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Meanwhile, authorities in Crimea have claimed that people in Kherson – the first major Russian conquest in Ukraine – are requesting political unification. The reports raise concern that Moscow is creating a pretext for further annexation of Ukrainian territory

This digest has now been archived. Find the latest Russia-Ukraine updates here.

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People cross a destroyed bridge as they evacuate the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, during heavy shelling and bombing on March 5, 2022.ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images

Russia has invaded Ukraine. Here are the latest updates:

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a “desperate plea” to U.S. lawmakers for more planes to help in its fight against Russia’s invasion. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin says any declaration of a no-fly zone over Ukraine would be considered by Moscow a “participation in the armed conflict.”
  • Top Zelensky aide says Russia starting to realize the real price of its war in Ukraine
  • Authorities in Crimea have claimed that people in Kherson – a Ukrainian city now under Russian control – are requesting political unification. The reports have raised worry Moscow is creating a pretext for further annexation of Ukrainian territory.
  • In Istanbul’s Beyoglu neighbourhood, demonstrators – including Ukrainians living in the city and Russians who fled their country recently – protested together against Russia’s war.

Editor-in-Chief David Walmsley shares a letter with Globe readers about our Ukraine coverage.

  • The refugee shelter in Mlyny is among the largest in Poland accommodating the influx of refugees from Ukraine. On Saturday, March 5 it housed around 3,000 people.Anna Liminowicz/The Globe and Mail

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1:25 a.m. ET

Russia claims Ukraine had been building nuclear ‘dirty bomb’

Russian media cited an unnamed source on Sunday as saying that Ukraine was close to building a plutonium-based “dirty bomb” nuclear weapon, although the source cited no evidence.

The TASS, RIA and Interfax news agencies quoted “a representative of a competent body” in Russia on Sunday as saying Ukraine was developing nuclear weapons at the destroyed Chernobyl nuclear power plant that was shut down in 2000.

Ukraine’s government has said it had no plans to rejoin the nuclear club, having given up its nuclear arms in 1994 following the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Shortly before the invasion, Putin said in a grievance-filled speech that Ukraine was using Soviet know-how to create its own nuclear weapons, and that this was tantamount to preparation for an attack on Russia.

He cited no evidence for his claim.


11:43 p.m.

Ukrainian paramedic remembered for bravery

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Ukrainian paramedics use a national flag to cover the grave of their colleague Valentyna Pushych in a cemetery in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, March 5, 2022.Efrem Lukatsky/The Associated Press

A Ukrainian paramedic who was shot while on her way to evacuate injured people from the outskirts of Kyiv was buried in the country’s capital on Saturday.

Valentyna Pushych was known locally as “Romashka,” which means “Daisy.” A friend described her as a “daredevil,” who was never afraid to “get under bullets.’

She was always “running to the most dangerous places” to rescue to the injured, Nataliia Voronkova said.

Pushych used to be a well-paid worker at a transport and logistic company. But in 2016, she joined the army as a paramedic in response to the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Several women, including some dressed in camouflage jackets, cried as her body lay in a casket at a service. A portrait of Pushych was on a wall nearby.

At the cemetery, red roses were placed on Pushych’s body. After she was buried, the dirt was covered with the flag of Ukraine.

-The Associated Press

10:24 p.m. ET

China tells U.S. don’t ‘add fuel to the flames’ in Ukraine

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken that China opposes any moves that “add fuel to the flames” in Ukraine.

Blinken says the world is watching to see which nations stand up for the principles of freedom and sovereignty.

The two spoke by phone on Saturday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

Wang called for negotiations to resolve the immediate crisis, as well as talks on creating a balanced European security mechanism. Wang says the U.S. and Europe should pay attention to the negative impact of NATO’s eastward expansion on Russia’s security.

The U.S. State Department says Blinken underscored that the world is acting in unison in response to Russian aggression and ensuring that Moscow will pay a high price.

China has broken with the U.S., Europe and others that have imposed sanctions on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. China says that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations should be respected, but that sanctions create new issues and disrupt the process of political settlement.

-The Associated Press

10:00 p.m. ET

Nearly 1.5 million Ukrainians have fled since start of war

The number of Ukrainian refugees was expected to reach 1.5 million on Sunday as Russia continued its attack 11 days after invading Ukraine and Kyiv pressed for further Western action, including more sanctions and weapons.

Moscow and Kyiv traded blame over a failed ceasefire plan that would have let civilians flee Mariupol and Volnovakha, two southern cities besieged by Russian forces. Another round of talks was tentatively planned for Monday as Ukrainians who could escape spilled into neighbouring Poland, Romania, Slovakia and elsewhere.


8:50 p.m. ET

Putin warns Ukraine could lose statehood

Russian President Vladimir Putin continued to pin the blame for the war against Ukraine on the Ukrainian leadership and on Saturday warned that Ukrainian statehood is in jeopardy.

Speaking at a meeting with female pilots, Putin said that if Ukraine’s leaders “continue to do what they are doing, they are calling into question the future of Ukrainian statehood.”

“If this happens, it will be entirely on their conscience,” Putin added.

Ten days after Russian troops invaded Ukraine, Ukrainian forces continued to resist, managing to keep control of key cities in central and southeastern Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Saturday.

In a video address to the nation Saturday night, Zelensky urged Ukrainians in cities taken over by the Russian forces to fight back.

“It is a special kind of heroism — to protest when your city is occupied,” Zelensky said. “Ukrainians in all of our cities that the enemy has entered — go on the offensive! You should take to the streets! You should fight!”

Thousands of Ukrainians in cities held by Russian forces took to the streets on Saturday. Some climbed Russia’s military vehicles and waved Ukraine’s yellow and blue flag.

In Kherson, a city of 300,000 in southern Ukraine, the Russian military were reported to fire warning shots to disperse the crowd, but the protesters were unfazed.

“Every meter of our Ukrainian land, recaptured by protest and humiliation of the occupants, is a step to the victory of all Ukraine,” Zelensky said.

-The Associated Press

8:34 p.m. ET

Biden, Zelensky discuss aid and security

U.S. President Joe Biden has called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss ongoing efforts to impose economic costs on Russia and to speed U.S. military, humanitarian and economic assistance to Ukraine.

The White House said the pair also discussed talks between Russia and Ukraine during the more than 30-minute call early Sunday in Ukraine, but offered no additional details.

Zelensky said on Twitter the two presidents discussed security, financial support for Ukraine and the continuation of sanctions against Russia.

The Associated Press

7:04 p.m. ET

Russia drops powerful bombs on residential areas in Chernihiv, officials say

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This photograph taken on March 4, 2022 shows a school building damaged in yesterday's shelling in the city of Chernihiv.DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images

Russia has dropped powerful bombs on residential areas of the city of Chernihiv, a regional official said Saturday.

Vyacheslav Chaus posted a photo of what he said was an undetonated FAB-500, a Soviet-designed 500-kilogram (1,100-pound) airdropped bomb.

“Usually this weapon is used against military-industrial facilities and fortified structures,” said Chaus, head of the same-named region of Chernihiv. “But in Chernihiv, against residential areas.”

The city of Chernihiv, located north of Kyiv and with a population of 290,000, has come under heavy fire from Russian forces. Officials said 17 people in the region were killed in the shelling.

A video released Saturday by the Ukrainian government showed people cheering as they watched a Russian military plane fall from the sky and crash.

The Associated Press

6:40 p.m. ET

Mastercard, Visa suspend operations in Russia after assault on Ukraine

Mastercard and Visa are suspending their operations in Russia, the companies said Saturday, in the latest blow to the country’s financial system after its invasion of Ukraine.

Mastercard said cards issued by Russian banks will no longer be supported by its network and any card issued outside the country will not work at Russian stores or ATMs.

“We don’t take this decision lightly,” Mastercard said in a statement, adding that it made the move after discussions with customers, partners and governments.

Visa said it’s working with clients and partners in Russia to cease all Visa transactions over the coming days.

The Associated Press

6:15 p.m. ET

Israeli PM meets Putin in Moscow, then speaks with Ukraine president by phone

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin on Saturday to discuss the war in Ukraine and later spoke by phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Bennett’s spokesperson said.

Bennett is co-ordinating his efforts in the crisis with the United States, France and Germany, an Israeli official said.

After his meeting with Putin, Bennett headed to Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, his spokesperson said.


5:45 p.m. ET

Canada tells citizens to leave Russia, citing unpredictable security situation

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Passengers are seen at Moscow's Domodedovo airport on March 5, 2022.-/AFP/Getty Images

Canada told its citizens on Saturday to leave Russia “while commercial means are still available,” saying security conditions were unpredictable and could deteriorate without notice.

“Flight availability is becoming extremely limited … The ability of our embassy to provide consular services in Russia may become severely limited,” Canada’s foreign ministry said in a travel advisory. Canada, like many other Western nations, imposed broad sanctions on Russia after the invasion of Ukraine.


4:54 p.m. ET

Russian forces intensify shelling in city of Mariupol, mayor says

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Ambulance paramedics try to save the life of a man wounded by shelling in a residential area at a maternity hospital converted into a medical ward in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 1, 2022.Evgeniy Maloletka/The Associated Press

Russian forces have intensified shelling in the port city of Mariupol, including with the use of airplanes, the mayor said Saturday night.

“The city is in a very, very difficult state of siege,” Vadym Boychenko told Ukrainian TV. “Relentless shelling of residential blocks is ongoing, airplanes have been dropping bombs on residential areas.”

Boychenko said that thousands of children, women and the elderly came under fire as they arrived in the morning for a possible evacuation through a safe passage corridor. Russia promised to stop the shelling of Mariupol, a port city of 430,000, and Volnovakha, a city in the east, but violated the ceasefire.

Russia has made significant advances in the south, clearly seeking to cut off Ukraine’s access to the sea. Capturing Mariupol, which has been fending off the attack for six days, could allow Russia to build a land corridor to Crimea, which it annexed in 2014.

The Associated Press

4:22 p.m. ET

Shell casing found in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station

Video provided to The Globe and Mail shows a large shell casing lying an arm's reach away from what power plant workers call a “dirty” overpass. It's a structure with numerous pipes that run into the reactor complex, carrying acids, high-pressure steam, water — and radioactive substances. The Russian military attacked the nuclear facility, Europe's largest, causing a fire. Russian forces seized control on March 4.

The Globe and Mail

4:15 p.m. ET

‘Nobody ran anywhere’: Ukraine’s Zelensky

3:15 p.m. ET

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unexpected visit to refugee centre in Mlyny, near the Polish-Ukraine border

“What the Ukrainians are doing is inspiring the world. And the world is united in support of Ukraine and against Russian aggression,” Blinken said during a visit to a centre for refugees near the Polish-Ukraine border.

Blinken also met with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in a tent at the border crossing near Mlyny. The two discussed the provision of weapons to Ukraine and international efforts to isolate Russia. They also walked on both sides of a painted line that marked the official boundary.

Mr. Blinken’s stop at the Mlyny refugee centre offered him a glimpse into the devastation the Russian invasion is causing families in Ukraine and the growing pressure it’s putting on countries like Poland that have opened their borders to those fleeing the war.

– Paul Waldie

3:00 p.m. ET

At Ukraine’s Russian-controlled nuclear plant, the ‘quiet situation is very unstable’

Quiet has descended upon Enerhodar, the city that tried and failed to prevent a Russian military attack that delivered Europe’s largest nuclear power plant into Moscow’s control this week.

But in a community grateful the unprecedented assault did not create a radiation leak, life is now edged with fear that an accident could still happen.

Nathan VanderKlippe

2:44 p.m. ET

Toronto FC sends ‘Stand With Ukraine’ message during home opener

“Stand With Ukraine” was the message on the BMO Field video board before Toronto FC’s home opener against the New York Red Bulls.

Several Ukraine flags were attached to the south stand of the lakefront stadium. The PA announcer also asked the crowd to join in a “moment of reflection” on Ukraine, which finds itself at war after being invaded by Russia.

MLS, meanwhile, announced that it and its clubs will make donations to the Canadian Red Cross and UNICEF USA “to support humanitarian aid to children and families affected by the crisis in Ukraine.” They will also use their digital, broadcast, in-stadium platforms to help raise awareness and funds for relief efforts.

– The Canadian Press

2:00 p.m. ET

Anti-war protests in Istanbul draws expat Ukrainians, Russians who have fled

Dozens of demonstrators, including Ukrainians living in Istanbul and Russians who fled their country recently, protested together, demanding an end to Russia’s war in Ukraine and calling on the international community to do more.

Ilia Zibrov said he fled to Istanbul from Russia a few days ago, saying it’s no longer safe to live there if you oppose the war. His wife is still there, and plans to join him, but he said it was important for him to leave because he is fearful he would be recruited to join the Russian army.

“I don’t want to fight with Ukrainians. It’s impossible for me,” he said.

Following one of the protests earlier this week, Oskana Kurinna, from central Ukraine, said she is urging the international community to block Russia’s economy.

Ms. Kurinna said she’s been encouraging Russia’s diaspora to protest and raise money for Ukraine: “We should win this war …. We should get money for recovery for building because homes are ruined and civil infrastructure is ruined.”

– Janice Dickson

12:30 p.m. ET

Zelensky makes ‘desperate plea’ to U.S. lawmakers for more planes

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a “desperate plea” to U.S. senators on Saturday to help his country get more planes to help the country fight the Russian invasion. The plea comes as Russian forces continued to batter strategic locations with missiles and artillery and after NATO’s refusal to impose a no-fly zone.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, said in a statement that Zelensky made a “desperate plea for Eastern European countries to provide Russian-made planes to Ukraine.”

Zelensky also urged U.S. lawmakers to sanction Russia’s oil and gas sector and suspend credit card access, and backed an idea to ban Russian oil imports to the U.S. that’s been gaining support in Congress.

The U.S. Congress also is working on a $10 billion package of military and humanitarian aide, and Schumer told Zelensky that lawmakers hope to send it quickly to Ukraine, according to a senior Senate aide granted anonymity to discuss the private meeting.

– The Associated Press

12:09 p.m. ET

Italian police seize US$153-million in villas, yachts belonging to Russian oligarchs

Italian police have seized villas and yachts worth at least US$153-million from high-profile Russians were placed on an EU sanctions list.

A police source said that villas owned by businessman Alisher Usmanov and state TV host Vladimir Soloviev had both been seized, along with yachts belonging to Russia’s richest man, Alexey Mordashov. A yacht owned by Gennady Timchenko, a close tie of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was also impounded.

More assets were expected to be seized in the coming days as Western states implement massive sanctions to try to force Russia to withdraw from Ukraine.

– Reuters

11:33 a.m. ET

Zelensky aide calls for NATO no-fly zone over Ukraine, says Russia beginning to see ‘real price of war’

One of Ukraine’s negotiators in ceasefire talks with Russia says there’s been a shift on the Russian side after 10 days of warfare.

“At the very start of the war, they were insisting on total domination. They weren’t expecting that Ukraine would deliver such severe resistance,” Mykhailo Podolyak, a top aide to President Zelensky, said Saturday. “They are starting to realize the real price of war only now. And now we are starting to have constructive negotiations.”

Mr. Podolyak made the comments after taking part in two rounds of talks with Russian officials at Ukraine-Belarus border over the past week. He said a third negotiating session would happen “in the next day or two.”

Mr. Podolyak also repeated Mr. Zelensky’s demands for NATO to provide air cover to Ukrainian civilians.

– Mark MacKinnon

11:23 a.m. ET

Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets Putin in Moscow

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 neighbouring Syria.

– Reuters

11:16 a.m. ET

UN says at least 351 civilians have been killed in Ukraine, but real figures are ‘considerably higher’

At least 351 civilians are confirmed to have been killed in Ukraine since Russian troops invaded on Feb. 24, and another 707 wounded, although the true numbers are probably “considerably higher,” a U.N. monitoring mission said on Saturday.

Most of the civilian casualties were caused by explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multi-launch rocket systems, and from missile and air strikes, monitors from the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said.

“OHCHR believes that the real figures are considerably higher, especially in government-controlled territory and especially in recent days, as the receipt of information from some locations where intensive hostilities have been going on was delayed and many reports were still pending corroboration,” it said.

The mission said hundreds of civilian casualties alleged in the town of Volnovakha – where attempts were under way to open a safe evacuation corridor through encircling Russian forces – were yet to be corroborated.

– Reuters

11:12 a.m. ET

American basketball player Brittney Griner detained in Russia

WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner was arrested in Russia last month at a Moscow airport after a search of her luggage revealed vape cartridges.

The Russian Customs Service said Saturday that the cartridges were identified as containing oil derived from cannabis, which could carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The customs service identified the person arrested as a player for the U.S. women’s team and did not specify the date of her arrest. Russian media reported the player was Griner, and her agent did not dispute those reports.

“We are aware of the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia and are in close contact with her, her legal representation in Russia, her family, her teams, and the WNBA and NBA,” Griner’s agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas said Saturday. “As this is an ongoing legal matter, we are not able to comment further on the specifics of her case but can confirm that as we work to get her home, her mental and physical health remain our primary concern.”

On Saturday, the State Department issued a “do not travel” advisory for Russia because of its invasion of Ukraine and urged all U.S. citizens to depart immediately, citing factors including “the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials” and “the Embassy’s limited ability to assist” Americans in Russia.

Griner, who plays for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, has played in Russia for the last seven years in the winter, earning over $1 million per season – more than quadruple her WNBA salary. She last played for her Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg on Jan. 29 before the league took a two-week break in early February for the FIBA World Cup qualifying tournaments.

The 31-year-old Griner has won two Olympic gold medals with the U.S., a WNBA championship with the Mercury and a national championship at Baylor. She is a seven-time All-Star.

“Brittney Griner has the WNBA’s full support and our main priority is her swift and safe return to the United States,” the league said in a statement.

– The Associated Press

10:28 a.m. ET

Claims that residents of Russian-held Kherson want unification with Crimea raise fears of new annexation drive

Authorities in Crimea have claimed that people in Kherson – the first major Russian conquest in Ukraine – are requesting political unification. The reports that have raised worry Moscow is creating a pretext for further annexation of Ukrainian territory.

‘I would rather die from hunger’: Residents of Russian-held cities in Ukraine despise claims they want unification with Crimea

Russian state media report that residents of Kherson have been making requests to Vladimir Konstantinov, speaker of the State Council of Crimea, created in 2014 when the Kremlin took over the Ukrainian peninsula.

Reports of requests to join Russia also presaged the annexation of Crimea, and the Crimean comments have raised fears that Moscow seeks the same for Kherson.

– Nathan VanderKlippe

9:44 a.m. ET

Putin says any declaration of no-fly zone over Ukraine would be considered ‘participation in armed conflict’

Mr. Putin says Moscow would consider any third-party declaration of a no-fly zone over Ukraine as “participation in the armed conflict.”

“That very second, we will view them as participants of the military conflict, and it would not matter what members they are,” Mr. Putin said Saturday.

Mr. Zelensky has pushed NATO to impose a no-fly zone over his country, warning that “all the people who die from this day forward will also die because of you.”

NATO has said a no-fly zone, which would bar all unauthorized aircraft from flying over Ukraine, could provoke widespread war in Europe with nuclear-armed Russia.

– The Associated Press

8:33 a.m. ET

Loyalties of pro-Russian church in Ukraine called into question

The Pochayiv Lavra, which belongs to the Ukrainian branch of the Russian Orthodox Church, meaning it follows the leadership of the Moscow Patriarchate, is the centre of life in the Ukranian town Pochayiv.

The doors of the Lavra’s cathedrals are closed outside of service times. And many in the town are suspicious of which side its monks – who defer to Russian Patriarch Kirill, a close ally of Mr. Putin – support, as Russian troops continue their bloody assault on Ukraine.

– Mark MacKinnon

8:00 a.m. ET

Censorship has left many Russians unaware of how serious the war in Ukraine really is or why their President started it. Now, some are taking the risk to speak out

The increasingly deadly Russian invasion of Ukraine appears to be guided almost entirely by the imponderable beliefs and ambitions of the Russian President. That has forced most Ukrainians and many Russians, fearing for their futures and often for their lives, to ask painful questions about the contents, and state, of Mr. Putin’s mind.

Mark MacKinnon and Doug Saunders

7:50 a.m. ET

Russia’s national carrier Aeroflot halts all international flights

Aeroflot, Russia’s flagship carrier, has announced that it will halt all international flights except to Belarus starting March 8.

The move by Russia’s biggest state-owned airline comes after the country’s aviation agency, Rosaviatsiya, recommended that all Russian airlines with foreign-leased planes halt both passenger and cargo flights abroad.

It cited a high risk of foreign-leased planes being impounded as part of Western sanctions that ban leasing of planes to Russia.

Rosaviatsiya’s recommendation doesn’t apply to Russian airlines that use Russian planes or foreign planes that aren’t at risk of being impounded.

It also doesn’t apply to foreign airlines from countries that have not imposed sanctions on Russia and have not shut down their airspace for Russian planes. Aeroflot’s statement Saturday cited “circumstances that hinder operating flights” as a reason for its move.

Another Russian airline, low cost carrier Pobeda, said it would halt all international flights starting March 8, in accordance with recommendations from the Russia’s state aviation agency.

– The Associated Press

6:57 a.m. ET

World Food Programme delivering rations to Kyiv, but funds are running out

The World Food Programme has begun delivering rations to besieged Kyiv but needs an immediate injection of cash from the international community if the effort is going to be sustained long-term.

A train carrying 30 tonnes of high-energy biscuits – enough to feed 30,000 people for five days – arrived by train in the Ukrainian capital on Friday from Lviv in western Ukraine, which the United Nations agency is using as an emergency hub. It’s the start of what the WFP expects will be one of its biggest operations in the world, trailing only such long-term crises as those in Afghanistan, Yemen, Ethiopia, Syria, Sudan, and South Sudan.

But while the WFP expects to spend US$500-million on Ukraine over the coming three months, the international community has thus far pledged just US$50-million, and has delivered none of that to date. Canada is among the countries that has yet to make a formal pledge.

Mark MacKinnon

6:09 a.m. ET

Russia breaks ceasefire in Mariupol, Ukrainian authorities say

Authorities in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol said an evacuation of civilians planned for Saturday had been postponed as Russian forces encircling the city were not respecting an agreed ceasefire.

In a statement, the city council asked residents to return to shelters in the city and wait for further information on evacuation.

“The Russian side is not holding to the ceasefire and has continued firing on Mariupol itself and on its surrounding area,” said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of President Zelensky’s office. “Talks with the Russian Federation are ongoing regarding setting up a ceasefire and ensuring a safe humanitarian corridor.”

-Reuters, Associated Press

6:00 a.m. ET

How can Canada can help Europe move away from fossil fuels

When the International Energy Agency convened a ministerial meeting of its member countries this week to plot a response to the energy crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Canada’s man at the table was pleasantly surprised by how “bullish and aggressive” his European counterparts were on two related fronts.

The first, Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said in an interview after the meeting, was eliminating dependence on Russian oil and gas as expeditiously as possible, which the group unanimously resolved to do.

The second was accelerating the energy transition away from fossil fuels entirely, which he now thinks will happen in Europe “a lot quicker than many had been assuming.” That’s because of a suddenly growing recognition that shifting to non-emitting fuel sources is necessary both to fight climate change – already more of a priority in Europe than elsewhere – and to reduce reliance on the bad or unreliable actors responsible for much of the world’s oil-and-gas supply.

They’re twin goals Mr. Wilkinson believes Canada has a chance to support – though how exactly is fuzzy, at the moment, and a source of dispute in this country between boosters and skeptics of the domestic fossil-fuel sector.

Adam Radwanski

5:52 a.m. ET

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives in Poland, praises country’s efforts

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived on Saturday in the southeastern Polish city of Rzeszow, close to the Ukrainian border where hundreds of thousands of people have crossed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Blinken, the Biden administration’s top diplomat, was set to meet Polish officials, including the NATO and European Union member state’s Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau.

The State Department said Blinken would discuss security and humanitarian assistance in response to the invasion and thank Poland for welcoming those displaced by the fighting in Ukraine.

– Reuters

5:49 a.m. ET

Number of refugees from Ukraine now 1.45 million, IOM says

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

Which countries are taking in Ukraine’s refugees?

Marcus Gee: Canada braces for another wave of refugees as Russian assault intensifies

The U.N. 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.

– The Associated Press

3:45 a.m. ET

66,224 Ukrainians return to join fight, ministry says

Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Saturday that 66,224 Ukrainian men had returned from abroad to join the fight against Russia’s invasion.

“That’s how many men returned from abroad at this moment to defend their country from the horde. These are 12 more combat and motivated brigades! Ukrainians, we are invincible,” Reznikov said in an online post.

– Reuters

3:25 a.m. ET

France works to secure Ukraine nuclear sites

The office of President Emmanuel Macron says France will soon propose concrete measures to ensure the safety and security of Ukraine’s five main nuclear sites.

The safeguards will be drawn up on the basis of International Atomic Energy Agency criteria, a statement from the French presidency said Saturday.

A Russian attack on a nuclear plant sparked a fire on Friday and briefly raised worldwide fears of a catastrophe. The statement said Macron is “extremely concerned about the risks to nuclear safety, security and the implementation of international safeguards resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

Macron said Russia “must immediately cease its illegal and dangerous military actions” and allow Ukrainian authorities full control over all nuclear facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders. He urged Russia to allow “free, regular and unhindered access for facility personnel to ensure their continued safe operation.”

– The Associated Press

2:00 a.m. ET

Russia declares partial ceasefire to allow civilian evacuations

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 carried by the RIA Novosti and Tass agencies 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 10 a.m. Moscow time.” It was not immediately clear from the vaguely worded statement how long the routes would remain open.

The head of Ukraine’s security council, Oleksiy Danilov, had called on Russia to create humanitarian corridors to allow children, women and the elderly to escape the fighting, calling such corridors “question No. 1.”

– The Associated Press

1:56 a.m. ET

Weakening ruble, uncertain future send Russians out to shop

In bright sunshine, a long queue of shoppers snaked outside an IKEA store near Moscow this week. Similar scenes were repeated across Russia as families rushed to spend their fast-depreciating rubles at the Swedish retailer, which is exiting the crisis-hit country.

Russians are bracing for an uncertain future of spiralling inflation, economic hardship and an even sharper squeeze on imported goods.

The ruble has lost a third of its value this week after unprecedented Western sanctions were imposed to punish Russia for invading Ukraine. The moves froze much of the central bank’s $640-billion in reserves and barred several banks from global payments system SWIFT, leaving the ruble in free-fall.

Cities across Russia were outwardly calm, with little sign of the crisis devastating financial sector and markets. Except for the lines of people looking to stock up on products – mostly high-end items and hardware – before shelves empty or prices climb further.

– Reuters

12:02 a.m. ET

UN council to meet Monday on humanitarian situation

Open this photo in gallery:

A woman holds a child at the Ukrainian-Slovakian border following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Vysne Nemecke, Slovakia, March 4, 2022.LUKASZ GLOWALA/Reuters

The U.N. Security Council will hold an open meeting Monday on the worsening humanitarian situation in Ukraine as the Russian offensive intensifies.

The United States and Albania requested the meeting, which will hear briefings by U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths and Catherine Russell, executive director of the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF, diplomats said Friday.

At the request of France and Mexico, the council meeting will be followed by closed consultations on a draft resolution on the humanitarian plight of millions of Ukrainians that the two countries have been spearheading, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because negotiations on the meeting have been private.

The United Nations launched an emergency appeal on March 1 for $1.7 billion to respond to soaring humanitarian needs of both people who fled Ukraine and who remain in the country. It immediately received pledges of $1.5 billion, and has urged that the pledges be turned into cash quickly.

The UN estimates that 12 million people staying in Ukraine and four million fleeing to neighbouring countries in the coming months will need humanitarian aid.

– The Associated Press

Russia-Ukraine live updates: Here’s what happened on Friday, March 3

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