Russia-Ukraine live updates: Poland ‘ready’ to hand over all MIG-29 fighter jets

Andriy Dubchak/dia images via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) – Russian forces are continuing their attempt to break through Ukraine from multiple directions, while the Ukrainians, led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, are putting up “fierce resistance”, according to US officials.

The attack began on February 24, when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation”.

Russian forces moving from neighboring Belarus towards the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, do not appear to have come any closer to the city since they came within about 20 miles, although smaller forward groups conducted firefights with Ukrainian forces inside the capital since at least Friday.

Russia has faced sanctions from the United States, Canada and countries across Europe, targeting the Russian economy as well as Putin himself.

Here’s how the news evolves. All times Eastern:

March 9, 8:40 a.m.
Ukraine warns of radiation risk after power cut at Russian-occupied Chernobyl power plant

Ukraine warned on Wednesday that power has been completely cut off at its Chernobyl nuclear power plant and that radioactive substances could be released because its storage facility cannot cool spent nuclear fuel.

The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, a restricted 1,000 square mile area of ​​deserted land surrounding the closed plant, was seized by Russian forces just hours after launching their invasion on February 24. The plant, located between the border between Belarus and Ukraine Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, was the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986.

Ukraine’s State Service for Special Communications and Information Protection announced via Twitter on Wednesday that “Kiev’s high-voltage line is currently disconnected due to damage caused by occupiers.”

“As a result, the Chernobyl power plant and all nuclear facilities in the exclusion zone are without power,” the agency tweeted.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also confirmed the news on Twitter, saying the only power grid supplying Chernobyl and all its nuclear facilities occupied by Russian forces “is damaged”, causing a loss of power supply.

“I call on the international community to urgently call on Russia to cease fire and allow repair units to restore power,” Kuleba tweeted.

However, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it “does not see any critical safety impact”. The United Nations nuclear watchdog tweeted that “the heat load of the spent fuel storage pool and the volume of cooling water” at Chernobyl are “sufficient for efficient heat removal without the need for power supply”.

Some 20,000 spent nuclear fuel assemblies are stored in the Chernobyl storage facility and “need constant cooling”, which is only possible if there is electricity, according to the Service of Ukrainian State of Special Communications and Information Protection.

“If there isn’t, the pumps won’t cool. As a result, the temperature in the retention ponds will rise,” the agency tweeted. “After this evaporation will occur, it will lead to a nuclear discharge.”

Kuleba noted that standby diesel generators have a 48-hour capacity to power Chernobyl.

“After that, the spent nuclear fuel storage facility’s cooling systems will shut down, making radiation leaks imminent,” he tweeted. “Putin’s barbaric war puts all of Europe in danger. He must stop it immediately!

Ukraine’s State Service for Special Communications and Information Protection has warned that ‘the wind may transfer the radioactive cloud’ to other parts of Ukraine as well as to Belarus, Russia and elsewhere in Europe . There is also no ventilation inside the Chernobyl storage facility.

“All personnel there will be receiving a dangerous dose of radiation,” the agency tweeted.

Meanwhile, the facility’s fire suppression system is not working and the agency has warned of “a huge fire hazard from bombing.”

“The fight continues, making repairs and power restoration impossible,” the agency tweeted.

March 09, 08:08
Russia responds to Poland offering fighter jets to help Ukraine

Russia warned on Wednesday of “an extremely undesirable and potentially dangerous scenario” if other countries use their airfields to support Ukraine.

Asked by reporters at a daily press briefing to comment on Poland’s announcement on Tuesday that it is “ready” to “immediately” hand over all of its MIG-29 fighter jets “for free” to a US airbase in Germany to bolster Ukraine’s fight against Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “The [Russian] The Ministry of Defense has already commented on the possibility of using other airfields for take-offs of military aircraft.

“This is an extremely undesirable and potentially dangerous scenario,” he added.

March 09, 06:12
More than 2.15 million refugees have fled Ukraine, UNHCR says

More than 2.15 million people have been forced to flee Ukraine since Russian forces invaded on February 24, according to the latest figures from the UN refugee agency.

The count of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) amounts to almost 5% of the Ukrainian population – which the World Bank counted at 44 million at the end of 2020 – who cross the borders in just two weeks.

More than half of the refugees are in neighboring Poland, according to UNHCR figures.

March 09, 05:19
Ukraine says humanitarian corridors confirmed with Russia and Red Cross for Wednesday

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said six humanitarian corridors had been agreed with Russian officials and confirmed with the International Committee of the Red Cross to operate during a temporary ceasefire on Wednesday.

According to Vereshchuk, escape routes for civilians are open from towns north of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, where heavy fighting has taken place, as well as from the beleaguered port city of Mariupol in the southeast, where a evacuation failed yesterday. Another route runs from the town of Izium near Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and another from the eastern town of Volnovakha, where civilians have been trying to evacuate for several days. Another route leads from the northeastern town of Energodar, where bombings sparked a fire at Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant last week.

Vereshchuk said Russian officials had sent a letter to the Red Cross confirming routes and a ceasefire for Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. local time. She called on Russia to respect its commitment and not violate the ceasefire, as she said Tuesday in Mariupol and Volnovakha.

“We call on the Russian forces to respect their obligations and maintain the ceasefire until 9 p.m. as agreed,” Vereshchuk said in a statement Wednesday morning.

Vereshchuk noted that an orphanage with 55 children and 26 staff must also be evacuated from Vorzel, a town just north of Kiev.

“Their evacuation will be done as part of a separate special operation,” she said.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that it had discussed interaction on the Ukrainian track with the Red Cross.

March 08, 9:59 p.m.
Biden calls family of U.S. Marine held by Russia

US President Joe Biden has called the parents of Trevor Reed, a former US Marine who has been detained in Russia for nearly three years and whose case has drawn renewed attention amid the Ukraine-Russia conflict.

The president spoke with Joey and Paula Reed after an event in Fort Worth, Texas on Tuesday, according to the White House.

During the call, the president reiterated his commitment to do everything he can to bring their son home, to stay in close contact with them through his national security team, and to find a time to meet in person, the White House said.

A spokesperson for the Reed family also confirmed to ABC News that Biden called them to apologize for not being able to stop and meet them in person.

The family say they have been asking to meet the president for several months to help free Reed, a Texan who they say was denied treatment for suspected tuberculosis, and specifically asked to meet the president in Texas on Tuesday. , but was refused.

Reed and another former Marine, Paul Whelan, spent years in Russian custody on charges that their families and U.S. officials say were fabricated by Russia in order to seize them as bargaining chips.

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