(NEW YORK) — Russian forces are continuing their attempted push through Ukraine from multiple directions, while Ukrainians, led by President Volodymr Zelenskyy, are putting up “stiff resistance,” according to U.S. officials.

The attack began Feb. 24, when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation.”

Russian forces moving from neighboring Belarus toward Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, don’t appear to have advanced closer to the city since coming within about 20 miles, although smaller advanced groups have been fighting gun battles with Ukrainian forces inside the capital since at least Friday.

Russia has been met by sanctions from the United States, Canada and countries throughout Europe, targeting the Russian economy as well as Putin himself.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Mar 04, 4:00 pm
Russia blocks Twitter

The state censor on Friday added Twitter to the list of banned sites in the country, based on a request from Russia’s Prosecutor General.

Earlier Friday, Russia banned Facebook as the government moves to limit dissent over the war in Ukraine.

Mar 04, 3:44 pm
Russia claims Ukraine forces were responsible for the attack on Zaporizhzh

Russia’s representative to the United Nations on Friday reiterated the Kremlin’s claim that Ukrainian forces were responsible for the attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

The representative said Russian forces came under small arms fire by a “Ukrainian sabotage group” that was stationed in a training complex building on site.

The representative claimed that Russian troops returned fire, but that as they departed, Ukrainians set the building on fire.

The Russian representative claimed Ukrainian “radicals” are under the West’s “close guardianship and protection,” giving them “carte blanche,” and allowing them to act like “ISIS terrorists” by “hiding behind civilians and placing heavy weaponry and multiple rocket launchers in residential areas.”

Ukraine, the U.S. and its allies have denied these claims.

The UN relief chief also fact-checked the Russian delegate on Monday, saying Russia’s claim about Ukraine placing weapons in civilian areas was false.

Mar 04, 3:26 pm
US to deliver bulk of weapons to Ukraine within the next week

The majority of military capability the U.S. promised to send Ukraine, part of a $350 million package, will be delivered within the next week, a senior U.S. defense official told reporters Friday.

In addition to the U.S., 14 countries are also providing military assistance to Ukraine.

The new aid package was expedited so quickly because it has been categorized as “a presidential drawdown,” which bypasses the traditional process of congressional notification, according to the official.

According to another official, this is the largest-ever military support that falls under “a presidential drawdown.”

A second official told reporters that weapons were getting into Ukraine through “multiple venues.”

Instead of providing new weapons, the U.S. will provide weapons that are in the existing U.S. military arsenal and are eligible to be replaced. The official said the Ukrainians are being provided with weapons they have already received training for in the past.

“I think all of us have been tremendously impressed by how effectively the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been using the equipment that we’ve provided them,” said the official.

Adding, “I think that Kremlin watchers have also been surprised by this, and how they have slowed the Russian advance and performed extremely well on the battlefield.”

Mar 04, 2:35 pm
US says nuclear catastrophe ‘narrowly averted,’ thousands of Ukrainians, Russians killed in war

U.S. envoy Linda Thomas-Greenfield addressed the Security Council Friday, warning that, “the world narrowly averted a nuclear catastrophe last night. We all waited to exhale as we watched the horrific situation unfold in real time.”

She called Russia’s attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant “incredibly reckless and dangerous” and said it “threatened the safety of civilians across Russia, Ukraine and Europe.”

Thomas-Greenfield urged Russia to withdraw troops from the facility, give operators full access to ensure continued safe operation and assess any damage and to halt any further use of force near Ukraine’s nuclear facilities.

She said Russia has killed “thousands of Ukrainians” and “thousands” of Russian soldiers have been killed as well, adding, “President Putin must stop this humanitarian catastrophe by ending this war.”

She called on Russia’s envoy in the chamber to “say this won’t happen again.”

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi attended the meeting remotely, saying the agency was ready to deploy to Ukraine and establish “basic principles of safety and security starting with the physical integrity” of its nuclear power plants.

Ukraine has requested direct assistance, he said, calling it his agency’s “duty” to assist.

The IAEA remains in contact with Ukrainian authorities, including Ukraine’s nuclear regulatory agency and the company operating the facility, he said.

Mar 04, 1:41 pm
Russia blocks Facebook in the country

Russia’s state censor on Friday announced it is blocking Facebook in the country.

The state censor, Roskomnadzor, claimed it was taking the step because of alleged freedom of speech violations by Facebook, citing the blocking of several Russian state media channels from the platform.

This is part of a broader push by Russian authorities to shut down independent media and social media platforms that might spread dissent against the war in Ukraine.

On Friday, the BBC announced it is temporarily pausing reporting from Russia because of a new law that imposes 15 years in jail for anyone spreading information the authorities claim is “fake” about the war in Ukraine.

Mar 04, 1:34 pm
100,000 Ukrainian children live in institutions, UNICEF says

Approximately 100,000 children in Ukraine were raised in institutions prior to the war, according to government statistics, a United Nations Children’s Fund spokesperson told ABC News.

The spokesperson said many of these institutions are located in hot spots.

These institutions are being evacuated without proper monitoring of the children’s situation, according to UNICEF.

The spokesperson said many of the children in institutions like boarding schools and orphanages have disabilities.

Mar 04, 1:24 pm
Still ‘no appreciable movement’ of convoy approaching Kyiv: US defense official

A senior U.S. defense official told reporters Friday that there is still “no appreciable movement” by a convoy of Russian forces approaching Kyiv, with the closest forces still about 25 kilometers from the city.

The official said a sabotaged bridge and Ukrainian attacks have contributed to the stalling of the convoy.

As for Kharkiv and Cherniv, the official said the U.S. estimates that Russian forces are about 10 kilometers from both city centers.

The official confirmed Russia took control of the Zaparozhye nuclear power plant.

The official said the U.S. is not in a position to independently verify that Russia has taken control of Kherson, saying fighting between the Russians and Ukrainians around the city has been seen as recently as today.

Mariupol is still under Ukrainian control, but Russians are bombarding the city and approaching from the north and up from the Azov coast, the official said.

Ukraine is still assessed to have “a strong majority” of its combat air power in tact, according to the official. Both Ukraine and Russia are also both believed to be using drones.

Russia has sent in approximately 92% of the forces it had arrayed at the border, up from about 90% yesterday, the official said.

Russians have now fired more than 500 missiles against Ukraine, according to the official.

Mar 04, 12:46 pm
UN Security Council meets over Russian attacks on nuclear power plant

The United Nations Security Council met Friday in an emergency session over Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

The British representative said this is the first time a state has attacked a functioning nuclear power plant.

Senior U.N. diplomat and Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo condemned active military activity near a nuclear site as “not only unacceptable, but highly irresponsible.”

“Every action should be taken to avoid a catastrophic nuclear incident,” she added, saying an attack on a functioning nuclear power plant is contrary to international humanitarian law.

Mar 04, 12:13 pm
‘Fake news’ law passes in Russia carrying stiff jail sentences

A new Russian law could send people to prison for up to 15 years for posting “fake news” about the war.

Journalists and media in Russia will now only be able to report what is happening as the Kremlin reports it.

Duma, Russia’s legislative body, passed the rule Friday. It will be sent to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s desk for it to be signed into law.

Mar 04, 11:34 am
US targets Russian oil refining sector with export controls

The U.S. Commerce Department announced restrictions on certain goods used to refine oil preventing them from going into Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

The restrictions build upon a 2014 rule put in place on the Russian deepwater oil and gas exploration and extraction industries, by denying such items and placing restrictions on a wide variety of items necessary for refining oil.

“These actions will further restrict access to U.S. commodities, software, and technology as part of our ongoing efforts to degrade Russia’s ability to acquire the items it needs to sustain its military aggression,” the Commerce Department said in a statement.

The U.S. also added 91 entities to its “Entity List,” banning them from use in the U.S. for their involvement in, contributions to or support of Russian security services, military and defense sectors and military and/or defense research and development efforts, the Commerce Department said.

“With each passing day, as Russia continues its assault on Ukraine, it finds itself with fewer places to turn for economic and material support,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo.

She added, “The United States and our allies and partners will continue to stand strong with the people of Ukraine and today’s actions will further restrict Russia’s access to revenue to support its aggression.”

Mar 04, 11:12 am
More than 700,000 refugees arrived in Poland, president says

More than 700,000 Ukrainian refugees have crossed the border into Poland, President Andrzej Duda told reporters Friday.

When asked whether he was concerned the conflict in Ukraine will spill into Poland, Duda said, “We are a NATO member, I believe in NATO. NATO is the strongest alliance in the world. Much stronger than Russia and any other aggressor in the world.”

“We cooperate with our allies. Americans are not far from here on our land,” Duda said.

Duda told reporters that Poland will welcome refugees with open hearts. He said they’re doing everything in their power to expedite the entry process into Poland, no matter what passport they have.

He said some without documents have been allowed into the country. Duda had just finished touring a border crossing facility in Korczowa where he met with refugees who walked across the border in groups of at least 50 people at a time.

Mar 04, 10:22 am
Putin says Russia will ‘cope’ with sanctions

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday addressed the sanctions imposed by the West, saying his country will “benefit” in the end.

“Of course it will cause damage to us as well,” Putin said during an appearance on a Russian news channel. “We will simply have to postpone some projects a little, acquire additional expertise, just as we did it in a whole range of other projects, including in aviation.”

“But in any case we will cope with these tasks before us and will even benefit from this situation in the end, because we will acquire additional expertise,” Putin said.

Putin also spoke about Ukraine: “We have absolutely no ill intentions with regard to our neighbors.”

He added, “I would advise them against escalating tensions and imposing any restrictions. We are honoring all our obligations, and we will continue to do so.”

Mar 04, 9:08 am
Over 1.2 million refugees have fled Ukraine: UNHCR

More than 1.2 million people have been forced to flee Ukraine since Russian forces invaded on Feb. 24, according to the latest figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Over 50% of the refugees from Ukraine are in neighboring Poland, UNHCR figures show.

UNHCR spokesperson Chris Melzer said the refugee flow from Ukraine into Poland appears to be slowing down, for now.

“The flow of people is lessening,” Melzer told ABC News on Friday. “The lines are much shorter.”

Melzer, who is currently at Budomierz on the Polish border, has been hearing reports of similar scenes at other crossings. But he cautioned that this doesn’t mean the situation is over.

“The process has been streamlined and less people seem to be coming,” he said. “Here, there are about two-hour waits for cars and pedestrians are passing through freely.”

-ABC News’ Zoe Magee

Mar 04, 8:33 am
Zelenskyy alleges Russia is planning to stage ‘fake rally’ in Kherson

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russian forces of planning to stage “a fake rally in support of Russia” in the strategic port city of Kherson.

In a televised address Friday morning, Zelenskyy claimed that Russian troops were busing in “outsiders” from Moscow-annexed Crimea and “trying to recruit traitors from among the locals” to demand that Kherson be a Russian city.

“I appeal to the residents of Kherson: You can stop that, show them that Kherson is your city,” Zelenskyy said. “We will not let go of what is ours.”

“Show them our flags, sing our anthem, show your spirit, let them know that they can only stay in Kherson temporarily and would never be able to claim ownership of Kherson or any other city of our country,” he added.

Russian forces took control of Kherson in southern Ukraine on Wednesday night. The Ukrainian government said earlier Friday that Russian troops have taken over Kherson’s television tower and are broadcasting Russian channels, suggesting that Moscow may be planning to permanently occupy the city.

-ABC News’ Patrick Reevell

Mar 04, 8:17 am
Over 1.2 million refugees have fled Ukraine: UNHCR

More than 1.2 million people have been forced to flee Ukraine since Russian forces invaded on Feb. 24, according to the latest figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Over 50% of the refugees from Ukraine are in neighboring Poland, UNHCR figures show.

-ABC News’ Zoe Magee

Mar 04, 7:46 am
Russia has prepared puppet government for Kyiv: US official

Russia has selected and prepared a puppet government to install in Kyiv once its forces seize the Ukrainian capital, a senior U.S. administration official told ABC News.

U.S. intelligence believes Russian troops will ultimately crush Kyiv and decapitate its government, amid mounting evidence of indiscriminate shelling and a barrage against civilian targets across Ukraine, according to the official.

The official expressed concern that Ukraine lacks air power and what air force they had has been attacked, allowing Russia to mass its forces en route to Kyiv.

-ABC News’ Martha Raddatz

Mar 04, 7:32 am
Russian forces advancing on major Ukrainian city, local official warns

Russian forces are advancing on Mykolaiv, another key city in southern Ukraine, the regional governor warned Friday.

In a video message posted on social media, Mykolaiv Oblast Gov. Vitaliy Kim said Russian troops are moving on Mykolaiv city from two directions and that some have already entered the city limits but are not yet inside in significant numbers.

The city is preparing to defend itself, according to Kim.

“Don’t panic,” Kim said. “At the moment, the enemy is approaching from two directions but they’re not on our streets yet. We’re preparing the defenses, so women and children should get home now and the men join the defense lines.”

Kim said the Ukrainian military has a large amount of armour in Mykolaiv and urged residents “not to shoot at every vehicle,” since some could be Ukrainian.

“No need to shoot at everything that’s moving in the city. There’s a lot of our armor in the city,” he said. “{lease do not shoot inside the city, there’s no enemy here yet, but they are approaching.”

-ABC News’ Patrick Reevell

Mar 04, 6:45 am
US embassy calls nuclear power plant shelling ‘a war crime’

The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv took to Twitter on Friday to condemn Russia’s shelling of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe.

“It is a war crime to attack a nuclear power plant,” the embassy tweeted. “Putin’s shelling of Europe’s largest nuclear plant takes his reign of terror one step further.”

Mar 04, 6:25 am
Blinken: ‘If conflict comes to us, we’re ready for it’

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on Friday morning to discuss the response to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

During a press conference prior to the meeting at NATO headquarters, Blinken and Stoltenberg condemned Russia’s attacks on civilians in Ukraine and expressed concern over the reports of Russian shelling at Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant.

“This just demonstrates the recklessness of this war and the importance of ending it, and the importance of Russia withdrawing all its troops and engage in good faith in diplomatic efforts,” Stoltenberg told reporters. “We provide support to Ukraine. At the same time, NATO is not part of the conflict. NATO is a defensive alliance, we don’t seek war conflict with Russia.”

Blinken emphasized that NATO and the United States “seek no conflict.”

“But if conflict comes to us, we’re ready for it,” he added. “And we will defend every inch of NATO territory.”

Mar 04, 5:41 am
No radioactive material released at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant: IAEA

The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog said Friday that no radioactive material was released at Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant amid shelling from Russian forces overnight.

The shelling sparked a fire in a training building at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, in the eastern Ukrainian city of Enerhodar. The blaze has since been extinguished, according to Ukraine’s State Emergency Service.

Two security employees at the plant were injured during the incident, according to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi.

“The safety systems at the six reactors were not effected,” Grossi said at a press conference in Vienna on Friday morning. “No radioactive material was released.”

“We are following the situation very, very closely,” he added.

-ABC News’ Joe Simonetti

Mar 04, 2:57 am
Fire at Ukraine’s largest nuclear facility extinguished as Russian forces take control

A fire at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in the eastern Ukrainian city of Enerhodar was extinguished Friday, according to Ukraine’s State Emergency Service.

The fire occurred in a training building at the site after shelling from Russian forces. There were no victims, the emergency service said.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is the largest in Europe.

Meanwhile, Energodar Mayor Dmytro Orlov told reporters Friday morning that the city is now under the control of Russian forces and fighting near the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant has stopped.

Ukraine’s national nuclear regulator has said that the plant’s employees are being permitted to work as normal, safety systems are currently functioning and there was no reported change in radiation levels at the site.

-ABC News’ Brian Hartman and Patrick Reevell

Mar 04, 2:12 am
UN nuclear watchdog warns of ‘severe danger if any reactors were hit’ at plant

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has appealed for a halt of the use of force at Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant and warned of “severe danger if any reactors were hit.”

The United Nations nuclear watchdog said in a statement early Friday that it was informed by Ukraine that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, had been shelled overnight in the eastern city of Enerhodar. IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi “immediately” spoke with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal as well as the country’s national nuclear regulator and operator about the “serious situation.” Grossi is expected to hold a press conference later Friday.

According to IAEA, the Ukrainian regulatory authority said a fire at the site had not affected “essential” equipment and plant personnel were taking mitigatory actions, and that there was no reported change in radiation levels at the plant.

Ukraine’s State Emergency Service said the blaze, which occurred in a training building after shelling from Russian forces, was extinguished Friday morning.

The IAEA said it is putting its Incident and Emergency Center (IEC) in “full response mode” due to the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The agency continues to closely monitor developments at the facility and remains in constant contact with Ukraine.

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