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Top diplomats make no progress as Russian troops move closer to Kyiv

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has said his country will not "surrender" after a high-level meeting in Turkey with his Russian counterpart.

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271d ago / 1:04 PM UTC

Zelenskyy says more than 60,000 residents 'rescued' from besieged cities Wednesday

More than 60,000 residents have been rescued from besieged cities in Ukraine in the past day, the country's president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has said.

Calling Russian troops "monsters," Zelenskyy said his "heart is broken" by the death and destruction brought to cities under attack in Ukraine.

"Despite everything, updated information was received every hour yesterday about people who managed to be evacuated to the free territory of Ukraine," he said. "In total, more than 60,000 of our citizens were rescued yesterday — plus those who did not have time until night and continued to evacuate in the morning."

Zelenskyy noted that humanitarian corridors were once again opened Thursday to allow the evacuation of residents from some areas. 

"Buses have already left, trucks are on their way — with food, water, medicine," he said.

271d ago / 12:50 PM UTC

Harris announces U.S. has delivered two missile defense systems to Poland

Vice President Kamala Harris announced Thursday that the U.S. has delivered two Patriot missile defense systems to Poland.

"We do this as a reminder and as a demonstration of our commitment to the security of our allies and our commitment in particular to Poland at this moment in time," she said in remarks to reporters after meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw. 

Harris also announced the U.S. will give $50 million in humanitarian assistance to help Poland as it deals with a flood of refugees who are fleeing Ukraine. 

The vice president reiterated the U.S. commitment to Article 5 of NATO is "ironclad." 

"The United States is prepared to defend every inch of NATO territory. The United States takes seriously that an attack against one is an attack against all," she said. 

271d ago / 12:46 PM UTC

 A military priest tries to comfort a crying woman who was evacuated from Irpin, at a triage point in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday.

Image: military priest tries to comfort a crying woman in Irpin
Vadim Ghirda / AP
271d ago / 12:18 PM UTC

Ukraine asks IAEA to ‘assess the situation’ at nuclear power plants

Ukraine's parliament has asked the International Atomic Energy Agency to "assess the situation" at its nuclear power plants.

Announced in a Telegram post, the request came after the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was disconnected from the national power grid. It is currently operating on back-up diesel generators. 

“Due to constant fighting, repairs and restoration of energy supply are currently impossible,” the parliament said.

Ukrenergo, the national energy company, is awaiting a safe corridor to restore power lines. “Our repair crews are ready to repair the line immediately, despite the threat of being shot by the enemy, and are waiting for permission,” it said.

IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi left for Turkey on Thursday to discuss the “urgent issue of ensuring the safety and security of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities,” he said on Twitter.

The IAEA had said on Wednesday that there has been no critical impact at Chernobyl, which, along with the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, remains under Russian occupation.


271d ago / 12:12 PM UTC

U.K. eases visa rules for Ukrainians after facing backlash over refugee response

The United Kingdom has announced an easing of its rules allowing Ukrainians to obtain British visas after facing widespread backlash over its response to the growing refugee crisis. 

Speaking in Parliament on Thursday, British Home Secretary Priti Patel announced that the U.K. would be rolling out a streamlined online visa application system for Ukrainians seeking to flee the war with Russia. 

Patel told members of Parliament the changes in response to "Putin's depraved war" would come into effect starting Tuesday.

She said the move would allow visa application centers across Europe to focus their efforts on assisting Ukrainians without passports, in order to speed up the process. 

The decision comes after the British government faced criticism with France accusing the U.K. of turning away Ukrainians and telling them to travel to visa application centers in France to apply to enter. Patel denied the accusations earlier this week.

The U.K. has also faced condemnation, however, for only issuing visas to several hundred Ukrainians and for only issuing the visas under a limited program for those with relatives in Britain. 

Meanwhile, neighboring countries around Ukraine have accepted tens of thousands of refugees fleeing the conflict, with Poland taking in more than 1.4 million, according to the latest data from the United Nations refugee agency.

271d ago / 12:04 PM UTC

Civilians evacuated from Enerhodar arrive in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine on Wednesday.

Image: Civilians evacuated from nuclear power plant area arrive in Zaporizhzhia
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
271d ago / 11:58 AM UTC

Ukrainian presidential adviser accuses Russia of creating 'Syria' scenario with hospital attack

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych has accused Russia of creating a scenario like "Syria" with its recent attack on a children's hospital in Mariupol.

"After the Russian occupiers' attack on the maternity hospital in Mariupol, it finally became clear that Russia had changed its tactics and switched to the 'Syrian' scenario - terror of the civilian population," he said in a Telegram post.

He also accused Russian forces of "deliberately disrupting the evacuation of civilians."

The besieged city of Mariupol's City Council said the city was under a new "air attack" by Russian forces amid efforts to evacuate residents.

"Defenders of Mariupol hold the defense," Arestovych said, adding: "We will do everything to evacuate the civilian population of Mariupol."

He said he believes Russia would "not be able to take Mariupol."

Russia has consistently denied targeting civilians.

271d ago / 11:40 AM UTC

Japanese companies suspend operations in Russia

Major Japanese firms including Uniqlo and Sony have joined a growing list of companies suspending their operations in Russia.

Clothing retailer Uniqlo cannot continue doing business because of “a number of difficulties,” parent company Fast Retailing said in a statement on Thursday. Fast Retailing founder Tadashi Yanai had earlier told Japan's Nikkei newspaper that Uniqlo's Russian stores would stay open, calling clothing a “necessity of life.”

Also on Thursday, Japanese conglomerate Hitachi announced it was suspending all exports to Russia and halting manufacturing activities there except for electrical equipment that is "indispensable to the daily lives of people."

Gaming giants Sony and Nintendo have suspended all software and hardware shipments, while Sony has also shuttered its physical PlayStation stores in Russia.

While the Japanese government was quick to join international economic sanctions against Moscow, Japanese companies had largely held off and have come under pressure in recent days to follow their Western competitors in reducing their Russia ties.

271d ago / 11:21 AM UTC

'Thank you, Poland': Ukrainian refugee expresses gratitude for adopted home


Ludmilla Iwanowa, 49, and her two young children are just a few of the estimated 2 million people who have fled across Ukraine’s border to escape the war. 

Iwanowa, originally from the Poltava region in central Ukraine, told NBC News earlier this week that she and her daughter, Anastasia, 6, and son, Artem, 10, were forced to flee their home because the Russian Army was approaching. She left her husband, a retired soldier, behind to fight. 

She bemoaned the violent Russian assault and said President Vladimir Putin was sending “children as cannon fodder” to the front lines. 

“It’s Putin," she said. "He is sending these children, young boys. They took weapons and they are killing our kids! And what can we do? We have to defend ourselves!” 

Iwanowa said that to save her children, she fled to Poland, arriving in Rzeszow.

“I am really grateful to Poland, because I have managed to extend my children's childhood. They gave them shelter, because Putin and the Russian Army destroyed Ukraine and Ukrainians,” she said as she began to cry.  

“Thank you Poland, we will study Polish language, because we are so grateful.” 

As she looks to build a new life in her adopted country, she said: “Of course I would like to help also. Maybe I can find work, because I just can’t stay here and only eat for free."

“I am a healthy woman, I have to work to feed our children," she said.

Image: Ludmilla Iwanowa
Ludmilla Iwanowa and her children, Artem, 6, and Anastasia, 10, at a makeshift refugee shelter set up by a gaming company called G2A in Rzeszow, Poland, on March 6.Yuka Tachibana / NBC News
271d ago / 10:52 AM UTC

Kuleba says Lavrov addressed 'nuclear threat issue' during meeting

Ukraine's top diplomat has said his Russian counterpart "addressed the nuclear threat issue" in Ukraine as Russian forces continue to hold control of the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plants. 

"I told him that before the Russian soldiers came to our territory everything was fine with our nuclear power plants," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters following his high-level meeting in Turkey with Russia's Sergey Lavrov. 

"Ukraine has always been a responsible participant of nuclear power organization," he said. 

His comments came amid concerns about the Chernobyl plant after it was disconnected from the national power grid. The International Atomic Energy Agency has said that while the development violated a "key safety pillar," there had been no critical impact. 

Kuleba also sought to shut down accusations from Russia that Ukraine was producing nuclear weapons, dismissing the baseless claim as "false."

Britain's defense ministry has said that Russia was likely ramping up accusations of Ukraine developing nuclear weapons in a bid to justify its invasion of the country.

In an intelligence update, the defense ministry said that there has been a "notable intensification" of Russia's accusations of Ukraine developing nuclear or biological weapons since the end of February. 

Kuleba said: "The best thing that Russia can do right now is withdraw its troops from our nuclear power stations." 

271d ago / 10:51 AM UTC

Ukraine investigates 38 cases of alleged treason against local officials, officers

Ukraine is investigating 38 cases of alleged treason against local officials and law enforcement officers accused of aiding Russia, the State Bureau of Investigation said on Thursday.

“Investigators have launched proceedings against several police officers in Mariupol and Kherson,” it said in a statement on Facebook. “They committed treason under martial law and sided with the enemy.” The martial law has been in place since Feb. 24.

Law enforcement has also found local officials who “actively support and promote Russian aggression," the bureau said. One official was detained in the Donetsk city of Kramatorsk and similar actions were recorded in other occupied territories, it said.

271d ago / 10:39 AM UTC

Ukraine's foreign minister says country will not 'surrender' after meeting with Russian counterpart

Ukraine's foreign minister has said his country will not "surrender" following a meeting with his Russian counterpart. 

Following the high-level meeting in Antalya, Turkey, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Russia appeared to "seek surrender from Ukraine, but this is not what they are going to get." 

"Ukraine is strong," he said. 

Kyiv "cannot stop the war if the aggressor country does not want to do so," he added.

"Today, I heard that a cease-fire is possible if Ukraine fulfills Putin's terms," he said. "However, Ukraine does not surrender."

He said, however, that his country would continue to "seek diplomatic solutions. And until that is achieved, we will protect people from Russian aggression." 

Kuleba added that Ukraine had proposed a humanitarian corridor to and from the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, as well as a ceasefire for at least a day to address the humanitarian problems of civilians.

He said the Russian side has not agreed to that proposal, but said he was prepared to continue negotiations.

271d ago / 10:07 AM UTC

Meeting between Ukrainian, Russian foreign ministers concludes

A meeting in Turkey between Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, has concluded. 

The high-level meeting in southern Turkey came as Ukraine continued evacuations of residents trapped in hard-hit areas and as officials accused Russia of war crimes for appearing to target civilians. 

271d ago / 9:55 AM UTC

Major newspapers in Nordic region to translate articles into Russian to provide 'reliable' news

Three major newspapers in the Nordic region are to translate some of their articles on the invasion of Ukraine into Russian.

The plan is to inform people in Russia about what is happening, after independent media there were shut down. The translated newspaper articles also will be posted on social media.

Denmark's Politiken newspaper Politiken said Thursday that "our goal is to provide the Russians with impartial and reliable news coverage."

It added that "democracy dies in the dark. The free dissemination of independent information is essential for maintaining the hope of peace and the hope of humanity."

Other newspapers participating in the initiative include Sweden's daily Dagens Nyheter and Finland's largest newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat.

271d ago / 9:40 AM UTC

Ukraine nuclear power plants operating ‘under the barrels of machine guns’, says operator

Ukraine's nuclear power operator has raised fresh concern over the situation at the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plants, which are under Russian control, as it said workers continued to work "under the barrels of machine guns."

Out of the four power lines at the Zaporizhzhia plant, two have already been damaged, it said. “If two more are damaged, there will be a catastrophe,” Energoatom said Thursday in a statement on Telegram.

“Chernobyl is used as a military base. The station is partially de-energized,” it said. Emergency diesel generators are currently in operation.

The International Atomic Energy Agency had said yesterday that although the situation at the Chernobyl plant violates a “key safety pillar”, there has been no critical impact.

271d ago / 9:25 AM UTC

U.K. sanctions Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, billionaire soccer club owner


Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Premier League soccer club Chelsea, has been sanctioned by the British government as part of an effort to ramp up pressure on Russian oligarchs.

Abramovich was one of several wealthy Russians to be named in new sanctions unveiled Thursday

He had recently announced his intention to sell London-based soccer club Chelsea, with plans to donate net proceeds from the sale to victims of the war in Ukraine. 

But that sale now appears to be on hold, with the British government saying Thursday that Abramovich’s assets are frozen, he is banned from visiting the U.K. and he is barred from transactions with U.K. individuals and businesses.

Also added to the U.K. sanctions list are industrialist Oleg Deripaska and Rosneft chief executive Igor Sechin.

271d ago / 9:00 AM UTC

Moscow Stock Exchange remains shut for tenth consecutive day

Moscow stock exchange was closed Thursday for the tenth consecutive day with only limited exceptions allowed, The Bank of Russia announced in a statement.

The Russian Ruble fell sharply after the bank allowed its trade on Wednesday, falling to almost half of its value against the U.S. Dollar since February 10, reported CNBC.

The trading sessions in the foreign exchange and money market opened at 10.00 a.m. local time on Thursday (2 a.m. ET) 

271d ago / 8:46 AM UTC

Talks between Ukraine, Russia's top diplomats begin

Talks between Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov have begun, a spokesperson for Ukraine's foreign ministry has said.

The talks are taking place in Antalya, Turkey, with Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko tweeting a photo of the diplomats meeting at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum.

Kuleba has previously said he does not have "high hopes" for the meeting, but he said he would push for the "maximum" in bringing an end to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.


271d ago / 8:37 AM UTC

Attack on Mariupol children's hospital leaves three dead, including a child, city council says

An attack on a children's hospital in the southern port city of Mariupol on Wednesday killed at least three people, including one child, city council officials said.

In a Telegram post, Mariupol's city council said that the attack had killed a young girl, in addition to injuring at least 17 others, including children, mothers and doctors.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has condemned the strike and similar attacks in other cities as evidence of a "genocide" being carried out by Russian forces. 

“Europeans: You won't be able to say that you did not see what was happening to Ukrainians, what was happening in Mariupol,” he said. “You saw it. You know it. You need to continue to impose sanctions on Russia so that they would not be able to continue this genocide, so that they would sit at the negotiation table and stop this atrocious war."

271d ago / 7:30 AM UTC

271d ago / 7:29 AM UTC

Russian forces continue to suffer losses in Kyiv, U.K. defense ministry says

Russian forces situated northwest of Kyiv have made little recent progress, the U.K. defense ministry said Thursday.

“The large Russian column north west of Kyiv has made little progress in over a week and is suffering continued losses at the hands of the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” said the ministry in a tweet.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said the city’s defense is inflicting “fire damage on the offensive group of occupiers” and is maintaining defensive lines.

"Measures are being taken to deter the enemy from advancing in the direction of Kyiv,” it said in a statement on Facebook on Thursday morning.