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Russia-Ukraine live updates: Putin's advisers 'are too afraid to tell him the truth'

FADEL SENNA/AFP 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.” Heavy shelling and missile attacks, many on civilian buildings, continue in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, as well as major cities like Kharkiv and Mariupol.

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

Mar 30, 11:46 am
Zelenskyy warns Norway of Russia’s military buildup in Arctic

Ukraine warned Norway on Wednesday that Russian forces have “amassed in the Arctic region” and will ultimately pose a threat to Europe.

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“I think you are experiencing new risks near your border with Russia,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an address to Norwegian lawmakers via video link from Kyiv. “A number of Russian troops that has no normal explanation has already been amassed in the Arctic region. For what? Against whom?”

“The future of Europe — the whole continent from north to south, from west to east — is being decided right now,” he added. “On our land, on Ukrainian soil, in Ukrainian air, in Ukrainian sea. So that your soldiers do not have to defend NATO’s eastern flank, so that Russian mines do not drift to your ports and fjords, so that your people do not have to get used to the sound of air alarms and so that Russian tanks are not amassed at your border, we must stop the aggression of the Russian Federation together and only together.”

Zelenskyy said Russian forces are continuing to carry out relentless and indiscriminate attacks on his country. Although Ukrainian troops are holding off Russian advances, he warned that “the columns of Russian armoured vehicles are not decreasing.”

“There are no forbidden targets for Russian troops. They attack everything,” he told Norwegian lawmakers. “Ukraine’s losses are enormous.”

-ABC News’ Fidel Pavlenko and Christine Theodorou

Mar 30, 11:18 am
Lavrov meets with Chinese Foreign Minister

During a meeting in China, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi doubled down on increasingly close ties between the two nations despite the invasion of Ukraine.

Wang acknowledged the “Ukraine problem” but stopped short of offering support.

Chinese officials have said repeatedly in the past weeks that they are “not a party” to the conflict but “support Russia and Ukraine in overcoming difficulties.”

-ABC News’ Karson Yiu

Mar 30, 9:55 am
Putin advisers ‘afraid to tell him’ about Russian military performance

U.S. intelligence said it believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is being misinformed by his advisers on his troops’ performance in Ukraine “because his senior advisors are too afraid to tell him the truth,” a U.S. official told ABC News.

Based on declassified intelligence, the official said, “We have information that Putin felt misled by the Russian military. There is now persistent tension between Putin and the MOD [Ministry of Defence], stemming from Putin’s mistrust in MOD leadership. Putin didn’t even know his military was using and losing conscripts in Ukraine, showing a clear breakdown in the flow of accurate information to the Russian President.”

The official continued: “We believe that Putin is being misinformed by his advisors about how badly the Russian military is performing and how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions, because his senior advisors are too afraid to tell him the truth.”

Mar 30, 8:30 am
Poland plans to abandon Russian hydrocarbons by year’s end

Poland announced Wednesday its plan to stop buying Russian oil, gas and coal by the end of 2022.

“Today, we present the most radical plan in Europe to abandon Russian hydrocarbons — oil, gas and coal. This plan is necessary for the recovery of Europe,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said at a press conference.

According to Morawiecki, Poland “will impose a total embargo on Russian coal in April, at the latest in May.” He said his country has already largely reduced its dependence on oil from Russia and “will do [its] best to abandon Russian oil by the end of the year.” He added that he is also expecting a decline in gas imports in May.

Morawiecki called on other European countries, including Germany, to follow suit. He urged the European Commission “to establish a tax on Russian hydrocarbons so that trade and economic rules in the European single market are fair.”

Mar 30, 8:06 am
Enrollment in Poland’s national guard grows sevenfold

In the Polish village of Zegrze, about 20 miles north of Warsaw, cars line the small street outside a facility belonging to Poland’s Territorial Defense Force (TDF). Officials said interest in training with the TDF has increased sevenfold in the last month, following Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine — creating an unintended traffic backup in the facility’s tiny public parking lot.

The TDF is the fifth military branch of the Polish Armed Forces, behind the Land Forces, Army, Navy and Special Forces. The group is made up of volunteer and part-time privates, and is comparable to the National Guard of the United States.

ABC News got exclusive access into the TDF facility in Zegrze and spoke with several new trainees, all of whom were women. Each one spoke about their underlying interest in the military and wanting to feel confident in protecting themselves and their families. But several said they became motivated to enroll after watching average Ukrainian citizens defend their country. They were inspired to be prepared in the same way.

ABC News’ cameras were allowed to follow a group of trainees — men and women of all ages — as instructors took them into a nearby forest on Tuesday morning. The trainees were clad in army fatigues and their faces were marked with camouflage paint as they crawled along the ground, guns in hand. The training was a grueling, real-life instruction that left them exhausted within an hour.

The program lasts for 16 days, with at least 12 hours of training required each day. At the end, the trainees take a military oath and then are allowed to return home. Many know there is a chance they will soon be called on to help the Polish military as the Russian invasion grinds on in neighboring Ukraine. While they won’t likely see combat, their main objective is to enhance national defense capabilities and protect their local communities.

Mar 30, 7:39 am
Ukrainians attempt to save animals from abandoned zoo near Kyiv

Ukrainians are attempting to rescue exotic animals from an abandoned zoo near the capital.

Vitaly Mukhanov told ABC News that he had volunteered to help bring supplies to Ukrainian soldiers when he came across the Yasnohorodka family ecopark, about 30 miles outside Kyiv. The park appeared to have been damaged by shelling and the animals, including camels and ostriches, were left with no food. Some were injured, while others were dead.

Videos and images Mukhanov took of the scene and posted on Facebook on Monday quickly went viral and he said he was subsequently contacted by the zoo’s owner, who asked if he could help.

In one of the videos, Mukhanov comes across a wounded ostrich. The bird appeared to be taking its last breaths as he gently stroked its head.

“You can see from the images that the animals were in a very bad way,” Mukhanov told ABC News. “The town nearby was liberated from the Russians two days ago, so the owner is now returning to the zoo and they hope to evacuate the animals in the next couple of days.”

Mukhanov said he has since returned to western Ukraine to get more supplies, but he was told that veterinarians were due to visit the Yasnohorodka family ecopark on Tuesday to provide care to some of the animals.

Mar 30, 7:18 am
Explosion rings out near Russian city of Belgorod

A missile hit a temporary Russian military camp near the border with Ukraine late Tuesday, according Russian state-owned news agency TASS.

TASS, citing a source, reported that preliminary data shows the camp, just outside the Russian city of Belgorod, was fired on from the Ukrainian side. However, Ukraine has denied responsibility and instead blamed the incident on Russian error.

Belgorod Oblast Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said in a statement that blasts occurred in the village of Krasny Oktyabr, about 19 miles southwest of Belgorod. He did not cite a cause of the incident, saying he was awaiting a report from the Russian Ministry of Defense.

Video circulating online and verified by ABC News shows an explosion in Krasny Oktyabr on Tuesday night. The cause of the blast was unknown.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereschuk alleged that “an unauthorized detonation of ammunition” took place at a warehouse of the Russian Armed Forces in Belgorod.

“This is an example of typical for Russians neglect of safety precautions and mass use of dangerous ammunition of the Second World War,” Vereschuk said at a press briefing Wednesday.

Belgorod is about 50 miles north of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, which Russian forces have shelled heavily in recent weeks.

Mar 30, 6:11 am
Russia bombards Chernihiv hours after claiming to curb assault

Air raid sirens sounded off across almost all of Ukraine overnight and into early Wednesday, hours after Russia said it would scale back its military operations around Kyiv and Chernihiv.

Russian forces bombarded the besieged northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv as well as Khmelnytsky Oblast in western Ukraine, while several missiles were shot down over the capital, Kyiv, according to Vadim Denisenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian interior minister. The damage and any casualties were still being assessed Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, the Luhansk Oblast has been under heavy shelling for days, Denisenko said.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine confirmed Wednesday that the Russian military continues to withdraw part of its troops from near Kyiv and Chernihiv, and are possibly “regrouping units to concentrate the main efforts in the eastern direction.” However, the General Staff said it believes the real goals of the so-called withdrawal are a rotation of individual units, misleading Ukraine’s military leadership and creating an erroneous idea about Russia’s refusal from the plan to encircle Kyiv.

Mar 30, 5:27 am
Over four million refugees have fled Ukraine: UNHCR

More than four million people have been forced to flee Ukraine since Russian forces invaded on Feb. 24, according to the latest figures from the United Nations Refugee Agency.

The tally from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) amounts to just over 9% of Ukraine’s population — which the World Bank counted at 44 million at the end of 2020 — on the move across borders in 35 days.

More than half of the refugees crossed into neighboring Poland, UNHCR figures show.

Mar 30, 3:41 am
Russian authorities may ‘single out and detain’ Americans in Russia and Ukraine, US warns

The United States is warning that Russian authorities “may single out and detain U.S. citizens” in both Russia and Ukraine.

The warning came Tuesday as the U.S. Department of State issued new travel advisories for the two warring countries.

The State Department previously warned Americans in Russia that they could be targets for harassment by Russian authorities. But the latest advisory makes it explicit that U.S. citizens could be “singled out,” “including for detention.”

The State Department has also previously warned Americans against traveling to Ukraine to join the fight against Russian forces, pointing to statements from Russian authorities that anyone detained while fighting will not be considered a lawful combatant. That could mean mistreatment or worse, according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price.

“There are continued reports of U.S. citizens being singled out and detained by the Russian military in Ukraine and when evacuating by land through Russia-occupied territory or to Russia or Belarus,” the latest advisory for Ukraine states.

Both Russia and Ukraine have been on the State Department’s “Travel Advisory Level 4 – Do Not Travel” for months, as tensions ratcheted up and with little to no diplomatic presences on the ground.

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