US, Allies Condemn Russia at UN Over Its Seizure of Ukraine Nuclear Plant
The United States and its allies heavily criticized Russia on Friday at the United Nations over its shelling and seizure overnight in Ukraine of Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant, and some demanded that Moscow not let such an attack happen again.
Many of the Security Council’s 15 envoys expressed “grave concern” and shock, warning against the possibility of a repeat of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster—a nuclear accident in Ukraine when it was part of the then-Soviet Union considered to be the worst in history.
They said the attack was against international humanitarian law and urged Moscow to refrain from any military operations targeting the nuclear facilities and allow Ukrainian personnel to be allowed onto the plant to carry out their work.
“The world narrowly averted a nuclear catastrophe last night,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told an emergency meeting of the Security Council, convened following the seizure of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine by Russian troops.
“Russia’s attack last night put Europe’s largest nuclear power plant at grave risk. It was incredibly reckless and dangerous. And it threatened the safety of civilians across Russia, Ukraine, and Europe,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
CNN to Stop Broadcasting in Russia
CNN announced on Friday it will stop broadcasting in Russia after the country introduced a new misinformation law that will criminalize anyone sharing “deliberately false information about the actions of Russian military personnel in Ukraine.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed into law the measure that will penalize those who spread such information with fines or prison sentences. The law would impose up to three years prison time or fines, but the maximum punishment rises to 15 years for cases considered to have led to “severe consequences.”
Lawmakers also passed amendments to the criminal code that would impose fines for people calling for sanctions against Russia.
“CNN will stop broadcasting in Russia while we continue to evaluate the situation and our next steps moving forward,” a spokesperson for the media said on Friday.
Other news outlets have announced they will suspend reporting from Russia. Bloomberg, the BBC, and the CBC were among the outlets that will temporarily suspend the work of their journalists there.
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Ukraine Security Council Urges Escapeways
The head of Ukraine’s security council called on Russia to create humanitarian corridors to allow children, women, and the elderly to escape the fighting.
Oleksiy Danilov said Friday more than 840 children have been wounded in the war. A day earlier, the Ukrainian government put the death toll among children at 28.
He spoke ahead of the latest talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations, planned for this weekend.
“The question of humanitarian corridors is question No. 1.,” Danilov said on Ukrainian television. “Children, women, elderly people—what are they doing here?”
Russian troops have encircled and blockaded several large cities in the south of the country, including Mariupol, trying to cut Ukraine off from the Black and Azov seas.
Ukrainian officials have asked for help from the Red Cross in organizing corridors, describing the situation in the blockaded cities as “close to a catastrophe.”
Facebook Access Blocked in Russia
Russia’s communications agency Roskomnadzor said Friday that it will block access to Facebook inside Russia, claiming discrimination against Russian media outlets since October 2020.
A statement from the agency posted online said Facebook has engaged in “26 cases of discrimination against Russian media and information resources.”
In recent days, the Meta-owned platform restricted access to Russian outlets including Russia Today (RT), Sputnik News, Lenta, Gazeta, RIA Novosti, and the Zvezda TV channel, according to Roskomnadzor. It doesn’t appear that TASS, a Russian state-run news agency, has been banned from the platform.
The agency said that Facebook’s ban is against Russian federal law on “measures to influence persons involved in violations of fundamental human rights and freedoms, the rights and freedoms of citizens of the Russian Federation.”
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Zelenskyy Accuses NATO of Allowing Bombings
In a bitter and emotional speech, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy 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.
“The alliance has given the green light to the bombing of Ukrainian cities and villages by refusing to create a no-fly zone,” Zelenskyy said in a nighttime address.
“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,” Zelenskyy said, referring to the 1994 security guarantees given to Ukraine in exchange for the withdrawal of its Soviet-era nuclear weapons.
On Friday, NATO refused to impose a no-fly zone, warning that to do so could provoke widespread war in Europe with nuclear-armed Russia.
Pentagon: Ukrainians Have ‘Stalled’ Large Russian Military Convoy Near Kyiv
The 40-mile-long Russian military convoy heading toward Kyiv was “stalled” by Ukraine’s military this week, said Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby on Friday.
Kirby told reporters that U.S. officials have obtained reports “that a bridge was blown up that we believe was in the path there,” adding, “We also have indications that the Ukrainians have struck the convoy elsewhere and on vehicles.”
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G-7 Nations Condemn Attack on Ukraine Civilians
The Group of Seven (G-7) foreign ministers on Friday said they were “deeply concerned” with the humanitarian toll from “Russia’s continuing strikes” against Ukraine’s civilian population and added they will hold accountable those responsible for war crimes.
“We reemphasize that indiscriminate attacks are prohibited by international humanitarian law. We will hold accountable those responsible for war crimes, including indiscriminate use of weapons against civilians,” G-7 foreign ministers said in a joint statement released by the U.S. State Department.
The foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the United States also urged Russia to stop attacks in the “vicinity of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants.”
Russian forces in Ukraine seized Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant on Friday in an assault that caused alarm around the world and that Washington said had risked catastrophe, although officials said later that the facility was now safe.
The G-7 foreign ministers also added their countries will continue to impose further sanctions in response to Russian aggression, which they said has been enabled by Belarus.
US Remains Resistant to Banning Russian Oil
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday reiterated that the Biden administration remains resistant for now on banning Russian oil imports, raising concerns that such a ban could have a negative impact for U.S. and European economies. She added, however, that the administration was “looking at options we could take right now to cut U.S. consumption of Russian energy,”
Psaki also called on Russian forces to withdraw Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southeastern Ukraine. Russian troops seized the plant earlier Friday.
“The best step for nuclear safety would be for Russia to immediately withdraw,” Psaki said.
Chinese Communist Party Wants Isolated Russia to Become Dependent on Beijing: Expert
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) hopes to capitalize on Russia’s current isolation by rendering it more dependent on Beijing, according to one expert.
To achieve that goal, however, Beijing will need to provide Russia with assistance that flies under the radar of Western nations, which has leveled a slew of sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
“It’s not that China isn’t willing to help Russia,” said David Goldman, deputy editor of the Asia Times during a recent interview with “China in Focus,” a program of The Epoch Times’ affiliate NTD. “China doesn’t want to help Russia in a way that attracts the anger of the West at this point and makes its own situation more difficult.”
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We Want Ukraine Inside EU ‘As Soon as Possible’: EU’s Sefcovic
The European Union wants Ukraine to become a member state “as soon as possible,” Commissioner Maros Sefcovic told journalists on Friday after a ministers’ meeting.
“It’s time for signaling that the Ukrainian people is one of the European peoples and we want them in as soon as possible,” he said, but added that at the moment, the bloc needed to focus on short-term measures linked to the war.
Putin Says Russia Is Ready for Talks With Ukraine
President Vladimir Putin says Russia is ready for talks with Ukraine but insisted that it must meet Moscow’s demands.
Putin told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that Ukraine must agree to demilitarize, accept Moscow’s sovereignty over Crimea and surrender territory to Russia-backed rebels in the east, the Kremlin said in its readout of Friday’s call.
Russian and Ukrainian negotiators on Thursday held the second of two rounds of talks, reaching a tentative agreement on setting up safe corridors to allow civilians to leave besieged Ukrainian cities and the delivery of humanitarian supplies. They also agreed to keep talking on ways to negotiate a settlement, but Putin’s tough demands make prospects for a compromise look dim.
No Radiation After Fire at Nuclear Plant: UN Atomic Agency
The head of the UN atomic agency says Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant was hit by a Russian “projectile” but that the building it struck was a training center and there has been no release of radiation.
Initial reports were unclear about what part of the plant was affected by a fire that broke out after the shelling late Thursday, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi said Friday that the building was “not part of the reactor.”
Ukraine informed the IAEA on Friday that Russian forces had taken control of the plant, but the plant continued to be operated by its regular staff, Grossi said.
The fire has been extinguished.
The Ukrainian state nuclear company said three Ukrainian troops were killed and two wounded in the Russian attack.
The UN says only one reactor at the plant is operating, at about 60 percent of capacity.
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NATO Rejects No-fly Zone Over Ukraine
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the military organization will not police a no-fly zone over Ukraine and is warning that such a move could end in a widespread war in Europe.
Speaking Friday after chairing a meeting of NATO foreign ministers, Stoltenberg said “we are not going to move into Ukraine, neither on the ground, nor in the Ukrainian airspace.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces have ramped up their attacks in Ukraine, launching hundreds of missiles and artillery strikes on cities and making significant gains in the south.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has appealed to the West to enforce a no-fly zone over his country, most recently after a fire overnight at one of Ukraine’s nuclear plants, the largest in Europe.
“The only way to implement a no-fly zone is to send NATO fighter planes into Ukrainian airspace, and then impose that no-fly zone by shooting down Russian planes,” Stoltenberg said. “We understand the desperation, but we also believe that if we did that, we would end up with something that could end in a full-fledged war in Europe.”
“We have a responsibility as NATO allies to prevent this war from escalating beyond Ukraine,” he said.
Turkey Renews Effort to Mediate in Ukraine War
Turkey’s foreign minister says Ankara wants to bring Russia and Ukraine’s top diplomats together for talks during an international diplomacy forum in the country next week.
Speaking Friday to reporters in Brussels where he attended a NATO meeting, Mevlut Cavusoglu said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has confirmed his attendance at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum to be held in the Mediterranean coastal city between March 11-13.
Cavusoglu said a meeting between Lavrov and Ukraine’s Dmytro Kuleba could be possible, but added that he was not certain Ukrainian officials would be able to attend.
Turkey, which has close ties to both Ukraine and Russia, has been trying to balance its relations with both. It has repeatedly offered to mediate between the two.
Russian Forces Seize Europe’s Largest Nuclear Plant
Russian forces on Friday seized the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant—Europe’s and Ukraine’s largest nuclear power station—in southeastern Ukraine, the regional state administration said, following what officials said was shelling that caused a temporary fire at the site earlier in the day.
The plant is located in Enerhodar, a city on the Dnieper River. It accounts for one-quarter of Ukraine’s power generation.
A statement posted Friday on the website of the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine reads: “The Zaporizhzhia NPP site has been seized by the military forces of the Russian Federation.”
It said that Russian forces “committed shelling the Zaporizhzhia NPP site” on Friday, which caused a fire at the site. “The fire was extinguished by the Ukrainian State Emergency Service units. Information on the dead and injured is absent,” the statement said.
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Ukraine Says Fire at Biggest Nuclear Plant Extinguished
Ukrainian authorities said Friday that a fire at Europe’s biggest nuclear plant ignited by Russian shelling has been extinguished, and that Russian forces have taken control of the site.
The regional military administration said in a statement that the fire at the Zaporizhzhia plant in Enerhodar was extinguished, and that there is damage to the compartment of reactor No. 1 but it does not affect the safety of the power unit.
No information was immediately available about casualties.
The military administration said Russian forces took control of the site and that operational personnel are ensuring its safe operation.
Earlier plant officials had said that shelling hit an administrative building and reactor No. 1.
The town mayor and state emergency service also said the fire was extinguished.
NATO Secretary-general Reacts to Russia’s Attack on Ukraine’s Nuclear Power Plant
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has condemned Russia’s attack on a nuclear power plant in southeast Ukraine and is urging Russian President Vladimir Putin to pull his invading troops out of the country.
Stoltenberg says the shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant “just demonstrates the recklessness of this war, the importance of ending it, and the importance of Russia withdrawing all its troops and engaging in good faith in diplomatic efforts.”
Russian forces have seized control of the nuclear site, the largest of its kind in Europe.
Stoltenberg’s remarks came before he chaired a meeting Friday of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his NATO counterparts to take stock of the West’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Blinken is set to meet later Friday with foreign ministers from the European Union.
Zelensky Calls for Urgent Action After Russia’s Attack on Ukraine’s Nuclear Power Plant
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says he has informed the leaders of the United States, Britain, the European Union, and the International Atomic Energy Agency about the dire threat of nuclear disaster after Russian troops shelled a nuclear power plant.
“If there is an explosion—that’s the end for everyone. The end for Europe. The evacuation of Europe,” he said in an emotional speech in the middle of the night.
“Only urgent action by Europe can stop the Russian troops. Do not allow the death of Europe from a catastrophe at a nuclear power station,” he said
He’s calling on politicians and citizens to pressure Russian leadership to stop Russian troops.
Russian Official Responds to US Senator’s Call to Assassinate Putin
Russia on March 4 described a U.S. senator’s call to assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin as irresponsible.
Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the United States, said the remarks were “irresponsible and dangerous.”
“The degree of Russophobia and hatred in the USA towards Russia is off the charts. It’s unbelievable that a country’s senator preaching his moral values as a ‘guiding star’ to all mankind could afford a call on terrorism as a way to achieve Washington’s goals on the international arena,” Antonov said in a statement released by the Russian embassy.
He also said that “It’s getting scary for the fate of the United States, which has such irresponsible and unprofessional politicians at the helm,” and demanded an official explanation and a decisive condemnation of U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) comments.
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Russia Retaliates Western Sanctions on Its Media Outlets by Baning Foreign News Websites
Russia’s state media regulator Roskomnadzor is blocking access to the websites of five international media organizations.
State news agency RIA Novosti reported Friday that the blocked websites include those of the BBC, Voice of America, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
The sites were blocked for hosting what Roskomnadzor told RIA was “false information” about Russian military actions in Ukraine, including reports of attacks on civilians and the Russian military’s losses.
The five named organizations, also including Latvia-based Russian-language website Meduza and German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, are among the largest foreign news outlets with Russian-language news operations.
Google Suspends All Ads Sales in Russia
Google is suspending sales of online ads in Russia after the country’s communications regulator demanded the tech giant stop spreading through its advertising what Moscow called false information about the Russian military in Ukraine.
The company said late Thursday that the suspension covers YouTube, search and display ads.
Google is one of the world’s biggest sellers of online ads.
The Russian regulator, Roskomnadzor, issued several notices to Google this week warning the company about spreading false information or demanding it ease restrictions on YouTube channels operated by Russian media.
Separately, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky tweeted that the short-stay booking site is suspending all operations in Russia and its neighboring ally Belarus. Chesky did not elaborate.
China Asked Russia to Postpone Ukraine Invasion Until After Olympics: Report
Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials allegedly knew of Russia’s plans to invade Ukraine in advance, and requested that the war be postponed until after the Beijing Olympics had concluded, according to Western intelligence obtained by the New York Times (NYT).
The NYT report said that the information, which was collected by Western intelligence agencies, was classified but that senior Biden administration officials and one European official confirmed their authenticity on the condition of anonymity.
The information was allegedly collected and studied in the lead up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but those involved did not agree on how far up knowledge of the impending invasion spread among CCP officials.
If the report is credible, it could vindicate earlier warnings that China and Russia are working closely with one another to undermine the rules-based international order and to facilitate one another’s plans for Taiwan and Ukraine, respectively, behind the scenes.
Macron Says Putin ‘Refuses’ to Halt Attacks
French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday that he has again asked his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to halt attacks on Ukraine, but that Putin won’t do it.
“At this point, he refuses,” Macron wrote in a Twitter post.
He confirmed that he had spoken to Putin on the phone earlier on Thursday and said he will continue the dialogue to prevent “more human tragedy.”
“We must prevent the worst from happening,” Macron also said in his post. Dialogue has to continue to “protect the (civilian) population, to obtain good will gestures … to put an end to this war,” Macron said.
Jack Phillips, Mimi Nguyen Ly, Zachary Stieber, Allen Zhong, Reuters, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.