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
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

The probe will focus on so-called "hyperscalers" like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, which let businesses access computing power and data storage from remote servers.
Chesnot | 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 Ukraine gestures while waiting for transportation at Nyugati station, in Budapest, Hungary, on Feb. 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, 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 s