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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6:19 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

"No country in Europe can feel safe" when it comes to Putin, Lithuania's president tells CNN

From CNN’s Michael Holmes, Mohammed Tawfeek and Hannah Ritchie

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda speaks to the press prior to the EU-Africa Summit in Brussels, Belgium, on February 17.
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda speaks to the press prior to the EU-Africa Summit in Brussels, Belgium, on February 17. (Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Lithuania President Gitanas Nausėda warned that no country in Europe “can feel safe” when it comes to President Putin, as the Russian invasion in Ukraine entered its sixth day. 

“No country in the European Union [EU], in Europe can feel safe right now. Yes, Ukraine is target number one, but if we cannot support Ukraine, if Ukraine will fall -- be sure that we’ll be next, that Russia will stay at our doors,” Nausėda told CNN when asked if Putin could turn his attention to the Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia at some point. 

On Monday, Lithuania along with Estonia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia published an open letter urging the EU to immediately grant Ukraine candidate country status and to begin negotiations on its formal acceptance into the bloc. 

When asked about his support for Ukraine’s EU membership bid, Nausėda told CNN Europe had a “moral duty” to include the country in the bloc. 

Becoming a member of the bloc is a complex procedure and Ukraine is currently not an official candidate for EU accession.

6:50 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Boris Johnson says invasion of Ukraine is "worse than our predictions," as Europe faces "unfolding disaster"

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki pictured together at the Chancellery in Warsaw, Poland on March 1.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki pictured together at the Chancellery in Warsaw, Poland on March 1. (Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images)

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Tuesday that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is worse than he expected it to be, adding that Europe is now witnessing an “unfolding disaster.”

“I’m afraid to say that the tragedy that we predicted has come to pass and, if anything, it is worse than our predictions. We are seeing an unfolding disaster in the European continent,” Johnson said. 

“It is clear that Vladimir Putin is prepared to use barbaric and indiscriminate tactics against innocent civilians to bomb tower blocks, to send missiles into tower blocks, to kill children, as we’re seeing in increasing numbers,” he added. 

Speaking alongside his Polish counterpart in Warsaw, the British Prime Minister paid tribute to the “leadership and courage” shown by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who he said has “inspired and mobilized” the world. 

Johnson also said that Russian President Putin had underestimated the “passionate desire of the Ukrainian people to defend and protect their own country.” 

“I am absolutely convinced -- I am more convinced than ever -- as this hideous conflict progresses, that Putin will fail. I believe that Putin must fail, and that we will succeed in protecting and preserving a sovereign, independent and democratic Ukraine,” he added. 

On the topic of economic sanctions imposed on Russia by Europe, Johnson said this marks “one of the most powerful packet of sanctions ever advanced against any country in the last few decades.” 

“It is plainly already having a dramatic effect. We are ready to intensify and to keep going for as long as it takes,” he added. 

6:00 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

More than 20 injured in Kharkiv strike, Ukrainian Emergency Service says

From CNN's Josh Pennington

Emergency personnel carry a body out of the damaged local city hall of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on March 1.
Emergency personnel carry a body out of the damaged local city hall of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on March 1. (Sergey Bobok/AFP/Getty Images)

More than 20 people have been injured in an explosion in Ukraine’s second biggest city, Kharkiv, Ukraine’s State Emergency Service said in a video posted on its official Facebook account Tuesday.

"As a result of artillery shelling, a state administration building and adjacent building were damaged. People are trapped under the rubble. The head of rescue operations has learned that over 20 people have been wounded,” a service member said in the video.

“There are eight emergency rescue squads on site working, with 80 staff and volunteers sorting the debris, dragging it away to find the injured and the dead. Work continues,” he said.

5:56 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Russian-backed separatist leader expects his forces to surround Mariupol on Tuesday 

 From CNN's Tim Lister and Olya Voitovych in Kyiv 

The leader of the self-declared separatist region in Donetsk, Denis Pushilin, says he expects his forces to surround the port city of Mariupol on Tuesday, adding in a television interview that the town of Volnovakha – which is half-way between Mariupol and Donetsk – was almost completely surrounded. 

“Our task for today is encircle Mariupol,” he said. 

Pushilin claimed without offering any evidence that nationalist elements in Mariupol were terrorizing the civilian population and were using them as a human shield. The city has a population of some 400,000. 

Separately, the deputy head of the Donetsk People’s Militia, Eduard Basurin, said the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), along with Russian forces, would organize humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to leave Mariupol.

The corridors would be open through Wednesday, he said. 

Basurin said several towns in the region had already fallen to the militia of the DPR. 

Vadym Boichenko, the mayor of Mariupol, said on Ukrainian television that residential areas had been shelled for five days – with heavy artillery, rockets and aircraft. 

“There are many wounded, dead local residents, women, children.”

“But today, the best sons of their fatherland on the borders of our city are doing everything, not to give Mariupol away,” Boichenko said.

“They have destroyed important infrastructure, there is no electricity in the city, there is no heat. We are fighting to [the] last bullet."

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.”