Russian ‘strike force’ builds around Zelenskyy’s hometown; fears grow for ‘out of control’ nuclear power plant

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Russian ‘strike force’ building to target Zelenskyy’s hometown of Kryvyi Rih

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Kryvyi Rih, the hometown of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is looking increasingly vulnerable with Ukraine saying Russia is building a military “strike force” to target the industrial city in central-southern Ukraine.

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Early Thursday, Ukraine’s southern military command saying the situation in its operational area — where fighting is intensifying around Kryvyi Rih as well as Zaporizhzhia to the east, and Mykolaiv and Kherson to the south — is “tense and complex.”

“The enemy continues to conduct hostilities on the occupied line of defense. In order to prevent the advance of our troops and restore the lost position, the composition of the group in the Kryvyi Rih direction is increasing due to the transfer of units of the 35th Army of the Eastern Military District,” the unit said, saying that Russian aircraft were becoming “more active” and attacking the area south of Kryvyi Rih.

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Ukraine’s southern military command said in a previous update on Wednesday that it believed Russia was creating a military “strike group in the Kryvyi Rih region” and that “it’s also quite likely that the enemy is preparing a hostile counter-offensive with the subsequent plan of getting to the administrative boundary of Kherson region.”

Officials in Ukraine have repeatedly warned in recent days that Russia is redeploying a massive number of troops to the south of the country, where Ukraine has launched counteroffensives to try to regain lost territory, particularly the occupied city of Kherson.

In his nightly address on Sunday evening, Zelenskyy praised the bravery of residents in his hometown, as well as other cities under repeated attack as Russia looks to extend its territorial gains in east and southern Ukraine.

“I want to thank every resident of Mykolaiv for their indomitability, for protecting the city and the region. I also thank Nikopol, Kharkiv, Kryvyi Rih and the entire Dnipropetrovsk region, the strong people of Zaporozhzhia and the region, all Ukrainians of the Kherson region, everyone who defends the approaches to Odessa and the region … Thank you for your courage.”

“Strategically, Russia has no chance of winning this war,” he added.

, Holly Ellyatt

Zelenskyy says he wants to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wants to speak directly with Xi Jinping in hopes China’s president could use the country’s influence to end Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine.

In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Zelenskyy said Ukraine has pursued talks with China since the beginning of the war. He told the newspaper that Russia would feel much more economically isolated without the Chinese market and could use that to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop the war.

China has repeatedly said it supports a “peaceful resolution” to the situation in Ukraine, but has so far refused to call Russia’s war an “invasion.”

— Natalie Tham

US Senate approves Finland and Sweden’s membership to NATO

The US Senate voted 95 to 1 to ratify Finland and Sweden’s entrance to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, calling expansion of the Western defensive bloc a “slam-dunk” for US national security and a day of reckoning for Russian President Vladimir Putin over his invasion of Ukraine.

Senators invited the ambassadors of the two Nordic nations to witness the debate and the vote, a crucial step in opening a new era for the now 30-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization and its 73-year-old pact of mutual defense among the United States and democratic allies in Europe.

President Joe Biden has sought quick entry for the two previously non-militarily aligned northern European nations. Their candidacies have won ratification from more than half of the NATO member nations in the roughly three months since the two applied, a purposely rapid pace meant to send a message to Russia over its six-month-old war against Ukraine’s West-looking government.

“It sends a warning shot to tyrants around the world who believe free democracies are just up for grabs,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said in the Senate debate ahead of the vote.

“Russia’s unprovoked invasion has changed the way we think about world security,” she added.

— Associated Press

Ukraine nuclear plant is ‘out of control,’ UN nuclear chief says

The UN nuclear chief warned that Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine “is completely out of control” and issued an urgent plea to Russia and Ukraine to quickly allow experts to visit the sprawling complex to stabilize the situation and avoid a nuclear accident.

Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press that the situation is getting more perilous every day at the Zaporizhzhia plant in the southeastern city of Enerhodar, which Russian troops seized in early March, soon after their Feb. 24. invasion of Ukraine.

“Every principle of nuclear safety has been violated” at the plant, he said. “What is at stake is extremely serious and extremely grave and dangerous.”

Grossi cited many violations of the plant’s safety, adding that it is “in a place where the active war is ongoing,” near Russian-controlled territory.

— Associated Press

Zelenskyy says ‘global security architecture’ is not working, cites tensions in the Balkans and Taiwan

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the “global security architecture” is not working, and referenced tensions in the Balkans, Taiwan and in the Caucasus.

“If it worked, there wouldn’t be all these conflicts,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address on the Telegram messaging app,

“And this is actually something that Ukraine has been paying attention to not only 161 days after the start of a full-scale war, but for years. Ever since Russia completely ignored international law, the interests of humanity as such,” he added.

— Amanda Macias

Read CNBC’s previous live blog here:

‘It’s just hell’: Ukraine says Russia has the upper hand in Donbas; US approves Sweden and Finland to NATO


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