Nuclear Danger In The Biggest Atomic Plant in Europe

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The most recent developments in the Russia-Ukraine conflict are as follows:

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy say he has informed the leaders of the U.S., Britain, the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency about the dire threat of nuclear disaster after Russian troops shelled a nuclear power plant.

“If there is an explosion – that’s the end for everyone.

The evacuation of Europe,” he said in an emotional speech in the middle of the night.

“Only urgent action by Europe can stop the Russian troops.

Do not allow the death of Europe from a catastrophe at a nuclear power station,” he said He’s calling on politicians and citizens to pressure Russian leadership to stop Russian troops.

WASHINGTON

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy updated U.S. President Joe Biden about the fire at a nuclear power station shelled by Russian troops.

The White House said Biden and Zelenskyy urged Russia to cease its military activities in the area and allow firefighters and emergency responders to access the site.

Biden also got another update on the situation from the undersecretary for nuclear security at the U.S. Department of Energy and the administrator of the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration.

Zelensky also spoke to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the attack.

VIENNA 

The International Atomic Energy Agency said on Twitter that it’s been informed by Ukraine’s nuclear regulator that “there has been no change reported in radiation levels” at a nuclear power station shelled by Russian troops.

The agency says Director-General Mariano Grossi was in touch with Ukraine Prime Minister Denys Schmygal and the Ukrainian regulator and operator about the situation at the Zaporizhzhia plant.

Grossi “appeals for halt of use of force and warns of severe danger if reactors hit,” the IAEA said in another tweet.

The agency says Ukraine told it the fire hasn’t affected “essential” equipment and plant personnel are taking mitigatory actions.

An official in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office, not authorized to speak publicly and speak on condition of anonymity, says the reactors have not yet been damaged and radiation levels are normal.

ENERHODAR, Ukraine 

Russian troops in Ukraine are shelling Europe’s largest nuclear power station.

“We demand that they stop the heavy weapons fire,” Andriy Tuz, spokesperson for the plant in Enerhodar, said in a video posted on Telegram. 

“There is a real threat of nuclear danger in the biggest atomic energy station in Europe.”

The plant accounts for about one-quarter of Ukraine’s power generation.

A live-streamed security camera linked from the homepage of the nuclear power plant showed what appeared to be armoured vehicles rolling into the facility’s parking lot and shining spotlights on the building where the camera was mounted.

Smoke then rises and drifts across the frame.

SEOUL, South Korea  

South Korea says it won an exemption from recently expanded U.S. sanctions against Russia in exchange for strengthening its own export restrictions against the country over an escalating invasion of Ukraine.

South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy confirmed the agreement on Friday after Trade Minister Yeo Han-Koo travelled to Washington this week for meetings with senior U.S. officials.

The Biden administration last week announced a series of sanctions aimed at cutting off Russia’s access to foreign technology products like semiconductors, lasers, aircraft and communications equipment in response to its invasion of Ukraine.

To enforce the measures, Washington has imposed a regulation called the foreign direct product rule, which allows American officials to restrict the sales of foreign-made products to Russia from any country if the items are produced with U.S. technology.

U.S. officials also told their South Korean counterparts that consumer goods such as smartphones, passenger cars and washing machines aren’t subject to American sanctions as long as they are used by private Russian citizens or companies and not military users.

WASHINGTON 

The Department of Homeland Security will grant temporary legal status to Ukrainians living in the U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Thursday that Temporary Protected Status would be extended for 18 months.

“Russia’s premeditated and unprovoked attack on Ukraine has resulted in an ongoing war, senseless violence, and Ukrainians forced to seek refuge in other countries,” Mayorkas said in a statement.

Temporary Protected Status is given to citizens of countries devastated by war or natural disasters.

It comes as pressure was mounting on the Biden administration from members of Congress, including the Senate’s top Democrat, to grant the status to Ukrainians following Russia’s invasion of their country.

In order to be eligible for the protection, individuals would have to have been in the U.S. since at least Tuesday.

BERLIN 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday asked former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to resign from his posts at Russian state-owned companies.

Schroeder, 77, is considered a longtime friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin — a relationship that has led to much criticism in Germany, especially since Russia invaded Ukraine last week.

Schroeder is chairman of the supervisory board of Russian state energy company Rosneft and also holds leading positions in the controversial Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipeline projects that aim to bring Russian gas directly to Germany, bypassing Ukraine.

“My advice to Gerhard Schroeder is, after all, to withdraw from these posts,” Scholz said on the ZDF Television, according to the German news agency DPA.

“This obligation does not end when one no longer holds the office, but it also continues,” he said.

NEW YORK 

The U.S. fossil fuel industry’s top lobbying group is calling on the Biden administration to create policies that would encourage oil and gas companies to ramp up production.

The American Petroleum Institute says the federal government should create a more favourable climate for drilling and should streamline the permitting process for liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals to expand so that the U.S. can rely less on oil imports and export more natural gas in liquid form to Europe, which relies heavily on Russia for fossil fuels.

“This shift away from Russia will not happen overnight, and we need to be clear about that,” said Dustin Meyer, vice president of natural gas markets at API. 

“But for it to happen at all, we need a clear and consistent energy policy here in the US.

Unfortunately, that’s not really what we have right now.”

Biden has been under pressure to rein in rising energy costs even if those moves run counter to his agenda for addressing climate change.

WASHINGTON 

The Pentagon has established a channel of direct communication with the Russian ministry of defence to avoid unintended conflict related to the war in Ukraine.

A U.S. defence official said the “de-confliction line” was established March 1 “for the purpose of preventing miscalculation, military incidents, and escalation.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the communication line has not been announced.

UNITED NATIONS 

More than 4 million refugees may end up fleeing Ukraine due to Russia’s ongoing invasion, the United Nations said.

On Wednesday, the United Nations said that 1 million people have already fled since Russia began invading last week, an exodus without precedent in this century for its speed.

The United Nations says that “while the scale and scope of displacement are not yet clear, we do expect that more than 10 million people may flee their homes if violence continues, including 4 million people who may cross borders to neighbouring countries,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Thursday.

Syria, whose civil war erupted in 2011, remains the country with the largest refugee outflows — nearly 5.7 million people, according to UNHCR’s figures.

But even at the swiftest rate of flight out of that country, in early 2013, it took at least three months for 1 million refugees to leave Syria.

BERLIN

The United Nations’ atomic watchdog says Ukraine has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency that staff who have been kept at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant since Russian troops took control of the site a week ago are facing “psychological pressure and moral exhaustion.”

Grossi received “a joint appeal from the Ukraine Government, regulatory authority and the national operator which added that personnel at the Chornobyl site ‘have limited opportunities to communicate, move and carry out full-fledged maintenance and repair work,” the IAEA said in a statement.

4 at the power plant exploded and caught fire in 1986, shattering the building and spewing radioactive material high into the sky.

Even 36 years later, radioactivity is still leaking from history’s worst nuclear disaster.

Grossi has repeatedly stressed that any military or other action that could threaten the safety or security of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants must be avoided.

“Any accident caused as a result of the military conflict could have extremely serious consequences for people and the environment, in Ukraine and beyond.”

CHERNIHIV, Ukraine 

The video was taken in the aftermath of shelling in the city of Chernihiv shows firefighters standing in rubble dousing flames with hoses as rescue crews carried at least one person on a stretcher and another helper assisted a person down a ladder.

Smoke spewed from a high-rise building just behind what appeared to be a children’s swing set, according to a video released Thursday by the Ukrainian government.

Ukraine’s state emergencies agency says at least 33 civilians were killed and another 18 wounded in a Russian strike Thursday on a residential area in Chernihiv, a city of 280,000 in Ukraine’s north.

WASHINGTON 

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration on Thursday announced new sanctions against Russian oligarchs and others in President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle as Russian forces continue to pummel Ukraine.

Those targeted by the new sanctions include Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, and Alisher Burhanovich Usmanov, one of Russia’s wealthiest individuals and a close ally of Putin.

The U.S. State Department also announced it was imposing visa bans on 19 Russian oligarchs and dozens of their family members and close associates.

The property of Usmanov and the others will be blocked from use in the U.S. and by Americans.

His assets include his superyacht, one of the world’s largest.

PRAGUE

The Czech Republic won’t punish those Czech nationals who decide to join international brigades to help Ukraine fight the invading Russian army.

Prime Minister Petr Fiala said on Thursday he and President Milos Zeman have agreed on the plan.

To serve in a foreign army is punishable by a prison term in the Czech Republic, but Fiala said that such a person would be pardoned by the president, with him co-signing it.

Several hundred Czechs have asked the presidential office and the Defense Ministry for approval to serve in foreign armed forces following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s call for international brigades of volunteers.

JUNEAU, Alaska 

In a ceremonial vote, the Alaska House of Representatives has approved a measure calling on the United States to supply military aid to Ukraine in its war with Russia.

The so-called “sense of the House” vote lacks binding authority.

However, some lawmakers say it effectively foreshadows more substantial action, including divesting the state of Alaska’s investments in Russian companies.

The measure approved Wednesday also calls on the U.S. to support Ukraine’s membership application to the European Union and to promote energy independence from Russian sources, globally and domestically.

The lone dissenting vote came from state Rep. David Eastman, a Wasilla Republican who declined to answer why he voted that way when asked by the Anchorage Daily News.

PARIS 

French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday that he has again asked his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to halt attacks on Ukraine, but that Putin won’t do it.

“At this point, he refuses,” Macron wrote in a Twitter post.

He confirmed that he had spoken to Putin on the phone earlier on Thursday and said he will continue the dialogue to prevent “more human tragedy.”

“We must prevent the worst from happening,” Macron also said in his post. Dialogue has to continue to “protect the (civilian) population, to obtain goodwill gestures … to put an end to this war,” Macron said.

BREST, Belarus

A Ukrainian official who attended talks with Russians on Thursday said that “regrettably, we haven’t reached results we were hoping for,” but emphasized the importance of humanitarian corridors, saying that many cities have been besieged by the Russian troops and are experiencing a dramatic shortage of food and medicines.

The establishment of safe corridors was the Ukrainians’ main demand heading into their second round of negotiations in Belarus, in the Brest region that borders Poland.

Ukraine’s presidential adviser Mykhialo Podolyak said that Russia and Ukraine will quickly set the necessary channels of communications and logistics to organize those safe corridors.

Podolyak added that the third round of talks will be held shortly.

CHERNIHIV, Ukraine

Ukraine’s state emergencies agency now says at least 33 civilians have been killed and another 18 wounded in a Russian strike on a residential area in Chernihiv, a city of 280,000 in Ukraine’s north.

The agency said Thursday night that it was forced to suspend the search for more casualties in the rubble because of new shelling.

Earlier Thursday, the agency had said at least 22 civilians had been killed and had warned that the death toll could rise.

LONDON 

Britain has slapped sanctions on two more Russians it says are linked to the Kremlin, cutting them off from properties and interests in the U.K. The government says Alisher Usmanov and Igor Shuvalov face immediate asset freezes and travel bans.

The U.K. says the two men are worth a combined $19 billion.

Mining and telecoms tycoon Usmanov, who has held major stakes in Premier League soccer teams Arsenal and Everton, owns two English mansions and other assets.

Britain called Shuvalov, a former Russian government chief of staff who headed up Russia’s bid for the 2018 Football World Cup, a core member of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.

The U.K. has imposed sanctions on fewer wealthy Russians than the European Union or the U.S.

WASHINGTON 

U.S. officials say Russia has fired 480 missiles at Ukraine as Russian troops make more progress in the south, but are largely stalled in the north.

Specifically, the official said that the majority of the Russian missile launches since the war began – or more than 230 of them – are coming from mobile systems within Ukraine.

Ukrainian air defences are still intact and have been effective against the missiles, the official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss military assessments, said Russian progress in the south has been aided by the country’s eight-year presence in Crimea, where Russia has built infrastructure and systems to sustain troops.

As a result, the supply lines to troops in the south are much shorter and more effective.

The official said the U.S. has not seen any Russian naval activity or other appreciable moves by Russia to move on Odesa.

WASHINGTON 

The leaders of the Quad held virtual talks Thursday to discuss the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine as Russian forces continue their offensive.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed the Indo-Pacific group would create a channel for communication as each country responds to the war in Ukraine, according to a joint statement released after the meeting.

Biden has sought to strengthen the Quad since the beginning of his presidency last year, viewing the relationship as an increasingly vital one as he looks to counter the growing economic and military strength of China in the Pacific.

But in the Ukraine crisis, there has been some differences with India, which has been reluctant to criticize Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

During Thursday’s meeting between leaders, Modi emphasized the need to return to a “path of dialogue and diplomacy,” according to a statement issued by India’s External Affairs Ministry.

BOSTON 

The CEO of a top cryptocurrency transaction-tracking firm said Thursday that it was not yet seeing any large-scale evasion of Western sanctions on Russian businesses and individuals using virtual currencies.

U.S. officials have said they are looking at the sector for possible bans as punishment for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Castaño said he could not comment on whether any of them would be sanctioned or when sanctions might occur.

TRM Labs monitors more than 300 Russia-based crypto exchanges and brokers, some of which could be targets of sanctions.

SUEX was what is known as a “parasite exchange.”

MOSCOW 

Russian negotiators in talks with Ukraine say another round of talks will likely be held shortly.

Vladimir Medinsky, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s adviser who led the Russian delegation in the talks Thursday in Belarus near the Polish border, said the parties’ “positions are absolutely clear, they are written down point by point,” including issues related to a political settlement of the conflict.

He added without elaboration that “mutual understanding was found on part of them.”

He confirmed that Russia and Ukraine reached a tentative agreement to create safe corridors for civilians to exit besieged cities and observe local cease-fires in areas where they will be created.

He said that the next round of talks could lead to agreements, some of which would need to be ratified by Russian and Ukrainian parliaments.

KYIV, Ukraine 

A member of Ukraine’s delegation in talks with Russia says the parties have reached a tentative agreement to organize safe corridors for civilians to evacuate and for humanitarian supplies to be delivered.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy who took part in Thursday’s talks in Belarus near the Polish border, said that Russia and Ukraine reached a preliminary understanding that cease-fires will be observed in areas where the safe corridors are established.

MOSCOW

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the Russian military has offered safe corridors to civilians to allow them to leave areas of fighting in Ukraine.

The Russian leader said the groups were also using civilians as shields, taking up firing positions to provoke the Russian retaliatory fire.

Putin’s claim couldn’t be independently verified.

The Russian military says it has only struck military facilities and haven’t targeted residential areas, a claim that has been contradicted by the abundant evidence of massive casualties and damage to residential areas of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Chernihiv and other cities in Ukraine documented by The Associated Press.

He hailed the Russian military as heroes and ordered additional payments to families of the soldiers who were killed and servicemen who were wounded in action.

BEN-GURION AIRPORT, Israel 

The chief rabbi of Kyiv, Ukraine, says the Russian invasion has produced “a catastrophe,” and that most Jews have fled.

Jonathan Markovitch spoke as he arrived at Ben-Gurion International Airport Thursday. He said the scene on the ground in Ukraine is “a catastrophe.”

“Planes are bombing places right next to residential buildings,” as well as a train station “maybe 100 meters from where my son lives and 50 meters from the synagogue.”

Most Jews, he said, have left the country. As he spoke, a group of about 150 young men and women held banners and sang as part of a welcome ceremony for new immigrants arriving from Ukraine.

Israel is expecting a wave of perhaps thousands of Ukrainians fleeing the invasion. So far this month, they’ve received a little over 500 people, the government says.

TORONTO 

Canada is calling for Russia’s membership in Interpol to be suspended.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says international law enforcement cooperation depends on mutual respect among members. Britain is also seeking to suspend Russia from the international policing body.

Defense Minister Anita Anand also says Canada is sending more weapons to Ukraine. Anand says Canada is sending 4,500 rocket launchers and 7,500 grenades.

KYIV, Ukraine 

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has challenged Russian President Vladimir Putin to sit down for talks while urging the West to offer stronger military assistance to Ukraine to fight the Russian invasion.

In a sarcastic reference to a long table Putin used for his recent meetings with foreign leaders and Russian officials, Zelenskyy said: “Sit down with me to negotiate, just not at 30 meters,” adding, “I don’t bite.”

He said the world was too slow to offer support for Ukraine and prodded Western leaders to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine to deny access to the Russian warplanes.

The U.S. and NATO allies have ruled out the move that would directly pit Russian and Western militaries.

Zelenskyy charged that if the West remains reluctant to declare a no-fly zone over Ukraine, it should at least provide Kyiv with warplanes.

MOSCOW 

Gen. Andrei Sukhovetsky, the commanding general of the Russian 7th Airborne Division, was killed in fighting in Ukraine earlier this week.

His death was confirmed by a local officers’ organization in the Krasnodar region in southern Russia.

The circumstances of his death were not immediately clear.

He took part in Russia’s military campaign in Syria.

He was also a deputy commander of the 41st Combined Arms Army.

KHERSON, Ukraine 

Zainish Hussain, a Pakistani citizen who moved to Kherson after marrying a Ukrainian woman, spoke to The Associated Press from his home, showing a nearly empty street outside.

For the past week, they have struggled to hide the war from their 3-year-old daughter, trying to have her watch cartoons with headphones on to keep out the sounds of bombs or gunfire, but on Wednesday it became harder.

During what he described as the “scariest day of this life,” Hussain said that Russian tanks rolled down the street in front of his home and soldiers fired into the air to get civilians off the street.

The city now has a curfew from 6 p.m. until 10 a.m. Hussain said he is getting help from his family with cryptocurrency and hopes to hire a driver to escape to Romania.

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Source: AP News

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