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Russia-Ukraine live updates: To take Kyiv, Russia will have to 'kill all residents': Zelenskyy

Andrea Filigheddu/NurPhoto via Getty Images

(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.

For previous coverage please see here.

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Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Mar 12, 4:48 pm
13,000 Ukrainians evacuated on Saturday, Ukrainian official says

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk posted an update Saturday on the country’s evacuation progress.

About 13,000 Ukrainians were evacuated Saturday, which was half the number from Friday, she said.

Nine out of 14 humanitarian corridors were open Saturday, according to Vereshchuk.

About 8,000 refugees left Sumy, more than 3,000 left Konotop, 800 people were taken out of Gostomel and about a thousand people evacuated Nemeshaevo, Vereshchuk said.

About a thousand people were rescued from Bucha, including patients at a nursing home, she said.

However, Russia didn’t let a convoy through the checkpoint in Vasilyevka and as a result no one could evacuate from the Zaporіzhya region, Vereshchuk said.

A Ukrainian convoy also did not reach Mariupol, because it got stuck at a Russian checkpoint, according to Vereshchuk. The convoy will try to take people out from the locations Sunday, she said.

Mar 12, 3:46 pm
US senators to travel to Poland to meet with officials, visit refugee sites

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators announced Saturday that they are traveling to Poland to meet with Polish officials and visit refugee sites to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to Poland, Ukraine and other allies in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The group is made up of Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

The group was also expected to meet with the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division stationed in Poland on the trip this weekend.

“The Polish people continue their unwavering support for NATO after 23 years of fighting alongside the U.S. and our allies. This bipartisan delegation will send a clear message that the U.S. is thankful for their support of Ukraine and their offer of providing fighter jets, as the people of Ukraine continues to endure brutal Russian atrocities,” Portman said in a statement.

Echoing U.S. support for Ukraine, Blumenthal said, “As Putin continues his brutal, savage invasion, I’m traveling with a bipartisan group of Senators to the Ukrainian border in Poland to see first-hand the heartbreaking, exploding humanitarian crisis — and learn how America can magnify its military assistance to brave Ukrainian freedom fighters.”

Mar 12, 3:36 pm
US senators to travel to Poland to meet with officials, visit refugee sites

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators announced Saturday that they are traveling to Poland to meet with Polish officials and visit refugee sites to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to Poland, Ukraine and other allies in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The group is made up of Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

“The Polish people continue their unwavering support for NATO after 23 years of fighting alongside the U.S. and our allies. This bipartisan delegation will send a clear message that the U.S. is thankful for their support of Ukraine and their offer of providing fighter jets, as the people of Ukraine continues to endure brutal Russian atrocities,” Portman said in a statement.

Echoing U.S. support for Ukraine, Blumenthal said, “As Putin continues his brutal, savage invasion, I’m traveling with a bipartisan group of Senators to the Ukrainian border in Poland to see first-hand the heartbreaking, exploding humanitarian crisis — and learn how America can magnify its military assistance to brave Ukrainian freedom fighters.”

Mar 12, 3:17 pm
Biden authorizes $200 million in military assistance to Ukraine

President Joe Biden authorized $200 million in new military assistance to Ukraine, to come from existing U.S. weapons stocks, the White House said Saturday.

Biden authorized “the drawdown of up to an aggregate value of $200 million in defense articles and services of the Department of Defense, and military education and training, to provide assistance to Ukraine and to make the determinations required under such section to direct such a drawdown,” the White House said in a press release.

Mar 12, 2:56 pm
NATO allies’ resolve ‘strengthened’ since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Harris says

Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday re-emphasized the U.S.’ commitment to defend NATO allies and said, “Our collective resolve has been strengthened” since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The United States stands firmly with the Ukrainian people in defense of the NATO alliance,” Harris said at the DNC Winter Meeting, hours after returning from her trip to Poland and Romania.

“Russia’s invasion threatens not just Ukraine’s democracy, it threatens democracy and security across Europe and by extension when democracy is threatened, anywhere, it threatens us all,” Harris said.

Harris recalled her meeting with the presidents of both nations and how she met with refugees from Ukraine, who she said “feel very alone.”

“I told them people around the world stand with them and they are not alone,” Harris said.

Mar 12, 2:24 pm
To take Kyiv, Russia will have ‘kill all residents,’ defiant Zelenskyy says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told reporters Saturday that Russia would have to carpet-bomb Kyiv and kill all its residents to be able to conquer the capital city.

“They will come here only if they kill us all,” Zelenskyy said. “If that is their goal, let them come.”

Mar 12, 11:49 am
Zelenskyy says Ukraine has lost 1,300 troops, claims Russia lost 12,000

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Ukraine lost 1,300 troops and claimed that Russia has lost 12,000 troops, to reporters Saturday.

“I can’t say that I’m happy about their losses because it’s not who I am. We’re talking about human lives here, and those soldiers were brought to the war as cannon fodder, brainwashed and confused,” Zelenskyy said.

Zelenskyy also commented on the humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians, saying the most successful corridor has been out of Sumy where tens of thousands were evacuated.

“It’s a very difficult process and sometimes we have to invent unorthodox methods to facilitate that, because the Russians almost never observe cease-fire to allow evacuation of civilians,” Zelenskyy said.

Zelenskyy also commented on discussions with Russia, saying he has been requesting direct talks at the highest level for over two years.

“At least we can see some progress now in that they also start to agree that dialogue is needed. But of course we would seek broader involvement of other world leaders, because in any talks about future firm security guarantees for Ukraine we will never trust only Moscow after such a bloody war it unleashed,” Zelenskyy said.

Mar 12, 11:14 am
Biden authorizes $200 million in military assistance to Ukraine

President Joe Biden authorized $200 million in new military assistance to Ukraine, to come from existing U.S. weapons stocks, the White House said Saturday.

Biden authorized “the drawdown of up to an aggregate value of $200 million in defense articles and services of the Department of Defense, and military education and training, to provide assistance to Ukraine and to make the determinations required under such section to direct such a drawdown,” the White House said in a press release.

Mar 12, 10:13 am
Putin, Macron, Scholz discuss humanitarian situation in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on the phone with French President Emmanuel Macron and Federal Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz, about the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, the Kremlin’s press service reported on Saturday.

The Kremlin claimed “numerous facts of gross violations of international humanitarian law by Ukrainian security forces were cited – extrajudicial killings of dissenters, taking hostages and using civilians as human shields, placing heavy weapons in residential areas, near hospitals, schools, kindergartens.”

The Kremlin also claimed, “nationalist battalions systematically disrupt rescue operations, intimidate civilians during evacuation attempts.”

Putin “urged” Macron and Scholz to “influence the Kiev authorities so that such criminal actions would be stopped,” according to a statement from the Kremlin.

The leaders spoke about the series of talks between Russian and Ukrainian representatives in recent days. “It was agreed to continue contacts on Ukrainian issues,” the Kremlin said.

Mar 12, 9:19 am
Zelenskyy comments further on allegedly kidnapped mayor

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Saturday demanded the release of Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov, who Ukrainian officials allege was kidnapped by Russian forces.

“The city community is demanding his release. I am grateful to every Melitopol resident for this resistance,” Zelenskyy said in a message posted on Facebook.

The organizer of Ukrainian rallies in Melitopol, Olga Gaisumova was also captured and the city’s aid headquarters in the Shevchenko recreation center was seized by Russian soldiers, who cordoned off the building, local blogger and activist, Tatiana Kumok, told ABC News in an interview.

The occupiers told the civil defense in Melitopol that they are prohibited from going in the streets during the curfew, according to Kumok.

Zelenskyy claimed the Ukrainians have had tremendous success, dealing “biggest blow to the Russian army in decades.”

“We have had extraordinary success. How the entire Ukrainian people resisted these invaders has already gone down in history. But we have no right to reduce the intensity of defense, no matter how difficult it may be for us. We have no right to reduce the energy of our resistance,” Zelenskyy said.

Mar 11, 7:22 pm
Zelenskyy demands release of Melitopol mayor

In his latest address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy demanded the release of a mayor reportedly kidnapped Friday by Russian forces.

“Today in Melitopol, the invaders captured mayor of the city, Ivan Fedorov — a mayor who courageously defends Ukraine and the people of his community,” Zelenskyy said. “Obviously, this is a sign of the weakness of the invaders.”

He called the alleged kidnapping a “crime against democracy” and said Russia’s actions “will be equated with the actions of ISIS terrorists.”

“Ukraine demands the immediate release of the mayor of Melitopol and guarantees of full security to all heads of communities across the country,” he said, adding that he planned to raise this in talks with “international mediators who communicate with Moscow.”

The southern Ukrainian city of Melitopol has been under Russian occupation since the first days of the invasion, though Fedorov had insisted it remained part of Ukraine.

Zelenskyy adviser Kirill Timoshenko posted a CCTV video Friday allegedly showing Fedorov being led out of the building by a large group of armed Russian soldiers.

Mar 11, 6:33 pm
Treasury announces more sanctions against Russians

The Treasury Department has announced new sanctions against Russia, targeting bankers, state officials, oligarchs and the family of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Peskov was already sanctioned last week, but his wife and two adult children are now designated, with the Treasury saying they “live luxurious lifestyles that are incongruous with Peskov’s civil servant salary and are likely built on the ill-gotten wealth of Peskov’s connections to Putin.”

The U.S. is also sanctioning Russian oligarch and billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, going after assets that include a private jet and a yacht estimated to be a combined $180 million in value.

Others hit with sanctions include 10 people comprising VTB Bank’s board, Russia’s second largest bank, and 12 members of the State Duma.

Mar 11, 6:13 pm
State Department warns Americans of risks of joining Ukrainian war effort

The State Department is warning Americans of the risks of traveling to Ukraine to join in the fight against Russian troops.

“U.S. citizens should be aware that Russia has stated that it intends to treat foreign fighters in Ukraine as ‘mercenaries,’ rather than lawful combatants or prisoners of war,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said during a briefing Friday. “While we expect Russia to respect all of its obligations under the law of war, in light of this very concerning statement, U.S. citizens detained by Russian authorities in Ukraine — they may be subject to potential attempts at criminal prosecution and may be at heightened risk for mistreatment.”

When asked whether the U.S. Department of Justice would prosecute these Americans, Price said he believed they would not, but referred questions to the DOJ.

He declined to offer any metric for how many U.S. citizens have traveled to Ukraine, saying the State Department doesn’t track Americans’ travel.

ABC News reported Sunday that the Ukrainian embassy has received some 3,000 U.S. applications.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken had previously urged Americans to donate to aid groups or Ukrainian institutions, rather than travel to the country to take up arms.

Mar 11, 5:47 pm
Pentagon ‘watching’ for potential Russian bioweapons ‘false flag’ operation

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Friday that the U.S. doesn’t have “firm indications” that Russia is planning a so-called “false flag” operation to justify use of chemical or biological weapons, but that it is something officials think “could happen that we want to watch out for.”

“We’re watching this as closely as we can,” Kirby said during a briefing, adding that he didn’t have anything specific to report on Russian chem-bio capabilities inside Ukraine.

“We continue to watch for the potential — and I want to stress the word potential — that they could be banging this drum with the intent of creating some sort of false flag event that they could use as an excuse to escalate the conflict even more,” he continued. “I don’t have any specific indication now to talk about, but it is something we’re concerned about.”

Kirby described how Russia possesses a biochemical weapons program and has a “reputation” for using such weapons in the past.

As for concerns that Russia was planning a false flag of a Ukrainian attack in Belarus Friday, Kirby said he had seen the claims by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry but had nothing to corroborate them.

Ukraine’s air force claimed Friday that Russia did carry out an alleged false flag airstrike in a Belarusian village near the border with Ukraine.

Mar 11, 5:44 pm
Ukraine attempting to restore electricity to Chernobyl nuclear power plant

Ukrainian technicians have started repairing damaged power lines in an attempt to restore external electricity supplies to the site of the Russian-controlled Chernobyl nuclear power plant that were entirely cut earlier in the week, according to International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi.

Ukraine’s regulatory authority said work began Thursday and technicians had succeeded in repairing one section, but off-site electrical power was still down, indicating there was still damage in other places.

Emergency diesel generators have been providing backup power to the site since Wednesday, and the regulator has reported that additional fuel had been delivered to the facility, the IAEA said.

The regulator lost communications with the site on Thursday and, as a result, it cannot provide information to the IAEA about the radiological monitoring at the facility, according to Grossi.

The regulator is still receiving information about the situation there through senior off-site management of the plant, Grossi said.

The plant’s disconnection from the grid will not have a critical impact on essential safety functions at the site, however, staff is facing increasingly difficult conditions.

At least 211 technical personnel and guards have been living at the site for more than two weeks, and there is concern about the availability of food reserves, the regulator said.

The IAEA said eight of the country’s 15 reactors remained operating. Radiation levels at the locations were normal, the IAEA said.

Mar 11, 4:32 pm
Ukraine official claims Russia kidnapped mayor of occupied city who resisted takeover

Russian forces have kidnapped the mayor of the southern Ukrainian city of Melitopol, which is currently under Russian occupation, according to a Ukrainian official.

Melitopol has been occupied since the first days of the invasion, but its mayor, Ivan Fedorov, had insisted it remained part of Ukraine. He was taken from his office by Russian troops Friday afternoon, according to Kirill Timoshenko, an advisor to Ukraine’s president.

Timoshenko posted a CCTV video allegedly showing Fedorov being led out of the building by a large group of heavily armed Russian soldiers.

Local people have been protesting the Russian occupation almost everyday, marching in the city with Ukrainian flags and confronting Russian soldiers.

A local woman who has taken part in the protests, Tatiana Kumok, in a phone call with ABC News, said Russian riot police surrounded the central square and tried to prevent protests last week.

Kumok said that local TV has been switched to Russian channels and that a new Russian “police force” has been deployed on the streets.

Kumok said she fears that Russia plans to permanently occupy Melitopol, even if Russia eventually reaches a deal with Kyiv. She said they have been told they will be given Russian passports.

Mar 11, 4:16 pm
Ukraine needs drones not jets, Russia flying 20 times more sorties: US defense official

The Russians are flying an average of 200 sorties, military units, per day, while the Ukrainians are only flying about 10, a senior U.S. defense official told reporters Friday.

The official said much of the airspace above Ukraine is heavily guarded by both Ukrainian and Russian surface-to-air missiles, making air operations risky for both sides, but Russian aircrafts do not have to enter that airspace to do damage.

“You can launch cruise missiles from aircraft from a great distance away. And if your target is relatively close, you don’t need to enter the airspace,” the official said.

The Ukrainians have 56 functioning fighter jets available to them now and they are only flying them five to 10 hours a day, according to the official.

Noting Russia’s vast umbrella of anti-aircraft capability over Ukraine and its larger air force, the official repeated some of the arguments we heard from the Pentagon earlier this week about the relative ineffectiveness of sending more aircraft to Ukraine.

“It makes little sense to us that additional fixed-wing aircraft is going to have somehow solve all these problems,” the official said.

The official added, “What they need are surface-to-air missile systems, they need [man-portable air-defense systems], they need anti-armor, they need small arms and ammunition and they need these drones, because that’s what they’re using with great effect. And so that’s what we’re focused on.”

Ukrainian forces are using drones to “terrific effect,” especially against Russian ground movements, according to the official.

“They’re trained on how to use them [and] they can fly below radar coverage by the Russians,” the official said.

Russian troops have not moved any closer to Kyiv from the northwest since yesterday, still approximately 9 miles from city center. But, the U.S. has seen rear elements move up closer to those advance troops. Russians advancing on the capital from northeast are now 12 to 19 miles out, according to the official.

Mariupol is under increasing pressure on Friday as it is surrounded from the northeast and southwest, and is under heavy bombardment, the official said. But, Ukrainians are fighting back there.

Russians are “closing in on” Kharkiv, but the city is well defended and hasn’t been taken yet, according to the official.

The Russians have now launched nearly 810 missiles against Ukraine — almost half have been fired from within Ukraine using mobile platforms. The rest have been fired from Russia, Belarus, and a small number from the Black Sea, according to the official.

Mar 11, 3:23 pm
Russia’s Defense Ministry says it seized Igla portable surface-to-air missile systems being supplied to Ukraine

Russia’s Defense Ministry on Friday claimed it seized Igla portable surface-to-air missile systems that were being supplied to Ukraine.

Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, said a new batch of these systems was seized by Russian troops in the Kherson region.

Russia said it is working to determine which Eastern European country was supplying them.

“Inspection of the serial numbers of the portable surface-to-air missile systems has now been organized to determine the country that supplied these weapons from Eastern Europe,” he said.

Russia claimed it downed three Ukrainian drones on Friday, including 2 Bayraktars.

Russia also claimed it has destroyed 1,067 Ukrainian tanks and other armored vehicles and 121 drones since the start of the operation.

Mar 11, 3:18 pm
NATO to hold scheduled exercise in Norway starting next week

NATO will be holding its scheduled Exercise Cold Response 2022 military exercises in Norway for two weeks starting Monday.

The long-running exercise is held every two years and will involve 30,000 NATO troops, including 3,000 U.S. Marines.

About 220 aircraft and more than 50 ships will take part in the exercise.

U.S. forces began training in Norway in December as Marine units conducted cold weather training and planning in the lead up to the exercise.

Mar 11, 2:50 pm
Save the Children says millions of children exposed to illnesses like hypothermia as big freeze hits Ukraine

Millions of children inside Ukraine and those fleeing to neighboring countries are at risk of hypothermia, hunger and death, as temperatures could dip below -4 degrees Fahrenheit, non-profit group Save the Children said Friday.

Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, was hit with an “extreme Arctic cold blast” this past week, according to Save the Children

“As temperatures plummet, children who have been forced from their homes are trekking through the brutal cold, with high winds and snow, carrying whatever they could grab before they fled,” said Irina Saghoyan, Save the Children’s Eastern Europe director.

Mar 11, 2:18 pm
Russian forces claim Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant belongs to its state atomic agency

Russian forces claim the Ukrainian power plant Zaporizhzhia belongs to Russia’s state atomic agency, Rosatom, the head of Ukraine’s nuclear energy company, Energoatom, said Friday on Ukrainian TV.

Russian forces took control of the Zaporizhzhia region last week.

Energoatom’s chief Petro Kotin said that officials from the Russian agency, backed by the 500 Russian troops surrounding it, tried to enter the plant and take control of it this week.

Mar 11, 1:50 pm
Russians reportedly bringing bio-chem weapon suits into Ukraine, US official says

A senior administration official told ABC News Friday that the U.S. is getting reports the Russians are starting to bring in biochemical weapon suits into Ukraine.

The reports comes as the Russians accuse Ukraine and the U.S. of developing biochemical weapons, which the U.S. has denied.

“We believe it is an ominous sign they are possibly doing it for cover,” the official said.

According to the official, as much as one-fifth of the Russian force is currently “inoperable,” meaning they are either dead, wounded or do not have the support or equipment needed to continue.

But even though the Russians are bogged down they realize that everything depends on taking Kyiv and continue to put all effort into that, according to the official.

There are also concerns about boxing Putin in as well as his consistent and casual mention of nuclear weapons. According to the official, that is one of the reasons he has not been publicly labeled as a war criminal because “we just don’t know what he will do.”

-ABC News’ Martha Raddatz

Mar 11, 1:29 pm
Evidence is mounting that Russia’s attacks will result in war crimes: White House

White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates fell short of calling Putin’s actions in Ukraine war crimes despite acknowledging that that evidence is mounting that Russia’s attack in the country will result in war crimes on Friday.

“We’ve all seen the devastating images coming out of Ukraine and are appalled by Russia’s brutal tactics. Pregnant women on stretchers, apartment buildings – buildings shelled, families killed while seeking safety from this terrible violence,” Bates said while briefing reporters aboard Air Force One.

“These are disgusting attacks, civilian casualties are increasing. If Russia is intentionally targeting civilians, that would be a war crime,” he said.

Bates said the administration would share any evidence that is collected with its allies and hinted that it expects evidence will show that war crimes are being committed.

“If Russia is intentionally targeting civilians, that would be a war crime and as we are all seeing on live television evidence is mounting, and we are documenting it as it takes place,” Bates said.

-ABC News’ Armando Tonatiuh Torres-García

Mar 11, 1:28 pm
US says task force dedicated to targeting sanctioned Russian oligarchs is ‘up and running’

The U.S. Department of Justice said its new task force dedicated to targeting sanctioned Russian oligarchs and their assets is “up and running,” a senior DOJ official told reporters on Friday.

The DOJ is building out an experienced team of criminal and national security attorneys weighing a number of possible criminal charges to bring against those helping to support Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine, according to the official.

The “KleptoCapture” task force is now being led by assistant U.S. attorney Andrew Adams, a co-chief of the Southern District of New York’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises unit.

David Lim, a trial attorney in DOJ’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, and Michael Khoo, an attorney in DOJ’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, have been appointed as deputy directors for the task force.

“Our goal is to bring any appropriate charge against any sanctioned Russian oligarch or entity and those who would help them to evade economic sanctions,” the DOJ official said.

The official added, “Offenses under investigation are going to include sanctions evasion, money laundering, bank and wire fraud — but the task force will bring any charge that might undermine and disrupt the comfort that these oligarchs achieved through crime and corruption.”

Last week, charges were brought in the Southern District of New York against Jack Hanick, the first ever individual charged with violating U.S. sanctions arising from Russia’s 2014 actions in Ukraine.

-ABC News’ Alexander Mallin

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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