Kharkiv authorities say 34 civilians killed in past day during Russian attacks
From CNN's Tim Lister in Kyiv
Russian attacks on Ukraine's northeastern Kharkiv region killed 34 civilians and injured 285 more in the 24 hours to Thursday morning, according to emergency services.
"The enemy continued to strike residential neighborhoods and entire settlements with its deadly bombs, shells and rocket-propelled grenades," said Ukraine's State Emergency Service (SES) in a statement.
Several dozen fires were caused by ammunition entering houses and administrative buildings, it added.
The SES listed a range of attacks that took place in the region Wednesday, with sites hit including residential and administrative buildings, as well as businesses. It said three people were killed at a garage.
"At midnight there was a massive air raid on the peaceful city of Izyum," which lasted two hours and damaged a 5-story residential building, it said.
"In addition, a massive airstrike affected the Saltivka residential area. In residential high-rise buildings, structures were damaged," it added.
11:49 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022
On the ground: "There are no emotions left. Just silence in my head": Kharkiv residents suffer through heavy fighting
From CNN's Oleksandra Ochman in Lviv and Ivana Kottasová near Kyiv
When the first tank battle broke out in front of Natali’s house in Kharkiv, she was horrified and scared.
The body of a Russian soldier, killed during the fight, was left lying at the crossroads nearby.
Now, she is just angry.
Natali, 49, lives in the Bolshaya Danilovka district of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city, which has been under heavy attack from Russian forces.
“There was a battle near our house with tanks, grenades. Submachine gunners ran right into the pines in front of the house, which was shaking. Then the light was turned off,” she said.
Natali and her family had spent three days sitting in a bomb shelter in their friend’s house.
“We were getting through thanks to our sense of humor and by taking care of each other,” she said.
While they were sheltering, neighbors told them that something was burning near their home.
"We took the car and tried to go and see, but we couldn't get close to our house," she said. "We heard shooting, we saw destroyed wires and gas was leaking from the distribution network.”
On Tuesday, the family was finally able to go back home.
“Soldiers let us in for only 20 to 30 minutes. Part of our house does not longer exist - there is a hole through my favorite part, my cozy kitchen where I cooked for my friends,” she said.
The neighbor's house is completely gone. Kira, the family cat that had kittens last summer and loved roaming around the area, is dead.
“Killed by Russian ‘liberators’,” Natali said.
Their home has been looted, like many in the neighborhood.
“We took a few things and food, scattered food around the house for the animals left behind and left. Now, there are no emotions left. Just silence in my head," she said. "We are staying with friends and I am just laying down, cuddling my pets.”
Still, Natali is determined things will change and Ukraine will win this conflict.
“We will restore everything when the invaders die and the war ends," she said.
"I have decided that I’m going to gather friends who would like to help me restore our piece of paradise in Ukraine. Everything will be good!"
4:42 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022
Russia's independent radio station Echo of Moscow shutting down
From CNN's Vasco Cotovio
Russia’s independent radio station "Echo of Moscow" announced Thursday it will be closing down following authorities’ decision to take the station off-air.
“By a majority vote of the Board of Directors of Echo of Moscow, a decision was made to liquidate the radio channel and the website of Echo of Moscow,” reads a statement on its website.
On March 1, the Russian authorities moved to block the websites of Echo of Moscow and another outlet named TV Rain, and took Echo of Moscow off the air due to their coverage of the war in Ukraine.
In a statement, the Prosecutor General accused the Echo of Moscow and TV Rain of disseminating what it called “information known to be false regarding the actions of Russian servicemen, as part of a special operation to protect the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic.”
The Prosecutor General also said the two outlets had been posting information which the statement said calls “for extremism, violence against citizens of the Russian Federation, mass violations of public order and public security.”
Authorities in Russia forbid rallying without a permit and may consider broadcasting or reporting specific information on unauthorized rallies as organizing illegal protests.
The Echo of Moscow website appeared to be inaccessible in Russia on Thursday.
4:32 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022
Spain to send first shipment of offensive weapons to Ukraine
From CNN’s Al Goodman in Madrid
Spain will send 1,370 anti-tank grenade launchers to Ukraine on Friday as part of its first shipment of offensive weapons to help against the Russian invasion.
The shipment will also include light machine guns and 700,000 rounds of rifle and machine-gun ammunition, said Spain’s Defense Minister Margarita Robles.
“All of it will go in Spanish air force planes to a location in Poland close to the border, where Ukranian officials will receive it,” said Robles in a late-night interview on Spain’s Antena 3 TV channel.
Robles said the weapons “are very important because the material allows for a very individualized defense, even by people who don’t have much experience using weapons."
After days of emphasizing its humanitarian aid to Ukraine, as well as sending some defensive military equipment, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced that “Spain will deliver to the Ukrainian resistance offensive military material" in parliament on Wednesday.
In the interview, Robles acknowledged some divisions over the weapons shipments in the Socialist-led government’s junior coalition partner, the leftist party Podemos.
But she said the Prime Minister’s cabinet was firmly in favor, especially considering “how events are unfolding, and the (Russian) bombings of the civilian population.”
4:24 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022
Russian military claims advances around Mariupol
From CNN's Nathan Hodge in Moscow
The Russian military has announced advances around the key city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine, and repeated claims it is not targeting civilian areas during the invasion.
"The units of the armed forces of the Donetsk People's Republic narrowed the encirclement of the city of Mariupol, and also took control of the settlements of Vinogradnoye, Sartaka and Vodyanoye," Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said in a video briefing.
On Wednesday the mayor of Mariupol said Russian and Russian-backed separatist forces had surrounded the city and that shelling had pummelled its 400,000 inhabitants.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, the Russian military announced that civilians in the town of Borodianka, in the Kyiv region, could exit through a designated corridor in the direction of Berestianka.
The Russian military also confirmed what it described as a "long-range high-precision strike" in the Lysa Hora region of Kyiv, claiming it was targeting a radio-television center allegedly being used by Ukraine's State Security Service for "psychological operations against Russia." There were no casualties or damage to residential buildings, it said.
Russia routinely denies causing civilian casualties in Ukraine. International media and observers have extensively documented civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure.
11:49 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022
UK sets out sanctions on insurance for Russian aviation companies
From CNN's Manveena Suri
The United Kingdom announced new sanctions Thursday aimed at blocking Russian companies in the aviation and space industries from accessing the British insurance market.
“Russian companies in the aviation or space industry will be prevented from making use of UK-based insurance or reinsurance services directly or indirectly, the UK Government has announced today, in response to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia,” read a statement issued by the UK's Treasury Office.
“In taking such action, the UK is demonstrating its commitment to apply severe economic sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” the statement continued.
Aviation has been a key target following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Western-backed sanctions impacting the country's airline and aerospace sectors.
4:17 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022
French Foreign Minister warns the worst may be to come in Ukraine
From CNN’s Xiaofei Xu in Paris
France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has warned that the situation in Ukraine could further deteriorate under relentless bombardment from Russia.
“Indeed, it’s possible that the worst is ahead of us,” Le Drian said in a TV interview with France 2 on Thursday, adding that the conflict had entered a "logic of siege."
Due to fierce resistance from the Ukrainian military and people, Russia’s hope to end the war quickly is gradually fading away, he said.
The continuous build-up of forces around major Ukrainian cities like Kharkiv and the capital, Kyiv, could mean that the war is entering a stage of siege, according to Le Drian.
“You know the Russians are accustomed to fighting wars in a logic of siege, remember Aleppo and remember Grozny,” he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is becoming increasing isolated, added Le Drian, citing the UN General Assembly vote to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Wednesday, at which only four countries voted in support of Russia.
“People don’t listen to him any more because people don’t trust him any more since he has successively renounced Russia's commitments, Russia's signature and also his own commitments,” said Le Drian.
However, it’s still important to maintain dialogue with Moscow because Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky are not talking directly, said Le Drian, adding that France needs to play the mediator role.
He also reiterated the need to impose a ceasefire as a precondition for peace negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv, explaining that the European Union imposed its package of sanctions in the hope of bringing about a ceasefire.
We can’t have dialogues without a ceasefire,” said Le Drian. “You don't negotiate with a gun to your head.”
The French Foreign Ministry released a statement Thursday advising its citizens to leave Russia.
“It is strongly recommended that French citizens, whose presence and that of their families is not essential in Russia, make arrangements to leave the country by the still existing connections,” the statement said.
4:07 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022
UK Ministry of Defence says Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol "remain in Ukrainian hands"
From CNN's Nada Bashir
The Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol “remain in Ukrainian hands,” despite heavy shelling by Russian forces, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) said Thursday.
“Some Russian forces have entered the city of Kherson, but the military situation remains unclear,” the MoD said in its latest intelligence update.
However, city mayor Ihor Kolykhaiev said the Ukrainian military is no longer present in Kherson in a statement posted Wednesday on Facebook.
Residents must now carry out the instructions of “armed people who came to the city’s administration,” said Kolykhaiev, indicating that the city has now fallen under Russian control.
According to the MoD’s update, the main body of a large Russian column advancing on Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, remains more than 30 kilometers (about 18 miles) from the center of the city.
It has made “little discernible progress in over three days” having been “delayed by staunch Ukrainian resistance, mechanical breakdown and congestion," said the MoD.
“The Russian defence ministry has been forced to admit that 498 Russian soldiers have already been killed and 1,597 wounded in Putin’s war,” continued the update.
“The actual number of those killed and wounded will almost certainly be considerably higher and will continue to rise.”
4:04 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022
NFT backed by Pussy Riot member raises $6.7 million for Ukraine
From CNN's Oscar Holland
An NFT of Ukraine's flag has raised over $6.7 million for the country's defenses as cryptocurrency donations continue to flood in following the Russian invasion.
Organized by UkraineDAO, an initiative backed by a member of the Russian activist group and feminist punk band Pussy Riot, the sale saw thousands of users bid for a share of the digital image.
The fundraiser comes just days after Ukraine's government announced via Twitter that it is now accepting cryptocurrency donations. The country's vice prime minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, has also called for online contributions while urging cryptocurrency exchanges to block Russian users.
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, allow buyers to prove ownership of a virtual asset -- in this case, a digital version of Ukraine's blue and yellow flag. Although the NFT was produced as a single edition on the Ethereum blockchain, bidders were able to take shared ownership of the item, with contributions ranging from 0.00001 ether (under $0.03) to 44 ether ($128,000), according to a listing on NFT sale platform PartyBid.
The sale attracted more than 3,200 individual contributions in 72 hours, amounting to just over 2,258 ether (equivalent to about $6.7 million at the time the auction concluded on Wednesday). Organizers said all the funds would go towards "Come Back Alive," a campaign supporting Ukraine's military.