Live News! The Ukraine War: Zelensky’s Urge Appeal to the West—’Close the Sky’

  • Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has told Russian soldiers, “You still have a chance to survive,” as he renewed calls for the West to impose a no-fly zone over his country.
  • Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska echoed his appeal, telling Western powers: “If we don’t stop Putin, who threatens to start a nuclear war, there will be no safe place in the world for any of us,” in her first public statement
  • A power outage at Ukraine’s Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, taken over by Russian troops, has raised fears of disaster for Ukraine and wider Europe.
  • Amnesty says it has found evidence Russian troops used a “dumb bomb” in Chernihiv, something the human rights group says could be a war crime.
  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will hold talks later with British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss about Russia’s invasion, as he continues a European tour.
  • Temporary humanitarian corridors have opened, allowing some Ukrainian women and children to flee cities, including Sumy and Mariupol.

Russia Outlines ‘Nationalization’ in Counter-Sanctions Package

Assets left behind by foreign companies and multinationals that quit Russia following its invasion of Ukraine could be nationalized as part of a “counter-sanctions” package developed by the Russian government in response to Western sanctions.

“United Russia,” the country’s ruling party, said that the government is close to passing a package of measures to support its ailing economy, which among other things includes a new mechanism of expropriation of assets owned by foreign organizations.

The legislation also proposes an administrative takeover of companies that are at least 25 per cent owned by foreign entities from “undesirable countries,” and that chose to leave Russia, the ruling party statement said, according to state news outlet RIA Novosti.

The owner of such a company may be able to avoid the company going into administration if they either choose to remain in Russia, or if they sell their share under the condition of keeping operations active and staff on payroll.

U.S. Gas Prices Hit $4.25

Gas prices continue to climb in the United States, following a bipartisan push to block imports of Russian gas and oil.

As of Wednesday morning, the national average was $4.25 for a gallon of regular gasoline—a rise of 8 cents from Tuesday’s $4.17.

The previous high was $4.11 on July 17, 2008, which would equate to about $5.25 today when adjusted for inflation.

Prices are currently highest in California, with a $5.57 average, according to AAA.

Chernobyl Radiation Fears Amid Power Outage

More details to bring you on Chernobyl…

A power outage at the nuclear plant could put the whole of Europe in danger, Ukraine has warned.

Ukraine’s state-run nuclear company Energoatom fears radioactive substances could be released from the plant because its power connection was severed.

Ukraine’s communications service said that the high-voltage line is currently disconnected “due to the damage caused by the occupiers.”

Meanwhile, Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba appealed to the international community “to urgently demand Russia to cease fire and allow repair units to restore power supply.”

Kuleba tweeted that reserve diesel generators have a 48-hour capacity to power the plant after which the cooling systems of the storage facility for spent nuclear fuel will stop, “making radiation leaks imminent.”

“Putin’s barbaric war puts entire Europe in danger. He must stop it immediately!” Kuleba added.

Ukraine Says Chernobyl Nuclear Plant ‘Without Power’

Chernobyl’s nuclear plant, taken over by the Russian forces shortly after the invasion, has been left entirely without power, according to Ukraine’s state-run electricity grid operator.

“Because of the military actions of the Russian occupants the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl was fully disconnected from the power grid. The nuclear station has no power supply,” the Ukrenergo agency said in a statement on Facebook about 5 a.m. ET Wednesday.

“The military actions are in progress, so there is no possibility to restore the lines,” it added.

Russian authorities have not yet responded to the latest claim.

Shortly after the takeover, the Russian Defense Ministry released a video purporting to show Russian and Ukrainian forces in cooperation over maintaining operational safety at the plant.

However, on Tuesday the International Atomic Energy Agency issued a statement expressing concern for Ukrainian staffers who have been working at the plant—the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident that occurred in 1986—since Russian forces took control two weeks ago.

IAEA also said that Chernobyl’s remote safeguards monitoring system had gone dark following the Russian takeover.

Zelensky Tells Russian Soldiers: ‘You Still Have a Chance To Survive’

Zelensky gave his daily address a little earlier…

Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, has told Russian soldiers, “You still have a chance to survive,” as he delivered his daily address on Wednesday.

“Almost two weeks of our resistance have shown you that we will not give up,” he said in comments directed at Russian troops.

“We have persevered and inspired the whole world with our determination,” Gazeta, one of Ukraine’s biggest newspapers, quoted him.

Zelensky also renewed his calls for Western powers to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine.”If you do not close the skies, you will also be responsible for the catastrophe,” he said.

NATO members have so far resisted such calls amid concern it could lead to direct engagement with Russia’s military, potentially escalating the conflict.

Ukrainian negotiators returned from peace talks in Belarus on Tuesday, Zelensky added.

Russian Forces Open Fire as Village Evacuated: Ukraine

Disturbing reports from Demydiv evacuation…

Russian forces have opened fire during an evacuation of civilians, killing a police officer, Ukrainian officials report.

The incident took place as officers worked to get civilians out of Demydiv in the Kyiv region as Russia’s invasion entered its fourteenth day on Wednesday.

“Today, during the evacuation of people from the occupied Demydiv, a policeman from Kyiv region, senior sergeant Oleksiy Ponomarenko, heroically died,” Andriy Nebytoc, the police chief of the Kyiv region said in a post on Facebook.

“The invaders opened fire in the direction of law enforcement officers and civilians,” he added.

What Is a ‘Dumb Bomb’?

Dumb bombs, also known as unguided missiles or gravity bombs, is an umbrella term for aircraft-delivered bombs that do not contain a guidance system and follow a ballistic trajectory.

This type of weapon was in heavy use until the development of precision-guided missiles and “smart bombs,” in the late 1980s.

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While largely seen as ineffective for targeted air strikes, the indiscriminate and heavy damage that they deal can have a powerful psychological impact on the civilian population under attack, according to Mark Hiznay, associate arms director at Human Rights Watch.

“They scare people to death,” Hiznay told IRIN News, a UN-linked non-profit. “Any time you hear a helicopter, you’re wondering whether this thing is going to throw out a barrel bomb out the back and land in your neighbourhood.”

The use of barrel bombs and other types of missiles that are used indiscriminately, including dumb bombs”, on civilian areas is prohibited under international humanitarian law and may constitute a war crime, according to the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner.

Russia Says It Has No Plan to Overthrow Ukraine Government

Russia has said it does not intend to overthrow President Volodomyr Zelensky’s government, nor occupy Ukraine.

Russian foreign affairs spokesman Maria Zakharova said Russia’s “special military operation” (the official Kremlin term for the war) was aimed at “the protection” of the self-proclaimed people’s republics in Donetsk and Luhansk.

Russia was also pursuing the “demilitarization and denazification” of Ukraine, she said, and sought to eliminate the military threat it posed by its NATO ties.

She told a briefing on Wednesday, that Russia’s tasks “do not include either the occupation of Ukraine or the destruction of its statehood, nor the overthrow of the current government,” according to state news agency Tass.

“It is not directed against the civilian population,” she said.

The U.N. says at least 406 civilians have been killed since the start of the invasion on February 24; U.S. intelligence puts it closer to 2,000 deaths.

President Zelensky has said he has been marked as the no.1 target of the Kremlin. Ukraine’s military says it has prevented several attempts on his life.

Six Humanitarian Corridors Open for Evacuations

Six humanitarian corridors will allow civilians to leave several Ukrainian cities today, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk has said.

“The military agreed to cease fire from 9 a.m. [2 a.m. ET] till 9 p.m. [2 p.m. ET],” she told a news briefing on Wednesday, Russian news agency Tass reports.

Ceasefires exists on the these routes, Tass said: Energodar-Zaporozhye, Sumy-Poltava, Mariupol-Zaporozhye, Volnovakha-Pokrovsk and Izyum-Lozovaya.

And towards Kiev from: Vorzel, Bucha, Borodyanka, Irpen and Gostomel.

Russian “Dumb Bomb” Air Strike ‘May Constitute a War Crime’: Amnesty

Russian airstrikes that reportedly killed more than 40 civilians in the town of Chernihiv could constitute a war crime, an Amnesty International investigation found.

The airstrike, which took place at noon, Thursday, March 3, may have involved the use of so called “dumb bombs” — unguided aerial bombs that cause indiscriminate widespread destruction.

Amnesty International’s Crisis Evidence Lab verified footage of the aftermath of the strike that showed damage to buildings and bodies in the street, with some of the videos showing the devastation caused by the bombs, including a distinctive crate of a size consistent “with surface impacted munitions of approximately 500kg.”

Additionally, the investigators also verified videos from another strike location that shows Ukraine’s territorial defense forces removing an unguided dud FAB-500 M62 bomb after the area was shelled by Russian forces. They also found an official video published by the Russian military showing the sortie launch of Su-34 Fullback aircraft loaded with eight FAB-500 bombs.

Amnesty also said it could not establish a legitimate military target in the vicinity of the bomb site that could have been targeted in the strikes.

U.S. Biological Weapons in Ukraine—Facts and Fiction

As part of its latest attempts to justify its invasion, Russian officials are once again pushing a false narrative that Ukraine is developing biological weapons with the assistance of the U.S.

In fact, the U.S. Defense Department has never had a biological laboratory in Ukraine, as repeatedly stated by Ukrainian and U.S. officials.

Yet false claim has been pushed by Russia since 2018, and remerged in the wake of the outbreak of COVID-19.

Andy Weber, a former assistant secretary for biological defense programs, explained to PolitiFact last month, the U.S. has “provided technical support to the Ukrainian Ministry of Health since 2005 to improve public health laboratories.”

“These laboratories have recently played an important role in stopping the spread of COVID-19,” he added.

 

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