March 4, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Jessie Yeung, Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Joshua Berlinger, Sana Noor Haq, Blathnaid Healy, Adrienne Vogt, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 0512 GMT (1312 HKT) March 5, 2022
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8:15 p.m. ET, March 4, 2022

Russian forces are approaching Ukraine's second-largest nuclear facility, US ambassador to the UN says

From CNN's Masha Angelova and Hira Humayun

Russian forces are approaching Ukraine’s second-largest nuclear facility, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said at the UN on Friday.

“Russian forces are now 20 miles, and closing, from Ukraine’s second-largest nuclear facility,” she said without naming the plant.

According to Energoatom, the overseeing body of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants, Ukraine’s second-largest nuclear facility — in terms of power generation capacity — is Yuzhnoukrainsk Nuclear Power Station in the Mykolaiv Oblast, in southern Ukraine.

“President Putin must stop this humanitarian catastrophe by ending this war and ceasing these unconscionable attacks against the people of Ukraine,” the ambassador added.

Thomas-Greenfield said the imminent danger continues after a disaster was “narrowly avoided” last night, referring to the fire that broke out at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant early Friday local time in Ukraine as a result of Russian forces shelling the facility.

“The international community must be unanimous in demanding Russia’s forces stop their dangerous assault. And as I’ve said before, the people of Ukraine are counting on us and we must not let them down,” she said.

Earlier on Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of "nuclear terror" after Russian troops attacked the nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine.

6:55 p.m. ET, March 4, 2022

Par Pacific Holdings suspends all purchases of Russian crude oil for Hawaii refinery

From CNN’s Paradise Afshar

Par Pacific Holdings, headquartered in Houston, Texas, announced Thursday that they’ve suspended all purchases of Russian crude oil for their Hawaii refinery.

“We intentionally diversify our crude oil sources from locations around the globe to enable us to meet the state's ongoing demand for fuels,” Par Pacific Holdings said in a statement. “However, in light of recent geopolitical events, we have decided to suspend purchases of Russian crude oil for our Hawaii refinery.”

To meet its fuel production needs Par Pacific Holdings is planning to use “other grades of crude, principally from North and South America.”

“As the geopolitical situation evolves, we will work closely with our customers and partners in state government to make prudent decisions in support of energy assurance for Hawaii,” the statement said.

Par Pacific Holdings is the parent company of Par Hawaii and Par Hawaii Refining, which operates Hawaii’s only petroleum refinery in Kapolei, according to its website.

“For approximately 20-25% of our crude needs, we have historically purchased a Russian grade called Sokol which is produced relatively close to Hawaii, around the Sakhalin Island, north of Japan,” Eric Wright, the president of Par Hawaii, said in a statement.

Wright said the decision to suspend Russian crude purchases is not expected to have “significant impacts” on operations in the Kapolei.

“Fuel prices are driven primarily by global oil markets,” Wright said. “We do not expect our decision to have a meaningful impact on the prices paid by Hawaii consumers.”

The average price of regular gas in Hawaii is $4.66, according to AAA, and the national average is $3.83.


8:15 p.m. ET, March 4, 2022

California governor orders agencies to review contracts to ensure compliance with sanctions against Russia

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

California will welcome Ukrainian refugees and, per a new executive order issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday, all California state agencies and contractors have been directed to review their contract in order to ensure comply with sanctions against Russia.

Though many California-based companies “have already taken steps to limit economic transactions with Russian entities, combat Russian misinformation and support Ukraine,” all private businesses, and other organizations are also urged to review their contracts, according to a news release issued by the governor’s office.

“California stands with Ukraine and the Ukrainian community in California – one of the largest in the country,” said Newsom. “Our state shares many close ties with Ukraine and will continue our efforts to support the nation’s brave fight for the fundamental rights and freedoms of its people.”

Ukrainian refugees fleeing the violence in their home country will be welcomed in California, and the state will continue to support Ukraine with military training, equipment, and humanitarian assistance, the release states.

“Over the last 20 years, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, along with the California National Guard and the California Emergency Medical Services Authority, has provided training and conducted exercises with the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces on utilizing the Emergency Management and Incident Command System,” the release said.

8:15 p.m. ET, March 4, 2022

Ukraine officials release new video from inside Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant after attack

From CNN's From Tim Lister

(Center for Strategic Communication of Ukraine)
(Center for Strategic Communication of Ukraine)

Ukrainian authorities have released video from inside the control room at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, which was taken over by Russian forces late Thursday. 

The video shows the inside of the control room as an announcement rings out on a PA system aimed at the Russian forces outside.

Here is what the announcement said:

"Stop shooting at a nuclear dangerous facility. Stop shooting immediately! You threaten the security of the whole world!"
"The work of the vital organs of the Zaporizhzhia station may be disrupted. It will be impossible for us to restore it."
"You are endangering the security of the entire world. Attention! Stop shooting at a nuclear hazardous facility. Stop shooting at a nuclear hazardous facility!"
"Stop shooting at a nuclear hazardous facility! Attention! Stop it!”

More context: In a statement Friday morning local time, the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate (SNRI) confirmed the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine was occupied by Russian military forces, but said officials remained in contact with plant management.

The power plant's six reactors remained intact, though the compartment auxiliary buildings for reactor unit 1 had been damaged, the SNRI said in its statement. Four of the remaining units were being cooled down while one unit is providing power, the statement said.

Petro Kotin, head of Ukraine's nuclear power operator Energoatom, later reported that management were operating at "gunpoint." He said on Telegram that Russian forces "entered the territory of the nuclear power plant, took control of the personnel and management of the nuclear power plant."

Kotin warned that although the reactors are safe, further attacks could lead to "disaster."

See the moments before Russian military forces took over nuclear power plant:

CNN's Olya Voitovych and Lianne Kolirin contributed reporting to this post. 

7:27 p.m. ET, March 4, 2022

Zelensky criticizes NATO's decision not to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine

From CNN's Tim Lister in Kyiv and Jonny Hallam

(Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky/Facebook)
(Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky/Facebook)

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned NATO's decision to rule out the implementation of a no-fly zone over the country.

"NATO has deliberately decided not to cover the skies over Ukraine," Zelensky said in a Facebook address late on Friday.

"We believe that NATO countries have created a narrative that closing the skies over Ukraine would provoke Russia's direct aggression against NATO. This is the self-hypnosis of those who are weak, insecure inside, despite the fact they possess weapons many times stronger than we have," he said.

Zelensky said NATO's leadership on Friday: "Gave the green light for further bombing of Ukrainian towns and villages, refusing to make a no-fly zone. You could have closed the sky!"

Zelensky described NATO's summit on Friday where the decision was made as, "a weak summit, a confused summit, a summit that shows that not everyone considers the struggle for freedom to be Europe's number one goal."

"For nine days we have been seeing a fierce war — destroying our cities, shelling our people, our children, residential neighborhoods, churches, schools, destroying everything that provides a normal life, human life," Zelensky said.

The Ukrainian president questioned what the members of NATO were thinking about during their meeting: "All the people who will die from this day will also die because of you, because of your weakness, because of your disunity."

Zelensky did, however, express his gratitude to NATO countries that have shown support for Ukraine: "I am also grateful to the friends of our country. There are many countries which are our friends in NATO, most of our partners, most of our powerful partners, those who help our country in spite of decisions."

Zelensky said despite the lack of no-fly zone he was sure Ukraine would be victorious: "From the first day of the invasion, I am sure of victory. And so we do not feel alone, we will continue to fight, we will defend our state, we will liberate our land."

More background: Earlier today, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the establishment of a no-fly zone in Ukraine by the United States and its NATO allies could lead to a “full-fledged war in Europe.”

He said Washington would continue to work with its allies to provide Ukrainians with the means to defend themselves from Russian aggression.

NATO’s chief said Friday that a no-fly zone over Ukraine is not an option being considered by the alliance. “We’ve agreed that we should not have NATO planes operating over Ukrainian airspace or NATO troops on Ukrainian territory,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said at a news conference in Brussels.

European Council President Charles Michel said on Thursday that enforcing a no-fly zone over Ukraine is a NATO decision, but that it would be “one step too far” with a “real risk of escalation and a real risk of a possible third international war.” 

8:16 p.m. ET, March 4, 2022

US oil prices surge to highest level in 14 years as Ukraine-Russia conflict continues to unfold

From CNN’s Matt Egan

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to roil energy markets, with US oil prices surging to the highest level in nearly 14 years.

US crude surged another 7.4% on Friday, finishing the turbulent week at $115.68 a barrel. That’s the highest closing level since Sept. 22, 2008, just a week after the infamous implosion of Lehman Brothers. 

The latest gains leave crude nearly 26% more expensive than just before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And that’s despite the White House and International Energy Agency announcing the release of about 60 million barrels from emergency oil stockpiles. 

Brent crude, the world benchmark, soared 7% to settle at $118.11 on Friday. That’s the highest close for Brent since February 2013.


5:54 p.m. ET, March 4, 2022

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will visit Europe next week for meetings with allies on Ukraine

From CNN's Amanda Musa and Paula Newton

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will travel to Europe next week to meet with European allies as Russian attacks on Ukraine continue.

The Office of the Prime Minister made the announcement Friday, saying Trudeau will travel to the United Kingdom, Latvia, Germany, and Poland.

“Lots to do this week with allies in Europe and I'm looking forward to it,” Trudeau said. “Over the past weeks we have been working together and coordinating together and the opportunity to sit down with key leaders in Europe and talk about how we can further support Ukraine, how we can further push back against Russia.”

Trudeau will be in Europe from March 6 to March 11.


5:12 p.m. ET, March 4, 2022

US Energy Department official: Sensors are not showing radiation leakage from Ukrainian nuclear power plant

From CNN's Liz Stark and Gabe Cohen

A senior US Department of Energy official said Friday the “immediate crisis is over” and that sensors around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant are not indicating any radiation leakage. 

“The immediate crisis is over in that we've got sensors, both sensors around the plant as well as IAEA sensors, they're not showing any radiation leakage. And the parts of the power plant that we are most focused on, electricity, generators, diesel backups, and then the containment vessel itself, have not been damaged as far as we can tell from the information that we have so far,” the senior Energy Department official told reporters on a call.

The official also noted the Energy Department is “engaging extensively with our Ukrainian colleagues, with others, not only on this particular nuclear power plant, which is the largest in Europe, but other nuclear power plants, which provide about 60% of Ukrainians electricity, so nuclear power is an important part of their grid and mix.”

The Energy Department official further underscored how “we're trying to make very clear to Russia the importance of protecting the civilian nuclear power plants and not doing anything that could cause a real incident going forward.”

Asked whether Russia might shut off power, the official said: “Russia is going to do what Russia is going to do, and we will help our Ukrainian colleagues along those lines to deal with any eventuality.”

5:14 p.m. ET, March 4, 2022

Foreign volunteers and expats have been inspired to fight for Ukraine. Here are some of their stories. 

From CNN's Tara John, AnneClaire Stapleton and Joseph Ataman

The gray asphalt road that leads to Ukraine's Shehyni border crossing with Poland has for the past week seen 30-mile tailbacks as people try to flee the country, often saying tearful goodbyes to the family members and friends staying behind to fight the Russian invasion.

Wednesday brought a different sight: groups of young men, laden with heavy bags and military kit, entered Ukraine from Poland as they answered President Volodymyr Zelensky's call for "citizens of the world" to fight "Russian war criminals."

Among them, New York resident Vasyk Didyk, a 26-year-old carpenter wearing a fluorescent Carhartt beanie who is originally from Ukraine.

"This is our motherland," he told CNN in Shehyni. "We couldn't stay in our comfortable lives in America and watch what is happening here."

Didyk, accompanied by his friend Igor Harmaii, had spent 24 hours traveling from New York to Poland before crossing back into his homeland carrying a canvas backpack and pulling a suitcase on wheels.

He has no military training and came despite his parents, who do not live in Ukraine, weeping on the phone when they heard he was joining the fight.

"I haven't been back to Ukraine in four years — but it wasn't even a choice," he said. "I had to come and help my country."

The world has watched in horror since Russia invaded Ukraine late last week, triggering what could be the largest land war in Europe since World War II. And Zelensky's defiance has not only united Western opposition to Russia, but also inspired foreign volunteers and Ukrainians abroad to fight for the cause.

"This is not just Russia's invasion of Ukraine," Zelensky said on Sunday. "This is the beginning of a war against Europe, against European structures, against democracy, against basic human rights, against a global order of law, rules, and peaceful coexistence."

Ukrainian embassies have been helping recruit foreign fighters, while at least one senior politician from a Western government that has previously prosecuted those who joined foreign wars indicated support for citizens taking up arms in Ukraine.

"If people want to support that struggle, I will support them doing that," UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told the BBC on Sunday.

Read more stories here.