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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3:12 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

US in contact with Zelensky through secure satellite phone given to him by the US

From Kylie Atwood and Zachary Cohen

The White House in Washington, on March 1.
The White House in Washington, on March 1. (Eric Lee/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

The US remains in regular contact with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky through a secure satellite phone that the US gave the Ukrainian government last month before the invasion occurred, according to a US official familiar with the matter.

Previously most secure communications between the Ukrainians and US officials went through the embassy in Kyiv, two US officials said. When the US was preparing to evacuate the embassy, and as fears mounted about the Russian invasion which is now occurring, the US sent the phone that is now being used to their Ukrainian counterparts. 

The secure phone allows Zelensky to remain in contact with the US while he’s mobile, the official added. Zelensky has made clear he intends to remain in the country and he is currently moving around to multiple locations in Kyiv that are protected with a significant security presence, CNN has reported. 

Previously, Zelensky had filmed video messages of himself speaking in front of monuments or other recognizable buildings but his speech to the European Parliament Tuesday was given via video feed from a nondescript room decorated only with a Ukrainian flag. 

The US provided a similar satellite phone to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, the official said. The phones requires electricity but can operate off of a generator or energy from a car if needed. 

Initially it took a few days for the Ukrainians to get the satellite phones up and working because the instructions on how to use it were in English, not in Ukrainian.

Zelensky and US President Joe Biden spoke as recently as Tuesday, according to the Ukrainian President and White House.

The National Security Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

2:40 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Residents of Kyiv brace for battle of Ukraine's capital

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová

Soldiers use sand to block a road in Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on March 1.
Soldiers use sand to block a road in Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on March 1. (Aytac Unal/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

A drive through central Kyiv leaves no room for doubt. This is a city preparing for a major Russian attack.

Rows of concrete panels arranged in maze-like formations. Anti-tank road blocks. Piles of sandbags. Improvised barriers built of random pieces of metal, wood, old tires or anything that was at hand.

And everywhere you look, there are blue and yellow Ukrainian flags.

The city is uncannily quiet. Many people have fled in recent days. Those who have stayed are hunkered down in bomb shelters, basements and subway stations.

The checkpoints dotted along the city's entry points are manned by ordinary Ukrainians. These are not soldiers. A week ago, many of these men would have been at work, or enjoying time off with their friends and families.

Now, they are ready to defend their country's capital.

Oleksiy Goncharenko was guarding one of the checkpoints in Kyiv on Tuesday, armed with the rifle he picked up last week after answering the call from Ukrainian authorities to prepare to defend the country.

It was bitterly cold, and Goncharenko was working in shifts, with other volunteers. When not at the checkpoint, he says he is at the base, helping wherever he can: "Humanitarian help, helping people to get [to places], organizing transport, sharing information."

Goncharenko is not — and has never been — a military man. He is a member of Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian parliament.

"I'm not a professional soldier at all, but I can try and I can do my best and I will do it if Russian forces enter Kyiv," he told CNN.

Read the full story here.

2:16 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Former Russian foreign minister calls on country's diplomats to resign in protest over Ukraine war

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio in Moscow

Former Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev has called on Russian diplomats to resign in protest over the war in Ukraine.

“I call on all Russian diplomats to resign in protest,” he tweeted on Tuesday. “Dear Russian diplomats, you are professionals and not cheap propagandists.”

“When I worked at the Foreign Ministry, I was proud of my colleagues,” Kozyrev added. “Now it is simply impossible to support the bloody fratricidal war in Ukraine.”

Kozyrev was foreign minister from 1991 to1996 under President Boris Yeltsin.

2:15 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Beijing is "ready to seek peaceful solution" to Ukraine-Russia conflict, Ukrainian foreign minister says

From CNN’s Emmet Lyons and Maddie Araujo  

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Tuesday that the Chinese are “ready to seek a peaceful solution” in diplomatic talks to end the war Russia has launched on Ukraine. 

Earlier on Tuesday, Kuleba had a phone call with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. Without calling Russia’s military act in Ukraine an “invasion,” Wang had said that China respects every country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and he urged Ukraine and Russia to solve the crisis through negotiations.

Speaking to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour from an undisclosed location in Ukraine, Kuleba said that he “appealed to the Chinese foreign minister to take advantage of their leverage on Putin, of their relations with Russia, and urge Putin to stop this war immediately.” 

When asked by Amanpour as to what sense he has as to whether China would support a diplomatic resolution to the conflict, the Ukrainian top diplomat said that “constructive involvement of China is possible” and pointed to China’s abstention from a UN Security Council resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

2:51 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

UK says Russia conducted "increased numbers" of strikes against urban areas in Ukraine in the past 48 hours 

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

Women carry their belongings as they walk on a deserted street in Kyiv on March 1.
Women carry their belongings as they walk on a deserted street in Kyiv on March 1. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images)

The United Kingdom said Tuesday that over the past 48 hours, "increased numbers of Russian air and artillery strikes have been conducted against densely populated urban areas across Ukraine." 

A Russian convoy continues to make slow progress towards Kyiv, the UK Ministry of Defense said Tuesday in its latest intelligence update.  

"The column is a mixed force of combat and logistics vehicles with the bulk of the forces remaining approximately 30km from the centre of the city," it added. 

"Ukrainian forces continue to hold the cities of Kharkiv, Kherson and Mariupol however all three cities are now likely encircled by Russian forces," it concluded. 

2:06 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Ukrainian air force is targeting Russian columns but Russia dominates the skies, Ukrainian official tells CNN

From CNN’s Emmet Lyons and Maddie Araujo  

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday that the country’s air force is targeting Russian military columns headed toward Ukrainian cities. 

“We are using our air forces to destroy columns headed towards our cities,” he said in a TV interview.  

When asked what further help Ukraine needs from the US and NATO, Kuleba replied “air force and anti-missile defense, and weapons.” 

“The problem is Russia dominates in the sky. Our pilots are fighting fiercely against them, but we also have losses. So the Russians use their fighting jets and bombers to attack our cities and we need to counter this threat. This are the two most urgent requests that we lodged with our partners,” he said. 

“We are fighting in the air, but physically Russia has more planes to deploy to Ukraine than we have. So that’s why we put such an emphasis on air defense and air force, and also missile defense,” he told Amanpour, adding “we need better protection from the sky.” 

Kuleba said he cannot speak specifically about whether Ukraine’s air force is also hitting the 40-mile Russian convoy around Kyiv. 

2:37 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Biden and Zelensky discussed support and sanctions on Tuesday, White House says

From CNN's Betsy Klein

In their call lasting over 30 minutes, US President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky discussed “the United States’ continued backing for Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian aggression,” according to a readout from the White House. 

Biden, the White House said, “underscored the United States’ sustained help for Ukraine, including ongoing deliveries of security assistance, economic support, and humanitarian aid.” 

The two leaders discussed US and allied efforts to hold Russia accountable, including sanctions, the readout said. 

They also discussed an escalation in attacks Tuesday, including one near a Holocaust memorial. 

“The leaders discussed Russia’s escalation of attacks on sites used by civilians in Ukraine, including today’s bombing near Babyn Yar Holocaust memorial,” according to the White House. 

1:53 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Russia prosecutor general blocks 2 independent media outlets for their reporting on Ukraine invasion

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio and Nathan Hodge in Moscow

The Russian prosecutor general has blocked access to two independent media outlets, Echo of Moscow and TV Rain, because of alleged violations over their reporting on the invasion of Ukraine. 

In a statement, the prosecutor general accused the two outlets of disseminating what it called “information known to be false regarding the actions of Russian servicemen, as part of a special operation to protect the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic.” 

It also says Echo of Moscow and TV Rain have been posting information which it says calls “for extremism, violence against citizens of the Russian Federation, mass violations of public order and public security.” Authorities in Russia forbid rallying without a permit and may consider broadcasting or reporting specific information on unauthorized rallies to be considered organizing illegal protests.

On Saturday, Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor warned 10 local news outlets that it would restrict access to their publications unless they stop spreading what it calls false information, including references to the military operation in Ukraine as an "attack, invasion or declaration of war.”

In letters sent letters to these outlets, the regulator said it complained about allegedly “false information” they published on the shelling of Ukrainian cities and the death of civilians caused by the Russian armed forces.

The outlets notified were: Echo of Moscow, InoSMI, Mediazona, New Times, TV Rain, Svobodnaya Pressa, Krym.Realii, Novaya Gazeta, Zhurnalist and Lenizdat. Novaya Gazeta editor Dmitry Muratov won the Nobel Peace prize in 2021. Some of these outlets have been designated by Russian authorities as foreign agents.

“Unless the above inaccurate information is removed, access to these sources will be restricted,” it said in a statement on Saturday, announcing an investigation into the media outlets.

2:32 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

UN says more than 675,000 people have fled Ukraine during Russia's ongoing invasion 

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London 

Ukrainians wait at the Slovak-Ukrainian border crossing in Velke Slemence, Slovakia, on February 25.
Ukrainians wait at the Slovak-Ukrainian border crossing in Velke Slemence, Slovakia, on February 25. (Peter Lazar/AFP/Getty Images)

About 677,000 people have fled Ukraine in “less than a week” during Russia's ongoing invasion, UN Refugee Agency Deputy High Commissioner Kelly Clements said Tuesday. 

"677,000 people have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries in less than a week. 150,000 in the last 24 hrs," Clements said in a tweet.  

On Tuesday, the United Nations said in a statement that the agency along with its humanitarian partners have launched "emergency appeals" to donors for $1.7 billion to urgently deliver "humanitarian support to people in Ukraine and refugees in neighboring countries."

"The UN estimates that 12 million people inside Ukraine will need relief and protection, while more than 4 million Ukrainian refugees may need protection and assistance in neighbouring countries in the coming months," the agency said in a statement. 

Martin Griffiths, the UN humanitarian chief, said in the statement that this is the "darkest hour" for the people of Ukraine. 

“Families with small children are hunkered down in basements and subway stations or running for their lives to the terrifying sound of explosions and wailing sirens. Casualty numbers are rising fast. This is the darkest hour for the people of Ukraine," Griffiths said. 

"We need to ramp up our response now to protect the lives and dignity of ordinary Ukrainians. We must respond with compassion and solidarity,” he added.  

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said it "could become Europe’s largest refugee crisis this century" in the statement.