March 3, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Jack Guy, Laura Smith-Spark, Adrienne Vogt, Melissa Macaya and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, March 4, 2022
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2:37 p.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Estonian crew rescued after ship sinks off Ukraine coast following shelling

From CNN’s Dan Wright and Josh Pennington

All six crew members of an Estonian-owned ship called “HELT” were rescued after the vessel sank off the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Odessa on Thursday.

The ship was hit by “occupier artillery,” the Ukrainian parliament said on its official Twitter account, citing the country’s seaports administration. 

“All 6 crew members are in satisfactory condition,” it added.

2:33 p.m. ET, March 3, 2022

The White House announced new sanctions on Russian oligarchs. Here's who will be impacted. 

From CNN's Betsy Klein

The White House announced new sanctions on Russian oligarchs Thursday, in US President Joe Biden's latest attempt to squeeze Russian President Vladimir Putin as the invasion of Ukraine advances.

The new list of individuals described as "Putin's cronies and their family members" will be cut off from the US financial system, their assets in the US will be frozen, and their property will be blocked from use, according to a fact sheet from the White House.

There will be full blocking sanctions on eight Russian elites, plus their family members and associates.

It includes a move to target Putin ally Alisher Burhanovich Usmanov, "one of Russia's wealthiest individuals," according to the White House, and will include his super-yacht and private jet.

The US is also sanctioning Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, whom the White House describes as "a top purveyor of Putin's propaganda."

"The United States and governments all over the world will work to identify and freeze the assets Russian elites and their family members hold in our respective jurisdictions -- their yachts, luxury apartments, money, and other ill-gotten gains," the fact sheet said.

The individuals who will be subject to full blocking sanctions are:

  • Nikolai Tokarev (along with his wife Galina, daughter Mayya and his two luxury real estate companies)
  • Boris Rotenberg (along with his wife Karina, and his sons Roman and Boris)
  • Arkady Rotenberg (along with his sons Pavel and Igor and daughter Liliya)
  • Sergei Chemezov (along with his wife Yekaterina, his son Stanislav and stepdaughter Anastasiya)
  • Igor Shuvalov (along with his five companies, his wife Olga, his son Evgeny and his company and jet, and his daughter Maria and her company)
  • Yevgeniy Prigozhin (along with his three companies, his wife, Polina, his daughter Lyubov, and his son Pavel),
  • Peskov, Putin's press secretary
  • Alisher Usmanov (His super-yacht, one of the world's largest and just seized by our ally Germany, and his private jet, one of Russia's largest privately owned aircraft)

The US will also impose visa restrictions on 19 oligarchs and 47 of their family members and close associates, the fact sheet from the White House said.

That will target oligarchs "known to direct, authorize, fund, significantly support, or carry out malign activities in support of Russia's destabilizing foreign policy."

And the Department of Treasury will also issue sanctions on disinformation targets. That includes SDN Strategic Culture Foundation and associated outlets Odna Rodyna, Rhythm of Eurasia, and Journal Kamerton; SouthFront; SDN InfoRos; New Eastern Outlook; Oriental Review; United World International; and Geopolitical.

It will also designate "26 Russia and Ukraine-based individuals who play central roles in these organizations, enabling the Government of the Russian Federation's efforts to spread disinformation and influence perceptions as a part of their invasion of Ukraine."

Read more about the latest sanctions here.

2:19 p.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Russia calls humanitarian agreements very important as Ukrainian negotiator says talks didn't deliver results

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio in Moscow

The Kremlin called the humanitarian agreements reached in Ukraine/Russia second round of talks very important, Russian state news agency RIA reports on Thursday, quoting Kremlin’s pool.

During the talks, delegations from Russia and Ukraine agreed on providing humanitarian corridors for civilians and on a possible temporary ceasefire in areas where evacuation is happening.

But remember: Earlier today, a Ukrainian negotiator said that the second round of talks with Russia didn’t deliver any results that Ukraine needed.

2:20 p.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Saudi Arabia offers to mediate talks between Russia and Ukraine

From CNN's Mia Alberti

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a summit held at al-Safa Royal Palace in Mecca in 2019.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a summit held at al-Safa Royal Palace in Mecca in 2019. (Bandar Aldandani/AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a phone call from Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, and he offered to make efforts to mediate talks between Moscow and Kyiv as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine.

Bin Salman said his country supports "efforts that lead to a political solution that leads to its end and achieves security and stability, and that the Kingdom is ready to make efforts to mediate between all parties," he said in a statement posted on state-run Saudi Press Agency Thursday.

He also addressed energy concerns over the situation in Ukraine, reaffirming his country's commitment to the OPEC+ agreement, a pact made by 10 major crude oil producers and Russia to gradually pump more oil in the market to meet demand.

Saudi Arabia, which counts Russia as its main partner in the OPEC+ alliance, said Tuesday it "supports international de-escalation efforts in Ukraine." 

According to a Kremlin readout of the call:

“It was stated with satisfaction that the OPEC Plus member countries are consistently fulfilling their obligations, contributing to ensuring stability in the world oil market. Russia and Saudi Arabia will continue to coordinate their approaches within this format.”

“Taking into account the anti-Russian sanctions imposed by a number of Western countries, Vladimir Putin emphasized the inadmissibility of politicizing the issues of global energy supply, and also outlined the fundamental approaches of the Russian side in the context of the ongoing special military operation to protect Donbass,” the readout said.

More background from CNN Business: Russian oil has not been directly targeted by the West's crushing sanctions on Moscow — so far, at least. In fact, the United States and Europe have gone out of their way to avoid hitting Russia's fossil fuels.

But the market is taking no chances when it comes to Russian oil. Traders, shippers, insurance companies and banks don't want to touch it, for fear of running afoul of Western sanctions. 

This means that a considerable amount of Russian oil has been effectively sidelined — precisely what the West didn't want to happen. Prices for oil and gasoline have skyrocketed.

"The sanctions have led to a de facto ban on Russian oil," Andy Lipow, president of consulting firm Lipow Oil Associates, told CNN. 

CNN's Matt Egan contributed reporting to this post.

2:05 p.m. ET, March 3, 2022

White House says there are no plans for Biden-Putin meeting or call: "Now is not the moment"

From CNN's Allie Malloy

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House on March 3 in Washington, DC.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House on March 3 in Washington, DC. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins that there are no plans for a meeting or call between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying, “Now is not the moment.”

“We’re not planning a meeting between them or an engagement or a call. The President’s been very, very clear about that. But we’ll have those discussions internally and weigh the range of factors,” Psaki told Collins in Thursday’s briefing. 

Asked if there is any situation in which Biden would sit down with Putin if Russian troops remain in Ukraine, Psaki said, “I can’t make an assessment of that ... Right now, they’re invading a sovereign country and continuing to escalate every day. We’re never going to take diplomacy ever off the table but again, now is not the moment for that.”

Psaki also told Collins that the administration has “no assessment” on whether it is moving closer to banning Russian imports. 

Asked what the calculus is in waiting if the White House will ultimately ban Russian imports, Psaki said there is a policy process, adding “sometimes those moves rapidly and often there are a range of factors that are discussed as those decisions are made.” 

Psaki wouldn’t directly answer whether the President believes Russia will ultimately take Kyiv, telling Collins, “That continues to be their aspiration.”

1:52 p.m. ET, March 3, 2022

A multilateral development bank based in China suspends activities in Russia and Belarus

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral development bank based in China, has put all activities related to Russia and Belarus on hold, the AIIB said in the statement. The projects are currently "under review."

China controls 26% of the voting power of the AIIB, according to the bank's website. Russia has 6%. China spearheaded the founding of the AIIB to rival the U.S.-based World Bank in 2016. 

2:01 p.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Biden administration planning to impose new sanctions on Russian oligarchs as soon as today 

From Kevin Liptak, Phil Mattingly and Kaitlan Collins

The Biden administration is planning to impose new sanctions on Russian oligarchs and members of their families as soon as Thursday, sources familiar with the matter said.

The sanctions are expected to loosely follow a list of oligarchs sanctioned by the European Union earlier this week, though won't be identical, one person said. A number of the same individuals will be sanctioned by the US.

The US package, however, will be more expansive, including travel bans and targeting family members.

Biden has already applied sanctions to a number of top Russians close to the Kremlin, along with their adult children.

Biden has vowed to go after the "ill begotten gains" of Russian oligarchs, including their private jets, luxury apartments and yachts.

The White House says sanctions on Russian oligarchs are meant to put the squeeze on President Vladimir Putin, and that Thursday's batch of names won't be the last.

"We look, one of the big factors, is the proximity to President Putin," press secretary Jen Psaki said when asked how the US chose who to sanction.

"We want him to feel the squeeze, we want people around him to feel the squeeze," she said. "I don’t believe this is going to be the last set of oligarchs making them a priority and a focus of our individual sanctions is something the president has been focused on."

2:03 p.m. ET, March 3, 2022

In Uman, Ukrainian Jews turn synagogue into a bunker and "invite all people" to take shelter

From CNN's Rebecca Wright and Olha Konovalova

The Synagogue in Uman where congregants say the Jewish community has dwindled from around 600 people to less than 60.
The Synagogue in Uman where congregants say the Jewish community has dwindled from around 600 people to less than 60. (Rebecca Wright/CNN)

As air raid sirens blared in the small Ukrainian city of Uman, about 125 miles south of the capital Kyiv, families crowded into a makeshift bomb shelter underneath a central synagogue.

Before Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine last week, the basement of the temple was used as a bathhouse for Jewish worshippers to do their ritual washing — or mivkeh — before prayers.

But now, the Synagogue of the Breslover Hasidim is opening its doors to all locals looking for shelter from the threat of Russian troops. Uman was hit by missile attacks on the first day of the invasion, but has not seen any major fighting yet. Still, the city is on edge, and remaining residents are preparing for the worst.

"We invite all the people, all Ukrainians, all Hasidic people, doesn't matter who," said Irina Rybnitskaya, a lawyer for the US-owned foundation that runs the synagogue. "We prepare this place especially for them, in order to hide (when) there is (an) alarm."

The temporary hideout is lined with wooden benches and has been stocked with mattresses, blankets and hot drinks. The residents have arrived carrying their valuables and bags of clothing, in case they have to camp out for days — or longer — in the shelter.

"It's safe to be here, that's why I am here," said Dasha Borscht, 16, a non-Jewish resident taking refuge in the basement.

The Jewish neighborhood in Uman is normally busy with visitors to the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, the founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement who died in 1810. Every year in September, the streets turn into a festival scene, with tens of thousands of Jewish pilgrims descending on the memorial complex to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.

But since Uman came under attack on the first day of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24, many residents have fled. Its shops have been left shuttered and streets strewn with litter. Roadblocks run by Ukrainian soldiers now guard the perimeter of the city, with strict document checks for every vehicle passing through.

The Jewish community in the city has dwindled from around 600 members to under less than 60 since the Russian invasion began, according to the synagogue's lawyer.

"All the people is afraid to be here," said Yehuda Turgiman, a worshipper at the synagogue. "Stop with the war, stop with the fighting, stop with the hate."

Those left behind are those who can't — or won't — leave their homes, along with some who stay out of religious conviction.

"I didn't go to Bulgaria, because I believe Rabbi Nachman cares about us, and nobody can do something that God doesn't want," said Shula, a worshipper at the synagogue who was born in Israel but has lived in Uman for 21 years. "Putin will not come here, and the soldiers will not come here."

Other residents have decided to stay in Uman to fight back against the Russians.

Tzvi Arieli, a former soldier with the Israel Defense Forces who has lived in Ukraine for a decade, told CNN that he is helping to train civilians to use weapons and learn basic combat first aid. He said most of them are businessmen, and they have never held a weapon before.

A week ago, taking up arms was unthinkable to most people here. "We don't have weapons, we don't want to fight," Turgiman said.

The threat to Uman and its holy tomb was brought into focus on Tuesday, when a Russian attack on a Kyiv TV tower struck in the vicinity of Babyn Yar shrine — a site of mourning for more than 30,000 Jew massacred there by Nazi killing squads in 1941, one of the worst mass murders of Jews during the Holocaust.

Read more.

2:06 p.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Ukraine-Russia say humanitarian corridors were agreed on, but Ukraine says talks didn't deliver needed results

From CNN's Alla Eshchenko

The second round of talks between a delegation from Russia and Ukraine in Belarus have ended, the head of Russian delegation Vladimir Medinsky told Russian media, and the two sides have agreed on humanitarian corridors for civilians.

“We have thoroughly discussed three points – military, international and humanitarian, and the third one is an issue of a future political regulation of the conflict. Both positions are clear and written down. We managed to agree on some of them, but the key thing that we have reached an agreement on today was a matter of rescuing civilians who found themselves in a military clash zone. Russian and Ukrainian defense ministries agreed on providing humanitarian corridors for civilians and on a possible temporary ceasefire in areas where evacuation is happening,” Medinsky told media.

The talks lasted for two-and-a-half hours. 

Meanwhile, a Ukrainian negotiator on Thursday said that the talks didn’t deliver results that Ukraine needed, but he said there is a "solution only for the organization of humanitarian corridors."

"The second round of negotiations is over. Unfortunately, the results Ukraine needs are not yet achieved. There is a solution only for the organization of humanitarian corridors," senior Ukrainian official  Mykhailo Podolyak said in a tweet.  

Another member of the Russian delegation, Leonid Slutsky, told Russia 24 that both sides have agreed on the third round of talks, which will happen in the “nearest future.”