Eds: UPDATES: Adds items on Ukraine refugees, recorded casualties, British dock workers refusing to unload gas tankers from Russia and comments from Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney. Also adds items on Latvia changing the name of a street where the Russian Embassy and Danish brewer Carlsberg stopping new investments and exports to Russia.; With AP Photos.; AP Video.
The latest developments on the Russia-Ukraine war:
GENEVA — The U.N. refugee agency reported Friday that more than 1.2 million people have left Ukraine since the fighting began.
More than 165,000 people left the country on Thursday — down slightly from Wednesday’s count and well under the nearly 200,000 on Tuesday, which amounted to the peak one-day outflow of people from Ukraine since the conflict began, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Its data portal on Ukraine showed that the majority — about 650,000 — had gone to neighboring Poland, and roughly 145,000 had fled to Hungary. Another 103,000 were in Moldova and more than 90,000 in Slovakia.
UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo said “we know that the majority are women, children and the elderly,” but she was unable to provide a more specific breakdown by age or gender.
GENEVA — The U.N. human rights office, in its latest count of casualties released Friday afternoon, said it had confirmed 331 people killed and 675 people injured since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
The rights office uses strict methodology and only reports casualties it has confirmed. It believes the real figures are much higher. Ukrainian officials have presented far higher numbers.
LONDON — A union says dockers at a British port have refused to unload gas tankers from Russia, and called for tighter sanctions to prevent Russian cargoes arriving in the U.K.
The Unison union says two tankers, Boris Vilkitsky and Fedor Litke, were diverted from Europe’s largest liquefied natural gas terminal on the Isle of Grain in southeast England.
The union said the British government must close a loophole that meant the cargo could return if it was loaded onto non-Russian vessels.
Britain has banned Russia-linked ships from its ports, but the union’s head of energy, Matt Lay, said the rules “only cover the ownership and operators of vessels, not the cargo.” He said “companies are free to get around the rules by hiring ships from other countries to import Russian goods.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called for Western countries to stop buying Russian oil and gas, but it is still being bought by many countries, including the U.K.
BRUSSELS — Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney says the European Union may agree “early” next week on another set of sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Coveney said Friday that “we in the European Union and other partners are really disgusted and outraged by what we continue to see day after day in Ukraine and Russia’s actions, which clearly are a breach of international law.”
Speaking to reporters before a meeting with his EU counterparts and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Coveney said: “I don’t think there’s any credible argument now that war crimes aren’t being committed on a daily basis.”
He says the West must brace for no letup in the fighting in Ukraine.
“Unfortunately it looks like we are going to see more of this in the coming days and weeks,” Coveney said. “The picture looks very bleak, very dark, in terms of Russia’s intentions. And there doesn’t seem to be any willingness to discuss a cease-fire, to discuss a pulling back out of residential areas.”
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Latvia joined Lithuania in changing the name of the street where the Russian Embassy is located in Riga to “Ukrainian Independence Street.”
The decision has been made Friday by the Riga City Council to voice support to Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and Ukraine’s fight against the Russian invasion, the Baltic News Service reported Friday.
On Thursday, the mayor of the Lithuanian capital Vilnius said that the city will change the name of a street where the Russian diplomatic mission sits. Mayor Remigijus Simasius said a quiet alley in downtown Vilnius where the Russian embassy is located will change its name to “Heroes of Ukraine street.”
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Danish brewer Carlsberg said Friday that it was immediately stopping new investments and exports to Russia.
The group’s CEO Cees ‘t Hart said the stop also includes exports from other Carlsberg Group companies to Baltika Breweries in Russia.
“We will respect all applicable sanctions being put in place and continue to assess the situation in relation to our business in Russia,” he said in a statement to The Associated Press.
Carlsberg has 8,400 employees across Russia.
The group was “deeply shocked by the terrible events unfolding in Ukraine” and “strongly condemn the acts of violence and aggression,” he said, adding the brewer had taken several actions to ensure the safety and well-being of its 1,300 staff in Ukraine. On top of that, Carlsberg will donate 75 million kroner ($11.2 million) to the relief efforts in Ukraine.
UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council has scheduled an emergency open meeting on the attack on Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant.
The meeting, to be held at 4:30 p.m. Friday GMT, was requested by the United States, United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Norway and Albania.
Council diplomats said the International Atomic Energy Agency will brief council members. Russia’s shelling of Europe’s biggest nuclear plant in Ukraine received widespread international condemnation on Friday. The shelling at the Zaporizhzhia plant in Enerhodar had touched off a fire that was extinguished. Russian forces have taken control of the site.
TOKYO – Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has condemned Russia’s attack on Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine, calling it “unforgivable reckless act.”
Kishida said he talked on the phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and told him that “Russian attack on the nuclear plant was an unforgivable reckless act.”
Russian forces shelled Europe’s largest nuclear power plant Thursday, causing a fire there that was extinguished overnight but sparking global fear of radiation leaks. The International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nation’s nuclear watchdog, says there was no sign on Friday of radiation leaks.
A massive earthquake and tsunami in March, 2011 destroyed power and cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, causing its triple meltdowns, spewing large amounts of radioactive materials in its surroundings and keeping part of the region still uninhabitable.
VATICAN CITY – The head of the Polish bishops’ conference has written directly to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church urging him to appeal to President Vladimir Putin to stop the war and to urge Russian soldiers to disobey orders on moral grounds and stand down.
“The time will come to settle these crimes, including before the international courts,” In his Mar. 2 letter to Patriarch Kirill, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki warned that “the time will come to settle these crimes, including before the international courts.” He added that even if someone avoids human justice, “there is a tribunal that cannot be avoided.”
Gądecki’s tone was significant, given its sharp contrast to the comparatively neutral tone used by the Vatican and Pope Francis. The Holy See to date has called for peace and a return to negotiations, and even offered itself as a mediator, but has not condemned Russia by name or its invasion.
The Vatican has a tradition of such diplomacy, believing that it can facilitate dialogue better if it doesn’t take sides or call out an aggressor. In the case of Ukraine, however, Francis has been criticized for selling out Ukrainian Catholics at the expense of his longer-term goal of improving relations with the Russian Orthodox Church.
As recently as December, Francis had expressed hope that a second meeting with Kirill could soon be organized, after their historic encounter in 2016, the first between a pope and Russian patriarch.
MOSCOW — Russians could face prison sentences of up to 15 years for spreading information that goes against the Russian government’s position on the war in Ukraine, a move that comes as authorities block access to foreign media outlets.
The Russian parliament voted unanimously Friday to approve a draft law criminalizing the intentional spreading of what Russia deems to be “fake” reports.
Russian authorities have repeatedly decried reports of Russian military setbacks or civilian deaths in Ukraine as “fake” reports. State media outlets refer to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a “special military operation” rather than a “war” or “invasion.”
State news agencies said the draft law was approved by the lower and upper houses of parliament in quick succession. It could be signed into law by President Vladimir Putin and take effect as soon as Saturday, the speaker of the lower house, Vyacheslav Volodin, said
The blocks affect the BBC, the U.S. government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle and Latvia-based website Meduza. Together, they are among the most influential and often critical foreign media publishing in Russian.
SOFIA, Bulgaria – The Jewish Shalom organization in Bulgaria rejected as “absolutely unjustifiable and inappropriate” Russian propaganda claims that Ukraine is a Nazi state that has to be de-Nazified.
Shalom said in a statement Friday that Ukraine is one of the few countries in the world to pass a law criminalizing antisemitism.
The organization said it strongly condemns Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, which President Vladimir Putin is trying to justify, claiming that the goal of his military aggression was “the demilitarization and de-Nazification” of Ukraine.
Shalom said its members mourn together with those who died in the first days of the conflict and expressed sympathies to “the hundreds thousands of Ukrainians who lost their homes, who were separated from their loved ones, and forced to flee the borders of their homeland, including thousands of Jewish families.”
BRUSSELS – NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the military organization will not police a no-fly zone over Ukraine and is warning that such a move could end in a wide-spread war in Europe.
Speaking Friday after chairing a meeting of NATO foreign ministers, Stoltenberg said “we are not going to move into Ukraine, neither on the ground, nor in the Ukrainian airspace.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces have ramped up their attacks in Ukraine, launching hundreds of missiles and artillery strikes on cities and making significant gains in the south.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has appealed to the West to enforce a no-fly zone over his country, most recently after a fire overnight at one of Ukraine’s nuclear plants, the largest in Europe.
“The only way to implement a no-fly zone is to send NATO fighter planes into Ukrainian airspace, and then impose that no-fly zone by shooting down Russian planes,” Stoltenberg said. “We understand the desperation, but we also believe that if we did that, we would end up with something that could end in a full-fledged war in Europe.”
“We have a responsibility as NATO allies to prevent this war from escalating beyond Ukraine,” he said.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s foreign minister says Ankara wants to bring Russia and Ukraine’s top diplomats together for talks during an international diplomacy forum in the country next week.
Speaking Friday to reporters in Brussels where he attended a NATO meeting, Mevlut Cavusoglu said Russian Foreign Minister Seygey Lavrov has confirmed his attendance at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum to be held in the Mediterranean coastal city between March 11-13.
Cavusoglu said a meeting between Lavrov and Ukraine’s Dmytro Kuleba could be possible, but added that he was not certain Ukrainian officials would be able to attend.
Turkey, which has close ties to both Ukraine and Russia, has been trying to balance its relations with both. It has repeatedly offered to mediate between the two.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch military says it has begun housing refugees who fled Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Defense Ministry said Friday that the first 120 refugees arrived a day earlier at a military base in Harskamp, a village in the central Veluwe region.
The Harskamp base can house 950 refugees. It also is home to a sprawling firing range where Dutch troops regularly practice live fire exercises.
Another group of 50 Ukrainian refugees arrived Friday in the western town of Waddinxveen, where they are being housed in a local sports hall.
The town’s mayor, Evert Jan Nieuwenhuis, greeted the new arrivals and told local broadcaster Omroep West it was “heartbreaking. It brings tears to your eyes.”
He said he was glad the town could do something to help the refugees fleeing the conflict in Ukraine “even if it is just a drop in the ocean.”
LONDON — The Ukrainian government and a former British prime minister are pushing for a special criminal tribunal to prosecute Russian President Vladimir Putin and his allies over the invasion of Ukraine.
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the call for a body to investigate the “crime of aggression” was based on the tribunals that prosecuted senior Nazis after World War II.
The Netherlands-based International Criminal Court is already investigating allegations that Russia has committed war crimes in Ukraine. But while it can investigate genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, Russia has not signed up to a separate ICC statute under which nations pledge not to commit “crimes of aggression.”
Brown said that “this act of aggression by Russia … cannot go uninvestigated, unprosecuted and unpunished.”
He said the Russian president “must not be able to escape justice.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba welcomed the call for a tribunal, which is backed by legal experts and academics from around the world.
“We are fighting against an enemy who is much stronger than us. But international law is on our side,” Kuleba told a meeting in London by video link from Ukraine.
TOKYO — Japan is sending bulletproof vests, helmets and other defense supplies to Ukraine to help the country fight Russia’s invasion.
It is a rare move by Japan, which has a principle of not shipping defense supplies to countries in conflict.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters Friday that shipping and other logistical details are being finalized after a decision by the National Security Council.
Bulletproof vests, helmets, tents, as well as generators, food, winter clothes and medical supplies will be delivered by Self-Defense Force aircraft, Matsuno said.
The planned shipment comes after a request from Ukraine. Japan, because of its pacifist principles, is supplying only non-lethal goods, Matsuno said.
“(Russia’s) unilateral change of status quo by force, which is absolutely unallowable, is an act that shakes the foundation of international order,” he said. “International society is sticking together and taking unprecedented steps to support Ukraine.”
WARSAW, Poland — Polish security services say they have arrested a Spanish citizen on suspicion of spying for Russia.
Security services spokesman Stanislaw Zaryn said the man, who was born in Russia but holds a Spanish passport, was arrested on the night of Feb. 27 at a hotel in Przemysl, in southeastern Poland, and had journalist status.
Przemysl, near Poland’s border with Ukraine, is one of the main points where hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees arrive as they flee Russia’s invasion.
Also, thousands of additional U.S. troops recently deployed to Poland to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank are stationed in the area.
The man allegedly was collecting information that was sensitive to Poland’s security and defense, Zaryn told The Associated Press.
The man is accused of spying for Russia. If convicted, he could get up to 10 years in prison.
BERLIN — Austria’s former chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel has quit his post on the supervisory board of Russian oil firm Lukoil.
The Austria Press Agency quoted Schuessel on Friday saying that while he had always backed “constructive relations” between Russia and the European Union, the Russian invasion of neighbor Ukraine had “crossed a red line.”
Schuessel said he had worked to help produce a statement by Lukoil this week that called for an end to the conflict.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — With Europeans unnerved by a Russian attack on a nuclear power plant in Ukraine, Norwegian health authorities want municipalities to review iodine preparedness for children under 18, pregnant and breastfeeding women.
“Although no emissions from nuclear power plants in Ukraine have been reported, the risk of accidents and incidents is higher than normal due to the war in the country,” deputy health director Espen Rostrup Nakstad said Friday.
Since 2017, iodine tablets have been recommended as a contingency measure by the Directorate for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (DSA) and the Norwegian Directorate of Health, the latter said in a statement.
It added that approximately 2.2 million tablets are stored in the municipalities for this purpose. In addition, people between the ages of 18 and 40 are recommended to buy iodine tablets at pharmacies as self-preparedness.
“In the current situation, it is not relevant to use iodine tablets, but we still want the municipalities to be sure that they are available at short notice if there is a need for it,” Rostrup Nakstad said.
Recent reports say sales of iodine tablets in Denmark, Sweden and Finland have increased sharply since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
GENEVA — The U.N.’s top human rights body has voted overwhelmingly to appoint a three-person panel of experts to monitor human rights in Ukraine, where Russian forces are invading.
The Human Rights Council voted 32-2, with 13 abstentions, to pass a resolution that was presented by many Western countries and others who have spoken out against Moscow’s attack on its neighbor.
Only Russia and Eritrea opposed the resolution, with China abstaining.
The vote Friday was the culmination of an urgent debate called by Ukraine, during which most council members lambasted Russia.
Many Western envoys sported blue or yellow ties, scarves, jackets or ribbons on their lapels, in a reference to the colors of the Ukrainian flag. Far-flung countries such as Gambia and Malaysia spoke out against the invasion.
The result testified to growing international isolation of Russia: On Monday, five countries — including China — had voted against Ukraine’s effort to convene the urgent debate.
Ukraine’s ambassador Yevheniia Filipenko, her eyes red with emotion, told delegates after the vote: “I thank all those who voted for the right course.”
BERLIN — Chancellor Olaf Scholz says Germany and its partners have determined there is currently no risk to the public from a fire at a Ukrainian nuclear plant.
Speaking to reporters during a visit to German troops Friday, Scholz said Germany had immediately performed measurements and exchanged information with other nations following the incident at the Zaporizhzhia plant, where Russian forces attacked late Thursday.
Scholz said the incident shows how dangerous the situation in Ukraine is.
Scholz said it is “completely clear” that NATO will not participate in the conflict in Ukraine, where the country’s president wants a no-fly zone to be imposed.
“Together we are ensuring that nobody attacks NATO territory,” Scholz said, noting that the alliance has positioned additional troops in its eastern member states for this purpose.
WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s pharmaceutical authorities say customers are asking whether they should take iodine to protect against radiation, after a nuclear plant in neighboring Ukraine was targeted by invading Russian troops.
Tomasz Leleno, spokesman for Poland’s Main Pharmaceutical Chamber, said Friday that pharmacists and doctors are advising against that, because iodine may cause more harm than good if used without consulting a doctor.
The United Nations atomic watchdog said there has been no release of radiation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant after a building on the site was hit by Russian shelling.
But the development has alarmed Poles. Sale of iodine solution had already surged last week, after Russian troops took control of Ukraine’s idled Chernobyl nuclear plant, where there was an accidental meltdown in 1986.
After Chernobyl, many people in Poland, especially the young, took iodine, as some experts claimed it could shield against radiation.
VIENNA — The head of the UN atomic agency says a Ukrainian nuclear plant was hit by a Russian “projectile” but that the building it struck was a training center and there has been no release of radiation.
Initial reports were unclear about what part of the plant was affected by a fire that broke out after the shelling late Thursday, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi said Friday that the building was “not part of the reactor.”
He said Ukrainians are still in control of the reactor and the fire has been extinguished.
The Ukrainian state nuclear company said three Ukrainian troops were killed and two wounded in the Russian attack.
The UN says only one reactor at the plant is operating, at about 60% of capacity.
MOSCOW — Russia’s state media regulator Roskomnadzor is blocking access to the websites of five international media organizations.
State news agency RIA Novosti reported Friday that the blocked websites include those of the BBC, Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
The sites were blocked for hosting what Roskomnadzor told RIA was “false information” about Russian military actions in Ukraine, including reports of attacks on civilians and the Russian military’s losses.
The five named organizations, also including Latvia-based Russian-language website Meduza and German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, are among the largest foreign news outlets with Russian-language news operations.
On the early afternoon in Moscow, the BBC Russian service and Radio Free Europe Russian-language content were not reachable, but Voice of America content remained accessible.
BERLIN — UNICEF says that about 500,000 children have been forced to flee their homes in Ukraine over the past week due to Russia’s invasion, calling the exodus “unprecedented in scale and speed.”
“If the violence (doesn’t) stop, many, many more children will be forced to flee their country in a very short space of time,” James Elder, a spokesman for the United Nations Children’s Fund, said Friday. “And we fear many more will be killed.”
He said UNICEF is sending large amounts of humanitarian supplies to Ukraine to help those in need and also providing emergency training to pediatricians who are being sent to the region.
“They’re preparing for a mass casualty of children,” he said, adding that the training included a triage system for treating children.
The International Organization for Migration said Friday that so far 1.25 million people have fled Ukraine, including almost 80,000 third-country nationals.
LONDON — Google is suspending sales of online ads in Russia after the country’s communications regulator demanded the tech giant stop spreading through its advertising what Moscow called false information about the Russian military in Ukraine.
The company said late Thursday that the suspension covers YouTube, search and display ads.
Google is one of the world’s biggest sellers of online ads.
The Russian regulator, Roskomnadzor, issued several notices to Google this week warning the company about spreading false information or demanding it ease restrictions on YouTube channels operated by Russian media.
Separately, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky tweeted that the short-stay booking site is suspending all operations in Russia and its neighboring ally Belarus. Chesky did not elaborate.