Russia-Ukraine War: What to know on Russia’s war in Ukraine
As Russia’s war on Ukraine entered Day 10, it looked like a breakthrough cease-fire to evacuate civilians from two cities was in place. But hours after Russia announced the deal, Ukrainian officials said the removals were stopped amid shelling.
Ukraine’s president was set to brief U.S. senators Saturday on a video conference call a day after calling out NATO for refusing to impose a no-fly zone over his country. The briefing comes as Russian forces continued to batter strategic locations with missiles and artillery.
The U.N. Security Council scheduled an open meeting Monday on the worsening humanitarian situation.
Here’s a look at key things to know about the conflict Saturday:
CEASE-FIRE IN TWO AREAS
The cease-fire in two areas appeared to mark the first breakthrough in allowing civilians to escape the war.
The Russian Defense Ministry statement said it agreed on evacuation routes with Ukrainian forces to allow civilians to leave the port of Mariupol in the southeast and the eastern town of Volnovakha “from 10 a.m. Moscow time.”
But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office later said the Russians were not holding to the cease-fire and continued firing on Mariupol and surrounding areas. Russia breached the deal in Volnovakha as well, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told reporters.
Russian outlet RIA Novosti carried a Russian Defense Ministry claim that the firing came from inside both communities against Russian positions.
NUCLEAR SAFETY CONCERNS
The office of President Emmanuel Macron said France will propose concrete measures to ensure the safety and security of Ukraine’s five main nuclear sites. The safeguards will be drawn up on the basis of International Atomic Energy Agency criteria, a statement from the French presidency said.
The announcement comes after Russian troops seized the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant — the country’s largest — in the southeastern city of Enerhodar. The attack caused global alarm, evoking memories of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, at Ukraine’s Chernobyl.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said no radiation spikes were detected, however. The chief of the U.N. agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said a Russian “projectile” hit a training center, not any of the six reactors.
ANGER OVER NO-FLY ZONE REQUEST
Zelenskyy criticized NATO for refusing to impose a no-fly zone over his country. In a bitter and emotional speech late Friday, Zelenskyy said the lack of a no-fly zone it will fully untie Russia’s hands as it escalates its air attack.
“All the people who die from this day forward will also die because of you,” he warned.
NATO says a no-fly zone could provoke widespread war in Europe with nuclear-armed Russia.
WHAT’S HAPPENING ON THE GROUND
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military launched hundreds of missiles and artillery attacks on cities and other sites across the country. But a vast, mileslong Russian armored column threatening Ukraine’s capital remained stalled outside Kyiv.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich said battles involving airstrikes and artillery continued northwest of Kyiv. He said the northeastern cities of Kharkiv and Okhtyrka also came under heavy fire. Ukrainian forces still held the northern city of Chernihiv and the southern city of Mykolaiv, Arestovich said. Ukrainian artillery also defended Ukraine’s biggest port city, Odesa, from repeated attempts by Russian ships, he said.
DIRECTLY WITNESSED OR CONFIRMED BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Kyiv’s central train station remained crowded with people desperate to join the more than 1.4 million who have fled Ukraine.
Frequent shelling could be heard from the center of the capital, Kyiv.
In stories and videos posted online, Russian state outlets are falsely claiming that Zelenskyy fled Kyiv. Photos and videos show the Ukrainian president leading his country’s defense.
RUSSIA”S MEDIA CRACKDOWN
Russia continued to clamp down on independent media reporting on the war, blocking Facebook and Twitter inside the country.
The U.N. World Food Program says millions of people inside Ukraine, a major global wheat supplier, will need food aid “immediately.”
Ukraine’s president was set to brief U.S. senators on Saturday on a video conference call as Congress considers a request for $10 billion in emergency funding for humanitarian aid and security needs.
HOW MANY CASUALTIES?
Russia has acknowledged that nearly 500 Russian troops have been killed and around 1,600 wounded. Ukraine has not released casualty figures for its armed forces.
The U.N. human rights office says at least 331 civilians have been killed and 675 wounded in Ukraine since the start of the invasion. Ukraine’s State Emergency Service has said more than 2,000 civilians have died, though it’s impossible to verify the claim.
More than 840 children have been wounded in the invasion, and 28 have been killed, according to Ukraine’s government.
SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA
Singapore announced sanctions against Russia becoming one of the few governments in Southeast Asia to do so. The tiny city-state imposed controls on exports or transshipments of military-related or dual use items considered “strategic goods.”
“The sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity of all countries, big and small, must be respected,” said an announcement by the Foreign Ministry.
The wave of global sanctions on Russia could have devastating consequences for energy and grain importers. Russia is a leading exporter of grains and a major supplier of crude oil, metals, wood and plastics.
More companies are suspending operations in Russia, including Apple, Mercedes-Benz, BP, Volkswagen, clothing retailer H&M; and furnishings store IKEA.
Spain’s Teatro Real, one of Europe’s major opera houses, said it is canceling a set of upcoming performances by Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet.
Aeroflot, Russia’s flagship carrier, announced that it will halt all international flights except to Belarus starting March 8. That follows a warning by Russia’s aviation agency that airlines with foreign-leased planes risk their aircraft being impounded as part of Western sanctions.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Poland to meet with the prime minister and foreign minister. The visit comes a day after he attended a NATO meeting in Brussels in which the alliance pledged to step up support for eastern flank members.
Meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council will hold an open meeting Monday on the worsening humanitarian situation in Ukraine.
The United States and Albania requested the meeting, which will hear briefings by U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths and Catherine Russell, executive director of the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF, diplomats said.
The United Nations estimates that 12 million people in Ukraine and 4 million fleeing to neighboring countries in the coming months will need humanitarian aid.
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