Zelensky calls for fighter planes in Zoom call with Congress
Ukrainian President Zelensky made an impassioned plea directly to U.S. lawmakers in a Zoom call Saturday morning, calling for military planes and support, and an embargo on Russian oil, according to a member of Congress who was on the call.
Zelensky told lawmakers that Ukraine needs jets because its air force was destroyed on day one of the Russian invasion, according to another source who was on the call. And he asked for an oil embargo on Russia, which he said would be the most significant factor for Ukraine. Zelensky told lawmakers that if there had been sanctions in place in September or October, there would not have been an invasion.
The urgency of Zelensky’s requests was evident from the outset. He opened with a remark along the lines of “this might be the last time you see me alive.” He warned them that after Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin will not stop. Poland and Lithuania, both NATO members, will be next. He called on the U.S. to send planes and troops there now to prepare, and to release surplus Warsaw Pact planes — MIGs and Sukohvs — from Poland and other countries.
U.S. issues “do not travel” advisory for Russia
The United States issued a “due not travel” advisory for Russia on Saturday “due to the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine, the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials, the Embassy’s limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia, COVID-19 and related entry restrictions, terrorism, limited flights into and out of Russia, and the arbitrary enforcement of local law.”
The State Department urged U.S. citizens living or traveling in Russia to leave immediately.
“If you plan to stay in Russia, understand the U.S. Embassy has severe limitations on its ability to assist U.S. citizens, and conditions, including transportation options, may change suddenly,” the advisory said.
It noted that some credit and debit cards could be declined due to sanctions, and that there are reports of cash shortages in the country.
The advisory was issued amid reports that WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner was arrested at an airport in Moscow last month after vape cartridges were found in a search of her luggage.
Charities struggle to deliver humanitarian aid into Ukraine
With ports blocked and roads made treacherous by bombings, charities currently can’t send humanitarian aid into Ukraine through normal channels, though both Russia and Ukraine agreed Thursday to create corridors to allow those donations to be delivered.
The United Nations says much of the humanitarian effort are now based in neighboring countries to support more than 1 million Ukrainians who have fled the country, mostly to Poland, Hungary and Romania.
But charities are also working to send aid to Ukraine itself.
The scale of need is enormous. The U.N. this week issued an appeal for $1.7 billion to help with aid efforts.
Filippo Grandi, chief of the U.N. refugee agency, said his agency had already received more than $40 million in private donations from individuals and companies.
Many corporations have committed to help. Amazon pledged $5 million to the U.N.’s refugee agency and other humanitarian organizations and plans to match up to $5 million more in donations made by its employees. Snapchat announced $15 million for humanitarian support. Airbnb offered free housing” to up to 100,000 refugees and is waiving its fees on the grassroots movement of people booking stays in Ukrainian homes, with no plans of using them, to get money quickly into the accounts of hosts. And Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, has pledged $10 million toward aid.
Cryptocurrency donations have emerged as a leading form of aid.
1.5 million could flee Ukraine by end of this weekend
The number of people fleeing Ukraine amid the Russian invasion could climb to 1.5 million by the end of this weekend, Filippo Grandi, the head of the U.N. refugee agency, told Reuters on Saturday.
He described the situation as “the fastest moving refugee crisis we have seen in Europe since the end of World War II.”
More than 1 million Ukrainians have fled the violence so far, with more than half of them arriving in Poland where they are being welcomed with no required paperwork.
The United Nations estimates as many as 4 million people could be displaced in the coming weeks — about 10% of the Ukrainian population.
U.S. senators have Zoom call with President Zelensky
U.S. senators were taking part in a Zoom call Saturday morning with Ukrainian President Zelensky.
He was set to brief them as Congress considers a request for $10 billion in emergency funding for humanitarian aid and security needs.
Putin warns against no-fly zone over Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow would consider any third-party declaration of a no-fly zone over Ukraine as “participation in the armed conflict.” He said Russia would view “any move in this direction” as an intervention that “will pose a threat to our service members.”
“That very second, we will view them as participants of the military conflict, and it would not matter what members they are,” the Russian president said Saturday at a meeting with female pilots.
Ukrainian President Zelensky has pushed NATO to impose a no-fly zone over his country, warning that “all the people who die from this day forward will also die because of you.”
NATO has said a no-fly zone, which would bar all unauthorized aircraft from flying over Ukraine, could provoke widespread war in Europe with nuclear-armed Russia.
Biden administration considering new sanctions against Russia
Sanctions against Russia have sent its economy into freefall and brought global condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Now, the Biden administration is considering new sanctions that could hurt consumers here at home.
The administration says they’re looking at options to cut U.S. consumption of Russian energy, but worries about the impact to consumers, Natalie Brand reports for “CBS Saturday Morning.”
“If you reduce supply in the global marketplace, you are going to raise gas prices,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
Lawmakers across both sides of the aisle are calling for a ban on Russian energy imports.
“I’m all for that. Ban it. Ban the oil coming from Russia,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“This will be a significant blow to Putin’s war machine,” said Senator Lindsey Graham.
Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to travel to Europe next week to visit Romania and Poland, where thousands of U.S. troops are positioned in support of NATO. A bipartisan congressional delegation is also visiting Ukraine’s border in Poland this weekend.
Italy seizes $156 million in oligarch wealth
European governments are moving against Russian oligarchs to put pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to back down on his war in Ukraine, seizing superyachts and other luxury properties from billionaires on sanctions lists.
Italy since Friday has seized 143 million euros ($156 million) in luxury yachts and villas in some of its most picturesque destinations, including Sardinia, the Ligurian coast and Lake Como.
“We must be able to stop Putin’s attack, bringing him to the table, and he won’t go with niceties,” Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio told Italian state TV on Friday, announcing Italy’s plans to begin the seizures of property belonging to oligarchs close to Putin.
Italian financial police moved quickly seizing the superyacht “Lena” belonging to Gennady Timchenko, an oligarch close to Putin, in the port of San Remo; the 65-meter (215-foot) “Lady M” owned by Alexei Mordashov in nearby Imperia, estimated to be worth 65 million euros; as well as villas in Tuscany and Como.
The villa of Russian-Uzbek business magnate Alisher Usmanov was seized along the tony Emerald Coast in northern Sardinia, long the playground of the world’s wealthiest, the Italian news agency LaPresse reported.
Activists say that going after the oligarchs is tantamount to going after Putin.
Stocks tumble as invasion overshadows robust jobs report
U.S. stocks racked up more losses Friday as concerns about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine drowned out a report showing robust hiring in the U.S. last month.
The S&P 500 fell 0.8% to close at 43,287 as the conflict in Eastern Europe continued. Concerns over a fire at a nuclear plant in Ukraine helped drag the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 180 points, or 0.5%, to 33,614. The Nasdaq composite fell nearly 2%.
More than 60% of stocks in the benchmark S&P 500 fell on the day, with technology and financial companies weighing down the index the most. Apple fell 2% and JPMorgan Chase slid 3.9%. Among the gainers were utilities, health care stocks and companies that can benefit from higher oil prices. Occidental Petroleum vaulted 16.7% for the biggest gain in the index.
All the movements came despite a much stronger report on U.S. jobs than economists expected, one described as encouraging and even “fantastic.”
U.N. Security Council holds urgent meeting after attack at nuclear power plant
The U.N. Security Council held an urgent meeting on Friday following the attack and fire at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, which horrified world leaders.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi, briefed the Council from a plane en route to Tehran, Iran.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield called once again for Russia to get its troops out of Ukraine. “We call on you to respect your own troops enough not to send them into an unjust war — or on a suicide mission against a nuclear power plant,” she said.
Ukraine’s U.N. Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya warned of a deteriorating situation: “It is not only Ukraine under Russian attack. It is Europe. It is the entire world. It is humanity. And finally, it is the future of the next generation.”
Entire U.S. Senate invited to Zoom meeting with Zelensky on Saturday morning
The entire U.S. Senate has been invited to a Zoom meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday morning, a Senate aide confirmed to CBS News.
Ukraine leader criticizes NATO for rejecting no-fly zone
In a bitter and emotional speech, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky criticized NATO for refusing to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, saying it will fully untie Russia’s hands as it escalates its attack from the air.
“All the people who die from this day forward will also die because of you, because of your weakness, because of your lack of unity,” he said in a nighttime address. “The alliance has given the green light to the bombing of Ukrainian cities and villages by refusing to create a no-fly zone.”
On Friday, NATO said imposing a no-fly zone could provoke widespread war in Europe with nuclear-armed Russia.
“All that the alliance was able to do today was to pass through its procurement system 50 tons of diesel fuel for Ukraine. Perhaps so we could burn the Budapest Memorandum,” Zelensky said, referring to the 1994 security guarantees given to Ukraine in exchange for the withdrawal of its Soviet-era nuclear weapons.
“You will not be able to pay us off with liters of fuel for the liters of our blood, shed for our common Europe.”
Russia blocks Facebook and Twitter access
Amid a crackdown on demonstrators and independent media outlets, the Kremlin blocked access to Facebook and Twitter on Friday.
Russian telecommunications regulator, Roskomnadzor, said the decision to block Facebook was made in response to the platform’s alleged “discrimination” against Russian media, citing 26 cases since October 2020.
Nick Clegg, president of global affairs for Facebook’s parent company, Meta, said in a statement on Twitter: “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. We will continue to do everything we can to restore our services so they remain available to people to safely and securely express themselves and organize for action.”
U.S. official says about $240 million in Ukraine assistance has been delivered
The U.S. has delivered about $240 million of the $350 million in security and defense assistance President Biden authorized in late February, according to a U.S. official.
The official said the bulk of the remaining assistance is set to be delivered to Ukraine next week. The assistance includes capabilities to help Ukraine defend itself, including anti-armor weapons.
In addition to the U.S, 14 other nations have delivered assistance to Ukraine since the invasion began. U.S. European Command in Germany has a coordination cell dedicated to ensuring the Ukrainians get the assistance they need in a timely manner, according to the official.
Mr. Biden has said no U.S. troops will enter Ukraine as a part of this conflict, so the assistance is flowing across borders from “multiple venues,” according to a second U.S. official.
Pence to tell GOP donors party has no room “for apologists for Putin”
Former Vice President Mike Pence is expected to tell some of the Republican Party’s top donors on Friday night that the party cannot offer any support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, drawing a contrast with former President Trump, who called Putin “smart” and “savvy” during an interview last week.
“There is no room in this party for apologists for Putin,” Pence is to say, according to excerpts of his remarks obtained by CBS News. “There is only room for champions of freedom.”
Lukoil gas stations in U.S. face backlash over Ukraine war
The international push to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine is playing out on the local level in the U.S. as gas stations affiliated with Russia’s second-biggest oil company, Lukoil, face a backlash.
Lawmakers in Newark, New Jersey, this week voted to suspend Lukoil licenses in the city, with city council members citing the company’s Moscow base.
S&P Dow Jones booting all Russia stocks from its indices
GOP governors call on White House to boost domestic energy production
As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatens to upend global energy markets, nearly all of the country’s Republican governors are calling on President Biden to boost domestic energy production, in some cases by reversing orders he signed in the opening days of his presidency to combat climate change, and to diversify U.S. sources of energy with measures like restarting work on the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Psaki says assassinating Putin is “not the position” of U.S. government
White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded Friday to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham‘s suggestion that someone should assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“That is not the position of the United States government and certainly not a statement you’d hear come from the mouth of anyone working in this administration,” Psaki said during Friday’s press briefing when asked by CBS News for the White House’s response to Graham’s comments.
In a recent tweet, Graham said the only way the war ends is “for somebody in Russia to take this guy out.”
Some Republicans have criticized Graham’s remarks.
As hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians flee, many stay behind
With each passing day of war, more than 100,000 Ukrainian refugees are added to the tally, streaming into neighboring countries: Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, Latvia, and most of all Poland. The United Nations reports that out of the one million who have fled, 500,000 are children.
Another one million are estimated to still be in Ukraine, some hiding in shelters. The question for the families remains: Should they stay or should they go?
One Ukrainian woman who stayed behind with her daughter and granddaughter told CBS News that Ukraine is a democracy, and she worries about her granddaughter’s future.
McMaster: Ukraine war will likely “bleed over” into other countries
Former U.S. National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster told “CBS Mornings” it is very likely that the turmoil in Ukraine could spread to other countries.
“Wars like this just don’t stay within boundaries, within borders. It’s going to bleed over,” he said. “We have to not assume that this catastrophe that we are seeing is going to remain contained within Ukraine or even really in the proxy region or Europe.”
McMaster said that the U.S. needs to do everything right now that doesn’t risk direct confrontation with Russia.
International Gymnastics Federation bans Russian and Belarusian athletes from competitions
Russian and Belarusian athletes are being banned from International Gymnastics Federation competitions until further notice, the federation’s executive committee announced Friday. The decision takes effect Monday.
The ban affects both athletes and officials, including judges. It means the two countries will not be allowed to compete in the Acrobatic Gymnastics World Championships in Azerbaijan that starts next week.
The federation said it issued the “exceptional and emergency measures” due to the “massive escalation of the Russian military invasion of Ukraine,” which it considered “extraordinary circumstances.”
“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,” the federation said about the ban.
The federation said it will continue to closely monitor the situation and could make changes depending on future developments.
Staff at Russian news channel walks off set at end of broadcast
A news channel in Russia ended its final broadcast Thursday with staff walking off set. The channel, known as Dozhd – or TV Rain – is halting work after its website was blocked amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We need strength to … understand how we can work from here,” the channel’s founder and CEO Natalya Sindeeva said in a statement, according to Reuters. “We really hope that we will return to broadcasting and continue our work.” The statement was also posted on Twitter, in Russian. The company’s website is down.
Russia’s telecommunications regulator claimed TV Rain was “inciting extremism, abusing Russian citizens, causing mass disruption of public calm and safety, and encouraging protests,” according to BBC News, which shared videos of staff walking away from the anchor desk at the end of Thursday’s broadcast.
Ukrainian team making it to Beijing Paralympics called a “miracle”
The Ukrainian Paralympic team made their triumphant appearance at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Paralympics on Friday, as Russia continues its deadly invasion of their home country. Ukrainian Paralympic Committee President Valeriy Sushkevych said it was a “miracle” they were even there, according to Reuters.
Graham urges Russians to target Putin: “Take this guy out”
Senator Lindsey Graham on Thursday called for someone in Russia to “take out” President Vladimir Putin, asking on Twitter, “Is there a Brutus in Russia?” Graham’s comments come as Europe’s largest nuclear power plant was attacked and taken over by Russian forces that invaded Ukraine.
“The only way this ends is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out,” Graham said. “You would be doing your country — and the world — a great service.”
What is a Russian oligarch?
U.S. under secretary for nuclear security: No “serious safety concerns” after Russia seizes plant
The U.S. Department of Energy’s under secretary for nuclear security and administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration said Friday — after Russian forces seized control of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine — that while it’s “unfortunate” the Russians are taking over Ukrainian nuclear power plants, “we don’t have any serious safety concerns.”
“We have not seen, at [the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant], any increase in radiation through our monitors there throughout this incident,” Jill Hruby told CBS News.
Russia was accused of shelling the plant, sparking a fire, before taking control of the facility.
But Hruby said “the damage that was done, the fires that were reported, were relatively superficial and to administrative buildings.”
She added that it’s important to understand nuclear power plants are designed to withstand significant shelling or bombardment, including a jet plane crash.
“Our plea now to the Russians is to allow the Ukrainian operators to continue to operate safely and securely, including shift changes at that plant,” she said.
India faces mounting pressure to condemn key ally Russia over Ukraine invasion
India is the only major U.S. ally that has neither condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in clear terms nor backed sanctions against the country, upsetting many of its Western allies. It abstained from recent U.N. Security Council and General Assembly votes on the Russia-Ukraine situation, arguing that sanctions are not a solution urging the two warring sides to resolve their differences through negotiations.
India has spoken of the importance of “the U.N. Charter, international law, and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states,” while also offering medical assistance to Ukraine. But Delhi has not clearly spoken out against Russia.
Now the country is coming under pressure to condemn the actions of a decades-old friend, which is also its biggest supplier or weapons, directly and unequivocally.
Click here for more on why India has taken the stance it has, and why it may have to change its position.
Frequent shelling around Kyiv as Ukraine says forces still defending cities in east and south
Frequent shelling could be heard in the center of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv Friday, although more distant than in recent days, with loud thudding every 10 minutes resonating over the rooftops.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich said battles involving airstrikes and artillery continued northwest of Kyiv, and the northeastern cities of Kharkiv and Okhtyrka came under heavy strikes.
He said Ukrainian forces were still holding the northern city of Chernihiv, and had prevented Russian efforts to take the important southern city of Mykolaiv. Ukrainian artillery defended Odesa from repeated attempts by Russian ships to fire on the major Black Sea port, Arestovic said.
The Ukrainian Navy scuttled its flagship at the shipyard where it was undergoing repairs to keep the frigate from being seized by the Russians, Ukraine’s defense minister said.
“It is hard to imagine a more difficult decision for a courageous soldier and crew,” Oleksii Reznikov said.
Another strategic port, Mariupol on the Azov Sea, was “partially under siege,” and Ukrainian forces were pushing back efforts to surround the city, Arestovich said.
U.S. imposes more export controls on Russia’s oil refining sector
The U.S. Commerce Department is implementing more sanctions against Russia’s oil refining sector, targeting 91 entities that support Russian military activities, the department said Friday.
The Commerce Department said the move would further restrict Russia’s access to U.S. commodities, technology and software, as the U.S. attempts to hamper Russia’s ability to fund its military assault on Ukraine.
“With each passing day, as Russia continues its assault on Ukraine, it finds itself with fewer places to turn for economic and material support,” Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo said in a statement. “The United States and our allies and partners will continue to stand strong with the people of Ukraine and today’s actions will further restrict Russia’s access to revenue to support its aggression.”
A branch within the Commerce Department is implementing two new rules — one building on existing restrictions placed on Russian deepwater oil and gas exploration and extraction industries in 2014, and a second rule adding 91 parties across 10 countries to the Commerce Department’s sanctions list.
Why hasn’t China condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?
China is walking a very fine line, trying not to alienate key ally Russia, or vital trading patterns in the West as President Vladimir Putin wages a brutal war on neighboring Ukraine.
China has long insisted that no country has the right to “interfere” inside another country’s borders. That’s largely because Beijing isn’t willing to tolerate anyone’s interference in its own affairs — including over its human rights abuses.
That stance has made it hard for China to justify Russia’s clear interference inside Ukraine, as it also tries to avoid burning economic bridges with the West.
The longer the war drags on, the more Beijing is going to be dragged toward taking a stand, however. For example, two important Chinese development banks — which loan money for big infrastructure projects — announced Friday that they had decided to put their Russian lending on hold, implicitly supporting Western financial sanctions against Russia.
Until the invasion, China was Ukraine’s biggest trading partner. China’s leadership is likely still trying to figure out what role the country should play in this crisis.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba spoke this week with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. Kuleba said the Chinese were ready to try to end the war through diplomacy.
While the Chinese haven’t committed to brokering talks between Ukraine and Russia, Wang said China looked forward to playing a role in an eventual ceasefire. For Beijing, that could be a real coup: Ending the violence and cutting a deal would earn it huge respect on the world stage, and make it look like a mature, constructive power.
Energy prices soar on fears over Ukraine crisis
European and U.K. natural gas prices surged to record peaks Friday on supply disruption fears as a result of key supplier Russia’s ongoing attack on Ukraine. Europe’s reference Dutch TTF gas price struck 213.895 euros per megawatt hour in afternoon deals, while U.K. gas prices hit 508.80 pence per therm.
Americans have been warned that they can expect increasing pain at the pump, meanwhile, as rising oil costs continue to push up prices at gas stations across the U.S. That spike is unlikely to ease anytime soon as Russia’s war with Ukraine intensifies, experts say.
The current national average price of gas is $3.61 a gallon, up 26 cents from February and roughly a dollar from a year ago, according to data from AAA. In U.S. states with the priciest fuel, motorists already are paying nearly $4.50 a gallon, according to price tracker GasBuddy.
In “painful decision,” NATO rejects calls for no-fly zone over Ukraine
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday said the alliance would not impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine after calls from Kyiv to help stop Russia’s bombardments.
“The only way to implement a no-fly zone is to send NATO fighter planes into Ukraine’s airspace, and then impose that no-fly zone by shooting down Russian planes,” Stoltenberg said after an urgent meeting with NATO foreign ministers. “If we did that, we’ll end up with something that could end in a full-fledged war in Europe, involving many more countries and causing much more human suffering. So that’s the reason why we make this painful decision.”
The stance by the U.S.-led alliance comes despite appeals from Ukraine’s leadership to help halt indiscriminate bombing against cities around the country.
Stoltenberg warned that “the days to come are likely to be worse, with more death, more suffering, and more destruction as Russian armed forces bring in heavier weaponry and continue their attacks across the country.”
Russian shelling of surrounded city of Chernihiv kills almost 50, officials say
The Reuters news agency quoted authorities in Ukraine’s Chernihiv region as saying that 47 people were killed in Russian airstrikes Thursday on Chernihiv city.
Chernihiv, in the northeast of Ukraine, close to both the Russian and Belarusian borders, is one of five cities that Britain’s Ministry of Defense said on Thursday had been completely surrounded by Russian forces. It is among the cities hit hardest in recent days by Russian artillery.
In a Facebook post, Ukraine’s military said “Russian aviation bombing on the territory of Chernihiv” had killed 47 people, including 38 men and nine women, while 18 others were rescued.
U.N. Security Council to meet again Friday after Russia’s attack on nuclear plant
An urgent meeting of the U.N. Security Council was called for late Friday morning by the U.K. after Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacted to an alleged Russian attack on a huge Ukrainian nuclear power plant.
The U.S., France, Ireland, Albania and Norway backed Britain’s call for the Council meeting, and the U.K. mission to the U.N. confirmed to CBS News that it was scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Eastern.
Russia has already used its veto power as one of five permanent members of the Security Council to block action by the body over Putin’s assault on Ukraine once. The Council was able to refer the case to the General Assembly for an emergency Special Session, however, to air the global community’s concerns.
That meeting on Wednesday brought resounding approval of a Resolution demanding Russia “immediately cease its use of force against Ukraine.” The General Assembly Resolution is not legally binding or enforceable, however.
Ukraine’s children at “grave risk” if Russia’s “explosive munitions don’t stop,” UNICEF says
Half a million children have been forced to flee their homes in Ukraine by Russia’s invasion and devastating aerial assault, the U.N. children’s agency (UNICEF) said Friday, fueling concern over the impact of the violence on the next generation.
“This is unprecedented in scale and speed and if the violence, the explosive munitions don’t stop, many, many more will leave their country in a very short space of time, and we fear many more will be killed,” UNICEF spokesman James Elder told a press briefing at the U.N.’s Palais des Nations in Geneva.
UNICEF said its first convoy of trucks would arrive in Ukraine on Saturday, bringing emergency medical supplies, water, sanitation and hygiene kits, medicine, and surgical equipment. The agency has already supplied oxygen cylinders to a hospital in Kyiv and tents to refugees in border locations, but “as the conflict continues, demand will continue to outstrip supply.”
“Children spent another freezing and terrifying night in bunkers, their homes under siege. Millions more risk being caught up in the violence as the fighting intensifies..Children have been killed. More are at grave risk of dying or being maimed when weapons and explosive munitions are used in populated areas,” Elder said. “Children must have peace.”
Ukraine claims more than 9,100 Russian troops killed since invasion began
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said Friday in a social media post that Russia had lost 9,166 troops since its invasion began on February 24.
The military said 251 Russian tanks, 939 armored combat vehicles, 105 artillery systems, 50 multiple-launch rocket systems, 33 aircraft and 37 helicopters had also been seized or destroyed by Ukrainian forces.
Ukraine’s government has not released a tally of its own troop or equipment losses.
U.S. says “Putin’s shelling of Europe’s largest nuclear plant” is a war crime
“It is a war crime to attack a nuclear power plant,” the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine said on Friday, hours after Russian forces seized control of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine.
Russia claims Ukrainian “saboteurs” started a fire at the Zaporizhzhia power plant, but Ukraine and the U.S. say it was hit overnight by Russian shelling as Putin’s forces moved in to take control of the sprawling facility.
The head of the IAEA, the U.N.’s global nuclear energy watchdog agency, said an administrative building on the compound was hit by “a projectile,” starting the fire, but that no critical infrastructure was damaged and the plant was safe, if “tense” with Russian troops now in control.
“Putin’s shelling of Europe’s largest nuclear plant takes his reign of terror one step further,” the U.S. Embassy’s tweet said, tagging “#TheHague” in support of efforts to see Russia face prosecution over alleged war crimes in Ukraine.
“Whole world is against you,” Ukraine tells Putin after UN rights council vote to investigate invasion
An overwhelming vote at the U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday to investigate abuses following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine should show President Vladimir Putin “the whole world is against you,” Kyiv’s ambassador said.
“The message to Putin has been clear: You’re isolated on a global level and the whole world is against you,” Ukraine’s Ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva Yevheniia Filipenko told reporters after the vote.
Ukrainian authorities say residential parts of several cities have come under indiscriminate shelling, and U.N. prosecutors at the International Criminal Court in The Hague are already investigating Russia’s actions as possible war crimes.
The U.N. Human Rights Council voted on Friday to create a top-level investigation into violations committed in the invasion, which has already driven more than 2 million people from their homes in Ukraine, more than half of them fleeing into neighboring countries.
Russians soon to face 15 years in prison for spreading “false information” on use of country’s military
Russia’s parliament on Friday adopted a law that if approved, as it likely will be within a day or so, will impose a prison sentence of up to 15 years for the crime of “public dissemination of knowingly false information about the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in order to protect the interests of Russia and its citizens.”
In other words, anyone spreading information that challenges the Kremlin narrative about President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, or any other actions he orders Russia’s military to undertake, could face 15 years in prison.
“The bill will be promptly sent to the Federation Council,” said State Duma [akin to the U.S. House of Representatives] speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency. Volodin said the legislation could hit Putin’s desk for approval and then take effect “literally tomorrow.”
“Public actions aimed at discrediting the use of the RF [Russian Federation] Armed Forces” will also be punishable under the pending changes to Russia’s laws by up to five years imprisonment.
The changes will also make public “calls for the introduction of restrictive measures against the Russian Federation, citizens of the Russian Federation or Russian legal entities” — or sanctions, as they’re commonly known — punishable by up to three years of forced labor or imprisonment.
A large proportion of Russians get virtually all of their news on global events exclusively from Russia’s state-run television and other media.
The Kremlin has sought in recent years to ensure that other independent sources of information in the country are silenced through legal intimidation. Two of the country’s most trusted outlets, Dozhd TV and the Echo of Moscow radio network, shut down operations this week, citing the government’s crackdown on free speech.
India says student injured in Ukraine fighting after another killed by Russian shelling
An Indian student has been injured in the fighting in Ukraine, an Indian government minister said Friday.
“We heard reports that a student leaving Kyiv was shot. He was taken back into Kyiv and immediately taken to hospital. This is happening in the fighting,” retired General V.K. Singh, the former Indian Army chief who is now a member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet, told Indian news agency ANI at Poland’s Rzeszow airport.
The incident came after an Indian student was killed in Russia’s shelling of the city of Kharkiv on Tuesday. There were about 20,000 Indians in Ukraine when Russia launched its invasion nine days ago. Thousands have managed to flee, but about 1,700 are still waiting for evacuation, according to the Indian government.
Pressure is mounting on India to condemn its decades-old ally Russia for the attack on Ukraine. India has abstained in two United Nations votes on Resolutions condemning Russia’s invasion, and Modi’s government has not spoken out against the attack in clear terms, though it has called for an end to violence.
Modi’s government is walking a tightrope, trying to balance relations between two of its biggest strategic allies — Russia and the U.S. — knowing that if it continues dealing with Moscow it could come under Western sanctions.
IAEA chief says situation at nuke plant “extremely tense and challenging” after “projectile” strike
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Friday that Ukraine’s nuclear authorities had told the global nuclear watchdog the “situation continues to be extremely tense and challenging” at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant hours after it was seized by Russian forces.
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi told reporters the agency had permanent contacts at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine where, “overnight a projectile hit” a building that was not part of one of the plant’s reactors.
He didn’t confirm Ukrainian claims that Russian forces had shelled the facility, sparking a fire that took hours to extinguish, or Russian claims that Ukrainian “saboteurs” had caused the blaze.
The “localized fire” was put out and “all the safety systems of the six reactors at the plant were not affected,” Grossi said. “There has been no release of radioactive material. Importantly, the radiation monitoring systems are fully functional as well.”
“However, the [Ukrainian] operator and regulator have been telling us the situation continues to be extremely tense and challenging because of the circumstances,” Grossi added. Russian forces now control the facility but Ukrainian staff continue to run it.
He said only one of the plant’s reactors was still operating, at around 60% of its capacity, while one was already offline for maintenance, two were in “safety controlled shutdown,” and two others were “being held in reserve” while operating “in low power mode.”
The IAEA chief said Ukrainian authorities had reported two people injured, both of them described as “security personnel.”
Blinken says NATO seeks “no conflict, but if conflict comes to us, we are ready for it”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that NATO would defend all of its allies against any Russian attack, stressing that “we seek no conflict, but if conflict comes to us, we are ready for it and we will defend every inch of NATO territory.”
The Reuters news agency said Blinken made the remarks as he arrived for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers at its headquarters in Brussels.
He condemned what he said were deliberate Russian attacks on civilians in Ukraine and noted the overnight “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,” Blinken said.
Russia’s Vladimir Putin has said his goal is the “demilitarization and denazification” of Ukraine, which most take to mean the forceful toppling of its Western-backed government. But the presence of almost 200,000 Russian troops and heavy artillery in the region, along with Putin’s increasingly nationalist rhetoric and unpredictability, have fueled concern in NATO member states like Estonia and Latvia, which sit on Russia’s border, that he could try to push his gains beyond Ukraine’s borders.
Russians take control of Ukrainian nuclear power plant after fire extinguished
The fire in a training building at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant has been extinguished, Ukrainian emergency services said early Friday. Then Russian forces seized the plant, according to the Kremlin and officials in Ukraine.
Both sides later said the plant was operating normally. Ukrainian officials blamed the blaze on Russian shelling. Moscow blamed Ukrainian saboteurs, however, and called the fire a “monstrous provocation.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of resorting to “nuclear terror” and wanting to “repeat” the Chernobyl disaster after, he said, invading Russian forces deliberately attacked the plant.
Ukrainian emergency services initially said Russian troops were preventing them from reaching the flames, but later said the Russian military had eventually allowed fire services to access the site.
“The fire in the training building of Zaporizhzhia NPP in Energodar was extinguished. There are no victims,” the emergency services said in a statement on Facebook at 6:20 a.m. local time (11:20 p.m. Thursday EST).
In a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N.’s global nuclear watchdog agency, Ukraine’s regulatory authorities said essential equipment at the plant wasn’t affected and there was no change in radiation levels.
International Atomic Energy Agency moves emergency center to 24/7 response mode over power plant fire
The International Atomic Energy Agency said it moved its Incident and Emergency Center to a 24/7 response mode after the fire at the plant.
In a statement, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said Ukraine told the agency earlier Thursday that Russian tanks and infantry “broke through the block-post” to the town of Enerhodar, which is a few kilometers away from the plant, CBS News’ Pamela Falk reported.
“The battle is going on in the town of Enerhodar and on the road to the ZNPP (Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant) site,” Ukraine said at the time, according to the statement.
Grossi called for an end to the fighting near the plant, and said the IAEA is working with Ukraine to help keep the plant safe.
U.K. PM Boris Johnson to seek emergency U.N. Security Council meeting “in the coming hours”
U.K. officials said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky about the nuclear power plant incident overnight on Thursday, and they said Johnson would seek an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting “in the coming hours.”
The statement added that “both leaders agreed a ceasefire was crucial.”