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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5:51 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Destruction in Kharkiv after Russia steps up its assault on the city

Ukraine's second biggest city, Kharkiv, has been battered by Russian attacks.

More than 20 people were injured, including a child, in an explosion at a government building in the city, Ukraine's State Emergency Service said in a Telegram post Tuesday. 

The blast destroyed the building, according to videos of the incident posted by the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and Ukrainian government officials. The clips were posted on social media early Tuesday local time and have been verified by CNN. 

These images show the scenes in Kharkiv:

The damaged headquarters of the Kharkiv administration in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on March 1.
The damaged headquarters of the Kharkiv administration in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on March 1. (Sergey Bobok/AFP/Getty Images)

Residential and administrative areas in Kharkiv were bombarded on Monday night and Tuesday morning.

Ukraine's Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova described the situation in Kharkiv as "hellish" and shared a video on Facebook of a missile that hit a kitchen window and tore off the leg of a woman, who she said later died in hospital.

The area near the regional administration building in central Kharkiv on Tuesday.
The area near the regional administration building in central Kharkiv on Tuesday. (Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy/Reuters)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of war crimes over the attacks. He said that in five days, 56 missile strikes and 113 cruise missiles were launched in Ukraine by Russian forces. On Monday, he said Russian forces "brutally fired on Kharkiv from jet artillery. It was clearly a war crime."

On Monday, the International Criminal Court said it would open an investigation into Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Russia maintains that it isn't targeting civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, and that there is no evidence of civilian deaths caused by the Russia military.

Medics on the scene outside the building on March 1.
Medics on the scene outside the building on March 1. (Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy/Reuters)

Video shows the aftermath of the explosion. Watch CNN's report:

5:45 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

What you need to know on Tuesday

It's just gone midday in Kyiv, where icy temperatures have added to Ukrainians' woes as the city braces for a huge Russian attack.

Here's what you need to know.

  • Russian convoy nears Kyiv: New satellite images show a massive Russian military column, more than 40 miles long, has reached the outskirts of Ukraine's capital. Residents are bracing for an intensified assault on the city.
  • Kharkiv under attack: Russian forces have bombarded Ukraine's second-largest city with rockets, and a large explosion reduced a government building to rubble. Several people were killed, the Ukrainian Emergency Services said.

  • Fears for Ukrainian resistance: US officials told lawmakers in classified briefings Monday that a second wave of Russian troops will likely consolidate the country's positions within Ukraine, and by sheer numbers could be able to overcome the Ukrainian resistance, according to two people familiar with the briefings.

  • Russia accused of war crimes: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of war crimes for bombing the city of Kharkiv. He said that in five days, 56 missile strikes and 113 cruise missiles were launched in Ukraine by Russian forces. On Monday, he said Russian forces "brutally fired on Kharkiv from jet artillery. It was clearly a war crime." Russia maintains that it isn't targeting civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, and that there is no evidence of civilian deaths caused by the Russia military.
  • Uncertainty over talks: Zelensky said he is analyzing the results of Monday's talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations at the Belarus border, which lasted five hours. Zelensky said: "There can be fair negotiations if one side does not hit the other side with rocket artillery at the time of negotiations."
  • Russia's economy reels: The Moscow Stock Exchange will remain closed on Tuesday after the value of the ruble plunged. Western sanctions have crippled the Russian economy, and long queues have formed at banks as people desperately try to access their money.
5:08 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Freezing temperatures add to Kyiv's problems, as Russian troops approach Ukraine's capital

From CNN's Ivana Kottasova in Kyiv

(Ivana Kottasova/CNN)
(Ivana Kottasova/CNN)

In any other circumstances, it would be a beautiful sight: pristine white snow blanketing the roofs of old Kyiv.

But right now, the snow just adds to a long list of worries for the residents of the Ukrainian capital.

With thousands of people sheltering in unheated basements, underground carparks and subway stations across the city, the sudden cold snap is concerning. Temperatures have been hovering above 0 degrees Celsius for the past two weeks in Kyiv.

(Ivana Kottasova/CNN)
(Ivana Kottasova/CNN)

In the days before the invasion started, the skies were blue and the city sunny. On some days, sitting outside in the sun, winter jackets started to become obsolete. Spring appeared to be in the air.

But the temperatures started to drop over the weekend and it is now freezing in Kyiv. People have spent hours waiting in long lines at grocery stores and pharmacies in the city after they opened for the first time following a 36-hour curfew.

(Ivana Kottasova/CNN)
(Ivana Kottasova/CNN)

For now, the city's key infrastructure is holding up. Electricity, heat and water are available as normal, but fears of potential disruptions to supplies have ratcheted up, as a long Russian military convoy closes in on the city.

5:19 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Russian missile strikes caused explosion in Kharkhiv, says Ukraine's foreign minister

From CNN's Hannah Ritchie

The area near to the regional administration building, which city officials said was hit by a missile attack, in central Kharkiv, Ukraine on March 1.
The area near to the regional administration building, which city officials said was hit by a missile attack, in central Kharkiv, Ukraine on March 1. (Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy/Reuters)

Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kubela said that "Russian missile strikes" caused an explosion in the nation's second biggest city, Kharkiv, Tuesday. 

“Barbaric Russian missile strikes on the central Freedom Square and residential districts of Kharkiv. Putin is unable to break Ukraine down. He commits more war crimes out of fury, murders innocent civilians. The world can and must do more. INCREASE PRESSURE, ISOLATE RUSSIA FULLY!,” Kubela said in a post on Twitter. 

At least six people were injured, including a child, in the explosion, according to Ukraine's State Emergency Service. 

The search for casualties remains ongoing, the state service said.

Ukraine has accused Russia of committing war crimes by targeting civilians, and on Monday, the International Criminal Court said it would open an investigation into Russia's invasion of Ukraine -- a move that was welcomed by Kyiv.

ICC Prosecutor, Karim A.A. Khan said in a statement that, following a preliminary examination into the situation, there is a reasonable basis to "believe that both alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Ukraine."

Russia maintains that it isn't targeting civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, and that there is no evidence of civilian deaths caused by the Russia military. Russia's outgoing President of the UN Security Council Vassily Nebenzia repeated these claims on Monday, stating the "tide of dirty lies replicated in Western mass media unfortunately have become a dangerous mark of our time."

But there is a growing body of evidence to show that civilians are being targeted, and the UN said Monday that 406 civilian casualties in Ukraine have been reported.

4:01 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Overstretched Russian forces could struggle to hold Ukraine at current levels, expert predicts

Analysis from CNN's Brad Lendon

Ukrainian resistance to the Russian invasion has shown strength that has surprised many observers, but one international expert pointed out how historical precedent bodes poorly for Moscow should its forces be unable to subdue Ukraine quickly under current Russian troop levels.

“The Russian army is overextended and in a precarious position if Ukraine becomes a protracted war,” Seth Jones, vice president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said in a social media post.
“Assuming 150,000 Russian soldiers in Ukraine and a population of 44 million, that is a force ratio of 3.4 soldiers per 1,000 people. You can’t hold territory with those numbers,” Jones said.

Jones compared the current Russian force ratio to occupations after previous wars around the world, saying successful occupations had force ratios that were “astronomically higher.”

For example, he said:

  • The Allied forces occupying Germany in 1945 had 89.3 troops to 1,000 inhabitants.
  • NATO forces in Bosnia in 1995 had 17.5 troops to 1,000 inhabitants.
  • NATO forces in Kosovo in 2000 had 19.3 to 1,000.
  • And international forces in East Timor in 2000 had 9.8 to 1,000.
“High numbers of troops and police are critical to establish basic law and order,” Jones said.
“In fact, the number of Russian soldiers in Ukraine aren’t even enough to hold any major cities for long.”

And if Russian occupiers face a guerrilla war in the event the Ukrainian government falls, the odds won’t be in Russia’s favor, he said.

“They will be in serious danger of being picked apart by Ukrainian insurgents.”

3:53 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Russian and Belarusian athletes suspended from all international ice skating competitions, ISU says

From CNN’s Aleks Klosok in London

The International Skating Union (ISU) on Tuesday suspended Russian and Belarusian skaters from participating in all international ice skating competitions, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Skaters will be banned from participating in ISU championships and other events, the ISU said in a statement.

“The ISU Council reaffirms its full solidarity with the ISU Members in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Speed Skating Federation and the Ukrainian Figure Skating Federation," the statement said. "The ISU Council will evaluate possibilities for swift humanitarian assistance to its Ukrainian ISU Members."

The same rules will apply to “officials listed in the respective ISU Communications and/or regulations under Russia and Belarus," according to the statement.

The governing body said the suspension will come into immediate effect and will remain in place until further notice.

The ISU Council will continue to closely monitor the situation in Ukraine and its impact on the ISU activity and will take additional steps if and when required.”
3:27 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

At least 6 injured as blast destroys government building in Kharkiv

From CNN’s Hannah Ritchie, Teele Rebane and Ivana Kottasová

The area near the regional administration building in Kharkiv, Ukraine, which was hit by a missile according to city officials, in this handout picture released on March 1.
The area near the regional administration building in Kharkiv, Ukraine, which was hit by a missile according to city officials, in this handout picture released on March 1. (Ukrainian State Emergency Service/Reuters)

At least six people were injured, including a child, in an explosion in Ukraine's second biggest city, Kharkiv, Ukraine's State Emergency Service said in a Telegram post Tuesday. 

The blast destroyed a government building, according to videos of the incident posted by the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and Ukrainian government officials. The clips were posted on social media early Tuesday local time and have been verified by CNN. 

“Russia is waging war in violation of international humanitarian law. Kills civilians, destroys civilian infrastructure. Russiaʼs main target is large cities that are now fired at by its missiles,” the Ukrainian MOFA tweeted Tuesday, sharing a video showing what appears to be a missile attack on the Kharkiv Regional State Administration building. 

A separate video posted by Kostiantyn Nemichev, the Head of Defense Staff of Kharkiv, showed the aftermath of the purported strike, including the inside of the building which had been reduced to rubble. 

The Regional State Administration building houses local government offices. It is located in "Freedom Square" the main square of Kharkiv and an architectural landmark.

Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to Ukraine's Minister of Internal Affairs, also shared a video on his official Telegram account taken from street level at Freedom Square. The video shows the site of the explosion, and the debris on the ground where the Kharkiv Regional State Administration building once stood. 

3:01 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Indian Embassy in Kyiv advises its nationals to "urgently" evacuate

From CNN's Esha Mitra and Arpit Goel in New Delhi

The Indian Embassy in Kyiv has asked its citizens to "urgently" leave the Ukrainian capital, as Russia's military convoy closes in on the city. 

“All Indian nationals including students are advised to leave Kyiv urgently today. Preferably by available trains or through any other means available,” the embassy wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

Less than 24 hours earlier, the embassy had advised Indian citizens to “remain calm, peaceful and united,” asking them to remain patient as large crowds were expected at railway stations.

Tuesday's announcement comes after reports of Indian students allegedly being harassed while trying to cross Ukraine's border into neighboring countries.

In response to a question about the alleged harassment, Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for India's Ministry of External Affairs, said during a news conference Monday they continue to speak to the ambassadors of both Russia and Ukraine to ensure the safety of Indians.

India's announcement comes as a Russian military convoy made up of armored vehicles, tanks, towed artillery and other logistical vehicles reached the capital's outskirts Tuesday, according to satellite images from Maxar Technologies. 

2:29 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Russia responds to Swiss sanctions with tit-for-tat flight ban

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio in Moscow

Russia has banned aircraft registered in Switzerland from entering its airspace, the country's federal aviation authority, Rosaviatsiya, said in a statement on Tuesday.

The move was in retaliation for a similar move by Switzerland, the statement said.

Swiss sanctions: Switzerland would forego its commitment to "Swiss neutrality" in favor of adopting sanctions against Russia, Swiss President Ignazio Cassis said Monday, adding that Bern's measures would be in line with those already adopted by the European Union.

The sanctions include closing Swiss airspace to all flights from Russia, including private jets, with the exception of humanitarian flights, search flights and emergency situations.