Ukraine air force still fighting; superyacht owned by richest Russian oligarch seized; Biden's approval rating jumps

This is CNBC's live blog tracking developments in Russia's attack on Ukraine. See below for the latest updates.

Russian military forces took control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, and the world narrowly escaped a full-blown nuclear catastrophe in the process, U.S ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Friday.

Thomas-Greenfield spoke at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council just hours after Russian forces bombed and then seized the Zaporizhzhia plant, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.

The foreign ministers of the G-7 group of developed economies issued a new joint statement condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and pledged to impose more sanctions on Moscow and its ally Belarus unless the unprovoked assault was halted.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called upon the people of Europe to support his country, predicting the nation will repel Russian President Vladimir Putin's unprovoked invasion.

Ukraine air force, air defenses are still impeding Russian advance

A Ukrainian Flanker Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jet seen during exercises in 2021.
Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Russia's failure to suppress Ukraine's air forces and air defenses is "contributing to the overall delay in Russia's advance" in the country, according to an official British assessment.

The U.K. Ministry of Defence indicated in a public update on Friday that Russia's "ability to provide effective support" to its troops is hampered by Ukraine's continuing resistance from the air.

Observers have been baffled by the inability of the much-vaunted Russian military to make more progress against Ukraine, whose army and air force are smaller and outgunned by Moscow's invasion forces.

"It's simply an astonishing situation. I've never seen anything like it," General Barry McCaffrey (U.S.A.-ret.) told CNBC's "The News with Shepard Smith" on Friday.

McCaffrey described Russia's massive, stalled column north of Kyiv as looking "like an NFL parking lot."

—Ted Kemp

I think Russia's lost control of its invasion, says Gen. Barry McCaffrey

Samsung Electronics stops shipments to Russia

Samsung Electronics joined the slew of tech and consumer electronics companies that have ceased sending products into Russia.

The South Korean smartphone giant said it will suspend shipments into Russia and donate $6 million to humanitarian efforts "around the region."

Companies in Silicon Valley, including Apple, Google and Meta, have made it harder for people in Russia to access some of the most widely used technologies in the world as President Vladimir Putin continues his invasion of Ukraine.

Samsung Electronics is the top handset maker in Russia, with 30% market share as of the fourth quarter, according to Reuters. China's Xiaomi and Apple are second and third, respectively.

— Ted Kemp

Amazon says it is informing Ukrainian organizations of cybersecurity threats

Amazon Web Services logo.
Chesnot | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Amazon said Friday that various teams across its cloud computing unit have been informing Ukrainian organizations and world governments of cybersecurity threats from state actors and other malicious entities.

"Our teams have seen new malware signatures and activity from a number of state actors we monitor," Amazon said. "As this activity has ramped up, our teams and technologies detected the threats, learned the patterns, and placed remediation tools directly into the hands of customers."

AWS has also detected an increase in activity from nonstate actors where malware has been targeted at charities, NGOs and other aid organizations "in order to spread confusion and cause disruption," Amazon said. In these cases, malicious actors sought to disrupt medical supplies, food and clothing relief.

Amazon said it's also working with Ukrainian customers and partners to keep their applications secure, including helping them to move their on-premises infrastructure to AWS in order to safeguard it from any potential physical or virtual attacks.

Western companies have responded to Russia's invasion of Ukraine in a number of ways. Microsoft said it was helping to keep Ukraine informed of cyberattacks, and it also suspended the sale of new products and services in Russia. Apple said Tuesday it would stop selling products on its Apple store in the country.

AWS has no data centers, infrastructure or offices in Russia, and it has a "long-standing policy of not doing business" in the country, Amazon said. Amazon's biggest customers using AWS in Russia are companies that are headquartered outside of the country and have some development teams there, the company added.

— Annie Palmer

Ukraine invites U.S. Senate to a Zoom meeting with Zelenskyy

U.S. first lady Jill Biden applauds her guest Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova in the first lady's box as President Joe Biden welcomes Markarova during his State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress in the House of Representatives Chamber at the Capitol in Washington, U.S. March 1, 2022.
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

The full U.S. Senate has been invited to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy via Zoom on Saturday morning, NBC News reported, citing anonymous sources.

The meeting was set up by the Ukrainian Embassy in the United States, and it will come a day after Zelenskyy vowed to leaders of European capitals that Ukraine will repel the invasion Russian forces launched last week.

Since the start of Russia's unprovoked offensive, both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have been overwhelmingly supportive of the Biden administration's efforts to bolster Ukraine's resistance as well as of U.S. sanctions meant to cripple Russia's economy.

During President Joe Biden's State of the Union speech Tuesday, many lawmakers wore the blue and yellow of Ukraine's flag, or wore the flag itself on their lapels.

At one point, Biden asked the audience to stand and "send an unmistakable signal to the world and Ukraine" of American support.

They did, and saluted Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova, who was seated with first lady Jill Biden.

 — Dan Mangan

Treasury assures Wall Street it can still trade Russian oil and gas

A trader works on the trading floor on the last day of trading before Christmas at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, December 23, 2021.
Andrew Kelly | Reuters

The U.S. Treasury Department released new guidance to Wall Street, reassuring commodities traders and banks that they can still process transactions on Russian oil, gas and energy contracts despite the raft of sanctions levied against the Kremlin.

The new guidance comes as traders and banks worry about running afoul of U.S. trade laws as world leaders rally against Russian President Vladimir Putin's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

The "purchase, sale, or transport of Russian-origin oil, gas, or other energy-related products by U.S. or non-U.S. persons — remain permissible under" the sanctions, according to a fact sheet posted on Treasury's web site.

Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control advised commodities traders to contact their financial institutions if there are issues with transactions. 

— Thomas Franck

Biden's approval rating jumps on Ukraine response

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during the National Association of Counties Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., U.S., February 15, 2022.
Joshua Roberts | Reuters

President Joe Biden's approval rating jumped 8 points in the past week, according to a large national poll released Friday. Support for Biden's handling of Ukraine rose an extraordinary 18 points over the same period.

And while no single poll is ever totally accurate, this one conducted by National Public Radio, the PBS NewsHour and the Marist Institute for Public Opinion suggests Biden's abysmal ratings over the past several months could be turning a corner.

In the same NPR/Marist poll on Feb. 25, Biden's overall approval was 39%. On Friday, it was 47%.

Meanwhile, support for Biden's handling of Ukraine soared last week from 34% to 52%, led by double digit increases among Democrats (+ 27 points) and independents (+ 17 points).

The poll surveyed more than 1,300 adults, and had a margin of error is 3.8%.

— Christina Wilkie

Superyacht owned by wealthiest Russian oligarch seized in Italy

A general view of the superyacht LADY M moored next to the Glasgow Science centre on the River Clyde in Glasgow.
Andrew Milligan | Pa Images | Getty Images

The "Lady M," a yacht owned by the wealthiest Russian oligarch, was seized in Italy.

A media advisor to Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi confirmed in a tweet that the superyacht known to be the property of sanctioned billionaire Alexei Mordashov was seized in Imperia.

Video shows Italian authorities surrounding the yacht. Mordashov, who was the CEO of steel company Severstal, has a net worth of nearly $30 billion, and was recently sanctioned by the European Union after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

— Brian Schwartz

More than 100 Jewish refugee children arrive in Berlin

Buses with over 100 Jewish children from an orphanage in Odessa arrived in Berlin.

Children and their companions from an orphanage in Odesa, Ukraine, arrive at a hotel in Berlin, Friday, March 4, 2022.
Steffi Loos | AP
Refugee children from Odessa go to a hotel after their arrival. Two buses with children from an orphanage in Odessa have arrived in Berlin.
Christophe Gateau | Picture Alliance | Getty Images
Children stand in front of a bus after their arrival. Two buses with children from an orphanage in Odessahave arrived in Berlin.
Christophe Gateau | Picture Alliance | Getty Images
Mendi Wolff, son of the Chief Rabbi of Odessa and Southern Ukraine, stands in a hallway in a hotel among children from an orphanage in Odessa, Ukraine. Two buses with children from an orphanage in Odessa have arrived in Berlin.
Christophe Gateau | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

Online travel agency Booking Holdings suspends Russia service

Priceline and Kayak parent Booking Holdings has suspended travel services like hotel reservations in Russia and Belarus, its CEO Glenn Fogel said.

"With each passing day, as the urgency of this devastating war in Ukraine intensifies, so do the complexities of doing business in the region," Fogel wrote in a LinkedIn post, citing sanctions in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine last week.

A day earlier, airline reservations giants Sabre and Madrid-based Amadeus IT Group said they would suspend agreements that allowed Russian state-controlled carrier Aeroflot to sell tickets on third-party websites like online travel agencies.

— Leslie Josephs

Yellen says U.S. sanctions are upending Russia's economy

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testifies during the House Financial Services Committee hearing titled Oversight of the Treasury Department's and Federal Reserve's Pandemic Response, in Rayburn Building on Wednesday, December 1, 2021.
Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Friday afternoon that the barrage of sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its allies against Moscow are without precedent in their impact and scope, and they are wreaking havoc on the Russian economy.

Yellen said that the first goal of those penalties is to cause "acute harm" to Russia without severe side effects for the U.S. and its European partners. They are intended, she said, to put maximum pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian oligarchs to end their country's invasion of Ukraine.

"This is by far the most expansive sanctions package against an economy of this size. And it is by far the broadest coalition we have that are working in concert to level serious consequences for Russia because of their unprovoked invasion of a sovereign country," she said at a conference hosted by Stanford University.

The Treasury secretary added that she is confident in the Federal Reserve's ability to quell inflation and orchestrate a "soft landing" for the U.S. economy as the central bank starts to raise interest rates.

Thomas Franck

Biden calls Russia's invasion of Ukraine an attack on Europe

US President Joe Bidenholds a bilateral meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto at the White House in Washington, DC, on March 4, 2022.
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

President Joe Biden hosted Finnish President Sauli Niinisto at the White House on Friday afternoon, telling reporters that both he and Niinisto view Russia's invasion of Ukraine as an attack on all of Europe.

"We agree it's not only an attack on Ukraine, it's an attack on the security of Europe and the global peace and stability," said Biden.

"Finland is a critical partner of the United States, a strong defense partner as well, a partner to NATO especially in the strength and security of the Baltic Sea area," he said.

Niinisto thanked Biden for the leadership the United States has shown on Ukraine. "We need it now," he said, "we are really living in very difficult times."

"Our thoughts today undoubtedly now are with the Ukrainian people who are fighting bravely for their country, and we will do our best to help them," said Niinisto. Finland is not a member of NATO, but it has a mutual defense agreement with the United States.

— Christina Wilkie

Putin signs bill punishing 'fake' war reports with 15 years in prison

Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends an extended meeting of the Russian Defense Ministry Board at the National Defense Control Center.
Mikhail Tereshchenko | TASS | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill introducing a prison sentence of up to 15 years for those spreading information that goes against the Russian government's narrative on the war in Ukraine.

The bill criminalizing the intentional spreading of what Russia deems to be "fake" reports about the war was quickly rubber-stamped by both houses of the Kremlin-controlled parliament earlier in the day.

Russian authorities have repeatedly decried reports of Russian military setbacks or civilian deaths in Ukraine as "fake" news. State media outlets refer to Russia's invasion of Ukraine as a "special military operation" rather than a "war" or an "invasion."

Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the lower house of Russian parliament, said the new measure "will force those who lied and made statements discrediting our armed forces to bear very grave punishment."

— Associated Press

White House leaves the door open to a Russian oil import ban

White House Council of Economic Advisers Chair Cecilia Rouse joins White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki for the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S. May 14, 2021.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

The White House on Friday said the U.S. economy is in a position strong enough that it could likely withstand the impact of a U.S. ban on the import of Russian oil, which is reportedly being considered in response to the escalating Russian military attacks on Ukraine's civilians.

An import ban by the Biden administration would represent a major escalation of U.S. economic pressure on Russia, which is one of the world's top energy exporters.

"We're in a very good position, and what we know from the U.S. economy is that we don't import a lot of Russian oil," said Cecelia Rouse, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers on Friday.

"We are looking at options that we can take right now if we were to cut the U.S. consumption of Russian energy," she said. "But what's really most important is that we maintain a steady supply of global energy."

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the U.S. was consulting with European allies on how to maximize the effectiveness of a ban.

"There are both international and domestic options. I'm not going to get into too much detail because our focus is on discussing what's possible, what will have the maximum impact," Psaki told reporters on Friday.

"Broadly speaking, part of what we're trying to do internationally is have conversations, as we have been for weeks now, with global suppliers about meeting the need, the supply needs, in the marketplace."

The comments came as Bloomberg reported Friday afternoon that the White House was moving closer to supporting a ban.

The option has so far remained off the table, largely due to fears that it would exacerbate already soaring domestic inflation.

---Christina Wilkie

Russia blocks access to Facebook

Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Erin Scott | Reuters

Russia's media regulator said it would block access to Meta-owned Facebook for restricting state-affiliated media accounts.

The regulator said last week it would partially restrict the social media platform over the alleged violation of federal law.

Meta VP of Global Affairs Nick Clegg said at the time the company had refused an order from Russian authorities to stop labelling and fact-checking the state-owned outlets.

"Soon millions of ordinary Russians will find themselves cut off from reliable information, deprived of their everyday ways of connecting with family and friends and silenced from speaking out," Clegg said in a statement on Twitter in response to Friday's blocking. "We will continue to do everything we can to restore our services so they remain available to people to safely and securely express themselves and organize for action."

—Lauren Feiner

S&P Dow removing Russia stocks from indices

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on October 25, 2021 in New York City.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images

Index giant S&P Dow Jones Indices said Friday it is removing all stocks listed or located in Russia from its benchmarks in light of the country's invasion of Ukraine.

The removal, effective prior to the open next Wednesday, also affects Russian American depositary receipts, S&P Dow Jones Indices said.

The firm, which is the keeper of the Dow Jones Industrial average and the S&P 500, also said it will declassify Russia as an emerging market and categorize it as a standalone group.

— Yun Li

G-7 nations say more sanctions on Russia and Belarus are coming

France's Prime Minister Jean Castex, European and Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, State Secretary in charge of tourism Jean-Baptiste Lemoyneand Interior Minister Gerald Darmaninvisit the Crisis Centre set up at the Interior ministry to follow the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Paris on March 4, 2022.
Ludovic Marin | AFP | Getty Images

The foreign ministers of the G-7 group of developed economies issued a new joint statement Friday condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and pledged to impose more sanctions on Moscow and its ally Belarus unless the unprovoked assault was halted.

"We have imposed several rounds of far-reaching economic and financial sanctions. We will continue to impose further severe sanctions in response to Russian aggression, enabled by the Lukashenka regime in Belarus," said the ministers, who represent Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.

They also emphasized that the grave damage inflicted on Russia's economy so far by Western sanctions was not their fault, but was instead the direct result of the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

In the past week, G-7 sanctions have triggered the collapse of the Russian ruble, the downgrading of Russia's credit rating to "junk" status and forced the closure of the Russian stock exchange for five straight days.

— Christina Wilkie

Ukraine leader Zelenskyy says 'I'm sure we will win'

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called upon the people of Europe to support his country, predicting the nation will repel Russian President Vladimir Putin's unprovoked invasion.

 "All of you today are Ukrainians and thank you for this," Zelenskyy said during a televised address to a group of European capital cities. Specifically calling on the capital cities of the Czech Republic, Georgia, Germany, U.K., Spain, France, Slovakia, Italy and Lithuania, he urged Europeans to "come out on the streets" to support Ukraine in its battle, saying "if we will fall, you will fall."

"If we win — and I'm sure we will win — this will be a victory for the whole democratic world," he said. "This will be the victory of our freedom, this will be the victory of light over darkness of freedom over slavery."

— Dan Mangan

'We narrowly avoided a disaster last night,' U.S. envoy tells the UN Security Council

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks during an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in New York City, U.S., March 4, 2022.
Carlo Allegri | Reuters

The world barely escaped a full-blown nuclear catastrophe on Thursday night at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, U.S ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Friday.

Thomas-Greenfield spoke at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council just hours after Russian forces bombed and then seized the Zaporizhzhia plant, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.

She pressed members of the council to take a stronger stance against Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

As Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine entered its second week Friday, Thomas-Greenfield warned that the willingness of Russian troops to bomb the nuclear plant at Zaporizhzhia meant none of the country's four nuclear power plants was safe.

"Russian forces are now 20 miles and closing from Ukraine's second largest nuclear facility, so this imminent danger continues," she said. "We narrowly avoided a disaster last night."

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

— Christina Wilkie

BBC suspends work within Russia after media crackdown

The BBC announced Friday that it was suspending work within Russia. The move came after Russian lawmakers cracked down on unflattering media coverage.

"This legislation appears to criminalise the process of independent journalism," said a statement from the BBC.

Access to BBC websites is currently restricted in Russia, according to BBC News.

"The safety of our staff is paramount and we are not prepared to expose them to the risk of criminal prosecution simply for doing their jobs. I'd like to pay tribute to all of them, for their bravery, determination and professionalism," the BBC said.

The BBC also said its BBC News Service in Russian will continue to operate outside of the country.

–Maia Vines

UNICEF says 500,000 children have fled Ukraine in the past week

People wait to depart to Lviv by train on the 7th day since start of large-scale Russian attacks in the country, in Dnipro, Ukraine on March 02, 2022.
Andrea Carrubba | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

More than 500,000 children have fled Ukraine in the past week, UNICEF said Thursday, setting the stage for what could become the worst refugee crisis in Europe in 70 years.

People who wanted to leave Ukraine's capital Kyiv, due to the Russian attacks on Ukraine, are seen at the Kyiv Train Station trying to find a train, in Kyiv, Ukraine on March 4, 2022.
Aytac Unal | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Most of the refugees are women and children escaping the advancing Russian troops and leaving their husbands, fathers and sons behind to fight. Ukraine has prohibited fighting-age men from leaving the country.

Children look out from a carriage window as a train prepares to depart from a station in Lviv, western Ukraine, enroute to the town of Uzhhorod near the border with Slovakia, on March 3, 2022.
Daniel Leal | AFP | Getty Images

More than 1 million refugees have fled the country in just 7 days, according to the latest figures from the United Nations.

A refugee child fleeing from Ukraine gestures when waiting for transport at Nyugati station, after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, in Budapest, Hungary, February 28, 2022.
Marton Monus | Reuters

--- Christina Wilkie

Biden will speak to the leaders of Poland and Finland today

President Joe Biden speaks to reporters before the start of a cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House on March 03, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Anna Moneymaker | Getty Images

President Joe Biden will speak to the leaders of Poland and Finland on Friday, two countries at the edge of NATO's sphere of influence whose governments are increasingly concerned that they could become the targets of Russia's imperial ambitions.

Biden is scheduled to speak first to Polish President Andrzej Duda at around 11:30 a.m. A member of NATO, Poland is currently serving as the main transit point for hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing Ukraine.

Analysts also believe that if the Russian invasion of Ukraine reaches that country's western border, Poland is the most likely candidate for spillover fighting.

Following his call with Duda, Biden will host Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in person at the White House Friday afternoon. Finland is not a member of NATO, but it has a mutual defense agreement with the United States.

Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine has prompted both Finland and neighboring Sweden to reconsider whether to join NATO, especially given Russian President Vladimir Putin's increasingly expansionist rhetoric.

--- Christina Wilkie

Sen. Lindsey Graham defends call for Russians to assassinate Putin

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) talks about the cost of the Build Back Better package at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, December 16, 2021.
Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., defended calling for Russians to assassinate President Vladimir Putin, saying it would be the quickest way to end the war in Ukraine.

In an interview on Fox News' "Fox and Friends," Graham said he hopes someone in Russia will understand that Putin is "destroying Russia and you need to take this guy out by any means possible."

The comment came after he floated the suggestion in a Fox News interview Thursday night and again on Twitter.

"Is there a Brutus in Russia? Is there a more successful Colonel Stauffenberg in the Russian military?" Graham tweeted, referring to Julius Caesar's assassin and the Nazi officer who tried to kill Hitler. "The only way this ends is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out. You would be doing your country — and the world — a great service."

— NBC News

Microsoft suspends product sales in Russia

Microsoft Corporation headquarters at Issy-les-Moulineaux, near Paris, France, April 18, 2016.
Charles Platiau | Reuters

Microsoft is suspending all new sales of its products and services in Russia.

Brad Smith, Microsoft's president, said in a blog post Friday that the company is also halting "many aspects" of its business in compliance with governmental sanctions. Microsoft continues to work closely with the governments of the U.S., U.K. and European Union and will take additional steps as the situation evolves, Smith added.

Microsoft is the latest Western company to curb its business in Russia after President Vladimir Putin began his invasion of Ukraine last week. Apple suspended sales of its products on its Apple store in the country. Google has paused all ads in Russia, while Airbnb suspended all operations in Russia and Belarus.

— Annie Palmer

Volunteers in Lviv work to make tactical military vests for the Ukrainian army

Images show volunteers sewing tactical military vests for the Ukrainian army in Lviv.

Volunteers sew tactical military vests for the Ukrainian army in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on March 4, 2022.
Yuriy Dyachyshyn | AFP | Getty Images
Volunteers sew tactical military vests for the Ukrainian army in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on March 4, 2022.
Yuriy Dyachyshyn | AFP | Getty Images
Volunteers sew tactical military vests for the Ukrainian army in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on March 4, 2022.
Yuriy Dyachyshyn | AFP | Getty Images

Ukraine’s foreign minister backs proposed tribunal to punish Russian aggression

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speaks during a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly on the situation between Russia and Ukraine, at the United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., February 23, 2022.
Carlo Allegri | Reuters

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba was among a group to announce on Friday that it was seeking to establish a special criminal tribunal to try those responsible for Russia's military aggression in Ukraine.

The group, based in the U.K., also consisted of prominent lawyers and academics, as well as former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Kuleba addressed the group virtually on Friday, saying the aim of the new tribunal was not to replace organizations like the International Criminal Court, but to complement them and fill gaps in their jurisdiction.

"When bombs fall on your cities … international law is the only tool of civilization available to us to make sure all those who made this war possible will be brought to justice," Kuleba said. "The Russian Federation will be held accountable for its deeds."

He said Ukraine was willing to work with any country that wanted to cooperate on bringing those responsible for Russian military aggression to justice.

"We are fighting against an enemy who is much stronger than us, but international law is on our side," Kuleba said.

Dapo Akande, professor of public international law at the University of Oxford, told those attending the meeting that since Russia is not a party to the Statute of the International Criminal Court, its crime of aggression against Ukraine could not, as things stand, be investigated by the prosecutor.

"Even as we encourage … the International Criminal Court to investigate crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes that may include the targeting of civilians, the use of vacuum bombs and the threat of nuclear terror, we must also address Russia's responsibility for aggression, crimes against peace, starting and continuing in the war with no ceasefire without safe passage on humanitarian grounds," he said.

Philippe Sands, professor of law at University College London and a practicing barrister, added that although some people had suggested that "somehow the boat has been missed" because the crime of aggression occurred with the initial decision to go to war, this was not the case.

"This is a continuing crime," he said. "Every attack on every individual house, every attack on every nuclear power plant, every attack on every individual Ukrainian citizen, or other person … is part of the crime of aggression. And it will continue until this comes to an end."

— Chloe Taylor

U.S. calls attack on nuclear power plant a war crime

Firefighters work at the entrance to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe's largest, after attacks by invading Russian forces started a fire at a training area, in Enerhodar, Ukraine March 4, 2022 in this still image obtained from video.
State Emergency Services of Ukraine | Reuters

The U.S. embassy in Kyiv said on Friday that Russia's attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant — the largest in Europe — was a war crime.

A fire broke out at the plant in the early hours of Friday following an attack by Russian forces. The fire has since been extinguished, but the plant is under Russian control.

According to Petro Kotin, head of Energoatom — Ukraine's state-run nuclear power operator — the Zaporizhzhia plant being in the hands of individuals with no experience handling nuclear material poses a danger "not only to the region, but also to the world."

— Chloe Taylor

NATO chief explains why alliance won't impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine

Jens Stoltenberg attends the opening of a NATO video summit on Russia's invasion of the Ukraine on February 25, 2022.
Kenzo Tribouillard | AFP | Getty Images

Asked whether NATO would ever reconsider imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, the alliance's Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated that NATO would not be taking this step.

"What is taking place in Ukraine now is horrific," Stoltenberg told reporters after a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels.

"The only way to implement a no-fly zone is to send NATO planes into Ukraine and impose it by shooting down Russian planes. If we did that, we end up with … a full-fledged war in Europe. That's why we made this painful decision to impose sanctions but not put NATO troops either on the ground or in the airspace."

Stoltenberg did say, however, that NATO was "seriously considering" a further increase of NATO presence in the alliance's eastern bloc.  

He later added: "I strongly believe if NATO becomes directly involved in the conflict, we will see more human suffering, more civilians killed … We are not going to be part of the conflict with Russia in Ukraine."

— Chloe Taylor

NATO chief says military alliance not seeking a war with Russia

US State Secretary Antony Blinken and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg participate in a meeting of North Atlantic Council (NAC) in Foreign Ministers' session at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 4, 2022.
Olivier Douliery | Reuters

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the military alliance is not seeking a war with Russia, adding that Russia's onslaught in Ukraine had "created a new normal for our security."

"NATO is a defensive alliance. Our core task is to keep our 30 nations safe," Stoltenberg said after an extraordinary meeting of NATO foreign ministers.

"We are not part of this conflict and we have a responsibility to ensure it does not escalate and spread beyond Ukraine because that would be even more devastating and more dangerous, with even more human suffering."

— Sam Meredith

Residents flee burning homes in Irpin, outside Kyiv

Residents flee burning homes after Russian shelling in Irpin, Ukraine.

People remove personal belongings from a burning house after being shelled in the city of Irpin, outside Kyiv, on March 4, 2022.
Aris Messinis | AFP | Getty Images
A woman reacts as she stands in front of a house burning after being shelled in the city of Irpin, outside Kyiv, on March 4, 2022.
Aris Messinis | AFP | Getty Images
Yevghen Zbormyrsky, 49, is comfirted as he stands in front of his burning home after it was hit by a shelled in the city of Irpin, outside Kyiv, on March 4, 2022.
Aris Messinis | Afp | Getty Images

Michelin reportedly suspends restaurant recommendations in Russia

Michelin is suspending all restaurant recommendations in Russia in response to the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported on Friday.

The French tire company published its first guide to eating in Moscow last year, which featured 69 restaurants. Michelin also awarded its famous stars to nine Moscow eateries, the first time that any of the country's restaurants earned them.

— Amelia Lucas

'Everything is on the table': EU considers energy sanctions on Russia after nuclear power plant attack

'Everything is on the table' regarding potential energy sanctions, EU's Borrell says

The European Union's top diplomat Josep Borrell says "everything remains on the table" as the bloc considers whether to impose full sanctions on Russia's oil and gas flows.

Energy analysts told CNBC earlier this week that such a move would have seismic repercussions for energy markets and the world economy.

Russia is the world's third-largest oil producer, behind the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, and the world's largest exporter of crude to global markets. It is also a major producer and exporter of natural gas.

— Sam Meredith

UN Human Rights Council backs war crimes probe in major blow to Russia

Ukraine's ambassador Yevheniia Filipenko gives a statement with other ambassadors after the special session on the situation in Ukraine of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, March 4, 2022.
Denis Balibouse | Reuters

The U.N. Human Rights Council overwhelmingly voted for a resolution condemning alleged rights violations by Russia in Ukraine and setting up a commission to investigate them.

Alongside Russia, only the small African country of Eritrea voted against the resolution brought by Ukraine, while 13 others abstained.

The result, which saw 32 nations vote in favor, was seen as a humiliation for Moscow.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed news of the inquiry, saying via Twitter: "Russian war criminals will be held accountable."

— Sam Meredith

Putin says Russia's neighboring countries should not escalate tensions

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council via teleconference call at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia, on March 3, 2022.
Andrey Gorshkov | Afp | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin has urged neighboring countries not to escalate tensions as Russia's onslaught of Ukraine enters its ninth day.

"There are no bad intentions towards our neighbors. And I would also advise them not to escalate the situation, not to introduce any restrictions. We fulfill all our obligations and will continue to fulfill them," Putin said in televised remarks at a government meeting, according to Reuters.

"We do not see any need here to aggravate or worsen our relations. And all our actions, if they arise, they always arise exclusively in response to some unfriendly actions, actions against the Russian Federation."

— Sam Meredith

Euro sinks as Ukraine crisis continues

The euro sank to a seven-year low against the Swiss franc on Friday, trading at around 1.0084 francs by 11:30 a.m. London time.

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Against the dollar, the euro reached its lowest value in almost two years, hovering just below $1.10, according to data from Reuters.

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— Chloe Taylor

Situation at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant remains ‘extremely threatening and dangerous,’ official says

A screen grab captured from a video shows a view of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during a fire following clashes around the site in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine on March 4, 2022.
Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

In a statement on Friday, Petro Kotín, head of Energoatom — Ukraine's state-run nuclear power operator — said that although the fire at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is under control and radiation levels are stable, damages to the infrastructure have left people in the city of Energodar without heat.

After coming under attack by Russian forces in the early hours of Friday morning, the Zaporizhzhia plant caught fire. It was eventually extinguished by Ukrainian emergency services, but is now believed to be under Russian control.

"The biggest threat is nuclear material stored in the station's six nuclear reactors and in the exposure pools," Kotin said Friday. "There are also about 150 containers of processed nuclear fuel in the nuclear fuel warehouse at the site."

He said that with Russian troops who had limited experience handling nuclear material controlling the plant, "the danger is not only to the region, but also to the world."

"During the Chernobyl disaster, the explosion occurred on one power unit — [there are] six of them at the Zaporozhye station, so the consequences of intervention and unprofessional handling of reactor installations will be more catastrophic," Kotin added.

"We are trying to track and control the situation, especially regarding the operation of six energy units and the storage of nuclear fuel. However, the situation is extremely threatening and dangerous. Nuclear and radiation security requirements have been violated. The consequences are hard to predict."

— Chloe Taylor

'It is time for action': UN nuclear agency proposes Russia-Ukraine meeting at Chornobyl

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi attends a news conference in Vienna, Austria March 4, 2022.
Leonhard Foeger | Reuters

The head of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog has proposed a meeting between Russia and Ukraine at the defunct Chornobyl nuclear power plant, saying Russia's attack at the Zaporizhzhya complex means "it is time for action."

Rafael Mariano Grossi, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the aim of the proposed meeting was for both sides to recommit to the principles of nuclear safety. Both sides were said to be considering the offer.

"We need to do something about this," Grossi said, adding that Russia's attack on Europe's largest nuclear power plant means "we are in completely uncharted waters."

— Sam Meredith

UN nuclear chief says radioactive material was not released at power plant after attack

Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, points on a map of the Ukrainian Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as he informs the press about the situation of nuclear powerplants in Ukraine during a special press conference at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria on March 4, 2022.
Joe Klamar | AFP | Getty Images

The head of the U.N. nuclear agency confirmed there has been no release of radioactive material at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant following a night of intense Russian shelling that set a building ablaze at the complex.

Speaking at a press conference, International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said the situation at Zaporizhzhya is "very fragile" and "continues to be extremely tense and challenging."

"It is important to say that all the safety systems of the six reactors at the plant were not affected and that there has been no release of radioactive material," Grossi said.

— Sam Meredith

NATO ministers to discuss no-fly zone over Ukraine: Spanish foreign minister

A view of a meeting of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) at the level of Foreign Ministers gather at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels, March 4, 2022.
Olivier Douliery | Reuters

Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares told the Financial Times Friday that NATO would discuss a possible no-fly zone over Ukraine.

Foreign ministers from NATO member states and partner states are meeting in Brussels for talks about the Russian attack on Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on the alliance to either close Ukraine's skies or send the country military planes to prevent Russia carrying out more air strikes.

But U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly rejected the concept of enforcing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, saying this week that no NATO members were considering such a move.

— Chloe Taylor

German chancellor says NATO will not get involved militarily in Ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks during his visit at the German Army Operations Command in Schwielowsee, Germany March 4, 2022.
Michele Tantussi | Reuters

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Friday that NATO, the world's most powerful military alliance, will not get involved militarily in Ukraine, Reuters reported.

Scholz was speaking to reporters during a visit to the German forces' joint operations command in Schwielowsee, according to the news agency.

— Chloe Taylor

Situation ‘remains difficult’ as strikes continue in Ukrainian cities, authorities say

A view shows a residential building damaged by recent shelling, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Chernihiv, Ukraine March 3, 2022. 
Roman Zakrevskyi | Reuters

The situation in southern Ukraine "remains difficult," according to Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov.

In a statement on Facebook Friday, Reznikov said the country's south — where Russian troops have seized control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant — was facing difficulties. He added that "in the east and south — everywhere — the Ukrainian people are repelling the enemy."

Reznikov also said that fighting continued in Sumy and Cherniv, two cities close to the border which he said were "saving Kyiv from the siege."

A view shows a residential building damaged by recent shelling, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Chernihiv, Ukraine March 3, 2022. 
Roman Zakrevskyi | Reuters

Meanwhile, the U.K. Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence update on Friday that the city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine was under threat.

"Mariupol remains under Ukrainian control but has likely been encircled by Russian forces," the ministry said. "The city's civilian infrastructure has been subjected to intense Russian strikes."

— Chloe Taylor

Russian attack on Ukraine ‘gravest challenge to international law’ this century, Greek minister says

Firefighters extinguish fire at a warehouse that caught flames, according to local authorities, after shelling, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in the village of Chaiky in the Kyiv region, Ukraine March 3, 2022.
Serhii Nuzhnenko | Reuters

The situation in Ukraine presents "the gravest challenge to international law in the 21st century," Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said Friday.

"[During] today's discussion in NATO, we have to address this challenge in a very appropriate manner, with full unity and full conformity with international law," he told reporters as he arrived at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels.

He added: "Greece has a substantial minority of 150,000 people around Mariupol in Ukraine, we care about those people."   

— Chloe Taylor

Finland decides its own security policy, Finnish minister says after Russian threats

Speaking to CNBC's Steve Sedgwick as he arrived at a NATO meeting on Friday, Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said it is his country's right to decide whether it joins the military alliance.

"Finland decides its own security policy, we are responsible for our own security policy," Haavisto said. "We have very good connections to NATO, we are in the partnership with NATO. According to European security rules, it's every country's right to decide their own security policies."

Finland is not currently a member of NATO. Last week, Russia threatened Finland with "serious military and political repercussions" if it chooses to join the bloc.

— Chloe Taylor

NATO chief praises U.S. troops

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks to the media along side the US Secretary of State, prior to the start of a NATO foreign ministers' meeting following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 4, 2022.
Olivier Douliery | Reuters

NATO's secretary-general said Friday that although the organization did not seek war or conflict with Russia, it must "make sure there's no misunderstanding about our commitment to defend our allies."

Speaking ahead of the military alliance's meeting of foreign ministers, Jens Stoltenberg said: "We have increased the presence of NATO forces in the eastern part of the alliance — this is a defensive presence and I welcome the strong commitment by the U.S. with more troops."

"I've met many of them, and it's always great to meet U.S. troops in Europe and to see their commitment and professionalism being part of the transatlantic bond," he added.

— Chloe Taylor

Blinken on NATO: ‘If conflict comes to us, we’re ready for it’

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on March 3, 2022, to travel to Europe for discussions with NATO allies and European partners on Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Olivier Douliery | Afp | Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State has said that NATO is prepared for conflict if it seeks out the military alliance's territory.

"Ours is a defensive alliance, we seek no conflict, but if conflict comes to us we're ready for it and we will defend every inch of NATO territory," he told reporters as he arrived at NATO's extraordinary meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels on Friday.

"In the wake of Russia's unprovoked and premeditated aggression against Ukraine, this alliance came together with speed and determination," Blinken added. "Every ally in one way or another is coming to Ukraine's assistance."

— Chloe Taylor

Russia clamps down on Western media

Oli Scarff | Getty Images

Russian lawmakers passed legislation on Friday to introduce criminal penalties and heavy fines for so-called fake news that "discredits the Russian army and calls for sanctions against Russia," Russian-controlled state media reported.

President Vladimir Putin must approve the bill before the law comes into force.

Russian State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin told state-run media agency RIA on Friday that the legislation could come into force as early as tomorrow, forcing "those who lied and made statements discrediting our Armed Forces to suffer a very severe punishment."

It comes as the country's federal communications regulator restricted access to the BBC's Russian Service, as well as news outlets Meduza and Radio Liberty, a U.S.-funded organization that works to report the news in countries where a free press is banned. Meduza, a Russian and English language online newspaper, operates from Latvia.

Russian television network RT has been banned from broadcasting in the EU, the U.K. and the U.S. in recent days as part of a package of sanctions against Russia. Britain's media regulator is currently carrying out 27 investigations into RT relating to breaches of its broadcasting code of conduct.  

— Chloe Taylor

Pictures show fire at Ukraine’s nuclear plant

Images have emerged of the fire at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine in the early hours of Friday. The fire has since been put out by Ukrainian emergency services.

Russian troops have now taken control of the facility — the largest in nuclear power plant in Europe — according to Ukraine's nuclear agency. The plant was shelled by Russian forces, causing a fire to break out at an adjacent training facility.

A screen grab captured from a video shows a view of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during a fire following clashes around the site in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine on March 4, 2022.
Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
A screen grab captured from a video shows a view of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during a fire following clashes around the site in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine on March 4, 2022.
Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

— Chloe Taylor

Former Australian prime minister says China is looking for long-term lessons from the world's reaction to Russia's invasion

Beijing will be taking note of the repercussions Russia faces for invading Ukraine and drawing long-term lessons for itself, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said.

"The Chinese will be looking very carefully at the nature of the financial, economic and diplomatic fallout for Russia from the rest of the world as a result of this unilateral Russian invasion," he told CNBC's "Street Signs Asia" on Friday.

Beijing has often said it plans to reunify with democratically self-governed Taiwan. Other analysts have previously told CNBC, however, that Russia's invasion of Ukraine doesn't necessarily encourage China to take its own actions against Taiwan.

Rudd said at this point, China's financial system is not insulated enough.

"China still remains vulnerable to the dollar-denominated global financial system," said Rudd, who is the president and CEO of Asia Society.

— Abigail Ng

672,500 Ukrainian refugees have reached Poland

People who have fled Russia's invasion of Ukraine wait at the Shehyni border crossing to enter Poland, near Mostyska, Ukraine, on March 1, 2022.
Thomas Peter | Reuters

Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 672,500 people have crossed the border into Poland to flee the conflict, the Polish border guard said Friday.

On Thursday, more than 99,000 refugees crossed from Ukraine into neighboring Poland, and as of 7 a.m. local time on Friday, more than 25,000 people had fled Ukraine and reached Poland.

— Chloe Taylor

Russian military forces in control of Europe's largest nuclear power plant

Ukraine's nuclear agency says Russian military forces have taken control of Europe's largest nuclear power plant.

Russian troops shelled the power station in the early hours of Friday morning. The attack resulted in a fire that has since been put out by Ukrainian emergency services.

The State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine said that personnel at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant continue to work at the site to ensure safe operation. Radiation levels are also normal.

Situated in the southeast of the country, the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant houses six of Ukraine's 15 operational nuclear power reactors.

— Sam Meredith

U.S. energy secretary says Ukrainian nuclear power plant reactors 'being safely shut down'

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said she has spoken to Ukraine's energy minister about the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and has decided to activate the U.S. Nuclear Incident Response Team.

"Russian military operations near the plant are reckless and must cease," added Granholm in a tweet.

"The plant's reactors are protected by robust containment structures and reactors are being safely shut down."

Separately, the International Atomic Energy Agency said that it has spoken with Ukrainian leadership, and has been told that "essential" equipment at the plant is still functioning.

"Ukraine tells IAEA that fire at site of Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant has not affected essential' equipment, plant personnel taking mitigatory actions," the agency posted on Twitter.

— Sumathi Bala

UK's Johnson speaks with Zelenskyy, calls for UN Security Council meeting

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson attends a joint news conference with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (not pictured) in Warsaw, Poland February 10, 2022.
Slawomir Kaminsk | Reuters

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Friday on the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station.

"Both leaders agreed that Russia must immediately cease its attack on the power station and allow unfettered access for emergency services to the plant," according to a readout provided by 10 Downing Street.

"The Prime Minister said the reckless actions of President Putin could now directly threaten the safety of all of Europe," the readout added.

Johnson also told Zelenskyy that he would seek an emergency UN Security Council meeting on the matter.

— Amanda Macias

Ukrainian officials say situation at nuclear power plant is secure

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi points on a map of a Ukrainian power plant during a news conference in Vienna, Austria March 4, 2022.
Leonhard Foeger | Reuters

The State Emergency Service of Ukraine said Friday that following an attack by Russian forces on Europe's largest nuclear power plant, the facility is currently secure.

The emergency service said that there was a fire behind the nuclear power plant in an area that is used for training. The service said that initially, firefighters were unable to extinguish the fire due to the ongoing armed conflict.

The director of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant said in a statement posted Friday on Facebook that at the moment the plant is secure.

— Amanda Macias

Google pauses ads in Russia

Google says it is pausing all ads in Russia, effective immediately.

"In light of the extraordinary circumstances, we're pausing Google ads in Russia," a company spokesperson said in an email response to CNBC on Thursday evening. "The situation is evolving quickly, and we will continue to share updates when appropriate."

The pause includes ads in Search, YouTube, and Display, the company added.

The widespread Google ad pause comes after the company only previously blocked ads that "sought to take advantage of the situation" as categorized under its "Sensitive Events" policy. It also comes after the company this week said it would ban Russian state-funded publisher sites, ads, apps, and YouTube channels from its various platforms.

— Jennifer Elias

Biden speaks with Zelenskyy as Russian forces attack Europe's largest nuclear plant

President Joe Biden speaking to Vladimir Putin from the White House, Dec. 30, 2021.
Source: White House Photo

President Joe Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday evening amid reports that Europe's largest nuclear plant was under siege by Russian forces.

"President Biden joined President Zelenskyy in urging Russia to cease its military activities in the area and allow firefighters and emergency responders to access the site," the White House said in a readout of the call.

Biden also spoke with the under secretary for nuclear security of the U.S. Department of Energy and the administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration to receive an update on the situation at the plant.

The White House said that Biden will continue to receive regular briefings on the matter.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, located in the Ukrainian city of Enerhodar, was on fire and warned that "if it blows up, it will be 10 times larger than Chornobyl!"

The last known call between Biden and Zelenskyy was on Tuesday, before that the two leaders spoke on Feb. 25.

 – Amanda Macias