Live updates: France works to secure Ukraine nuclear sites | Business, Finance & Technology

PARIS — The office of President Emmanuel Macron says France will soon propose concrete measures to ensure the safety and security of Ukraine’s five main nuclear sites.

The safeguards will be drawn up on the basis of International Atomic Energy Agency criteria, a statement from the French presidency said Saturday.

A Russian attack on a nuclear plant sparked a fire on Friday and briefly raised worldwide fears of a catastrophe. The statement said Macron is “extremely concerned about the risks to nuclear safety, security and the implementation of international safeguards resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

Macron said Russia “must immediately cease its illegal and dangerous military actions” and allow Ukrainian authorities full control over all nuclear facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders. He urged Russia to allow “free, regular and unhindered access for facility personnel to ensure their continued safe operation.”

KYIV, Ukraine — The Russian military will observe a ceasefire in two areas of Ukraine starting Saturday to allow civilians to evacuate, Russian state media reported, but there was no immediate confirmation from Ukraine. It would be the first breakthrough in allowing civilians to escape the war.

The Russian Defense Ministry statement carried by the RIA Novosti and Tass agencies said it has agreed on evacuation routes with Ukrainian forces to allow civilians to leave the strategic port of Mariupol in the southeast and the eastern town of Volnovakha “from 10 a.m. Moscow time.” It was not immediately clear from the vaguely worded statement how long the routes would remain open.

The head of Ukraine’s security council, Oleksiy Danilov, had called on Russia to create humanitarian corridors to allow children, women and the elderly to escape the fighting, calling such corridors “question No. 1.”

TOKYO — Hundreds of people marched in Tokyo on Saturday protesting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The crowd shouted, “Stop war. Protect lives.” Some held signs that read: “We stand with Ukraine.” Others held images of Russian President Vladimir Putin with the words: “Stop Putin.”

Russia’s shelling of a nuclear plant in Ukraine on Friday and Putin’s implied threat of nuclear war have struck a nerve in Japan, which suffered atomic attacks at the end of World War II in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the worst nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl in Fukushima in 2011.

“It’s too terrible,” said housewife Yukiko Asano, one of the protesters.

The protest, one of the largest in Tokyo in recent years, included people from Europe and spiraled through the fashionable Omotesando district, extending for blocks. Many wore yellow and blue, the colors of Ukraine’s flag.

“We need to stop Putin. We need to end the dictatorship,” said a Russian software engineer, who asked to be identified only by his first name Egor to avoid backlash. “This kind of situation is a way to nowhere.”

LOS ANGELES — SpaceX founder Elon Musk says the company’s Starlink satellite internet service was “told by some governments (not Ukraine) to block Russian news sources.”

“We will not do so unless at gunpoint. Sorry to be a free speech absolutist,” Musk said in a post on Twitter.

Earlier this week, Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation thanked Musk for providing equipment to Starlink.

Mykhailo Fedorov thanked SpaceX founder Elon Musk for the equipment in a Twitter post accompanied by a photo of boxes on the back of a truck. Federov had publicly requested the service.

Musk replied with his own tweet saying: “You are most welcome.”

The tech billionaire has said Starlink was “active” in Ukraine and more equipment to use it was on the way.

Starlink is a satellite-based internet system that SpaceX has been building for years to bring internet access to underserved areas of the world. It markets itself as “ideally suited” for areas where internet service is unreliable or unavailable.

SINGAPORE — Singapore has announced sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, becoming one of the few governments in Southeast Asia to do so.

“The sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity of all countries, big and small, must be respected,” said an announcement by the Foreign Ministry.

The tiny city-state imposed controls on exports or transshipments of military-related or dual use items considered “strategic goods.” It said the sanctions were aimed at constraining Russia’s ability to wage war and engage in “cyber aggression.”

The regional commercial hub also said it would prohibit all financial institutions from doing business with four Russian banks: VTB Bank, Bank Rossiya, the Promsvyazbank Public Joint Stock Co., and the Corporation Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs Vnesheconombank. Companies with existing dealings with the four must freeze their assets, it said.

The order also bans providing financial services or enabling financing for the Russian central bank, Russian government and entities owned or controlled by them.

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council will hold an open meeting Monday on the worsening humanitarian situation in Ukraine as the Russian offensive intensifies.

The United States and Albania requested the meeting, which will hear briefings by U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths and Catherine Russell, executive director of the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF, diplomats said Friday.

At the request of France and Mexico, the council meeting will be followed by closed consultations on a draft resolution on the humanitarian plight of millions of Ukrainians that the two countries have been spearheading, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because negotiations on the meeting have been private.

The United Nations launched an emergency appeal on March 1 for $1.7 billion to respond to soaring humanitarian needs of both people who fled Ukraine and who remain in the country. It immediately received pledges of $1.5 billion, and has urged that the pledges be turned into cash quickly.

The UN estimates that 12 million people staying in Ukraine and four million fleeing to neighboring countries in the coming months will need humanitarian aid.

KYIV, Ukraine — The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine is calling Russia’s attack on a nuclear plant a war crime.

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

Russian troops seized the plant Friday in an attack that set it on fire and briefly raised fears of a nuclear disaster. The blaze was extinguished and no radiation was released.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called Russia’s action “nuclear terrorism” and appealed to the U.N. Security Council for action to safeguard Ukraine’s endangered nuclear facilities.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal appealed to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the EU to send representatives to all five of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants. “This is a question of the security of the whole world,” he said in a nighttime video address.

HONOLULU — The Hawaii House of Representatives voted 47-1 to pass a resolution condemning Russia’s attacks on Ukraine and supporting U.S. economic sanctions on Russia.

“Ukraine is fighting to enjoy the same basic rights that Americans are promised at birth: free speech, security in a democratic society and equal protection under the law,” said Rep. Patrick Pihana Branco, a Democrat.

Many lawmakers wore blue and yellow, the colors of the Ukrainian flag, on Friday to show their support for the embattled country.

Rep. Dale Kobayashi, a Democrat, cast the lone vote against the measure.

“I just have not seen similar resolutions condemning us for our military aggression as the United States,” Kobayashi said.

Separately, the owner of Hawaii’s oil refinery decided to suspend purchases of Russian oil, which in recent years has accounted for up to a third of the crude consumed in the islands. Par Hawaii plans to meet the state’s fuel needs with other sources primarily from North and South America, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

KYIV, Ukraine — The head of Ukraine’s security council called on Russia to create humanitarian corridors to allow children, women and the elderly to escape the fighting.

Oleksiy Danilov said Friday more than 840 children have been wounded in the war. A day earlier, the Ukrainian government put the death toll among children at 28.

He spoke ahead of the latest talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations, planned for this weekend.

“The question of humanitarian corridors is question No. 1.,” Danilov said on Ukrainian television. “Children, women, elderly people – what are they doing here?”

Russian troops have encircled and blockaded several large cities in the south of the country, including Mariupol, trying to cut Ukraine off from the Black and Azov seas.

Ukrainian officials have asked for help from the Red Cross in organizing corridors, describing the situation in the blockaded cities as “close to a catastrophe.”

WASHINGTON — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will talk to U.S. senators on a video conference call Saturday morning, according to a person familiar with the invitation from the Ukrainian embassy.

All senators are invited to the call, according to the person, who requested anonymity to discuss the private invitation. The meeting will be the first time lawmakers have talked to the Ukrainian president since Russia invaded his country.

The call will come as Congress is considering a request for $10 billion in emergency funding, with money going toward humanitarian aid and security needs in the war-torn country. Approval could come as soon as next week.

BERN, Switzerland — Switzerland’s financial authority is taking steps to protect creditors of a commercial bank that’s tied to one of Russia’s biggest lenders.

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, or FINMA, said Friday that Zurich-based Sberbank AG is “at risk of liquidity problems,” as a result of sanctions imposed by the U.S. and other nations on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

To protect creditors, FINMA has deferred the bank’s obligations from deposits by 60 days and banned the lender from making payments or transactions that are “not necessary for its operations as a bank.”

Sberbank, which specializes in commodity trade finance and has about 70 business clients, is reducing its business activities and has decided not to engage in any new business, FINMA said.

The authority also said it will monitor the bank’s financial stability to ensure creditors are treated equally.

Sberbank AG is an indirect subsidiary of Sberbank Russia, which is one of the country’s two largest state-run banks.

The Russian bank was among those targeted last week by tough U.S. sanctions aimed at limiting their businesses internationally and over the weekend barred from the international SWIFT payment system.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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