(Reuters) – Russian forces seized Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine in heavy fighting but a huge blaze on the site was put out. Russian forces also bombarded Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and surrounded several other cities.
* No damage to reactors
The Zaporozhzhia nuclear plant was undamaged by what U.N. nuclear chief Rafael Grossi said he believed was a Russian projectile. Moscow blamed Ukrainian saboteurs for the attack.
* Ukraine says Russians driven from port city
Ukrainians have driven invading Russian forces out of Mykolayiv but fighting continues on the city outskirts, the governor of the Black Sea port said.
* City of Mariupol has no water, heating
The eastern Black Sea port of Mariupol is without water and heating and food is scarce, its mayor Vadym Boychenko said, appealing for military help. “We are simply being destroyed.”
* Civilian casualties mounting
At least 331 civilians are confirmed killed and 675 injured in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began on Feb. 24, but the real toll is likely much higher, the U.N. human rights office said.
* No to no-fly zones over Ukraine
NATO allies rejected Ukraine’s demand for no-fly zones, saying that would lead to an even more brutal war, but EU countries said they were weighing more sanctions on Russia.
* Scholz to Putin: Stop the war now
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to halt military operations in Ukraine immediately during a phone call. Putin said Ukraine must meet Russia’s demands, Interfax news agency reported.
* Russia targets foreign news websites
Russia’s communications watchdog restricted access to several foreign news organisations’ websites including the BBC for spreading “false information”.
*INSIGHT-Russians, Ukrainians seek asylum at US-Mexico border
A growing number of Russians and Ukrainians are traveling to Mexico, buying throwaway cars and driving across the border into the United States to seek asylum.
Microsoft Corp is suspending new sales of its products and services in Ukraine, it said. French luxury group Hermes said it would temporarily shut its stores in Russia. Danish brewer Carlsberg said it would halt new investments in Russia and suspend beer exports.
Kremlin calls for Russian national unity
“Now is not the time to divide, now is the time for all to unite, be together, and unite of course around our president,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
Putin foe urges worldwide protests
“Show the world that Russians don’t want war. Come out in the squares of Berlin, New York, Amsterdam or Melbourne, wherever you are. Now we are all responsible for Russia’s future,” jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said in a post.
*MARKETS: Investors run for cover
Stocks sank to one-year lows in Europe and bonds, commodities and crude rallied as investors ran for cover in the face of escalating war. The rouble slipped back towards record lows.
(Editing by Gareth Jones)