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Russian forces in control at nuclear plant

Fears of a nuclear catastrophe worse than the Chernobyl disaster were raised Friday when Russian shelling hit Europe's largest nuclear power plant.
Image: UKRAINE-RUSSIA-CONFLICT
Yevghen Zbormyrsky, 49, reacts in front of his burning house after being shelled in the city of Irpin, outside Kyiv, on Friday.Aris Messinis / AFP - Getty Images

Fears of a nuclear catastrophe worse than the 1986 Chernobyl disaster were raised overnight into Friday when Russian shelling hit Europe's largest power plant, causing a fire that was later extinguished.

Russian forces now occupy the Zaporizhzhia plant in southeastern Ukraine, the country's nuclear inspectorate said, adding that the nuclear facilities are intact and undamaged. Nuclear scientists called the attack "astonishing" and unprecedented.

The incident came as Russian forces made gains in Ukraine's south, seizing one key port city and encircling another.

Meanwhile, the humanitarian crisis continues to grow with more than 1 million people displaced so far. Ukraine and Russia tentatively agreed in talks Thursday to create humanitarian corridors to allow the safe passage of civilians. The Biden administration is offering temporary immigration protections to Ukrainians already in the United States.

Ukrainian security official says 840 kids have been injured

122d ago / 2:35 AM UTC

KYIV, Ukraine — 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.”

122d ago / 1:30 AM UTC

Zelenskyy accuses NATO of giving 'green light' to continued shelling of Ukraine

122d ago / 12:59 AM UTC

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy lashed out at NATO on Friday, saying in a speech that the 30-nation alliance “gave a green light” for the continued shelling of the country after the group rejected calls for a no-fly zone.

“All the people who will die from this day forward will also die because of you, because of your weakness, your disunity,” Zelenskyy said, according to an NBC News translation. “All that the NATO alliance was able to do to this day is arrange for the 50 tons of fuel for Ukraine.” 

Perhaps the country could use that fuel to burn the “Budapest Memorandum,” he said, referring to the 1994 agreement between the United States, Russia and Britain “to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.”

The Ukrainian leader has called on the U.S.-led alliance, which was founded after World War II to counter the Soviet Union, to impose a no-fly zone over the country.

Earlier Friday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called the Russian invasion of Ukraine “horrific,” but said that the alliance’s core task was to keep its 30 nations “safe.”

“We have made it clear that we are not going to move into Ukraine, neither on the ground or in Ukrainian airspace,” he said, adding that the only way to implement a no-fly zone is to send NATO fighter planes into the country and shoot down Russian jets that don’t abide by it.

“If we did that, we could end up with something that could end in a full-fledged war,” he said.

U.S. debates how to aid possible Zelenskyy government in exile

122d ago / 12:20 AM UTC

Democratic and Republican lawmakers are eager to send billions of dollars in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine as the government there desperately tries to repel a Russian invasion and secure the safety of more than 1 million refugees fleeing the war-torn nation.

But with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s army steadily advancing, members of Congress and U.S. national security officials are now discussing the challenges of assisting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government if the capital Kyiv falls and Moscow installs a puppet regime.

It’s a grim scenario that Biden administration officials are hesitant to acknowledge publicly — especially with Zelenskyy and his troops holding off the Russians longer than many expected — but it’s one that is increasingly being debated in Washington.

“One of the challenges that we’re going to face is where is going to be the seat of Ukrainian government, and is that going to have to relocate to Lviv or someplace west of the Dnieper River? Or is that going to have to relocate to some place outside of Ukraine?” Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who serves on the Intelligence and Armed Services committees, said in a phone interview Friday.

Read the full story here.

UN: At least 1,006 civilian casualties, 331 dead

122d ago / 12:20 AM UTC

The deaths of at least 331 civilians, including 19 children, have been recorded in Ukraine since Russia attacked the country, the United Nations human rights office said Friday — but it noted the "real toll is much higher."

There have been 1,006 civilian casualties in Ukraine since Russia invaded Feb. 24, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement.

That count is just the reports that have been corroborated by the agency. It said that fighting has delayed reports and that many other reports are pending corroboration.

Most of the casualties were from explosive weapons that affect wide areas, like artillery shelling, rockets and airstrikes, the The U.N. human rights office said.

The number of refugees who have fled Ukraine to other countries since the attack began has reached 1.2 million, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi tweeted Friday.

Twitter bans over 100 accounts that pushed #IStandWithPutin

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122d ago / 11:07 PM UTC

Twitter has banned more than 100 accounts that pushed the pro-Russian hashtag #IStandWithPutin for participating in “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” days after the hashtag trended on Twitter amid the invasion in Ukraine.

A Twitter spokesperson said Friday that it is still investigating the origins and links between the accounts and that it banned the accounts for violating its “platform manipulation and spam policy.”

The accounts with the most retweets about the hashtag on Wednesday only had a few dozen followers and used stock photos as profile pictures, which led disinformation researchers to question how the tweets went viral.

Read the full story here

122d ago / 11:01 PM UTC

Sky News correspondent says he was injured after crew attacked by Russian 'reconnaissance squad'

123d ago / 10:54 PM UTC

The chief correspondent for Sky News said a Russian “reconnaissance squad” opened fire on his news crew early this week, wounding him and striking his camera operator’s body armor while they were reporting northwest of Kyiv.

In a dispatch published Friday on the U.K. outlet’s site, chief correspondent Stuart Ramsey said the crew came under “full attack” while trying to reach the town of Bucha, where they were traveling to see a Russian convoy that had reportedly been destroyed the day before.

NBC News has not independently confirmed Ramsey’s account. A graphic video included in the story captures what appears to be shells striking their vehicle and the crew shouting that they’re journalists.

The attack occurred while they driving down a deserted stretch of road, Ramsey said. There was a small explosion and the car's tire burst, he said, adding: “And then our world turned upside down."

“Bullets cascaded through the whole of the car, tracers, bullet flashes, windscreen glass, plastic seats, the steering wheel, and dashboard had disintegrated,” he wrote.

Ramsey said he was shot in the lower back. Camera operator Richie Mockler was hit twice in his vest. The three other members of their crew escaped uninjured.

The team is now back in the U.K., the outlet reported.

CNN to stop broadcasting in Russia amid expanding media restrictions

123d ago / 10:44 PM UTC

A growing number of journalism organizations have announced they will limit work inside Russia amid a government crackdown on news coverage of the invasion the Kremlin finds disagreeable.

CNN and Bloomberg News announced operation changes on Friday.

"CNN will stop broadcasting in Russia while we continue to evaluate the situation and our next steps moving forward," a CNN spokesperson said in a statement Friday.

And Bloomberg News said it would suspend work inside the country.

“We have with great regret decided to temporarily suspend our news gathering inside Russia,” Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait said Friday. “The change to the criminal code, which seems designed to turn any independent reporter into a criminal purely by association, makes it impossible to continue any semblance of normal journalism inside the country.”

Other media outlets have also pulled back or gone dark. BBC News said it would suspend reporting work in Russia after it passed a law making it an offense to disseminate what it described as "fake" information about the country's armed forces. 

Russia's communications regulator restricted access to Voice of America, Radio Liberty and other foreign-based media, the RIA state news agency reported.

On Friday the independent Moscow Times said it would halt publishing in its homeland. The independent Echo of Moscow radio broadcaster and TV Rain also said they were halting operations. German outlet Deutsche Welle was completely unavailable.

'Heartbreaking to watch': Scenes from the Ukrainian exodus

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123d ago / 10:42 PM UTC

It has become an unlikely soundtrack to the unfolding conflict in Ukraine.

A 10-second TikTok video a frightened but defiant teenager in Kyiv posted the day Russia invaded her homeland has captured the heart of the embattled nation.

And as the full weight of the Russian invasion bore down on Ukraine, for many refugees the sight of Elizabeth Lysova, 17, lip-syncing and gesticulating to the David Guetta dance track “Who’s That Chick” has been a balm amid many tearful goodbyes.

The caption accompanying her video, which has been viewed almost 15 million times since Feb. 24, reads: “When Russian attacked us so we r leaving at 8 a.m.”

Now, Lysova is one of the more than 1.2 million Ukrainians who have fled their country.

Image: A girl and her brother sit on a train bound for Lviv at the Kyiv station, Ukraine on March 3, 2022.
A girl and her brother sit on a train bound for Lviv at the Kyiv station, Ukraine on March 3, 2022.Emilio Morenatti / AP
Image: Natalia, 57, cries as she says goodbye to her daughter and grandson on a train to Lviv at the Kyiv station, Ukraine on  March 3. 2022.
Natalia, 57, cries as she says goodbye to her daughter and grandson on a train to Lviv at the Kyiv station, Ukraine on March 3. 2022.Emilio Morenatti / AP

“When I did this TikTok, I was kind of in a state of shock,” she told NBC News. “It went viral. But then it got to me and I started realizing what was happening, and that my friends and I and my family were in bomb shelters and hiding. I felt terrified for everyone and myself as well. It’s not a regular thing, to be scared for your life.”

Read the full story here.

Zelenskyy to meet via Zoom with U.S. senators

123d ago / 10:02 PM UTC

The full U.S. Senate has been invited to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday morning via Zoom, sources told NBC News. 

The meeting was set up by the Ukrainian Embassy. 

Zelenskyy has been in regular contact with Western leaders since Russia began its assault on Ukraine.

Early Friday, Zelenskyy and U.S. President Joe Biden spoke over the phone following the shelling at Europe's largest nuclear plant.

World Food Program planning to feed as many as 5 million in Ukraine

123d ago / 9:46 PM UTC

ROME — The head of the World Food Program says the U.N. organization is putting in motion systems to feed as many as 5 million people inside Ukraine.

David Beasley, who spoke from Warsaw, Poland, said that the organization was putting together teams around Ukraine’s borders to reach “those who can’t get out, and those who are going to be needing food support immediately.” He said the program was leasing warehouses, trying to figure out how much food it can potentially buy in Ukraine and how much can be brought from outside.

He praised the response of Poles, who have been meeting fleeing Ukrainians at the border, ”making certain they’re getting hot meals, taking them to wherever they need to go,” calling it “really, really quite remarkable.”

Pence to tell GOP donors 'no room in this party for apologists for Putin'

123d ago / 8:41 PM UTC

Former Vice President Mike Pence will tell Republican donors Friday that there "is no room in this party for apologists for Putin," according to speech excerpts shared with NBC News.

The remarks from Pence, who is scheduled to address a Republican National Committee retreat in New Orleans, will signal another split with former President Donald Trump. In the lead-up to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Trump called Russian President Vladimir Putin's strategy "genius" and "savvy."

“To those who argue that NATO expansion is somehow responsible for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, ask yourself, where would our friends in Eastern Europe be today if they were not in NATO?" Pence is expected to say. "Where would Russian tanks be today if NATO had not expanded the borders of freedom? There is no room in this party for apologists for Putin. There is only room for champions of freedom."

Pence, who could find himself in a GOP presidential primary with Trump in 2024, has been at odds with Trump since they lost the 2020 election, which Trump has falsely claimed was stolen. Pence has rejected Trump's claim that the vice president had the power to overturn the election results in their favor.

“I heard this week that President Trump said I had the right to overturn the election," Pence said last month during a speech in Orlando, Florida. "President Trump is wrong."

S&P Dow Jones will drop Russian stocks from indices

123d ago / 7:44 PM UTC

Russian companies are being further ostracized from global financial markets with index giant S&P Dow Jones on Friday saying it will remove all stocks listed or domiciled in Russia from its benchmark indices.

In addition, S&P Dow Jones, which oversees the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500, said it will "reclassify Russia from an emerging market to 'standalone'" status prior to Wednesday's opening, given the "deterioration in the level of accessibility of the Russian market."

The company said it came to its decision after consulting with market participants as a result of the recent sanctions and economic turmoil caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Sen. Lindsey Graham defends calling for Russians to assassinate Putin

123d ago / 6:48 PM UTC

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Friday defended calling for Russians to assassinate President Vladimir Putin, saying it would be the quickest way to end the war in Ukraine.

In an interview on Fox News' "Fox and Friends," Graham said he hopes someone in Russia will understand that Putin is "destroying Russia and you need to take this guy out by any means possible."

The comment came after he floated the suggestion in a Fox News interview Thursday night and again on Twitter. "Is there a Brutus in Russia? Is there a more successful Colonel Stauffenberg in the Russian military?" Graham tweeted, referring to Julius Caesar's assassin and the German officer who tried to kill Hitler. 

Russian officials pounced on Graham's comments, calling them "criminal," and some Republican members of Congress criticized his remarks as well.

Read the full story. 

123d ago / 6:46 PM UTC

Russia's defense minister falsely claims that his army does not threaten civilians

123d ago / 6:44 PM UTC

Russia's defense ministry falsely claimed Friday that its army does not threaten civilians and that only military infrastructure facilities are "disabled by high-precision means." 

This came from a readout the ministry released of a phone conversation Friday between Russian defense minister, Army Gen. Sergei Shoigu, and United Nations Secretary General António Guterres.

Russia's defense minister, it said, "stressed that during the special operation, only military infrastructure facilities that were created in order to militarize Ukraine and conduct a brutal punitive operation against the civilian population of southeastern Ukraine are disabled by high-precision means."

"The Russian army does not threaten civilians, does not shell civilian objects, fully complies with the requirements of international humanitarian law," said the ministry, which also continued to falsely accuse Ukrainian fighters of being Neo-Nazis. 

The U.N. said Friday that it has counted 1,006 civilian casualties since the war began last week including 331 people killed, including 19 children and 675 people injured. 

Russia says it will block access to Facebook for restricting Russian media

123d ago / 6:42 PM UTC

Russia said Friday it would block access to Facebook, adding to the country's growing isolation during the invasion of Ukraine.

Russia's media regulator, Roskomnadzor, said in a statement it was cutting off access in response to Facebook's decision this week to block Russian media outlets such as RT and Sputnik for people within the European Union.

"On March 4, 2022, it was decided to block access to the Facebook network (owned by Meta Platforms, Inc.) in the Russian Federation," the regulator said.

It cited "26 cases of discrimination against Russian media and information resources," actions it said are prohibited by Russian laws on the dissemination of information.

Read the full story here.

123d ago / 6:40 PM UTC

Aleksander, 41, says goodbye to his daughter Anna, 5, on a train to Lviv at the Kyiv station, Ukraine, on Friday. 

Image: Aleksander, 41, presses his palms against the window as he says goodbye to his daughter Anna, 5, on a train to Lviv at the Kyiv station, Ukraine, on March 4. 2022.
Emilio Morenatti / AP

Americans book Airbnbs in Ukraine as a way to donate to locals: ‘It brings tears to my eyes’

123d ago / 6:39 PM UTC

People around the world are booking rooms in Ukraine on Airbnb as a way to donate money directly to residents.

Atarah Levine, who lives in Rhode Island and had no intention of traveling to the country, booked two apartments in Lviv and Kyiv for $148.

The 46-year-old told NBC News she felt it was an “easy, effective way to get cash in the hands of the Ukrainian people pretty much immediately.”

Shortly after making the booking, Levine explained to her hosts that she wouldn’t be staying. 

"Thank you for caring about us," Levine's host in Lviv wrote to her via Airbnb's app. "I’m just amazed at how sincere and compassionate people can be. It brings tears to my eyes."

Meanwhile, her host in Kyiv said they were going to use the money to help those in need by supplying food, medicine and warm clothes.

Angela Antolin, 46, who lives in San Pedro, California, was also inspired by the trend and booked a three-night stay in Kyiv for $78.

“I feel completely helpless as I watch the TV and [see] the heartache/destruction going on and being unable to help,” she said. “So this is what we came up with.”

Antolin’s host thanked her for the support. “At the moment the situation is terrible,” the host said. “Your support is very important for Ukraine and we will win!”

It comes after Airbnb announced on Thursday it was waiving all guest and host fees for all bookings in Ukraine.

Zelenskyy pleads with European allies 'not to be silent' on Ukraine

123d ago / 6:20 PM UTC

As Russian forces continued their rampage Friday across Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Europe to stand with his country and "support our fight."

"I would like to call upon you not to be silent," Zelenskyy said in an address from Kyiv, where civilians continued to flee ahead of the Russian military's advance. "I would like for you to come out in the streets and support Ukraine."

"If Ukraine will not stand, Europe will not stand," he said. "If we will fall, you will fall."

But "if we win, we will become as blossoming as Europe," he added, "and Europe will be flourishing more than ever after this significant victory."

Ukraine fights back on TikTok, where war is fought with memes and misinformation

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123d ago / 6:08 PM UTC

Many Ukrainians have embraced TikTok as a way to provide a window into the on-the-ground reality they now face. In recent weeks TikTok has become essential viewing for people seeking information on the war, offering a look at the front lines of major cities as well as daily life in Ukraine — Molotov cocktails and all.

But that content is now competing with a wave of other videos purporting to be about the conflict. While there are several prominent examples of Ukrainian content creators using TikTok to communicate their lived experiences, viral videos about Ukraine on TikTok are also largely a mixed bag of misinformation.

Realistic video game footage and videos predating the conflict masquerade as TikToks set in present-day Ukraine, while TikTok users outside the combat zone are cashing in on misleading livestreams and viral trends like a mythical Ukrainian combat pilot, the “ghost of Kyiv.” 

Read the full story here.

Convoy picks up cars and anti-Ukraine talking points ahead of Washington arrival

123d ago / 6:04 PM UTC

The American offshoot of the “Freedom Convoy” that brought chaos to Canada’s capital is promising to stop traffic outside of Washington, D.C., on Saturday, but exact plans remained vague Friday as the group hit its last pit stop in Maryland.

The convoy, which was organized on pro-Trump and anti-vaccine channels on the Telegram messaging app, has picked up hundreds of cars and several trucks since the group left a rural parking lot in Adelanto, California, on Feb. 22.

But as its Covid mission has become less clear, the group’s channels have turned to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, where conspiracy-minded thinking has flourished. While some group members have admonished Russian President Vladimir Putin for the invasion, QAnon and anti-vaccine contingents within the groups have seized on a false conspiracy theory that the war is a cover for a military operation backed by former President Donald Trump in Ukraine.

Ready the full story here.

Vice President Harris discussing trip to Poland, Romania

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123d ago / 5:59 PM UTC

Vice President Kamala Harris is considering traveling to Poland and Romania next week, according to two sources familiar.

The move comes as the Biden administration is attempting to support Ukraine without provoking Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Thousands of refugees are flooding into Poland and Romania — both of which border Ukraine — in an attempt to escape the invasion.

The visit would be Harris' second trip to Europe in the past few weeks. She attended the Munich Security Conference in Germany in mid-February as Russia was amassing troops on the Ukraine border.

Behind Russia’s ‘rush to failure’ in the early days of its invasion of Ukraine

123d ago / 5:57 PM UTC

The first week of Russia's invasion of Ukraine does not appear to have gone to plan.

Russia's attempts at a fast-paced assault haven't brought its forces inside Kyiv, the capital and the seat of the Western-leaning government the Kremlin appears intent on removing. Instead, the strategy has stretched supply lines and morale to a breaking point, while Russian tanks and military equipment have, at times, gotten stuck in mud or run out of gas.

That's the verdict of government officials and Russian military experts. It's also the picture painted by a flood of videos shared on social media, as the world watches the war and wonders how it appears to have started off quite so badly for the Kremlin.

Videos verified by NBC News show a Ukrainian civilian jokingly offering to give stranded Russian soldiers a ride before quickly pulling away, a young Russian soldier sobbing as he eats and calls his mother and a group of Russian soldiers looting a Ukrainian store for food.

Most challenging of all for the Russian military, Western officials and experts say, Moscow appears to have underestimated the willingness of Ukrainian citizens to fight back.

Click here to read more. 

123d ago / 5:18 PM UTC

State Dept. instructs U.S. Embassies in Europe not to retweet U.S. Embassy Kyiv's 'war crime' tweet

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123d ago / 4:55 PM UTC

The U.S. State Department sent an “urgent” message to U.S. Embassies in Europe to not retweet a post from the U.S. Embassy Kyiv that called Russia’s attack on Europe’s largest nuclear plant in Ukraine “a war crime,” according to an internal message obtained by NBC News. The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The official Twitter account of U.S. Embassy Kyiv tweeted it was “a war crime to attack a nuclear power plant” and that “Putin's shelling of Europe's largest nuclear plant takes his reign of terror one step further.” 

The State Department soon after sent a memo to their public affairs offices in U.S. missions in Europe asking them not to endorse the statement.

“URGENT: Do Not/Not Retweet Emb. Kyiv’s Tweet on Reactor,” the subject line of the email from the State Department’s public affairs office said. “All - do not/not retweet Embassy Kyiv’s tweet on shelling of the facility being a possible war crime. If you have retweeted it - un-re-tweet it ASAP.”

 As of 11:45 a.m. ET,  the U.S. Embassy Kyiv’s tweet had not been taken down.

BBC News suspends work in Russia amid Putin's media crackdown

123d ago / 4:30 PM UTC

BBC News said Friday that it will suspend reporting work in Russia after President Vladimir Putin's regime blocked access to several foreign media outlets.

Russia's parliament reportedly passed a law making it an offense to disseminate what it described as "fake" information about the country's armed forces. The move is widely seen as part of Putin's crackdown on foreign and independent media services reporting on the realities of his offensive against Ukraine.

"This legislation appears to criminalize the process of independent journalism," BBC Director-General Tim Davie said in a statement posted on social media.

"It leaves us no other option than to temporarily suspend the work of all BBC News journalists and their support staff within the Russian Federation while we assess the full implications of this unwelcome development," he said.

"The safety of our staff is paramount and we are not prepared to expose them to the risk of criminal prosecution simply for doing their jobs," he added.

Davie said BBC journalists based in Ukraine and around the world will continue to report on Russia's war against Ukraine.  

123d ago / 4:13 PM UTC

FedEx suspends services in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus

123d ago / 4:08 PM UTC

FedEx Corporation announced Friday that it was suspending all services in Ukraine for the safety of its employees and that in support of the country it was also suspending services in Russia and Belarus.

“First and foremost, we are focused on the safety of our team members in Ukraine, and we know you share our concern for their well-being,” Frederick Smith, chairman and CEO of the company, and Raj Subramaniam, president and COO of the company, said in a statement. “This is our top priority. Our team in Europe is staying in close contact with them on a daily basis, and we have temporarily suspended all services in Ukraine for their safety. And, as we support the people of Ukraine, we also have made the decision to suspend all FedEx services in Russia and Belarus."

FedEx said it was providing its employees in Ukraine direct financial assistance and resources including an emergency helpline. 

The company said it was giving more than $1.5 million in humanitarian aid, with $1 million in “in-kind shipping to organizations who are transporting supplies into the area” and $550,000 in cash donations to European non-governmental organizations.

Moscow Exchange remains closed, suspended from trade group

123d ago / 4:02 PM UTC

A global trade association representing major financial exchange markets, including the New York-based Nasdaq, said Friday that it is suspending the Moscow Exchange from its membership.

"The Board took the decision to suspend Russian members and affiliates," a spokesperson for the World Federation of Exchanges said in an email, adding that "this decision, which is consistent with the global response to this matter, was not taken lightly."

The Moscow Exchange, which first joined the London-based World Federation of Exchanges in 2009, is the largest stock exchange in Russia. It remained closed for a fifth straight day on Friday as the Russian economy remains in a crisis caused by global sanctions.

Microsoft suspends sales in Russia

123d ago / 3:39 PM UTC

Microsoft is suspending all sales in Russia, the company announced in a blog post Friday. It joins a number of western companies, including fellow American tech giant Apple, in suspending sales to Russia.

"As a company, we are committed to the safety of our employees in Ukraine and we are in constant contact with them to offer support in many forms," wrote Brad Smith, president of Microsoft.

It was unclear what will happen to Russian users who currently use Microsoft products as a subscription service.

123d ago / 2:49 PM UTC

Children learn how to use an AK-47 assault rifle during a civilian self-defense course on the outskirts of Lviv, western Ukraine, on Friday.

Image: UKRAINE-RUSSIA-CONFLICT
Daniel Leal / AFP - Getty Images

123d ago / 2:16 PM UTC

NATO chief says Russia has used cluster bombs in Ukraine

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123d ago / 2:13 PM UTC

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday that NATO has "seen the use of cluster bombs" by Russia in Ukraine.

Speaking at a NATO meeting in Brussels, he said Russia's invasion was "a blatant violation of international law."

"We have seen the use of cluster bombs, we have seen reports of use of other types of weapons which will be in violation of international law," he said.

"And of course NATO and NATO allies and partners are collecting information and monitoring very closely what is going on in Ukraine," he added. 

His comments come after Ukraine's ambassador to the U.S., Oksana Markarova, said Russia had used a vacuum bomb Monday in its invasion of Ukraine. 

"They used the vacuum bomb today, which is actually prohibited by the Geneva convention," Markarova had said at the time after briefing U.S. Congress members. 

A vacuum bomb uses oxygen from the surrounding air to generate a high-temperature explosion, which can produce a blast wave of a significantly longer duration than that of a conventional explosive.

123d ago / 1:21 PM UTC

A woman stands next to rescuers amid the debris of a school building destroyed by shelling in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, on Friday.

Image: A view shows a destroyed school building in Zhytomyr
Viacheslav Ratynskyi / Reuters

More explosions heard in Kyiv in sign assault is intensifying

123d ago / 1:18 PM UTC

Up to a dozen explosions were heard in downtown Kyiv on Friday morning and air raid sirens wailed, in an apparent sign Russian missile strikes on and around the capital were intensifying.

Reuters witnesses in the centre of the city of 3.4 million people could not immediately confirm the cause of the blasts, but they were more frequent than in recent days and some were louder. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

While no major assault has been launched on Kyiv yet, the capital has been shelled and Russian forces unleashed fierce firepower to try to break resistance in the nearby town of Borodyanka.

Drone footage from the town to the northwest of Kyiv on Thursday showed flattened houses and a badly damaged apartment block, with some homes charred and still on fire. Burned out military vehicles littered a main road.

In Kyiv's Borshchahivka neighbourhood, some 18km (11 miles) west of the centre, the twisted metal remnants of a missile, which Ukrainian air defences apparently downed overnight, lay in the middle of a street a few meters from a bus station.

123d ago / 12:59 PM UTC

123d ago / 12:43 PM UTC

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a flag-raising ceremony on the ferry Marshal Rokossovsky via a video link at his residence outside Moscow on Friday.

Image: Russian President Putin takes part in a video link outside Moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a flag-raising ceremony on the ferry Marshal Rokossovsky via a video link at his residence outside Moscow on Friday.Alexey Nikolsky / Sputnik via Reuters

Pentagon spokesman Adm. John Kirby says 'no radioactive leakage' at Ukraine nuclear plant

123d ago / 12:40 PM UTC

Pentagon press secretary Adm. John Kirby said Friday that the U.S. agrees with assessments that there was "no radioactive leakage" from Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia power plant and that the damage at the plant has been "fairly limited." 

Kirby, who made the comment in an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," said the Pentagon is working closely with the Department of Energy to assess the damage. He said the attack on the plant by Russians "speaks to the recklessness and the dangerous atmosphere and fear inside Ukraine caused by this unprovoked war of aggression, this unprovoked invasion by Russia."

The spokesman said Russians have not been discriminate in their military campaign and the situation regarding the power plant is "an example of just how dangerous this can get not just for the people of Ukraine, but for the European continent.”

Nuclear power plant attack could have killed millions, Ukrainian lawmaker says

123d ago / 12:33 PM UTC

The Russian attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant could have killed as many as 3 million people and affected more than 51 million, according to a Ukrainian lawmaker.

"I want to put the nuclear power plant attack in context. 6x bigger than #Chernobyl means: 51,000,000 people affected by radiation, 3,000,000 dead. Not just in Ukraine. Across the world," Lesia Vasylenko said in a tweet Friday morning.

She was echoing President Volodymyr Zelesnkyy, who said in a video earlier Friday that the attack could have caused a disaster six times larger than Chernobyl in 1986, widely regarded as the worst recorded nuclear accident.

123d ago / 12:17 PM UTC

Citizens in the city of Lviv, in the west of Ukraine about 40 miles from the Polish border, are preparing to fight the Russian invasion in any way they can.

123d ago / 11:51 AM UTC

A man finishes gluing a huge billboard depicting a serviceman that says "A Russian soldier is a liberator!" in the city center of Simferopol, Crimea, on Friday.

Image: CRIMEA-RUSSIA-UKRAINE-CONFLICT
A man finishes gluing a huge billboard depicting a serviceman that says "A Russian soldier is a liberator!" in the city center of Simferopol, Crimea, on Friday.AFP - Getty Images

Putin says Russia's neighbors should not escalate tensions

123d ago / 11:49 AM UTC

President Vladimir Putin urged Russia's neighbors on Friday not to escalate tensions, eight days after Moscow sent its forces into Ukraine.

"There are no bad intentions toward our neighbors. And I would also advise them not to escalate the situation, not to introduce any restrictions. We fulfill all our obligations and will continue to fulfill them," Putin said in televised remarks.

"We do not see any need here to aggravate or worsen our relations. And all our actions, if they arise, they always arise exclusively in response to some unfriendly actions, actions against the Russian Federation."

Putin was shown on TV taking part online, from his residence outside Moscow, in a flag-raising ceremony for a ferry in northern Russia.

123d ago / 11:37 AM UTC

Russia blocks foreign media outlets including BBC, Voice of America

123d ago / 11:16 AM UTC

Russia has blocked a series of foreign media outlets, the Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reported on Friday.

Broadcasters including BBC, Deutsche Welle, and Voice of America have been taken off air, while Russia's state communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, said that the websites of Voice of America, the BBC, Deutsche Welle, Meduza and Radio Liberty had also been blocked.

On Friday, Deutsche Welle was completely unavailable while BBC’s availability was at 17 percent on GlobalCheck, an independent service which researches internet censorship in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), of which both Russia and Ukraine are a part.

BBC Director-General Tim Davie said Wednesday that the BBC News website was witnessing an increase of more than 250 percent in the past week alone in Russia. The BBC also launched two shortwave frequencies to broadcast its World Service radio coverage to Ukraine and parts of Russia.

123d ago / 11:05 AM UTC

A woman stands next to rescuers amidst the debris of a school building destroyed by shelling in Zhytomyr, Ukraine on Friday.

Image: A view shows a destroyed school building in Zhytomyr
Viacheslav Ratynskyi / Reuters

Zelensky urges Russia to remember Chernobyl: 'How can you forget it?'

123d ago / 11:03 AM UTC
Image: A view shows a damaged administrative building of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Enerhodar
A damaged administrative building at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Friday after reports of Russian shelling overnight.Energoatom / via Reuters

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video Friday morning that the Russian attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant could have led to a tragedy for Ukraine and for Europe and appealed to the Russian forces to remember history.

Speaking in Russian, he said: “Together in 1986 we struggled with the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. You must remember the burning graphite scattered by the explosion, the victims. You must remember the glow above the destroyed power unit. You must remember the evacuation from Pripyat and the 30km (18.5 miles) zone. How can you forget it?,” he said.

“And if you have not forgotten, then you cannot be silent, you must tell your authorities, go out to the streets and say that you want to live. You want to live on earth without radioactive contamination. Radiation does not know where Russia is, radiation does not know where the borders of your country are,” the leader added.

123d ago / 10:35 AM UTC

Three dead in Russia attack on nuclear power plant, Ukraine says

123d ago / 10:31 AM UTC

Three Ukrainian soldiers were killed after Russian forces had shelled the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant, the National Nuclear Energy Generating Company said on its Telegram channel Friday.

Two more soldiers were wounded — one was said to be in a critical condition. No staff at the station were injured.

Yesterday evening local time, Russian occupiers stormed through the entrance of the nuclear power plant, and began firing on it, the company said. The nuclear facilities remain undamaged and intact.

“Zaporizhzhya NPP is many times more powerful and dangerous than Chernobyl,” said Ruslan Stefanchuk, chair of Ukraine's Parliament. “Russian occupation forces are deliberately shelling the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.”

Moscow Stock Exchange remains shut for fifth consecutive day

123d ago / 10:02 AM UTC

Moscow Stock Exchange was closed Friday, making it the fifth consecutive day of not trading as it tries to protect local stocks from immediate sale.

The Bank of Russia announced in a statement that there would be no trading, with only limited exceptions allowed.

Russian companies listed in foreign stock exchanges continued to plummet on Thursday. The London Stock Exchange suspended trading for 27 Russian-linked companies on Thursday, its CEO David Schwimmer told CNBC.

The Exchange's opening hours for Saturday will be announced at 9.00 a.m. local time on Saturday (1 a.m. ET), the bank said.

123d ago / 9:18 AM UTC

Stanislav, 40, says goodbye to his son David, 2, and his wife Anna, 35, on a train to Lviv at Kyiv station, Ukraine on Thursday.

Emilio Morenatti / AP

Russian troops surround Mariupol, city faces intense strikes, officials say

123d ago / 8:33 AM UTC

Russian troops have encircled the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, as confirmed by the U.K.'s Ministry of Defence.

Although there have been recurring attacks from Russian forces, a strategic city on the Azov Sea still remains under Ukraine’s control, officials said. 

The city's "civilian infrastructure has been subjected to intense Russian strikes," the ministry said in a tweet.

In an update posted to Facebook on Friday morning, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said that, "having a significant advantage in technique, the enemy surrounded Mariupol." 

As Russian forces have advanced, there have been reports of residents being cut off from water, power and food supply in the city, according to Reuters

Russian forces occupy nuclear power plant in Ukraine after shelling

123d ago / 7:45 AM UTC

Russian military forces have occupied Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine after a night of heavy shelling, the State Inspectorate for Nuclear Regulation has confirmed.

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant remained intact, and though there was damage to the reactor compartment of one unit, it did not affect the unit's safety, the state inspectorate said on Facebook, according to an NBC News translation. 

A fire broke out at a training facility at the plant after Russian shelling earlier Friday, sparking concerns that an explosion at the facility could be worse than the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. It was later extinguished. 

The plant’s personnel are monitoring the condition of the units, and no changes in radiation status have been recorded, the state office said.