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Russia has launched hundreds of missiles and artillery attacks on Ukrainian cities


On Day 9 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, here's what we know. A fire at a Ukrainian nuclear plant is out. The plant is now largely under Russian control, according to Ukrainian officials. The plant's operator and the International Atomic Energy Agency say radiation levels are normal. Meanwhile, Russia's advance on the capital Kyiv appears to have stalled, though shelling continues in and around the capital and Ukraine's second-largest city Kharkiv. Joining us now from Ukraine to talk about what's happening on the ground is NPR's Tim Mak. He's in the Ternopil Oblast. Tim, let's start very quickly with what happened at that nuclear complex. That crisis has been averted for now - is that safe to say?

TIM MAK, BYLINE: Well, it looks that way. The fire's out, as you mentioned. It wasn't at a critical part of the complex, just a building near the main gate. But of course, that's still alarming. It's the biggest complex of its kind in all of Ukraine and, in fact, all of Europe. Russian troops now appear to be in control of much of the complex after the fighting over the last 24 hours, and that's according to Ukrainian officials, but Ukrainian technicians are still staffing it.

MARTÍNEZ: OK, now what's happening on the battlefield?

MAK: Well, you know, Russian bombardments continue all throughout the country, but the military still seems to be stalled near the capital city of Kyiv. The Ukrainian military claims that Russians have withdrawn from the strategic airfield just west of the capital city. It's an airfield that's switched hands multiple times. It's absolutely critical piece of infrastructure for both sides. In the south, the Ukrainian military says they're preparing for a naval landing of Russian forces near the city of Odesa. And the Ukrainian government has said that residential areas continue to be hit with bombardments in this northeast city of Kharkiv, near the Russian border.

MARTÍNEZ: Ukraine had a growing and diverse economy before this war, not just agriculture but also tech sectors. And you've been spending some time talking with business owners in Ukraine. What are you hearing?

MAK: Well, you know, it's really remarkable how you see just kind of overnight the private sector and the economy changed to support the war effort. So just in the last day, I visited a school that's now building - that's kind of served as a place for building camouflage nets and a veterans home that has turned into this logistics hub for military food supplies. I went to a milk production factory that just tossed out their business plan, and they're sending food to the front lines. We spoke to Igor. He owns this industrial business that focuses on building combines for tractors. We talked to him from his warehouse in Ternopil.

IGOR: The simple answer is Russian army came to us. We need to help anyway. So right now we're helping as we can. We understand that it could be times that we will have to take our guns. So we are defending our land.

MAK: So Igor, who once made agricultural equipment, now has his team hard at work welding these old railroad tracks together to make hedgehogs. You might remember those from the scene on Omaha Beach from "Saving Private Ryan" - those large anti-tank devices.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah, I do remember that. Now, many Ukrainians are still trying to get out of the country, trying to get anywhere safe. Is that getting easier or more difficult for people?

MAK: Well, the refugee movements have greatly expanded. The U.N. refugee agency says that at least a million people have fled the country. It's becoming more difficult as people pile up near the border. You know, I was told despite all the suffering and the fear that's happening among civilians that I should look for some stories of joy - an aid worker told me to do that. And, you know, I think you can still see some of that. I saw a group of children who were playing and laughing by a foosball table at a safe house last evening.

MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR's Tim Mak. Tim, thanks a lot.

MAK: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
Tim Mak is NPR's Washington Investigative Correspondent, focused on political enterprise journalism.