politics

Ukraine Says Russia Bombed Children's Hospital; Chornobyl Nuclear Plant Disconnected From Grid

Dan Kitwood | Getty Images

This has been CNBC's live blog covering updates on the war in Ukraine. [Follow the latest updates here.]

Ukraine has announced its first successful mass evacuation of civilians from the city of Sumy. It follows days of halted evacuations all over the country, with Ukrainian officials accusing Russian forces of violating cease-fire agreements and only opening evacuation routes that led to Russia.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin said Wednesday that the U.S. is "de facto waging an economic war against Russia," after the Biden administration announced a ban on Russian oil imports.

U.S. says Russia is spreading 'lies' about the use of chemical weapons

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council via a video link at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia March 3, 2022.
Andrey Gorshkov | Sputnik | Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council via a video link at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia March 3, 2022.

The U.S. State Department said the Kremlin was intentionally spreading false reports of the use of chemical and biological weapons by the United States and Ukraine.

Spokesman Ned Price said it was a false pretext by Russia to justify its own "horrific actions" in Ukraine. The claims have been "debunked conclusively and repeatedly over many years," he said in a statement.

"It is Russia that has active chemical and biological weapons programs and is in violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and Biological Weapons Convention," he said, adding that Moscow has repeatedly accused the West of crimes itself is committing.

"These tactics are an obvious ploy by Russia to try to justify further premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attacks on Ukraine," he said. "We fully expect Russia to continue to double down on these sorts of claims with further unfounded allegations."

— Dawn Kopecki

Russian private mercenaries are likely going into Ukraine, UK says

Russia is likely sending paid mercenaries into Ukraine to help along its invasion of the country, a British government ministry said.

The government of President Vladimir Putin "almost certainly maintains extensive links" with Russian companies that sell mercenary fighting services, the U.K. Ministry of Defence said in an intelligence update released Wednesday night GMT.

Russian corporate fighters have been accused of committing human rights abuses in Syria, Libya and the Central African Republic while working on behalf of Moscow, the ministry said.

The Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies said last year that Moscow gave security and military services through so-called "private military companies" to the government of the Central African Republic in exchange for the right to extract gold, uranium and diamonds.

Such mercenary services already operated in eastern Ukraine prior to Russia's current invasion, according to the U.S. government.

In 2017, the U.S. Treasury placed sanctions on the biggest Russian mercenary company, PMC Wagner, and its founder, Dmitriy Utkin, for "actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine."

Russian mercenary companies including Wagner "have a poor track record—including operational failures and human rights abuses," CSIS said.

The U.S. Department of Defense said on Monday that Russia is trying to recruit mercenaries from Syria as well.

"We find that noteworthy that [Putin] believes that he needs to rely on foreign fighters to supplement what is a very significant commitment of combat power inside Ukraine as it is," the official said in a briefing.

—Ted Kemp

Commerce secretary says China will be punished if it skirts Russia sanctions, reiterates need for domestic chip production

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Wednesday that the U.S. will enforce sanctions on all foreign governments that try to skirt U.S. rules against Russia. Her comments to CNBC's "Closing Bell" came a day after she told the New York Times that the department could take "devastating" action against Chinese companies that continue to export goods to Russia.

While she noted that there is no evidence to suggest that Beijing is violating U.S. sanctions, she doubled down on her promise to crack down on governments and corporations that aid Moscow in violation of the U.S. penalties.

"It's not just Chinese companies," she said. "We are serious about these export controls. We intend to enforce them against any company and any country."

Raimondo also said that the administration continues to focus on developing domestic semiconductor manufacturing to ensure the production of cars, military equipment and medical supplies.

Thomas Franck

Commerce secretary says China will be punished if it skirts Russia sanctions, reiterates need for domestic chip production

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Wednesday that the U.S. will enforce sanctions on all foreign governments that try to skirt U.S. rules against Russia. Her comments to CNBC's "Closing Bell" came a day after she told the New York Times that the department could take "devastating" action against Chinese companies that continue to export goods to Russia.

While she noted that there is no evidence to suggest that Beijing is violating U.S. sanctions, she doubled down on her promise to crack down on governments and corporations that aid Moscow in violation of the U.S. penalties.

"It's not just Chinese companies," she said. "We are serious about these export controls. We intend to enforce them against any company and any country."

Raimondo also said that the administration continues to focus on developing domestic semiconductor manufacturing to ensure the production of cars, military equipment and medical supplies.

Thomas Franck

Pentagon does not support transfer of more combat aircraft to Ukraine, citing 'high risk'

An army MiG-29 aircraft exhibited at the presentation of the aircraft AWACS E-3A Component from the Geilenkirchenand the F-16 and MiG-29 from the 31. and 33.
Darek Majewski | Gallo Images | Getty Images
An army MiG-29 aircraft exhibited at the presentation of the aircraft AWACS E-3A Component from the Geilenkirchenand the F-16 and MiG-29 from the 31. and 33.

The U.S. intelligence community assesses that a transfer of fighter jets from Poland to Ukraine could be viewed as an "escalatory step" by the Kremlin, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

"The transfer of combat aircraft right now could be mistaken by Mr. [Vladimir] Putin and the Russians as an escalatory step," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said, referencing a U.S. intelligence report.

On Tuesday, the Pentagon declined Poland's proposal to transfer its Russian-made MiG-29 combat aircraft to the U.S. government. The plan would later call for the U.S. to fly the jets into contested airspace in order to deliver the planes to Ukraine.

"At this time, we believe the provision of additional fighter aircraft provides little increased capabilities at high risk. We also believe that there are alternative options that are much better suited to support the Ukrainian military in their fight against Russia," Kirby added.

– Amanda Macias

How Ukrainians have mobilized to help the war effort

Editor's note: Graphic content warning. The following photos contain images of Ukrainians preparing weapons and removing casualties in Russia's attack.

Ukrainian citizens have mobilized to help hold off the Russian invasion, doing everything from making Molotov cocktails to preparing equipment and digging trenches.

Molotov cocktails

Local residents prepare Molotov cocktails, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, to defend their city, in Zhytomyr, Ukraine February 28, 2022.
Viacheslav Ratynskyi | Reuters
Local residents prepare Molotov cocktails, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, to defend their city, in Zhytomyr, Ukraine February 28, 2022.

Camouflage nets

Ali Atmaca | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
A volunteer of the "Razom Do Peremogi" (Together Victory) association knits a camouflage to support the Ukrainian army in Kramatorsk near Donbas, Ukraine on January 30, 2022.

Tactical vests

Volunteers sew tactical military vests for the Ukrainian army in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on March 4, 2022.
Yuriy Dyachyshyn | AFP | Getty Images
Volunteers sew tactical military vests for the Ukrainian army in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on March 4, 2022.

Anti-tank barriers

A local resident makes anti-tank obstacles to defend his and others cities, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Lviv, Ukraine March 2, 2022.
Pavlo Palamarchuk | Reuters
A local resident makes anti-tank obstacles to defend his and others cities, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Lviv, Ukraine March 2, 2022.

Anti-vehicle barriers

A volunteer welds an anti-vehicle obstacle during Ukraine-Russia conflict in Lviv, Ukraine March 5, 2022.
Pavlo Palamarchuk | Reuters
A volunteer welds an anti-vehicle obstacle during Ukraine-Russia conflict in Lviv, Ukraine March 5, 2022.

Cutting wood

A volunteer cuts wood for fires at a roadside camp setup to help serve meals and assist civilians and soldiers close to the north eastern frontline on March 09, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Chris Mcgrath | Getty Images
A volunteer cuts wood for fires at a roadside camp setup to help serve meals and assist civilians and soldiers close to the north eastern frontline on March 09, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Running weapons

Volunteer fighters transport rifles across a river under a destroyed bridge to reinforce Ukrainian troops in Irpin, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 1, 2022.
Marcus Yam | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images
Volunteer fighters transport rifles across a river under a destroyed bridge to reinforce Ukrainian troops in Irpin, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 1, 2022.

Removing the dead

Ukrainian volunteers help remove a dead civilian body, as Russian forces continue to besiege the residential neighborhood, in Irpin, Ukraine, Monday, March 7, 2022.
Marcus Yam | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images
Ukrainian volunteers help remove a dead civilian body, as Russian forces continue to besiege the residential neighborhood, in Irpin, Ukraine, Monday, March 7, 2022.

Preparing food

Women prepare food for local residents and members of the Territorial Defence Forces at a field kitchen in Kyiv, Ukraine March 3, 2022.
Mykola Tymchenko | Reuters
Women prepare food for local residents and members of the Territorial Defence Forces at a field kitchen in Kyiv, Ukraine March 3, 2022.

Digging trenches

Volunteers dig trenches, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine March 3, 2022.
Mykola Tymchenko | Reuters
Volunteers dig trenches, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine March 3, 2022.

— Adam Jeffery

Sony suspends PlayStation sales in Russia

In this photo illustration a PlayStation 5 logo seen displayed on a smartphone.
Mateusz Slodkowski | SOPA Images | LightRocket via Getty Images
In this photo illustration a PlayStation 5 logo seen displayed on a smartphone.

Sony will stop selling its PlayStation consoles and software in Russia, becoming the latest major brand to withdraw from the country over the Ukraine war.

The company said it has suspended all software and hardware shipments in the country, including the launch of its new racing title Gran Turismo 7. The PlayStation Store will also become unavailable.

"Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) joins the global community in calling for peace in Ukraine," the company said in a statement.

A slew of major brands from McDonald's to Coca-Cola are suspending their business in Russia amid outcry over the country's invasion of Ukraine.

— Ryan Browne

Seized oligarch yachts present thorny problem for officials

The seized Lady M superyacht, owned by Russian billionaire Alexey Mordashov, at the port in Imperia, Italy, on Monday, March 7, 2022.
Giuliano Berti | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The seized Lady M superyacht, owned by Russian billionaire Alexey Mordashov, at the port in Imperia, Italy, on Monday, March 7, 2022.

European governments that seized the yachts and villas of Russian oligarchs now face a more difficult question: What to do with them?

The sanctions against Russian oligarchs imposed by the European Union, the U.K., the U.S. and other countries unleashed a wave of asset freezes across Europe. Officials impounded a 213-foot yacht owned by Alexei Mordashov in Imperia, Italy, Igor Sechin's 280-foot yacht in the French port of La Ciotat and Alisher Usmanov's $18 million resort compound in Sardinia.

Yet sanctions experts say freezing the assets is the simple part. Deciding what to do with them — and who gets the proceeds — is likely to be more challenging and could touch off court battles that drag on for years.

— Robert Frank

U.S., UK resist calls for no-fly zone: 'Our goal is to end the war, not to expand it'

The U.S. and UK hardened their opposition to imposing any form of a no-fly zone in Ukraine, despite Kyiv's pleas for more protection from Russia's invasion.

"Our goal is to end the war, not to expand it," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday during a joint press conference alongside U.K. Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly called on allies to enact a no-fly zone, which would require shooting down Russian aircraft over Ukraine. Imposing that rule in airspace where Russian planes are already flying would dramatically raise the risk of dragging NATO and the U.S. into direct combat with Russia, which experts fear could precipitate a full-on war between nuclear-armed powers.

"If I were in President Zelenskyy's position, I'm sure I would be asking for everything possible, in his mind, to help the Ukrainian people," Blinken said. But he maintained that putting any U.S. troops in Ukraine, even if on a limited basis, "would expand the conflict."

Kevin Breuninger

As Ukrainians flee west, many soldiers head east to the frontline

As Ukrainian civilians in the east flee to the relative safety of western cities such as Lviv, and abroad to escape Russia's assault, many military personnel are heading east to help with the war effort.

Eugene says goodbye to his partner Tanya before boarding a train to Dnipro from the main train terminal on March 09, 2022 in Lviv, Ukraine.
Dan Kitwood | Getty Images
Eugene says goodbye to his partner Tanya before boarding a train to Dnipro from the main train terminal on March 09, 2022 in Lviv, Ukraine.
Vladimir Golyadynets says goodbye to his partner Olga Shmigal before boarding a train to Dnipro from the main train terminal on March 09, 2022 in Lviv, Ukraine.
Dan Kitwood | Getty Images
Vladimir Golyadynets says goodbye to his partner Olga Shmigal before boarding a train to Dnipro from the main train terminal on March 09, 2022 in Lviv, Ukraine.
Andrew says goodbye to his partner Yarina before boarding a train to Dnipro from the main train terminal on March 09, 2022 in Lviv, Ukraine.
Dan Kitwood | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Andrew says goodbye to his partner Yarina before boarding a train to Dnipro from the main train terminal on March 09, 2022 in Lviv, Ukraine.
Eugene says goodbye to his partner Tanya before boarding a train to Dnipro from the main train terminal on March 09, 2022 in Lviv, Ukraine.
Dan Kitwood | Getty Images
Eugene says goodbye to his partner Tanya before boarding a train to Dnipro from the main train terminal on March 09, 2022 in Lviv, Ukraine.
Olga hugs her boyfriend Vlodomyr as they say good bye prior to Vlodomyr's deployment closer to the front line, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, at the train station in Lviv, Ukraine, March 9, 2022.
Kai Pfaffenbach | Reuters
Olga hugs her boyfriend Vlodomyr as they say good bye prior to Vlodomyr's deployment closer to the front line, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, at the train station in Lviv, Ukraine, March 9, 2022.

Patriot missile system arrives in Poland

US Patriot missile defense batteries newly installed at the Rzeszow airport located near the Poland-Ukraine border in Rzeszow, Poland on March 09, 2022.
Agnieszka Majchrowicz | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
US Patriot missile defense batteries newly installed at the Rzeszow airport located near the Poland-Ukraine border in Rzeszow, Poland on March 09, 2022.

Two Patriot batteries, capable of targeting incoming ballistic and cruise missiles, have been repositioned in Poland, a senior U.S. Defense official confirmed.

"We're not going to talk about where they are and not going to talk about their operational status, but they are in Poland," the official said, adding that the move took place in close consultation with Polish allies.

"It is a purely defensive deployment being conducted proactively to counter any potential threat to U.S. and allied forces in NATO territory," the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said.

– Amanda Macias

Volunteers prepare food for Ukrainian troops

People from the Lviv Volunteer Kitchen prepare food and dry rations for the Ukrainian military on the front lines amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

People from the Lviv Volunteer Kitchen prepare food and dry rations for the Ukrainian military on the front lines, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Lviv, Ukraine, March 9, 2022.
Pavlo Palamarchuk | Reuters
People from the Lviv Volunteer Kitchen prepare food and dry rations for the Ukrainian military on the front lines, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Lviv, Ukraine, March 9, 2022.
People from the Lviv Volunteer Kitchen prepare food and dry rations for the Ukrainian military on the front lines, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Lviv, Ukraine, March 9, 2022.
Pavlo Palamarchuk | Reuters
People from the Lviv Volunteer Kitchen prepare food and dry rations for the Ukrainian military on the front lines, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Lviv, Ukraine, March 9, 2022.
People from the Lviv Volunteer Kitchen prepare food and dry rations for the Ukrainian military on the front lines, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Lviv, Ukraine, March 9, 2022.
Pavlo Palamarchuk | Reuters
People from the Lviv Volunteer Kitchen prepare food and dry rations for the Ukrainian military on the front lines, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Lviv, Ukraine, March 9, 2022.
People from the Lviv Volunteer Kitchen prepare food and dry rations for the Ukrainian military on the front lines, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Lviv, Ukraine, March 9, 2022.
Pavlo Palamarchuk | Reuters
People from the Lviv Volunteer Kitchen prepare food and dry rations for the Ukrainian military on the front lines, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Lviv, Ukraine, March 9, 2022.

U.S. says about 90% of the Kremlin’s combat power remains intact

Service members of pro-Russian troops in uniforms without insignia are seen in a truck in the separatist-controlled settlement of Rybinskoye during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the Donetsk region, Ukraine March 5, 2022. 
Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters
Service members of pro-Russian troops in uniforms without insignia are seen in a truck in the separatist-controlled settlement of Rybinskoye during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the Donetsk region, Ukraine March 5, 2022. 

A U.S. senior Defense official said about 90% of the Kremlin's combat power remains intact after two weeks at war in Ukraine.

"We assess that they no longer have available to them several 100 vehicles of different stripes and sizes. But whether they've been captured, destroyed, abandoned, we don't have that kind of a breakdown," the official said.

On Tuesday, the same official said that nearly 100% of the troops that were once staged along Ukraine's border are now fighting inside the country and slowly advancing on Kyiv in four lines of effort. The official added that the U.S. has no indications that Russian President Vladimir Putin is pulling troops from other parts of Russia to fight in Ukraine.

– Amanda Macias

House bill would fund humanitarian aid, military equipment for Ukraine

Workers unload a shipment of military aid delivered as part of the United States of America's security assistance to Ukraine, at the Boryspil International Airport outside Kyiv, Ukraine January 25, 2022.
Gleb Garanich | Reuters
Workers unload a shipment of military aid delivered as part of the United States of America's security assistance to Ukraine, at the Boryspil International Airport outside Kyiv, Ukraine January 25, 2022.

A government spending bill the U.S. House aims to pass Wednesday includes $13.6 billion in humanitarian and military aid for Ukraine.

The money would go toward assistance to Ukrainians displaced by Russia's invasion, Ukraine's military equipment and U.S. troop deployments to neighboring countries.

Leaders from both parties have backed the aid package as the U.S. tries to bolster Ukraine's defenses and disrupt Russia's economy without sending its own troops to Ukraine.

— Jacob Pramuk

How Ukraine brought the European Union together

Russian forces inch closer to the northeastern city of Kharkiv

A view of the square outside the damaged local city hall of Kharkiv on March 1, 2022, destroyed as a result of Russian troop shelling.
Sergey Bobok | AFP | Getty Images
A view of the square outside the damaged local city hall of Kharkiv on March 1, 2022, destroyed as a result of Russian troop shelling.

Russian forces inched closer to the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv overnight, according to a U.S. Defense official.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Russian troops are "just outside the city now."

"They appear to have gained about 20 kilometers (12 miles) worth of distance," the official said. "It's still heavy, heavy fighting there. We don't assess that they've taken the city by any means," the person added.

– Amanda Macias

Russia has launched more that 710 missiles into Ukraine, U.S. Defense official says

Civilians cross a river on a blown up bridge on Kyivs northern front on March 1, 2022.
Aris Messinis | AFP | Getty Images
Civilians cross a river on a blown up bridge on Kyivs northern front on March 1, 2022.

A U.S. Defense official said Russia has launched more than 710 missiles at Ukraine since the start of the invasion.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the missiles are a mixture of short-range and medium-range as well as cruise missiles.

The missiles are being fired from both inside Russia and inside Ukraine. A handful of missiles are being launched from Belarus as well as naval platforms in the Black Sea.

– Amanda Macias

Ukraine says Russia bombed children's hospital in Mariupol

A car burns after the destruction of Mariupol children's hospital as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 9, 2022 in this still image from a handout video obtained by Reuters.
Ukraine Military | via Reuters
A car burns after the destruction of Mariupol children's hospital as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 9, 2022 in this still image from a handout video obtained by Reuters.

The city council of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine accused the Russian military of deliberately bombing a children's hospital there.

"The destruction is enormous," the city council said in a post from its Telegram account translated by NBC News. The post included a video showing the destroyed exterior of a building surrounded by smoldering rubble.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted shortly after that the bombing in Mariupol was a "direct strike" on the hospital. "Children are under the wreckage," Zelenskyy said in the tweet, which also called on allies to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine skies.

Russia has claimed it is not attacking civilian infrastructure, but international organizations have accused Vladimir Putin's military of doing just that. News outlets have reported on civilian buildings being targeted.

Ukraine on Wednesday accused Russia of violating a ceasefire in Mariupol, blocking civilians from evacuating the city.

Kevin Breuninger

Musicians perform an open-air concert named 'Free Sky" in Kyiv

Musicians of the Kyiv-Classic Symphony Orchestra under the direction of conductor Herman Makarenko perform during an open-air concert named "Free Sky" at the Independence Square in central Kyiv, Ukraine.

Gleb Garanich | Reuters
Oleksey Beregoviy, a musician of the Kyiv-Classic Symphony Orchestra, performs for journalists and people after an open-air concert named "Free Sky" at the Independence Square in central Kyiv, Ukraine March 9, 2022.
Gleb Garanich | Reuters
Musicians of the Kyiv-Classic Symphony Orchestra under the direction of conductor Herman Makarenko perform, during an open-air concert named "Free Sky" at the Independence Square in central Kyiv, Ukraine March 9, 2022.
Gleb Garanich | Reuters
Conductor Herman Makarenko performs during an open-air concert named "Free Sky" at the Independence Square in central Kyiv, Ukraine March 9, 2022.
Gleb Garanich | Reuters
Musicians of the Kyiv-Classic Symphony Orchestra under the direction the conductor Herman Makarenko perform during an open-air concert named "Free Sky" at the Independence Square in central Kyiv, Ukraine March 9, 2022.

—Adam Jeffery

Lithuanian president warns of World War III if Putin is not stopped in Ukraine

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has told CNBC that if Russian President Vladimir Putin is not stopped, Moscow will look to invade other countries, which could trigger World War III.

"One thing is clear: If [Putin] is not stopped in Ukraine, there will be a second Ukraine," Nauseda told CNBC's Steve Sedgwick on Wednesday.

"Maybe Romania, maybe Moldova, maybe some other countries of NATO, and then it will be the start of the Third World War."

He added that he believed NATO's commitment to collective defense was "really sacred," which meant a Russian invasion of NATO territory would mean military conflict between NATO and Russia.

— Chloe Taylor

State Department partners with GoFundMe to raise money for Ukraine

The U.S. State Department partners with GoFundMe to raise funds for Ukraine.
Source: GoFundMe
The U.S. State Department partners with GoFundMe to raise funds for Ukraine.

The State Department said it is working with the online crowdfunding site GoFundMe to raise money for groups working to help those caught up in the growing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

The partnership with GoFundMe is "designed to mobilize private-sector donations and individual giving to support relief organizations aiding those impacted" by Russia's military aggression, the State Department said in a press release.

That release linked to a page on GoFundMe's website soliciting donations for the "Ukraine Humanitarian Fund," which was created on Feb. 24.

That fund has already raised roughly $1.6 million toward its current goal of $2 million, according to the donation page.

Kevin Breuninger

UN nuclear watchdog says Chornobyl power shortage poses ‘no critical impact’ on safety

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said the disconnection of Ukraine's Chornobyl nuclear power plant from the power grid poses "no critical impact on safety."

U.N. nuclear chief Rafael Mariano Grossi said, however, that the development "violates [a] key safety pillar on ensuring uninterrupted power supply."

Ukrainian officials had earlier warned that the situation was critical, as power was needed to ensure nuclear waste was cooled effectively.

— Chloe Taylor

Ukraine foreign minister says 400,000 people 'held hostage' in besieged city of Mariupol

Evacuees from Mariupol area get settled at a refugee camp in the settlement of Bezymennoye during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the Donetsk region, Ukraine March 8, 2022.
Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters
Evacuees from Mariupol area get settled at a refugee camp in the settlement of Bezymennoye during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the Donetsk region, Ukraine March 8, 2022.

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says 400,000 residents are being held hostage in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol as a result of "indiscriminate" Russian shelling.

Kuleba said via Twitter that nearly 3,000 newborn babies lack medicine and food despite efforts to establish a safe evacuation corridor for civilians.

He urged Moscow to end its "barbaric" war.

— Sam Meredith

Officials stage mass walkout from IAEA meeting over ‘unacceptable’ Russian remarks

Russia's Governor to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mikhail Ulyanov attends the IAEA Board of Governors meeting on the situations in Ukraine and Iran's nuclear activities at the IAEA headquarters IAEA headquarters of the UN seat in Vienna, Austria, on March 7, 2022.
Askin Kiyagan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Russia's Governor to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mikhail Ulyanov attends the IAEA Board of Governors meeting on the situations in Ukraine and Iran's nuclear activities at the IAEA headquarters IAEA headquarters of the UN seat in Vienna, Austria, on March 7, 2022.

EU delegates initiated a mass walkout from an International Atomic Energy Agency meeting on Wednesday, with officials leaving the room in protest over "unacceptable" remarks from Russia on the situation in Ukraine.

— Chloe Taylor

‘Radiation leaks imminent’ if Chornobyl remains disconnected from power grid, Ukraine minister says

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has warned that the disconnection of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant from power supplies is putting the entire European continent in danger.

His comments came as Ukraine's State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection warned that the nuclear waste at the Chornobyl facility needed "constant cooling" which is only possible with an electricity supply.

"After that evaporation will occur, that will lead to nuclear discharge. The wind can transfer the radioactive cloud to other regions of Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and Europe," the SSSCIP said on Twitter.

"All personnel there will receive a dangerous dose of radiation. The fire extinguishing system also does not work, and [there] is a huge risk of fire caused by shelling. The fight still goes on making it impossible to carry out repairs and restore power."

NBC News has reached out to the International Atomic Energy Agency to confirm the situation at Chornobyl, and has also asked the Russian government for comment.

— Chloe Taylor

There’s a smarter way to sanction Russian energy, Naftogaz CEO says

Yuriy Vitrenko, CEO of Naftogaz — Ukraine's state-owned gas company — has told CNBC he believes there is a "smarter" way to sanction Russian energy than simply cutting out gas imports.

The EU and the U.K. announced plans to phase out Russian energy on Tuesday, while the U.S. said it would place an embargo on Russian oil imports.

"There is probably a smarter way to do it — that is for the West to say Putin cannot access proceeds from the sale until he withdraws from Ukraine," Vitrenko told CNBC's "Street Signs Europe" on Wednesday.

"There could be a mechanism, a so-called escrow account, similar to what the West used in respect of Iran. Putin's regime now is a more rogue regime than Iran's, so this comparison is very relevant."

Vitrenko added that Naftogaz may be able to assist European countries scaling back on Russian gas because the company has the biggest gas storages in Europe.

— Chloe Taylor

Russia says it didn’t attend UN court hearing over ‘absurdity’ of lawsuit

Public hearings take place in a case submitted by Ukraine under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, at the International Court of Justice on March 7, 2022.
Handout | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Public hearings take place in a case submitted by Ukraine under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, at the International Court of Justice on March 7, 2022.

Russia's Foreign Ministry has defended its decision not to attend hearings at the International Court of Justice this week.

The International Court of Justice held preliminary hearings on March 7 and 8 in a case brought by Ukraine under legislation on the prevention of genocide. Russia did not send any representatives.

Maria Zakharova, a Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, said Wednesday that the case against Russia was "unsubstantiated."

"In light of the apparent absurdity of the lawsuit, we decided not to attend it," she said.

— Chloe Taylor

Kremlin says U.S. has declared economic war on Russia

The Kremlin has accused the U.S. of waging an economic war against Russia.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters Wednesday that "the United States is de facto waging an economic war against Russia," according to an NBC News translation.

"Systematic, serious and well thought out measures are being taken in the Russian Federation to stabilize the situation in the economy," he added, noting that Moscow was expecting there to be around 1 million people in Russia left unemployed due to the withdrawal of Western companies from the country.

"The hostile bacchanalia of the West makes it very difficult for Russia to supply energy resources and forces it to seriously consider the situation," Peskov also said during the briefing. "Russia has been and will be a reliable guarantor of world-class energy security, and it values this reputation." 

— Chloe Taylor

Chornobyl nuclear power plant disconnected from power grid, Ukraine says

Pictured in this video screen grab is the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Russian Airborne troops and the Ukrainian National Guard are providing security at the nuclear power plant.
Russian Defence Ministry | TASS | Getty Images
Pictured in this video screen grab is the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Russian Airborne troops and the Ukrainian National Guard are providing security at the nuclear power plant.

The Chornobyl nuclear power plant has been disconnected from Ukraine's power grid, officials have said.

"Because of military actions of Russian occupiers nuclear power plant in Chornobyl was fully disconnected from the power grid," Ukraine's Mining and Energy Ministry said in a Facebook post Wednesday. "Nuclear station has no power supply. The military actions are in progress, so there is no possibility to restore the lines."

The ministry added that power was also down in the city of Slavutich.

Ukraine's Parliament posted a similar message announcing the disconnection of Chornobyl from the power grid on its official Telegram account.

— Chloe Taylor

Russia failing to make significant progress toward Kyiv, UK says

Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images
An Ukrainian serviceman walks past a sign reading "I love Ukraine" next to anti-tank obstacles in the center of Kyiv on March 7, 2022.

Russian forces are failing to make "any significant breakthroughs" in their advance toward Kyiv, the U.K. has said.

In an intelligence update on Wednesday, the U.K.'s Ministry of Defense said fighting was ongoing northwest of the Ukrainian capital, but Russian troops were not making any major progress in reaching the city.

The update also said that the cities of Kharkiv, Cherniv, Sumy and Mariupol remained encircled by Russian forces and continued to suffer heavy shelling.

"Ukraine's air defenses appear to have enjoyed considerable success against Russia's modern combat aircraft, probably preventing them achieving any degree of control in the air," the ministry added.

— Chloe Taylor

1.3 million Ukrainians have fled to Poland, embassy says

A woman with her child waits in freezing cold temperatures to get on bus, after crossing the Ukrainian border into Poland, at the Medyka border crossing in Poland, on March 7, 2022.
Louisa Gouliamaki | AFP | Getty Images
A woman with her child waits in freezing cold temperatures to get on bus, after crossing the Ukrainian border into Poland, at the Medyka border crossing in Poland, on March 7, 2022.

More than 1.3 million refugees have crossed the Polish border since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, Poland's embassy in the EU said Wednesday.

— Chloe Taylor

Ukraine announces latest civilian evacuation plans

A police officer says goodbye to his son as his family flees from advancing Russian troops as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues in the town of Irpin outside Kyiv, Ukraine, March 8, 2022.
Thomas Peter | Reuters
A police officer says goodbye to his son as his family flees from advancing Russian troops as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues in the town of Irpin outside Kyiv, Ukraine, March 8, 2022.

Ukraine has announced fresh evacuation plans for Wednesday, saying the routes out of several cities have been agreed upon with Russia and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in a briefing Wednesday morning that Russia had made a formal public commitment to a cease-fire along the agreed routes — but noted that "in previous attempts to evacuate people from Mariupol and Volnovakha, such commitments were not met."

Wednesday's ceasefire, which will allow the evacuation of civilians from several locations including Sumy, Mariupol, Volnovakha and Izium, is set to be in place from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. local time.

Ukraine will also carry out a "separate special operation" on Wednesday to evacuate 55 children and 26 employees from an orphanage in the town of Vorzel on the outskirts of Kyiv.

— Chloe Taylor

China says it will give Ukraine almost $800,000 of humanitarian aid

China's Red Cross will send humanitarian aid worth 5 million yuan ($791,628) to Ukraine, a Chinese official said Wednesday, according to Reuters.

China, a close ally of Russia, has not joined the slew of countries imposing sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, but Beijing has called for an end to the hostilities in the country.

— Chloe Taylor

Ukraine says 5,000 civilians evacuated from Sumy

Civilians flee the city after temporary ceasefire announced on March 8, 2022 in Sumy, Ukraine.
Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Civilians flee the city after temporary ceasefire announced on March 8, 2022 in Sumy, Ukraine.

Around 5,000 civilians have successfully been evacuated from the city of Sumy, Ukraine said on Tuesday.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, said on Telegram that buses carrying about 5,000 people and 1,000 private vehicles were already safe.

Previous attempts to evacuate civilians from Sumy and other cities in recent days were halted by Ukrainian authorities, who accused Russia of violating cease-fire agreements and opening exit routes that led to Russian or Belarusian territory.

"The first convoy of 22 buses has already arrived in Poltava ... Now everyone is safe and fed," Tymoshenko said. "The second evacuation convoy of 39 buses is already in the Poltava region. These are children, women, the elderly, foreign students. If desired, people will be able to stay in Poltava or continue the evacuation to Lviv."

— Chloe Taylor

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Russia reportedly violates another cease-fire as civilians flee; U.S. says up to 4,000 of Putin's soldiers have been killed

Russian troops violate another ceasefire that was supposed to let civilians escape, UK says

A Ukrainian soldier directs civilians fleeing Irpin, west of Kyiv, as fighting rages around the city on March 7, 2022.
Aris Messinis | Afp | Getty Images
A Ukrainian soldier directs civilians fleeing Irpin, west of Kyiv, as fighting rages around the city on March 7, 2022.

Russian forces reportedly inflicted shelling and small arms fire on escape corridors that were designed to let Ukrainian civilians escape the cities of Mariupol and Sumy.

The U.K. Ministry of Defence said in an intelligence update that the violence marks a third consecutive day that Russian forces have violated their own supposed cease-fire agreements.

Despite the dangers, the ministry said it is likely that some civilians have managed to escape the besieged cities.

"Those civilians forced to remain continue to suffer from shortages of power, food and water, exacerbated by heavy Russian shelling," the ministry said.

—Ted Kemp

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