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Images show infrastructure damage in Mariupol

March 12, 2022

The strategic Ukrainian port city is under siege and faces daily bombardment. Russia and Ukraine are blaming each other for the dire humanitarian situation.

A satellite image shows burning apartment buildings at Zelinskovo street, in the western section of Mariupol
A satellite image shows damage to civilian infrastructure in besieged port city MariupolImage: Maxar/AP Photo/picture alliance
  • Zelenskyy says Ukraine has lost 1,300 troops since the war started
  • Humanitarian corridors planned from six Ukrainian cities, towns
  • Russian ground forces now 25 kilometers (15 miles) from Kyiv
  • Olaf Scholz and Emmanuel Macron held their second call with Vladimir Putin this week

This live updates article is now closed. For the latest developments on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, please click here

Zelenskyy says Ukrainians have right to self-determination

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed fellow Ukrainians in an online speech and reiterated their right to live in their land on their own terms. 

"The Russian invaders cannot conquer us. They do not have such strength. They do not have such spirit. They are holding only on violence. Only on terror. Only on weapons, which they have a lot," he said in the speech posted on Instagram. 

He said Russian invaders were not capable of sustaining normal life. "Whenever Russia has come to a foreign land, dreams are impossible. Only a very hard struggle for survival," he said.

Zelenskyy said the Russian state was trying to create the DPR and LPR, but the regions would end up being isolated from the rest of the world and face poverty, crime and exodus. 

Zelenskyy said the withdrawal of IT professionals, businesses and artists from Russia was the fate that awaited Donetsk and Luhansk as well. 

Urging Ukrainians to continue their fight, he said they would regain what is theirs. "Ukraine will not forget. Ukraine will find and prosecute," he said. Zelenskyy said the agreed-upon humanitarian corridors worked and that aid would be arriving in Mariupol tomorrow. 

He also thanked Europe and the US for their support, adding that ordinary citizens across the world supported Ukraine. He called Russia an even bigger evil than North Korea. 

He conferred titles and awards upon some Ukrainians who had fought against Russian forces, many of them posthumously.

Britain to give cash to people offering housing for Ukraine refugees

In a new scheme called "Homes for Ukraine," Britain will pay people £350 (€418, $456) a month if they can offer refugees a spare room or property for a minimum period of six months. 

"The UK stands behind Ukraine in their darkest hour and the British public understand the need to get as many people to safety as quickly as we can," said Michael Gove, the minister for housing, in a statement.  

The government said members of the public, charities, businesses and community groups should be able to offer accommodation via a web page by the end of next week. Anyone offering accommodation will have to show authorities that it meets standards, and may also have to undergo a criminal background check. 

Ukraine accuses Russia of killing 7 civilians near Kyiv

Ukraine's intelligence service said that seven civilians, including one child, were killed as they fled the village of Peremoha on the outskirts of Kyiv on Friday, adding that Russian forces "forced the remnants of the column to turn back."

Ukrainian officials had earlier said that the convoy was traveling along a humanitarian corridor agreed upon with Russia, but later corrected this assertion and said the evacuation was not on this designated route.

British-led Joint Expeditionary Force leaders to meet next week

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will host leaders from Nordic countries and Russia's Baltic neighbors on Tuesday. 

Johnson's office said they'll discuss military exercises in the North Atlantic and Baltic Sea and energy security.

"European security has been shaken by the attack of Russia on Ukraine, and alongside our partners, we will take action to ensure we emerge stronger and more united than before," Johnson said.

The leaders from countries in the Joint Expeditionary Force, a British-led grouping made up of Denmark, Estonia, Finland and Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden will meet for talks in London.

It comes as Norway hosts one of NATO's biggest military exercises since the Cold War. "Exercise Cold Response" will see more than 30,000 troops from 27 nations training in sub-zero temperatures from Monday. 

Ukraine says Russia plans 'permanent' control of Zaporizhzhia

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Ukrainian officials had accused Russia of planning to take full and permanent control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

"The President of Ukraine's nuclear power plant operator Energoatom, Petro Kotin, said in a letter to the Director General that around 400 Russian soldiers were 'being present full time on site' (at Zaporizhzhia)," the UN watchdog said in a statement. 

Russia denied the allegation.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine is Europe's biggest. It was seized by Russian forces last week. 

Zelenskyy open to discussions with Putin in Israel

Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he's open to peace talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Israel.

The Ukrainian president wrote on Twitter that he discussed the possibility with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

Earlier, Zelenskyy told international journalists, he would be ready to meet Putin in Jerusalem but only if a cease-fire is in place.

Putin has ignored numerous previous offers of talks from Zelenskyy, but the Ukrainian leader said he noted a softening in attitude from Russian officials. 

"Now they have started talking about something, and not just giving ultimatums," he said.

On Saturday, Putin participated in a 90-minute phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. 

Afterward, a French presidency official told the Reuters news agency, "We did not detect a willingness on Putin's part to end the war."

Satellite imagery shows devastation in Mariupol

New satellite imagery revealed extensive damage to civilian infrastructure and buildings throughout Mariupol.

The pictures from Maxar Technologies showed dozens of high-rise apartment buildings had been severely damaged. DW was not able to indepedently confirm the photos.

"They are bombing it 24 hours a day, launching missiles. It is hatred. They kill children," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said during a video address.

Russian troops advanced into the eastern outskirts of city on Saturday.

Satellite images show the damage to civilian infrastructure in Mariupol
Satellite images show a view of Mariupol before and after days of bombardmentImage: Maxar/AP Photo/picture alliance

The Russian military blamed Ukrainian nationalists of preventing 50 buses of civilians from leaving.

"Unfortunately, the humanitarian situation in Ukraine is continuing to deteriorate rapidly, and in some cities it has reached catastrophic proportions," the head of the Russian National Defence Control Centre, Mikhail Mizintsev said.

Ukraine's deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk, said 13,000 people were evacuated through humanitarian corridors from a number of cities on Saturday, but not from Mariupol. She blamed Russian obstruction.

Moscow Stock Exchange remains closed next week

Russia's central bank said Moscow's stock exchange would remain closed next week.

The shutdown was meant to shield domestic investors from the impact of Western sanctions.

Stock trading has been suspended since 25 February, the day after Russian forces invaded Ukraine.

The exchange's foreign exchange, money, and repo markets have reopened.

Portugal detains rabbi over Abramovich naturalization

A rabbi responsible for the certification that allowed Russian billionaire and Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich to obtain Portuguese citizenship was arrested on Thursday, the state news agency Lusa reported on Saturday.

Portugal's Public Prosecution Service said he was suspected of "influence peddling, active corruption, falsification of documents, money laundering or even tax evasion."

The religious official approved Abramovich's naturalization last year.

Portugal allows all descendants of Sephardic Jews, persecuted and expelled at the end of the 15th century, to obtain nationality.

An applicant must prove with several documents in Portugal that he is a descendant of a displaced Jew.

The rabbi was suspected of having issued such proof illegally to Abramovich and others.

Moscow says humanitarian situation in some Ukrainian cities 'catastrophic'

Russian military acknowledged that civilians are facing increasing hardship in Ukraine, but blamed Kyiv and far-right Ukrainian militias for the deterioration.

"Unfortunately, the humanitarian situation in Ukraine is rapidly getting worse, and in some cities it has reached catastrophic levels," Russian general Mikhail Mizintsev told reporters during a daily briefing.

Mizintsev blamed Ukrainian authorities for "criminal and treacherous acts" which force civilians in cities besieged by Russia to live without heat, electricity, fresh water, medicine, and food. The Russian officer also accused Ukrainian "nationalists" of preventing hundreds of thousands of civilians from leaving  the city and blowing up residential areas, bridges and roads in Ukraine.

Report: Berlin sets up task force to enact sanctions on oligarchs

Germany is to set up a task force to help enforce sanctions against Russian oligarchs, Der Spiegel reported Saturday.

The decision follows several rounds of EU sanctions against Russian individuals and entities, including President Vladimir Putin, over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The unit will be based in the Chancellery and will coordinate with the finance, economy and interior ministries, the report said.

Jörg Kukies, State Secretary in the Chancellor's Office, will head up the task force.

At present, Germany has no established procedure for seizing assets such as yachts, private jets or homes, Der Spiegel said.

Several countries, including Italy, France and the UK, have already seized assets belonging to Russian billionaires.

Reports that the northern German state of Hamburg had seized the yachts of three oligarchs were later denied by authorities.

German says Ukraine's neighbors need help hosting refugees

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has urged the international community to help accommodate a wave of Ukrainian refugees.

Speaking after meeting with her Moldovan counterpart Nicu Popescu in Chisinau, Baerbock said neighboring nations were struggling to cope with all the new arrivals.

Border officials estimated that 4,000-5,000 people were arriving daily in Moldova.

"The more intense the war becomes, and the more people are injured, fleeing and can take nothing with them, the more support is needed here," Baerbock said.

The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR reported that nearly 2.6 million people had fled Ukraine by Friday.

Annalena Baerbock surrounded by children during a visit to Moldova
German Foreign Ninister Annalena Baerbock (in middle with red coat) met refugee children in MoldovaImage: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance

Czech Republic seeks help to create container bases for refugees

The Czech Republic asked the European Union for modular containers to help it accommodate up to 50,000 refugees from Ukraine.

"The request reckons with up to 25 humanitarian bases for 2,000 refugees each," Interior Minister Vit Rakusan said.

It's estimated some 200,000 refugees have arrived in the Czech Republic, an EU country that doesn't border Ukraine. Most have taken shelter in school gyms and sports venues.

Rakusan previously said the Czechs are ready to take care of some 250,000 refugees.

Ukraine ready to talk but not to surrender

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said his country was ready to negotiate, but it would not surrender or accept any ultimatums.

Speaking at a virtual event organized by nonprofit organization Renew Democracy Initiative, Kuleba said Russia was putting forward "unacceptable" demands. "We will continue to fight," he added.

Kuleba said more civilian lives would be saved if Ukraine had fighter jets and more attack planes to destroy large Russian military columns.

DW's Mathias Bölinger reports from Kyiv

Biden approves $200 million in weapons assistance for Ukraine

President Joe Biden authorized the State Department to release an additional $200 million (€183 million) in defense articles and services from US stocks to Ukraine to fight the Russian attack.

The funds could be used for weapons and military education and training.

A senior administration official said that it brings total security aid provided to Ukraine over the past year to $1.2 billion.

The $200 million was in addition to the $13.6 billion emergency military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine the Congress approved on Thursday.

Zelenskyy says some 1,300 Ukrainian troops have been killed

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that around 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers have lost their lives since Russia invaded the country on February 24. He also claimed that Russia has lost around 12,000 men, so over nine times as many. None of these numbers could be independently verified.

On March 2, Russia said nearly 500 Russian soldiers were killed in what they label a "special military operation," but they did not update the death toll since.

Russia warns it could target Western arms deliveries in Ukraine

Russian troops could target supplies of Western weapons in Ukraine, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Saturday.

Ryabkov told Channel One Russia, a popular Russian-controlled TV channel, that they "warned the United States that the orchestrated pumping of weapons from a number of countries is not just a dangerous move, it is a move that turns these convoys into legitimate targets."

He added that Moscow had warned the US about the "thoughtless transfer" of weapons to Ukraine, but that Washington has not taken the warning seriously. 

Refugees welcome at German-Polish border

Czech firefighters ask other EU states to take in Ukrainian refugees

The Fire Rescue Service of Czech Republic issued a statement Saturday asking European Union member states to take in around 50,000 Ukrainian refugees who had arrived to Czech Republic. 

"We are asking the EU to enable the Czech Republic to become primarily a transit country while the refugees will be accepted in other member states," Pavla Jakoubkova, the spokeswoman for the fire brigade, said. 

She said there were "certainly 200,000" Ukrainian refugees by her estimate, and that capacity to accommodate them was "almost full." 

More than 122,000 Ukrainians flee to Germany

Around 122,837 Ukrainians have arrived in Germany since February 24, Germany's Interior Ministry reported Saturday.

Germans have overwhelmingly supported taking in refugees from Ukraine, with people showing up at the Berlin train station to offer places for people arriving in the city.

"Maybe we'll be there some day and we'll need a hand, and someone will help us. You have to stick together,'' one Berliner offering accommodation to Ukrainian refugees told DW earlier this week.

Berlin struggles to handle refugee influx

Scholz, Macron call for cease-fire during phone call with Putin

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron called for an immediate cease-fire in Ukraine during a phone call with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Saturday, a German government spokesperson said.

"The conversation is part of ongoing international efforts to end the war in Ukraine," the spokesperson said in a statement.

Scholz had earlier spoken to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy about the situation in Ukraine, according to the statement.

The spokesperson added that nothing more could be revealed about their call.

The Kremlin said Putin informed the two leaders about the state of negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv and responded to their concerns about the humanitarian situation in Ukraine.

The three leaders have agreed to keep in contact, the Kremlin added. 

Russia captures eastern outskirts of Mariupol, says Ukrainian military

Ukraine's military said in a Facebook update Saturday that Russian forces had captured the eastern outskirts of the besieged port city of Mariupol.

The military added that capture of Mariupol and Severodonetsk in the east were a priority for Russian forces.

People in Mariupol have been forced to shelter underground due to constant Russian shelling, with many civilians left without food, water, or electricity for over a week.

Amid Awad, the United Nations Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine, told the Associated Press Saturday that the global body was working on establishing humanitarian corridors to send aid to Mariupol, where humanitarian assistance was most pressing. 

Scholz, Macron speak to Putin

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz were holding a joint telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday, the Elysee palace said. 

It is the second time the pair have been in touch with the Russian leader this week.

The three leaders spoke on Thursday when both Macron and Scholz had "demanded an immediate ceasefire by Russia." 

Since meeting Putin in the Kremlin on February 7, Macron has spoken by phone with the Russian leader on nine separate occasions, his office said.

Germany vows to airlift Ukrainian refugees in Moldova

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Saturday that Berlin was working with to establish an airlift for Ukrainian refugees who had arrived in Moldova. 

After talks with her Moldovan counterpart Nicu Popescu, Baerbock said that the German government would bring 2,500 Ukrainian refugees from Moldova directly to Germany. 

Zelenksyy: Russia sending more troops

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Saturday that Russia was sending new troops to Ukraine after suffering what he said were Moscow's biggest losses in decades.

Zelenskyy also said he had spoken to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron. The call revolved around pressuring Russia to release the mayor of the city of Melitopol, who Zelenskyy says was kidnapped by Russian forces on Friday.

Russia warns: US sanctions imminent, energy prices to soar

Russia's sanctions lists against the United States are ready and will "soon be made public," Moscow's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was reported as saying by state owned news agency TASS.

"The lists are ready, we are working on this. This is, by and large, part of the daily work," he said.

Meanwhile, the European Union faces soaring energy prices in the wake of sanctions imposed against the Kremlin over its decision to invade Ukraine, Interfax quoted a Russian foreign ministry official as saying on Saturday.

Nikolai Kobrinets said Russia was a reliable supplier of energy, but that Moscow was ready for a tough confrontation if necessary. He did not provide details of what that confrontation might entail.

The official said the situation would mean the EU would end up paying at least three times more for oil, gas and electricity.

"I believe the European Union would not benefit from this. We have more durable supplies and stronger nerves," Kobrinets told Interfax.

Italy seized Melnichenko's superyacht 

Italian police have seized a yacht from Russian billionaire Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko, the prime minister's office said on Saturday.

It comes just days after the oligarch was placed on an EU sanctions list.

EU agrees new sanctions on Russia: DW's Richard Walker

The 143-meter (470-foot) yacht, which has a price tag of €530 million ($578 million), was sequestered at the northern port of Trieste, the government said.

Designed by Philippe Starck and built by Nobiskrug in Kiel, Germany, the vessel is the world's biggest sailing yacht, according to the Italian government.

Melnichenko owns major fertilizer producer EuroChem Group, as well as coal company SUEK.

UK: Most Russian forces 25 kms from Kyiv

Russian forces appeared to make progress from northeast Ukraine in their slow fight to reach Kyiv while heavy shelling continued elsewhere in the country on Saturday.

The bulk of Russian ground forces now lie about 25 kilometers (16 miles) from the center of the Ukrainian capital, according to British intelligence.

"Elements of the large Russian column north of Kyiv have dispersed," the UK Defense Ministry said. "This is likely to support a Russian attempt to reduce its vulnerability to Ukrainian counter attacks, which have taken a significant toll on Russian forces."

Elsewhere in Ukraine the cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol remained encircled and continued to come under artillery bombardment, according to the UK ministry.

Russia condemns Meta, lawmaker calls for Instagram block

Russia has condemned Meta's move to temporarily allow calls for violence against the Russian military and leadership, while a lawmaker has called for Instagram to be blocked in the country.

In a temporary change to its hate speech policy, Meta will allow Facebook and Instagram users in some countries to call for violence against Russian soldiers in the context of the Ukraine invasion, according to news agency Reuters.

"Meta's aggressive and criminal policy leading to incitement of hatred and hostility towards Russians is outrageous," the Russian embassy in Washington said in a statement.

"The company's actions are yet another evidence of the information war without rules declared on our country," it said.

Internal emails seen by Reuters showed Meta had temporarily permitted posts that call for the death of Russian President Vladimir Putin or Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Meanwhile, Alexander Khinshtein, the head of the information policy and IT committee at the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, said: "Instagram should be blocked in Russia after Facebook," he said.Meta owns both Facebook and Instagram. Last week, Russia banned Facebook.

Roughly 70% of Luhansk region occupied by Russia

Around 70% of the Luhansk region is now occupied by Russian troops, according to Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Luhansk Oblast.

Areas that remained under the control of Kyiv faced an artillery bombardment, resulting in the deaths of dozens of civilians, while many more have been wounded.

Haidai posted on Facebook that there were no humanitarian corridors for people to safely leave the region in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine: War of images

Germany's Baerbock to visit Moldova 

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is due to head to Moldova on Saturday to consider ways to assist the Eastern European country, which has received large numbers of refugees from Ukraine. 

"We will not allow the shock waves caused by Russia to spill over to other countries in Europe," she said ahead of the trip. 

Baerbock is expected to hold talks with Moldova's President Maia Sandu and Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita. She is also scheduled to visit a processing center for refugees in the capital Chisinau and a border crossing with Ukraine.

German support for Ukrainian refugees

Ukraine military notes partial success in Russian offensive

Efforts by Russian forces to launch an offensive to the northeast of the capital Kyiv have been "partially successful," the Ukrainian military says.

The comments were published on Facebook early on Saturday.

Russian units are attempting to blockade the city of Chernihiv from the southwest, and, as part of their efforts, are attempting to capture the towns of Shestovytsya and Mykhailo-Kotsiubynske.

However, the message from the Armed Forces of Ukraine was generally positive.

Ukrainian troops were said to be repelling their enemy and "inflicting losses on Russian invaders in manpower and military equipment, which significantly reduces their will to continue the confrontation."

The briefing also noted that anti-invasion demonstrations were being held in "temporarily occupied territories." 

A map illustrating Russia's advance in Ukraine as of March 10
In this map, advance by Russian forces in Ukraine as of March 10 is illustrated

Escape corridors expected in northeastern towns

Evacuations from besieged and embattled cities in Ukraine are expected to continue on Saturday.

Six escape routes are planned for the Sumy region in the northeast of the country, regional administration head Dmytro Zhyvytskyi announced on the Telegram massaging app on Saturday morning.

Civilians from the towns and cities of Sumy, Trostianets, Lebedin, Konotop, Krasnopillia and Velyka Pysarivka are to be taken to the relative safety of the Ukrainian city of Poltava, south of the Sumy region.

Overall, evacuations are proceeding slowly in many parts of Ukraine. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians are stranded in towns and cities surrounded or encircled or embattled by Russian troops.

US sanctions Russian board members 

The United States has imposed sanctions on several board members at the corporations Novikombank and ABR Management, over Russia's war in Ukraine.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said they included the Vice Governor of St. Petersburg Vladimir Nikolaevich Knyaginin. 

Novikombank is one of the Russian banks that have been already excluded from the SWIFT messaging system, which underpins global transactions.The bank's chair, Elena Georgieva, was also among those sanctioned.US President Joe Biden this week banned US imports of Russian oil, and said Washington would revoke Russia's trade status as a "most favored nation.

He also announced a US ban on imports of Russian seafood, alcohol and diamonds.

Zelenskyy: Kidnap of city mayor 'crime against democracy'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has demanded the release of the mayor of the southern Ukrainian city of Melitopol.

The Ukrainian parliament earlier said civic leader Ivan Fedorov was seen being taken away by Russian soldiers occupying the city.

Fedorov had reportedly refused to cooperate with the occupying forces.

Zelenskyy confirmed the abduction, calling Fedorov "a mayor who bravely defends Ukraine and the members of his community." He said it revealed Russian weakness, and was a crime against democracy.

"This is obviously a sign of weakness of the invaders... They have moved to a new stage of terror in which they are trying to physically eliminate representatives of legitimate local Ukrainian authorities," he said.

"The capture of the mayor of Melitopol is, therefore, a crime, not only against a particular person, against a particular community, and not only against Ukraine. It is a crime against democracy itself.

"The acts of the Russian invaders will be regarded like those of 'Islamic State' terrorists," he said. 

Russian forces captured Melitopol, home to 150,000 people, on February 26.

Mariupol under siege

Zelenskyy has also accused Russia of not allowing people to leave the besieged city of Mariupol, claiming that Moscow was torturing its residents.

The Ukrainian president said there would be a fresh effort to deliver aid to Mariupol on Saturday, although the Russians were refusing to allow supplies in.

"Russian troops have not let our aid into the city and continue to torture our people ...tomorrow we will try again, try again to send food, water and medicine," he said.

Zelenskyy said a total of 7,144 people were evacuated from four other Ukrainian cities on Friday, a sharp drop on each of the two previous days.

In the same address, Zelenskyy called on the mothers of Russian soldiers to prevent their sons from being sent to fight in the war in Ukraine.

"I want to say this once again to Russian mothers, especially mothers of conscripts. Do not send your children to war in a foreign country," he said.

"Ukraine never wanted this terrible war. And Ukraine does not want it. But it will defend itself as much as necessary," he added. 

Satellite images show Russian military units inching closer to Kyiv

Maxar Technologies, a private US-based company, said satellite images taken on Friday showed that Russian military units were continuing to deploy closer to the Ukrainian capital.

According to Maxar, Russian forces were firing artillery toward residential areas, leaving multiple homes and buildings on fire and causing widespread damage in the northwestern town of Moschun.

US slams Russia's 'reckless actions' over nuclear safety

Washington has accused Russia of violating nuclear safety principles in Ukraine, slamming Moscow's "reckless actions."

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said radiation monitors in much of Ukraine were still functioning, but raised concerns over lack of data from safeguards monitors at Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia. 

The two sites have been seized by Russian forces, but are still being operated by Ukrainian staff.

"We remain concerned about Russia’s reckless actions and violations of nuclear safety principles," Granholm wrote on Twitter. 

"We are monitoring reports of damage to a research facility in Kharkiv. Near-term safety risk is low, but the continued Russian firing on nuclear facilities must cease," she said.

Deutsche Bank 'winding down' operations in Russia

Following a backlash, Germany's biggest lender Deutsche Bank said it would wind down its business in Russia.

"Like some international peers and in line with our legal and regulatory obligations, we are in the process of winding down our remaining business in Russia while we help our non-Russian multinational clients in reducing their operations," the bank said on Friday.

"There won't be any new business in Russia."

Deutsche Bank had faced stinging criticism from some investors and politicians for its ongoing ties to Russia. It had said leaving would go against its values, despite other banks cutting off ties.

Summary of events in Ukraine-Russia crisis on Friday

Russia has widened its offensive in Ukraine, striking airfields in the west for the first time.

Russian airstrikes also targeted for the first time the eastern city of Dnipro, a major industrial hub and Ukraine's fourth-largest city, on the Dnieper River.

Until now, Russian forces have made the biggest advances on cities in the south and east, while stalling in the north and around Kyiv. 

New satellite photos also appeared to show that the massive Russian convoy outside the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, had fanned out.

The 40-mile (64-kilometer) line of tanks and other vehicles had massed outside the city early last week. The Russian military is widely expected to try to encircle Kyiv.

President Zelenskyy said his country has reached a strategic turning point in its war with Russia. But he cautioned that time and patience were still needed until victory is achieved.

At least 1,582 civilians have been killed in Ukraine's southeastern city of Mariupol as a result of Russian shelling and a 12-day blockade, the city council said in an online statement. 

Russia's Defense Ministry on Friday said its offensive, led by fighters from the separatist-held Donetsk region, was further squeezing Mariupol, which lies on the Sea of Azov that runs into the Black Sea.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has said some 2.5 million people have now fled Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24.

Sheltering Ukrainians in Poland

Europe has earmarked another €500 million ($550 million) in military aid to Ukraine, European Council President Charles Michel said at the end of the meeting of EU leaders at Versailles, France.

The leaders also said they were ready to impose harsher economic sanctions on Russia and might give Ukraine more funds for arms. But they rejected Ukraine's request to join the bloc.

US President Joe Biden said the G7 industrialized nations would revoke Russia's normal trade status and announced a US ban on imports of Russian seafood, alcohol and diamonds.

US lawmakers also passed a huge spending bill that includes almost $14 billion (about €12.7 billion) in humanitarian and military aid for Ukraine. 

lo, rm, jsi, rc/fb (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)