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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5:07 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Newlyweds spend honeymoon fighting for Ukraine

Newlyweds Yaryna Arieva (right) and Sviatoslav Fursin have taken up arms to defend Ukraine.
Newlyweds Yaryna Arieva (right) and Sviatoslav Fursin have taken up arms to defend Ukraine. (CNN)

Just hours after their wedding on the first day of Russia's invasion, Yaryna Arieva and Sviatoslav Fursin joined the fight to protect their country.

The couple were due to get married in May but rushed to tie the knot in Kyiv last week when Russia invaded, before joining the Ukrainian resistance.

Wearing camouflage jackets and holding a rifle, the couple told CNN's Don Lemon about spending their honeymoon living in a city under siege and taking up arms to fight against Russian troops invading their homeland.

"It's hard to understand, this new reality that we have," said Arieva, who is from Kyiv.

She said it's the first day of spring and usually people would be sowing sunflowers — Ukraine’s national flower — instead, they will be resisting Russia's attack. 

“No one here is saying that we will lose, or is crying. Everyone here believes we will win. It's all just a question of time. So, I am very happy to see this great amount of people, really being ready to fight. Being ready to kill for their land. Having no doubt about our win in this war," she said.

Her husband, Fursin, was born in the western city of Lviv and said his "people always want to be free. These people are ready to fight for their freedom."

Going on combat missions, he is worried for the safety of his family — his wife, parents and sister — but said he "will do everything to protect them."

Arieva said she is working every day and though it's "hard waiting for my husband to come back from combat missions," everyone is helping each other.

"Life here is different, but it is life. People joke and laugh. That is very interesting to see. It is another kind of life that has changed with the beginning of war but it is life," she said.

The couple called on the international community to help Ukraine with money, food, weapons, and medical assistance and to place more sanctions on Russia.

Fursin said he hopes the time will come soon when he can gather his family and friends "all in one place and drink a good glass of wine. And say to everybody, 'Hurray, war is ended, we won.'"

Before that time, though, he said he wants "everybody in this world, including Russia and the Russian people, to remember" that they are fighting "for the freedom of the world."

12:49 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

US Olympic & Paralympic Committee calls for complete ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes

The US Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) has called for a "complete ban on international sport participation" for Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

USOPC said the ban should be effective immediately and be inclusive of the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, which begin on March 4.

"As the world watches in horror while Russia brazenly attacks the innocent people and athletes of Ukraine, this is the only acceptable action to be taken until peace has been restored," USOPC said.

12:40 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

South Korea pledges $10 million in Ukraine aid 

From CNN's Gawon Bae in Seoul, South Korea

South Korea will provide $10 million in humanitarian assistance to Ukraine as the Russian invasion continues, Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said.

The ministry said the support will be made through consultations with the governments of Ukraine, neighboring countries and international organizations.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday ordered the government to rapidly come up with humanitarian support for Ukraine.

“We hope our government’s support effectively helps the Ukrainian people and refugees, and we will continue active contribution to resolve the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine,” the ministry said.
12:31 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Indian student in Ukraine pleads for help: "There is a lot of crying, a lot of fear"

From CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

Sheikh Abrar attempts to sleep amid the sounds of sirens and blasts. He dare not switch on his phone, or keep a light on. Every night, he prays for safety.

“We don’t know how many people will die,” the 22-year-old Indian medical student told CNN by phone from the eastern city of Sumy on Monday, about 330 kilometers (200 miles) northeast of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and close to the Russian border.

“Every night, every day we hear sirens. Whenever we hear an alarm or shots fired in the air, we have to rush down to the (underground) bunkers," he said.

Abrar is one of about 13,000 Indians stranded in Ukraine, as Indian authorities ramp up efforts to evacuate their citizens.

“They will evacuate us when there will be no one (left). Everyone will die,” Abrar said.

Abrar has been taking refuge in a hostel. But as Ukraine enters its sixth day of Russia’s unprovoked invasion, supplies — including food and water — are running low, leaving him and about 400 others with him desperate for help.

“Every second, every minute we are tweeting… we are trying to reach the Indian Embassy but what are they doing?” he said.

Indians evacuated: Since Ukraine’s airspace shut last week, India has evacuated about 2,000 nationals — mostly medical students like Abrar— from the country.

According to the medical student, India was late in issuing advisories to leave the country, and when they did on Feb. 15, it wasn’t possible for most to return. Flight costs increased and many middle-class families were unable to afford the journey home, he said.

On Monday, the Indian Embassy in Ukraine reiterated that all students should make the journey west to be evacuated. Several Indian ministers will travel to neighboring countries to coordinate the evacuation mission, a senior government official told CNN Monday.

But for Abrar, the decision to stay or leave comes with serious risks.

“All the ways are blocked … if we travel by bus we will not be able to cross into the west because Russian troops are everywhere,” he said. “We are stuck here. We need help.”
12:24 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

North Korea blames US "hegemony policy" for Ukraine war

From CNN's Gawon Bae in Seoul, South Korea

North Korea blamed the “hegemony policy of the US and the West” for the Ukrainian crisis in a statement issued by a Foreign Ministry spokesperson on Monday.

“The root cause of the Ukraine crisis totally lies in the hegemonic policy of the US and the West which indulge themselves in high-handedness and arbitrariness towards other countries,” the spokesperson said.

The United States and its allies have imposed sanctions against Russia and is applying pressure by blocking some Russian banks from the SWIFT global payment system.

The North Korean spokesperson said the US and the West have “systematically undermined the security environment of Europe by becoming more blatant in their attempts to deploy attack weapon systems while defiantly pursuing NATO’s eastward expansion.”

The spokesperson also denounced the “unilateral and double-dealing policy of the US” for threatening peace and security of sovereign states.

12:15 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Foreign students fleeing Ukraine say they face segregation, racism at border

From CNN's Stephanie Busari, Nimi Princewill and Shama Nasinde

Refugees from many countries, mostly students at Ukrainian universities, are seen at the Medyka pedestrian border crossing, in eastern Poland on February 27.
Refugees from many countries, mostly students at Ukrainian universities, are seen at the Medyka pedestrian border crossing, in eastern Poland on February 27. (Wojtek Radwanski/AFP/Getty Images)

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, foreign students attempting to leave the country say they are experiencing racist treatment by Ukrainian security forces and border officials.

One African medical student told CNN that she and other foreigners were ordered off the public transit bus at a checkpoint between Ukraine and Poland border.

They were told to stand aside as the bus drove off with only Ukrainian nationals on board, she says.

Rachel Onyegbule, a Nigerian first-year medical student in Lviv was left stranded at the border town of Shehyni, some 400 miles from Ukraine's capital, Kyiv.

She told CNN: "More than 10 buses came and we were watching everyone leave. We thought after they took all the Ukrainians they would take us, but they told us we had to walk, that there were no more buses.

"They told us we had to walk. It started to rain and we walked 12 hours to get to Shehyni."

"My body was numb from the cold and we haven't slept in about 4 days now. Ukrainians have been prioritized over Africans — men and women — at every point. There's no need for us to ask why. We know why. I just want to get home," Onyegbule told CNN in a telephone call Sunday as she waited in line at the border to cross into Poland.

Onyegbule says she eventually got her exit document stamped on Monday morning around 4.30 a.m. local time.

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12:04 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Presidents of 8 EU states call for negotiations on Ukrainian membership

From CNN's Teele Rebane and Hannah Ritchie 

The presidents of Estonia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia published an open letter on Monday urging the European Union (EU) to immediately grant Ukraine candidate country status and begin negotiations on its formal acceptance into the bloc. 

"We call on the EU Member States to consolidate highest political support to Ukraine and enable the EU institutions to conduct steps to immediately grant Ukraine a EU candidate country status and open the process of negotiations." the letter read.
"In this critical moment, we reiterate our full solidarity with Ukraine and its People."

On Monday, following a phone conversation with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the bloc to grant his country immediate EU membership, as it fights off Russia's invasion. 

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

12:00 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

It's 7 a.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

Russian forces bombarded a residential area in Ukraine's second-largest city, Kharkiv, with rockets on Monday — killing at least nine people. Russia also intensified its assault on the capital, Kyiv.

As Ukraine wakes to a sixth day of Russia's invasion, here's what you need to know if you're just joining us:

  • 40+ mile long convoy: New satellite images show a Russian military convoy that has reached the outskirts of Kyiv is more than 40 miles long. The convoy stretches from the Antonov airbase — roughly 27 kilometers (17 miles) from the center of Kyiv — to just north of Pribyrsk, near the Belarus border.
  • "Second wave" fears: US officials told lawmakers in classified briefings Monday that a second wave of Russian troops will likely overcome the Ukrainian resistance, according to two people familiar with the briefings.
  • War crimes accusations: 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." He has called for a "complete closure of the sky" for Russian aircraft and missiles.
  • Civilian deaths: Multiple officials told CNN they are concerned by the increase in violence, civilian casualties and indiscriminate killings in recent days. The UN said at least 406 civilians have been reported hurt or killed since the invasion, including at least 102 killed within the past few days. More than half a million refugees have fled Ukraine.
  • What came of the 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."
  • Sanctions bite: Russia scrambled to prevent financial meltdown Monday as its economy was slammed by a broadside of crushing Western sanctions imposed over the weekend. Putin held crisis talks with his top economic advisers after the ruble crashed to a record low against the US dollar.
  • Snake Island defenders: The Ukrainian forces of Snake Island in the Black Sea, who were initially feared dead, are “alive and well,” according to the Ukrainian Navy. A statement from the Navy said the soldiers on the island repelled two attacks by Russian forces but in the end were forced to surrender “due to the lack of ammunition.”
  • Sporting bodies punish Russia: FIFA and UEFA have banned Russian national football teams and clubs from competition, and World Rugby suspended Russia and Belarus from all international rugby and cross-border club activities. Meanwhile, the International Tennis Federation said it will not hold any events in Belarus this year.
10:39 p.m. ET, February 28, 2022

Analysis: All roads lead to Belarus — the origin of the 40+ mile long Russian convoy near Kyiv

Analysis from CNN's Paul P. Murphy

Satellite images show a Russian military convoy that has reached the outskirts of Kyiv is more than 40 miles long.
Satellite images show a Russian military convoy that has reached the outskirts of Kyiv is more than 40 miles long. (Maxar Technologies)

Dramatic satellite images released by Maxar Technologies on Monday evening showed a massive 40+ mile long convoy of Russian military vehicles snaking along roadways northwest of Kyiv. 

It’s easy to trace where those hundreds of tanks, towed artillery, armored and logistical vehicles came from. Just follow the roads.

In Ukraine, northwest of Kyiv, all roads lead to Belarus. The roadway and bridge at Chernobyl — the town, not the failed nuclear reactor — ends in Belarus. Every other major road northwest of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, ends in Belarus, which borders northern Ukraine.

Russian buildup of troops: For weeks prior to its invasion of Ukraine, Russia amassed its forces in Belarus.

Hundreds of Russian military vehicles, aircraft and helicopters were moved to the former Soviet state in order to participate in what the two allies described as joint exercises. But after the maneuvers ended, the Russian forces didn’t go home.

In fact, additional satellite imagery from Maxar showed that Russia continued to increase the amount of military vehicles, air power and weaponry in Belarus. From the city of Brest in the country's east, to Gomel in the west, Russian forces kept popping up at air bases, in towns and in even in fields on satellite images and social media.

Pontoon bridge: Satellite images even showed that Russia constructed a pontoon bridge across the Pripyat River in the greater Chernobyl exclusion zone, which spans Ukraine and Belarus. The day the invasion into Ukraine began, additional satellite images from Capella Space showed Russia began moving dozens of military vehicles across that bridge.

Military power: The sheer length of the convoy is massive and speaks to the amount of the military power the Russians have amassed to try and take Kyiv.

It also speaks to Belarus’ activity in supporting and carrying the invasion — and responsibility for it.

That military power could not have been amassed by the Russians without the permission, and assistance, of Belarus.