March 1, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Jack Guy, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Mike Hayes and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, March 2, 2023
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10:16 a.m. ET, March 1, 2023

Germany will increase ammunition production and repair capacity to support Ukraine, chancellor pledges

From CNN’s Chris Stern in Berlin and Xiaofei Xu in Paris

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks during a news conference in Berlin, Germany, on March 1.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks during a news conference in Berlin, Germany, on March 1. (Michele Tantussi/Reuters)

Germany will ramp up its ammunition production as well as weapon repair capacity to better support Ukraine’s fight against Russia's invasion, the country’s leader said Wednesday. 

“The now one-year lasting support of Ukraine has also brought us the knowledge that enables us to ensure that there is also a sufficient supply, with spare parts, that we have created repair capacities for the weapons used in the war, at locations outside of Ukraine,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said.

“We will ensure that the production of ammunition is advanced, both for the weapons that we have supplied ourselves and those that come from classic stocks that are available in eastern Europe,” Scholz continued.

Berlin announced last week that it is sending another four Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. 

11:09 a.m. ET, March 1, 2023

Videos show Russian soldiers frustrated with military and looking to join Wagner instead

Several soldiers in the Russian military have offered to instead join the Wagner private military company, according to video obtained by CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront."

"The situation here has led to the disbanding of our regiment," a soldier states in the video, as others surround him. "We ask that we be allowed to join your ranks. There are 10 of us here that are combat-ready."

In a separate video, CNN's Frederik Pleitgen reports that Russian soldiers from Irktusk are refusing to fight.

"Due to the current state of affairs, we find ourselves in a desperate position as the commanders do not care about our lives," a soldier says in the video, according to Pleitgen, who adds that the soldier also said, "we ask for help; we have nowhere else to turn."

Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin repeatedly and publicly criticized the Russian Defense Ministry last week over what he alleged was a lack of ammunition from the ministry.

Watch Burnett's report here:

9:31 a.m. ET, March 1, 2023

Russia handed official note on New START suspension to US, state media reports

From CNN's Katharina Krebs in London


Russia handed an official note to the United States on Tuesday on the suspension of Moscow's participation in the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Russian state media RIA Novosti on Wednesday.

The note did state that Russia will continue to observe the treaty's central provisions, which include restrictions on the number of relevant systems, said Ryabkov, as quoted by RIA.

“We are ready to discuss any issues that are of interest to [America], on the understanding that there will be no revision of the decision to suspend the START, at least until the American colleagues show their readiness to abandon their hostile course towards Russia - primarily in relation to what is happening in Ukraine and around it,” he added according to RIA Novosti.

Remember: On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law suspending Russia's participation in START, imperiling the last remaining pact that regulates the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals.

The treaty puts limits on the number of deployed intercontinental-range nuclear weapons that both the US and Russia can have. It was last extended in early 2021 for five years, meaning the two sides would soon need to begin negotiating on another arms control agreement.

The treaty was already essentially paused since Russia had recently refused to open up its arsenal to inspectors.

10:44 a.m. ET, March 1, 2023

Bakhmut doctor lives in basement of hospital as fighting rages on

From Daria Tarasova in Kyiv

A small bunch of snowdrops sits on an improvised table in a basement in Bakhmut, Ukraine.
A small bunch of snowdrops sits on an improvised table in a basement in Bakhmut, Ukraine. (Elena Molchanova)

A small bunch of snowdrop flowers sits on an improvised table in a basement in Bakhmut. Elena Molchanova’s husband brought them for her, a reminder of better times.

“The spring has already arrived to Bakhmut,” Molchanova told CNN via a text message. “I am sure everything will be OK.”

The couple is living in the basement of a hospital where Molchanova works as a doctor.

They have stayed in the eastern Ukrainian city despite its worsening humanitarian and security situation. Every day, the fighting comes closer to her.

As Russian forces continue to advance, Molchanova and her husband are two of the roughly 4,500 civilians who are still in Bakhmut.

A spokesperson for the Ukrainian Donetsk regional military administration, Tetiana Ignatchenko, called on people to evacuate the city due to the danger but told CNN on Wednesday they had enough supplies.

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

China's position on Ukraine is "consistent and clear," Xi tells Belarusian president

From CNN's Beijing bureau and Martin Goillandeau

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a meeting with Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko in Beijing, China, on March 1.
Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a meeting with Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko in Beijing, China, on March 1. (Pavel Orlovsky/Belta/AFP/Getty Images)

China's position on the Ukrainian crisis is consistent and clear, President Xi Jinping told his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko, on Wednesday, according to a Chinese readout of the meeting.

"China's paper on the political solution to the Ukrainian crisis has been released," Xi said. "The core of China's position is to promote peace and talks. We must stick to the direction of political settlement, abandon all Cold War mentality, respect the legitimate security concerns of all countries, and build a balanced, effective, and sustainable European security architecture."

Xi urged involved countries to "stop politicizing and instrumentalizing the world economy" and take steps to resolve the war.

According to the Chinese readout, Lukashenko said Belarus "entirely agrees with and supports China's position and proposition" on the issue.

More context: In a released position paper Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry called for a resumption of peace talks, an end to unilateral sanctions, and stressed its opposition to the use of nuclear weapons – a stance Xi communicated to Western leaders last year

China reiterated its calls for a political settlement to the Ukraine conflict on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion, as Beijing comes under increasing pressure from the United States and its allies over its growing partnership with Moscow.

8:54 a.m. ET, March 1, 2023

Ukrainian electrical grid has had no wide-ranging blackouts for 18 days, state energy company says

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio in London and Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

The Ukrainian electrical grid has been operating without deficit or wide-ranging blackouts for 18 days, the Ukrainian energy company Ukrenergo said in a statement on Wednesday, as Ukrainians marked the first day of spring in the country. 

“There has been no power deficit in the power system for 18 days already and it is not currently forecasted,” the company said. 

Despite Russia’s attempt to weaponize winter by targeting Ukrainian energy infrastructure, Ukrenergo says its staff was able to repair and maintain the grid. 

“In 4.5 months, according to the Prosecutor General's Office, 255 missiles and drones hit energy infrastructure. 214 of them hit the high-voltage network of NPC Ukrenergo,” the statement read. “The reason of no shortage now is the professional work of power engineers who have managed to restore the functionality of the power grid and power plants in a few months.”

Meanwhile, the energy supply in the frontline regions is difficult due to Russian shelling that has damaged the networks in the Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk and Kherson regions, Ukrenergo said. “The repairs are being carried out if the security situation is safe for the repair crews.”

8:07 a.m. ET, March 1, 2023

Finnish parliament approves bid to join NATO

From CNN’s Xiaofei Xu

Finnish MPs attend a plenary session of the Finnish parliament on a vote on the country's entry to NATO in Helsinki, Finland, on March 1.
Finnish MPs attend a plenary session of the Finnish parliament on a vote on the country's entry to NATO in Helsinki, Finland, on March 1. (Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva/AFP/Getty Images)

Finnish lawmakers have voted largely to support the country’s bid to join NATO in a parliamentary vote Wednesday.

“On 1 March 2023, Parliament approved the government proposal on Finland’s accession to NATO by a vote of 184-7,” the parliament said in a statement.

Finland and its neighbor Sweden applied for NATO membership amid security concerns after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.

Hungarian President Katalin Novák earlier said she hoped lawmakers would ratify Sweden and Finland’s ascension into NATO “as soon as possible.”

So far, 28 out of the 30 allies have ratified both Finland and Sweden’s bid to join the military alliance. Only Hungary and Turkey have not yet done so.

8:06 a.m. ET, March 1, 2023

It's mid-afternoon in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

From CNN staff

As Russian forces continue their assault on the besieged city of Bakhmut, Ukrainian forces said they have no plans of withdrawing from the eastern Ukrainian city.

Elsewhere, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has met with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing, and Hungary's president has called on lawmakers to ratify Finland and Sweden's bids to join the NATO military alliance.

Here are the latest headlines:

  • Ukraine still fighting for Bakhmut: The Ukrainian military has not made the decision to withdraw from the battered city of Bakhmut, a military spokesperson told CNN Wednesday. “I can say that there is no such decision now," he said.
  • Experienced Wagner fighters attacking Bakhmut: Russian forces have deployed more experienced fighters from private military company the Wagner Group in their assault on Bakhmut, a Ukrainian military spokesman told CNN. “These units are headed by servicemen who had combat experience in Syria, Libya, and other hot spots," he added.
  • Thousands of civilians remain in besieged city: There are still around 4,500 civilians in Bakhmut, including 48 children, a Ukrainian official has said, as Russian forces continue to advance on the city. 
  • Putin ally Lukashenko meets Xi in Beijing: Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko met Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for official talks in Beijing on Wednesday. Lukashenko said he would "try and outline new horizons" for cooperation between the two countries during talks.
  • Hungarian president pushes for NATO expansion: Hungarian President Katalin Novák said she hoped lawmakers would ratify Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO “as soon as possible,” as they began debating the motions in parliament. 

9:03 a.m. ET, March 1, 2023

Ukrainian soldier in Bakhmut says "no one is going to retreat yet"

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio in London and Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

A soldier from Ukraine’s 93th Brigade said his country’s forces are still standing in the eastern city of Bakhmut, with no plans for a retreat. 

“We are standing in Bakhmut. No one is going to retreat yet,” the soldier said in a video posted by the Ukrainian military on Wednesday. “We are standing. Bakhmut is Ukraine.”

The soldier also claimed the situation in Bakhmut was a bit calmer than in previous days.

“We have muffled the enemy down a little bit. It's a little calmer, but there are still gunfights on the outskirts,” he said. “There are isolated explosions, mines are flying.”

The Ukrainian military has not made the decision to withdraw from the city, a spokesperson said. Ukrainian forces said they are holding ground and have repelled some Russian advances.