Ukraine Accuses Russia of Damaging Cancer Hospital With Shelling
Ukrainian officials accused Russia of damaging a cancer hospital and several residential buildings in the southern city of Mykolaiv with shelling from heavy artillery.
The hospital’s head doctor, Maksim Beznosenko, said several hundred patients were in the hospital during the attack but that no one was killed. The assault damaged the building and blew out windows.
Russian forces have stepped up their attacks on Mykolaiv, located 470 kilometers (292 miles) south of Kyiv, in an attempt to encircle the city.
Ukrainian and Western officials earlier accused Russia of shelling a maternity hospital in the southern city of Mariupol on Wednesday. Three people died in that attack.
US Imposes New Sanctions on Russian Billionaire, Putin Spokesman’s Family
The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, three family members of President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson, and lawmakers in the latest punishment for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia has faced a slew of measures since launching its Feb. 24 invasion, the biggest attack on a European state since World War II. Those hit by Friday’s sanctions include 10 people on the board of VTB Bank, the second-largest lender in Russia, and 12 members of the Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, the U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement.
“Treasury continues to hold Russian officials to account for enabling Putin’s unjustified and unprovoked war,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said.
Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov was targeted on March 3. Friday’s measures extend to his wife and two adult children. They lead “luxurious lifestyles that are incongruous with Peskov’s civil servant salary,” the Treasury said in a news release.
UN: Ukraine War Could Trigger 20 Percent Food Price Rise
International food and feed prices could rise by up to 20 percent as a result of the conflict in Ukraine, triggering a jump in global malnourishment, the United Nations food agency said on Friday.
The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said it was not clear whether Ukraine would be able to harvest crops if the war dragged on, while uncertainty also surrounded the prospects for Russian exports in the coming year.
FAO said Russia was the world’s largest exporter of wheat and Ukraine was the fifth largest. Together, they provide 19 percent of the world’s barley supply, 14 percent of wheat, and 4 percent of maize, making up more than one-third of global cereal exports.
Russia is also a world leader in fertilizer exports.
“The likely disruptions to agricultural activities of these two major exporters of staple commodities could seriously escalate food insecurity globally,” FAO Director General Qu Dongyu said in a statement.
State Department Warns Americans Not to Travel to Ukraine
The U.S. State Department on Friday said that U.S. citizens who travel to Ukraine, including those who go to participate in the conflict, face a very real risk of capture or death as it warned that Washington would not be able to facilitate evacuation.
“They may be subject to potential attempts at criminal prosecution and may be at heightened risk for mistreatment,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters.
Facebook Parent Company Defends Policy on Calls for Violence
Facebook owner Meta Platforms said Friday that a temporary change in its content policy, only for Ukraine, was needed to let users voice opposition to Russia’s attack, as Russia opened a criminal case after the company said it would allow posts such as “death to the Russian invaders.”
Russian prosecutors asked a court to designate the U.S. tech giant as an “extremist organization,” and the communications regulator said it would restrict access to Meta’s Instagram starting March 14. The company said the decision would affect 80 million users in Russia.
“A criminal case has been initiated … in connection with illegal calls for murder and violence against citizens of the Russian Federation by employees of the American company Meta, which owns the social networks Facebook and Instagram,” Russia’s Investigative Committee said.
Meta Global Affairs President Nick Clegg responded with a statement saying that the company aimed to protect rights to speech as an expression of self-defense reacting to the invasion of Ukraine and that the policy only applied to Ukraine.
Just Over 7,000 People Evacuated From Ukrainian Cities Friday, Mariupol Blocked: Zelensky
A total of 7,144 people were evacuated from four Ukrainian cities on Friday, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a televised address, a sharply lower number than managed to leave in each of the two previous days.
Zelensky accused Russia of refusing to allow people out of the besieged city of Mariupol and said Ukraine would try again to deliver food and medicines there on Saturday.
Almost 40,000 people left a number of cities through humanitarian corridors on Thursday, on top of the 35,000 who fled on Wednesday, Ukrainian authorities said.
Ukraine Says Russia Wants to Drag Belarus Into War, Warns of Invasion Plan
Ukraine said Belarus could be planning to invade its territory on Friday and accused Russia of trying to drag its ally into the war by staging air attacks on Belarus from Ukrainian air space.
Belarus has served as a staging post for Russian troops, missiles and aircraft, both before and after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, but it has not deployed its own forces in active battle.
The alleged attacks took place as Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko was meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, according to Ukraine’s State Centre for Strategic Communications.
Last week, Lukashenko, a close Kremlin ally, said Belarusian armed forces were not taking part and would not take part in what Russia calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
IAEA: Power Line Repairs Begin at Chernobyl
Ukraine told the International Atomic Energy Agency on Friday that technicians have started repairing damaged power lines at the decommissioned Chernobyl power plant in an effort to restore power supplies, the U.N. nuclear agency said.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian authorities said that Chernobyl, the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster, was knocked off the power grid, with emergency generators supplying backup power.
The Ukrainian nuclear regulator said Friday that workers repaired one section of the lines, but there still appears to be damage in other places, the IAEA said. Repair efforts would continue despite “the difficult situation” outside the plant, which was taken by Russian forces early in the invasion, it said.
The Ukrainian regulator said additional fuel was delivered for generators, but it remains important to fix the power lines as soon as possible. The IAEA reiterated that the disconnection “will not have a critical impact on essential safety functions at the site.”
Deutsche Bank to Wind Down in Russia, Reversing Course After Backlash
Deutsche Bank, which faced stinging criticism from some investors and politicians for its ongoing ties to Russia, said on Friday in a surprise move that it would wind down its business in the country.
Deutsche joins the ranks of Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, which were the first major U.S. banks to exit after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Those moves put pressure on rivals to follow.
Deutsche had resisted pressure to sever ties, arguing that it needed to support multinational firms doing business in Russia.
But on Friday evening in Frankfurt, the bank suddenly reversed course.
“We are in the process of winding down our remaining business in Russia while we help our non-Russian multinational clients in reducing their operations,” the bank said.
“There won’t be any new business in Russia,” Deutsche said.
A day earlier, Deutsche Bank’s Chief Executive Christian Sewing explained to staff why the bank was not withdrawing.
“The answer is that this would go against our values,” he wrote. “We have clients who cannot exit Russia overnight.”
Kharkiv Nuclear Facility Safe but War Poses Big Risks, Says Institute Director
The head of a nuclear research facility in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv said on Friday that the grounds of the institute had been struck by Russian shells during recent fighting, but the core housing nuclear fuel remains intact.
He warned, however, that any future damage to equipment in the core could pose a danger.
“The facility, in working condition, doesn’t present any danger whatsoever,” said Mykola Shulga, director general of the National Science Centre Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology.
“However, if there is physical damage, a nuclear fuel leak is possible, radioactive elements (could escape) outside,” he told Reuters, speaking inside the facility.
“This obviously would be a huge, huge problem for the environment. In other words, what would happen would be comparable to a similar situation at any nuclear power station.”
While the inner areas of the institute were unscathed, some of the outer walls of the building were damaged by shrapnel and windows were blown in.
Ukraine and its allies are concerned about the risk Russia’s invasion poses to nuclear facilities across the country, including power plants and research centres.
Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, is now in Russian hands. During fighting with Ukrainian forces in the area, a blaze broke out in a building at the site.
Ukraine Says Situation in Encircled City of Mariupol Is ‘Critical’
Ukraine said on Friday the situation in Mariupol was now critical as Russian forces tightened their noose around the Black Sea port city and the death toll from Russian shelling and a 12-day blockade reached almost 1,600.
Russia’s defence ministry was quoted by the Tass news agency as saying Mariupol was now completely surrounded, and Ukrainian officials accused Russia of deliberately preventing civilians getting out and stopping humanitarian convoys getting in.
Russian shelling prevented evacuees from leaving the city again on Friday. Elsewhere, Russian forces also stopped some buses of people trying to flee the Kyiv region, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in a video address.
Interior ministry adviser Vadym Denysenko expressed doubt that the latest attempt to deliver humanitarian aid to Mariupol would succeed, and a new effort to evacuate civilians appeared to have failed.
“The situation is critical,” Denysenko said.
Ukraine Claims Russian Jets Fired at Belarus in False Flag Attempt
Ukrainian officials on Friday said that Belarus could be planning to invade its territory, accusing Russia of attempting to drag its ally into the conflict.
Ukraine’s Air Force Command, on March 11, alleged that border officials obtained information detailing how Russian aircraft took off from a Belarus airfield, crossed into Ukraine, and fired at the Belarussian village of Kopani.
The Ukrainian “State Border Service received information that Russian aircraft took off from Dubrovytsia airfield (Belarus), entered the territory of Ukraine, turned over our populated areas of Horodychi and Tumen, and then launched an airstrike on the populated area of Kopani (Belarus),” said the Air Force Command on social media. It included a video that purported to show part of the incident.
The claim could not be immediately verified by The Epoch Times. Russia’s Ministry of Defense has not publicly responded to the allegations.
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Russia Says It Has Enough Fossil Fuel Buyers Even With Sanctions
The Russian Federation has signaled once again that it does not expect serious harm to befall its fossil fuel industry amidst economic sanctions and international isolation, arguing that it will continue to find buyers, even if Europe and the United States cease doing business with Russian oil exporters.
“We will not persuade anyone to buy our oil and gas,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on March 10. “If they want to replace it with something, they are welcome, we will have supply markets, we already have them.”
While the international community has responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with resounding disapproval, the economic isolation is not universal. Russia remains closely aligned with China, Cuba, Venezuela, Belarus, and Syria, and the country will likely continue trading with Turkey, which has become increasingly dependent on Russian exports in recent years.
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Finnish Leader Urges Ceasefire in Call With Putin
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö spoke in a phone call Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the war in Ukraine.
Niinistö’s office said in a statement that he informed Putin that he, earlier in the day, had a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and that Zelenskyy was prepared to talk directly with Putin.
The statement said Niinistö called for an immediate ceasefire and the safe evacuation of civilians, but also spoke to Putin about the security of nuclear energy facilities in Ukraine.
Niinisto is one of the few Western leaders who has kept a regular dialogue with Putin ever since the Finnish leader took office in 2012.
Biden: Direct Conflict Between Russia and NATO Is ‘World War III’
President Joe Biden said the United States and NATO should avoid fighting Russia in Ukraine because it would lead to a third world war.
“We’re going to continue to stand together with our allies in Europe and send an unmistakable message. We will defend every single inch of NATO territory with the full might of the united and galvanized NATO,” Biden said after he announced more economic penalties against Moscow on Friday from the White House.
The United States and NATO, he added, “will not fight a war against Russia in Ukraine” because a “direct conflict between NATO and Russia is World War III, something we must strive to prevent.”
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UN: ‘Credible Reports’ of Cluster Munitions
The United Nations human rights office has received “credible reports” that Russian forces are using cluster munitions in Ukraine, including in populated areas which is prohibited under international humanitarian law, the U.N. political chief said Friday.
Undersecretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo told a U.N. Security Council meeting that residential areas and civilian infrastructure are being shelled in Mariupol, Kharkiv, Sumy, and Chernihiv, and “the utter devastation being visited on these cities is horrific.”
Most of the civilian casualties recorded by the U.N. human rights office—564 killed and 982 injured as of Thursday—“have been caused by explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including heavy artillery and multi-launch rocket systems, and missile and airstrikes,” she said.
“Indiscriminate attacks, including those using cluster munitions, which are of a nature to strike military objectives and civilians or civilian objects without distinction, are prohibited under international humanitarian law,” DiCarlo said. “Directing attacks against civilian and civilian objects, as well as so-called area bombardment in towns and villages, are also prohibited under international law and may amount to war crimes.”
Ukraine Loses Communication With Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant: IAEA
Ukraine lost all communications with the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on March 10, the country’s regulatory authority informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Just a day earlier, the site had lost all external power supply, following which, the plant made use of emergency generators. The loss in communication means that the Ukraine operator cannot provide IAEA with updated information about the site.
Prior to the loss of communication, power lines on the site were damaged, disconnecting it from the electric grid. To ensure the site receives continuous power, either the power lines have to be repaired or diesel deliveries must be made. The generators have a capacity of two days’ worth of fuel.
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Biden Calls for End to Normal Trade Relations With Russia
President Joe Biden has announced the latest round of sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies against Russia in response to the now weeks-long Russian military campaign in Ukraine.
In an address Friday, Biden said he will sign bipartisan legislation that will revoke Russia’s permanent normal trade relations status with the United States, making it more difficult for Russia to do business with the West.
Biden says the move to end normal trade relations with Russia was done in coordination with Canada, France, Germany, Italy Japan, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.
“[Russia President Vladimir] Putin must pay the price,” Biden said. “He cannot pursue a war that threatens the very foundations of international peace and stability, and then ask for financial help from the international community.”
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Russian Strikes Hit Western Ukraine as Offensive Widens: Officials
Russian airstrikes intensified on Friday in western Ukraine as satellite footage suggested Moscow’s forces outside Kyiv have regrouped after remaining more than a week outside the city.
Airstrikes hit the Lutsk airfield that left two Ukrainian servicemen dead and six people wounded, the head of the Volyn region, Yuriy Pohulyayko, told media outlets a statement.
The strikes also targeted an airport near Ivano-Frankiivsk, where residents were ordered to shelters after an air raid alert, Mayor Ruslan Martsinkiv said on social media.
“Explosions were heard in Frankivsk. The military and the State Emergency Service are working. Details will be released later! React to sirens,” he wrote Friday.
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Zelensky Says Ukraine Military Forces Reach ‘a Strategic Turning Point’
Ukraine’s president says his country’s military forces have reached “a strategic turning point,” while Russia’s president says there are “certain positive developments” in talks between the warring countries.
Neither leader explained clearly what they meant, however.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday: “It’s impossible to say how many days we will still need to free our land, but it is possible to say that we will do it because … we have reached a strategic turning point.” He didn’t elaborate.
He spoke on a video showing him outside the presidential administration in Kyiv, speaking in both Ukrainian and Russian about the 16th day of war.
Meanwhile, in Moscow Russian President Vladimir Putin said there have been positive developments in talks between the warring countries, but he didn’t offer any details about what those developments were.
Russia’s Putin Sees ‘Positive Shifts’ in Talks With Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday some progress had been made in Moscow’s talks with Ukraine, while the Kremlin said the conflict would end when the West took action to address Moscow’s concerns.
At a Kremlin meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Putin said Western sanctions would not hinder Russian development and that Russia would end up stronger.
He then said Ukrainian negotiations were taking place practically every day.
“There are certain positive shifts, negotiators on our side tell me,” Putin said. “I will talk about all of this later.”
Lukashenko told Putin that both of them were from Soviet generations which had endured sanctions and that the Soviet Union had developed well.
Russian Prosecutors Ask Court to Name Meta as ‘Extremist Organization’
Prosecutors have asked a Russian court to designate Facebook’s parent organization Meta Platforms as an “extremist organization,” Interfax reported on Friday.
The state prosecutor also asked Russia’s communications watchdog to restrict access to Meta’s Instagram social networking service.
Reuters reported on Thursday that Meta would allow Facebook and Instagram users in some countries to call for violence against Russians and Russian soldiers in the context of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Another Russian news agency, TASS, reported that Russian investigators had opened a case about Meta’s actions.
Ukraine Civilian Deaths Exceed Military Losses: Defense Minister
Russian forces invading Ukraine have killed more Ukrainian civilians than soldiers, according to Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov.
“I want this to be heard not only in Kyiv but all over the world,” Reznikov said, without providing further details.
Thousands of people are believed to have been killed across Ukraine since Russian forces invaded two weeks ago. The United Nations human rights office said Thursday it had recorded the killings of 549 civilians in Ukraine since the invasion began, including 26 children.
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Russia to Allow More Than 16,000 Middle East Volunteers to Fight Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered that so-called volunteer fighters should be brought into Ukraine.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia knew of “more than 16,000 applications” from countries in the Middle East, many of them from people who he said helped Russia against the ISIS terrorist group, according to a Kremlin transcript.
They want “to take part in what they consider a liberation movement,” Shoigu said, on the side of Russia-backed separatist regions in eastern Ukraine.
Putin told Shoigu that Russia should help would-be volunteers to “move to the combat zone” and contrasted them with what he called foreign “mercenaries” fighting for Ukraine.
Deutsche Bank Defends Decision Not to Exit Russia
Deutsche Bank on Thursday defended its decision not to cease its operations in Russia in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine, stating that it is “not practical” to do so.
Speaking to CNBC, the German bank’s chief financial officer James von Moltke said exiting the country would “not be the right thing to do” with regards to its clients that still operate in Russia.
The CEO did not specifically name any of the bank’s clients in Russia.
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Russia Calls for UN Security Council Meeting Over ‘Biological Activities’ in Ukraine
Russia has called for a United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss alleged U.S. “military biological activities” in Ukraine.
Dmitry Polyanskiy, first deputy permanent representative of Russia to the United Nations, said in a Twitter post on March 10: “Russian Mission asked for a meeting of #SecurityCouncil for 11 March to discuss the military biological activities of the US on the territory of #Ukraine.”
Reuters reported that diplomats have indicated the U.N. Security Council will convene on Friday, March 11, to discuss Moscow’s claims of U.S. biological activities in Ukraine.
Late on March 9, the United States denied Russian accusations that Washington is running labs in Ukraine geared toward developing bioweapons.
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Russian-Backed Separatists Capture Ukraine’s Volnovakha: RIA
Russian-backed separatists have captured the Ukrainian city of Volnovakha north of the besieged Azov Sea port of Mariupol, the RIA news agency quoted Russia’s defense ministry as saying on Friday.
Volnovakha is strategically important as the northern gateway to Mariupol.
Russia Says Military Airfields in Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk Taken Out: Agencies
Russian troops have launched a high-precision, long-range attack on two military airfields in the Ukrainian cities of Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk and taken them out of action, Russian news agencies quoted Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov as saying on Friday.
He also said that Russian forces had destroyed 3,213 Ukrainian military installations since the launch of what Russia calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Air Strikes in Ukraine’s Dnipro Kill One, Emergency Services Say
Three airstrikes early on Friday in Ukraine‘s central city of Dnipro killed at least one person, state emergency services said, adding that the strikes were close to a kindergarten and an apartment building.
The strikes came amid preparations by the United States, together with the Group of Seven nations and the European Union, to revoke Russia’s “most favored nation” status over its invasion of Ukraine.
On Sunday, Ukraine had warned that Russia was mustering forces to encircle Dnipro, home to about one million people before the invasion started.
US Plans to Revoke Russia Favored Trade Status
President Joe Biden will announce Friday that, along with the European Union and the Group of Seven countries, the United States will move to revoke “most favored nation” trade status for Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
That’s according to a source familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the announcement.
Biden’s move comes as bipartisan pressure has been building in Washington to revoke what is formally known as “permanent normal trade relations” with Russia.
The move would allow the United States and allies to impose tariffs on Russian imports.
Russian Convoy Redeployed: Maxar
Satellite photos show that a massive Russian convoy that had been mired outside the Ukrainian capital since last week appeared to have dispersed.
Satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies showed the 40-mile (64-kilometer) line of vehicles, tanks, and artillery has broken up and been redeployed, with armored units seen in towns near the Antonov Airport north of the city. Some of the vehicles have moved into forests, Maxar reported.
The convoy had massed outside the city early last week, but its advance appeared to have stalled amid reports of food and fuel shortages. U.S. officials said Ukrainian troops also targeted the convoy with anti-tank missiles.
WHO Says It Advised Ukraine to Destroy Pathogens in Health Labs to Prevent Disease Spread
The World Health Organization advised Ukraine to destroy high-threat pathogens housed in the country’s public health laboratories to prevent “any potential spills” that would spread disease among the population, the agency told Reuters on Thursday.
Biosecurity experts say Russia’s movement of troops into Ukraine and bombardment of its cities have raised the risk of an escape of disease-causing pathogens, should any of those facilities be damaged.
Ukraine has public health laboratories researching how to mitigate the threats of dangerous diseases affecting both animals and humans including, most recently, COVID-19. Its labs have received support from the United States, the European Union, and the WHO.
In response to questions from Reuters about its work with Ukraine ahead of and during Russia’s invasion, the WHO said in an email that it has collaborated with Ukrainian public health labs for several years to promote security practices that help prevent “accidental or deliberate release of pathogens.”
“As part of this work, WHO has strongly recommended to the Ministry of Health in Ukraine and other responsible bodies to destroy high-threat pathogens to prevent any potential spills,” the WHO, a United Nations agency, said.
The WHO would not say when it had made the recommendation nor did it provide specifics about the kinds of pathogens or toxins housed in Ukraine’s laboratories. The agency also did not answer questions about whether its recommendations were followed.
Ukrainian officials in Kyiv and at their embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.
Zelensky Says 100,000 Evacuated Amid Blockade
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said 100,000 people have been evacuated during the past two days from seven cities under Russian blockade in the north and center of the country, including the Kyiv suburbs.
But he said the Russian refusal to allow evacuations from Mariupol, a port city in the south, was “outright terror.”
“They have a clear order to hold Mariupol hostage, to mock it, to constantly bomb and shell it,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address to the nation. He said the Russians began a tank attack right where there was supposed to be a humanitarian corridor.
The city of 430,000 has been without food supplies, running water, and electricity for 10 days. Ukrainian officials say about 1,300 people have died, including three in the bombing of a maternity and children’s hospital on Wednesday.
Mimi Nguyen Ly, Katabella Roberts, Tom Ozimek, Jack Phillips, Nick Ciolino, Naveen Athrappully, Nicholas Dolinger, Reuters, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.