What to know on Russia’s war in Ukraine – Lowell Sun

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By The Associated Press

Russia’s war on Ukraine is in its ninth day. U.N. and Ukrainian officials say no radiation was released from a Russian attack at Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant in Ukraine and firefighters have extinguished a blaze at the facility.

Russian forces continued to press a campaign that has brought global condemnation. People across Ukraine have taken up arms and sought shelter. More than 1.2 million people have fled to neighboring countries, the U.N. refugee agency said Friday.

NATO is refusing to police a no-fly zone over Ukraine. The 30-nation military organization believes that such a move could provoke widespread war in Europe with Russia.

Associated Press journalists around Ukraine and beyond are documenting the military activity. Here’s a look at the events unfolding Friday:

NUCLEAR SAFETY CONCERNS

Russian troops seized the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in the southeastern city of Enerhodar in an attack that evoked memories of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, at Ukraine’s Chernobyl.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said no radiation spikes were detected. And the chief of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said a Russian “projectile” hit a training center, not any of the six reactors.

However, experts said it highlights the potential dangers of reactors in the war zone, and pharmacies in some Eastern European and Scandinavian countries reported a surge in demand for iodine tablets, which can be used to protect children from radiation exposure

In the wake of the attack, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reiterated his request for the West to enforce a no-fly zone over his country. But NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said to do so, NATO would have to shoot down Russian aircraft.

“We are not part of this conflict, and we have a responsibility to ensure that it does not escalate and spread beyond Ukraine, because that would be even more devastating and more dangerous,” Stoltenberg said.

DIRECTLY WITNESSED OR CONFIRMED BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Russian forces have captured the southern city of Kherson, a vital Black Sea port of 280,000 — the first major city to fall. Russian armored vehicles were seen in the otherwise empty streets of Kherson, in videos shared with the AP by a resident.

Frequent shelling could be heard Friday from the center of the capital, Kyiv.

Heavy fighting continued on the outskirts of another strategic port, Mariupol, knocking out the city’s electricity, heat and water systems, and most phone service. Food deliveries were also cut.

A livestreamed security camera linked from the homepage of the Zaporizhzhia plant showed what appeared to be armored vehicles rolling into the facility’s parking lot and shining spotlights on the building late Thursday. The AP also verified video shot by a resident in the area that showed bright flaring objects landing in the grounds of the nuclear plant.

In stories and videos posted online, Russian state outlets are falsely claiming that Zelenskyy fled Kyiv. Photos and videos show the Ukranian president leading his country’s defense.

WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING ON THE GROUND?

Battles involving airstrikes and artillery continued Friday northwest of Kyiv, and in the northeast, with the cities of Kharkiv and Okhtyrka coming under heavy strikes, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich said.

Ukrainian defense forces were holding on to the northern city of Chernihiv, and have prevented Russian efforts to take the important southern city of Mykolaiv, he said.

Ukrainian artillery have been defending Odesa from repeated attempts by Russian ships to fire on the Black Sea port city, he said, insisting there’s no immediate threat to the city.

Some Ukranian drone enthusiasts are risking their lives by forming a volunteer drone force to help their country repel the Russian invasion. Civilians are using the aerial cameras to track Russian convoys and relay the images and GPS coordinates to Ukrainian troops.

WHERE ARE REFUGEES GOING?

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee’ data portal showed that the vast majority of those who have left Ukraine since the invasion began — about 650,000 — went to neighboring Poland. Roughly 145,000 fled to Hungary. An additional 103,000 were in Moldova and more than 90,000 in Slovakia.

More than 100 Jewish refugee children who were evacuated from a foster care home in Ukraine and made their way across Europe by bus arrived in Berlin on Friday. The 105 children — the youngest only 5 weeks old — left the port city of Odesa 52 hours earlier. The children received financial assistance from Jewish aid groups, and diplomatic support from Israel, Germany and other European states.

Brazil — which has Latin America’s biggest population of Ukrainians and their descendants — said it will issue temporary humanitarian visas and residency permits for Ukrainian nationals and others affected by the war.

In Hungary, a pastor in a village on the border with Ukraine offered up the only room in his church to a family of 27 women and children who were fleeing the invasion.

HOW MANY CASUALTIES?

Russia has acknowledged that nearly 500 Russian troops have been killed and around 1,600 wounded. Among them, Maj. Gen. Andrei Sukhovetsky, the commanding general of the Russian 7th Airborne Division, who had previous experience in Syria.

Ukraine has not released casualty figures for its armed forces.

The U.N. human rights office says at least 331 civilians have been killed and 675 wounded in Ukraine since the start of the invasion. Ukraine’s State Emergency Service has said more than 2,000 civilians have died, though it’s impossible to verify the claim.

SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA

The wave of global sanctions on Russia could have devastating consequences for energy and grain importers. Russia is a leading exporter of grains and a major supplier of crude oil, metals, wood and plastics.

More companies are suspending operations in Russia, including Apple, Mercedes-Benz, BP, Volkswagen, clothing retailer H&M and furnishings store IKEA.

Spain’s Teatro Real, one of Europe’s major opera houses, said it is canceling a set of upcoming performances by Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet.

RUSSIA’S MEDIA CRACKDOWN

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed a bill into law that threatens up to 15 years in prison for what Russia deems to be “fake” reports about the war.

Also, the state communications watchdog blocked Facebook, Twitter and five foreign media organizations based abroad that publish news in Russian. Those organizations — the BBC, the U.S. government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle and Latvia-based website Meduza — are among the most influential and often critical foreign media publishing in Russian.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of the war between Russia and Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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