(NEW YORK) — Russian forces are continuing their attempted push through Ukraine from multiple directions, while Ukrainians, led by President Volodymr Zelenskyy, are putting up “stiff resistance,” according to U.S. officials.
The attack began Feb. 24, when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation.”
Russian forces moving from neighboring Belarus toward Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, don’t appear to have advanced closer to the city since coming within about 20 miles, although smaller advanced groups have been fighting gun battles with Ukrainian forces inside the capital since at least Friday.
Russia has been met by sanctions from the United States, Canada and countries throughout Europe, targeting the Russian economy as well as Putin himself.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Mar 03, 6:50 am
Russian foreign minister declines to comment on civilian deaths in Ukraine
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov wouldn’t comment on civilian deaths from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine when pressed during an interview Thursday with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America.
“I cannot comment,” Lavrov said, adding that there are “a great deal” of “conjectures.”
Mar 03, 6:36 am
Russia says talks with Ukraine will resume Thursday
A second round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators will be held at the previously planned venue in neighboring Belarus on Thursday at around 3 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET), according to Vladimir Medinsky, head of the Russian delegation and aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The talks will take place — we are now in contact with the Ukrainian side — at the same venue where they were planned, on the territory of the Brest region of Belarus,” Medinsky told reporters Thursday, adding that Russian negotiators are “waiting calmly.”
“I think the talks will begin at 3 p.m.,” he said.
Mar 03, 6:08 am
Ukraine claims to have raised flag over town outside Kyiv
Ukraine claimed Thursday to have raised its flag over the town of Bucha, close to the Ukrainian capital where some of the most intense fighting has been taking place in recent days and where Russia’s push south on Kyiv appears to have stalled.
A video posted on the official Facebook page of the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ ground troops purportedly shows soldiers hoisting the national flag outside Bucha’s town hall. The town is just a few miles north of the edge of Kyiv and about 15 miles from the center of the capital. Fighting is reported to be ongoing nearby and, in the video, an explosion can be heard in the distance as they raise the blue and yellow flag.
Mar 03, 5:34 am
Ukraine requests no-fly zone over Chernobyl
Ukraine is asking the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to call on NATO to close access to the airspace over the country’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the surrounding exclusion zone.
The deserted exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, where the world’s worst nuclear accident took place in 1986, was seized by Russian forces last week.
A joint appeal to the IAEA was signed Wednesday by Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Galushchenko, Oleh Korikov, head of the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine, and Petro Kotin, head of Ukraine’s state nuclear energy company Energoatom.
“The fact of the seizure of the world-famous Chernobyl nuclear power plant has all the hallmarks of an act of nuclear terrorism committed against Chernobyl nuclear facilities and its personnel by Russian military units,” they said in the appeal.
Mar 03, 5:06 am
Russia claims to have hit another TV tower in Kyiv
Russia claimed Thursday that its forces have “disabled” another television tower in Ukraine’s capital.
Russian troops fired precision-guided weapons at a TV and radio center in the Lysa Hora region of Kyiv, according to Russian Ministry of Defense spokesman Igor Konashenkov.
“A strike delivered by a long-range precision-guided weapon disabled a reserve TV and radio center in the Lysa Hora area in Kyiv which the Ukrainian Security Service has been using for psychological operations against Russia,” Konashenkov said at a press briefing Thursday. “There are no casualties and there is no damage done to residential buildings.”
There were reports of more explosions in Kyiv on Thursday morning, but Ukrainian officials have yet to confirm that a second TV tower was hit.
A Russian missile struck Kyiv’s main TV tower in the heart of the capital on Tuesday.
Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov has said that Russia is aiming to cut off a large part of Ukraine from the internet and communications.
Mar 03, 4:37 am
Russia claims to have seized eastern Ukrainian city
Russia claimed Thursday that its forces have seized the eastern Ukrainian city of Balakliya.
Russian troops worked together with Russia-backed separatist forces on the “successful offensive,” according to Russian Ministry of Defense spokesman Igor Konashenkov.
“The city of Balakliya has been freed from nationalist battalions,” Konashenkov said at a press briefing Thursday.
Balakliya is about 55 miles southeast of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, where heavy shelling continued Thursday.
Mar 02, 11:25 pm
US condemns Kremlin’s ‘full assault’ on ‘truth’ in media
The U.S. State Department is condemning Moscow’s attack on the media, saying the Kremlin “is engaged in a full assault on media freedom and the truth, and Moscow’s efforts to mislead and suppress the truth of the brutal invasion are intensifying.”
“The people of Russia did not choose this war. Putin did,” Ned Price, State Department spokesman, said in a statement. “They have a right to know about the death, suffering and destruction being inflicted by their government on the people of Ukraine. The people of Russia also have a right to know about the human costs of this senseless war to their own soldiers.”
The statement comes 24 hours after the Russian government blocked the country’s only two major independent news broadcasters, Dozhd TV and Radio Ekho Moskvy, accusing them of spreading “false information” about Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Ekho Moskvy has been respected for its even-handed treatment of breaking news since its founding 32 years ago, and, until yesterday, its broadcasts reached some 1.8 million daily listeners throughout Russia and beyond,” the State Department said in a statement Wednesday night. “Dozhd, which has been operating for more than a decade, is similarly known for high-quality reporting.”
Russian state channels, such as RT and Sputnik, are banned from using the word “war” or “invasion” in relation to Russia’s assault on Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin instead has referred to it as a “special military operation.”
The State Department said the Russian Parliament will consider a bill Friday to make “unofficial” reporting on the invasion punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
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