LIVE Russia-Ukraine crisis: Russia headed toward third nuclear plant, says Zelensky

Russian forces have previously seized two Ukrainian nuclear power plants

Zaporizhzhya NPP via YouTube/via Reuters
Zaporizhzhya NPP via YouTube/via Reuters

By Web Desk

Published: Sat 5 Mar 2022, 6:33 AM

Last updated: Sat 5 Mar 2022, 10:54 PM

The Russian military assault on Ukraine is on its tenth day.

Ukraine and its allies expressed fury on Friday after Europe’s largest atomic power plant was attacked and seized by Russian forces, which continued to shell major cities.

On Friday, missile and bomb attacks on cities continued, the Ukrainian military said on Facebook, adding that the main focus of Russian troops was to encircle Kyiv. It added that Russian artillery and multiple launch rocket systems were pounding residential buildings and infrastructure.

Authorities have imposed a news blackout and two liberal media groups have halted operations. Multiple media websites, including the BBC, were partially inaccessible in Russia.

Here's a round-up of all top developments on March 5

10.51pm: Russia headed toward 3rd nuke plant, says Zelensky

Russian forces have now seized two Ukrainian nuclear power plants and are advancing toward a third, Ukraine’s president said during a call with US senators Saturday.

Volodymyr Zelensky said the third plant currently under threat is the Yuzhnoukrainsk nuclear power plant, located 120km north of Mykolaiv, one of several cities the Russians were trying to keep encircled Saturday.

10.13pm: Russia calls on EU, Nato to stop arms supplies to Ukraine

Russia’s foreign ministry called on European Union and Nato countries on Saturday to “stop pumping weapons” to Ukraine, the Russian RIA news agency said.

It said Moscow was particularly worried that portable anti-aerial Stinger missiles could end up in the hands of terrorists, posing a threat to airlines.

9.30pm: Russia-Ukraine talks to resume on Monday

Russia and Ukraine will hold a third round of talks on Monday about ending hostilities, Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamiya said in a Facebook post on Saturday, without providing further details.

On Thursday, the sides agreed to open humanitarian corridors to allow civilians out of some combat zones, although there have been delays in implementing them.

8.46pm: Israeli PM Bennett meets Putin in Moscow

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Saturday to discuss the Ukraine crisis, his spokesperson said.

Israel has offered to mediate in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, though officials have previously played down expectations of a breakthrough.

8.40pm: Blinken hears harrowing tales from refugees fleeing Ukraine

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday visited a welcome centre set up by Polish authorities in what once was a shopping mall in Korczowa, close to the border with Ukraine, where roughly 3,000 refugees are taking shelter after the Russian attacks on their homeland.

America’s top diplomat heard harrowing tales from mothers and their children who described long and perilous journeys — and the shock of the sudden disruption and the fear for their lives — after fleeing the devastation of the war.

More details here

8.19pm: Ukrainian websites under ‘nonstop’ attack

Ukrainian websites have been under nonstop attack from Russian hackers since the Kremlin attacked country last month, Kyiv’s cyber watchdog agency said on Saturday.

Ukraine’s State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection said that “Russian hackers keep on attacking Ukrainian information resources nonstop”.

7.49pm: Ukrainian forces holding key cities

Servicemen of the Ukrainian Air Assault Forces attend military drills in Zhytomyr Region, Ukraine November 21, 2021.  Press service of the Ukrainian Air Assault Forces Command/Handout via REUTERS
Servicemen of the Ukrainian Air Assault Forces attend military drills in Zhytomyr Region, Ukraine November 21, 2021. Press service of the Ukrainian Air Assault Forces Command/Handout via REUTERS

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukrainian forces were holding key cities in the central and southeastern part of the country Saturday, while the Russians were trying to block and keep encircled Kharkiv, Nikolaev, Chernihiv and Sumy.

“We’re inflicting losses on the occupants they could not see in their worst nightmare,” Zelensky said. He alleged that 10,000 Russian troops were killed in the 10 days of the war, a claim that could not be independently verified. The Russian military doesn’t offer regular updates on their casualties. Only once, on Wednesday, they revealed a death toll of nearly 500.

“This is horrible,” Zelenskyy said. “Guys 18, 20 years old ... soldiers who weren’t even explained what they were going to fight for.”

7.41pm: Moscow-chartered flight to remove expelled Russian diplomats

The United States has approved a flight chartered by the Russian government to fly out Russian diplomats at the United Nations who were expelled for abuse of their privileges of residence, a State Department spokesperson said on Saturday.

“This special exception was done in accordance with federal regulations to ensure Russian mission personnel and their families departed by the date we had instructed,” the spokesperson said.

7.05pm: More than 350 civilians confirmed killed in Ukraine so far

At least 351 civilians are confirmed to have been killed in Ukraine since Russian troops attacked on February 24, and another 707 wounded, although the true numbers are probably “considerably higher”, a UN monitoring mission said on Saturday.

Most of the civilian casualties were caused by explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multi-launch rocket systems, and from missile and air strikes, monitors from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said.

More details here

6.50pm: Italy's public TV suspends reporting from Russia

Italy's public television channel RAI on Saturday suspended reporting from Russia after Moscow backed the imposition of jail terms on media publishing "false information" about the military.

The channel is the latest broadcaster to halt work from Russia after Moscow's incursion on Ukraine on February 24.

6.35pm: Putin warns against Ukraine no-fly zone

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.”

Speaking at a meeting with female pilots on Saturday, Putin 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.

5.48pm: Putin says no plans to declare martial law in Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday he had no intention of declaring martial law, as his country’s military incursion in Ukraine enters its second week.

“Martial law should only be introduced in cases where there is external aggression ... we are not experiencing that at the moment and I hope we won’t,” Putin said during a televised meeting with employees of Russia’s flagship carrier Aeroflot.

5.04pm: Aeroflot to halt international flights

Aeroflot, Russia’s flagship carrier, has announced that it will halt all international flights except to Belarus starting March 8.

The move by Russia’s biggest state-owned airline comes after the country’s aviation agency, Rosaviatsiya, recommended that all Russian airlines with foreign-leased planes halt both passenger and cargo flights abroad.

4.55pm: Turkey's Erdogan to urge Putin to ‘end war immediately’

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will urge his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a call Sunday to “end this war immediately” after Moscow’s attacks on Ukraine, the Turkish leader’s spokesman said.

“The president will convey to him the message that we have repeated from the start: end this war immediately, give the ceasefire and negotiations a chance, establish a humanitarian corridor and carry out evacuations,” Ibrahim Kalin told the private NTV broadcaster Saturday.

More details here

4.30pm: The UAE’s vote on human rights situation in Ukraine

Within the framework of the 49th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on the situation in Ukraine, the UAE voted in favour of a resolution on the human rights situation in Ukraine.

The resolution was adopted following a majority vote of 32 member states in favour, 2 against, and 13 abstentions.

More details here

3.53pm: Number of Ukraine refugees could grow to 1.5 million this weekend, UNHCR head says

The situation in Ukraine remains dire and the number of refugees fleeing the Russian crisis could potentially rise to 1.5 million by the end of the weekend from a current 1.3 million, the head of the U.N. refugee agency said on Saturday.

“This is the fastest moving refugee crisis we have seen in Europe since the end of World War Two,” UNHCR head Filippo Grandi told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Grandi also said most refugees at the moment were linking up with friends, family and other connections already living in Europe, but warned future waves would be more complex.

3.03pm: Ukraine port city Mariupol to begin evacuations at 0900 GMT

Civilians will start being evacuated from the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol Saturday, city officials said, after surrounding Russian forces announced a ceasefire to allow its population to leave.

Mariupol, a southern city of about 450,000 people on the Azov Sea, will begin evacuations at 0900 GMT, city hall announced on social media in a message that added, “it will be possible to leave the city by private transport.”

More details here

2.02pm: US, Germany, Netherlands to deploy more military in Lithuania

Germany will deploy air defence capabilities to Lithuania and the United States will send a troop battalion armed with tanks, Lithuania’s defence minister said on Sunday.

The deployments, which are also due to include more troops from the Netherlands, are separate to troops coming for military exercises Lithuania is set to host in March, Arvydas Anusauskas told reporters.

The deployments and exercises will increase the total number of foreign NATO troops in Lithuania to 4,000 by end-March from 3,000 now, the minister said.

12.25pm: Blinken arrives in Poland near border with Ukraine

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Poland on Saturday for talks with officials as hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees pour into the country to escape the conflict.

The most senior US official to visit Poland since the war began, Blinken will hold talks with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau in Rzeszow, near the border with Ukraine.

1.48pm: Russian forces are not observing full ceasefire on Mariupol evacuation route, says city council

The city council of Ukraine’s Mariupol city said Russian forces were not observing an agreed ceasefire along the whole length of a planned route for the evacuation of civilians that was due to take place on Saturday.

“We are negotiating with the Russian side to confirm the ceasefire along the entire evacuation route,” it said in a statement.

12.58pm: Russian central bank allows exporters not to sell FX earnings on March 5

Russia’s central bank told the country’s exporters they need not sell foreign currency earnings on Saturday as the Moscow Exchange is closed.

Russia told companies on Feb. 28 they must convert 80% of their foreign currency revenues on the domestic market, part of measures to support the rouble currency after Western countries imposed sanctions over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

12.37pm: The EU syas it has joined members of the Council of Sea Baltic States (CBSS) in suspending Russian and Belarus from Council's activities

12.20pm: Ukraine port city Mariupol to begin evacuations at 0900 GMT

Civilians will start being evacuated from the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol Saturday, city officials said, after surrounding Russian forces announced a ceasefire to allow its population to leave.

Mariupol, a southern city of about 450,000 people on the Azov Sea, will begin evacuations at 0900 GMT, city hall announced on social media in a message that added, “it will be possible to leave the city by private transport.”

11.06am: Ceasefire to let Mariupol residents evacuate: Russian defence ministry

Russia’s defence ministry announced a ceasefire Saturday to allow residents of two besieged cities, including the strategic port city of Mariupol, to evacuate.

“Today, March 5, from 10am Moscow time, the Russian side declares a regime of silence and opens humanitarian corridors for the exit of civilians from Mariupol and Volnovakha,” it said.

The announcement comes after Mariupol’s mayor Vadim Boychenko said Saturday that the city was under “blockade” by Russian forces after days of “ruthless” attacks.

While laying siege to Mariupol for days, Russian forces have cut its electricity, food, water, heating and transportation.

“For now, we are looking for solutions to humanitarian problems and all possible ways to get Mariupol out of the blockade,” said Boychenko, calling for a ceasefire and a humanitarian corridor for food and medicine.

10.46am: Singapore announces sanctions against Russia

Singapore has announced sanctions against Russia over its attack on Ukraine, becoming one of the few governments in Southeast Asia to do so.

“The sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity of all countries, big and small, must be respected,” said an announcement by the Foreign Ministry.

The tiny city-state imposed controls on exports or transshipments of military-related or dual use items considered “strategic goods.” It said the sanctions were aimed at constraining Russia’s ability to wage war and engage in “cyber aggression.”

The regional commercial hub also said it would prohibit all financial institutions from doing business with four Russian banks: VTB Bank, Bank Rossiya, the Promsvyazbank Public Joint Stock Co., and the Corporation Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs Vnesheconombank. Companies with existing dealings with the four must freeze their assets, it said.

The order also bans providing financial services or enabling financing for the Russian central bank, Russian government and entities owned or controlled by them.

8.29am: Indian Air Force brings back 629 evacuated Indians

The Indian Air Force on Saturday brought back 629 evacuated Indian nationals from Ukraine’s neighbouring countries Romania, Slovakia and Poland as part of the ongoing ‘Operation Ganga’.

“Three C-17 heavy-lift transport aircraft of the IAF, which had taken off from Hindan Airbase on Friday, landed back to the base on Saturday morning with the evacuated Indians,” said the official release.

6.58am: Strategic Ukrainian port Mariupol ‘blockaded’ by Russian forces

Ukraine’s strategic port city of Mariupol is under a “blockade” by Russian forces after days of “ruthless” attacks, its mayor said on Saturday, calling for the establishment of a humanitarian corridor.

Located on the Sea of Azov, the city of 450,000 people has been bombarded by shellings and cut off without water or electricity in the depths of winter.

6.25am: US Embassy calls power plant attack war crime

The US Embassy in Ukraine is calling Russia’s attack on a nuclear plant a war crime.

“It is a war crime to attack a nuclear power plant,” the embassy statement said. “Putin’s shelling of Europe’s largest nuclear plant takes his reign of terror one step further.”

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