G7 agrees to more sanctions on Russia if Ukraine attacks persist

Russian troops battle for control of Ukrainian city, home to biggest nuclear power plant in Europe, as Kiev calls on citizens to resist the invasion, which is running on its ninth day.

G7 leaders called on Russia to immediately stop its attack on Ukraine.
G7 leaders called on Russia to immediately stop its attack on Ukraine.

Friday, March 4, 2022

G7 to impose further sanctions on Russia if no ceasefire

Foreign ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies have agreed they would impose further sanctions on Russia if Moscow does not stop attacking Ukraine.

“We called on Russia to immediately stop its attack onUkraine, which has even harmed ordinary citizens, and withdraw its forces,” Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters.

“We’ve agreed, as G7, to impose further, severe sanctions if Russia does not stop its assault.”

Hayashi participated in the G7 meeting, held in Brussels, via teleconference.

UN: Civilian death toll in Ukraine rises to 331

The UN human rights office has confirmed 331 civilians have been killed and 675 injured in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began on February 24, adding that the real toll was likely much higher.

The toll, through to midnight on Thursday, rose from 249 in its previous report from a day earlier. Among the331 killed were 19 children, the UN rights office said.

Most of the victims were killed by explosive weapons such as shelling from heavy artillery, multi-launch rocket systems and missile and air strikes, according to the rights office, which has monitors in Ukraine.

Microsoft ‘suspends’ new sales of products, services in Russia

Microsoft has halted new sales of its products and services in Russia, the tech giant announced, in the latest fallout over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Like the rest of the world, we are horrified, angered and saddened by the images and news coming from the war in Ukraine and condemn this unjustified, unprovoked and unlawful invasion by Russia,” Microsoft president Brad Smith said in a blog post.

Germany: Russian forces increasingly hit civilian population

Russian forces in Ukraine have been increasingly targeting the civilian population, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said ahead of a meeting with her EU counterparts.

“It is clear to see that this war of aggression by (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is targeting the civilian population with the most brutal rigor,” she told reporters in Brussels.

UN council backs probe of war violations

The UN Human Rights Council has condemned alleged rights violations by Russia in its invasion of Ukraine and agreed to set up a commission to investigate them, including possible war crimes.

Thirty-two members of the council voted in favour of the resolution brought by Ukraine. Russia and Eritrea voted against it.

The remaining 13 members abstained — including Moscow’s traditional backers China, Venezuela and Cuba.

“The message to Putin has been clear: You’re isolated on a global level and the whole world is against you,” Ukrainian ambassador Yevheniia Filipenko told reporters after the vote.

The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting requested by Britain after Russian forces attacked Europe’s largest nuclear plant in Ukraine, diplomatic sources said.

Ukraine accuses Russian troops of rape

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has accused Russian troops of raping women and backed a call for the creation of a special tribunal to punish Moscow’s aggression.

“We have numerous cases of, unfortunately, when Russian soldiers rape women in the Ukrainian cities,” Kuleba told a briefing at London’s Chatham House think-tank.

He did not provide details but supported an appeal by former British prime minister Gordon Brown and a swathe of international law experts for a special tribunal.

Several explosions heard in quick succession in Kiev

Several explosions were heard in quick succession in Ukraine’s capital Kiev and an air raid siren blasted out, a Reuters reporter said.

The exact origin of the explosions could not be immediately established. 

NATO rejects calls for no-fly zone over Ukraine

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said the alliance would not impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine after calls from Kiev to help stop Russia’s bombardments.

“Allies agree that we should not have NATO planes operating over Ukrainian airspace or NATO troops on Ukrainian territory,” Stoltenberg said after an urgent meeting with NATO foreign ministers.

Establishing a no-fly zone over Ukraine could result in the war spreading to more European countries, said Stoltenberg.

US taking ‘all measures’ to stop Russia benefiting from IMF

The United States is committed to taking all measures to prevent Russia from benefiting from its holdings of International Monetary FundSpecial Drawing Rights, a US Treasury official said.

Russia received $17 billion in SDRs in a new IMF allocation last year, but to spend it Moscow would need to find a partner country willing to exchange them for underlying currencies in the form of an interest-bearing loan.

The United States and its partners, which account for the large majority of available counterparts in the IMF’s SDR transactions system, will not undertake any such exchanges, the official said

Euro dips below $1.10 for first time since 2020

The euro has sank close to a two-year low under $1.10 as the Ukraine conflict continues to cloud the eurozone’s economic recovery from the pandemic.

The European single currency slid in late morning deals to $1.0992, the lowest level since May 2020, as the greenback benefited also from its status as a haven investment.

IAEA head offers to travel to Chernobyl

The head of the UN nuclear watchdog has offered to travel to Chernobyl to negotiate with Ukraine and Russia and ensure the security of Ukraine’s nuclear sites.

The offer came hours after Russian invasion forces seized control of Europe’s largest power plant at Zaporizhzhia after a battle with Ukrainian troops that caused a fire and fears of an accident.

“I have indicated to both the Russian Federation and Ukraine my availability… to travel to Chernobyl as soon as possible,” Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told reporters.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian state nuclear company says three Ukrainian troops were killed and two wounded in the attack.

Turkish FM discusses Ukraine with Britain, Romania 

Türkiye’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has discussed the situation in Ukraine with his British and Romanian counterparts ahead of an extraordinary meeting of NATO’s top diplomats in Brussels.

“Ahead of NATO Meeting in Brussels, discussed latest situation in #Ukraine & bilateral relations w/Foreign Secretary (Liz Truss),” Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter, sharing two photos from the meeting.

Later, Cavusoglu met Romania’s Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu.

Ukraine: Death toll rises from Russian air strikes in Chernihiv 

At least 47 people have been killed in Russian air strikes on a residential district of the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, regional authorities said, updating an earlier death toll of 33 killed.

Rescue work had to be suspended on Thursday due to heavy shelling, according to the local emergency services.

UK wants to stop Russians using its courts to silence critics

The British government will soon put forward proposals to stop Russian oligarchs using Britain’s court system to sue those seeking to shine a light on corruption.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said the government wants to limit so-called SLAPP lawsuits, short for “strategic lawsuits against public participation.”

SLAPP lawsuits have been used by wealthy foreign businessmen to limit free speech by targeting journalists and activists.

Ukraine: Russian advance on port city of Mykolayiv halted

A Russian advance on the Ukrainian port city of Mykolayiv has been halted, an adviser to Ukraine’s president said, after local authorities reported Russian troops entering the ship-building hub on the Black Sea for the first time.

“We can feel cautious optimism about the future prospects of the enemy offensive — I think that it will be stopped in other areas also,” military adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said in a televised briefing. 

UK seeks UN Security Council meeting over plant attack

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has said the UK wants an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council after Russian forces attacked a nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

The attack was “a threat to European security and stability and we need those responsible to be held to account,” she told British television on the sidelines of a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels.

Ukraine urges more Russia sanctions after nuclear plant attack

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has demanded still tougher sanctions against his Moscow foes after Russian forces attacked and seized a nuclear plant.

“An immediate reinforcement of sanctions against the nuclear terrorist state is necessary,” he declared, amid fears that fighting at the Zaporizhzhya plant could trigger a nuclear accident. 

Russia blames attack at nuclear power station on Ukrainian saboteurs

Russia’s defence ministry has blamed an attack at the site of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in Ukraine on Ukrainian saboteurs, calling it a “monstrous provocation”.

Ukraine has said Russian forces attacked the plant in the early hours of Friday, setting an adjacent five-storey training facility on fire, in an incident that provoked international condemnation of Moscow, eight days into its invasion of Ukraine. 

Reuters could not independently verify either the Russian or the Ukrainian account of the incident. 

NATO chief slams Russia ‘recklessness’ in nuclear plant shelling

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg decried Russia’s “recklessness” over the shelling of a nuclear power plant in Ukraine and demanded Moscow stop the war against its neighbour.

“Overnight we have also seen reports about the attack against the nuclear power plant. This just demonstrates the recklessness of this war and the importance of ending it and the importance of Russia withdrawing all its troops and engaging good faith in diplomatic efforts,” Stoltenberg said ahead of talks with Western foreign ministers.

NATO members have rushed thousands of troops to eastern Europe to bolster the alliance’s flank closest to Russia and are sending weapons to help Ukraine defend itself.

But NATO has ruled out intervening militarily over fears of getting into a direct conflict with Moscow that could spiral into nuclear war.

Western leaders slam Russian attack on Ukraine nuclear plant

Western leaders strongly condemned a Russian attack on Europe’s largest nuclear plant, accusing Moscow of endangering millions of people by launching a full-blown war in Ukraine.

“The reckless actions of President Putin could now directly threaten the safety of all of Europe,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.

“It’s not just dangerous for Ukraine and the Russians, it’s dangerous for Europe and it is playing with fire that really is beyond anything to do with logic or necessity,” Defence Minister Ben Wallace said in Denmark.

“Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi condemns the heinous attack by Russia on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, an attack on everyone’s security,” a statement said.

“The European Union should continue to react with unity and with the utmost determination, together with its allies, to support Ukraine and protect European citizens.”

“This kind of attack is madness,” Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said, expressing “strong condemnation.”

Airbnb halts operations in Russia, Belarus

Home rental platform Airbnb joined the growing list of companies suspending their operations in Russia as well as Belarus over Moscow’s war on Ukraine.

Airbnb is suspending all operations in Russia and Belarus,” the company’s CEO Brian Chesky wrote on Twitter on Friday.

On February 28, the company started offering short-term housing to up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine for free. 

Russian troops capture Europe’s largest nuclear plant – Kiev 

Following night-long clashes near the city of Zaporizhzhya in southeastern Ukraine, Russia has taken control of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Ukrainian authorities announced.

“Currently, the site of the Zaporizhzhya NPP is occupied by the military forces of the Russian Federation,” said a statement by the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate.

It stressed that there had been no changes in radiation level, which increased after a fire broke out due to Russian shelling.

Around 624,500 people entered Poland from Ukraine

Around 624,500 people have crossed into Poland from Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion on February 24, the Polish border guard said. 

It said that on Thursday around 99,200 people entered, and that on Friday about 25,200 people had crossed as of 0600 GMT.

Over 120,000 people fleeing Ukraine cross into Hungary

Over 120,000 people fleeing Ukraine have taken shelter in Hungary since the war began last week between Kiev and Moscow, according to a senior government official.

Gergely Gulyas, the chief of staff to Prime Minister Viktor Orban, said that the Hungary-Ukraine border gates were open and that crossings continued.

Stating that the number of Ukrainians who have arrived in the country since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war has surpassed 120,000, Gulyas said Budapest does not want to be involved in the war and would not allow weapons to pass through the border to Ukraine. 

He said the government was doing everything in its power to ensure the safety of the Hungarian minority in Ukraine.

Fire at Ukraine nuclear plant ‘extinguished’, Kiev blames Russia

The fire at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant has been extinguished, Ukrainian emergency services said, after Kiev blamed Russian military shelling for the blaze.

Ukraine’s emergency services said it was able to put out the fire after the Russian military eventually allowed rescuers to access the site.

“At 06:20 (04:20 GMT) the fire in the training building of Zaporizhzhia NPP in Energodar was extinguished.

There are no victims,” the emergency services said in a statement on Facebook.

Zelenskyy had earlier begged world leaders to wake up and prevent Europe from “dying from a nuclear disaster” after Russian forces attacked the continent’s largest plant.

Zelenskyy accuses Russia of ‘nuclear terror’ after plant fire

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Moscow of resorting to “nuclear terror” and wanting to “repeat” the Chernobyl disaster after he said Russian forces shot at a nuclear power plant.

“No country other than Russia has ever fired on nuclear power units. This is the first time in our history. In the history of mankind. The terrorist state now resorted to nuclear terror,” he said in a video message.

Russia restricts access to BBC Russian service and Radio Liberty

Russia’s communications watchdog has restricted access to BBC Russian service as well as Radio Liberty and the Meduza media outlet, the RIA news agency reported on Friday.

Russia’s foreign ministry said on Thursday that the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) was being used to undermine the internal political situation and security in Russia. 

Ukraine authorities: Situation at nuclear power plant ‘secured’

Ukrainian authorities have said the safety of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was now secured after a fire broke out when the station came under fire from invading Russian forces.

“The director of the plant said that nuclear safety is now guaranteed. According to those responsible for the plant, a training building and a laboratory were affected by the fire,” Oleksandr Starukh, head of the military administration of the Zaporizhzhia region, said on Facebook.

The fire at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in Ukraine, the largest of its kind in Europe, broke out in a training building outside the plant’s perimeter, the state emergency service said in a statement.

Separately, the plant’s director told Ukraine 24 television that radiation security had been secured at the site. 

The UN’s atomic watchdog warned of “severe danger” if the reactors were hit.

“IAEA Director-General @RafaelMGrossi speaks with #Ukraine PM Denys Shmygal and with Ukrainian nuclear regulator and operator about serious situation at #Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, appeals for halt of use of force and warns of severe danger if reactors hit,” the International Atomic Energy Agency tweeted.

Ukraine official: Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine on fire

Russian troops are shelling Europe’s largest nuclear power station in Ukraine, the spokesperson of the Zaporizhzhia plant has said.

“We demand that they stop the heavy weapons fire,” Andriy Tuz, spokesperson for the plant in Enerhodar, said in a video posted on Telegram on Friday. “There is a real threat of nuclear danger in the biggest atomic energy station in Europe.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called on Russian troops to stop attacking the power plant. 

“If it blows up, it will be 10 times larger than Chornobyl! Russians must IMMEDIATELY cease the fire,” Kuleba tweeted referring to the 1986 accident in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant when the country was part of the Soviet Union, considered the worst nuclear disaster in history.

The fighting at Enerhodar, a city on the Dnieper River that accounts for one-quarter of the country’s power generation, came as another round of talks between the two sides yielded a tentative agreement to set up safe corridors inside Ukraine to evacuate citizens and deliver humanitarian aid.

The mayor of Enerhodar said Ukrainian forces were battling Russian troops on the city’s outskirts and said the plant was on fire. 

A government official told The Associated Press that elevated levels of radiation were detected near the site of the plant, which provides about 25 percent of Ukraine’s power generation. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the information has not yet been publicly released.

A video showed flames and black smoke rising above the city of more than 50,000, with people streaming past wrecked cars, just a day after the UN atomic watchdog agency expressed grave concern that the fighting could cause accidental damage to Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies