Russia-Ukraine War: What to know on Russia’s war in Ukraine
Russia’s war on Ukraine is in its ninth day. Russian forces have shelled Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, sparking a fire there that was extinguished overnight. The U.N. nuclear watchdog says there was no sign Friday of radiation leaks.
As Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces press a campaign that has brought global condemnation, people across Ukraine have taken up arms and sought shelter. More than 1.2 million people have fled to neighboring countries, the U.N. refugee agency said Friday.
Delegates from Ukraine and Russia met in Belarus on Thursday and agreed on humanitarian corridors that would allow civilians to flee safely and allow for humanitarian supplies to be delivered — but made little headway on ending the fighting.
Associated Press journalists around Ukraine and beyond are documenting the military activity. Here’s a look at the events unfolding Friday:
CONCERNS OVER NUCLEAR SAFETY
The attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in the southeastern city of Enerhodar evoked memories of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, at Ukraine’s Chernobyl. But nuclear officials from Sweden to China and the International Atomic Energy Agency said no radiation spikes had been detected.
The U.N. Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting Friday.
DIRECTLY WITNESSED OR CONFIRMED BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Russian forces have captured the southern city of Kherson, a vital Black Sea port of 280,000 — the first major city to fall. Russian armored vehicles were seen in the otherwise empty streets of Kherson, in videos shared with the AP by a resident.
Frequent shelling could be heard Friday from the center of the capital, Kyiv.
Heavy fighting continued on the outskirts of another strategic port, Mariupol, knocking out the city’s electricity, heat and water systems, and most phone service. Food deliveries were also cut.
A livestreamed security camera linked from the homepage of the Zaporizhzhia plant showed what appeared to be armored vehicles rolling into the facility’s parking lot and shining spotlights on the building late Thursday. The AP also verified video shot by a resident in the area that showed bright flaring objects landing in the grounds of the nuclear plant.
WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING ON THE GROUND?
Battles involving airstrikes and artillery continued Friday northwest of Kyiv, and in the northeast, with the cities of Kharkiv and Okhtyrka coming under heavy strikes, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich said.
Ukrainian defense forces were holding on to the northern city of Chernihiv, and have prevented Russian efforts to take the important southern city of Mykolaiv, he said.
Ukrainian artillery have been defending Odesa from repeated attempts by Russian ships to fire on the Black Sea port city, he said, insisting there’s no immediate threat to the city.
A Russian airstrike Thursday also destroyed the power plant in Okhtyrka, leaving the city without heat or electricity, the head of the region said.
NATO is refusing to police a no-fly zone over Ukraine. The 30-nation military organization believes that such a move could provoke widespread war in Europe with nuclear power Russia.
HOW MANY REFUGEES AND CASUALTIES?
The U.N. refugee agency said Friday that more than 1.2 million people have left Ukraine since the invasion began. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee’ data portal showed that the vast majority — about 650,000 — had gone to neighboring Poland, and roughly 145,000 had fled to Hungary. An additional 103,000 were in Moldova and more than 90,000 in Slovakia.
Brazil — which has Latin America’s biggest population of Ukrainians and their descendants — said it will issue temporary humanitarian visas and residency permits for Ukrainian nationals and others affected by the war. In Hungary, a pastor in a village on the border with Ukraine offered up the only room in his church to a family of 27 women and children who were fleeing the invasion.
Russia has acknowledged that nearly 500 Russian troops have been killed and around 1,600 wounded. Among them, Maj. Gen. Andrei Sukhovetsky, the commanding general of the Russian 7th Airborne Division, who had previous experience in Syria.
Ukraine has not released casualty figures for its armed forces.
The U.N. human rights office says at least 311 civilians have been killed and hundreds more wounded in Ukraine since the start of the invasion. Ukraine’s State Emergency Service has said more than 2,000 civilians have died, though it’s impossible to verify the claim.
The 47-member nation U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday overwhelmingly approved a resolution aiming to set up a three-person panel of experts to monitor human rights in Ukraine.
SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA
The wave of global sanctions on Russia could have devastating consequences for energy and grain importers. Russia is a leading exporter of grains and a major supplier of crude oil, metals, wood and plastics.
More companies are suspending operations in Russia, including Apple, Mercedes-Benz, BP, Volkswagen, clothing retailer H&M and furnishings store IKEA.
Spain’s Teatro Real, one of Europe’s major opera houses, said it is canceling a set of upcoming performances by Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet.
REACTION FROM RUSSIA
Facing worldwide condemnation, Russia passed a new law criminalizing the intentional spreading of what Russia deems to be “fake” reports about the war. Russians could get up to 15 years in prison for disseminating information that goes against the official government position on the war.
The BBC said Friday that it was temporarily stopping the work of all its journalists and support staff in Russia while it assessed the implications. Tim Davie, director-general of the British broadcaster, said the legislation “appears to criminalize the process of independent journalism.”