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Putin denies martial law is coming, warns against no-fly zone; Zelenskyy talks with Biden

This has been CNBC's live blog covering Saturday's updates on the war in Ukraine.

The U.S. State Department is urging Americans to leave Russia immediately, warning of potential harassment by Russian security officials and of possible issues with accessing money within the country.

Also on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin denied reports that he will impose martial law in Russia.

Separately, he warned that he would consider any third parties that declare a no-fly zone over Ukraine to be participants in the conflict.

Earlier in the day, Ukraine's deputy prime minister said Russia violated a cease-fire agreement and that attacks are ongoing in the cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha. Russia and Ukraine had agreed to the temporary cease-fire in the two cities to enable civilians to leave safely.

Russian and Ukrainian officials are expected to hold a third round of talks on Monday, according to Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia. The Kremlin has not yet confirmed such a meeting.

Putin 'forced to deny' reports that martial law is coming to Russia

Security forces arrest a Russian anti-war protester in Moscow on March 3, 2022.
Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

President Vladimir Putin was "forced to deny reports" that his government will impose martial law in order to stamp out Russian dissent against the war in Ukraine, according to the U.K. Defence Ministry.

Putin made the denial at an event in Moscow on Saturday local time. Rumors of impending martial law have swirled in Russia for days as the Kremlin tries to control opposition to the war in Ukraine.

Putin on Friday approved changes to Russian law that impose prison sentences of up to 15 years for "fake" news about the war in Ukraine.

"These steps likely reveal the extent of Russia's concern over how the conflict in Ukraine has unfolded and its desire to hide this from the Russian population," the U.K. ministry said in a Saturday intelligence update.

Demonstrators have protested the war in Moscow and elsewhere in Russia despite the threat of arrest or worse.

British newspaper the Guardian reported late last week that a bill was introduced in Russia's legislature, the State Duma, that would forcibly conscript opposition protesters to fight in eastern Ukraine.

—Ted Kemp

Zelenskyy and Biden discuss security, financial support

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy talks during an interview with Reuters after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 1, 2022.
Umit Bektas | Reuters

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine spoke by phone with U.S. President Joe Biden on Saturday evening Washington time, the White House said.

On Twitter, Zelenskyy referred to the conversation as part of a "constant dialogue."

"The agenda included the issues of security, financial support for Ukraine and the continuation of sanctions against Russia," the Ukrainian president said.

Biden initiated the call, the White House said.

Also on Saturday local time, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Ukraine's foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, briefly met at the Ukraine-Poland border to discuss Western efforts to support Ukraine amid Russia's invasion of the country.

The pair of top diplomats discussed supplying additional weapons to Ukraine and efforts to impose sanctions on Russia to further isolate the country and damage its economy.

—Ted Kemp and Annie Palmer

Visa and Mastercard suspend operations in Russia, citing the invasion of Ukraine

Visa and Mastercard logos are seen in front of Russian flag in this illustration taken March 1, 2022.
Dado Ruvic | Reuters

Visa and Mastercard on Saturday said they will suspend all operations in Russia in response to the country's invasion of Ukraine. The move came after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made an impassioned plea during a Zoom call with American lawmakers to restrict the companies' credit card access in Russia.

Visa said effective immediately it will work to cease all Visa transactions within Russia in the coming days. Afterward, the company said, all transactions initiated with Visa cards issued in Russia will no longer work outside the country and any Visa cards issued by financial institutions outside of Russia won't work within the Russian Federation.

"We are compelled to act following Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and the unacceptable events that we have witnessed," Al Kelly, chairman and chief executive officer of Visa, said in a statement. "This war and the ongoing threat to peace and stability demand we respond in line with our values."

Mastercard said it would suspend its network services in Russia. Cards issued by Russian banks won't be supported by the Mastercard network, and Mastercard cards issued outside of the country will not work at Russian merchants or ATMs, the company said in a statement.

"As we take this step, we join with so many others in hoping for and committing to a more positive, productive and peaceful future for us all," the company said.

Russia's largest lender, Sberbank Rossii PAO, said the moves announced by Visa and Mastercard would not affect users of the cards it issues in Russia, Reuters reported, citing the Tass news agency.

"These decisions will not affect Sberbank's Visa and Mastercards inside the country," the Russian news agency quoted the bank as saying, Reuters said.

  — Terri Cullen

Zelenskyy calls on Ukrainian citizens to 'go on the offensive'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy talks during an interview with Reuters in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 1, 2022.
Umit Bektas | Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged citizens of his country to "go on the offensive" against invading Russian troops.

"Every meter of our Ukrainian land won by protest and humiliation of the invaders is a step forward, a step towards victory for our entire state," Zelenskyy said in a video posted on Telegram. "This is a chance to live."

"Ukrainians! In all our cities where the enemy entered. Feel it. Go on the offensive," he added.

Zelenskyy praised the heroism of residents in Kherson, a port city in southern Ukraine that was taken by Russian forces this week. On Saturday, residents gathered to protest the Russian occupation as gunfire rang out, according to one video posted by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.

Zelenskyy also addressed people in the rebel-held areas of Donetsk and Luhansk, located in southeastern Ukraine. He urged them to fight for Ukraine and reject Russian propaganda.

"Look what Russia has done," Zelenskyy said. "It did it right in front of your eyes. Protect yourself! Otherwise, it will take your life, too."

— Annie Palmer

Blinken meets with Ukraine's foreign minister along Polish border

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speak to the media after meeting at the Ukrainian-Polish border crossing in Korczowa, Poland March 5, 2022.
Olivier Douliery | Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Ukraine's foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, briefly met at the Ukraine-Poland border to discuss Western efforts to support Ukraine amid Russian attacks.

Blinken and Kuleba met at the Korczowa border crossing in Poland, against a backdrop where numerous Ukrainian refugees were being escorted by Polish authorities. The two walked together across the boundary into Ukraine. Kuleba thanked Blinken for "coming here to Ukraine, literally."

The pair discussed supplying additional weapons to Ukraine and efforts to impose sanctions on Russia to further isolate the country and severely damage its economy.

Kuleba asked for the U.S. to supply fighter jets and air defense systems to his country, adding that Stinger anti-aircraft missiles have helped. He also urged Blinken to help establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine — a move NATO has so far rejected.

"Ukraine will win this war anyway, because this is the people's war for their land, and we defend the right cause," Kuleba said. "The question is the price, the price of our victory. And if our partners continue to take bold, systemic decisions to step up economic and political pressure on Ukraine, if they continue to provide us with necessary weapons, the price will be lower."

Blinken reiterated American support for Ukraine. When asked if the U.S. plans to supply Ukraine with additional aircraft, he said the U.S. is "talking about and working on everything."

"And as to the pressure on Russia, not only is it unprecedented, not only is it producing very, very concrete results in Russia, but that pressure too will not only continue – it will grow until this war, this war of choice, is brought to an end," Blinken said.

— Annie Palmer

Shell buys Russian oil at discount, will donate profits

The central processing plant for oil and gas in Salym, Russia, Feb. 4, 2014. Salym Petroleum Development is a venture between Shell and Gazprom Neft.
Andrey Rudakov | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Shell defended its decision this week to purchase a cargo of Russian oil, saying it was in "intense talks with governments" and would "commit profits" from the oil to a dedicated fund.

"We will continue to choose alternatives to Russian oil wherever possible, but this cannot happen overnight because of how significant Russia is to global supply," the company said in a statement. "We have been in intense talks with governments and continue to follow their guidance around this issue of security of supply, and are acutely aware we have to navigate this dilemma with the utmost care."

The company didn't specify the administrations with which it was speaking.

Shell on Friday purchased a cargo of Urals crude oil from Trafigura at a record discount, according to several reports. But the company faced harsh criticism. Ukraine's minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, called on multinational companies to cut all business ties with Russia.

"One question to Shell: doesn't Russian oil smell Ukrainian blood for you?" Kuleba said in a tweet.

In its response, Shell said the company understands "the strength of feeling" regarding the purchase.

"We welcome any direction or insights from governments and policymakers as we try to keep Europe moving and in business," the company said.

Shell earlier in the week said it would end its "equity partnership" with Gazprom, a Russian state-owned energy company. The company said it's selling a 27.5% stake in Sakhalin-II, an integrated oil and gas project located on Sakhalin island in Russia, as well as a 50% interest in Salym Petroleum Development NV.

— Jessica Bursztynsky

Russia-Ukraine talks to resume Monday, Kyiv says

Ukrainian and Russian flags are seen on a table before talks between officials of the two countries in Belarus on March 3, 2022.
Maxim Guchek | Reuters

Russian and Ukrainian officials are expected to hold a third round of talks on Monday, according to the Ukrainian negotiator engaged in the talks.

David Arakhamia, a Ukrainian politician, made the announcement in a Facebook post on Saturday. Arakhamia did not provide further details. The Kremlin has not yet confirmed such a meeting.

 — Amanda Macias

Airbnb guests are booking rooms in Ukraine to help hosts in need

Airbnb has accepted nearly $2 million in bookings in Ukraine from customers who have no plans to stay at the locations but who want to raise funds for hosts in need.

CEO Brian Chesky announced Friday afternoon on Twitter that 61,406 nights were booked in Ukraine from March 2 to March 3. The company said in a blog post that more than 34,000 of those bookings were made by U.S. guests. The company removed listings in the Donbas region.

Airbnb also said it's waiving service fees on bookings in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian bookings are a grassroots movement. It comes after Airbnb announced a handful of measures it's taking to support Ukrainians after Russian troops began an invasion of the country.

The company earlier this week said it would suspend operations in Russia and Belarus. It's also providing free short-term housing for up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine.

— Jessica Bursztynsky

IMF expects to approve Ukraine’s $1.4 billion aid request as early as next week

A dog stands between destroyed Russian armored vehicles in the city of Bucha, west of Kyiv, on March 4, 2022.
Aris Messinis | AFP | Getty Images

The International Monetary Fund said it expects to bring Ukraine's $1.4 billion emergency financing request to its board for approval as early as next week.

The organization said in a press release that the war in Ukraine has already driven up wheat and grain prices, pushed more than 1 million refugees to flee, and triggered sanctions on Russia that "will also have a substantial impact on the global economy and financial markets."

In addition to the human toll in Ukraine, the IMF called the economic damage "substantial." Seaports and airports are closed and damaged, while roads and bridges have been harmed or destroyed.

"While it is very difficult to assess financing needs precisely at this stage, it is already clear that Ukraine will face significant recovery and reconstruction costs," the agency said.

—Jessica Bursztynsky

Humanitarian aid packages arrived from Lviv, in Zaporizhzhia

Volunteers and team members carry humanitarian aid packages that arrived from Lviv, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine.

Volunteers and team members carry humanitarian aid packages arrived from Lviv, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine amid Russian attacks on March 5, 2022.
Stringer | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Volunteers and team members carry humanitarian aid packages arrived from Lviv, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine amid Russian attacks on March 5, 2022.
Stringer | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Volunteers and team members carry humanitarian aid packages arrived from Lviv, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine amid Russian attacks on March 5, 2022.
Stringer | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

— Adam Jeffery

UN nuclear agency says radiation levels at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant remain normal

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

The International Atomic Energy Agency said it has spoken with Ukrainian leadership, and has been told that the country's regulators are in contact with staff at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Two out of six reactors at the plant are now operating, the United Nations' IAEA said. Technical safety systems are intact and radiation levels remain normal at the Zaporizhzhia plant, the agency added.

Russian military forces on Friday took control of Europe's largest nuclear power plant, after a night of intense shelling that set a building on fire at the complex. The attack prompted widespread criticism, including from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, which called the assault a war crime.

The head of the U.N. nuclear agency previously confirmed there had been no release of radioactive material at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant after the attack.

— Annie Palmer

Zelenskyy asks U.S. lawmakers to impose no-fly zone in Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gestures during his press conference in Kyiv on March 3, 2022.
Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy asked U.S. lawmakers in a Zoom call to impose a no-fly zone in his nation, ban Russian oil imports, and impose sanctions that would cut Russia off from using Visa and Mastercard, according to NBC News.

Zelenskyy's plea for action, described by multiple sources on the call to NBC News, came during a bipartisan Zoom meeting with more than 300 lawmakers and staff.

If establishing a no-fly zone wasn't possible, Zelenskyy asked for at least a ban on Russian-made aircraft.

Ukrainian officials and citizens have been calling on global leaders to take tougher steps against Russia following its invasion of the country.

Zelenskyy has been pressuring NATO to implement a no-fly zone, which would likely mark a major escalation in the war. The organization denied the request.

Earlier Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would consider any third-party declaration of Ukraine as a no-fly zone as the "participation of that country in the military action."

—Jessica Bursztynsky

Remains of Russian fighter aircraft in Chernihiv

Remains of the Russian fighter aircraft are seen in a residential area, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Chernihiv, Ukraine.

Remains of the Russian fighting aircraft are seen at a residential area, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Chernihiv, Ukraine, in this handout picture released March 5, 2022. 
Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine via Reuters
Remains of the Russian fighting aircraft are seen at a residential area, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Chernihiv, Ukraine, in this handout picture released March 5, 2022. 
Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine via Reuters
Remains of the Russian fighting aircraft are seen at a residential area, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Chernihiv, Ukraine, in this handout picture released March 5, 2022. 
Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine via Reuters

— Adam Jeffery

WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner reportedly detained in Russia

Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury is defended by Azurá Stevens #30 of the Chicago Sky during the first half of Game Four of the WNBA Finals at Wintrust Arena on October 17, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.
Stacy Revere | Getty Images

Russian officials have detained WNBA All-Star and Olympic champion Brittney Griner at an airport after they allegedly found hashish oil among her possessions, according to The New York Times.

The Russian Federal Customs Service took Griner, a center for the Phoenix Mercury, into custody at the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow, the Times reported, citing a statement from the customs service.

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

A State Department spokesperson said the agency is aware of reports of a U.S. citizen arrested in Moscow. The U.S. provides consular services to any American arrested overseas, the spokesperson said.

USA Basketball said in a tweet that it is monitoring the situation.

"Brittney has always handled herself with the utmost professionalism during her long tenure with USA Basketball and her safety and wellbeing are our primary concerns," the organization said.

The Women's National Basketball Players Association said in a tweet that it was aware of the situation.

— Annie Palmer

State Department urges Americans to depart Russia immediately

Police officers seen in Red Square during the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Alexander Shcherbak | TASS | Getty Images

The State Department urged all U.S. citizens in Russia to leave immediately citing potential harassment of Americans by Russian security officials as tensions soar over the Kremlin's war in Ukraine.

The State Department said in a level four travel advisory, the highest security alert in the U.S. travel system, that the U.S. Embassy in Moscow has limited ability to assist American citizens in Russia.

"U.S. citizens residing or traveling in Russia should depart immediately.  Limited commercial flight options are still available. Overland routes by car and bus are also still open. If you wish to depart Russia, you should make arrangements on your own as soon as possible," the travel advisory read.

The State Department also warned that Americans in Russia should be aware that some credit and debit cards may be declined as a result of sanctions imposed on Russian banks. 

"Also, there are some reports of cash shortages within Russia. U.S. citizens should make an alternative plan for access to money and finances if remaining in Russia," the advisory added.

 — Amanda Macias

Russian airstrike kills 6 in Markhalivka

Regional police said six people died, including a child, and four were wounded in a Russian airstrike on this village southwest of Kyiv. Russia is continuing its assault on Ukraine's major cities a week after launching a large-scale invasion of the country.

Neighbors and relatives help remove the rubble of a house destroyed with shelling on March 5, 2022 in Markhalivka, Ukraine.
Anastasia Vlasova | Getty Images
Kateryna Ralchuk, the niece of Ihor Mazhayev who's house was shelled, helps to remove the rubble after the shelling on March 5, 2022 in Markhalivka, Ukraine.
Anastasia Vlasova | Getty Images
A view to a burned car as a result of a shelling on March 5, 2022 in Markhalivka, Ukraine.
Anastasia Vlasova | Getty Images
Local resident looks at a shelled area on March 5, 2022 in Markhalivka, Ukraine.
Anastasia Vlasova | Getty Images

 — Adam Jeffery

Putin considers any third party to declare Ukrainian no-fly zone as a participant in the conflict

Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulates women on the upcoming International Women's Day as he meets with flight personnel, students and employees of the Aeroflot Aviation School in the suburbs of Moscow. March 5, 2022.
Mikhail Klimentyev | Sputnik | Reuters

Moscow will consider any third-party declaration of Ukraine as a no-fly zone as the "participation of that country in the military action," Russian President Vladimir Putin said at an Aeroflot training center.

"It doesn't matter what, what members of what alliances they are," Putin said. The statements were recorded by The Associated Press under new government restrictions imposed on the media in Russia.

Putin's comments come as Ukrainian officials repeatedly call on NATO to establish a no-fly zone over the Eastern European nation. Implementation of such a zone would likely mean the alliance would be required to shoot down Russian aircraft over Ukraine, marking a major escalation.

NATO on Friday denied the request, a move that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said gave Russia the "green light" for continuing its bombing campaign.

— Jessica Bursztynsky

Aeroflot halts international flights, barring Belarus

Russian Airlines Airbus A320 aircraft as seen on final approach flying and landing on the runway at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport with the terminal and the control tower visible, after arriving from Moscow.
Nicolas Economou | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Russian state-owned airline Aeroflot will stop all international flights except to Belarus starting March 8, The Associated Press reported.

Aeroflot, in a statement given to AP, cited "circumstances that hinder operating flights" as a reason for the cancellations.

The company will cancel return tickets for passengers who are scheduled to depart Russia after March 6 and return after March 8, the outlet said. Customers with one-way tickets can fly up until the March 8 deadline.

The cancellation will also apply to its subsidiaries Aurora and Rossiya, The New York Times reported.

— Jessica Bursztynsky

Blinken speaks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang as U.S. sanctions against Russia sink in

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks at a joint press conference with French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Beijing, China on September 13, 2018.
Lintao Zhang | Getty Images News | Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday, a call that follows multiple rounds of coordinated sanctions against Russia for the Kremlin's war in Ukraine.

During the call, Blinken "noted the world is watching to see which nations stand up for the basic principles of freedom, self-determination and sovereignty," according to a readout of the call.

A senior Biden administration official told reporters last week that China, the world's second-largest economy, has given no indication it would financially assist Russia amid punishing sanctions.

"China's not coming to the rescue," the official said. "China is actually restricting some of its banks to provide credit to facilitate energy purchases from Russia, which suggests that much like has been the pattern for years and years, China has tended to respect the force of U.S. sanctions," the person added.

 — Amanda Macias

Refugees take shelter in Poland

Ukrainian refugees inside a facility in Hrubieszow, Poland. More than 1 million refugees have already fled Ukraine in the past eight days as Russia continues to bombard Ukraine.

Ukrainian refugees taking shelter at a facility near the Hrubieszow border in Poland on March 4th, 2022.
Photo: Anna Han
Ukrainian refugees taking shelter at a facility near the Hrubieszow border in Poland on March 4th, 2022.
Photo: Anna Han
Ukrainian refugees taking shelter at a facility near the Hrubieszow border in Poland on March 4th, 2022.
Photo: Anna Han

Adam Jeffery

Blinken says U.S. is supporting Poland as it receives Ukrainian refugees

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau give a press statement on March 5, 2022 in Rzeszow, Poland.
Omar Marques | Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said more than 700,000 people had crossed the border from Ukraine into Poland since Russia launched its invasion.

"To help support the needs of Ukrainians in Poland and other countries, the Biden administration just requested to Congress $2.75 billion in humanitarian assistance," he said in a joint news conference with Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau.

"That's both to meet the needs of vulnerable people and communities inside Ukraine, as well as to support refugee services, including here in Poland."

Blinken said the U.S. had also sent a disaster response team to Poland, which was working closely with humanitarian agencies to provide critical services and supplies to refugees.

"We provided funding for emergency supplies to sustain health care for up to 100,000 people for three months, and up to 500 emergency surgical procedures," he added.

— Chloe Taylor

UK tells British nationals to leave Russia, advises against travel to country

Passengers at Moscow's Domodedovo airport on March 5, 2022, the day Russia's S7 Airlines cancelled all its international flights due to sanctions imposed on Russia over the country's invasion of Ukraine.
- | Afp | Getty Images

Britain's Foreign Office has updated its advice on visiting Russia, telling its nationals to leave the country if possible.

"If your presence in Russia is not essential, we strongly advise that you consider leaving by remaining commercial routes," the U.K. Foreign Office said in its latest travel advice, updated Saturday.

"The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advises against all travel to the whole of Russia due to the lack of available flight options to return to the U.K. and the increased volatility in the Russian economy."

S7 Airlines, Russia's biggest private air carrier, ceased all international flights on Saturday after Western sanctions targeted Russia's aviation sector.

The British government added, "If you are in Russia, you should be aware that it may not be possible to fly directly to the U.K., or via EU countries, and should amend any travel plans accordingly."

It said connecting flights via the Middle East and Turkey remained operational.

— Chloe Taylor

Correction: S7 Airlines is Russia's biggest private air carrier. An earlier version misstated its status.

A Russian plane of high-ranking officials is traveling to Washington, Ukrainian official says

A Russian plane reserved for high-ranking officials of Russia is traveling to Washington, Ukrainian Interior Ministry advisor Anton Gerashchenko said Saturday on Telegram.

"Right now it's passing near Iceland," Gerashchenko said, suggesting that negotiations between Moscow and the U.S. may be about to start.

"If I learn anything, will let you know later," he added.

— Chloe Taylor

Ukraine says Russia has violated cease-fire

The building of the Verkhovna Rada, the parliament of Ukraine.
Konoplytska | Istock Editorial | Getty Images

Iryna Vereshchuk, deputy prime minister of Ukraine, says that Russia has violated the cease-fire agreement in the cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha.

Earlier Saturday, Russia and Ukraine had announced a temporary cease-fire in the cities to allow the evacuation of civilians. The fighting was due to stop at 10 a.m. Moscow time (9 a.m. Ukraine, 2 a.m. ET).

But in a video posted to Telegram on Saturday, Vereshchuk said Russian forces started shelling Volnovakha with heavy weapons at 11.45 a.m. local time.

"I hereby state that Russia has violated [the cease-fire] agreement, failed to fulfill its duty and shells the town of Volnovaksha," she said, according to an NBC News translation. "Moreover, there has been fighting in the direction between Mariupol and Zaporizhia."

Civilians in Mariupol were supposed to be evacuated to Zaporizhia, a city to the west, but authorities postponed the action as attacks continued in the city and along the route to Zaporizhia.

"We address the Russian side to stop shelling and provide a cease-fire and let us form columns of humanitarian corridors to evacuate women, children and elderly. We also ask Russia to let us send humanitarian aid from Zaporizhia and Dnipro," Vereshchuk said.

The statement came as Ukraine's Parliament said Russia was "thwarting" the evacuation of civilians from Mariupol.

"The Russian military does not adhere to the [cease-fire] and continues the shelling of Mariupol and its environs. The evacuation of civilians is suspended for security reasons," it said.

"Currently, negotiations with the Russian Federation are underway to establish a regime of silence and ensure a safe humanitarian corridor."

 — Chloe Taylor

Mariupol postpones evacuation as Russian shelling continues, despite cease-fire

Mariupol City Council has said its evacuation of civilians is being postponed as Russian shelling continues in the city despite a cease-fire agreement.

"Due to the fact that the Russian side does not adhere to the ceasefire and continued shelling both Mariupol and its environs, for security reasons, the evacuation of the population is postponed," the council said in a post on Telegram.

Mariupol is one of two cities subject to a temporary cease-fire agreement between Ukraine and Russia. The cease-fires, announced Saturday morning, were supposed to be implemented to allow the evacuation of civilians.

"We ask all Mariupol residents to disperse and follow to the places of shelter," Mariupol City Council said Saturday afternoon local time.

"More information about the evacuation will be posted soon. Negotiations are currently underway with the Russian Federation to establish a [cease-fire] and ensure a secure humanitarian corridor."

Police will inform Mariupol residents via loudspeakers that the evacuation had been canceled, the council added.

— Chloe Taylor

Ukrainian official says Russia not honoring cease-fire agreement

A view shows a residential building, which locals said was damaged by recent shelling, in Mariupol, Ukraine February 26, 2022.
Nikolay Ryabchenko | Reuters

Sergei Orlov, deputy mayor of Mariupol, told the BBC on Saturday that although Russia had confirmed a cease-fire would begin in the city Saturday, shelling and bombing continued.

"At first our people told [us] that the shelling stopped for a little time, but then it continued and they continue to use hard artillery and rockets to bomb Mariupol," he said. 

City officials had made plans to evacuate civilians from three locations on municipal buses, with a route to Zaporizhzhia, a city to the west, also subject to the cease-fire.

Smoke rise after shelling by Russian forces in Mariupol, Ukraine, Friday, March 4, 2022.
Evgeniy Maloletka | AP

"[The Russians] told us that road from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia is safe, but we received information that there are hard fights on this road and it's not safe to go on this road because of these fights," Orlov told the BBC. "So we have two objections, first of all of the continuous shelling of Mariupol and next the fights [along the route out of the city], so we understand that it was not approved from Russian side and they continue to destroy Mariupol."

He added, "We decided to move our citizens back because it's not safe to be on the streets."

— Chloe Taylor

Correction: Sergei Orlov is deputy mayor of Mariupol. An earlier version misstated his name.

PayPal suspends its services in Russia

The PayPal application can be seen on a mobile phone.
Felix Kästle | picture alliance | Getty Images

PayPal says it is suspending its services in Russia, adding to the number of companies retreating from the country over its invasion of Ukraine.

"Under the current circumstances, we are suspending PayPal services in Russia," Dan Schulman, PayPal's CEO, said in a letter addressed to the Ukrainian government.

The payment processor had already discontinued domestic services in Russia in 2020. This latest action relates to its remaining business in the country, including send and receive functions and the ability to make international transfers via PayPal's Xoom remittances platform.

PayPal is the latest payments organization to sever ties with Russia, which faces a slew of sanctions from the West over President Vladimir Putin's decision to invade Ukraine.

The sanctions saw SWIFT, the global interbank messaging network, bar several Russian banks, while Visa and Mastercard have said they will block Russian financial institutions from their networks.

Ryan Browne

Zelenskyy says humanitarian crisis at Polish border has been resolved

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends an interview with foreign media in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 3, 2022.
Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | Reuters

In an address Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he had spoken to the presidents of France and Poland and had been "able to solve a humanitarian crisis on the border."

"We managed the situation so that Ukrainian women and children were able to get a safe place," he said, according to an NBC News translation. "No one is asking what's their nationality, what's their faith, how much money they have. De facto we don't have any borders with Poland anymore."

Poland's Border Guard said Saturday that since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, more than 787,000 people had fled Ukraine into Poland.

Zelenskyy added in his speech that he was "certain" authorities would soon be able to tell people it was safe to return to Ukraine.

"We are already thinking about the future for all of Ukrainians after the war, about how we will rebuild our cities, our economy," Zelenskyy said. "I talked to the head of the World Bank, to the CEO of the IMF — the [world's] biggest financial institutions support Ukraine."

— Chloe Taylor

Footage shows protests in Russian-occupied Kherson

Videos have emerged of protesters gathering in Kherson, a port city in southern Ukraine that was taken by Russian forces this week.

In one video, posted by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, residents of the city are seen in Kherson's Svobody Square — many waving Ukrainian flags — when gunfire is heard.

— Chloe Taylor

Russia to continue 'broad-front offensive' in Ukraine: Russian media

Russian forces are continuing their "broad-front offensive" in Ukraine, according to Moscow-based news agency Interfax.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov was speaking at a press briefing Saturday, according to the report.

His comments came after Russia announced a temporary cease-fire in the cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha to allow civilians to evacuate.

— Chloe Taylor

Mariupol begins evacuation of civilians

Mariupol, one of the two Ukrainian cities where a temporary cease-fire has been implemented, has released its plans for the evacuation of civilians.

The City Council said Saturday that the cease-fire would be in place between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. local time (2 a.m. and 9 p.m. ET), with the evacuation beginning at 11 a.m. local time.

Civilians will be evacuated from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia, a city to the west, via municipal bus.

Authorities will run evacuations from three locations in the city, the council said, and noted that private transportation would also be permitted along the designated route and asked drivers to make full use of the space in their vehicles.

Veering away from the agreed route was strictly forbidden, officials said.

— Chloe Taylor

Elon Musk rejects calls for Starlink to block Russian news outlets

Elon Musk speaks during a press conference at SpaceX's Starbase facility near Boca Chica Village in South Texas on February 10, 2022.
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

Elon Musk said Saturday that SpaceX's Starlink would not block Russian news outlets "unless at gunpoint," claiming that some governments — excluding Ukraine's — had told the company to do so.

Starlink is a division of SpaceX planning to build an interconnected network with thousands of satellites to deliver high-speed internet anywhere on the planet.

"Sorry to be a free speech absolutist," Musk said on Twitter.

— Chloe Taylor

UK says 4 Ukrainian cities encircled by Russian forces

The U.K. Ministry of Defense has said it appears that four cities in Ukraine are surrounded by Russian troops.

"Ukraine continues to hold the key cities of Kharkiv, Cherniv and Mariupol," the ministry said in its daily intelligence update Saturday.

"There have been reports of street fighting in Sumy. It is highly likely that all four cities are encircled by Russian forces."

According to the U.K., "the overall rate of Russian air and artillery strikes observed over the past 24 hours has been lower than in previous days."

The ministry added that Russian forces were also "probably" advancing on the southern port city of Mykolaiv, but noted it was possible some forces would attempt to circumvent the city to prioritize progression toward the port city of Odesa.

— Chloe Taylor

Temporary cease-fire declared in two Ukrainian cities

Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to the Ukrainian Presidential Office who took part in negotiations with Russian officials this week, confirmed on Saturday that a temporary cease-fire had been declared in two Ukrainian cities.

The cease-fire, which was expected to begin at 10 a.m. Moscow time (2 a.m. ET), would allow civilians to leave the cities, which have been ravaged by fighting in recent days.

Russia's state-controlled media claimed the country's Defense Ministry had agreed to the exit routes with Ukrainian authorities.

— Chloe Taylor

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