Ukraine and Russia latest headlines on Friday evening as nuclear catastrophe ‘narrowly averted’

Nuclear catastrophe was ‘narrowly averted’ after Russia’s attack on Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, the US envoy to the UN said as the invasion of Ukraine intensified on Friday (March 4).

Speaking at an emergency meeting of the UN security council in New York on Friday, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said Friday morning’s attack which caused a major fire at the Zaporizhzhia complex, was ‘incredibly reckless and dangerous’.

“It threatened the safety of civilians across Russia, Ukraine and Europe’, she added.

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine said several people were ‘killed and injured’ in the bombing. Ukraine said Russia risked a ‘nuclear apocalypse’ by attacking the power station, while Western leaders have expressed outrage at the incident. Boris Johnson said Putin’s actions were now ‘directly threatening the safety of all of Europe’.

Meanwhile three children were killed in a strike on a small village, the Ukrainian authorities have claimed. Invaders shelled Markhalivka today, a village of just over 1,000 residents to the south of Kyiv, claiming five lives.

The Russians also killed 47 people in airstrikes using cluster bombs on the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, local authorities claim.

A woman gestures as she looks out the train window as an evacuation train departs carrying women and children that fled fighting in Bucha and Irpin

Tonight’s other headlines include:

Ukrainian government says more than 2,000 civilians have been killed

Ukraine’s government today announced that more than 2,000 civilians have been killed, although the death toll is likely to be much higher. It also said that 9,200 Russian soldiers have lost their lives, while hundreds of tanks, almost a thousand armored vehicles, and dozens of helicopters and jets have been captured or destroyed.

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The civilian death toll is undoubtedly much higher as it has been impossible to access some of the worst-hit places. Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed there is evidence Russia has been using banned cluster bombs in its invasion, ‘in violation of international law’.

Read more on the war in Ukraine: Chilling warning that ‘more death and destruction to come’ in Ukraine after dozens killed and Russian troops ‘raping civilians’

Readmore: Workers at Stanlow oil refinery refuse to unload cargo of Russian oil on-board German ship

Ukrainian refugees will get three-year UK visas

Fleeing Ukrainians with families in the UK will be able to live, work and claim benefits in Britain for three years in a Government U-turn. Priti Patel at first said Ukrainian relatives of people in the UK would be given leave for ‘an initial period of 12 months’.

But pressure mounted on the Home Secretary after the EU announced a far more generous scheme where people could stay for three years, and with no family ties. Now Ms Patel has changed the UK scheme to give all those eligible three-year visas, not one-year. They could be allowed to stay beyond three years under future rules.

Application fees will be waived and unlike other migrants, Ukrainians will not need to pay the £624-a-year Immigration Health Surcharge to use the NHS. But the scheme remains only for family members of people who are already British nationals or settled in the UK.

Russians commit 92% of troops on border to invasion and launch 500 missiles

The Russians have committed 92% of the troops gathered on the Ukrainian border to the invasion, a senior US defense official has said. But despite the huge number of troops in the country and at least 500 missile launches, the Ukrainians are holding strong in most cities.

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The main advance of Russian forces north of Kyiv are still about 16 miles outside the city. Russian forces are about six miles from the city centers of Chernihiv and Kharkiv.

Heavy fighting continues in Kherson in the south, which fell to the Russians. There is now fighting inside Mykolaiv, to the north-east of Odessa, and Mariupol. Both are still in Ukrainian hands.

A man walks past a damaged vehicle and debris following Russian shelling in Mariupol

Mariupol has no water, heat or electricity and is running out of food

Mariupol, in south eastern Ukraine, has no water, heat of electricity and is running out of water after coming under attack from Russian forces for the last five days, the city’s mayor said in a televised appeal. Vadym Boychenko also called for a humanitarian corridor to evacuate civilians from port city.

“We are simply being destroyed,” he added. Earlier today, a senior US official told reporters that Mariupol remains under Ukrainian control, though Russian troops are continuing to advance and bombard the city.

Nato chief chief warns days to come are ‘likely to be worse’

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has warned that the days to come are ‘likely to be worse’ with Russian attacks expected to intensify. Stoltenberg, speaking after an extraordinary meeting of Nato foreign ministers, described the invasion as ‘the worst military aggression in Europe for decades’.

People from war-torn Ukraine, including a young woman making the victory gesture, arrive in Poland at the Medyka border crossing on Friday

More than 1.2 million people have fled Ukraine, UN refugee agency says

More than 1.2 million people have left Ukraine since the fighting began, according to the UN refugee agency. More than 165,000 people left the country on Thursday, down slightly from Wednesday’s count and well under the nearly 200,000 on Tuesday, which amounted to the peak one-day outflow of people from Ukraine since the conflict began, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

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The majority, about 650,000, had gone to neighboring Poland, and roughly 145,000 had fled to Hungary. Another 103,000 were in Moldova and more than 90,000 in Slovakia. UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo said ‘we know that the majority are women, children and the elderly’, but she was unable to provide a more specific breakdown by age or gender.

Read more on the war in Ukraine: Ukraine-Russia peace talks: Has there been progress and could a ceasefire be agreed soon?

Also read: Brave dad-of-three pharmacist leaves Longsight on mercy mission to help Ukrainian refugees

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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