Update (1716ET): This'll teach 'em...
CNN will no longer broadcast in Russia "while we continue to evaluate the situation and our next steps moving forward," according to host Brian Stelter.
This just in from a CNN spokesperson: "CNN will stop broadcasting in Russia while we continue to evaluate the situation and our next steps moving forward."— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) March 4, 2022
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Update (1451ET): Interfax is reporting that a Russian watchdog says Twitter is now blocked in Russia, adding to the western social media freeze that now includes Facebook and access to app stores.
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Update (1437ET): Vladimir Putin signed several laws on Friday - including one which would seize the assets of foreigners if they harm Russians or otherwise infringe on Russian rights, according to Interfax.
The threat comes in parallel with another law signed on Friday which will criminalize whatever the Kremlin deems "disinformation" about the military in a crackdown on "fake information." As a result, the BBC has pulled all reporters from Moscow.
Meanwhile, Moscow has offered foreign companies three options for a path forward: remain in Russia, exit entirely, or hand over their holdings to local managers.
First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov spelt out the government's position a little more than a week after Russia invaded Ukraine, and a day after French bank Societe Generale (SOGN.PA) sent a chill through the corporate world by saying Russian authorities could seize its assets in the country.
Belousov outlined three alternatives for foreign firms.
"The company continues to work fully in Russia," he said in a statement. "Foreign shareholders transfer their share to be managed by Russian partners and can return to the market later," he added, and: "The company permanently terminates operations in Russia, closes production and dismisses employees." -Reuters
Check back for more updates...
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Update (1418ET): Following the seizure of Europe's largest nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine announced that it was preparing to repel a potential assault by Russian troops near the Black Sea city of Odesa - shortly after the Ukrainians scuttled their own flagship to avoid it falling into enemy hands.
According to the general staff of the Ukrainian army, Russian troops are 'encircling the capital' of Kiev.
Meanwhile, Russia's communications regulator has blocked Facebook, according to Bloomberg, citing Interfax.
Facebook was banned in retaliation for its freezing of accounts of RT, Sputnik and RIA Novosti and other media, communications regulator Roskomnadzor said in a statement.
Two liberal broadcasters, Ekho Moskvy and TV Rain, went off air Thursday under pressure from prosecutors, while the websites of the BBC, Deutsche Welle and Meduza, an independent news group, weren’t accessible Friday. -Bloomberg
Check back for more updates...
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Thursday night was quite the exercise in information warfare, after Russian forces seized control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plan in Ukraine.
As a skirmish broke out, Ukraine claimed Russia was "firing from all sides," and warned that if it blows up, "it will be 10 times larger than Chernobyl," while also claiming that the facility had been 'shelled' and radiation levels were rising.
This was quickly debunked by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which reported that there had been no change in radiation levels at the site.
In fact, Russia attacked an administrative complex, not the reactors.
First: if seismic sensors at the plant were triggered (for example if shells or bombs are used) the reactors which are of very different design would shut down automatically.— Mark Nelson (@energybants) March 4, 2022
Second: the main risk at the plant is that cooling does not get to the reactor cores over time.
Some have suggested Ukraine was trying to bait the West into greater assistance, while the Associated Press breathlessly repeated the Ukrainian reports.
They lied about Zaporizhzhya because they want to pull the US into the war— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) March 4, 2022
The lies will become bigger
It's going to get worse
7:34; Ukraine FM: "Russian army is firing from all sides upon Zaporizhzhia NPP," as if there is a sustained attack on a nuclear reactor!— Yossi Gestetner (@YossiGestetner) March 4, 2022
7:47; AP in name of Ukraine: "elevated levels of uranium are being detected."
8:20: A fire at an admin building in the complex.
Russia maintains they used kid-gloves, that the plant is operating normally, and that there's no threat of radioactive materials escaping. This account appears to be corroborated by a 'top US nuclear official,' who told Reuters that the US hasn't seen evidence that Russia attacked the reactors themselves.
According to the Russian UN envoy, reports regarding the attack are 'lies,' and that there's no threat of radioactive materials being released.
Now, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield says that Russian President Vladimir Putin must 'stop this madness.'
"By the grace of God, the world narrowly averted a nuclear catastrophe last night," she said, adding "Cooler heads must prevail. Russian forces are now 20 miles, and closing, from Ukraine’s second largest nuclear facility. So this imminent danger continues(..)The international community must be unanimous."
.@USAmbUN Linda Thomas-Greenfield: "Mr. Putin must stop this madness, and he must stop it now. Cooler heads must prevail. Russian forces are now 20 miles and closing from Ukraine's second-largest nuclear facility. So, this imminent danger continues." pic.twitter.com/iB9ycxGgdk— CSPAN (@cspan) March 4, 2022
'Cooler heads' are denying there was anything close to a 'nuclear catastrophe' last night, but we digress.