(NEW YORK) — Russian forces are continuing their attempted push through Ukraine from multiple directions, while Ukrainians, led by President Volodymyr 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, have advanced closer to the city center in recent days despite the resistance, coming within about 9 miles as of 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.
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Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Mar 11, 12:15 pm
Russia claims more than 34,500 people evacuated to Russia from Ukraine in past 24 hours
Russia’s Defense Ministry on Friday claimed more than 34,500 people were evacuated from Ukraine to Russia in the last 24 hours, without help from Kyiv authorities.
People were evacuated from various Ukrainian regions, including Luhansk and Donetsk regions, the head of the Russian National Defense Control Center, Mikhail Mizintsev, said at a press briefing.
“In the past 24 hours, 34,555 people, including 3,562 children, were evacuated from dangerous zones in various Ukrainian regions and the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics without Ukraine’s involvement,” Mizintsev said.
He added, “In total, more than 223,000 people, including 50,258 children, have already been evacuated since the launch of the special military operation.”
Mizintsev claimed Ukrainian authorities are refusing humanitarian corridors in Russia’s direction and prohibiting local authorities from having contacts with the Russian side.
According to Mizintsev, the city of Volnovakha is under control of the Donetsk militia and residents are reluctant to evacuate. He claimed the troops “are already establishing a return to peaceful life in Volnovakha.”
“Relevant humanitarian events involving the population are underway, and none of the residents are going to leave their homes,” Mizintsev said.
Russia’s Defense Ministry also claimed that Ukrainian officials are disrupting evacuations from Izium to Lozova.
“The travel itineraries are planted with landmines, and parts of the road are being shelled with small arms and mortars by Ukrainian territorial defense units on approaches to Lozova,” he said.
Mizintsev claimed Mariupol is blocked. “All bridges and approaches to it are destroyed, the main roads have been mined by nationalists, and gunmen are roaming the streets, firing indiscriminately, thereby forcing the civilian population to stay in,” he said.
Mizintsev also claimed Ukrainian forces blew up “a building of the institute of physics and technology in Kharkiv to hide nuclear research” and that up to 50 of its employees might be missing.
Mar 11, 11:26 am
Ukrainian air force claims Russia carried out false flag airstrike in Belarus
Ukraine’s air force claimed Friday that Russia carried out an alleged false flag airstrike in a Belarusian village near the border with Ukraine.
In a post on Facebook, Ukraine’s air force claimed Russian jets took off from a base in Belarus and entered Ukraine’s airspace, then a fire started in the village of Kopani.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksy Reznikov earlier claimed in a Facebook post that Russian forces would launch a strike against Kopani to “pull the armed forces of the Republic of Belarus into the war with Ukraine.”
-ABC News’ Patrick Reevell
Mar 11, 11:15 am
US Restricts the export of luxury goods to Russia, Belarus
The U.S. Department of Commerce announced Friday that it will restrict the export of U.S. luxury goods to Russia and Belarus, as well as “certain Russian and Belarusian oligarchs and malign actors located worldwide,” as a result of their actions in Ukraine.
The Department of Commerce said it will impose restrictions on the export, reexport and transfer of luxury items including certain spirits, tobacco products, clothing items, jewelry, vehicles and antique goods.
“Putin’s war of choice in Ukraine continues to take a devastating toll on innocent civilians in Ukraine, fueling one of the worst humanitarian crises Europe has seen in decades,” Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in a statement.
Raimondo added, “Putin and the oligarchs who fund him have gotten rich off of Putin’s rampant corruption and the exploitation of the Russian people. We will not allow Putin and his cronies to continue living in opulence while causing tremendous suffering throughout Eastern Europe. Today’s action takes away another source of comfort and reminds them that Russia is increasingly isolated.”
-ABC News’ Luke Barr
Mar 11, 10:16 am
WHO advised Ukraine to destroy pathogens to prevent ‘accidental spill’
The World Health Organization said Friday that it is urging Ukraine to now destroy its pathogen samples because Russia’s war in the country risks an “accidental spill,” according to WHO spokesperson Tarik Jašarević.
“This is part of us providing a public health advice to every country to try to ensure there is a minimized risk of any harm to population because of any possible accidental leak of pathogens,” Jašarević said Friday from Lviv.
-ABC News’ Conor Finnegan
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