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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10:13 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

US secretary of state floats kicking Russia off of UN Human Rights Council

From CNN's Kylie Atwood and Zachary Cohen

U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, appears on a screen as he delivers a remote speech, during the 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, on March 1.
U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, appears on a screen as he delivers a remote speech, during the 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, on March 1. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone/AP)

As US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Russia’s human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law as it carries out its assault on Ukraine, he floated the idea of kicking Russia off of the UN Human Rights Council during a speech before the council on Tuesday morning.

“One can reasonably ask whether a UN member state that tries to take over another UN member state – while committing horrific human rights abuses and causing massive humanitarian suffering – should be allowed to remain on this council,” Blinken said.

There are 47 member states on the council, which are elected by the UN general assembly, with Russia being one of them. 

Blinken also criticized countries such as China who have not clearly stated that Russia is the sole perpetrator of this crisis.  

“Council members should stop using language implying that all sides bear equal responsibility for the unprovoked attack of one side. This isn’t evenhanded – it’s wrong – and fails to place accountability where it belongs. The same goes for members who argue, falsely, that denouncing human rights abuses is 'politicizing' the situation. It is failing to speak up about human rights abuses that politicizes the situation,” Blinken said. 

Blinken challenged the UNHRC to come together to try and prevent an even more deadly war. 

“These are the human rights abuses this council was created to stop. If we cannot come together now, when will we come together?” Blinken said. 

10:04 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

How to provide aid to those in Ukraine

From CNN's Ryan Bergeron

Russian troops have crossed into Ukraine and bombardments are taking place in several cities. These attacks have sent people fleeing for safety. 

Concerns grow for civilians and families as a larger humanitarian crisis could unfold. Organizations around the world are on the ground in Ukraine and neighboring countries to help those in need with shelter, food, water and additional aid

You can find out how to help here. 

9:46 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Saudi reaffirms commitment to OPEC+ agreement with Russia, calls for de-escalation in Ukraine

From CNN’s Mostafa Salem in Abu Dhabi

Despite international pressure to increase output, Saudi Arabia’s cabinet, chaired by King Salman bin Abdulaziz, reaffirmed its commitment to the OPEC+ agreement — a pact made by 10 major crude oil producers and Russia to gradually pump more oil in the market to meet demand — a statement by the Saudi state news agency said on Tuesday.   

The cabinet was briefed on a call held between Saudi’s Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman and French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday, where the kingdom expressed its keenness “on the stability and balance of oil markets," the state news agency said. 

Oil prices surged above $100 per barrel after Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine last week, piling pressure on a global economy already reeling from rampant inflation.

The Russian economy is heavily dependent on revenue from oil and gas, and Moscow wants prices to remain elevated. Saudi Arabia is under intense pressure from developed economies to increase output.  

The Saudi cabinet discussed “the situation in Ukraine and its impact on energy markets, and the Kingdom's keenness on the stability and balance of oil markets and its commitment to the (OPEC Plus) agreement,” the Saudi Press Agency said. 

The Saudi cabinet also called for “de-escalation” and a “political solution in Ukraine,” according to the state news agency said. This is the first official Saudi reaction to the Russian invasion, which started last week. 

Saudi Arabia — a major US ally — has not presented a pro-Western position on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

10:02 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

UNHCR: Ukraine could become "Europe's largest refugee crisis this century"

From CNN's Alex Hardie and Niamh Kennedy in London and Antonia Mortensen in Milan

A girl walks among hundreds of beds inside a sports hall used to accommodate Ukrainian refugees at the border crossing town of Medyka, Poland, on March 1.
A girl walks among hundreds of beds inside a sports hall used to accommodate Ukrainian refugees at the border crossing town of Medyka, Poland, on March 1. (Visar Kryeziu/AP)

The situation in Ukraine could become “Europe’s largest refugee crisis this century” with more than 600,000 refugees believed to have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries so far, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said Tuesday. 

"UNHCR is mobilizing resources to respond as quickly and effectively as possible,” the statement added. 

Earlier on Tuesday, UNHCR issued an appeal for $1.7 billion USD in aid, estimating that 12 million people inside Ukraine could be left in need of relief and protection, with a further four million expected to be in need of assistance in neighboring countries. 

“While we have seen tremendous solidarity and hospitality from neighboring countries in receiving refugees, including from local communities and private citizens, much more support will be needed to assist and protect new arrivals,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Tuesday.

According to UNHCR, its aid program will include “cash assistance for the most vulnerable people, food assistance, water and sanitation, support to health care and education services, and shelter assistance to rebuild damaged homes.”

$1.1 billion of the funding will be used to assist six million people inside Ukraine for an initial three-month period, according to UNHCR.

“Aid groups will need safe and unimpeded access to all conflict-affected areas according to the core humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and operational independence,” the statement added.

9:27 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Italy moves its embassy from Kyiv to western Ukraine in light of "security situation"

From CNN's Nicola Ruotolo in Rome and Niamh Kennedy in London

Italy has moved its embassy from Kyiv to the city of Lviv in western Ukraine in light of the deteriorating "security situation" in the Ukrainian capital.

In an update Tuesday, the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs announced that it had moved the embassy so it could "continue carrying out its duties."

On Monday, France had also announced that it would move its embassy from Kyiv to Lviv.

9:22 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

France will provide Ukraine with $111 million in additional aid

From Xiaofei Xu in Paris

France has allocated a further 100 million euros ($111 million) worth of financial and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, the French foreign ministry said in a statement Tuesday. 

“Faced with the humanitarian situation in Ukraine caused by Russia's invasion of the country and in response to the request of the Ukrainian authorities, France has decided to mobilize a financial package of 100 million euros to provide a response for the population affected by the conflict,” read the statement.

“In addition to financial support to NGOs and multilateral organizations, our assistance takes the form of emergency humanitarian aid.”

A further eight tons worth of aid left France on Tuesday for Ukraine, with the statement adding that “other humanitarian aid operations for Ukraine are under consideration.”

France will also provide aid to Ukrainian refugees in Poland, the statement said.

France has already sent 33 tons of emergency aid, which includes tents, blankets and sleeping bags, to Ukraine via Poland. They were delivered to the Ukrainian authorities on Monday, according to the statement.

9:54 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Emergency oil release could help offset supply fears in the short term, Chevron CEO says

From CNN’s Matt Egan

Mike Wirth, chief executive officer of Chevron Corp., attends a panel discussion during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S. on October 18.
Mike Wirth, chief executive officer of Chevron Corp., attends a panel discussion during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S. on October 18. (Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Chevron CEO Mike Wirth expressed support on Tuesday for governments to release emergency stockpiles of oil to offset supply fears triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“I do think a coordinated response by multiple countries could help in the near-term,” Wirth said in response to a question from CNN during a briefing with reporters. “Certainly, we’ve seen markets on edge with concern about supply and supply reliability.”

Brent oil prices closed above $100 a barrel on Monday for the first time since 2014. US crude and Brent jumped another 5% on Tuesday even as the International Energy Agency meets to discuss a response to the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

US President Joe Biden indicated last week the United States stands ready to release more oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the nation’s stockpile of oil that was tapped in November in response to high prices.

“The Strategic Petroleum Reserve was intended to be used in times of actual supply disruptions or high risk of supply disruption,” Wirth said. “Unlike some other times when we’ve seen it used perhaps more because of anxiety about prices but no real supply concern, in this instance use of the reserve would be consistent with what it was established for.”

However, the Chevron CEO urged the federal government to take broader steps to encourage the long-term development of oil and natural gas. 

The invasion of Ukraine has driven concerns about a supply disruption from Russia, the world’s No. 2 oil producer. Wirth expressed confidence that won’t happen.

“I’ve seen nothing to indicate that either Russia’s intentions or the intentions of governments involved in sanctions would be to restrict oil supply,” Wirth said. “In fact, quite the opposite. It would appear to me that people have been very careful to signal their intention is to try to maintain energy supply to a world that needs it.”

Chevron said its only real exposure to Russia is through the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, a pipeline system that brings crude oil from West Kazakhstan and Russian oil producers. The Russian government and Chevron own stakes in the venture, according to its website.

“We’ve had no indications from any government that operations of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium are likely to be interrupted,” Wirth said, adding that this is an important source of supply, carrying more than one million barrels per day out of landlocked Kazakhstan.

High oil prices have lifted prices at the gas pump to seven-year highs. The national average for regular gasoline rose to $3.62 on Tuesday, up about 9 cents in a week and 24 cents in a month, according to AAA.

At some point, energy prices could get so expensive that it erodes demand from consumers and slows the broader economy. 

“We have a strong economic recovery underway globally. To this point, economies have been able to accommodate high energy prices and still deliver growth,” Wirth said. “I think there probably is a limit to that.”

9:16 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Russian military warns of strikes against facilities in Kyiv, according to statement via state media

From CNN's Nathan Hodge in Moscow

The Russian military said Tuesday it will carry out strikes against the facilities in Kyiv, warning civilians living near the areas to leave.

The Russians will target the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and the 72nd Main Center for Information and Psychological Operations (PSO) in Kyiv, the Russian defense ministry said in a statement Tuesday via Russian state news agency TASS. 

"In order to suppress information attacks against Russia, the technological facilities of the SBU and the 72nd main PSO center in Kyiv will be hit with high-precision weapons," the statement said, according to TASS. "We call on Ukrainian citizens attracted by Ukrainian nationalists to carry out provocations against Russia, as well as residents of Kyiv living near relay nodes leave their homes."

Speaking about the "relay nodes," CNN's Clarissa Ward said, "we understand that to mean communications towers. So large antennas, things of that nature." 

"This is not a surprise in a sense that people here have been bracing themselves for an uptick in the Russian onslaught. Up until now, most attacks have really been targeting the outskirts of the city. But now it appears that things will move to the center of the capital as so many had feared," Ward said.

More background: A massive 40-mile-long Russian military convoy — made up of armored vehicles, tanks, towed artillery and other logistical vehicles — has reached the outskirts of Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, according to satellite images from Maxar Technologies. 

Russia has repeatedly claimed it is not hitting civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. But social media videos, photos and satellite images analyzed and geolocated by CNN confirm that on several occasions densely populated areas have been hit by Russian forces.

In the past two days, accelerated strikes on the second-largest city of Kharkiv that have struck civilians suggest Russia is shifting toward a far less-restrained bombing campaign, in contrast with its earlier attacks that were more focused on military targets.

The UN says that at least 102 civilians have been killed across the country and 304 injured, though those figures are likely to underestimate the true toll.

9:50 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Ukraine are choking the country's borders

From CNN's Antonia Mortensen and AnneClaire Stapleton

Refugees from Ukraine line up to get in to Poland at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland, on February 28.
Refugees from Ukraine line up to get in to Poland at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland, on February 28. (Wojtek Radwanski/AFP/Getty Images)

There are now more than half a million refugees from Ukraine in neighboring countries, the UN said Monday, with people desperately heading west towards central Europe after Russia's invasion last week.

Here's a snapshot of the situation at Ukraine's borders:

Poland: More than 100,000 people crossed from Ukraine into Poland on Monday, according to Poland's border guard, the highest figure received by Ukraine's EU neighbors since the invasion began.

Since February 24, border authorities have cleared the entry of at least 377,400 people at its border crossings with Ukraine, according to a tweet Tuesday.

The longest line is at the Medyka crossing, border guard spokesperson Anna Michalska said.

On the Ukrainian side of that frontier, a 20-kilometer (12-mile) line of vehicles stretches through nearby villages. Residents told CNN the amount of people moving to the border has dropped in the past day.

The first few days of evacuations were chaotic, with many people walking vast distances to the border in cold conditions, they said. But now many volunteers from local villages have set up temporary shelter and are offering food.

A CNN team at the border has spoken to many non-Ukrainian citizens who say officials are still giving preferential treatment to Ukrainians crossing the border.

CNN has also met Ukrainian nationals who were waiting in line in their cars, but decided to abandon their vehicles and walk to the border instead, because they thought it would be faster.

Many men are escorting their families to the border, knowing they will likely be turned away and not be able to leave. Ukraine has banned military-aged men from leaving the country as it seeks to boost its armed forces.

Slovakia: Waiting times at Ukraine's borders with Slovakia stretch up to 35 hours in Ubla, towards the northeast of Slovakia, and 12 hours in Vysne Nemecke, towards the southeast. Another crossing in Velke Slemence is seeing less congestion.

A total of 54,304 people had entered the country by Tuesday morning, according to the Slovak border police.

According to the agency's spokesperson, guards have not turned around a single person since the beginning of the conflict, meaning any such incidents happened on the Ukrainian side. Roughly 15,000 people crossed through three crossings from Sunday morning to Monday morning, around a third of whom were non-Ukrainians, they said.

Romania: A total of 89,000 Ukrainian citizens have come through the Romanian border since the Russian invasion, with 50,000 then exiting to other countries, according to official border records.

Congestion has been seen at the border with Hungary, but police confirmed to CNN that the crossings are less busy today and people clearing the crossings faster.