Russia-Ukraine (March 3): Ukraine Says Fire at Biggest Nuclear Plant Extinguished

Russia-Ukraine (March 3): Ukraine Says Fire at Biggest Nuclear Plant Extinguished
This image made from a video released by Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant shows bright flaring object landing in grounds of the nuclear plant in Enerhodar, Ukraine Friday, March 4, 2022. (Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant via AP)

The latest on the Russia–Ukraine crisis, March 3. Click here for updates from March 2.

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.


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.

As such, the intelligence does not directly implicate Russian President Vladimir Putin and CCP General Secretary Xi personally. The NYT report said that it was likely officials from both nations briefed their higher-ups, however.

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 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.


US Imposes Sanctions on More Russian Oligarchs

The United States on Thursday imposed fresh sanctions against Russian oligarchs, including on those active in the oil and real estate sectors, as Washington takes aim at those close to Russian President Vladimir Putin in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The United States imposed full blocking sanctions on eight oligarchs and officials, as well as some of their companies, the White House said, targeting Russia’s super-rich who have amassed fortunes and political influence through their close ties to Putin.

Washington has so far imposed several rounds of sanctions, including against Putin and the central bank.

Washington imposed sanctions on Alisher Usmanov, a Russian tycoon and founder of Russian mining company Metalloinvest, whom the White House described as a “one of Russia’s wealthiest individuals and a close ally of Putin.”

The move blocks his property from use in the United States and by U.S. persons, including his luxury yacht that the White House said was seized by Germany, and his private jet.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, whom the White House accused of being “a top purveyor of Putin’s propaganda,” was also targeted.

Nikolay Tokarev, the chief executive of energy giant Transneft, was also designated along with his wife, daughter and his two luxury real estate companies. Billionaires Boris and Arkady Rotenberg and several family members were also hit with sanctions.

The United States will also impose visa restrictions on 19 Russian oligarchs, their family members, and associates, the White House said in a statement, and will also issue sanctions against Russian entities and individuals who enable the country’s spread of disinformation.

Ukrainian Forces Are Attacking ‘Stalled’ Convoy: General

Ukrainian forces are attacking the 40-mile-long military convoy that is heading towards Kyiv, according to a general.

“We are striking the enemy’s columns,” Brig. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov told Military Times. “We burn many columns of the enemy.” He did not elaborate on how many vehicles were destroyed or how many Russian troops may have been killed.

Ukrainian forces are using Su-24 and Su-25 fighter jets, artillery, and missile strikes against the convoy, Budanov said in a Wednesday interview, adding that his “intelligence officers and agents are directing and calling the strikes.”

Read the full article here


Maintaining Regulatory Control Over the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

The United Nations’ atomic watchdog says Ukraine has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that staff who have been kept at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant since Russian troops took control of the site a week ago are facing “psychological pressure and moral exhaustion.”

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi received “a joint appeal from the Ukraine Government, regulatory authority and the national operator which added that personnel at the Chornobyl site ‘have limited opportunities to communicate, move and carry out full-fledged maintenance and repair work,’” the IAEA said in a statement.

Grossi has repeatedly stressed that any military or other action that could threaten the safety or security of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants must be avoided.


Ukraine’s Mariupol Under Russian Siege

Russian forces are trying to blockade the southeastern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, knocking out power, water, and heating supplies with bombardment that is preventing residents from fleeing, local authorities said on Thursday.

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters its second week, the port city is seeing some of the fiercest fighting with constant shelling for the past 24 hours, Mayor Vadym Boichenko said in a video broadcast.

The city authorities likened the Russian onslaught to Nazi Germany’s protracted deadly siege of the then-Soviet city of Leningrad during World War Two.

“Mariupol remains under fire. Women, children and the elderly are suffering. We are being destroyed as a nation. This is genocide of the Ukrainian people,” the city’s council said in a statement.


Ukraine, Russia Agree to Create Safe Corridors

A member of Ukraine’s delegation in talks with Russia says the parties have reached a tentative agreement to organize safe corridors for civilians to evacuate and for humanitarian supplies to be delivered.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky who took part in Thursday’s talks in Belarus near the Polish border, said that Russia and Ukraine reached a preliminary understanding that cease-fires will be observed in areas where the safe corridors are established.


Putin Says Fight in Ukraine Going ‘According to Plan’

Russia’s fight against Ukraine is going “according to plan,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said on March 3.

Putin made the remarks as he chaired a virtual meeting with members of his Security Council from an unidentified location.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, claiming the operation was needed to “demilitarize and denazify” the neighboring country, in addition to putting on trial people who allegedly carried out crimes against civilians.

Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union but declared its independence in 1991.

Putin spoke as negotiators met in Belarus but ended a second round of talks with no pact, though the sides did agree to carve out so-called humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians from areas struck by bombs.

From The Epoch Times


Top Russian General Killed in Ukraine

Maj. Gen. Andrei Sukhovetsky, the commanding general of the Russian 7th Airborne Division, was killed in fighting in Ukraine earlier this week.

His death was confirmed by a local officers’ organization in the Krasnodar region in southern Russia. The circumstances of his death were not immediately clear.

Sukhovetsky, who was 47, began his military service as a platoon commander after graduating from a military academy and steadily rose through the ranks to take a series of leadership positions. He took part in Russia’s military campaign in Syria.

He was also a deputy commander of the 41st Combined Arms Army.

A funeral ceremony will be held in Novorossiisk, but further details weren’t immediately announced.


Zelenskyy Calls for a Face to Face Talk With Putin

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet him, salting the proposal with sarcasm.

“Sit down with me to negotiate, just not at 30 meters,” he said Thursday, apparently referring to recent photos of Putin sitting at one end of an extremely long table when he met with French President Emmanuel Macron.

“I don’t bite. What are you afraid of?” Zelenskyy said at a Thursday news conference.

Zelenskyy said it was sensible to have talks: “Any words are more important than shots.”


Ukraine Seeks Ceasefire, Humanitarian Corridors at Talks With Russia

Russian and Ukrainian negotiators met on Thursday and Kyiv said it would call for a ceasefire and humanitarian corridors to evacuate its besieged citizens, as the war entered its second week with Ukrainian cities surrounded and under bombardment.

Ukrainian negotiator and presidential adviser Mikhailo Podolyak posted on Twitter a picture of the delegations at a conference table in an undisclosed location. The Ukrainians wore battle fatigues and winter jackets; the Russians wore suits and ties.

Podolyak said Ukraine would demand an immediate ceasefire, armistice, and “humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians from destroyed or constantly shelled villages/cities.”

Neither side has suggested it was expecting breakthroughs after a first round of talks held in Belarus on Monday led to no progress.

Despite an initial battle plan that Western countries said was aimed at swiftly toppling the Kyiv government it describes as dangerous nationalists who threaten its security, Russia has captured only one Ukrainian city so far—the southern Dnipro River port of Kherson, which its tanks entered on Wednesday.

With its main assault force halted for days on a highway north of Kyiv, Russia has shifted tactics, escalating its bombardment of major cities. Swathes of central Kharkiv, a city of 1.5 million people, have been blasted into rubble.

Mariupol, the main port of eastern Ukraine, has been surrounded under heavy bombardment, with no water or power. Officials say they cannot evacuate the wounded. The city council compared the situation to the World War Two siege of Leningrad.


Russian, Belarusian Athletes Barred From Beijing Paralympics

Russian and Belarusian athletes were barred from the Winter Paralympics in Beijing on the eve of the Games following threats of boycotts by other teams over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said.

Thursday’s decision comes a day after the IPC gave athletes from the two countries the green light to participate in the March 4–13 Games as neutrals, saying the “athletes were not the aggressors.”

But that led to an outcry and threats from other countries’ National Paralympic Committees (NPC) to boycott the Games, IPC President Andrew Parsons told a news conference in Beijing.

Russian news agency TASS reported Russia is drafting a lawsuit with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against IPC’s decision.


Russian Forces Take First Major Ukrainian City

Russian forces have taken a strategic Ukrainian seaport and set siege to another as Moscow tries to cut its neighbor off from the Black Sea.

The Russian military said Thursday it had control of Kherson, which has a population of 280,000 people, making it the first major city to fall since a Russian invasion began last week.

Russian armored vehicles were seen in the otherwise empty streets of Kherson, in videos shared with The Associated Press by a resident.

Meanwhile, heavy fighting continued in Mariupol, in the outskirts of the strategic Azov Sea port city. Electricity and phone connections are mostly not working in Mariupol, which faces food and water shortages.

The Russians are pressing their offensive on a variety of fronts, even as the Kremlin says it is ready for talks to end the fighting that has triggered more than 1 million refugees.


Lavrov Says Moscow Ready for Talks Over Ukraine

Russia’s foreign minister says that Moscow is ready for talks to end the fighting in Ukraine but will continue to press its effort to destroy Ukraine’s military infrastructure.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the Russian delegation submitted its demands to Ukrainian negotiators earlier this week and is now waiting for Kyiv’s response in talks set for Thursday.


Zelensky: 16,000 Volunteers Coming to Fight

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday said 16,000 foreign “volunteers” were traveling to Ukraine to help the country’s cause.

Speaking in a video address he said the soldiers were coming to defend “liberty and life.”

“I’m sure it will be successful,” he added.

Zelensky was also skeptical of Moscow’s intention to send humanitarian aid to Ukraine, urging Russia to learn words of “reparation and contribution.”

“You will pay back the full price for everything that you did to us, to our country, and to every Ukrainian,” he said.

Zelensky made the comments during an address filmed by the Ukrainian Presidential Office. In the message he spoke in Russian to soldiers from the invading force, telling them to “go home, to your home.”

With a column of tanks and other vehicles apparently stalled for days outside the capital of Kyiv, fighting continued on multiple fronts across Ukraine.


Lavrov Says Russia Will Continue Ukraine War Till ‘The End’

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday he believed some foreign leaders were preparing for war against Russia and that Moscow would press on with its military operation in Ukraine until “the end.”

Lavrov also said Russia had no thoughts of nuclear war.

He also said he had no doubt that a solution to the crisis in Ukraine would be found, and a new round of talks were about to start between Ukrainian and Russian officials.

But he said Russia’s dialogue with the West must be based on mutual respect, accused NATO of seeking to maintain supremacy, and said that while Russia had a lot of goodwill, it could not let anyone undermine its interests.

Moscow would not let Ukraine keep infrastructure that threatened Russia, he said.

Moscow could also not tolerate what he called a military threat from Ukraine, he said, adding that he was convinced that Russia was right over Ukraine.

“The thought of nuclear is constantly spinning in the heads of Western politicians but not in the heads of Russians,” he said. “I assure you that we will not allow any kind of provocation to unbalance us.”

Russia did not feel politically isolated, and the question of how Ukraine lives should be defined by its people, he said.


No Ukrainian Forces Left in Key City, Mayor Says as Russian Forces Advance

No Ukrainian armed forces remain in the southern city of Kherson, its mayor said, as Russian forces infiltrated the council building more than a week after Moscow launched a full-scale invasion against Ukraine.

The mayor of Kherson, Igor Kolykhaev, said in a statement that he urged Russian soldiers not to shoot civilians after they infiltrated the city administration building.

“I simply asked them not to shoot at people,” said Kolykhaev. “We don’t have any Ukrainian forces in the city, only civilians and people here who want to LIVE.”

His remarks came after days of heavy fighting in Kherson, a key port city of 280,000 on the Dnieper River near the Black Sea. As of March 1, Ukraine has suffered 752 civilian casualties, including 227 killed and 525 injured, according to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Read the full article here


Vaccine Manufacturer Braces for Complications With Russia

A South Korean pharmaceutical company manufacturing Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine says it’s bracing for business complications as the U.S.-led West escalates sanctions against Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.

Recently expanded U.S. sanctions include targeted measures against the Russian Direct Investment Fund, a sovereign wealth fund run by a close ally of President Vladimir Putin that globally markets the Sputnik vaccines.

Kim Gi-young, an official from Seoul-based GL Rapha, said the sanctions won’t directly impede its production of the shots as the measures aren’t aimed at essential medical supplies.

However, the company is concerned about potential problems rising from the financial side as South Korea joins the United States and many European countries in a move to cut off key Russian banks from global payment systems.

“Right now, we are watching how the situation develops,” Kim said.


UAE Says Ukrainians Can Still Enter Without a Visa

The United Arab Emirates says Ukrainian passport holders continue to be eligible for visas on arrival to the Gulf state.

The UAE’s Foreign Ministry statement on Thursday came in response to media coverage quoting Ukraine’s Embassy in the UAE saying that the Gulf country is reimposing visa requirements on Ukrainians and suspending an agreement for visa-free travel between the two countries.

The energy-rich UAE, which relies on Russian and Ukrainian wheat exports, is home to some 15,000 Ukrainian residents among its roughly 8 million foreign residents and 1 million Emirati citizens. Before the coronavirus pandemic, around a quarter-million Ukrainian tourists visited the UAE.

The UAE, like other Gulf Arab states, does not recognize individuals fleeing war and has not permitted refugees from Syria, Iraq, and other wars to seek asylum or seek resettlement.

The UAE, which is home to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, abstained in a U.N. Security Council vote late last week condemning Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. It is also chair of the Security Council.


OSCE Member Dies During Kharkiv Shelling

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe says one of its members died during shelling in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

Maryna Fenina was killed while getting supplies for her family, the group said in a news release Wednesday. Fenina worked with the organization’s monitoring mission in Ukraine.

“In Kharkiv and other cities and towns in Ukraine, missiles, shells, and rockets are hitting residential buildings and town centers, killing and injuring innocent civilians—women, men, and children alike,” it said.

The organization’s chairperson, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, and Secretary-General Helga Maria Schmid extended their condolences.

“Our deepest condolences and sympathies go to Maryna’s family. Maryna was a valued member of the SMM team, and our colleagues in Ukraine remain in close contact with her family to offer our support,” it said.

The organization launched its Ukraine monitoring mission in 2014 in response to a request from Ukraine’s government and the consent of the group’s 57 participating states. The mission observes and reports on the situation in Ukraine and aims to facilitate dialogue.

Isabel van Brugen, Zachary Stieber, Jack Phillips, Andrew Thornebrooke, The Associated Press, and Reuters contributed to this report.

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