March 9, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Jack Guy, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 0502 GMT (1302 HKT) March 10, 2023
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1:46 a.m. ET, March 9, 2023

Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant "completely disconnected" from power grid again, officials say

From CNN’s Svitlana Vlasova

 A general view of Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is pictured in Nikopol on March 3.
 A general view of Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is pictured in Nikopol on March 3. (Mustafa Ciftci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has once again been “completely disconnected” from Ukraine’s power grid due to Russian shelling, state energy company Energoatom said on Telegram Thursday.

“Currently, the plant is disconnected and in blackout mode for the sixth time during the occupation, Units 5 and 6 are being put into cold shutdown, and 18 diesel generators have been switched on to power the plant's own needs,” the post read, adding the plant has enough fuel to operate for 10 days.

The plant sits in the Russian-occupied part of the Zaporizhzhia region and is the largest in Europe. It has been held by Russian forces for some 12 months but is operated by its Ukrainian staff.

The facility's latest disconnection from the power grid Thursday comes as officials across Ukraine reported Russian missile attacks targeting energy infrastructure.

"In addition, all domestic nuclear power plants located on the territory controlled by Ukraine have discharged their power due to the threat of missile attacks,” the Energoatom statement said.

3:00 a.m. ET, March 9, 2023

At least 2 injured in Kyiv strikes, mayor says

From CNN’s Svitlana Vlasova

An explosion in western Kyiv injured at least two people, the capital's Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Telegram Thursday. 

"Another explosion in the capital. Svyatoshynskiy district. All services are heading to the scene. Cars are burning in the yard of a residential building," the post read. 
"Two victims in Svyatoshynskiy district. Medics are providing assistance at the scene."

Earlier, Klitschko reported that a series of explosions had hit the Holosiivskyi district in southwestern Kyiv and that roughly 15% of the city was without electricity due to an emergency cut to the power supply. 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the victims' injuries were fatal. Their condition remains unknown.

12:25 a.m. ET, March 9, 2023

About 15% of Kyiv is without power due to missile attack, mayor says

From CNN’s Svitlana Vlasova 

About 15% of Kyiv is without electricity due to an emergency cut to the power supply following a Russian missile attack Thursday, the capital's Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Telegram. 

“Due to the missile attack, the energy industry used a technological emergency to cut off the power supply in the capital. Currently, about 15% of consumers are without electricity,” the post said. 

Earlier, Klitschko reported that a series of explosions had hit the Holosiivskyi district in southwestern Kyiv. 

12:20 a.m. ET, March 9, 2023

Explosions reported in southwestern Kyiv, mayor says 

From CNN’s Josh Pennington and Sophie Jeong

Explosions were heard in southwestern Kyiv on Thursday, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on his official Telegram account. 

“There were explosions in the Holosiivskyi district of the capital. All response teams have been dispatched to the scene. Update to come,” the post read. 
12:20 a.m. ET, March 9, 2023

Russian missiles strike Odesa and Khmelnytskyi regions as explosions reported in Kharkiv

From CNN's Josh Pennington

Russia targeted energy infrastructure with missile strikes in several parts of Ukraine early on Thursday, according to Ukrainian officials.

In the southern Odesa region, missile strikes were reported on energy facilities and homes.

Maxim Marchenko, head of the Odesa regional military administration, said no casualties were reported.

"Power supply is currently being restricted. Our air defense units have shot down missiles," Marchenko said in a Telegram post, adding that a second wave could hit and residents should take shelter. 

Northwest of Odesa, missiles also struck the Khmelnytskyi region

"Remain in your shelters! The enemy is striking the country's critical infrastructure. Take care of yourself and your loved ones!" Serhiy Hamaliy, head of the Khmelnytskyi regional military administration, said in a Telegram post.

In northeastern Kharkiv meanwhile, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said there was a series of explosions.

"I don't have details yet, but I ask that everyone be careful," he said on Telegram. "Our energy infrastructure is in the crosshairs. We are having problems with electricity in some parts of Kharkiv. But we will survive and everything will be repaired."

Oleh Syniehubov, head of Kharkiv's military administration, wrote there were at least 15 strikes. "There is a threat of repeat strikes! Stay in your shelters!" he wrote.

12:06 a.m. ET, March 9, 2023

Zelensky says he won't meet with Putin because Russian leader can't be trusted

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky can’t currently envisage a situation in which he would meet Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

“We don't have any circumstances to talk to the Russian Federation president because he doesn't hold his word,” Zelensky told CNN's Wolf Blitzer when asked what it would take to set up such a meeting.
“We don't have any confidence in him,” Zelensky said.
“Russia should leave our territory. And after that, we're happy to join the diplomatic tools. In order to do that, we can find any format with our partners just after that.”

Personal life: The Ukrainian leader also spoke about how he and his family are dealing with the war, which is now in its second year.

“My daughter joined the university and she studies there, and my son is attending school in Ukraine,” he said. “They're both in Ukraine. They're very much like other Ukrainian kids. We live with sirens.”

“We want victory. We don't want to get used to war, but we got used to the challenges. Everyone wants one thing — to end the war,” he said. 

10:35 p.m. ET, March 8, 2023

Fighter jets could decide a Ukrainian victory, Zelensky says

From CNN's Rob Picheta

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN's Wolf Blitzer he is "very grateful" for US President Joe Biden's visit to Ukraine last month. 

“It's an important signal to the whole world that the US is supporting us. And I think that US believe that we will prevail,” Zelensky said.

But on the question of whether the US will send Ukraine F-16 fighter jets to help the battle for control in the skies, Zelensky said, “The fighter jets issue is difficult. We're waiting for this decision to be taken.”

“We really need this and really appeal to the president that they could start training Ukrainian pilots, and President Biden told me that it will be worked upon … I believe that the United States will give us the opportunity to defend our skies,” Zelensky said.

Asked if the supply of Western jets will “make or break” a Ukrainian success in the war, Zelensky said: “Yes, we believe so.”

Recalling a discussion with Biden over jets, Zelensky said Biden and his aides felt jets “were not needed” at the moment.

"And I said, 'No, we need those jets,'" Zelensky said.

“What fighter jets could do, they could help us to defend ourselves,” Zelensky said. “That's why we need it urgently."

More on Ukrainian pilots: The US is working with Ukrainian pilots in the United States to determine how long it would take to train them to fly F-16 fighter jets, three sources briefed on the matter told CNN.

Two Ukrainian pilots are currently at a military base in the US having their skills tested in flight simulators to see how much time they would need to learn to fly various US military aircraft, including F-16s.

A US military official added that “there are no updates to provide regarding F-16s to Ukraine” and there are no immediate plans to increase the number of Ukrainian pilots in the US.

9:27 p.m. ET, March 8, 2023

Top Ukrainian general visits Bakhmut for third time in less than a week 

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio in London and Denis Lapin in Kyiv

One of Ukraine’s top military commanders visited the city of Bakhmut for the third time in less than a week, a video posted on his official Telegram account on Wednesday showed. 

Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, Ukraine's second highest-ranked general, said his men were doing everything they could to ensure Russian forces made the wrong move, referencing a chess strategy. 

“Zugzwang in chess is a situation where any move by a player leads to a deterioration of his position,” the post read. “We are doing everything we can to ensure that the enemy is in this situation in this war.”

Ukrainian forces were holding their ground, he added. Other military leaders have said it is a priority for Ukraine to continue defending Bakhmut, where fighting has intensified.

CNN could not independently verify where the video was recorded but metadata on the file suggested it was recorded Wednesday.

Syrskyi organized and led the defense of Kyiv, successfully driving back Russian forces that had nearly encircled the Ukrainian capital at the beginning of Russia’s invasion. He has paid regular visits to frontline units in the Donbas and elsewhere, including Bakhmut. His previous visit to the city was at the end of last week.

9:50 p.m. ET, March 8, 2023

Exclusive: Zelensky invites House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to visit Ukraine

From CNN's Clare Foran

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is inviting House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to visit Ukraine to see the situation on the ground first hand — an invitation that comes as the Republican Party faces a divide over whether the United States should continue to provide aid to the country under attack from Russia.

“Mr. McCarthy, he has to come here to see how we work, what’s happening here, what war caused us, which people are fighting now, who are fighting now. And then after that, make your assumptions,” Zelensky told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in an exclusive interview.

But when told of the invitation on Tuesday, McCarthy told CNN’s Manu Raju that he does not plan to visit Ukraine, and argued that President Joe Biden has not acted quickly enough to aid the country. McCarthy, a California Republican, has said he supports Ukraine but does not support “a blank check,” a position he repeated on Tuesday — even though there is federal oversight of all the dollars that are spent there.

“I think that Speaker McCarthy, he never visited Kyiv or Ukraine, and I think it would help him with his position,” Zelensky said.

Read more here.