March 1, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Jessie Yeung, Rob Picheta, Ed Upright, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 2305 GMT (0705 HKT) March 8, 2022
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1:36 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Mexico's president says he will not impose sanctions on Russia

From Karol Suarez in Mexico City

Mexico will not impose economic sanctions on Russia, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said in a daily news conference on Tuesday morning.

“We’re not going to take any kind of economic reprisal because we want to have good relations with all the governments in the world, and we want to be able to talk with the parties in conflict,” López Obrador said after he was asked about his stance on the matter. 

“We do not consider that it corresponds to us, and we think that the best thing is to promote dialogue to achieve peace,” he said. 

López Obrador also criticized the “censorship” of Russian state media, after social media companies announced they would take action to limit the reach of Russian-backed news channel RT. 

"I don't agree that there is censorship in the media; I spoke out against it when President Trump's account was canceled, as I also do not agree with the fact that the media, from Russia or any other country, are censored," he said.

1:17 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Russian state media accounts demoted across Facebook and Instagram, Meta says

From CNN’s Brian Fung

A sign is seen outside of Meta's headquarters in Menlo Park, California, 2021.
A sign is seen outside of Meta's headquarters in Menlo Park, California, 2021. (Nick Otto/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Russian state media accounts, as well as content linking to their sites, will now be demoted across Meta's platforms globally, the company said Tuesday.

"I can confirm we are demoting content from Facebook pages and Instagram accounts from Russian state-controlled media outlets, and we are making them harder to find across our platforms," Nick Clegg, Meta's global affairs president, said in a statement.

The move to apply algorithmic restrictions to Russia-backed media outlets follows a similar move by Twitter announced on Monday. And it follows calls by European Union officials for tech platforms to do more to keep those outlets from being recommended to users.

As with Twitter, Meta already labels accounts that it identifies as being operated by state-run media. The additional steps being announced on Tuesday involve the labeling of links and the down-ranking of both the links and the Russian media outlets' own accounts.

In the coming days, users who attempt to share links to Russian state media websites will also be shown interstitial warnings on Facebook and Instagram, added Nathaniel Gleicher, Meta's head of security policy.

1:10 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Here's how Kharkiv looks after Russian bombing

Russian forces bombarded a residential area in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city with rockets on Monday, killing nine civilians, including three children, and wounded 37 others.

Here are some photos from the ground.

Debris is scattered outside of a state administration building in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on March 1.
Debris is scattered outside of a state administration building in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on March 1. (Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

A destroyed car sits among debris in Kharkiv's central square on March 1.
A destroyed car sits among debris in Kharkiv's central square on March 1. (Pavel Dorogoy/AP)
A member of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces stands inside the damaged administration building.
A member of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces stands inside the damaged administration building. (Sergey Kozlov/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Ukrainian emergency personnel work at the scene of Russian shelling in Kharkiv on March 1.
Ukrainian emergency personnel work at the scene of Russian shelling in Kharkiv on March 1. (Pavel Dorogoy/AP)

Extensive damage is seen inside of the Kharkiv administration building on March 1.
Extensive damage is seen inside of the Kharkiv administration building on March 1. (Sergey Kozlov/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

12:49 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Russian state media says second round of talks will happen tomorrow. Ukraine officials have yet to confirm.

The second round of talks between the delegations from Ukraine and Russia about the situation in Ukraine is planned for Wednesday, Russian state media reports. 

Russia’s TASS news agency on Tuesday cited a source on the Russian side saying that Wednesday, March 2, is the date that both sides had originally agreed on.

Russian state news agency RIA added that the second round of talks will happen in Belarus near the Belarus-Poland border, and cited Belarusian politician Yury Voskresensky, who they said is close to the talks. According to Voskresensky, the first members of the delegations are expected to arrive in the Belarus capital of Minsk this evening. 

The first round of talks on Monday lasted for five hours and ended without a breakthrough.

Ukrainian officials have yet to confirm that Wednesday is the date for the second round of talks.

1:16 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Indian and African students fleeing Ukraine say they are facing racism at border

From CNN's Stephanie Busari, Nimi Princewill, Shama Nasinde and Mohammed Tawfeeq

A Nigerian student cries after police refused to let him board a train to Poland, after six days of being turned away, at the Lviv-Holovnyi railway station in Lviv, Ukraine, on February 28.
A Nigerian student cries after police refused to let him board a train to Poland, after six days of being turned away, at the Lviv-Holovnyi railway station in Lviv, Ukraine, on February 28. (Ethan Swope/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, foreign students attempting to leave the country say they are experiencing racist treatment by Ukrainian security forces and border officials.

Rachel Onyegbule, a Nigerian first-year medical student in Lviv, told CNN that she and other foreigners were ordered off the public transit bus at a checkpoint between Ukraine and Poland border. They were told to stand aside as the bus drove off with only Ukrainian nationals on board, she said.

She was left stranded at the border town of Shehyni, some 400 miles from Ukraine's capital, Kyiv.

"More than 10 buses came and we were watching everyone leave. We thought after they took all the Ukrainians they would take us, but they told us we had to walk, that there were no more buses and told us to walk," she said. "My body was numb from the cold and we haven't slept in about four days now. Ukrainians have been prioritized over Africans — men and women — at every point. There's no need for us to ask why. We know why. I just want to get home."

Onyegbule said she eventually got her exit document stamped on Monday morning around 4:30 a.m. local time.

Allegations of violence

Saakshi Ijantkar, a fourth-year medical student from India, also shared her ordeal with CNN Monday via a phone call from Lviv, western Ukraine.

"There are three checkposts we need to go through to get to the border. A lot of people are stranded there. They don't allow Indians to go through," she said.

CNN has been unable to confirm the identities or affiliations of the people who operated the checkpoints, but Ijantkar said they were all wearing uniforms.

"They allow 30 Indians only after 500 Ukrainians get in. To get to this border you need to walk 4 to 5 kilometers from the first checkpoint to the second one. Ukrainians are given taxis and buses to travel, all other nationalities have to walk. They were very racist to Indians and other nationalities,'" the 22-year-old from Mumbai told CNN.

She added that she witnessed violence from the guards to the students waiting at the Ukrainian side of the Shehyni-Medyka border.

"I saw an Egyptian man standing at the front with his hands on the rails, and because of that one guard pushed him with so much force and the man hit the fence, which is covered in spikes, and he lost consciousness," she said. "We took him outside to give him CPR. They just didn't care and they were beating the students, they didn't give two hoots about us, only the Ukrainians."

CNN contacted the Ukrainian army in light of the allegations of violence, but did not immediately hear back.

Ukraine attracts many foreign students wanting to study medicine because it has a strong reputation for medical courses and tuition — and other expenses are much lower than in programs in other Western nations.

Read the full report here.

1:10 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Ukraine's request to formally join the EU is "legitimate," European Commission vice president says

From CNN’s Zeena Saifi and Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, center, applauds as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (on screen) delivers a speech at the EU headquarters in Brussels, on March 1.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, center, applauds as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (on screen) delivers a speech at the EU headquarters in Brussels, on March 1. (John Thys/AFP/Getty Images)

There is widespread support for Ukraine to become a member of the European Union, the European Commission Vice President Margaritas Schinas told CNN’s Becky Anderson on Tuesday. 

The statement comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on European leaders to “prove” their solidarity with Ukraine a day after signing an official request to join the European Union. 

“Nobody forgets that democracy was born in Ukraine after young Ukrainians were shot at for waving EU flags in Maidan (Square). We do not have short memories in Europe. We know that Ukraine is a part of the family and they are absolutely right and legitimate in their request to formally join the European Union,” Schinas said. 

He also said that the EU is set to announce blanket protection status for all those fleeing war in Ukraine that would give them automatic access to the EU’s health, education and housing facilities. That decision, Schinas said, along with the EU using its funds to buy weapons for Ukraine are “unprecedented steps.”

He told CNN he is confident when European leaders next meet, they will decide to set up the process at a pace that will allow for Ukraine to accede to the European Union “soon.”

When pressed by Anderson about how soon, he said “there is no set timetable in pre-accession negotiations.” 

12:31 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

NATO foreign ministers will hold an emergency meeting over Ukraine on Friday  

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy and Sharon Braithwaite in London  

NATO foreign ministers will hold an emergency meeting on Friday over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

In a statement released Tuesday, NATO said the meeting will take place in person at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

The meeting will be chaired by the alliance's chief, Jens Stoltenberg.  

12:30 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Norwegian Cruise Line cancels stops in St. Petersburg, Russia, for 2022

From CNN’s Alison Kosik

Norwegian Cruise Line says that it will alter cruise itineraries that include stops in St. Petersburg, Russia, due to the “escalated situation between Russia and Ukraine,” according to a statement from the company. 

A spokesperson for Norwegian said, “the safety and security of our guests, crew and communities we visit is our top priority. We are currently working to confirm replacement ports and will advise all impacted guests and travel advisors as soon as possible.” 

On the cruise line’s earnings call last week, Norwegian CEO Frank Del Rio called the tense situation in Ukraine “regrettable.” 

“Our hopes are that the conflict ends quickly with minimal impact to the safety and welfare of those in the region. We are following the situation carefully as it impacts our voyages in the area. It is disappointing because St. Petersburg is one of the crown jewels of the Scandinavian itineraries, ” Del Rio said. 

He added that Norwegian has no vessels in the region until late May and that it will update guests on its plans and affected itineraries as needed.  

1:03 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

US oil prices reach seven-year high after emergency release agreement

From CNN’s Matt Egan

A contractor replaces piping above a subterranean salt cavern at the US Department of Energy's Bryan Mound Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Freeport, Texas, on June 9, 2016.
A contractor replaces piping above a subterranean salt cavern at the US Department of Energy's Bryan Mound Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Freeport, Texas, on June 9, 2016. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Oil prices surged to fresh seven-year highs on Tuesday as an agreement from countries around the world to release 60 million barrels of emergency oil failed to ease supply fears gripping energy markets.

“The bottom line is this is not enough to cool off the market. It’s a bit of a band-aid solution,” said Michael Tran, managing director of global energy strategy at RBC Capital Markets. 

The International Energy Agency announced Tuesday that member countries have agreed to release 60 million barrels of oil from emergency reserves to send a “strong message to global oil markets that there will be no shortfall” as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. About half of that total – 30 million barrels – will come from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve, sources told CNN.

The oil market was not impressed. US crude spiked about 10% Tuesday morning to an intraday high of $105.14 a barrel. That’s the highest level since 2014. Brent crude, the world benchmark, soared about 8% to $105.40 a barrel.

“You need to super-size the numbers,” said Robert Yawger, vice president of energy futures at Mizuho Securities. 

Still, energy industry executives and analysts conceded the Russia-Ukraine crisis is precisely what the SPR is designed for: to cushion the market against national security-related supply shocks. “It’s better than doing nothing,” Yawger said.

But it’s not a long-term solution. There is a finite amount of oil in emergency reserves. In fact, the SPR holds the least amount of oil since September 2002, according to government statistics

Matt Smith, lead Americas oil analyst at Kpler, said emergency releases are arguably bullish from a market sentiment standpoint.

“Every time the US announces a release from the SPR,” Smith said, “it’s one less bullet that it has to be able to use later on.”