(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 04, 6:45 am
US embassy calls nuclear power plant shelling ‘a war crime’
The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv took to Twitter on Friday to condemn Russia’s shelling of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe.
“It is a war crime to attack a nuclear power plant,” the embassy tweeted. “Putin’s shelling of Europe’s largest nuclear plant takes his reign of terror one step further.”
Mar 04, 6:25 am
Blinken: ‘If conflict comes to us, we’re ready for it’
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on Friday morning to discuss the response to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
During a press conference prior to the meeting at NATO headquarters, Blinken and Stoltenberg condemned Russia’s attacks on civilians in Ukraine and expressed concern over the reports of Russian shelling at Ukraine’s largest 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 engage in good faith in diplomatic efforts,” Stoltenberg told reporters. “We provide support to Ukraine. At the same time, NATO is not part of the conflict. NATO is a defensive alliance, we don’t seek war conflict with Russia.”
Blinken emphasized that NATO and the United States “seek no conflict.”
“But if conflict comes to us, we’re ready for it,” he added. “And we will defend every inch of NATO territory.”
Mar 04, 5:41 am
No radioactive material released at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant: IAEA
The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog said Friday that no radioactive material was released at Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant amid shelling from Russian forces overnight.
The shelling sparked a fire in a training building at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, in the eastern Ukrainian city of Enerhodar. The blaze has since been extinguished, according to Ukraine’s State Emergency Service.
Two security employees at the plant were injured during the incident, according to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi.
“The safety systems at the six reactors were not effected,” Grossi said at a press conference in Vienna on Friday morning. “No radioactive material was released.”
“We are following the situation very, very closely,” he added.
-ABC News’ Joe Simonetti
Mar 04, 2:57 am
Fire at Ukraine’s largest nuclear facility extinguished as Russian forces take control
A fire at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in the eastern Ukrainian city of Enerhodar was extinguished Friday, according to Ukraine’s State Emergency Service.
The fire occurred in a training building at the site after shelling from Russian forces. There were no victims, the emergency service said.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is the largest in Europe.
Meanwhile, Energodar Mayor Dmytro Orlov told reporters Friday morning that the city is now under the control of Russian forces and fighting near the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant has stopped.
Ukraine’s national nuclear regulator has said that the plant’s employees are being permitted to work as normal, safety systems are currently functioning and there was no reported change in radiation levels at the site.
-ABC News’ Brian Hartman and Patrick Reevell
Mar 04, 2:12 am
UN nuclear watchdog warns of ‘severe danger if any reactors were hit’ at plant
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has appealed for a halt of the use of force at Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant and warned of “severe danger if any reactors were hit.”
The United Nations nuclear watchdog said in a statement early Friday that it was informed by Ukraine that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, had been shelled overnight in the eastern city of Enerhodar. IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi “immediately” spoke with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal as well as the country’s national nuclear regulator and operator about the “serious situation.” Grossi is expected to hold a press conference later Friday.
According to IAEA, the Ukrainian regulatory authority said a fire at the site had not affected “essential” equipment and plant personnel were taking mitigatory actions, and that there was no reported change in radiation levels at the plant.
Ukraine’s State Emergency Service said the blaze, which occurred in a training building after shelling from Russian forces, was extinguished Friday morning.
The IAEA said it is putting its Incident and Emergency Center (IEC) in “full response mode” due to the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The agency continues to closely monitor developments at the facility and remains in constant contact with Ukraine.
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