Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has urged Ukrainians to continue fighting Vladimir Putin’s forces as Kyiv accuses Russian troops of flouting an agreed ceasefire to allow hundreds of thousands of civilians in besieged cities in the country’s south and east to escape.
In a defiant address on Saturday, the comic-turned-war leader ordered ‘those who can’ to keep attacking Kremlin troops as more than 200,000 civilians in the port city of Mariupol and the town of Volnovakha are given five hours to evacuate west to Zaporizhzhia.
Addressing the US directly, Zelensky then thundered ‘what more is needed’ to convince President Joe Biden to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine, an action which could widen the war, after he accused the West of cowardice in the face of Russian aggression.
Mariupol officials claim that Russian troops are still attacking the city, despite the ceasefire. Deputy mayor Serhiy Orlov told the BBC: ‘The Russians are continuing to bomb us and use artillery. This is insane. It is crazy. There is no ceasefire at Mariupol, and no ceasefire along the entire route. Our civilians are ready to escape but they cannot escape under shelling.’
Ukraine’s deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Kyiv is ‘verifying’ claims that Kremlin forces are shelling Mariupol, warning: ‘The whole world is watching.’
The Russian defence ministry said on Saturday that its units had opened humanitarian corridors near the two cities encircled by its troops for five hours between 12pm and 5pm Moscow time, Russia’s RIA news agency reported.
In Mariupol, citizens would be allowed to leave during a five-hour window, it quoted the city’s officials as saying. According to RIA, the Russian defense ministry stated that a large offensive in Ukraine would continue.
The Ukrainian government said the plan was to evacuate around 200,000 people from Mariupol and 15,000 from Volnovakha, and the Red Cross is the ceasefire’s guarantor. There was no immediate confirmation that firing had stopped and it was not clear if the ceasefire would be extended to other areas, as Putin’s war with Ukraine entered its 10th day.
Zelensky said on Saturday: ‘We managed to get an agreement to provide assistance to those cities in Ukraine that are in the dire and worst situation, Mariupol and Volnovakha, to save children and women and older people. These cities will receive medication and food.
‘Those people willing to leave these places should be able to do so now using the humanitarian corridor, but those who can should continue fighting.
‘We do everything we can on our side to make sure this agreement works, regarding the humanitarian corridors and we will see if we can move even further about our negotiations with Russia.’
Warnings have been issued by aid agencies about a possible humanitarian catastrophe as supplies of food, water and medicine run out and thousands flee west Ukraine and other European countries.
In the southeastern port city of Mariupol – whose capture would be a key prize for Russia – there is no water, heat or electricity and food is running out, according to Mayor Vadym Boychenko. ‘We are simply being destroyed,’ he said.
In a bitter and emotional speech late on Friday, Zelensky lashed out at NATO powers for refusing to impose a no-fly zone over his country, warning that ‘all the people who die from this day forward will also die because of you’. He claimed the West’s hesitancy will fully untie Russia’s hands as it escalates its air attack.
NATO claims that the creation of a nofly zone in Europe could spark war with Russia, which is nuclear-armed. But as the United States and other NATO members send weapons for Kyiv and more than 1million refugees spill through the continent, the conflict is already drawing in countries far beyond Ukraine’s borders.
‘The alliance has given the green light to the bombing of Ukrainian cities and villages,’ he said, warning that ‘the history of Europe will remember this forever’. Zelensky also appealed to help in another video message addressed to protesters against war in various European cities. ‘If we fall, you will fall,’ he said.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg previously ruled out the possibility for a no fly zone. He stated that Western aircraft would need to fire down Russian planes.
In a warning of a hunger crisis yet to come, the UN World Food Programme says millions of people inside Ukraine, a major global wheat supplier, will need food aid ‘immediately’. UN Security Council members will meet Monday to discuss worsening humanitarian conditions. UN estimates that humanitarian assistance will be needed for 12 million Ukrainians and 4million refugees fleeing to other countries over the next few months.
Ukraine’s leader is set to brief US senators on Saturday on a video conference call as US congress considers a request for $10billion in emergency funding for humanitarian aid and security needs.
While the vast Russian armoured column threatening Ukraine’s capital remained stalled outside Kyiv, Putin’s military has launched hundreds of missiles and artillery attacks on cities and other sites across the country.
Russian forces did not make significant progress on Friday in their offensive to sever Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, which would deal a severe blow to its economy. Also, there were no significant changes in the west and north, areas where Russia’s offensive has stopped, where fierce Ukrainian resistance was met.
Oleksiy Arestovich was the Ukrainian president’s adviser. He said that airstrikes, artillery and other battles continued in north-west Kyiv. Also, heavy shelling hit Okhtyrka and Kharkiv. He stated that Ukrainian forces still held Chernihiv, the northernmost city of Chernihiv, and Mykolaiv in the south.
Ukrainian artillery also defended Ukraine’s biggest port city, Odesa, from repeated attempts by Russian ships, he said.
According to Ukraine’s government, over 840 children were wounded and 28 killed in the conflict. According to the UN human rights officer, 331 civilians were confirmed dead. However, this number could be much greater.
Biden rejected the idea of no fly zones due to the possibility of open conflict between NATO-Russian forces. However opinion polls have shown that Americans desire more aggressive actions against the Kremlin.
On Friday, the White House stated that it would consider cutting US oil imports from Russia. However, it remains cautious because it fears a rise in gasoline prices, which could increase already high inflation.
Apartment building destroyed by shelling in Irpin 26 km west of Kyiv
A damaged residential structure during intense Russian shelling in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol
Russian forces destroy residential buildings in Mariupol (Ukraine), as they pound the port of Mariupol.
A school building damaged on March 4, 2022 in Chernihiv in Ukraine, which saw 47 people die, according to local authorities
One soldier of proRussian militia walks along a convoy of military armed forces from the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, on February 27, 2022.
On a Luhansk road, on February 27, 2022, servicemen from pro-Russian militia stand next to an armed force of separatist self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic.
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has accused the West of abandoning millions of his people to their deaths
This map depicts the humanitarian route that runs from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia via Nikolske Rozivka Polohy and Polohy.
After fleeing Ukraine, a child drinks at the Polish border in Medyka (March 5, 2022).
One woman reacts when she sees a house on fire after it was bombarded by shells in Irpin (near Kyiv) March 4, 2008.
One photograph shows a Ukrainian soldier rescuing an infant from Irpin’s devastation. It also includes a destroyed bridge. This image is a stark reminder of the horrors of war.
After 47 deaths in Chernihiv city, officials said that yesterday’s shelling left a damaged building. A man stood in front of it.
Ukrainian troops flee from Russian bombings in Bucha city, west of Kyiv
Most refugees are women and children with kids who arrive at the border crossing to Medyka in Poland on March 5, 2022
Russia continues to expand in the south Ukraine. Mariupol is under attack and Odessa, Mykolaiv and Odessa are under threat. The north-eastern cities of Chernihiv and Kharkiv continue to be under intense bombardment. The threat to Kyiv’s capital is not only. However, some Russian forces were demolished by Ukrainian counter-attacks on Friday.
Joe Biden rejected the concept of no-fly zones as a result of NATO’s open conflict with Russia. Yet, polling shows that Americans desire more aggressive actions against Russia.
On Friday, the United States flew B-52 Stratofortress bombers over NATO’s eastern flank above Romania, exercising with the German and Romanian militaries.
The largest strategic bombers in the US Air Force took off from RAF Fairford, a Royal Air Force station in England, and conducted ‘close air support and integration mission training’, according to a statement from US Air Forces in Europe. They then flew to Romania where they did more close air support training in the Bomber Task Force mission.
White House confirmed that US Vice President Kamala Harris would travel next week to Poland and Romania to meet officials and discuss the Russian invasion and its impact on the region.
Harris’ agenda for the March 9-11 visit to Warsaw and Bucharest is expected to centre on economic, security and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine.
‘The Vice President’s meetings will also focus on how the United States can further support Ukraine’s neighbours as they welcome and care for refugees fleeing violence,’ Harris’ deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh said.
Biden spoke on Friday with Poland’s President Andrzej Duda. Poland has assisted 700,000 Ukrainians as well as others fleeing the conflict so far. In recent weeks, the United States increased its presence in Poland to more than 9,000 soldiers, which is NATO member.
While the vast Russian armoured column threatening Kyiv remained stalled outside the capital, Putin’s military has launched hundreds of missiles and artillery attacks on cities and other sites across the country.
Russian forces did not make significant progress Friday in their offensive to sever Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, which would deal a severe blow to its economy. Also, there were no significant changes in the eastern and northern regions, where Russia’s offensive has been blocked, where it met fierce Ukrainian resistance.
According to Mariupol’s mayor, Russian forces have imposed a blockade on the strategically important port of Mariupol in Ukraine. Moscow and Kyiv were aiming for new negotiations over the weekend.
Russian forces held Mariupol under siege for many days. However, they also stopped its heating, electricity and water supply in the winter. It was compared to the Nazi blockade in Leningrad, which occurred in World War II.
Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba claimed that Russian troops have raped women in cities they have already captured. While he didn’t provide evidence backing his claims, Ukrainian media reports that eleven cases of rape were reported by Russian troops in Kherson after more than seven weeks of fighting.
Earlier, it was revealed that no radiation was released from a Russian attack at Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant in Ukraine.
The International Atomic Energy Agency’s director-general, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said on Friday the building hit by a Russian ‘projectile’ at the Zaporizhzhia plant was ‘not part of the reactor’ but instead a training centre at the plant.
Grossi, along with nuclear officials from China to Sweden, said that there had not been any radiation spikes.
Ukrainian officials have said Russian troops took control of the overall site, but the plant’s staff were continuing to ensure its operations. Grossi claimed that the reactor was in Ukrainian hands.
Irpin, Friday: Civilians rush to board every train car with enough room in Irpin for children and women on Friday
Pictured is an Irpin house, west Kyiv. It was caught on fire Friday after it came under Russian bombardment.
Following a night-air raid in Byshiv (about 20 miles west from Kyiv), on Friday, a burned car was seen next to the remains the local house culture.
The Russian invasion of Kharkiv has destroyed the city. Nearly constant bombardment has occurred in the city to the east.
One woman strolls among the wreckage of a school built after being shelled. This is Zhytomyr, March 4, 2014.
A local resident walks past the remains of a house of culture following a night air raid in the village of Byshiv, 40 kilometres west of Kyiv
The city of Bucha west of Kyiv was under attack recently and Russian armored cars were destroyed
Antony Blinken, left and Jens Stoltenberg right have both warned Putin today about NATO’s readiness to defend NATO’s territory in case of an attack by Russia. But they’re not seeking war.
Putin, the deluded fool, has claimed that Russia does not bombard Ukrainian cities. This despite concerns that 100 people may be buried in rubble following an attack on Chernihiv (which killed 49) and an apartment block struck near Kyiv.
In the frenzied initial aftermath when the risk of a radiation release was not clear, the attack caused worldwide concern – and evoked memories of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, at Ukraine’s Chernobyl.
Russia attempted to shift blame, despite international outrage at the attack. Igor Konashenkov (defense ministry spokesperson) blamed arson and not artillery fire.
He claimed a Ukrainian ‘sabotage group’ had occupied the training building at the plant, fired on a Russian patrol and set fire to the building as they left.
Although there had been contradictory reports regarding which area of Zaporizhzhia had been damaged in the attack earlier, a Zaporizhia official said that at one time shells were directly directed on the facility setting fire to both a building used for training and also a reactor. Grossi said later that the fire had been in the training center.
It was clear that active fighting close to nuclear power plants can be dangerous. After the battle at Chernobyl, it was only the second time that radiation or nuclear accidents were reported since the invasion began.
Grossi stated that only one of the six reactors at Zaporizhzhia was currently operational at 60 percent capacity. Two people were also injured by the fire.
Ukraine’s state nuclear plant operator Enerhoatom said three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and two wounded.
In their attempt to seize control of the country, Russia advanced on a city near the site on the Dnieper River.
That move would deal a severe blow to Ukraine’s economy and could worsen an already dire humanitarian situation.
After the second week of the invasion, negotiations between Russia and Ukraine produced a tentative agreement for safe passages to allow citizens to flee and provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. However, this was overturned by the war which has seen more than 1 million people flee across the border to safety and many others hiding underground.
A small number of cities lack heat or are finding it difficult to access water and food.
Kyiv’s capital was still under heavy bombardment on Friday. However, the sound could be heard more clearly than usual, and loud, resonating thudding sounds were being heard over the rooftops every 10 minutes.
Russia is under Western sanctions. The West has imposed severe sanctions against Russia. Most of the world gathered to call for Russia’s withdrawal during a UN General Assembly vote.
In the latest show of international opposition to the invasion, the UN’s top human rights body voted 32-2 on a resolution that would among other things set up a panel of experts to monitor human rights in Ukraine. Russia and Eritrea were the only ones to oppose; 13 people abstained.
Telephone calls were made between President of Ukraine and Biden, as well as other leaders around the world after the attack on the nuclear plant. As an extra precaution, the US Department of Energy mobilized its nuclear incident respond team.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to raise the issue of Russia’s attack on the plant.
In an emotional speech in the middle of the night, Zelensky said he feared an explosion that would be ‘the end for everyone. Europe at its final. The evacuation of Europe’. Experts did not see any signs of a possible disaster.
‘The real threat to Ukrainian lives continues to be the violent invasion and bombing of their country,’ the American Nuclear Society said in a statement.
Putin’s forces have brought their superior firepower to bear over the past few days, launching hundreds of missiles and artillery attacks on cities and other sites around the country and making significant gains in the south.
Russians declared the capture of Kherson in the south, which is a critical Black Sea port with 280,000 inhabitants. Local Ukrainian officials also confirmed that the Russians had taken over the headquarters of the Ukrainian government. This makes it the first major fall of the city since the invasion started just over a week ago.
The head of the region stated on Telegram that a Russian airstrike had destroyed Okhtyrka’s power station, leaving it without electricity or heat.
‘We are trying to figure out how to get people out of the city urgently because in a day the apartment buildings will turn into a cold stone trap without water, light or electricity,’ Dmytro Zhyvytskyy said.
Another strategic port, Mariupol on the Azov Sea, was ‘partially under siege,’ and Ukrainian forces are pushing back efforts to surround the city, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich said.
‘The humanitarian situation is tense,’ he told reporters, adding that Ukrainian authorities are in talks with Russian representatives and international organisations to set up humanitarian corridor to evacuate residents and supply food.
Battles in the area have knocked out the city’s electricity, heat and water systems, as well as most phone service, officials said. The city also lost its food delivery service.
A video taken from the port showed the attack lighting up the night sky, leaving streets deserted and medical teams caring for civilians.
The child was playing football when he was wounded in the shelling, according to his father, who cradled the boy’s head on the trolley and cried.
Ukraine’s defence minister said Friday that the flagship of its navy has been scuttled at the shipyard where it was undergoing repairs in order to keep it from being seized by Russian forces.
Oleksiireznikov posted on Facebook, that Hetman Samaidachny was the commander and decided to flood the vessel.
Ukraine’s state emergency agency issued mass text messages on Friday with advice on what to do in case of an explosion: Lie on the ground and cover your head with your hands; use available shelter; do not rush to leave the shelter; help the wounded; do not enter damaged buildings.
Sparks erupt from an administration building (bottom right) as a live steam video shot from a larger office block behind it films Russian tanks opening fire on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in the early hours of Friday morning
Rafael Mariano Grossi (head of UN’s Nuclear Energy Watchdog) explains where the fire started in relation the the six Zaporizhzhia reactors.
Russian planes bombed Okhtyrka, 220 miles east from Kyiv (pictured) on Friday amid continuing fears about a nuclear catastrophe.
Russian troops and armoured vehicles attacked the nuclear power station in the morning hours of Friday. They shot and shelled guards who were hiding in buildings close to the reactors. One of the firebrands was set on fire by the soldiers and guns of the Russian army.
After being attacked overnight by Russian forces, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Complex was hit with fire. This led to international condemnation.
The Zaporizhzhia nuke power station was attacked in the wee hours of Friday. The damaged Russian attack vehicle can be seen outside of the plant. Meanwhile, firefighters battle to put out a fire in a training facility (right).
The outnumbered and outgunned Ukrainians held firm, preventing Russia from achieving the quick victory they had hoped for.
But Russia’s seizure of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 gives it a logistical advantage now in the country’s south, with shorter supply lines that smoothed the offensive there, said a senior US defence official.
Ukrainian leaders urged the people to protect their country by cutting down trees and erecting barriers in cities. They also called for the destruction of enemy columns.
Authorities have recently issued arms to civilians, and also taught them how make Molotov cocktails.
As the Russian and Ukrainian negotiators met in Belarus on Thursday, Putin warned in a call with Macron that Ukraine must quickly accept the Kremlin’s demand for its ‘demilitarisation’ and declare itself neutral, renouncing its bid to join NATO.
They said that both sides had reached tentative agreements to allow ceasefires to be allowed in designated areas known as safe corridors.
Zelensky’s adviser said that another round of negotiations will be held in the first week of next year.
The Pentagon set up a direct communication link to Russia’s ministry of defence earlier this week to avoid the possibility of a miscalculation sparking conflict between Moscow and Washington.