What to know about Russia’s war in Ukraine – The Mercury

By The Associated Press

Russia’s war against Ukraine is entering its 10th day.

Russian forces continue to press for an invasion that has drawn worldwide condemnation. Throughout Ukraine, people have taken up arms and sought refuge. More than 1.2 million people have fled to neighboring countries, the UN refugee agency said on Friday.

NATO refuses to control a no-fly zone over Ukraine. The 30-nation military organization believes such a move could spark an all-out war in Europe with Russia.

Here is an overview of the key things to know about the conflict:

NUCLEAR SECURITY CONCERNS

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

The International Atomic Energy Agency said no radiation spikes were detected. The head of the UN agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said a Russian “projectile” had hit a training center, not any of the six reactors.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal called on the IAEA and the EU to send representatives to Ukraine’s five nuclear power plants. “It’s a matter of the security of the whole world,” he said in an overnight video address.

The US Embassy in Ukraine issued a surprisingly harsh statement calling Russia’s attack on the nuclear power plant a war crime.

DIRECTLY WITNESSED OR CONFIRMED BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

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

Heavy fighting continued on the outskirts of Mariupol, a strategic port, cutting off the city’s electricity, heating and water systems, as well as most telephone services. Food deliveries have also been cut.

In stories and videos posted online, Russian media falsely claim that Zelensky fled Kyiv. Photos and videos show the Ukrainian president leading the defense of his country.

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

IS A CYBER WAR ALSO STARTING?

Yes. Ukraine has a corps of voluntary “hackers” made up of hundreds of people.

Willing hackers use software tools that allow smartphone and computer owners anywhere to participate in distributed denial-of-service attacks on official Russian websites, block misinformation, allow people to report troop locations coasters and offer instructions on assembling Molotov cocktails and first aid.

“We really are a swarm. A self-organizing swarm,” said Roman Zakharov, a 37-year-old IT manager at the Ukrainian Digital Army Center.

The movement also relies on IT professionals from the Ukrainian diaspora whose work includes web defacements with anti-war messages and graphic images of death and destruction in hopes of mobilizing Russians against the invasion.

A senior Ukrainian cybersecurity official, Victor Zhora, said suspected Russian hackers were trying to spread malware in targeted email attacks against Ukrainian officials and infect the devices of individual citizens.

WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING ON THE PITCH?

Battles involving airstrikes and artillery continued on 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 clung to the northern city of Chernihiv and blocked Russian efforts to take the important southern city of Mykolaiv, he said.

Ukrainian artillery defended Odessa against repeated attempts by Russian ships to fire on the Black Sea port city, he said, insisting there was no immediate threat to the city .

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

WHERE ARE THE REFUGEES GOING?

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ data portal showed that the vast majority of those who have left Ukraine since the invasion began – around 650,000 – have gone to neighboring Poland. About 145,000 fled to Hungary. Another 103,000 were in Moldova and more than 90,000 in Slovakia.

More than 100 Jewish refugee children who were evacuated from a foster home in Ukraine and crossed Europe by bus arrived in Berlin on Friday. The 105 children – the youngest of whom was only 5 weeks old – had left Odessa 52 hours earlier. The children received financial aid from Jewish aid groups and diplomatic support from Israel, Germany and other European states.

Brazil – which has the largest population of Ukrainians and their descendants in Latin America – said it would issue temporary humanitarian visas and residence permits to Ukrainian nationals and other war-affected people.

In Hungary, a pastor from a village bordering Ukraine offered the only room in his church to a family of 27 women and children fleeing the invasion.

HOW MANY LOSSES?

Russia has acknowledged that nearly 500 Russian soldiers were killed and around 1,600 injured.

Ukraine has not released figures on the losses of its armed forces.

The UN human rights office says at least 331 civilians have been killed and 675 injured in Ukraine since the start of the invasion. Ukraine’s state emergency service said more than 2,000 civilians had died, although it is impossible to verify this claim.

BIDEN MEETS FINNISH PRESIDENT NIINISTO

US President Joe Biden has called Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine “an attack on Europe’s security”.

Biden made the comment during his Friday meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto at the White House. Biden said in a tweet that the two leaders called Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson when they met.

Biden and Niinisto pledged to launch a process that would strengthen U.S.-Finnish security cooperation, the White House said.

Finland, along with neighboring Sweden, has for years resisted joining NATO, with the European Union’s Nordic members seeking to remain neutral between Russia and the West. But the Russian invasion of Ukraine changes the dynamic.

SANCTIONS AGAINST RUSSIA

The wave of global sanctions against Russia could have devastating consequences for energy and grain importers. Russia is a major grain exporter 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 furniture store IKEA.

Spain’s Teatro Real, one of Europe’s leading opera houses, has announced that it is canceling a series of upcoming performances by the Bolshoi Russian Ballet.

MEDIA REPRESSION IN RUSSIA

Putin on Friday signed a bill that threatens up to 15 years in prison for what Russia considers “false” reports of the war.

Russia has blocked Facebook, Twitter and five overseas-based media outlets that publish information in Russian. The organizations are the BBC, the US government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle and the Latvian website Meduza.

Several media outlets said they would suspend work in Russia to assess the situation. Among them, CNN said it would stop broadcasting in Russia while Bloomberg and the BBC said they would temporarily suspend the work of their reporters there. CBS News said it is also not broadcasting from Russia, as the US network monitors its team’s circumstances on the ground.

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