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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12:09 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

US believes morale of Russian forces "is flagging" in some units, senior US defense official claims

From CNN's Barbara Starr and Ellie Kaufman

The US has “indications that morale is flagging in some” of the Russian forces’ units, a senior US defense official claimed on Tuesday.

“We have picked up independently on our own, indications that morale is flagging in some of these units. That they again did not expect the resistance that they were going to get, and that their own morale has suffered as a result,” the official said.

A significant number of the Russian military forces being used to invade Ukraine are “conscripts, very young men drafted into service,” the official said. 

“Apparently, again, we’re picking this up as best we can, but not all of them are apparently fully trained and prepared or even aware that they were going to be sent in to a combat operation,” the official added.

12:14 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

At least 5 killed in strikes near Kyiv TV tower, Ukraine interior ministry says

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy, Olya Voitovych and Tim Lister

A fireman runs towards the Kyiv TV tower after a shelling on March 1.
A fireman runs towards the Kyiv TV tower after a shelling on March 1. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images)

Five people were killed and five more injured in strikes near the Kyiv TV Tower, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine.

The ministry released an operational update reading:

“As of 06:00 p.m. 5 people were killed and 5 were injured in the shelling of the Kyiv TV Tower in the Shevchenkivskyi district. The work continues.”

The update comes as graphic new video from a park close to the Kyiv TV tower showed several bodies and a continuing fire. The video was also released by the ministry.

 CNN's Nathan Hodge contributed to this report from Moscow.

12:07 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Ukraine's President Zelensky urges Biden to give "useful" message in State of the Union


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged US counterpart Joe Biden to give a strong and "useful" message about Russia's invasion of Ukraine at his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, in an exclusive interview with CNN and Reuters from the bunker in Kyiv in which he is leading his military's response.

"It's very serious ... I'm not in a movie," Zelensky, a former comedy actor, told CNN. "I'm not iconic, I think Ukraine is iconic ... Ukraine is the heart of Europe, and now I think Europe sees Ukraine is something special for this world. That's why [the] world can't lose this something special."

Zelensky previously said he is the number-one target for Russian forces, but he has decided to stay in the country's capital. He discussed the talks undertaken by Ukrainian and Russian officials in Belarus.

"They decided to begin to speak about the situation. And I wanted — I really wanted — and I urged them, you have to, first of all, everybody has to stop fighting and to go to that point from where ... it began, five, six — today, six days ago. I think there are principal things you can do it, and that is [a] very important moment. If you'll do these and if those side is ready, it means that they are ready for the peace. If they don't ready, it means that you're just, you know, just ... wasting time," he said.

He was asked by CNN's Matthew Chance: "Do you think you're wasting your time or do you think they're ready?" to which Zelensky responded, "we'll see." 

More from Zelensky: The Ukrainian president earlier said the protection of the country's capital, Kyiv, is the “key priority” for the state. 

"We are fighting just for our land and our freedom," Zelensky told European Parliament today, causing the EU translator on the English language feed to choke up with emotion. "We desire to see our children alive. I think it's a fair one."

"We are fighting for our life ... We are fighting for survival. This is the highest of our motivation," Zelensky said.

"But we are fighting also to be equal members of Europe," he added. "I believe that today we are showing everybody that's exactly what we are."

Zelensky requested for Ukraine to be added to the EU on an expedited process on Monday.

He received a standing ovation across the chamber both before and after his speech.

12:25 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Jaguar Land Rover pauses delivery of vehicles into Russia

From CNN's Livvy Doherty and Anna Cooban in London

Jaguar Land Rover is suspending the delivery of vehicles into the Russian market due to the "the current global context."

In a statement to CNN, the carmaker said "the current global context presents us with trading challenges so we are pausing the delivery of vehicles into the Russian market and continually monitoring the situation on behalf of our global customer base."

UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng tweeted that he welcomed this decision, adding "there is now a rapidly growing number of companies and governments joining the whole international community in isolating Russia, both diplomatically and financially."

Other car companies' actions: Jaguar Land Rover follows Volvo, which said it would be stopping shipments to Russia until further notice on Monday, “considering the potential risks associated with trading material with Russia, including the sanctions imposed by the EU and US."

Renault confirmed to CNN on Tuesday that they had paused production at their plant in Moscow and that they were observing some "logistic impacts" there. The plant produced over 75,000 vehicles in 2020. 

As of now, Ford has not stopped production in Russia or shipments to the country, telling CNN on Tuesday "we’re deeply concerned about the situation in the Ukraine and the safety and well-being of people there and throughout the region but have nothing more to add at this time."

12:03 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

White House says oil reserve release is meant to condemn "Putin's war of choice"

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

The White House says the decision by the US and allies to release 60 million barrels from their oil reserves "is another example of partners around the world condemning Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine and working together to address the impact of President Putin’s war of choice."

"President Biden was clear from the beginning that all tools are on the table to protect American businesses and consumers, including from rising prices at the pump," the White House said in a statement following the Tuesday decision.

As part of the announcement, the US is committing to releasing 30 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. European and Asian nations are releasing another 30 million barrels.

12:24 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

More than 400 missiles fired by Russia, senior US defense official says

From CNN's Michael Conte

A woman takes photos of a destroyed building near a checkpoint in Brovary, outside of Kyiv on March 1.
A woman takes photos of a destroyed building near a checkpoint in Brovary, outside of Kyiv on March 1. (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

The US has seen more than 400 missiles fired by Russia in the invasion of Ukraine as of this morning, according to a senior defense official.

The Ukrainians still have air missile defense systems that remain “viable and intact and engaged,” according to the official.

The official also said that while Russia still has not achieved air superiority, “there are areas where they have more control than others.”

11:28 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Russia's advance on Kyiv is "where it was yesterday," US official says

From CNN's Michael Conte and Jeremy Herb

The Russian advance on Kyiv remains “basically… where it was yesterday” according to a senior defense official.  

The Russians are not only facing “fuel and sustainment” problems, but are showing signs that they are running out of food, the official claimed.  

The official cited a number of possible reasons for the stall, including Ukrainian resistance.

The official also cited the possibility that the Russians were pausing their advance by choice because they could be “regrouping, rethinking, reevaluating.” CNN reported earlier that the US believes Russia is resorting to heavier firepower and more devastating weapons systems 

“They will regroup, they will adjust, they will change their tactics,” the official said, adding that the Russian defense ministry openly admitted it would target civilian areas in Kyiv. 

But the official also noted that the Russian military appears to be “risk averse” when it comes to its own troops.

“There has been in the last six days evidence of a certain risk averse behavior by the Russian military,” the official said. “You’ve seen it on the ground, where units are surrendering, sometimes without a fight. And they’ve got, a lot of these soldiers are conscripts, never been in combat before, some of whom we believe weren’t even told they were going to be in combat. So we’re just seeing evidence of a bit of risk aversion.”

Here's a look at Russia's advance into Ukraine:

11:29 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

US continues to see "heavy fighting" in and around Kharkiv, defense official says

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

Damage is seen in Kharkiv after rocket strikes by Russian forces on March 1.
Damage is seen in Kharkiv after rocket strikes by Russian forces on March 1. (Sergey Bobok/AFP/Getty Images)

The US continues to see “heavy fighting in and around Kharkiv” and the area “remains heavily contested,” a senior US defense official told reporters on Tuesday — the sixth day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In the southern part of the country, the US continues to see Russian forces make “more progress,” and have “more success down there, in terms of moving along their axes,” the official said.

The Russian forces are advancing on two axes in the south. From Crimea, there is one part that goes off to the northwest and one that goes to the northeast, the official said.

The Ukrainian city of Kherson appears “very much to be a contested city at this point,” the official said.

From the northeast, Russian forces are “still outside Mariupol” and “they have not advanced inside the city” yet, the official said.

“They are close enough now that they could attack Mariupol with long-range fires, and again we haven’t seen a whole lot of activity, but we don’t believe that they’re in Mariupol,” the official added.

The US does believe Russian forces are occupying Berdyansk and Melitopol, which is west of Berdyansk and further in from the coast of the Sea of Azov, the official said.

“Again if you draw that line from Mariupol to Kharkiv, we can see a continued desire from the Russians to sort of connect on those two lines, they haven’t made much progress, but we still believe that’s their intent,” the official added.

Here's a map to help understand where the Russians stand in Ukraine:

11:07 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

US and allies will release 60 million barrels of oil as Ukraine war roils markets

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Phil Mattingly, Kevin Liptak and Natasha Bertrand 

The US and its allies have agreed to a release of 60 million barrels from their reserves, according to two sources familiar with the decision. Half of it — 30 million — will come from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and the other half will come from allies in Europe and Asia.

This comes as US President Joe Biden seeks to dampen the effect of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on gas prices at home.

Earlier CNN reported: Allies include Germany, the UK, Italy, the Netherlands and other major European countries, as well as Japan and South Korea. US officials have spent the last several weeks on calls and in meetings with their counterparts in key energy-supplying countries in an effort to secure commitments to backfill any market disruptions. The effort included an in-person visit to Saudi Arabia from two senior administration officials to discuss the need to address the impact on oil markets. The US informed Saudi Arabia ahead of the oil reserve announcement. 

Biden signaled his intent to release the oil last week.

"We are actively working with countries around the world to evaluate a collective release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves of major energy-consuming countries. And the United States will release additional barrels of oil as conditions warrant,” he said.

The Paris-based International Energy Agency is holding a last-minute meeting Tuesday on oil supply with the goal of “stabilizing markets," it said earlier this week. The meeting with be chaired by US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.

Some background: Tapping the SPR – the stockpile of 600 million barrels of crude oil stored in underground salt caverns in Louisiana and Texas – generally has only a limited effect on gas prices because of how much oil can be released at a time, but would act as a political sign that Biden is confronting the problem.