Ukraine war, day 9: Russia seizes largest nuclear power plant in Europe

Ukraine war, day 9: Russia seizes largest nuclear power plant in Europe
Screen grab from official live stream of Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station when it came under Russian occupation in March.

It has now been nine days since Russia invaded Ukraine. Following the attacks on the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station, Russian troops have now seized control of what is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.

Follow the most important developments here. The latest updates appear highest on the page.

Russians Seize Europe’s Largest Nuclear Plant [16:45]

Europe's largest nuclear power plant has fallen into Russian hands. A fire that began during intense fighting over the plant was extinguished, and there are no immediate signs that any radiation has leaked.

JP Morgan: Russia's GDP to slump to 1998 lows [16:15]

Russia is heading towards financial collapse. Following Western sanctions imposed on the country following its invasion of Ukraine, economists forecast that Russia's GDP will drop between 7-9%.

This will surpass the recession experienced during Russia's debt crisis in 1998.

Western sanctions, including the SWIFT cut-off, trade sanctions, asset freezes, and individual sanctions have severely hurt the Russian economy.

American financial publication Bloomberg has described Russia's economic downturn as a "deep dive" with its recession threatening to surpass levels witnessed during the Global Financial Crisis in 2008.

Economist Tim Graf, head of EMEA macro strategy at State Street Global Markets, told Bloomberg that he expects to see inflation comparable to the "extreme scenarios" witnessed post 1998 in Russia. Back then, Russian inflation reached a 84%, destroying the rouble, causing Russia to default on its debt.

Major Ukrainian supermarkets boycott Coca-Cola over refusal to leave Russian market [15:35]

Some of Ukraine's largest supermarket group FOZZY, which owns the supermarket chains Silpo, Fora, Cash & Carry, and others have stopped stocking Coca-Cola products in protest of the company's refusal to leave the Russian market.

All Coca-Cola products (Coca-Cola, Fanta, Schweppes, Sprite, BonAqua, Rich, and others) will be pulled from shelves.

In a post on the supermarket group's Facebook page, it stated that Coca-Cola had decided to "continue working in Russia despite the military invasion of Ukraine."

Major Western companies are leaving the Russian market in solidarity with Ukraine. Companies are also withdrawing due to the economic sanctions which have economically isolated the country.

Zelensky reportedly survives three assassination [15:20]

According to British newspaper The Times, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy has survived at least three attempts on his life in the past week.

The British newspaper claims that members of both the Chechen special forces and Kremlin-backed mercenary group Wagner group attempted to intercept and kill the Ukrainian president.

Ukrainian Secretary of National Security and Defence Oleksiy Danilov was reported to have told local TV stations that the attacks were foiled by anti-war elements of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB).

Zelensky allegedly narrowly avoided an assassination attempt on Saturday when Chechen assassins were killed on the outskirts of Kyiv before they could reach the President.

NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg warns of hard days ahead for Ukraine [15:09]

During a press conference following a meeting of NATO Foreign Minister on 4 March, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned that the next few days in Ukraine would be worse those prior.

"The days to come are likely to be worse," Stoltenberg stated. "With more death, more suffering, more destruction, as the Russian armed forces bring in heavier weaponry and continue their attacks across the country,"

A 64-kilometre-long convoy of Russian heavy equipment is slowly on route towards Ukraine's capital Kyiv. Ukrainian forces are bracing for a frontal assault on the city, with many Kyiv residents using the lull in fighting to evacuate the city.

Other major Ukrainian cities are suffering heavy bombardment by Russian artillery and cruise missile systems.

NATO refuses to establish no-fly zone over Ukraine [15:00]

NATO has rejected Ukrainian demands for a no-fly zone over Ukraine today, stating that stepping in directly would lead to an even larger conflict.

"We are not part of this conflict, and we have a responsibility to ensure it does not escalate and spread beyond Ukraine," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told journalists.

Ukraine has called for the West to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict. Russian aerial superiority has hounded Ukrainian efforts to defend key cities.

"We understand the desperation but we also believe that if we did that (a no-fly zone) we would end up with something that could lead to a full-fledged war in Europe involving much more countries and much more suffering," Stoltenberg reaffirmed.

A NATO no-fly zone would pit the alliance directly against Russian fighters, potentially escalating the conflict.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has stated that if NATO is unwilling to establish a no-fly zone, then it should provide Ukraine with additional war planes.

Army of 400,000 IT specialists working to protect Ukrainian cyber security [14:25]

On Friday, Ukraine Online's State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection said during a briefing on cyber security that an independent "IT Army" of 400,000 specialists globally are working to fight back against Russian cyberattacks and protect Ukraine's cyber security.

State Service of Special Communications Deputy Chair Viktor Zhora said Ukraine itself has at least up to 250,000 IT specialists, in addition to huge numbers that are working from abroad, including IT students.

"We have several hundred thousand students who are learning cyber security that joined this voluntary movement," he said.

He added that for the first time, Russia is facing cyberattacks, mainly targetting government services, the media, which he said is "constantly lying to Russian citizens" about why "Ukrainians should be extinct," as well as payment and transport services, which help in the escalation and the continued deaths of innocents people.

Zhora added the "IT Army" is doing everything to protect Ukraine in cyberspace. "All means will be used for this," he said.

With regards to cyber threats on nuclear power plants, in light of the attacks on Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station, he said they are well protected in Ukraine and are completely safe from cyber attacks.

"However, there are still risks of physical attacks which in my opinion are much more serious," he said, adding that he believes a cyberwar can be ended by the ending of conventional war and that Ukraine will do everything possible to do so.

Zhora added that so far, 10,000 Russian soldiers have been killed already. " But Russia doesn't know about it yet," he said. He reiterated that all acts of aggression should be stopped.

Belgium's Centre for Cybersecurity published information on the recently launched government website on the Ukraine situation regarding the cyber threat to the country, saying "for the time being, there is no objective evidence of a concrete cyber threat to our country," but added that consequences for Belgian organisations can never be excluded.

UNESCO calls on Russia to respect Ukraine's cultural heritage, stop attacks on civilians [09:06]

In a statement released to the press, UNESCO has called on Russia to protect Ukraine's seven World Heritage sites and stop its attacks on residential areas.

The U.N's cultural agency is currently working to assess the damage done to cultural sites across the region.

Ukraine's capital city Kyiv is homed to World Heritage site St. Sophia's Cathedral, famous for its striking gold domes.

Europe's largest nuclear power plant seized by Russia [09:06]

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station has been seized by Russian troops after it caught fire following fierce fighting to capture the plant. The fire that broke out during the fight was extinguished during the night without any casualties. However, the plant is now under Russian control.

The Ukrainian regional authority confirmed in a Facebook post that Russian forces captured the plant, which provides more than one-fifth of the total electricity generated in Ukraine, and added that the condition of power units was being monitored to ensure they could operate safely.

At the time of fighting, the spokesperson for the nuclear power plant, Andriy Tuz, warned of a "real threat of nuclear danger."

In a video on social media, Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy referred to the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, and said Russia "wants to relive it... I address all Ukrainians, all Europeans, everyone who knows the word 'Chernobyl,' everyone who knows how many victims that explosion brought."

In footage captured live from the official video live stream from the plant, Russian troops could be seen engaged in heavy fighting with Ukrainian defenders. Other world leaders condemned Russia for its reckless move.

Ukraine, Russia agree on humanitarian corridors [08:20]

Following the second round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations, it was agreed that humanitarian corridors would be created, the head of the Russian delegation, Vladimir Medinsky, told Russian media. However, Ukraine said talks didn't deliver the needed results.

“We have thoroughly discussed three points – military, international and humanitarian needs," Medinsky said, adding that the primary matter to resolve was how to rescue civilians who found themselves in a military clash zone. The humanitarian corridor will help provide a safe escape for civilians who are evacuating areas where fighting is ongoing.

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Ukrainian official Mykhailo Podolyak also confirmed this was the only solution they came to, adding that "unfortunately, the results Ukraine needs are not yet achieved."

Coverage from previous days can be found here. The latest update was added at 09:00.

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