NATO’s chief said Friday that a no-fly zone over Ukraine is not an option being considered by the alliance.
“We’ve agreed that we should not have NATO planes operating over Ukrainian airspace or NATO troops on Ukrainian territory,” Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a news conference in Brussels.
He warned that the days to come in Ukraine “are likely to be worse” with “more deaths, more suffering and more destruction,” and appealed for dialogue.
NATO is not seeking a war with Russia, Stoltenberg emphasized.
“Ministers agreed that NATO’s relationship with Russia has fundamentally changed for the long term. But we remain committed to keeping channels for diplomacy and deconfliction open to avoid any fundamental escalation, misunderstanding or miscalculation,” he said.
This week, NATO deployed the NATO Response Force for the first time and has “130 jets at high alert and over 200 ships from the high north to the Mediterranean” to reinforce NATO’s defensive posture in the eastern part of the alliance. Stoltenberg pledged that the alliance will “continue to do what it takes to protect and defend every inch of NATO territory.”
“President Putin has failed to divide us. NATO’s more united more determined and stronger than ever,” Stoltenberg said.
More background: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been calling for NATO and Western allies to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine amid Russia’s ongoing invasion and aerial bombardment of its cities.
European Council President Charles Michel said on Thursday that enforcing a no-fly zone over Ukraine is a NATO decision, but that it would be “one step too far” with a “real risk of escalation and a real risk of a possible third international war.”
The United States has said that it will not put US troops in the air to create a no-fly zone in Ukraine, according to the US ambassador to the United Nations.
Google has suspended all advertising in Russia, the company confirmed to CNN Friday.
“In light of the extraordinary circumstances, we’re pausing Google ads in Russia,” the company said in a statement. “The situation is evolving quickly, and we will continue to share updates when appropriate.”
The decision covers all Google’s ad surfaces in Russia, including Google display advertising, YouTube and search, the company said.
Google’s decision was first reported late Thursday by Reuters.
The move follows a similar decision by Twitter last week to suspend advertising in both Russia and Ukraine.
It is unclear whether Meta, Facebook’s parent, also intends to suspend advertising in Russia. The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Google and Meta had both already taken steps to prevent Russian state media from running ads on their respective platforms.
The International Organization for Migration has received credible and verified reports of discrimination experienced at Ukraine’s borders by foreign nationals attempting to flee violence amid Russia’s ongoing invasion, IOM Director-General Antonio Vitorino told CNN Friday.
“We have reports – credible reports, verified reports – and we are acting with the authorities on both sides,” Vitorino said.
“We have already approached the authorities both in Ukraine and the neighboring countries to make sure everybody who is fleeing the country, irrespective of their nationality, of their territory of origin, of the color of their skin, is allowed to cross,” he added.
Speaking during an interview with CNN’s Isa Soares, Vitorino stressed that all those seeking to flee the conflict “need to be treated on equal footing.”
“In spite of the war, there is a responsibility of the authorities to guarantee the safety and security of all human beings. The missiles do not discriminate according to nationality, they hit everybody equally,” he said.
In a report published Friday, Human Rights Watch said dozens of foreign nationals interviewed by the organization — many of them students — had “revealed a pattern of blocking or delaying foreigners from boarding buses and trains.”
“Foreigners living in Ukraine have faced unequal treatment and delays as they attempt to flee the war alongside hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians,” Human Rights Watch said.
Foreign students attempting to leave the country have told CNN that they are experiencing racist treatment by Ukrainian security forces and border officials.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba announced that the government has established an emergency hotline for foreign students wishing to leave Ukraine.
“We are working intensively to ensure their safety and speed up their passage,” Kuleba tweeted, adding that those attempting to cross the border “need to have equal opportunities to return to their home countries safely.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday that there is “no talk” of Russia and Ukraine signing any formal documents after Thursday’s second round of talks between the two sides.
“The second round of negotiations took place yesterday,” Peskov said in a conference call with reporters. “Now it is up to these negotiations. It is an opportunity for the delegations to convey to each other all the elements of positions without unnecessary intermediaries. Elements of our position have been brought to the attention of the Ukrainian side.”
Asked about the possibility of the two sides signing any high-level agreements, Peskov said, “There is no talk of (signing) any documents yet. The talks that took place were a good opportunity to clearly convey our vision of this problem.”
More than 18,000 people have arrived in Germany from Ukraine since the Russian invasion just eight days ago, according to the German interior ministry.
“Up until now 18,436 refugees from Ukraine have arrived in Germany,” Maximilian Kall, interior ministry spokesperson told reporters at a press briefing in Berlin.
”According to Germany’s Federal Police, most of them (refugees) are families without men — and a large number of them are women and children.”
Kall said that of the total refugees around 15,000 people are nationals of Ukraine and around 3,000 people are non-EU residents.
He clarified that ”people who are fleeing the war zone can enter the EU — regardless of whether they are Ukrainian asylum seekers or third-country nationals.”
Most of the non-Ukrainian refugees had permanent residence in Ukraine, which means they do not have to go through an asylum procedure.
So far more than one million refugees have been forced to flee Ukraine in just seven days, according to the United Nations.
Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said in a statement Thursday: “I have worked in refugee emergencies for almost 40 years, and rarely have I seen an exodus as rapid as this one.”
Half a million of the refugees are children, according to UNICEF, which warned Europe could be facing its largest refugee crisis since World War II.
CNN’s Helen Regan, Paul P. Murphy and Tim Lister also contributed to this post.
The United Nations Human Rights Council has voted to set up an independent commission of inquiry as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The Human Rights Council has decided to urgently establish an independent international commission of inquiry as a result of #Russia‘s aggression against #Ukraine,” the council said in a Twitter post Friday.
“UN members from all regions around the world joined together at the council to condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in the strongest possible terms,” the Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN, Yevheniia Filipenko, said following the vote.
“The message to Putin has been clear. You’re isolated on a global level and the whole world is against you.”
Two countries — Russia and Eritrea — voted against the decision, and 13 member states abstained, including China, Cuba, Armenia, Kazakhstan, India, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.
There were 32 countries that voted in favor of the decision.
Independent Russian news outlet TV Rain ended its final broadcast with the words “no to war” on Thursday.
The station was forced to shut down because of the Russian government’s crackdown on local media over unfavorable coverage of the war in Ukraine.
TV Rain had already been forced off television airwaves but continued operating a YouTube broadcast. Its staff signed off, saying “no to war,” before walking off the station’s set.
The network then broadcast Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake, a nod to the 1991 coup attempt against the government of then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. As that coup was taking place, the ballet played repeatedly on television, an indication to viewers that something was wrong.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on the international community to normalize relations with his country, while claiming it could benefit from sanctions.
“We have no bad intentions, there is no need to escalate the situation, impose restrictions, we fulfil all obligations,” Putin said during a flag raising ceremony of a new Russian ferry, a joint venture between Russia and Turkey.
“If someone does not want to cooperate with us within the framework of single cooperation, and by doing so harms themselves, they will, of course, harm us too,” Putin added.
Putin went on to say the Russian economy would have adapt to the current situation.
“We will just have to move some projects a little to the right, to acquire additional competencies. But we will still solve the problems that we face” he said. “In the end, we will even benefit from this because we will acquire additional competencies.”
Countries across the world have leveled sanctions against Russia in an effort to squeeze Putin as the invasion of Ukraine advances.
President Joe Biden imposed new sanctions Thursday on eight members of the Russian elite, along with members of their families, as he warned Russia is intensifying its bloody invasion of Ukraine with indiscriminate bombing.
The White House, as well as the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and Canada, announced last weekend they would expel certain Russian banks from SWIFT, the high-security network that connects thousands of financial institutions around the world.
In a major break from its longstanding neutrality, Switzerland also announced it would join the European Union in imposing sanctions on Russia.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak, Betsy Klein, Phil Mattingly, Kaitlan Collins and Kate Sullivan contributed reporting to this post.
A fire that broke out at one of Europe’s largest nuclear power plants following heavy shelling by Russian forces was extinguished early Friday, as key Ukrainian cities come under attack from invading troops.
Here’s what you need to know today:
Nuclear plant blaze extinguished: A fire at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power complex initially sparked fears of a potential accident but the blaze has since been put out. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also said the reactors at the plant are safe and no radioactive material was released.
However, the head of the IAEA, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said it was “unprecedented” to run a nuclear plant while military operations raged nearby.
Accusations fly: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky led a chorus of leaders who condemned the Kremlin for intentionally firing on the plant. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the clashes at the nuclear facility showed “the recklessness of this war,” while UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said “it’s very difficult to believe that it wasn’t done deliberately.”
And Ukraine’s nuclear operator said the plant management was now “working at gunpoint.”
Russia’s Ministry of Defense denied those allegations. A spokesman said that its forces took control of the plant and territory adjacent to it on Monday but was attacked by a “a Ukrainian sabotage group” early Friday morning.
The Russian government has routinely and without evidence claimed the Ukrainian government is staging “provocations” to provoke a military response by Western governments.
Key cities under assault: Russia is laying siege to the key Ukrainian city of Mariupol. The southeastern city’s deputy mayor said it was “surrounded” by Russian forces and in desperate need of military and humanitarian aid.
In northeastern Ukraine, 34 civilians were killed by Russian attacks on the Kharkiv region within a 24 hour period, emergency services said Thursday. Kharkiv’s mayor said the Russian military is “intentionally trying to eliminate Ukrainian people” as it targets civilian spaces. Russian troops are also advancing toward Odessa, the strategically significant city on the southern coast.
Talks end with no breakthrough: A Ukrainian negotiator on Thursday said that a second round of talks with Russia didn’t deliver any results that Ukraine needed.
However, humanitarian corridors for civilians were agreed on by both sides. Zelensky said the world will see today if those corridors work.
Growing humanitarian crisis: The UN estimates that more than 10 million people may end up fleeing their homes in Ukraine, including 4 million who may cross the border into neighboring countries. More than 1 million have fled already. Want to help? You can learn how to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine here.