Russia attacks Ukraine: Explosions heard as Russian troops move closer to Kyiv

The Russian invasion into Ukraine entered its 16th day Friday.

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On Thursday, Russian forces continued to bombard Mariupol, and satellite images showed that a 40-mile Russian convoy outside Kyiv had broken up and fanned out in nearby towns and other areas, according to The Associated Press. Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate voted 68-31 to approve a government funding bill that includes $13.6 billion in aid for Ukraine. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the measure.

Here are the latest updates:

Italy seizes $578M yacht owned by Russian oligarch

Update 11:30 p.m. EST March 11: Authorities in Italy seized Russian oligarch Andrey Melnichenko’s mega-yacht, according to a statement from Italy’s finance police.

The statement said the vessel -- called “SY A” -- is worth about $578 million and was in storage at the northeastern port of Trieste, CNN reported.

It is one of the largest yachts in the world, according to its manufacturer, Nobiskrug.

Zelenskyy: Mayor of Melitopol kidnapped by Russians

Update 9:55 p.m. EST March 11: The mayor of the southern Ukrainian city of Melitopol was kidnapped by Russian forces on Friday, President Volodymyr Zelensky said.

“Obviously this is a sign of the weakness of the invaders,” the Ukrainian president said in a video message, according to The New York Times.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry published a statement on Facebook, calling the detention of Mayor Ivan Fedorovof by armed men a “war crime.”

“A group of 10 occupiers kidnapped the mayor of Melitopol Ivan Fedorov,” Ukraine’s parliament said on Twitter. “He refused to cooperate with the enemy.”

Explosions heard as Russian troops move closer to Kyiv

Update 9:05 p.m. EST March 11: Russian troops continued to press closer to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv early Saturday. CNN reported that there was “a nonstop volley ... of just heavy booms in the distance” that continued for several minutes.

It was unclear whether the explosions came from Russian or Ukranian troops, the news outlet reported.

Fighting continued on the outskirts of Kyiv, with city officials telling CNN that areas to the north of the capital remain the most dangerous. Those areas include the suburbs of Bucha, Irpin and Hostomel.

UN: No evidence of biological warfare in Ukraine

Update 8:35 p.m. EST March 11: The U.N.’s disarmament chief said there was no evidence of any biological weapons program in Ukraine.

Izumi Nakamitsu made the comments amid an information war between Russia, Ukraine and Western nations, The New York Times reported. On Friday, Russia’s ambassador accused the U.S. of a plot involving biological weapons laboratories in Ukraine, along with migratory birds, bats and insects.

Biden tells Zelenskyy about new sanctions against Russia during phone call

Update 7:30 p.m. EST March 11: President Joe Biden spent 49 minutes on the phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky before he announced new measures against Russia.

Biden told Zelenskyy about revoking “most favored nation” trading status for Russia, CNN reported.

Energy secretary monitoring nuclear facilities

Update 6:08 p.m. EST March 11: Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said her department continues to monitor the situation in Ukraine.

“We remain concerned about Russia’s reckless actions and violations of nuclear safety principles,” Granholm said in a statement. “Bottom line: Russia’s violation of basic nuclear safety principles is unacceptable, and the attacks that risk safety in Ukraine and beyond must stop.”

Central Bank says Russians can only withdraw rubles

Update 5:03 p.m. EST March 11: The Central Bank of Russia said that Russians receiving transfers from foreign banks can only withdraw cash in rubles, The Guardian reported.

The bank said the temporary measure would take effect on Saturday. It did not give a timetable as to how long the measure would be in place.

Chernobyl gets additional fuel

Update 3:22 p.m. EST March 11: Ukraine’s nuclear power agency said the Chernobyl plant has received more diesel full to keep backup generators running, The New York Times reported.

The plant was cut from its electrical source Wednesday. The agency said at the time it had enough fuel to run the generators for 48 hours.

Ukrainian officials are also trying to retire power to the location. Russia had said the site had been connected to Belarus’s electrical grid, Reuters reported.

There are about 200 tons of nuclear fuel still in the reactor which was destroyed in 1986 and more than 20,000 used fuel assemblies from other decommissioned reactors stored on the site.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said that if the plant would lose power, it would not be an immediate safety issue because the assemblies are old and do not generate much heat. The staff there would also be able to continue to monitor the situation. “But they would carry out this work under worsening radiation safety conditions due to a lack of ventilation at the facility,” the Times reported.

YouTube to block all Russian state-funded media sites

Update 1:50 p.m. EST March 11: YouTube has announced it will be blocking all channels linked to Russian state-funded media, The New York Times reported.

Those channels include RT and Sputnik and will be blocked globally. The channels had been blocked in Europe.

The world’s largest streaming platform said the Russian invasion of Ukraine falls under violent events policy, Reuters reported.

YouTube said the channels violate its policy of “denying, minimizing or trivializing well-documented violent events,” the Times reported.

Russia calls the blocking of state media by social media, app stores and distributors unjustified censorship, according to Reuters.

YouTube is owned by Google.

EU issues more sanctions against Russia

Update 1:06 p.m. EST March 11: The European Union will be adding more sanctions against Russia starting Saturday, CNN reported.

This is the fourth time the governing body has issued sanctions.

Part of the move deals with Russia’s status as a privileged nation.

“First, we will deny Russia the status of most-favoured-nation in our markets. This will revoke important benefits that Russia enjoys as a WTO member. Russian companies will no longer receive privileged treatment in our economies,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement. Th EU “will also work to suspend Russia’s membership rights in leading multilateral financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. We will ensure that Russia cannot obtain financing, loans, or any other benefits from these institutions.”

The EU will also make sure that they cannot use cryptocurrency to get around the rules and will ban luxury goods exports. EU nations will also not be supplying Russia with iron and steel, CNN reported.

Anheuser-Busch seeks to stop Budweiser production in Russia

Update 10:49 a.m. EST March 11: The parent company of Budweiser has asked its partner in Russia to stop brewing the beer.

Anheuser-Busch InBev SA has asked Anadolu Efes to suspend the license it has to brew Budweiser and Anheuser-Busch will forfeit profits from the deal, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Heineken NV announced earlier that it would stop producing, selling and advertising its beer in Russia, the newspaper reported.

US to ban Russian alcohol, seafood imports

Update 10:40 a.m. EST March 11: President Joe Biden said that the U.S. will ban imports of alcohol and seafood from Russia, confirming that he’s calling for the revocation of Russia’s permanent normal trade relations status, more commonly known as “most favored nation” trading status, CNN reported.

Diamond imports will also be impacted, The Associated Press reported.

The House of Representatives will vote on the legislation next week, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Biden said, during a briefing from the White House Friday, that he had spoken to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy today.

“I told him, as I have each and every time we’ve spoken, that the United States stands with the people of Ukraine and as they bravely fight to defend their country, and they are doing that,” Biden said.

>>Related: What does revoking ‘most favored nation’ status mean for Russia and the US?

Additional evacuation corridors planned

Update 10:13 a.m. EST March 11: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that his country is setting up 12 new evacuation corridors and that food and medication will be delivered to a dozen areas including Mariupol, CNN reported.

Zelenskyy said that the Ukrainian military has made sure there’s a ceasefire to allow the corridors to work and warned Russia that if the areas come under attack while the rescue is going on, “they will receive a response from the world,” CNN reported.

Russia targets Instagram, Meta

Update 9:30 a.m. EST March 11: Russia is targeting Instagram and is trying to shut down one of the last Western social media networks still operating in the country, The New York Times reported.

The Kremlin has also started a criminal case against Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook. It is asking the Russian courts to call it an “extremist organization.”

“Meta’s aggressive and criminal policy leading to incitement of hatred and hostility towards Russians is outrageous,” Russia’s ministry of foreign affairs wrote, according to The Wall Street Journal. “Media corporations have become soldiers of the propaganda machine of the Western establishment.”

Reuters reported Thursday that Meta has allegedly lifted the ban on Facebook and Instagram on calls for violence against Russian troops in some countries. Citing internal memos to content moderators, Reuters reported the company also lifted the ban calling for the death of Russian President Vladimir Putin or Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko as long they don’t have other targets, a specific location or specific method.

Meta, however, drew the line at calling for violence against Russian civilians, Reuters reported.

“In light of the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, we made a temporary exception for those affected by war, to express violent sentiments toward invading armed forces such as ‘death to the Russian invaders’. These are temporary measures designed to preserve voice and expression for people who are facing invasion. As always, we are prohibiting calls for violence against Russians outside of the narrow context of the current invasion,” Meta told CNN in a statement

Biden to revoke ‘most favored nation’ status for Russia; Russia claims Ukraine is developing chemical weapons

Update 9:22 a.m. EST March 11: President Joe Biden is expected to announce Friday that the U.S., the G7 and the European Union will move to revoke “most favored nation” status for Russia, CNN reported.

The announcement is expected to be made at 10:15 a.m. ET.

While Biden will call for the revocation, it will take an act of Congress to make it happen.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council is meeting Friday after Russia claimed that it was Ukraine, with support of the United States, that was developing chemical weapons, The New York Times reported.

Russia requested the meeting.

The U.S. said Russia is using the Security Council “as a venue of disinformation.”

UK imposes sanctions on 386 Russian lawmakers

Update 8:18 a.m. EST March 11: The United Kingdom on Friday imposed sanctions on 386 Russian lawmakers, according to the AP.

The sanctions, which apply to officials who recognized the Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent, include a U.K. travel ban and a freeze on their assets, the AP reported.

Russian ground forces making ‘limited progress,’ UK Defense Ministry says

Update 7 a.m. EST March 11: The U.K. Ministry of Defense said Friday that Russian troops have made “limited progress” in Ukraine.

“It remains highly unlikely that Russia has successfully achieved the objectives outlined in its preinvasion plan,” the ministry said in an intelligence update Friday.

The update added that logistical issues and Ukrainian resistance continue to hamper Russian ground forces.

“Russia is likely seeking to reset and reposture its forces for renewed offensive activity in the coming days,” the update read. “This will probably include operations against the capital Kyiv.”

Drone crashes, causes blast in Croatia

Update 6 a.m. EST March 11: Croatian officials and military experts believe a malfunctioning drone may have flown all the way from Ukraine to Croatia, where the device crashed and caused a loud blast overnight, according to the AP.

No injuries were reported in connection with the incident, which occurred outside Zagreb – at least 350 miles from the Ukrainian war zone, the AP reported.

A statement released after a meeting of the Croatian National Security Council said the large aircraft was traveling about 430 mph when it crossed into Croatia from Hungary, according to the news agency. It was flying at an altitude of 4,300 feet.

The War Zone online magazine reported that the drone was likely a Soviet-era Tu-141, and Ukraine is the only country currently known to operate the aircraft, according to the AP.

2.5 million people have fled Ukraine, agency says

Update 5 a.m. EST March 11: About 2.5 million people, including 116,000 “third-country nationals,” have fled from Ukraine since the Russian invasion began late last month, the International Organization for Migration said Friday.

More than 1.5 million refugees have crossed into Poland, organization spokesman Paul Dillon told the AP.

2 Ukrainian servicemen killed, 6 people hurt in Lutsk airstrikes

Update 4 a.m. EST March 11: At least two Ukrainian servicemen are dead and six other people are hurt following Russian airstrikes on an airfield in Lutsk, Volyn regional head Yuriy Pohulyayko said.

3 Russian airstrikes hit Dnipro, killing at least 1, Ukraine official says

Update 3 a.m. EST March 11: Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko said at least one person is dead after Dnipro was struck by three Russian airstrikes Friday, according to the AP.

The strikes hit near a kindergarten, apartment buildings and a shoe factory, the news agency reported.

Russia strikes near western Ukraine airports, local officials say

Update 2 a.m. EST March 11: Russia struck near airports in Ivano-Frankiivsk and Lutsk in western Ukraine on Friday, local officials said.

According to the AP, Ivano-Frankiivsk Mayor Ruslan Martsinkiv told nearby residents to take shelter amid an air raid alert. Lutsk’s mayor also said a Russian strike occurred near an airport, the news agency reported.

Authorities have not reported any casualties, according to the AP.

2 more airlines suspend Russian flights

Update 1 a.m. EST March 11: Two more airlines have suspended Russian flights, according to CNN.

Kazakhstan-based Air Astana and Pegasus Airlines, based in Turkey, have suspended “all flights to and from Russia,” according to the news outlet.

“Air Astana sincerely regrets to advise that due [to] the withdrawal of insurance coverage for commercial flights to, from and over the Russian Federation, all flights to the Russian Federation are suspended with immediate effect,” Air Astana tweeted Thursday.

Pegasus Airlines’ Russian flights are suspended from March 13 to 27, CNN reported.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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