according to Dmytro Orlov, the mayor of the nearby town of Enerhodar.

“A threat to world security!!! As a result of relentless shelling by the enemy of the buildings and blocks of the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is on fire!!!” Orlov posted to Facebook.

“I demand, stop! Immediately stop shelling the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant point blank,” the mayor stated in a video message.

In an earlier post he wrote, “stop shelling the Zaporizhzhia power plant”.

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 9

Kherson mayor calls for looting to stop

The mayor of the Ukrainian city of Kherson Ihor Kolykhaiev called on people to stop looting and stealing food supplies.

Ukraine says it destroyed 20 Russian vehicles near Hostomel Air Base

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry has claimed it destroyed a total of 20 Russian military vehicles near the Hostomel Air Base.

US Treasury vows to impose ‘massive costs’ on Putin’s confidants

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has vowed to impose “massive costs” on Russian elites in Vladimir Putin’s inner circle after Washington announced sanctions on several Russian “oligarchs” as well as Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov.

“Today, across the US government and in coordination with partners and allies, we are demonstrating our commitment to impose massive costs on Putin’s closest confidants and their family members and freeze their assets in response to the brutal attack on Ukraine,” Yellen announced in a statement.

Local mayor: Russian forces head toward Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

The mayor of the Ukrainian town of Energodar said a column of Russian troops was headed toward the nearby Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, late on Thursday.

Earlier, the Ukrainian authorities reported that Russian troops were stepping up efforts to seize the plant in southeast Ukraine and had entered Energodar with tanks.

“Loud shots can be heard in the town,” Mayor Dmytro Orlov added.

US senators propose ban on Russian oil imports

A bipartisan group of US senators has introduced legislation that would ban all oil imports to the US from Russia.

“Energy has been weaponised. We have the ability to counter that weapon,” stated Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who is part of a group calling on the Joe Biden administration to boost US domestic oil production.

The proposal, titled the “Ban Russian Energy Imports Act”, also has the support of the top leader in the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.

But White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki noted at an earlier media briefing that White House officials opposed blocking Russian oil imports because it would raise fuel prices for Americans.

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