March 14, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Jack Guy, Adrienne Vogt, Mike Hayes, Elise Hammond and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 12:07 a.m. ET, March 15, 2023
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12:23 p.m. ET, March 14, 2023

Leopard 2 tanks will soon be deployable, German defense forces spokesperson says

From CNN's Inke Kappeler in Berlin

A Leopard 2 tank is seen at the Armored Corps Training Center in Munster, Germany, on February 20.
A Leopard 2 tank is seen at the Armored Corps Training Center in Munster, Germany, on February 20. (Focke Strangmann/AFP/Getty Images/File)

Ukrainian soldiers have nearly completed their training on Leopard 2 battle tanks in Munster, Germany, according to a spokesperson for the special training command of its armed forces, the Bundeswehr. 

The spokesperson — who is routinely not named — told CNN that with training now concluding, it would soon be feasible for Germany to deploy the Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Germany has so far vowed to supply Ukraine with 18 of the latest A6 model Leopard 2 tanks. 

The spokesperson said the Ukrainian soldiers were “highly motivated” and used the five-week training “more than effectively.”

The spokesperson said the soldiers were trained 12 to 14 hours a day, six days a week, over the past five weeks. The spokesperson said they were trained as drivers, gunners, technicians, commanders and maintenance personnel.

The soldiers were first taught how to maneuver the main battle tank as drivers and commanders, the spokesperson said, adding the soldiers said driving the Leopard 2 tanks was like “driving a Mercedes.”

The soldiers completed their final shooting training session Monday, with the spokesperson stating that trainees achieved an 82-85% hit rate under combat conditions.

"This is a super result," he said, adding that the simulator shooting training substantially enhanced the soldiers’ progress.

The spokesperson added the Bundeswehr’s special training command benefited from the experience at a tactical level and regarding wartime experience. He said the instructors were also highly motivated as they knew “what they were making the soldiers fit for.”

The Bundeswehr’s special training command group aims to train 9,000 Ukrainian soldiers in 2023 after training 1,100 in 2022.

Remember: After weeks of squabbling, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced the move to send tanks in late January, bowing to intensifying international pressure – led by the United States, Poland and a bloc of other European nations that called on Berlin to step up its military support and commit to sending their sought-after vehicles. US President Joe Biden announced at the same time that he would send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine.

11:37 a.m. ET, March 14, 2023

Older women who stayed in Ukraine during the war share their stories of resilience

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová and Yulia Kesaieva

Ukraine has a large population of older people — one in four of its residents is over the age of 60 — and most of them are women. Some lived through World War II as children, only to see their lives disrupted again in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine began.

When Russia then launched its full-scale invasion last February, many of these women were unable or unwilling to leave. Of the 4.8 million Ukrainians who have registered in other European countries as refugees since the war began, most are younger women and children, while older women stayed in Ukraine.

Here are some of their stories, edited for clarity and brevity.

Valentina Tokariova, 85, was born in Russia. She lived in the Donbas in eastern Ukraine for 60 years until 2014, when she fled to Kyiv:

I am Russian by birth, born in Novosibirsk. So, in my head, I still don’t understand how this happened and how there can be a war. I thought it was impossible.
I came to Donbas in 1962. I was 23 and I followed a young man. He is not worth telling you about. We lived together for seven years and then he abandoned me and our son.
For 60 years, I’ve been living in Ukraine. I worked my whole life for Ukraine, this is my family, my home, this is my country. I am Ukrainian now. I consider Ukrainian culture my own.

Yulia Hermanovska is 79 and has been living on her own in Kyiv since her husband died five years ago:

I have stage-four cancer. I've been fighting it for three years already, this is my fourth.
My doctor evacuated at the exact time I was due to start my treatment, in February 2022. She only came back in May. I felt really bad at the time, but by the end of May I started intensive therapy. I feel so much better now! When I was diagnosed in 2020, I was told I would have two to five years. We'll see.
I have always liked the Ukrainian language more, but I was forced to speak Russian because it was not modern and popular to speak Ukrainian back then. It was considered a villagers’ language.
The last seven-and-a-half years of my career, I worked as a librarian at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. When I had the job interview, they told me if I wanted to work there, I could only use two languages: English or Ukrainian. So I had to switch back to Ukrainian at the age of 50, having spoken Russian all my adult life.

Klara Rozkishna, 94, spent 40 years teaching chemistry in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. She lives in Kyiv with her daughter:

We left Donetsk on May 29, 2014. Once we saw Russian tanks, we left immediately.
Donetsk used to be a beautiful city. It was called the city of a million roses. One would think it's a miners’ city, but there were so many roses! We used to live downtown and I loved walking along the Pushkin Boulevard. It was very green. Me and my husband lived in a house close to the Kalmius river. It was such a beautiful spot, so many flowers!
We abandoned everything we had there and locked our apartment. My husband died in 2009 and is buried in Donetsk. I even bought a spot for myself right next to him. But the cemetery was bombed. Because this is not a war. This is a slaughterhouse. They are barbarians.
But it is ok, Ukraine will win — I am sure.

Read more stories from Ukrainian women here.

10:45 a.m. ET, March 14, 2023

Museums recategorize artworks from Russian to Ukrainian

From CNN's Tim Lister

"Ukrainian Dancers" by Edgar Degas (1899). 
"Ukrainian Dancers" by Edgar Degas (1899).  (From The National Portrait Gallery)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has quietly reclassified some of its paintings. Two artists, once labeled as Russian, are now categorized as Ukrainian, and a painting by the French Impressionist Edgar Degas has been renamed from "Russian Dancer" to "Dancer in Ukrainian Dress."

For one woman in Kyiv, these changes are a vindication of sorts. Oksana Semenik, a journalist and historian, has been running a months-long campaign to persuade institutions in the United States to relabel the historical works of art she believes are wrongly presented as Russian.

At the Met, they include work by Ilya Repin and Arkhip Kuindzhi, artists whose mother tongue was Ukrainian and who depicted many Ukrainian scenes, even if the region was in their day part of the Russian Empire.

Repin, a renowned 19th century painter who was born in what is now Ukraine, has been relabeled on the Met's catalog as "Ukrainian, born Russian Empire" with the start of each description of his works now reading, "Repin was born in the rural Ukrainian town of Chuhuiv (Chuguev) when it was part of the Russian Empire."

On Semenik's Twitter account, Ukrainian Art History, which has over 17,000 followers, she wrote: "All [Repin's] famous landscapes were about Ukraine, Dnipro, and steppes. But also about Ukrainian people."

One of Repin's lesser-known contemporaries, Kuindzhi was born in Mariupol in 1842 when the Ukrainian city was also part of the Russian Empire, his nationality has also been updated. The text for Kuindzhi's "Red Sunset" at the Met has been updated to include that "in March 2022, the Kuindzhi Art Museum in Mariupol, Ukraine, was destroyed in a Russian airstrike."

In reference to the recent relabeling process, the Met told CNN in a statement that the institution "continually researches and examines objects in its collection in order to determine the most appropriate and accurate way to catalogue and present them. The cataloguing of these works has been updated following research conducted in collaboration with scholars in the field."

Read about more reclassified Ukrainian works here.

9:19 a.m. ET, March 14, 2023

Russian defense minister orders doubling of high-precision weapons production

From CNN's Katharina Krebs

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered the doubling of production of precision-guided weapons during a visit to major Russian arms manufacturer Tactical Missiles Corporation, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement Tuesday.

"Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu noted that the Tactical Missiles Corporation adequately fulfills the state defense order. However, even taking into account the increase in production this year, he ordered to double the production of high-precision weapons," according to the statement. 

The corporation faces a "very serious task,” Shoigu said.

“For its implementation, the enterprise has the necessary reserves: highly qualified specialists and production facilities. Therefore, the task is tough, but doable,” Shoigu said.

He added that some of the latest weapons presented today by the corporation are "missing not only from today's enemy but also from the armed forces of other countries."

 

9:07 a.m. ET, March 14, 2023

Ukraine says it shot down 4 Russian missiles over sea near Odesa

From CNN's Maria Kostenko in Kyiv

The Ukrainian military said it destroyed four Russian missiles that were headed toward the Odesa region in southern Ukraine.

"The enemy conducted an airstrike in Odesa region using tactical aircraft ...The Su-24 aircraft fired four anti-radar missiles towards the coast, presumably X-31P," Operational Command South said.

"The missiles have been destroyed over the sea," the command said.

Several buildings were damaged, it added.

9:03 a.m. ET, March 14, 2023

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

From CNN Staff

A couple enter a residential building damaged by a Russian missile strike in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, on Tuesday, March 14.
A couple enter a residential building damaged by a Russian missile strike in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, on Tuesday, March 14. (Yan Dorbronosov/Reuters)

Russian strikes across the Donetsk region have killed at least three people, while continued fighting in Bakhmut is focused around an industrial plant in the north of the city.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin has said it does not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court amid reports that the court is considering war crimes cases related to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Here are the latest headlines:

  • Deadly strikes across Donetsk: Russian strikes on residential areas of the Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk have killed one and injured two more. In Kostiantynivka, two people are confirmed dead with seven more wounded.
  • Bakhmut fighting focused around northern plant: Social media posts appear to confirm fighting around the AZOM metallurgical plant in the north of Bakhmut. Wagner units appear to be making limited advances around the city, but remain well short of its encirclement.
  • No confirmation of Xi and Zelensky virtual meeting: Ukrainian, Chinese and US officials all declined to confirm a potential virtual meeting between President Volodymyr Zelensky and President Xi Jinping in statements Monday and Tuesday, following a report that the two were planning to speak for the first time since Russia’s invasion.
  • Kremlin doesn’t recognize ICC: The Russian government has said it does not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, after the court declared its plans to open two war crimes cases against Russia, according to The New York Times and Reuters.
  • Grain deal extension: Russia and the UN have agreed on a 60-day extension of the Ukraine grain deal after negotiations in Geneva, which the Kremlin is calling a "sort of goodwill gesture."
  • Nord Stream blast boat identified: German magazine Der Spiegel has identified the boat that was searched by authorities in connection with the explosions that knocked out the Nord Stream gas pipeline last September.

Here's the latest map of control:

8:36 a.m. ET, March 14, 2023

Lithuanian parliament declares Russian private military company Wagner a terrorist organization

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz and James Frater

The Lithuanian parliament has adopted a resolution labeling the private military company Wagner as a terrorist organization.

“Wagner is a terrorist organization, and its members and mercenaries pose a threat to the security of the state and society," according to the resolution, which was published on the parliament website. 

"Since the start of the Russian Federation's military invasion of Ukraine in 2022 on February 24, soldiers of the Russian Federation and mercenaries of the private military company 'Wagner' of the Russian Federation, which actively participates in military actions on the side of the aggressor, commit systematic, serious crimes of aggression - killing and torturing the civilian population of Ukraine, bombing residential buildings and other civilian objects - which are equivalent to terrorism,” according the parliamentary document.

The parliament said that “the private military company 'Wagner,' founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, is a shadow tool of Russian power.”

The Lithuanian parliament said it was inviting other countries to follow suit and label Wagner a terrorist organization.

Lithuania and Russia share a border that is 297 kilometers (184 miles) long.

Some context: Wagner fighters have played an important role in Russia's invasion of Ukraine – with many involved now in the battle for the eastern city of Bakhmut.

Many were recruited from Russian prisons and offered pardons in return for a six-month tour of duty in Ukraine.

8:49 a.m. ET, March 14, 2023

Cross-border Russian shelling kills 1 woman in Ukraine's northern Kharkiv region, local official says

From CNN's Maria Kostenko in Kyiv 

A policeman examines a crater after Russian shelling in Vovchansk, Ukraine, on March 9.
A policeman examines a crater after Russian shelling in Vovchansk, Ukraine, on March 9. (Sergey Bobok/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian forces have fired more shells across the border into Ukraine's northern Kharkiv region, according to a local official.

At least one person was killed in the town of Vovchansk, a few miles from the border with Russia, according to Oleh Syniehubov, head of the Kharkiv region military administration.

"The enemy [is] continuously shelling peaceful civilians as well as civilian infrastructure in Vovchansk," he said.

"An enemy projectile struck a civilian car during the shelling of the city fire and rescue unit. ... A 55-year old woman who was in the car has died," he continued.

More about Vovchansk: The town was occupied by Russian forces early in the invasion, but was taken back by Ukrainian forces in September. Russian forces regularly shell Vovchansk and other border towns in Kharkiv and Sumy regions. 

Vovchansk, an important railway hub, has been shelled at least four times this month. Occasionally, it has also suffered air strikes.

7:53 a.m. ET, March 14, 2023

Kremlin calls 60-day grain deal extension a “kind of goodwill gesture”

From CNN’s Anna Chernova

The hold of a UN-chartered vessel is loaded with Ukrainian wheat to be delivered to Kenya and to Ethiopia, at the port of Chornomorsk on February 18.
The hold of a UN-chartered vessel is loaded with Ukrainian wheat to be delivered to Kenya and to Ethiopia, at the port of Chornomorsk on February 18. (Oleksandr Gimanov/AFP/Getty Images/File)

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said extending the Black Sea grain deal for 60 days was a “goodwill gesture” on the part of Russia, as its conditions have still not been met.

“The deal cannot stand on one leg," Peskov said when asked why the deal had not been extended by 120 days.

"Of course, the conditions for the [deal] extension are relative. But this is a kind of goodwill gesture on the part of Russia,” he said.

Peskov added that Russia made this step “in the hope that, after such a long time, the conditions and obligations that were taken on by the known parties will be fulfilled.”

Russia and the United Nations agreed on a 60-day extension of the Ukraine grain deal after negotiations in Geneva, Russian state news agency RIA reported on Monday, citing Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko.

Grushko added that the condition was that all the promises given to Russia will be fulfilled, including the obligation to lift sanctions, direct and indirect, on the supply of agricultural products to international global markets.

Some context: In July last year, ministers from both Ukraine and Russia signed the agreement following months of negotiations brokered by the UN and Turkey.

Russia pledged to unblock ports on the Black Sea to allow the safe passage of grain and oilseeds – some of Ukraine’s most important exports.