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Ukraine: Zelenskyy condemns NATO over no-fly zone decision — as it happened

This article was last updated at 22:57 UTC/GMT

Zelenskyy blames NATO for 'the green light for further bombing of Ukraine'

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy slammed NATO for its decision not to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

"Knowing that new strikes and casualties are inevitable, NATO deliberately decided not to close the sky over Ukraine," Zelenskyy said in a video published by the presidency.

Earlier, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg's warned the conflict in Ukraine would probably worsen in the coming days. The alliance decided its planes should not operate over Ukrainian airspace.

"We understand the desperation but we also believe that if we did that (establishing a no-fly zone) we would end up with something that could lead to a fully-fledged war in Europe, involving much more countries," Stoltenberg.

But Zelenskyy insisted that the NATO gathering was a "weak summit, a confused summit."

"All the people who die starting today will also die because of you. Because of your weakness, because of your disconnection," he said.

"Today the leadership of the alliance gave the green light for further bombing of Ukrainian cities and villages, refusing to make a no-fly zone."

Watch video 02:31

Ukrainian cities come under increasing attack

CNN, CBC and Bloomberg suspends operations in Russia's

Several international news organizations suspended their operations in Russia after President Vladimir Putin signed a law that introduced jail terms of up to 15 years for people publishing "fake news."

"CNN will stop broadcasting in Russia while we continue to evaluate the situation and our next steps moving forward," a spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation had temporarily suspended its reporting from the country.

"The CBC is very concerned about new legislation passed in Russia, which appears to criminalize independent reporting on the current situation in Ukraine and Russia," it said in a statement posted online.

Bloomberg News said it was also "temporarily suspend the work of its journalists"

"The change to the criminal code, which seems designed to turn any independent reporter into a criminal purely by association, makes it impossible to continue any semblance of normal journalism inside the country," Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait said.

Putin signs 'fake news' law introducing 15-years jail term

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law imposing harsh jail terms for publishing "fake news" about his invasion of Ukraine.

People face term terms of up to 15 years for spreading information that goes against the Kremlin's position on the war in Ukraine.

Russia to impose jail terms, fines for "fake news"

State media outlets refer to Russia's invasion of Ukraine as a "special military operation" rather than war or an invasion.

The bill prescribes sentences of up to three years or fines for "false" information about the military and for people who publicly call for sanctions against Russia.

Courts would mete out the maximum punishment of 15 years fornews that leads to "serious consequences."

Russia restricts access to Twitter

Russia's communications regulator on Friday announced that it would block access to Twitter.

Roskomnadzor announcement followed after it blocked Meta platforms, including Facebook, blaming it for restricting Kremlin-controlled media on its platforms.

Also Friday, Russia banned five foreign media organizations, including DW,which publish news in Russian in a sweeping action to establish tight control over information about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

US has 'no strategic interest' in sanctions that could reduce global energy supply

The United States is considering additional sanctions against Russia, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told reporters.

Asked whether it would include energy sanctions, he said, "nothing is off the table."

He added, however, that cutting the global supply of energy would raise prices "at the pumps for Americans" and "pad Russian profits with rising prices."

"There is no strategic interest in reducing the global supply of energy," Blinken said in Brussels.

In Washington, the White House economic adviser, Cecilia Rouse, said the US was looking at options if it were to decide to cut consumption of Russian energy.

"What's really most important is that we maintain (a) steady supply of global energy," Rouse told reporters.

Russia blocks Facebook

Russia has blocked Meta Platforms, including Facebook, inside the country.

The state media regulator, Roskomnadzor, said there had been 26 cases of "discrimination" against Russian media since October 2020, with access restricted to state-backed channels like RT and the RIA news agency.

Meta said it will do anything it can to restore the service.

A number of international news websites, including DW, the BBC and Meduza, are also no longer accessible in Russia.

On Thursday, one of Russia's last independent news outlets, TV Rain, stopped broadcasting after coming under pressure for its coverage of the invasion.

Watch video 01:02

Ukraine: 150 public radio stations play 'Give Peace a Chance'

G7: War crimes perpetrators 'will be held accountable'

G7 foreign ministers on Friday said they were "deeply concerned" with the "catastrophic humanitarian toll" of Russia's strikes on Ukraine's cities.

They stressed that "indiscriminate attacks are prohibited by international humanitarian law."

"We will hold accountable those responsible for war crimes, including indiscriminate use of weapons against civilians," the minister said in a statement after a meeting in Brussels.

They welcomed the investigations and evidence-gathering by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

"Russia must immediately stop its ongoing assault against Ukraine, which has dramatically impacted the civilian population and destroyed civilian infrastructure, and immediately withdraw Russia's military forces," the ministers added.

Ukraine's president addresses anti-war demonstrators

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held a video address to anti-war protesters in several European cities. He started by dedicating two separate moments of silence for the fallen soldiers and civilians in the conflict.

Rallying support for the Ukrainian cause, he then asked for a third moment of silence for the people of Europe. In a passionate plea, he urged Europeans to come out onto the streets and support Ukraine's fight.

"If Ukraine will not stand, Europe will not stand. If we fall, you will fall. So please don’t be silent. Do not turn a blind eye to this," he said.

"And if we win, and I'm sure we'll win, this will be the victory of the whole democratic world, this will be the victory of our freedom, this will be the victory of light over darkness, of freedom over slavery.

"And if we win we will become as blossoming as Europe. And Europe will be flourishing more than ever,'' he said. "All of you are Ukrainians today, thank you for this."

Watch video 00:54

Zelenskyy: 'Do not turn a blind eye on this'

US envoy condemns 'reckless' nuclear plant attack

US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told the UN Security Council in an emergency meeting that Russia's "reckless" attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant endangered all of Europe.

"By the grace of God, the world narrowly averted a nuclear catastrophe last night," Thomas-Greenfield said. "It was incredibly reckless and dangerous. And it threatened the safety of civilians across Russia, Ukraine and Europe," she added.

But Moscow's UN ambassador denied the accusations. "These statements are simply untrue," Vassily Nebenzia told the Security Council. "This is all part of an unprecedented campaign of lies and disinformation against Russia," he said.

Nebenzia argued that Russian troops had exchanged small arms fire with Ukrainian forces at the power plant, but that they had not deliberately shelled the facility.

Watch video 00:37

'The world narrowly averted nuclear catastrophe'

Mariupol in a 'terrible situation'

Ukraine's port city of Mariupol has been cut off, left without food, water or electricity in the middle of winter, city authorities said.

Mayor Vadym Boychenko made a televised appeal for military help and said a humanitarian corridor should be created to evacuate civilians from the southeastern port city.

"We are simply being destroyed," he said.

Mariupol's deputy mayor Sergei Orlov told BBC radio that the situation in the city was "terrible," after 40 hours of continuous shelling, with schools and hospitals also having been bombarded.

"Today Putin style of war is like Aleppo. So Mariupol goes to Aleppo," Orlov said in English. "I believe that he wants to destroy Ukraine as a nation, and Mariupol is on this way."

In an intelligence update, the UK confirmed that Mariupol has been encircled and bombarded, warning of a humanitarian emergency unfolding in the city.

UN Security Council to discuss nuclear plant shelling

An emergency meeting of the UN Security Council has been called for later Friday, in the wake of the attack on Europe's largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine by Russian forces.

The US, UK, France, Ireland, Norway and Albania called for the meeting, which will be briefed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi has offered to travel to Chernobyl for potential talks with Ukraine and Russia over Ukraine's nuclear sites.

Grossi said the trip's aim to discuss a "framework" to safeguard the security and functioning of Ukraine's nuclear sites with both sides in the conflict.

Watch video 05:46

Nuclear plant attack 'dangerous on many levels'

Scholz urges Putin to allow flow of humanitarian aid

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In an hourlong phone call, he urged Moscow to halt all military actions immediately, a German government spokesperson said on Friday.

Scholz is also said to have asked Putin to allow access for humanitarian aid in areas where fighting was taking place. The Russian president announced a third round of Russia-Ukraine talks this weekend. Both leaders agreed to continue talks, the spokesperson said.

Watch video 02:25

German chancellor says war must be contained

Explosions rock Kyiv

Several explosions were heard in quick succession in Ukraine's capital Kyiv, while an air raid siren blasted out, Reuters reported.

Up to a dozen explosions were heard, but their origin could not be immediately verified. There were no reports of casualties. The Russians have not launched a major assault on Kyiv, but they have engaged in shelling of the capital.

An airstrike on a rural residential area in the Kyiv region killed at least seven people on Friday, including two children, Ukraine state police said in a statement.

Police said the strike hit the village of Markhalivka, around 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the southwestern outskirts of the capital.

RT shuts down US office

State broadcaster Russia Today (RT) will shut down its US operations, deputy chief editor Ann Belkina said. The media agency was impacted by the latest flood of sanctions leveled on Moscow.

"We are sad and disappointed that our groundbreaking channel RT America had to go off the air after more than 10 years, and that the company that supplied much of its content, T&R Productions, had to cease most of its operations, due to challenging external circumstances," Belkina said.

Ukraine urges freezing Russian bank assets

Ukraine's central bank governor, Kyrylo Shevchenko, called on the US and the EU to freeze the assets of all Russian banks within their jurisdiction. He also urged for a suspension of their access to their markets and banks in Europe and the US

"We urge you to take decisions that will help in the international fight against terrorist financing," Shevchenko said in a statement.

Watch video 00:42

Biden: 'We're coming for your ill-begotten gains'

Microsoft suspends Russia sales

Technology giant Microsoft Corporation said it was suspending new sales of its products and services in Russia, becoming the latest US company to distance itself from Moscow.

It joins Apple, Nike and Dell Technologies, among others, who have severed ties with Russian consumers in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

Microsoft also said it was halting many aspects of its business in Russia to comply with government sanctions, president Brad Smith said.

NATO ministers reject no-fly zone over Ukraine

NATO foreign ministers have rejected the idea of setting up a no-fly zone requested by Kyiv. It comes despite NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg's warning that the conflict in Ukraine would probably worsen in the coming days.

Ukraine: Zelenskyy condemns NATO over no-fly zone decision — as it happened

Stoltenberg called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop the war immediately and without conditions and to engage in further diplomacy.

"This is President Putin's war, one he has chosen, planned and is waging against a peaceful country. We call on President Putin to stop this war immediately, withdraw all his forces without conditions and engage in genuine diplomacy now," he said.

He emphasized that NATO's role was to avoid the conflict spreading beyond Ukraine and that the alliance was not seeking a war with Russia.

"At the same time, we have a responsibility as NATO allies to prevent this war from escalating beyond Ukraine because that would be even more dangerous, more devastating and would cause even more human suffering."

Watch video 01:15

Jens Stoltenberg: 'NATO is not seeking a war with Russia'

Former Austrian chancellor leaves Lukoil job

Former Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel is stepping down from the supervisory board of Russian oil giant Lukoil, a position he has held for two years, saying Russia's actions in Ukraine had gone too far.

"For me, someone who always advocated constructive ties between the European Union and Russia, the warlike attack on Ukraine, the brutal attacks on and bombardment of the civilian population have crossed a red line," he wrote in a statement to the Austria Press Agency.

Schüssel said that before leaving the board, he had worked to help produce a resolution from Lukoil calling for an end to the conflict.

Georgia 'very worried' it could become Russia's 'next target'

Nikoloz Samkharadze, chair of the foreign relations committee of the Georgian parliament, told DW that his country was "very worried" it "could become the next target for Russian aggression."

Georgia formally applied to join the European Union on Thursday. Like Ukraine, Georgia is a direct neighbor of Russia. A majority of Georgians support joining the EU, but the process normally takes up to a decade.

Samkharadze said the timing of the move was due to the situation in the region changing "drastically" with Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"We also see that there is a certain change in the mindset of some of the European leaders.... all of them have realized that the security of the European Union is pretty much dependent on the security in the Black Sea region," he said.

Watch video 03:35

Georgia 'very worried' it could become Russia's 'next target': MP Nikoloz Samkharadze

"Of course, we understand that Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova will not become members of the EU tomorrow or even in two years," Samkharadze said. "However, we at least need a clear signal from the European Union that one day, these three countries will become members. Therefore we need status of candidates now."

Moscow had recognized the independence of two separatist regions in Georgia after a brief Russian invasion of its neighbor in 2008. Georgia has since declared those territories, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as occupied by Russia.

UN: More than 1.2 million people have fled Ukraine

The number of refugees who have fled Ukraine now totals more than 1.2 million, according to the UN Organization for Migration (IOM).

Around 672,000 have fled to Poland, roughly 194,000 to Moldova and about 133,000 to Hungary, an IOM spokesperson said in Geneva.

Thousands have also arrived in other countries, including Romania and Germany.

Stoltenberg chides 'reckless' Russian troops

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has denounced Russia's attack on Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia atomic plant as the alliance's foreign ministers gather in Brussels.

Ahead of the meeting, Stoltenberg described the attack and subsequent takeover of the nuclear power plant by Russian troops as an act of "recklessness."

Watch video 00:26

Stoltenberg: 'We condemn the attacks on civilians'

UN rights body backs violations probe

The United Nations' Human Rights Council voted overwhelmingly on Friday to back a resolution condemning alleged human rights violations by Russia as its invasion of Ukraine entered its ninth day. The rights body has also set up an inquiry to probe the subject further.

Thirty-two members of the Council voted in favor of the resolution brought by Ukraine, and two — Russia and Eritrea — voted against, while 13 abstained.

The rights organization cannot make legally binding decisions but its decisions send important messages and can authorize probes, such as the one to be carried out by the three-person commission created by Friday's vote.

Ukraine's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Yevheniia Filipenko, told the council minutes before the vote that there was "irrefutable evidence of gross and systematic human rights violations as well as war crimes and crimes against humanity by Russia."

"It is our common duty to ensure accountability by mandating the documentation and verification of Russia's crimes and identification of those responsible," she said.

Russia, which has called its mission a "special operation," has denied targeting civilians in Ukraine.

Watch video 02:39

Refugees from Ukraine arrive in Germany

UNICEF: Conflict is 'nightmarish for children'

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine enters its ninth day, DW spoke to UNICEF's James Elder, who is in Lviv, about the impact the conflict is having on Ukrainian children.

The spokesperson said that for many children, the conflict meant "deep trauma, separations from families, fear, and for an increasing number, it means the end of their life."

"We are seeing children being killed and injured in this conflict as things continue to escalate. So across the board, this is nightmarish for children," he said.

Watch video 04:49

UNICEF spokesperson James Elder: 'This is nightmarish for children'

Elder said that although his organization was trucking in supplies from Denmark, "as this conflict continues, demand will continue to outstrip the supply."

He also said that UNICEF, Ukraine and neighboring countries had strict rules on inter-country adoption of those children who had crossed into surrounding nations without those parents.

"So we ensure as best we can with a family member, an extended family member, someone from their village. These things are key. And then as a next resort to find a safe place somewhere. This is not easy, given the enormity of numbers of people moving," he said.

Watch video 02:56

War in Ukraine: The end of childhood

IAEA: 'Projectile' hit training center at nuclear plant

The head of the United Nations' atomic agency said Friday the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine was hit by a Russian "projectile" but that the building it struck was a training center, following conflicting reports over which part of the compound was affected by the shelling that ultimately brought about a fire.

International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi said that the construction hit was "not part of the reactor."

He said two people on the site were injured in the blaze, adding that only one reactor at the site is operating, at about 60% capacity.

Zelenskyy urges Russians to protest if they 'want to live without radioactive contamination'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed to Russians on Friday to "take to the streets and say that you want to live on earth without radioactive contamination" after the attack at the site of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, adding "radiation does not know where the borders of your country are."

"Russian people, I want to appeal to you: how is this possible? After all we fought together in 1986 against the Chernobyl catastrophe," he said, evoking memories of the nuclear disaster.

Russia blames nuclear plant fire on Ukrainian saboteurs

Russia's Defense Ministry has blamed the attack at the site of the power plant on Ukrainian saboteurs, calling it a monstrous provocation.

Watch video 04:43

NATO foreign ministers meet in special session: DW's Teri Schultz in Brussels

Germany: Workers groups appeal for refugee integration

Germany's trade unions and employers on Friday issued a joint appeal for new procedures in order to assimilate Ukrainian refugees into the German workforce.

"Companies, works councils and staff councils stand ready to play their part in taking in these people, training and educating them and integrating them into the labor market," read the joint statement issued by the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) and the Confederation of German Employers' Associations (BDA) on Friday.

Watch video 00:26

Habeck: 'We must free ourselves from Russian energy imports'

Cost of conflict hits stock markets

Shares began to drop on Friday while oil prices moderated as investors assessed the damage caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Stocks fell in Europe and Asia and US futures edged lower.

Germany's DAX declined by 1.4% to 13,493.83 and the CAC 40 in Paris lost 1.6% to 6,278.15. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 1.5% to 7,128.24.

On Wall Street, the future for the benchmark S&P 500 was 0.5% down and the future for the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.4%.

Death toll from Russian airstrikes in Chernihiv rises to 47

Thursday's death toll in the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv now stands at 47 after the effects of Russian airstrikes on a residential district continued to be accounted for, regional authorities said on Friday.

Rescue work had to be suspended on Thursday due to heavy shelling, emergency services said.

Russia to introduce jail terms for 'fake' news on army

Russian lawmakers on Friday approved legislation meaning a jail term of up to 15 years for anyone who provides what they perceive to be misinformation regarding the country's military.

Adopted after a third reading, the bill sets out sentences of varying lengths and fines against people who publish "knowingly false information" about the armed forces, with harsher penalties to hit when dissemination is deemed to have serious consequences.

Watch video 01:39

Mariupol: Civilians bear brunt of military bombardment

Germany's Baerbock: Putin 'bringing ruin upon his own country'

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Russian President Vladimir Putin's "war against Ukraine is also bringing ruin upon his own country" as part of an incalculable amount of suffering on all sides.

"We will continue to show him, economically and politically, that he must expect closed trade and global isolation for Russia if he continues down this route."

Baerbock said Putin wants to claim the whole of Ukraine. "For him, it's a perfidious game. For the people in Ukraine it's a fight just to stay alive."

Watch video 00:14

German Foreign Minister calls for commission of inquiry on Ukraine

Germany's top diplomat said people would be provided for and supplied with urgent humanitarian assistance as well as other material support.

"We will never abandon the Ukrainian people to their fate," Baerbock said.

Russia curbs online access to DW, other global media outlets

Russian authorities have moved to restrict access to a number of international media websites, including that of Deutsche Welle, that they accuse of providing false information about Russia's attack on Ukraine.

Websites of the BBC, the independent news website Meduza and the Russian-language website of the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Svoboda, were also "limited" following a request from prosecutors, according to Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor.

Watch video 07:00

Can people in Russia still get uncensored information about the war? DW's Konstantin Eggert

Deutsche Welle has been able to confirm that access to its website from Russia has been blocked since early Friday morning, and that its services can be used only by employing a VPN or circumvention tool.

Russia has intensified its crackdown on independent and critical voices since launching an invasion in Ukraine last week. On Thursday, the liberal radio station Ekho Mosvky announced it was shutting down after being taken off air over its coverage of the war.

Russian forces seize control of nuclear plant, Ukraine says

Ukrainian authorities say Russian forces have taken control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in the countries southeast.

A fire broke out at one of the reactors at the site after Russian shelling overnight.

"Operational personnel are monitoring the condition of power units," the regional authority said on social media.

It added that it sought to ensure the operations were in line with safety requirements.

Watch video 01:24

Russia seizes critical Ukrainian nuclear plant

New Development Bank puts Russia transactions on hold

The New Development Bank (NDB) established by the BRICS group of emerging nations says it is suspending new transactions in Russia.

"In light of unfolding uncertainties and restrictions, NDB has put new transactions in Russia on hold. NDB will continue to conduct business in full conformity with the highest compliance standards as an international institution," it said in a statement.

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — known together as BRICS — are members of the NDB.

Google suspends ad sales in Russia

Tech giant Google says it will halt all online advertising in Russia, in a ban that covers search, YouTube and outside publishing partners. Earlier, Google had stopped Russian state media from buying or selling ads on its platforms.

"In light of the extraordinary circumstances, we're pausing Google ads in Russia. The situation is evolving quickly, and we will continue to share updates when appropriate," the company said in a statement.

On Thursday, Russia's communications regulator Roskomnadzor asked Google to stop showing political ads with "false information" which it alleged aimed to "misinform" the Russian audience.

Watch video 01:57

Russian software companies brace for sanctions impact

'Unprecedented situation,' says nuclear expert

DW spoke to nuclear safety expert Charles Castro about the fire at the Zaporizhzhia plant.

"Of course a fire is very concerning at any nuclear plant. The nuclear plants are designed for severe fires and have counter measures and operators are trained to combat a fire situation. Plants are extremely robust to contain any radiation within the plant."

But "obviously this is an unprecedented situation," he said.

The UN has urged Russian forces to stop the attacks on Europe's largest nuclear plant and Castro concurred.

"All attacks need to be stopped and operators need to be allowed to do their jobs to recover the reactors and safely shut them down so radiation can be contained."

Watch video 04:33

Fire at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant: Nuclear safety expert Charles Casto talks to DW

Fire extinguished at Ukrainian nuclear power plant

Ukraine's state emergency service said on Friday that the fire near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been put out.

Ukraine said in the early hours of Friday Russian forces had attacked the plant and a five-story training facility building next to it was on fire.

A statement from the emergency services posted on Facebook said there were no victims in the fire.

Airbnb suspending operations in Russia, Belarus

Brian Chesky, the CEO of Airbnb said in a tweet the international short-term rental bookings site is suspending "all operations in Russia and Belarus."

Earlier in the week, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said the company was working with hosts to provide lodging for up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion of their country for free.

Emergency services access Zaporizhzhia fire

Ukraine said emergency services were able to access the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant where a training facility on the site's exterior caught fire following Russian shelling.

Both the IAEA and the White House said they were actively monitoring the attack on Europe's largest nuclear plant and that there has not been an increase in radiation levels.

Ukrainian Embassy in Berlin requests tanks and warships

The Ukrainian Embassy in Berlin has requested the German government provide Kyiv with tanks and warships to face down a Russian invasion.

Additional items on Ukraine's list of requests include infantry fighting vehicles, artillery systems, such as self-propelled howitzers, air defense systems, combat and support helicopters, reconnaissance and combat drones and transport aircraft.

Ukraine's formal request to the Chancellery, the Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry read in part, "In view of the extremely tense security situation because of the ongoing Russian aggression, the Ukrainian government is seeking that this request be processed and favorably reviewed as quickly as possible."

The note adds Putin started a "war of annihilation" against Ukraine.

Berlin reversed its defense and Russia policy of many decades seemingly overnight following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Germany has already provided 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger surface-to-air missiles after initially promising just 5,000 helmets.

Zelenskyy: 'Europe needs to wake up'

"Europe needs to wake up," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video posted to Telegram after Russian troops shelled the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.

"I am addressing all Ukrainians, all Europeans and everyone who knows the word Chernobyl," he said. "Tens of thousands had to be evacuated and Russia wants to repeat that, and is already repeating it, but six times bigger."

He added that Ukraine has 15 nuclear reactors and "if there is an explosion it is the end for everyone."

"Do not let Europe die in the nuclear catastrophe," he concluded.

Surveillance camera footage shows a flare landing at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

UK calls UN Security Council meeting

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council over the war in Ukraine.

Johnson said Putin could "threaten the safety of all of Europe."

China-backed bank suspends business with Russia, Belarus

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) said it will be suspending business with Russia and Belarus, which have been hit by severe international sanctions since Russia invaded Ukraine. Belarus has provided Moscow with assistance and logistical support, including the use of its territory to mount the assault.

"In the best interests of the bank, management has decided that all activities relating to Russia and Belarus are on hold and under review," the bank said in a statement, adding that management would do its "utmost to safeguard the financial integrity of AIIB."

"AIIB stands ready to extend financing flexibly and quickly and support members who have been adversely impacted by the war," the statement added without much detail.

The AIIB is a multilateral institution launched in 2016 at the initiative of Chinese President Xi Jinping to balance Western dominance of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Russia is one of the founding members of the AIIB, holding a 6% vote in operations and has a seat on the board of the bank. The Bank of China holds a 27% stake, though Russia is the third-largest stakeholder after India.

Biden and Zelenskyy speak about Zaporizhzhia fire

US President Joe Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy about the fire that broke out at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant following Russian shelling, the White House said in a series of tweets.

The White House wrote that Biden "joined President Zelenskyy in urging Russia to cease its military activities in the area and allow firefighters and emergency responders to access the site."

The White House added that Biden "also spoke this evening with Under Secretary for Nuclear Security of the US Department of Energy and Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration to receive an update on the situation at the plant. The President will continue to be briefed regularly."

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm tweeted that she had spoken with her Ukrainian counterpart and said that the site's reactors are protected by "robust containment structures" and "are being safely shut down."

IAEA: No change reported in Zaporizhzhia radiation levels

Shortly after Russian shelling led to a fire at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said there had been no change in reported radiation levels.

Fighting has been reported at Zaporizhzhia, with Ukrainian authorities saying a training site outside the main plant is on fire. Firefighters have been unable to tend to the blaze as Russia keeps firing, an official from the Ukrainian Energy Ministry said.

The plant director said on Ukraine 24 television that radiation at the facility was secure.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia had resorted to "nuclear terror" by shelling Europe's largest nuclear power plant.

Fire breaks out at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant after shelling

Ukraine's foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, tweeted, "Russian army is firing from all sides upon Zaporizhzhia NPP, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. Fire has already broke out."

Kuleba added, "If it blows up, it will be 10 times larger than Chernobyl! Russians must IMMEDIATELY cease the fire, allow firefighters, establish a security zone!"

Ukraine's energy ministry told Russia's RIA news agency that firefighters are unable to tend to the blaze at the plant as Russian troops continue to fire on them.

Plant spokesman Andry Tuz said shells were striking the plant and one of the six reactors was on fire. He said the reactor that was hit was under renovation and therefore nonoperational.

Tuz said it was imperative to cease fighting so firefighters could contain the blaze.

Dmytro Humenyuk of the State Scientific and Technical Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety told Hromadske that the power units have several layers of fuel protection. The plant generates 25% of Ukraine's electricity.

Humenyuk explained that under certain conditions, the power units can withstand up to 10 tons but are not designed to be hit by bombs or projectiles. If the reactor is seriously damaged and nuclear fuel exposed, the resulting catastrophe would be as bad as Chernobyl and if more than one reactor is hit, the result would be even more horrific.

Warning of a "severe danger" if the nuclear reactors were hit by shelling, the International Atomic Energy Agency said it was in contact with Ukrainian authorities.

Summary of events in Ukraine-Russia crisis on Thursday

Russia vowed to push forward with its invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, despite world condemnation and massive economic sanctions from the West.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said his country's "operation" in Ukraine will continue for now. He said any peace accord must include the "demilitarization" of Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin lauded the "heroism" of Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine. He claimed the war is "going to plan" and accused Ukrainian forces of using human shields without evidence.

Watch video 01:56

Zelenskyy urges resistance despite Russian advances

On the other side, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he is willing to meet face-to-face with Putin. He said Western countries should provide Ukraine with planes if they are unwilling to enact a no-fly zone.

Ukrainian and Russian negotiators agreed to set up humanitarian corridors for civilians during a second round of cease-fire talks in Belarus. Talks are expected to continue next week.

The EU also agreed to a protection arrangement for Ukrainian refugees.

Watch video 00:27

EU approves protection for Ukrainian refugees: Darmanin

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called for a cease-fire in Ukraine and said a war is being waged against the Ukrainian people. At the same time, he said pursuing a "regime change" policy of taking out Putin is not an option.

Sources in the German Economy Ministry said Berlin is expected to ship anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine.

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by phone with Putin, and warned the Russian leader he is making a "major mistake" in Ukraine. The French president said he believes the "worst is yet to come" in Ukraine following the conversation.

Watch video 05:46

Germany to ship anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine: DW's Richard Walker

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has expressed alarm about fighting in Enerhodar, which is located near the major Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.

The US and UK unveiled new sanctions targeting pro-Putin Russian oligarchs.

lo, jsi, wd, ar/sms (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)

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