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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1:00 p.m. ET, March 9, 2023

CIA director: No one is watching Ukraine war "more intently" than China

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

CIA Director William Burns testifies before a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Thursday.
CIA Director William Burns testifies before a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Thursday. (Ken Cedeno/Reuters)

CIA Director William Burns on Thursday emphasized the extent to which Russia’s war in Ukraine could color China’s thinking when it comes to Taiwan, telling lawmakers that “nobody has watched more intently” what’s happened in Ukraine than Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“I do think that nobody has watched more intently Vladimir Putin's experience in Ukraine than Xi Jinping has, and I think he's been sobered to some extent at least it's our analysis by the extent to which the West was able to maintain solidarity and absorb some short-term economic costs in the interest of imposing even greater long term economic costs on Russia,” Burns said at a House Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats.

“That's something that President Xi has to weigh as he comes out of zero-Covid, tries to restore Chinese economic growth, tries to engage with, you know, the rest of the global economy,” Burns added.

Congressional advocates of continued US support for Ukraine have echoed Burns’ comments about China, arguing to their skeptical colleagues that countering China is one of the key reasons to continue helping Ukraine defend itself against Russia.

12:13 p.m. ET, March 9, 2023

Power fully restored in Kyiv after Russia's bombardment, mayor says

From CNN's Olga Voitovych and Radina Gigova

Smoke billows near electricity towers after a Russian missile strike in Kyiv on March 9.
Smoke billows near electricity towers after a Russian missile strike in Kyiv on March 9. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images)

Utility crews have fully restored power in the Ukrainian capital, but about a third of the city's homes are still without heat, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said Thursday. 

"Work to restore heat supply is ongoing," the mayor said in an update on Telegram. "The utility plans to restore heat in full within 24 hours," he added.

Russia launched one of its biggest aerial assaults Thursday with 81 missiles targeting Ukrainian infrastructure across the country. In Kyiv, an air raid alert lasted for almost 7 hours overnight and officials implemented power outages as a preventative measure, regional authorities said.

In an earlier post, Klitschko said Russia's attacks knocked out the heat supply and hot water service at the Oleksandrivska Clinical Hospital. About 700 patients are receiving inpatient treatment at the hospital, he said. 

Mobile boilers, diesel fuel and generators were delivered to the medical center while crews made repairs, according to the mayor.

CNN's Robi Picheta contributed to this report.

12:00 p.m. ET, March 9, 2023

Moscow radio and TV stations put out false air raid alerts after getting hacked, according to state media

From CNN's Radina Gigova

Radio stations and television channels in Moscow broadcast false air raid alerts Thursday after their servers were hacked, the Russian capital's Emergency Situations Ministry office told state news agency TASS.

"As a result of a hacking attack on the servers of radio stations and television channels, a false air raid alert has been issued in Moscow. Moscow’s office of the Emergency Situations Ministry is hereby informing that the alert is false and isn’t real," the ministry said, according to TASS.

A similar incident occurred February 28, when false air raid alerts were issued in 15 Russian regions, according to TASS. 

Earlier Thursday, a false air raid alert was also broadcast on radio and television in Russia's Sverdlovsk region after the servers used by broadcasters there were hacked too, state media said. 

11:44 a.m. ET, March 9, 2023

Russia says it launched the "massive retaliation strike" on Ukraine in response to alleged Bryansk attack

From CNN's Radina Gigova and Anna Chernova

Locals gather around a shelling crater after a rocket hit the Pisochyn neighborhood outside Kharkiv, Ukraine, on March 9.
Locals gather around a shelling crater after a rocket hit the Pisochyn neighborhood outside Kharkiv, Ukraine, on March 9. (Pavlo Pakhomenko/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

The Russian Ministry of Defense said Thursday the barrage of missile strikes launched on Ukraine overnight was retaliation for what the ministry called "terrorist actions" organized by Kyiv in Russia's Bryansk region last week.

"High-precision long-range air, sea and land-based weapons, including the Kinzhal hypersonic missile system, hit key elements of Ukraine's military infrastructure, military-industrial complex enterprises, as well as energy facilities that serve them," the Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed in a statement.

It claimed that the target was reached and "all assigned objects have been hit."

"Unmanned aerial vehicles were destroyed, the transfer of reserves and railway transportation of foreign weapons was disrupted, and production facilities for the repair of military equipment and the production of ammunition were disabled," the ministry said in the statement. 

Ukrainian authorities said Russia fired 81 missiles into multiple Ukrainian regions, including the nation’s capital overnight into Thursday. At least 11 people were killed across Ukraine in the strikes, according to regional authorities.

Here's what happened in Bryansk: Russian security officials claimed a small Ukrainian armed group had crossed the Russian border last week into the southern Bryansk region. Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) said the agency was carrying out operations following “armed Ukrainian nationalists who violated the state border.” Russian President Vladimir Putin described the incident as a "terrorist attack." A local official said two civilians were killed.

An adviser in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office, Mykhailo Podolyak, said the alleged raid was either a Russian provocation or the work of local partisans taking a stand against the Kremlin, denying any Ukrainian involvement.

CNN cannot independently verify the Russian claims, and local media have not carried any images of the supposed incidents, any type of confrontation or an alleged raid reported by Russian authorities.

Ukraine rejects Russia's narrative: Kyiv responded dismissively to Moscow's claim the overnight assault on "peaceful cities and villages of Ukraine" was retaliatory. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense issued a statement likening the Kremlin's narrative to Nazi propaganda that sought to justify attacks on British civilians during WWII.

CNN's Olga Voitovych, Vasco Cotovio, Nathan Hodge and Rob Picheta contributed to this post.

11:29 a.m. ET, March 9, 2023

US sanctions China-based network that supplies parts for Iranian drones used by Russian military

From CNN's Sam Fossum

The US has issued a slew of sanctions against members of a China-based network that supplies critical parts for the attack drones that Iran exports to Russia for its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The US Treasury issued the sanctions Thursday in its latest attempt to undermine support for the Kremlin’s war machine and funding for the Iranian regime, as both countries forge closer ties.

The sanctions issued today designate a network of five China-based companies and one employee who support Iran’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) procurement network, and are responsible for the sale and shipment of “thousands of aerospace components,” according to the Treasury.

Specifically, the network supplies the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company, which the US government says helps produce the Shahed-136 UAV that's been exported to Russia for use in its invasion. 

“Iran is directly implicated in the Ukrainian civilian casualties that result from Russia’s use of Iranian UAVs in Ukraine,” said Treasury Under Secretary Brian Nelson, the department’s top official on sanctions. 

The latest crackdown started in earnest in February, on the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Biden administration announced sanctions for “over 200 individuals and entities, including both Russian and third-country actors across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East that are supporting Russia’s war effort.” Those sanctions were imposed in partnership with the G7 and other allies.

12:14 p.m. ET, March 9, 2023

Holding Bakhmut becomes more important each day, a top Ukrainian general says

From CNN's Radina Gigova and Svitlana Vlasova

Ukrainian servicemen load an armored car before being deployed to the frontline of Bakhmut, in Chasiv Yar, Ukraine, on March 9.
Ukrainian servicemen load an armored car before being deployed to the frontline of Bakhmut, in Chasiv Yar, Ukraine, on March 9. (Ignacio Marin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The importance of Ukraine holding on to the eastern city of Bakhmut is "constantly growing," as every day of sustained resistance allows Kyiv's forces to chip away at Russia's offensive capabilities, one of Ukraine's top military leaders said Thursday.

"The importance of holding Bakhmut is constantly growing. Every day of the city's defense allows us to gain time to prepare reserves and to prepare for future offensive operations," Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of Ukraine's land forces, said in a statement.

"In the battles for this fortress, the enemy loses the most trained and combat-ready part of its army, the Wagner (private military company) assault units," said Syrskyi, who is Ukraine's second highest-ranking general.

According to the Ukrainian commander, Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin has said if Bakhmut is captured by his fighters, Russia will be able to launch a "large-scale offensive" using army and airborne units.

"This once again proves the very important role of Bakhmut in the overall defense system of our grouping," Syrskyi said. "Thousands of enemies who died during the assault on the town are a vivid confirmation of this."

"Fighting in the Bakhmut sector continues," he said. "I am proud of the courage and heroism of our soldiers who are disrupting the aggressor's plans with their resilience."

The latest from the front: Russian forces have kept up their assaults near the invasion's eastern front in Kupyansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Shakhtarsk, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said Thursday.

Ukraine's military said its forces had recently repelled attacks in the villages of Orikhovo-Vasylivka and Dubovo-Vasylivka to the northwest of Bakhmut, in Ivanivske to the west of the city and in Oleksandro-Shultine to the southwest.

"The enemy continues to violate the norms of International Humanitarian Law, continues to carry out strikes, shell civilian objects and civilian homes, and tries to destroy the critical infrastructure of our country," the General Staff said. 

10:25 a.m. ET, March 9, 2023

The US and its allies have frozen more than $58 billion from Russian oligarchs

From CNN's Sam Fossum

The US and its allies have blocked or seized more than $58 billion worth of assets owned or controlled by sanctioned Russians in the past year as Western governments continue to dial up the pressure over the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine, according to a joint statement from a multinational sanctions enforcement task force. 

The Russian Elites, Proxies and Oligarchs (REPO) Task Force held its sixth multilateral deputies meeting Thursday morning to discuss the group's continued work and pledge to "redouble" their efforts to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin and his associates. The task force is a joint effort between the US, Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, the UK and the European Commission.

"REPO will redouble efforts to hold Russia accountable for its unjust war, countering Russian efforts to undermine, circumvent, or evade REPO's collective sanctions," according to a joint statement released following the meeting and obtained first by CNN.

"REPO will continue to identify, locate, and freeze the assets of sanctioned Russians, with the aim of depriving the Kremlin of the funds it needs to fight its illegal war," it continued. 

Identifying sanctions evasion: The task force, which was formed last March, is also taking further steps to crack down on sanctions evasion as the US and its allies work to seal the cracks in a sanctions regime that has weakened but not crippled the Russian economy. 

Following Thursday's meeting, REPO also issued a joint global advisory to help the private sector spot and prevent common sanctions evasion methods, like using family members to maintain access to sanctioned assets, creating complex ownership structures and using third-party jurisdictions and false trade information to ship controlled goods, including those that support the Kremlin's war machine. 

The task force has blocked financial assets and seized luxury yachts, high-end real estate and even priceless art, with US officials recovering a possible Fabergé egg from one Russian oligarch's seized yacht last summer.

A US Treasury official told CNN that REPO also provides the governments involved a valuable and streamlined mechanism to apply many of the same tools and best practices for the broader effort to crack down on sanctions evasion.    

Over one year into Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Biden administration officials are focusing on how to plug the gaps on sanctions evasion — a problem that runs the gamut of adversaries like China and allies like Turkey, India and the United Arab Emirates. 

9:54 a.m. ET, March 9, 2023

Why Russia’s rare launch of Kinzhal hypersonic missiles across Ukraine may mark a shift in Kremlin’s strategy

From CNN's Rob Picheta

When Russia launched a total of 81 missiles at major cities across Ukraine on Thursday morning, it included six Kinzhal ballistic missiles that eluded Kyiv's air defenses, the Ukrainian military said.

"The attack is really large-scale and for the first time using such different types of missiles. We see that this time as many as six Kinzhal were used. This is an attack like I don't remember seeing before," Yurii Ihnat, spokesperson for the Air Force Command of Ukraine, said on Ukrainian television Thursday.

"So far, we have no capabilities to counter these weapons," he added, referring to the Kinzhals, plus six X-22 air-launched cruise missiles that were also launched by Russian forces.

Russia used the nuclear-capable Kinzhal missile, which it has described as a hypersonic weapon, on a few occasions in the first weeks of its invasion last year. But the powerful weapon has rarely been seen over the country's skies. Its first known use was last March, and then in May, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

The use of such a wide and unpredictable array of weaponry seemingly marks a shift in the Kremlin's strategy.

About the Kinzhal: It is an air-launched variant of the Iskander short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) which has also, more frequently, been used in Ukraine, and was unveiled by Putin in 2018 as a cornerstone of a modernized Russian arsenal.

Like virtually all ballistic missiles it is hypersonic, which means they travel at least five times the speed of sound, but it is also particularly difficult to detect because it can be launched from MiG-31 fighter jets, giving it a longer range and the ability to attack from multiple directions.

CNN's Svitlana Vlasova and Radina Gigova contributed reporting.

Correction: This post has been updated to clarify that virtually all ballistic missiles not missiles in general are hypersonic.

9:09 a.m. ET, March 9, 2023

Power supply to Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant was restored, Ukraine's national energy company says 

From CNN's Svitlana Vlasova and Radina Gigova

The power supply to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) has been restored, Ukraine's national energy company Ukrenergo said in a statement Thursday.

"Ukrenergo specialists have restored the power supply to Zaporizhzhia NPP, which was interrupted by today's missile strikes," the company said. "ZNPP is switching from diesel generators to getting electricity for its own needs from the Integrated Power System of Ukraine."

The plant has been under Russian control since March last year, but is still mostly operated by Ukrainian workers.