March 2, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Meg Wagner, Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Maureen Chowdhury, Jason Kurtz and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 4:01 p.m. ET, March 7, 2022
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7:21 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

Natural gas prices in Europe hit record high, spiking 60% since Tuesday

From CNN’s Julia Horowitz in London

The price of natural gas in Europe hit a record on Wednesday amid concerns from traders that its supply could be disrupted due to Russia's war in Ukraine.

Benchmark futures jumped as high as 194 euros ($215) per megawatt hour. That's a 60% leap versus Tuesday and more than double where prices stood on Friday.

Russian pipe flows to Europe are continuing normally, according to Alex Froley, a market analyst at Independent Commodity Intelligence Services. But there's "a lot of uncertainty and concern about how things could change," he said.

Froley noted that the United Kingdom has banned Russian owned and controlled ships from its ports, which could disrupt shipments of liquefied natural gas from Russia that account for between 3% and 4% of the country's gas supply.

"Traders may be concerned whether continental Europe introduces a similar ban on Russian ships," he said.

As of 2019, the European Union imported more than 40% of its natural gas from Russia — more than any other country.

7:21 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

Poland won't send fighter jets into Ukrainian airspace, says President Andrzej Duda

From CNN's Nada Bashir in London

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (2nd left) and Polish President Andrzej Duda (2nd right) speak with NATO officers at the military air base in Lask, Poland on March 1.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (2nd left) and Polish President Andrzej Duda (2nd right) speak with NATO officers at the military air base in Lask, Poland on March 1. (NATO/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Poland will not send fighter jets into Ukraine, Polish President Andrzej Duda said Tuesday, adding that Poland is “not joining” the ongoing conflict as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine. 

“We are not sending any jets to Ukraine because that would open military inference in the Ukrainian conflict. We are not joining that conflict. NATO is not party to that conflict,” Duda said. 

We are supporting Ukrainians with humanitarian aid. However, we are not going to send any jets to Ukrainian airspace,” he continued. 

Speaking alongside NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg during a press conference at Poland's Lask airbase, Duda stressed that Poland and NATO will continue to “stand at the side of Ukraine.”

While Polish jets will not be operating in Ukrainian airspace, NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg said Tuesday that “fighter jets from the United States are flying alongside the Polish air force” in NATO airspace.

"Putin’s war affects us all and NATO allies will always stand together to defend and protect each other,” Stoltenberg said. 

"NATO is a defensive alliance. We do not seek conflict with Russia. Russia must immediately stop the war, pull out all its forces from Ukraine, and engage in good faith in diplomatic efforts,” he added.

7:11 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

Voices from Ukraine's global diaspora speak out on Putin's invasion

From CNN Opinion

In London, a sister remembers her brother killed on Ukraine's frontline. In Glasgow, a truck driver gets a call from his wife in Lviv: war has arrived in their homeland. And in Connecticut, a university professor reflects on Putin's unraveling.

For the Ukrainian diaspora, Putin's war resonates deeply. We asked Ukrainians, expats and political experts from across the globe to weigh in. The views expressed in this commentary are their own.

Olesya Khromeychuk is a historian, writer and director of the Ukrainian Institute London. She told CNN that her elder brother, Volodymyr, was killed by shrapnel in 2017 in the conflict in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine.

"I am a historian. I realize that we are living through a moment that will be on every syllabus of European history. Now is the time to decide what place each one of us wants to have in that history. Stand With Ukraine," Khromeychuk said.

Ukrainian truck driver and father-of-two Oleksandr Bilyy, spoke to CNN as he was crossing the Polish border into Ukraine. His words are lightly edited for clarity.

"On Thursday I woke up in Glasgow (Scotland) at 6.00 a.m., my wife calling me, telling me Russians were bombing our capital and our country. So that's it. I drove my truck to London, picked up my car, and started driving to Poland -- I arrived there Saturday.

"My family live in Lviv. I have two kids there. I'm a truck driver, I do jobs all over."

"Ukraine is my homeland, and if Ukrainians will not fight for our homeland, who will? We don't want to live with the Russian style of life, we want to live with our style of life," the 39-year-old told CNN.

Marci Shore is associate professor of modern European intellectual history at Yale University, focusing on 20th and 21st century Central and Eastern Europe. 

"This is no longer the master chess player, the shrewd grand strategist. He is no longer a rational actor, even in the coldest and most cynical sense. He seemed unwell and unhinged," she said of Putin's speech last Monday

This no longer felt like a man playing a high-stakes chess game, now it felt like a scene from 'Macbeth.' My intuition was that an aging man facing his own death had decided to destroy the whole world. Ukraine is very possibly fighting for all of us."

Read the full article here:

7:35 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

UK Prime Minister calls Russia's assault on Ukraine "abhorrent"

From CNN's Manveena Suri

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves the 10 Downing Street, in London, on March 2, following a meeting with Ukraine's ambassador to Britain.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves the 10 Downing Street, in London, on March 2, following a meeting with Ukraine's ambassador to Britain. (Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the “abhorrent attacks” on Ukraine in phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday.

“Sharing his disgust at the attacks on Ukraine, the Prime Minister said the UK was doing everything possible to support the Ukrainian people and their resistance,” Johnson's office said in a statement.
“Both leaders agreed on the need for sanctions to go further to exert maximum pressure on (Russian) President Putin in the coming days.”

Zelensky thanked Johnson for the United Kingdom’s support and defensive aid, adding “it had been vital in holding back Russian forces," the statement read.

6:53 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

Non-Ukrainians must receive equal help at border, says minister, after foreign students faced segregation and racism

From CNN’s Stephanie Busari and Pierre Bairin

Africans and non-Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s attack on the country should be assisted equally, Ukraine’s foreign minister stated Wednesday.

“Africans seeking evacuation are our friends and need to have equal opportunities to return to their home countries safely,” Dmytro Kuleba tweeted Wednesday.

“Ukraine’s government spares no effort to solve the problem,” Kuleba wrote.

It’s the first time the Ukraine’s government has acknowledged the crisis on the border. Non-Ukranians, particularly from Africa, have been subjected to racism as they have tried to flee.

People trying to leave Ukraine for their home countries told CNN they have been segregated and denied transportation out of the country by officials at the border. Some have allegedly been beaten in racist attacks.

One Nigerian medical student, Rachel Onyegbule, told CNN that she and other foreigners were ordered off the public transit bus at a checkpoint between the Ukrainian and Polish border, adding that it then drove away with only Ukrainian nationals on board.

Saakshi Ijantkar, a fourth-year medical student from India, also shared her ordeal with CNN. She said she witnessed violence from the guards to the students waiting at the Ukrainian side of the Shehyni-Medyka border.

CNN contacted the Ukrainian army in light of the allegations of violence, but did not immediately hear back.

In a statement to CNN, Human Rights Watch said: “It is imperative that Ukrainian authorities issue crystal-clear guidance to all border posts that foreigners should not be singled out and hindered in their efforts to seek equal safety across the border. All civilians leaving the country should be treated humanely by authorities.”

6:43 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

International Atomic Energy Agency says Ukraine has requested help safeguarding nuclear plants

From CNN's Tim Lister in Kyiv

Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, at the extraordinary meeting of agency's board of governors in Vienna, Austria on March 2.
Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, at the extraordinary meeting of agency's board of governors in Vienna, Austria on March 2. (Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images)

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says it has received a request from Ukraine's nuclear power authority "to provide immediate assistance in coordinating activities in relation to the safety of the Chornobyl (Chernobyl) NPP and other nuclear facilities."

The request came as Russia notified the IAEA that its forces have taken control of the territory around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said Tuesday. The Russian letter to the IAEA said personnel at the plant continued their “work on providing nuclear safety and monitoring radiation in normal mode of operation. The radiation levels remain normal.”

Social media video footage verified by CNN Wednesday showed workers at the NPP blocking access roads to the plant, one of the largest nuclear power plants in Europe. 

Russian forces seized control of the Chernobyl power plant in northern Ukraine, the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster, last week.

The IAEA said Grossi will be holding consultations and maintaining contacts in order to address Ukraine's request.

The agency added: "The Director General has repeatedly stressed that any military or other action that could threaten the safety or security of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants must be avoided. He also said that operating staff must be able to fulfil their safety and security duties and have the capacity to make decisions free of undue pressure."

The IAEA also said that on Tuesday, Ukraine informed the agency that all its nuclear power plants remained under the control of the national operator.

In an update Wednesday, the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU) said it maintained communications with the country’s nuclear facilities and that they continued to operate normally.

The Zaporizhzhia plant is the largest of Ukraine’s nuclear power sites, with six out of the country’s 15 nuclear energy reactors.

6:35 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

Kremlin says Russian economy is taking "serious blows" when asked about Biden's State of the Union speech

From CNN's Moscow bureau and Maegan Vazquez

The Russian economy is being impacted as a result of sanctions imposed by the West, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov acknowledged when asked about US President Joe Biden’s remarks in his State of the Union speech.

“Russia’s economy is experiencing serious blows,” Peskov said in call with foreign journalists on Wednesday. “But there is a certain margin of safety, there is potential, there are some plans, work is underway.” 

“[The economy] will stay on its feet,” he concluded.

In his speech on Tuesday, President Biden said the Russian economy had been left “reeling” from all the sanctions.

Speaking to political leaders in Washington, Biden began the address by underscoring unity against Russia within the United States and among its allies.

He closed with a resounding sense of optimism and unity as the world watches Russia's invasion of Ukraine, saying his confidence in the American people is what gives him assurance that democracy will prevail at this critical moment.

Now is the hour, our moment of responsibility. Our test of resolve and conscience, of history itself. It is in this moment that our character is formed. Our purpose is found. Our future is forged," Biden said in closing.

"Well, I know this nation. We will meet the test. To protect freedom and liberty, to expand fairness and opportunity. We will save democracy. As hard as these times have been, I am more optimistic about America today than I have been my whole life," he continued.

The President said, "The state of the union is strong, because you, the American people, are strong."

"We are stronger today than we were a year ago," Biden added. "And we will be stronger a year from now than we are today. Now is our moment to meet and overcome the challenges of our time."

On Tuesday, Peskov told CNN that Russian President Vladimir Putin would not be watching Biden’s State of the Union speech, but that he would get a written report on it.

6:23 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

China says it will "continue to play a constructive role"

From CNN's Beijing Bureau

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Wang Wenbin speaks at press conference in Beijing, China, on March 1.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Wang Wenbin speaks at press conference in Beijing, China, on March 1. (Eyepress/Reuters)

China said it "will continue to play a constructive role in easing the tension over Ukraine," after Ukraine's top diplomat appealed to China's foreign minister for their help in mediating a ceasefire in Russia's invasion. 

"China always supports and encourages all diplomatic efforts conducive to the peaceful settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, welcomes the launch of peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, and hopes that the two sides will continue the process of dialogue and negotiation and seek a political solution that accommodates the legitimate security concerns of both sides," Foreign Minister spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in a briefing on Wednesday. 

On Tuesday, China's foreign minister Wang Yi had a phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, who said Ukraine is willing to maintain communication with China and “expects China's mediation for the realization of a ceasefire," China's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Kuleba also told CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday that the Chinese are “ready to seek a peaceful solution” in diplomatic talks to end the war and that he appealed to Wang to "take advantage of their leverage on Putin, of their relations with Russia, and urge Putin to stop this war immediately.” 

Wenbin's comments come a day after China started evacuating its citizens from Ukraine.

Unlike nationals from many other countries, Chinese nationals in Ukraine did not receive instructions to leave the country before Russia's invasion began. Prior to Russia's attack, Chinese officials pushed back on warnings from the United States and its allies that an aggressive move from Moscow was imminent.

However, China appeared to change course this week.

Some 400 students based in the Black Sea port city of Odessa, and another 200 from the capital, Kyiv, left the country on Monday, according to state-run tabloid Global Times, which cited the Chinese Embassy in Ukraine. Another 1,000 citizens were expected to be evacuated into neighboring countries on Tuesday, it added.

6:13 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

Oil hits $113 as Russia fears mount

From CNN's Matt Egan 

The relentless rally in oil prices hit new milestones on Wednesday as Brent soared beyond $113 a barrel for the first time in nearly eight years on deepening concerns about Russia’s oil supply. 

Brent, the world benchmark, jumped 5.4% in recent trading to $110.20 a barrel. At one point it hit $113.02 -- up nearly 8% on the day and the highest intraday level since June 2014.

US crude jumped another 4% Wednesday morning to $107.42 a barrel. US crude, also known as West Texas Intermediate (WTI), spiked as much as 7.8% to $111.50 a barrel – the highest level since August 2013.

The rally reflects worries that the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and ensuing sanctions on the Kremlin, will disrupt Russia’s oil supply. The new milestones come less than a day after the International Energy Agency and the White House announced the release of 60 million barrels of emergency oil supplies.