The remains of a missile lie on a street in Vydubychi district of Kyiv, Ukraine.
The remains of a missile lie on a street in Vydubychi district of Kyiv, Ukraine. Image Credit: AP

War rages in Ukraine for a 10th day on Saturday as Russian troops besiege and bombard cities, in the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two. Follow the latest developments from the war front:


US lawmakers pledge to release $10 billion in aid to Ukraine

US lawmakers pledged in a video call on Saturday with Ukraine's president to provide a further $10 billion in assistance as the besieged country faces a Russian onslaught.

In the call with American legislators of both parties, President Volodymyr Zelensky reiterated a plea for Russian-made planes.

The US Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, cited by a source briefed on the call, said Democrats and Republicans were "working very hard" toward passing the relief package.

"We will get that assistance of over $10 billion in economic, humanitarian and security assistance to the Ukrainian people quickly," he said.

The bipartisan effort was underlined by Republican Senator Steve Daines, who told Fox News after the call that lawmakers were "unified in our support for Ukraine."

"We need to pass this $10 billion relief package," he said, adding that half would go toward humanitarian aid and half would be in military assistance.

"They need more force on the ground," he said, as Russian units pressed their offensive in Ukraine for a tenth day.

Zelensky, wearing a military-green T-shirt and seated beside a Ukrainian flag, also urged Congress to bolster already broad sanctions on Russia, including on its oil and gas sector - a move some US lawmakers have also called for as the war in Ukraine intensifies.

But the White House has ruled this out so far, fearing it might cause rising oil prices to go up even more and hurt US consumers stung by record inflation.

Russia headed toward 3rd nuke plant: Zelensky

Russian forces have now seized two Ukrainian nuclear power plants and are advancing toward a third, Ukraine's president said during a call with US senators Saturday.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the third plant currently under threat is the Yuzhnoukrainsk nuclear power plant, located 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of Mykolaiv, one of several cities the Russians were trying to keep encircled Saturday.

One of the plants under the Russians' control is the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in the southeastern city of Enerhodar, the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe. The other is Chernobyl, which is not active but is still staffed and maintained. Previous Russian shelling sparked a fire at the Zaporizhzhia plant that was extinguished without a release of radiation.

Technical safety systems are intact and radiation levels are still normal at the Zaporizhzhia plant, according to the country's nuclear regulator, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Saturday.

Two out of the six reactors at the plant, Europe's biggest, are now operating after Russian forces took control of the site, the nuclear regulator told the IAEA.

Ukraine has four nuclear plants with a total of 15 reactors.

Puma suspends operation of all its stores in Russia

German sportswear maker Puma has decided to suspend operations at all its stores in Russia, it said on Saturday.

Puma, which has 100 stores in Russia, had already stopped deliveries to Russia following Moscow's attack on Ukraine.

Blinken meets Ukraine FM Kuleba in show of support

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on the Poland-Ukraine border Saturday in a show of solidarity on day 10 of Russia's attack on its pro-Western neighbour.

"I hope the people of Ukraine will be able to see this as a clear manifestation that we have friends who literally stand by us," Kuleba said after they met at the Korczowa-Krakovets border crossing under high security.

Russia resumes 'offensive' after Mariupol ceasefire: Ministry

Russia's defence ministry said on Saturday it had resumed "offensive actions" in Ukraine after announcing a ceasefire earlier in the day to allow residents of two besieged cities to evacuate.

"Due to the unwillingness of the Ukrainian side to influence nationalists or extend the regime of silence, offensive actions have been resumed at 18:00 Moscow time (1500 GMT)," defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a video briefing.

Konashenkov said that "not a single civilian" was able to exit via the humanitarian corridors.

"The population of these cities is held by nationalist formations as a human shield," Konashenkov added.

He said "nationalist battalions" used the ceasefire to "regroup and reinforce their positions".

Officials in Mariupol, surrounded by Russian forces, said on Saturday they were delaying an evacuation of the civilian population, accusing Moscow's troops of breaking a ceasefire.

Damaged radar arrays and other equipment is seen at Ukrainian military facility outside Mariupol, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Russia has launched a barrage of air and missile strikes on Ukraine early Thursday and Ukrainian officials said that Russian troops have rolled into the country from the north, east and south.
Image Credit: AP

Israeli prime minister meets with Putin

Israel’s prime minister was meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Saturday.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office confirmed the meeting at the Kremlin, which came just days after Bennett spoke over the phone with both Russia and Ukrainian leaders.

Bennett’s office said he departed early Saturday morning for Moscow, accompanied by Russian-speaking Cabinet minister Zeev Elkin. Both men are observant Jews and wouldn’t normally travel on the Sabbath.

Israel is one of the few countries that has good working relations with both sides. The country has delivered humanitarian aid to Ukraine, but also maintains ties with Moscow to make sure that Israeli and Russian warplanes do not come into conflict in neighboring Syria.

IMF says war in Ukraine will have 'severe impact' on global economy

The International Monetary Fund on Saturday said it expected to bring Ukraine's request for $1.4 billion in emergency financing to its board for approval as early next week and was in talks about funding options with authorities in neighboring Moldova.

In a statement, the global lender said the war in Ukraine was already driving energy and grain prices higher, and had sent a wave of more than 1 million refugees to neighboring countries, while triggering unprecedented sanctions on Russia.

"While the situation remains highly fluid and the outlook is subject to extraordinary uncertainty, the economic consequences are already very serious," the IMF said. "The ongoing war and associated sanctions will also have a severe impact on the global economy."

Kyiv offers to hold talks with Russia on Monday

Ukraine has offered to hold another round of talks with Russia on Monday, after President Vladimir Putin repeated his warning to Ukraine's leaders who've urged a NATO no-fly zone over the country and further weapons to be sent to help it repel the Russian attack.

Russian forces on Saturday were said to breach a temporary ceasefire brokered to allow the safe passage of civilians from two southeastern Ukrainian cities. About 215,000 women, children and elderly had been expected to flee from Mariupol and nearby Volnovakha, with the Red Cross to guarantee the ceasefire, before the effort was suspended.

A jet headed to Washington from St. Petersburg to pick up a dozen diplomats expelled from the Russia's UN. mission in New York.

Western sanctions are like declaration of war, says Putin

President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that Western sanctions on Russia were akin to a declaration of war and warned that any attempt to impose a no-fly zone in Ukraine would be tantamount to entering the conflict.

Putin reiterated that his aims in Ukraine are to defend Russian speaking communities through the "demilitarisation and de-Nazification" of the country so that it became neutral.

Ukraine and Western countries have dismissed this as a baseless pretext for the attack he launched on Feb. 24 and have imposed a sweeping range of sanctions aimed at isolating Moscow.

"These sanctions that are being imposed are akin to a declaration of war but thank God it has not come to that," Putin said, speaking to a group of women flight attendants at an Aeroflot training centre near Moscow.

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FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin Image Credit: Reuters

UN says confirmed civilian death toll at 351

The UN human rights office says it has confirmed the deaths of 351 civilians in Ukraine since the Russian attack began.

The Geneva-based office said that another 707 civilians were injured between Feb. 24 and midnight Friday.

The rights office uses strict methodology and only reports casualties it has confirmed. It said Saturday it believes the real figures are considerably higher, “especially in government-controlled territory and especially in recent days,” as the receipt of information from some places where there was intense fighting was delayed and many reports were still undergoing corroboration.

Ukrainian officials have presented far higher numbers.

Blinken speaks with Chinese foreign minister on Ukraine

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on Saturday with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi about Moscow's attack against Ukraine," a US State Department spokesperson said.

"The Secretary noted the world is watching to see which nations stand up for the basic principles of freedom, self-determination and sovereignty," spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.

"He underscored that the world is acting in unison to repudiate and respond to the Russian aggression, ensuring that Moscow will pay a high price," Price added.

Evacuations from Mariupol, Volnovakha won't start on Saturday: ICRC

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it understood that evacuations of civilians from Mariupol and Volnovakha in Ukraine would not start on Saturday because of the conflict following Russia's attack.

"We remain in dialogue with the parties about the safe passage of civilians from different cities affected by the conflict," the ICRC said in a statement.

"The scenes in Mariupol and in other cities today are heart-breaking. Any initiative from the parties that gives civilians a respite from the violence and allows them to voluntarily leave for safer areas is welcome." The Ukrainian government previously said the plan was to evacuate around 200,000 people from Mariupol and 15,000 from Volnovakha and the ICRC is the ceasefire's guarantor.

Putin says no plans to declare martial law in Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday he had no intention of declaring martial law, as his country's military incursion in Ukraine enters its second week.

"Martial law should only be introduced in cases where there is external aggression ... we are not experiencing that at the moment and I hope we won't," Putin said during a televised meeting with employees of Russia's flagship carrier Aeroflot.

German broadcasters ARD, ZDF stop reporting from Russia

German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF on Saturday said they were stopping their reporting from Russia after Moscow backed the imposition of jail terms on media publishing "false information" about the military.

In response to the new legislation the broadcasters would "suspend their reporting from their Moscow bureau for the time being", they said in a statement, following similar decisions by other news media including BBC News and Bloomberg News.

Russia's Aeroflot says halting all flights abroad from March 8

Russia's flagship airline Aeroflot said Saturday that it was suspending all of its international flights beginning March 8, as Moscow faces down waves of Western sanctions over its military incursion in Ukraine.

An Aeroflot statement on the "temporary suspension of all international flights from March 8," cited new "circumstances that impede the operation of flights," noting that all domestic routes would continue unchanged as well as flights to neighbouring Belarus.

Stay inside, says India after students' SOS video from Sumy

India's foreign ministry on Saturday said that it has "strongly pressed" the Russian and Ukrainian governments through multiple channels for an immediate ceasefire to create a safe corridor for its students stranded amidst the raging war in Ukraine. It also claimed that the ministry and Indian embassies are in regular touch with the students, who have been posting desperate and emotional pleas to be evacuated from the conflict-stricken region.

"Have advised our students to take safety precautions, stay inside shelters and avoid unnecessary risks," said Arindam Bagchi, official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs.

Evacuations halted in Ukraine area where cease-fire pledged

The Ukrainian president’s office says civilian evacuations have halted in an area of the country where Russian defense officials had announced a cease-fire.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office, said the evacuation effort was stopped because the city of Mariupol remained under fire on Saturday.

“The Russian side is not holding to the ceasefire and has continued firing on Mariupol itself and on its surrounding area,” he said. “Talks with the Russian Federation are ongoing regarding setting up a ceasefire and ensuring a safe humanitarian corridor.”

The Russian Defense Ministry said earlier in a statement it had agreed on evacuation routes with Ukrainian forces for Mariupol, a strategic port in the southeast, and for the eastern city of Volnovakha.

But a city official reported that shelling continued in his area Saturday despite the deal, a sign of the fragility of efforts to stop fighting across the country.

British journalist shot and wounded in Ukraine

A British television crew was ambushed outside Kyiv earlier this week, leaving one journalist wounded, their employer Sky News said.

Stuart Ramsay, chief correspondent at Sky News, was hit by a bullet in the lower back on Monday as they drove towards the Ukrainian capital. Sky News showed footage of the attack late Friday.

Two bullets hit a camera operator's body armour. The five-person crew escaped their car and waslater rescued by Ukranian police. A Russian saboteur reconnaissance squad is suspected of carrying out the attack, Sky News said.

"Bullets cascaded through the whole of the car, tracers, bullet flashes, windscreen glass, plastic seats, the steering wheel, and dashboard had disintegrated," Ramsay said in a written account.

The news crew is now safe and back in the UK, while their Ukrainian producer is with his family in Ukraine. "The point is we were very lucky," Ramsay said.

"But thousands of Ukrainians are dying, and families are being targeted by Russian hit squads just as we were, driving along in a family saloon and attacked."

Ukraine exodus reaches 1.45 million: UN agency

The International Organization for Migration says the number of people who have left Ukraine since fighting began has now reached 1.45 million.

The UN migration agency, citing figures from government ministries in countries where they have arrived, said Saturday that 787,300 of them went to Poland. Some 228,700 fled to Moldova, 144,700 to Hungary, 132,600 to Romania and 100,500 to Slovakia.

The IOM said that nationals of 138 countries have crossed Ukraine’s borders into neighbouring nations.

People walk after fleeing the Russian attack on Ukraine, at the border checkpoint in Medyka, Poland, March 4, 2022.

Russian airlines with foreign-leased planes told not to fly abroad from March 6

Russia's state aviation authority on Saturday recommended Russian airlines with foreign-leased aicraft to suspend flights of passengers and cargo abroad from Russia from March 6 and from foreign countries to Russia starting on March 8.

The European Union, Britain and United States and some other countries closed their airspace starting next week, part of a package of punitive measures after Russia attacked Ukraine.

Britain urges its nationals to consider leaving Russia

Britain urged its nationals on Saturday to consider leaving Russia after Moscow's decision to attack Ukraine.

"If your presence in Russia is not essential, we strongly advise that you consider leaving by remaining commercial routes," the British government said in a statement.

On Monday, Britain advised its citizens against all travel to Russia due to a lack of available flight options and increased economic volatility.

A destroyed armoured personnel carrier stands in the central square of the town of Makariv, 60 kilometres west of Kyiv.
A destroyed armoured personnel carrier stands in the central square of the town of Makariv, 60 kilometres west of Kyiv. Image Credit: AP

About 200,000 expected to flee Mariupol

Ukraine plans to evacuate about 200,000 women and children from Mariupol and another 15,000 from Volnovakha to the north, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Saturday in a video address.

The Red Cross will guarantee ceasefires along those corridors, she said.

Vereshchuk also said Russian troops are taking advantage of Saturday's ceasefire to advance in those areas, and called on authorities to order a halt to such activity.

UK to streamline sanctioning Russian oligarchs

Britain is to make it easier to sanction Russian oligarchs and align those sanctions with the European Union and the US over Moscow's attack on Ukraine, the government said on Saturday.

The UK has been criticised for not doing enough to clamp down on oligarchs' ill-gotten gains which are frequently invested in luxury real estate in London, a popular destination.

Amendments will be introduced to the Economic Crimes bill, which the government now wants to be passed by the lower House of Commons on Monday, "to crack down on corrupt elites and ramp up pressure on (President Vladimir) Putin's regime", a statement said.

The amendments will "allow us to move harder and faster" with sanctions, Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen said on Saturday.

"What we're trying to do is make it more straightforward to get a legal basis to move on these individuals. We believe that these changes will make that difference," Glen told BBC radio.

"In this situation, we need to look at how we can expedite these decisions more swiftly."

The amendments "will allow the UK to align more rapidly with the individual designations imposed by our allies such as the US, Canada and the EU via an urgent designation procedure," the government said after criticism that sanctions lists were not always aligned.

They will also reduce the deadline for foreign companies to register their beneficial owners from 18 months to six months, to "help crack down on money laundering through UK property."

The government said the bill would be "expedited" through the Commons on Monday with a view to it becoming law "as soon as possible".

US, Germany, Netherlands to deploy more military in Lithuania

Germany will deploy air defence capabilities to Lithuania and the United States will send a troop battalion armed with tanks, Lithuania's defence minister said on Sunday.

The deployments, which are also due to include more troops from the Netherlands, are separate to troops coming for military exercises Lithuania is set to host in March, Arvydas Anusauskas told reporters.

The deployments and exercises will increase the total number of foreign NATO troops in Lithuania to 4,000 by end-March from 3,000 now, the minister said.

Lithuania had asked NATO to add more troops and equipment following Russia's attack on Ukraine.

Blinken arrives in Poland near border with Ukraine

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Poland on Saturday for talks with officials as hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees pour into the country to escape the conflict.

The most senior US official to visit Poland since the war began, Blinken will hold talks with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau in Rzeszow, near the border with Ukraine.

More than 780,000 people have fled Ukraine into Poland since the attack began on February 24.

Including other neighbouring countries, more than a million have left Ukraine.

Blinken is visiting key allies in Europe that are feeling the pressure from the war, to demonstrate Washington's support for their security and shore up Western unity against Moscow.

Following his stop in Poland he will travel to Moldova, which has also experienced an inflow of Ukrainians, and the three Baltic states which are particularly concerned by Russian actions.

Russia hits Ukrainian ammunition depot storing foreign anti-tank missile systems

Russia announced that a high-precision weapon strike destroyed a warehouse with Javelin and NLAW missile systems in Ukraine's Zhytomyr city.

"Over the past 24 hours, an ammunition depot on the territory of the military unit of Zhitomir, where Javelin and NLAW anti-tank missile systems were stored, was destroyed by a strike from long-range precision weapons," RT News quoted Major General Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Defence Ministry, as saying.

Earlier, Russia announced that the military seized a lot of foreign captured weapons during the hostilities, including American Javelin anti-tank systems and British NLAW.

EU suspends Russia and Belarus from Council of Baltic Sea States

The European Union said it had joined members of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) in suspending Russia and Belarus from the Council's activities.

"This decision is a part of the European Unions and like-minded partners response to Russias attack on Ukraine and the involvement of Belarus in this unprovoked and unjustified aggression," it said on Saturday.

"The EU agrees with the other members of the CBSS (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland and Sweden) that the suspension of Russia and Belarus will remain in force until it is possible to resume cooperation based on respect for fundamental principles of international law," it added.

A man runs in front of a house burning after being shelled in the city of Irpin, outside Kyiv.
A man runs in front of a house burning after being shelled in the city of Irpin, outside Kyiv. Image Credit: AFP

Ukraine port city Mariupol to begin evacuations

A partial ceasefire by Russian forces around the Ukrainian city of Mariupol will allow civilians to leave the city during a five-hour period from Saturday morning, the city authorities said.

Civilians will be allowed to leave Mariupol between noon and 5pm Moscow time (0900 - 1400 GMT), Russia's RIA news agency quoted city authorities as saying.

Russia said earlier on Saturday its troops, which have encircled the Azov Sea port city in Ukraine's south, would stop firing and allow civilians to pass. Russia also plans a partial ceasefire to allow a humanitarian corridor out of Volnovakha.

Separately, the Mariupol city council said in a statement that civilians will be able to proceed towards the city of Zaporizhzhia and will be able to use specially arranged bus routes as well as their own cars.

Saturday's evacuation will be the first of several stages, it said.

"Given that our hometown is constantly under ruthless fire from the occupiers, there is no other solution," the statement quoted Mayor Vadym Boychenko as saying.

Russia to allow humanitarian corridors in Ukraine, defence ministry says

The Russian military will observe a ceasefire in two areas of Ukraine starting Saturday to allow civilians to evacuate, Russian state media reported, but there was no immediate confirmation from Ukraine. It would be the first breakthrough in allowing civilians to escape the war.

The Russian Defense Ministry statement said it has agreed on evacuation routes with Ukrainian forces to allow civilians to leave the strategic port of Mariupol in the southeast and the eastern town of Volnovakha "from 10am Moscow time." It was not immediately clear from the vaguely worded statement how long the routes would remain open.

A Russian armoured personnel carrier burns amid damaged and abandoned light utility vehicles after fighting in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
A Russian armoured personnel carrier burns amid damaged and abandoned light utility vehicles after fighting in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Image Credit: AP

Singapore announces sanctions against Russia

Singapore has announced sanctions against Russia over its attack of Ukraine, becoming one of the few governments in Southeast Asia to do so.

"The sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity of all countries, big and small, must be respected," said an announcement by the Foreign Ministry.

The tiny city-state imposed controls on exports or transshipments of military-related or dual use items considered "strategic goods." It said the sanctions were aimed at constraining Russia's ability to wage war and engage in "cyber aggression."

The regional commercial hub also said it would prohibit all financial institutions from doing business with four Russian banks: VTB Bank, Bank Rossiya, the Promsvyazbank Public Joint Stock Co., and the Corporation Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs Vnesheconombank. Companies with existing dealings with the four must freeze their assets, it said.

The order also bans providing financial services or enabling financing for the Russian central bank, Russian government and entities owned or controlled by them.

NATO and US see darker days ahead in Ukraine, rule out no-fly zone

The war in Ukraine is likely to become even more punishing for civilians, as Russia employs brutal tactics it has used to deadly effect in other conflicts, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Saturday, promising support for Ukrainians but ruling out the establishment of a no-fly zone.

"The terrible expectation is that the suffering we've already seen is likely to get worse before it gets better," Blinken told reporters in Brussels. "When we say it is likely to get worse, it's unfortunately based on everything we know about President Putin's methods when it comes to seeking to subjugate another country to his will. We saw it in Chechnya. We've seen it in Syria."

Blinken spoke following talks with foreign ministers from the European Union, NATO and the G-7 bloc on the first day of a European tour aimed at illustrating Western unity in opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin's attack on Ukraine. As the conflict enters its second week, Ukrainian cities are being shelled and an exodus of civilians continues.

An apartment building damaged following a shelling on the town of Irpin, 26 kilometers west of Kyiv, Ukraine.
An apartment building damaged following a shelling on the town of Irpin, 26 kilometers west of Kyiv, Ukraine. Image Credit: AP

Russian forces encircle and shell the southeastern port city of Mariupol

War raged in Ukraine for a 10th day on Saturday as Russian troops besieged and bombarded cities, in the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two.

The fighting has created over 1 million refugees, a barrage of sanctions that are increasingly isolating Moscow and fears in the West of a wider conflict that has been unthought-of for decades.

Moscow says its assault is a "special operation" to capture individuals it regards as dangerous nationalists, and has denied targeting civilians.

Kyiv, in the path of a Russian armoured column that has been stalled outside the Ukrainian capital for days, came under renewed assault, with explosions audible from the city centre.

Russian forces have encircled and shelled the southeastern port city of Mariupol - a key prize. There is no water, heat or electricity and it is running out of food after five days under attack, according to Mayor Vadym Boychenko.

"We are simply being destroyed," he said.

A house is on fire following shelling on the town of Irpin, west of Kyiv, Ukraine.
A house is on fire following shelling on the town of Irpin, west of Kyiv, Ukraine. Image Credit: AP

Russian law on 'fake news' prompts media to halt reporting as websites blocked

Russia blocked Facebook and some other websites and passed a law that gave Moscow much stronger powers to crack down on independent journalism, prompting the BBC, Bloomberg and other foreign media to suspend reporting in the country.

Fighting back in the information war, Russia's parliament passed a law on Friday imposing a prison term of up to 15 years for spreading intentionally "fake" news about the military.

"This law will force punishment - and very tough punishment - on those who lied and made statements which discredited our armed forces," said Vyacheslav Volodin, the chairman of the Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament.

Russia is blocking Facebook for restricting state-backed channels and the websites of the BBC, Deutsche Welle and Voice of America.

CNN and CBS News said they would stop broadcasting in Russia, and other outlets removed Russian-based journalists' bylines as they assessed the situation.

US Embassy in Ukraine calls nuclear power plant attack 'war crime'

The US Embassy in Ukraine said that attacking a nuclear power plant is a war crime, after Russia on Friday seized a Ukrainian nuclear facility that is the biggest in Europe.

The statement on the embassy's Twitter account went further than any US characterization of Russia's actions in Ukraine since it launched its attack on Feb. 24.

"It is a war crime to attack a nuclear power plant. Putin's shelling of Europe's largest nuclear plant takes his reign of terror one step further," US Embassy Kyiv said in its post.

Russian forces seized Europe's biggest nuclear power plant in heavy fighting in southeastern Ukraine, triggering global alarm, but a blaze in a training building was extinguished and officials said the facility was now safe.

Russia's defense ministry blamed a fire at the plant on a "monstrous attack" by Ukrainian saboteurs and said its forces were in control.

The State Department sent a message to all US embassies in Europe telling them not to retweet the Kyiv Embassy's tweet calling the attack a war crime, according to CNN, which said it reviewed the message.

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment from Reuters asking if the Kyiv Embassy's tweet reflects the position of the entire US government.

Rights groups have alleged violations of international war crimes law in Ukraine, including the targeting of civilians, as well as indiscriminate attacks on schools and hospitals.

On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden stopped short of calling Russia's actions war crimes, saying, "It's too early to say that." Pentagon spokesman John Kirby on Friday declined to answer the question, saying he would leave that determination to the International Criminal Court.

Fury over Russian attack on Ukraine nuclear plant

Ukraine and its allies expressed fury on Friday after Europe's largest atomic power plant was attacked and seized by attacking Russian forces, which continued to shell major cities.

The six reactors at Zaporizhzhia, which can power up to four million homes, appeared undamaged by the fighting and a fire that broke out in a training facility.

But Kyiv accused the Kremlin of "nuclear terror", and US envoy to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the attack was "incredibly reckless and dangerous".

Moscow's UN ambassador called accusations that Russian forces had shelled the plant part of "an unprecedented campaign of lies".

According to Ukraine, thousands of civilians have died since President Vladimir Putin's military attacked on February 24, claiming to be fighting a Western-leaning "Nazi" threat on its border.

Port city of Mariupol under 'blockade'

Ukraine's strategic port city of Mariupol is under a "blockade" by the Russian army after days of "ruthless" attacks, its mayor said on Saturday, calling for the establishment of a humanitarian corridor.

"For now, we are looking for solutions to humanitarian problems and all possible ways to get Mariupol out of the blockade," said Vadim Boychenko in a message posted on Telegram.