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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7:31 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

Ukrainian foreign minister says he's unsure whether new talks will take place with Russia

From CNN’s Tim Lister in Kyiv

 Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says it is “unknown now when a new round of talks will take place” with Russia.

“The first round of talks took place .... Russia’s conditions remain unchanged," Kuleba wrote in a post on Facebook.
“We are ready for talks, we are ready for diplomacy, but we are not in any way ready to accept any Russian ultimatums,” he added.


7:33 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

Russian Central Bank suspends bank transfers abroad for non-residents, state media reports

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio and Nathan Hodge in Moscow

The Russian Central Bank has suspended transfers from the accounts of non-residents abroad in an attempt to avoid the withdrawal of funds due to sanctions imposed on the country, state news agency TASS reported Wednesday.

“In order to prevent export of cash from the Russian financial market and to maintain financial stability, the Bank of Russia has temporarily suspended transfers to foreign bank accounts from accounts held by non-resident corporate entities and individuals from a number of countries,” the Russian Central Bank said, according to TASS. 

“Transfers by non-residents without a bank account are restricted to $5,000 or equivalent per month," the bank added, according to the news agency.

The restrictions do not apply to Russian citizens or to foreign nationals from countries that are part of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The move comes as the Russian currency, the ruble, continues its downward spiral and the Moscow Stock Exchange remained closed for a third day in a row, in light of sanctions.

7:24 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

Nearly 836,000 refugees have left Ukraine since February 24, says UN

From CNN’s Martin Goillandeau in London

The UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees said 835,928 refugees have left Ukraine since February 24.

More than half of them (453,982) fled via Poland. Another 116,348 went to Hungary, according to the UNHCR.

Another 96,000 people moved to the Russian Federation from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions between 18 and 23 February. Those two regions are controlled by Russian-backed separatists. The Kremlin in February recognized them as independent states in defiance of international law.

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.