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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7:20 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

China regrets deaths in Ukraine but still refuses to acknowledge Russia’s invasion

From CNN's Beijing Bureau 

China said it “regrets" the casualties in Ukraine and called the current situation "undesirable" while continuing to refuse to acknowledge Russia’s military action as “an invasion.”

“The safety of civilians' lives and property should be effectively guaranteed, and in particular, large-scale humanitarian crises should be prevented,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in a briefing Tuesday. 

“The present situation is undesirable to us,” Wang said, adding that it is “imperative” for all parties to exercise the “necessary restraint” to prevent an exacerbation of the situation in Ukraine.

However, China continued to dodge questions about calling Russia’s activity in Ukraine an "invasion," instead reiterating that the conflict has a "complicated history and reality" and that it supports "all diplomatic efforts" to resolve the conflict. 

China "always advocates a vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security," Wang said, repeating that Russia's "legitimate demands for security" should be "taken seriously and properly addressed."

When asked whether China would provide supplies to Ukraine, Wang said China is willing to “play a constructive role” in easing the situation in Ukraine and would release relevant information "in due course."

7:18 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Translator chokes up with emotion as Zelensky addresses European Parliament

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is met with a standing ovation from diplomats as he addressed the European Parliament via video link on March 1.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is met with a standing ovation from diplomats as he addressed the European Parliament via video link on March 1. (EBS+)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was met with a standing ovation from diplomats as he addressed the European Parliament, telling those in attendance that his country is "fighting for survival."

"We are fighting just for our land and our freedom," Zelensky said, 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.

7:07 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Diplomats walk out as Russian Foreign Minister addresses UN

Ambassadors and diplomats leave while Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov (on screen) addresses with a pre-recorded video message at the 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, on March 1.
Ambassadors and diplomats leave while Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov (on screen) addresses with a pre-recorded video message at 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/AFP/Getty Images)

Representatives from Europe and other allies walked out during a video link address by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Tuesday.

A video posted by the French delegation showed dozens of officials leaving the chamber while Lavrov started his address via video link.

“Walk out from the EU and its partners during the statement from Minister Lavrov at the Conference on Disarmament this morning to show our support to Ukraine,” the tweet said. 

During his speech to the UN Human Rights Council, Lavrov said he did not attend in person because of what he called "outrageous" measures by European Union in applying sanctions on Russia following its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

6:46 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

A Kyiv family returned from a night in a shelter to find bullets in their home

From CNN’s Oleksandra Ochman in Lviv and Ivana Kottasová in Kyiv

Viktoriya and her family worry about keeping their young son safe in their apartment. (The image of the child has been blurred to protect their identity.)
Viktoriya and her family worry about keeping their young son safe in their apartment. (The image of the child has been blurred to protect their identity.) Obtained by CNN.

When Viktoriya and her family returned to their Kyiv home Tuesday morning after spending the night in a bomb shelter, they realized that the decision to leave yesterday may have saved their lives.

Overnight, bullets have pierced two windows in their apartment. One of them shattered an electrical socket nearby, leaving a hole where the plug would normally go.

I realized there is no place where I can feel safe now,” Viktoriya, 38, told CNN. “My home is not my castle any more. All the time, something is thundering, exploding, shooting.”

But there is no relief when it all quietens down.

“It becomes even more anxious in the moments of silence, because you know they are not going to last,” she said.

Bullets have pierced two windows in the apartment.
Bullets have pierced two windows in the apartment. Obtained by CNN.

Viktoriya and her family have been spending most of their time in the shelter. They have a small son and worry about being able to keep him safe in their apartment.

In the shelter, at least there are many other families with children, so they can keep each other company.

The adults are finding it comforting too, being around each other and sharing the burden of worry and the feeling of utter hopelessness.

One the projectiles that entered the family home.
One the projectiles that entered the family home. Obtained by CNN.

Damage to an electrical plug in the apartment.
Damage to an electrical plug in the apartment. Obtained by CNN.

“Life changed completely in just a moment, and you can't influence the situation in any way. Now it’s no longer you who controls your life, but someone else. And whatever you decide: whether to stay in Kyiv living in the basement or to go somewhere where it’s calmer, it means the same, you have to leave home,” Viktoriya said.

“The war has only lasted four days so far, but it seems like it has been with us for an infinitely long time. It’s a terrible ‘Groundhog Day’ feeling,” she added.

7:51 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Defending Kyiv is the "key priority," says Ukrainian leader

From CNN's Tim Lister and Olya Voitoych in Kyiv  

(President of Ukraine)
(President of Ukraine)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said the protection of the country's capital, Kyiv, is the “key priority” for the state. 

“Kharkiv and Kyiv are currently the most important targets for Russia. Terror is meant to break us. To break our resistance. They are heading to our capital, as well as to Kharkiv,” he said in a Facebook message Tuesday.

“Therefore, the defense of the capital today is the key priority for the state,” Zelensky said.

Kyiv is special. If we protect Kyiv, we will protect the state. This is the heart of our country. And it must keep beating. And it will keep beating, so that life triumphs.”

In his message to Ukrainians, Zelensky also described Tuesday's attack on the central square in Kharkiv as an act of terror.

“This is terror against the city, this is terror against Kharkiv, terror against Ukraine. There was no military target on the square," Zelensky said.
“The rocket to the central square is outright, undisguised terror. No one will forgive. Nobody will forget. This strike on Kharkiv is a war crime.”

“We call on all countries of the world to respond immediately and effectively to this criminal tactic of the aggressor and to declare that Russia is committing state terrorism. We demand full responsibility for terrorists in international courts,” Zelensky said.

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."