Russia attacks Ukraine: ‘Do not allow the death of Europe,’ Zelenskyy says

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine entered its second week on Thursday, with troops ramping up attacks on key Ukrainian cities.

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Russia seized its first major Ukrainian city -- the southern port of Kherson -- during fighting on Wednesday. A large convoy of Russian soldiers and military vehicles continued to threaten the capital city of Kyiv from the north.

Meanwhile, the Russians stepped up their bombing of civilian targets across Ukraine and also threatened Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city.

Here are the latest updates:

Elon Musk says Starlink service could be targeted in Ukraine

Update 11:13 p.m. EST March 3: Elon Musk said there is a high probability that his company’s Starlink satellite broadband service could be targeted in Ukraine, the BBC reported.

The internet is reportedly not working in several areas of Ukraine.

The billionaire said that users should “place light camouflage over antennas to avoid visual detection”.

He added that users should “turn on Starlink only when needed and place antennas as far away from people as possible”.

Starlink terminals, needed for the system to work, were delivered to Ukraine on Monday after the Ukrainian government made a request.

Zelenskyy: ‘Do not allow the death of Europe’

Update 10:39 p.m. EST March 3: In an emotional speech early Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he told the leaders of the U.S., the United Kingdom, the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency that there was a dire threat after Russian troops attacked the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant site in southern Ukraine.

“If there is an explosion -- that’s the end for everyone. The end for Europe. The evacuation of Europe,” Zelenskyy said, according to The Associated Press. “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.”

International energy agency in ‘full 24/7 response mode’

Update 10:20 p.m. EST March 3: The International Atomic Energy Agency tweeted Friday that it is putting its incident and emergency center “in full 24/7 response mode” due to the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant site in southern Ukraine.

Earlier, the IAEA said in a tweet that “essential” equipment at the plant has not been affected by the fire, adding that the plant’s workers are “taking mitigatory actions.”

US nuclear incident response team activated

Update 10:08 p.m. EST March 3: Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm called Russian military operations near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine “reckless,” adding that they “must cease.”

Granholm also said her department has activated its nuclear incident response team and is monitoring events in conjunction with the Department of Defense, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the White House.

Graham: ‘Is there a Brutus in Russia?’

Update 9;58 p.m. EST March 3: Sen. Lindsey Graham said the only people who can fix the current situation in Ukraine are the Russian people.

The Republican senator from South Carolina told Fox News that the only way the war can end is if someone can “take this guy out,” referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Is there a Brutus in Russia? Is there a more successful Col. Stauffenberg in the Russian military?” Graham said, referring to the assassin of Julius Caesar and the Nazi officer who attempted to kill Adolf Hitler by planting a suitcase filled with explosives at his Wolf’s Lair headquarters in July 1944.

“The only people who can fix this are the Russian people. Easy to say, hard to do,” Graham said. “Unless you want to live in darkness for the rest of your life, be isolated from the rest of the world in abject poverty, and live in darkness, you need to step up to the plate.”

American Nuclear Society urges forces to stay away from nuclear facilities

Update 9:43 p.m. EST March 3: Officials with the American Nuclear Society urged all armed forces in Ukraine to “refrain from military actions near nuclear facilities,” CNN reported.

“We also urge the securing of off-site power supplies for every nuclear facility, uninterrupted transportation to and from sites for plant workers and supply chains; and unfettered communications with regulators and inspectors,” the organization’s president, Steven Nesbit, and CEO Craig Piercy in said in a statement.

The real threat to Ukrainian lives continues to be the violent invasion and bombing of their country, the agency said in a news release.

“Both Russia and Ukraine should understand the importance of ensuring the safety of nuclear power plants and their staff, the statement said. “We will continue to monitor the situation.”

No change in radiation levels at plant

Update 9:22 p.m. EST March 3: Ukraine’s nuclear regulator told the International Atomic Energy Agency there is “no change reported in radiation levels at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant site,” after a fire broke out at the facility, the IAEA tweeted.

Russian forces were attacking the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant “from all sides,” with firefighters unable to reach the site.

Biden speaks with Zelenskyy

Update 8:56 p.m. EST March 3: President Joe Biden has spoken with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the wake of Russian troops firing on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, a senior White House official told reprorters.

International energy agency director speaks to Ukraine PM

Update 8:45 p.m. EST March 3: Rafael Grossi, the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, spoke with Ukraine Prime Minister Denys Shmygal and with nuclear regulators and operators at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which was hit by Russian troops on Friday morning. Grossi made an appeal for halting the “use of force” and warned of “severe danger” if the plant’s reactors are hit.

White House monitoring attack on power plant

Update 8:28 p.m. EST March 3: A White House official said they are monitoring activity at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, where Ukrainian officials said a fire has broken out after a Russian attack, CNN reported.

Ukraine official: Russian army ‘firing from all sides’ at power plant

Update 8:22 p.m. EST March 3: The Russian army is “firing from all sides” at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, the country’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted on Friday. The plant is the largest nuclear power station in Europe.

Spokesperson says power plant on fire

Update 7:52 p.m. EST March 3: A spokesperson for Europe’s largest nuclear power station in Ukraine is on fire after Russia attacked the facility, located in Enerhodar, The Associated Press reported.

A government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the AP that elevated levels of radiation have been detected near the site of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which provides about 25% of the country’s power generation.

Plant spokesman Andriy Tuz told Ukrainian television that it is urgent that fighting cease so that firefighters can put out the flames, the AP reported.

“A threat to world security!!! As a result of relentless shelling by the enemy of the buildings and blocks of the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is on fire!!!” Dmytro Orlov, the mayor of Enerhodar, posted on Facebook. “I demand, stop! Immediately stop shelling the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant point-blank.”

Russians shell Europe’s largest nuclear power plant

Update 7:33 p.m EST March 3: Russian troops began shelling Europe’s largest nuclear power station in Ukraine on Friday, The Associated Press reported.

A spokesperson for the plant, located in Enerhodar on the Dnieper River, told the AP that the shelling began early Friday.

The plant accounts for 25% of Ukraine’s power generation.

Netherlands prime minister offers support to Ukraine

Update 6:05 p.m. EST March 3: Mark Rutte, prime minister of The Netherlands, released a message to Ukrainians, saying that his country stands with them.

“Our hearts are with you,” Rutte said in a video released on Twitter. “We admire the courage and bravery of both Ukrainian military personnel and civilians in countering Russian aggression.

“We are family in Europe, and we will keep supporting you, by providing weapons, medicine and food. And by implementing strong sanctions against President Putin and against Russian’s aggression.”

DHS will allow Ukrainians in US to remain in country

Update 5:50 p.m. EST March 3: Alejandro Mayorkas, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, announced that all Ukrainian nationals who were present in the U.S. as of Tuesday will be allowed to stay under temporary protected status.

“We condemn Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked attack on the Ukrainian people,” Mayorkas said. “Our hearts stand with the Ukrainian people who are suffering so much tragedy and so much loss.”

Some 30,000 Ukrainians on visas could benefit from this protected status, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

Ukraine joins a list of 12 countries that have also been designated for TPS, CNN reported.

Congress introduces bill to ban Russian crude oil

Update 5:01 p.m. EST March 3: Congress unveiled a bipartisan bill that would ban domestic imports of Russian crude oil, petroleum, petroleum products, liquefied natural gas and coal, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

“It means it actually has some legs,” Murkowski, the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said during a news conference. Manchin chairs the panel.

“We’re not going to send Russia any more U.S. dollars to help them kill innocent people,” Murkowski added. “This bill will do it.”

Bobblehead of Zelenskyy will benefit Ukraine relief efforts

Update 4:04 p.m. EST March 3: Volodymyr Zelenskyy has become the face of defiance in Ukraine’s struggle against Russia. Now, he’s even a pop culture star.

The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum is offering a bobblehead of Ukraine’s president. The cost is $30 and the statue will ship in July. According to museum CEO Phil Sklar, the Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum will donate $5 from every purchase of its Zelenskyy bobblehead to benefit Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund.

“To show our support like countless others throughout the country and across the world, we are excited to release this bobblehead of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to help raise funds and awareness for Ukraine,” Sklar said in a news release. “With the spotlight shining on him during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Zelenskyy has become a worldwide hero, and we think he deserves to be honored with a bobblehead.”

Putin ‘refuses to stop his attacks on Ukraine,’ French president says

Update 3:55 p.m. EST March 3: French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin “refuses to stop his attacks on Ukraine at this point” after speaking with the Russian leader earlier in the day.

The pair spoke amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. Earlier, BBC News and Reuters reported that Putin told the French president that Russia aims to demilitarize Ukraine and make it neutral “so that a threat to the Russian Federation will never emanate from its territory.”

A French official told The Guardian that Macron told Putin he was lying to himself.

“It will cost your country dearly,” the official quoted the French president as saying, according to The Guardian. “Your country will end up isolated, weakened and under sanctions for a very long time.”

In a social media post, Macron emphasized that he will continue to work toward ending the conflict in Ukraine.

“We must avoid the worst,” he wrote.

RT America ending production, reports say

Update 3:45 p.m. EST March 3: The production company behind the Russian-state funded RT America network on Thursday laid off a majority of its staff, saying that it planned to cease production “as a result of unforeseen business interruption events,” CNN and the Daily Beast reported, citing a memo to employees.

“Unfortunately, we anticipate this layoff will be permanent, meaning that this will result in the permanent separation from employment of most T&R (Productions) employees at all locations,” the production company’s general manager, Misha Solodovnikov, wrote in the memo, according to CNN.

The announcement came days after DirecTV announced it was dropping RT America from its lineup in response to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported.

Russian troops close in on Enerhodar, key energy hub

Update 3:35 p.m. EST March 3: Russian tanks and infantry on Thursday “broke through the block-post” to the town of Enerhodar near Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant, officials with the International Atomic Energy Agency said Thursday, citing Ukrainian officials.

“The battle is going on in the town of Enerhodar and on the road to the ZNPP (Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant) site,” officials with the Ukraine regulatory authority said in a letter to IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi. Officials described the situation as “critical.”

Grossi urged troops to refrain from violence near the nuclear power plant as authorities look to avoid a nuclear disaster.

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is home to six of Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors.

Russian general killed in Ukraine

Update 2:25 p.m. EST March 3: Maj. Gen. Andrei Sukhovetsky, the commanding general of the Russian 7th Airborne Division, was killed in fighting in Ukraine earlier this week, The Associated Press reported.

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.

Sukhovetsky, who was 47, began his military service as a platoon commander after graduating from a military academy and steadily rose through the ranks to take a series of leadership positions. He took part in Russia’s military campaign in Syria.

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

A funeral ceremony will be held in Novorossiisk, but further details weren’t immediately announced.

New US sanctions target more Russian elites, including Russian president’s spokesman

Update 2:20 p.m. EST March 3: White House officials on Thursday announced that more Russian oligarchs are facing sanctions for “enabling (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s war of choice.”

Officials released the following list of Russian elites now facing “full blocking sanctions:”

  • Nikolai Tokarev (his wife Galina, daughter Mayya, and his two luxury real estate companies)
  • Boris Rotenberg (his wife Karina, and his sons Roman and Boris)
  • Arkady Rotenberg (His sons Pavel and Igor and daughter Liliya)
  • Sergei Chemezov (His wife Yekaterina, his son Stanislav, and stepdaughter Anastasiya)
  • Igor Shuvalov (His five companies, his wife Olga, his son Evgeny and his company and jet, and his daughter Maria and her company)
  • Yevgeniy Prigozhin (His three companies, his wife, Polina, his daughter Lyubov, and his son Pavel),
  • Dmitry Peskov, President Putin’s press secretary
  • Alisher Usmanov (His superyacht, one of the world’s largest and just seized by our ally Germany, and his private jet, one of Russia’s largest privately-owned aircraft)

“These individuals have enriched themselves at the expense of the Russian people, and some have elevated their family members into high-ranking positions. Others sit atop Russia’s largest companies and are responsible for providing the resources necessary to support Putin’s invasion of Ukraine,” White House officials said Thurdsay.

“These individuals and their family members will be cut off from the U.S. financial system, their assets in the United States will be frozen and their property will be blocked from use.”

Officials said the individuals could also face criminal prosecutions.

The Department of State also announced that it is imposing visa restrictions on 19 oligarchs and 47 of their family members and close associates. Several Russian entities are also being sanctioned for spreading “false narratives that advance Russian strategic objectives and falsely justify the Kremlin’s activities,” officials said.

Biden’s Cabinet to discuss Russian sanctions

Update 2 p.m. EST March 3: President Joe Biden will meet with his Cabinet on Thursday afternoon to discuss sanctions against Russian oligarchs, among other topics, the president said.

Biden is scheduled to meet with his Cabinet at 2 p.m., according to the White House.

Death toll in attack on Chernihiv rises to 33, officials say

Update 1:55 p.m. EST March 3: The death toll following air strikes in the city of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine rose to 33 on Thursday afternoon, according to officials.

Authorities with Ukrainian emergency services said 18 people were also injured in the attacks. Rescue operations were temporarily suspended Thursday evening due to “powerful shelling,” officials said.

Russia says new round of talks expected soon

Update 1:45 p.m. EST March 3: 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.

Leonid Slutsky, a senior Russian lawmaker who was part of the Russian delegation in talks, said that the details of safe corridors will need to be worked out quickly. 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.

WWE pulling out of Russia

Update 1:40 p.m. EST March 3: Officials with the WWE on Thursday announced an end to its partnership with Russian broadcaster Match and the suspension of its WWE Network in Russia, “effective immediately.”

>> Read more: WWE shuts down network in Russia, joining Netflix, others in business sanctions

The announcement comes as the Russian invasion of Ukraine entered its second week on Thursday.

Second round of talks between Russia, Ukraine end with agreement to create humanitarian corridors

Update 1:15 p.m. EST March 3: Diplomatic discussions between delegations from Russia and Ukraine ended Thursday after a few hours, according to Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

He said the negotiations failed on two of the Ukrainian delegations’ key issues: agreeing to an immediate ceasefire and reaching an armistice agreement. However, Podolyak said officials agreed to create humanitarian corridors to allow for the safe evacuation of civilians from cities under attack.

Russian cats barred from international competitions

Update 1:05 p.m. EST March 3: Officials with the Federation Internationale Feline (FIFe) have announced they are banning all Russian-owned cats and Russian-bred cats from international competition amid the country’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

>> Read more: International Cat Federation bans Russian cats from competitions

EU will allow people fleeing conflict in Ukraine to live, work in member states

Update 12:45 p.m. EST March 3: The European Union will give people fleeing from the ongoing invasion of Ukraine temporary protection, allowing them to get residence permits and to attend schools and secure work in its member states, according to the EU commissioner for home affairs.

In a social media post, Ylva Johansson called the decision “historic.”

“The EU stands united to save lives,” she wrote.

According to data from the United Nations Refugee Agency, more than 1 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion last week. In a statement posted on social media, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi prasied the EU’s decision, calling it “unprecedented.”

“It will provide protection to millions on the move,” he wrote. “We encourage its swift and broad application.”

Ukraine invasion ‘proceeding strictly according to schedule,’ Putin says

Update 12:30 p.m. EST March 3: Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that the invasion of Ukraine, which he calls a “special military operation,” is “proceeding strictly according to schedule” despite reports that Russian forces have been met with more resistance than expected, The New York Times reported.

“All tasks that were set are being successfully accomplished,” the Russian president said in nationally televised remarks Thursday night, according to the Times.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Wednesday that officials believe Russia is days behind its planned schedule for its invasion of Ukraine. He credited Ukrainian resistance for the delay.

Zelenskyy asks for meeting with Putin

Update 12:05 p.m. EST March 3: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday called for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid ongoing fighting in Ukraine.

At a news conference Thursday, the Ukrainian leader said direct talks between himself and Putin are “the only way to stop this war,” according to BBC News.

“We are not attacking Russia and we do not plan to attack it. What do you want from us? Leave our land,” he said, according to the news network.

He further urged Putin to “sit down with me. Just not 30 meters away,” apparently referencing recent photos that showed Putin sitting at one end of an extremely long table while meeting French President Emmanuel Macron, The Associated Press reported.

“I don’t bite. What are you afraid of?” Zelenskyy said, according to the AP.

Diplomatic talks are ongoing Thursday between officials representing Russia and Ukraine in neighboring Belarus, officials said.

Companies announce plans to pull out of Russia amid Ukraine invasion

Update 11:50 a.m. EST March 3: Several companies, including furniture giant Ikea, car manufacturer Volkswagen and fashion juggernaut H&M, have announced plans to suspend operations in Russia amid the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

>> Read more: Companies are pulling out of Russia following the invasion of Ukraine. Here’s a list

More than 480 missiles launched on Ukraine by Russia since start of invasion: report

Update 11:25 a.m. EST March 3: More than 480 missiles of “all sizes and stripes” have been launched on Ukraine by Russia since the start of the invasion last week, an unidentified senior U.S. defense official told CNN.

Nearly half of those came from inside Ukraine, launched by Russians utilizing mobile systems, the official said, according to CNN. About 160 missiles have come from Russia while about 70 others are from Belarus, the news network reported.

At least 22 killed in air strikes on Chernihiv in northern Ukraine, officials say

Update 11:05 a.m. EST March 3: Officials have found at least 22 people dead following air strikes in the city of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine, according to officials.

Authorities with Ukrainian emergency services said they continued to search for survivors and victims Thursday afternoon.

Russian convoy moving in on key energy hub

Update 11 a.m. EST March 3: The mayor of Enerhodar, site of Europe’s largest nuclear plant, says Ukrainian forces are battling Russian troops on the edges of the city.

Enerhodar is a major energy hub on the left bank of the Dnieper River and the Khakhovka Reservoir that accounts for about one quarter of the country’s power generation due to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which is Europe’s largest.

Dmytro Orlov, the mayor of Enerhodar, said Thursday that a big Russian convoy was approaching the city and urged residents not to leave homes.

Ikea pausing operations in Russia

Update 10:30 a.m. EST March 3: Officials with the Swedish furniture giant Ikea on Thursday announced the company is pausing its operations in Russia amid “serious disruptions to supply chain and tradition conditions” due to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

As part of the decision, officials are pausing exports and imports in and out of Russia and Belarus while also suspending retail operations in Russia. Company officials said about 15,000 Ikea employees will be impacted by the decision.

“The devastating war in Ukraine is a human tragedy, and our deepest empathy and concerns are with the millions of people impacted,” Ikea officials said in a statement. “The immediate actions of Inter IKEA Group and Ingka Group have been to support the personal safety and security of IKEA co-workers and their families, and we will continue to do so.”

Talks between Ukrainian, Russian delegations begin

Update 10:05 a.m. EST March 3: A meeting between Ukrainian and Russian officials amid ongoing fighting between the two countries commenced Thursday, according to Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Podolyak said officials plan to discuss three key issues: securing an immediate ceasefire, achieving an armistice and creating “humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians from destroyed or constantly shelled villages/cities.”

Officials from both countries met earlier this week, though their conversations ended without any resolution.

Ukrainian police share video of damage following missile strikes in Chernihiv

Update 9:55 a.m. March 3: A two-minute video shared Thursday by police showed damage caused to a city in northern Ukraine following missile strikes earlier in the day, according to officials.

The video shows smashed cars and destroyed buildings as people work to clear the rubble. Officials said several buildings were damaged in the attack, including two schools.

‘Worse is to come’ in Russian invasion of Ukraine, French president says

Update 9:50 a.m. EST March 3: French President Emmanuel Macron believes “worse is to come” in the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine following a call Thursday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, AFP reported, citing an aide.

The aide told the news organization that the Russian president indicated he aims to seize all of Ukraine after launching an attack on the country last week.

Putin told Macron that Russia aims to demilitarize Ukraine and make it neutral “so that a threat to the Russian Federation will never emanate from its territory,” BBC News and Reuters reported.

A French official told The Guardian that Macron told Putin he was lying to himself.

“It will cost your country dearly,” the official quoted the French president as saying, according to The Guardian. “Your country will end up isolated, weakened and under sanctions for a very long time.”

Ukraine urges citizens to use guerilla tactics

Update 9:25 a.m. EST March 3: As Russian forces advance on strategic points in southern Ukraine, Ukrainian authorities on Thursday called on compatriots to launch a guerrilla war against Russian forces.

In a video message posted online, Ukrainian presidential aide Oleksiy Arestovich urged men to cut down trees and destroy rear columns of Russian troops.

“We urge people to begin providing total popular resistance to the enemy in the occupied territories,” Arestovich said.

“The weak side of the Russian army is the rear - if we burn them now and block the rear, the war will stop in a matter of days,” he said.

Arestovich said that such tactics are already being used in Konotop in northeast Ukraine and Melitopol near the Azov Sea, which were captured by Russian troops.

He called on the civilian population to build barricades in cities, hold rallies with Ukrainian flags, and create online networking groups. “Total resistance ... this is our Ukrainian trump card and this is what we can do best in the world,” Arestovich said, recalling guerrilla actions in Nazi-occupied Ukraine during World War II.

Volkswagen stops production of vehicles in Russia, suspends exports

Update 8:55 a.m. EST March 3: Officials with the Volkswagen Group on Thursday announced that the company has ceased production of vehicles in Russia “until further notice” amid the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. The company’s board is also suspending vehicle exports to Russia immediately, officials said.

Volkswagen has two production sites in western Russia: one in Kaluga and another in Nizhny Novgorod.

“The Volkswagen Group has received the news about the war in Ukraine with great dismay and shock,” the company said in a statement. “Volkswagen continues to hope for a cessation of hostilities and a return to diplomacy.”

No spectators will be allowed for soccer matches hosted in Belarus, UEFA says

Update 8:20 a.m. EST March 3: Officials with the Union of European Football Associations on Thursday announced that fans will not be allowed to attend soccer matches in which Belarusian teams are serving as host amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Belarusian clubs and national teams competing in UEFA competitions will also be required to play home matches at “neutral venues,” officials said.

On Monday, officials with UEFA and FIFA announced the suspension of Russian teams from international soccer “until further notice.”

Ukrainian delegation traveling to talks with Russia

Update 7:59 a.m. EST March 3: A delegation from Ukraine is on its way for the second round of talks with Russia in Belarus today.

A senior official in the Ukrainian governing party said the discussions will begin in a few hours.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said “The talks will take place” but that the Ukrainian delegation had delayed going to the meeting, saying that it was a puppet of the U.S. Lavrov however did not have evidence of the allegations, CNN reported.

It was thought that the two sides would sit down on Wednesday.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the Russians are ready to talk in Belarus.

“Our delegation was in place last night. It was expecting Ukrainian negotiators last night, all night, then in the morning. They are still waiting,” he said, CNN reported. “But as you know, the talks have not started. Ukrainian negotiators are clearly in no hurry. Let’s hope they arrive today.”

The first discussion between Ukraine and Russia occurred on Monday and lasted for five hours, CNN reported.

First foreign fighters arrive in Ukraine to help defend against Russia

Update 7:13 a.m. EST March 3: The first international supplied military forces have arrived in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said.

“Ukraine is already greeting foreign volunteers. (The) first 16,000 are already on their way to protect freedom and life for us, and for all,” he said in a video posted to Facebook Thursday, according to CNN.

He did not say where the manpower was coming from.

While Ukrainian leaders have asked foreign people to take up arms against Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom have warned their citizens against it. Instead, they’re sending weapons, financial aid and issuing sanctions, CNN reported.

Russia to change tactics, focus on direct attacks, NATO says; Mariupol deputy mayor calls attack ‘humanitarian catastrophe’

Update 6:59 a.m. EST March 3: NATO said Russia is going to change its strategy of the Ukrainian invasion.

Instead of surrounding and capturing cities in Ukraine, NATO military officials told CNN that Russia will do more direct attacks.

“We’re seeing a change in strategy from the Russian side … They’re less focused on encircling cities, more concentrated trying to go in,” the unidentified NATO official told CNN.

The official attributes the change to the losses Russia has suffered and the slow progress it’s making, as well as, supply challenges.

“They have no food, they lack fuel and also spare parts,” he told CNN.

Meanwhile, the deputy mayor of Mariupol said his city is surrounded by Russian troops and the situation is “critical.”

Sergei Orlov spoke to CNN Thursday morning, pleading for help for his citizens.

“We are asking for help, for military help, and we are waiting for military help,” Orlov said. “Our internal forces are very brave, but we are surrounded by the Russian army, which has more people in their army.”

The city had been under fire for more than 26 hours and is now in a humanitarian crisis and there is no electricity, water, sanitary systems or heat.

“They are destroying our city with all weapons, from artillery, from airplane bombing, from tactical rockets, from multiple launch rocket systems,” Orlov told CNN.

Despite assurances from Russia that they are using precise targeting systems, Orlov said homes and schools are being targeted.

International media said there have been many civilian casualties and damage to civilian targets, CNN reported.

Formula One cuts ties with Russia

Update 6:52 a.m. EST March 3: Formula One has announced it is severing ties with Russia, CNN reported.

Last week, the racing group announced it had canceled the Russian Grand Prix which had been scheduled to be run at Sochi’s Olympic Park in September.

F1 is now terminating its contract with the Russian Grand Prix promoter, canceling future races. it is also canceling the move from Sochi to a new purpose-built circuit that was planned for outside of St. Petersburg, CNN reported.

The F1 racing season is scheduled to start in Bahrain on March 18.

Russia says it’s ready for peace talks, will continue to target Ukraine’s military infrastructure

Update 6:30 a.m. EST March 3: Russia’s foreign minister said his country is ready to sit down to discuss peace, but will still continue to target Ukraine’s military infrastructure saying it is threatening Russia, The Associated Press reported.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the Russian delegation gave their country’s demands to their Ukrainian counterparts and is waiting for the response.

Lavrov said Moscow demanded Ukraine will never be a military threat to his country. At the same time, Lavrov said he regrets the civilian deaths but that Russians are using precision weapons to target the Ukrainian military.

He said, “any military action is fraught with casualties, and not just among the military but also civilians,” the AP reported.

Hungary to not allow arms shipments through country

Update 6:24 a.m. EST March 3: Hungary’s government said it will not permit arms shipments to pass through the country on their way to Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.

The chief of staff for the prime minister said that if Hungary would allow weapons to be shipped through their country it would endanger the 150,000 Hungarians living in the Ukrainian region of Transcarpathia, the AP reported.

Hungary had already agreed to sanctions placed on Russia by the European Union, of which it is a member, but the chief of staff Gergely Gulyas said that the sanctions could impact his country’s energy sector since it relies on Russian natural gas.

Hungary is also planning to go forward with the Russian-backed expansion of Hungary’s only nuclear power plant, the AP reported.

France seizes oligarch’s yacht

Update 6:18 a.m. EST March 3: The French Finance Ministry announced the government has seized a yacht owned by Igor Sechin, the chief executive officer of Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft, CNN reported.

Sechin is a Putin ally, The Associated Press reported.

The “Amore Vero” or “True Love” in Italian, had been in the port of La Ciotat for repairs since Jan. 3 and was scheduled to leave on April 1, the AP and CNN reported.

The scheduled repairs had not been completed but the crew was trying to prepare to leave at the time of a customs inspection Thursday, the AP reported.

The boat was seized so it could not leave.

China denies report it asked Russia to delay attack until after Beijing Olympics

Update 5:34 a.m. EST March 3: China’s Foreign Ministry said the intelligence reports alleging that its government asked the Russian government to hold off its invasion of Ukraine until after the Beijing Winter Olympics is “totally false” and was an attempt to “divert attention and blame,” CNN reported.

The Associated Press reported that China called the allegations, which were first published by The New York Times, were “fake news.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Chinese President Xi Jinping prior to the games’ opening ceremony on Feb. 4. The two countries issued a statement that there was a “no limit” partnership between them, firing back at NATO’s expansion and saying that China and Russia would start a new global order with true “democracy,” the Times reported.

The Olympic closing ceremonies were held on Feb. 20. On Feb. 21, Putin moved Russian troops into an insurgent-controlled area of Ukraine. On Feb. 24 the full invasion began with Russian troops firing ballistic missiles, artillery and tanks.

Latest death toll

Update 5:29 a.m. EST March 3: The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said that at least 227 civilians have been killed and another 525 have been injured in the attacks against Ukraine, The Associated Press reported. But U.N. officials admit that is a “vast undercount” using only confirmed casualties and that the Ukrainian officials have had higher numbers of deaths and injured, the AP reported.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the U.N. said “real figures are considerably higher, especially in government-controlled territory and especially in recent days, as the receipt of information from some locations where intensive hostilities have been going on was delayed and many reports were still pending corroboration.”

Countries send weapons

Update 5:22 a.m. EST March 3: Norway is sending 2,000 anti-tank missiles to Ukraine to help in the fight against Russia, The Associated Press reported.

Germany is also aiding Ukraine after approving 2,700 anti-aircraft missiles to be sent. The Soviet-made, shoulder-fired Strela surface-to-air missiles are leftover from East German supplies.

Last week, Germany had refused to send lethal weapons but reversed the decision Thursday, the AP reported.

Trains out of Ukraine carrying evacuees

Update 5:15 a.m. EST March 3: The New York Times reported that trains leaving Ukraine from east to west are now only carrying evacuees.

While tickets are not required, women, children and older people are being given priority.

Russians close in on Mariupol

Update 5:00 a.m. EST March 3: The Russian military says it has encircled the city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine.

Military officials said it has not targeted civilian areas.

“The units of the armed forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic narrowed the encirclement of the city of Mariupol, and also took control of the settlements of Vinogradnoye, Sartaka and Vodyanoye,” Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said in a video briefing, CNN reported.

Athletes from Russia, Belarus banned from Paralympics

Update 2:25 a.m. EST March 3: Athletes from Russia and Belarus were banned from the Beijing Paralympics, The Associated Press reported, a reversal of the organizers’ original decision.

The decision comes less than 24 hours after the International Paralympics Committee announced it would allow athletes from both nations to compete when the Games open on Friday, the AP reported. The athletes were to compete as neutral athletes with colors, flags and other logos and national symbols removed.

“In the last 12 hours, an overwhelming number of members have been in touch with us,” IPC President Andrew Parsons said in a statement. “They have told us that if we do not reconsider our decision, it is now likely to have grave consequences.”

Ukrainian mayor: Wednesday was ‘most difficult day’

Update 1:38 a.m. EST March 3: The mayor of Mariupol called Wednesday the most difficult day yet of the Russian invasion, CNN reported.

In a statement posted late Wednesday on Telegram, Mayor Vadym Boychenko spoke to the citizens of the southern Ukrainian city and said the country’s forces fought back valiantly against those who were shooting at homes.

CNN has not been able to independently verify those reports.

“And you dear citizens of Mariupol are great heroes,” Boychenko wrote. “All of us are fighting for our freedom, for our country, for our one-and-only Mariupol. We aren’t attacking anyone. We are simply sitting at home. That means God is with us. That means truth is with us. That means victory will be on our side.”

Russian oligarchs move luxury yachts to Maldives

Update 1:26 a.m. EST March 3: Luxury yachts owned by Russian billionaires have reportedly reached the Maldives, according to The Washington Post. The island nation, located in the Indian Ocean, does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.

According to shipping tracking data, two vessels owned by Oleg Deripaska and Alexander Abramov entered the waters near Malé, the capital of the Maldives, on Wednesday, the newspaper reported. Three more yachts owned by Russian magnates were also seen sailing in the island nation’s waters, according to Reuters, including one owned by Vladimir Potanin, whose net worth is more than $25 billion, according to Bloomberg.

Report: US preparing more sanctions for Russian oligarchs

Update 12:33 a.m. EST March 3: According to a New York Times report, the White House is preparing another package of sanctions aimed at additional Russian oligarchs.

The timing of the next batch of sanctions is not clear, the newspaper reported, citing an unnamed source. However, White House and Treasury Department officials have been planning to add to the economic sanctions the U.S. and its allies have already imposed on Russia.

Member of monitoring mission killed in Kharkiv

Update 12:25 a.m. EST March 3: A member of the Organization for Security of Cooperation in Europe’s monitoring mission to Ukraine was killed in Kharkiv on Tuesday, the organization said in a statement.

Maryna Fenina died “while getting supplies for her family in a city that has become a war zone,” the group said.

The group’s mission in Ukraine, which consists of unarmed civilians, was established during 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea, The New York Times reported.

Zelenskyy calls Russian soldiers ‘lost children’

Update 12:13 a.m. EST March 3: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday compared invading Russian troops as directionless and asserted that the invasion plans of Russian President Vladimir Putin of Russia had been “ruined,” The New York Times reported.

”Our soldiers, our border guards, our territorial defense, even simple farmers are capturing Russian soldiers every day, and all of them are saying the same thing: They don’t know why they are here,’’ Zelenskyy said in a speech posted on his Facebook page. “These are not warriors, they are just lost children.”

Russia’s central banks raise commissions

Update 12:01 a.m. EST March 3: Russia’s central bank imposed a 30% commission on foreign currency purchases by individuals on currency exchanges, brokers told Reuters.

The central bank did not immediately reply to the news agency’s request for comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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