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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5:53 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

China dismisses report that it asked Russia to delay invasion of Ukraine until after Olympics

From CNN's Beijing Bureau 

Flagbearers of participating countries parade during the closing ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, in Beijing, China, on February 20.
Flagbearers of participating countries parade during the closing ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, in Beijing, China, on February 20. (Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images)

China has dismissed a Western intelligence report indicating that its officials asked Russia to wait until after the Beijing Winter Olympics had finished before invading Ukraine.

On Thursday, China's Foreign Ministry called the story "totally false" and an attempt to "divert attention and blame."

CNN has earlier reported that one source familiar with the intelligence said US officials broadly view the report as credible, but its particulars are open to interpretation. 

The existence of the report was first published by the New York Times.  

On Thursday, China's Foreign Ministry responded to the New York Times report, calling it "totally false and despicable to divert attention and blame," reiterating that the cause of the current conflict is the eastward expansion of NATO advocated by the US. 

"We hope that those responsible for the crisis should reflect on their role in the Ukraine crisis, shoulder their due responsibilities and take concrete actions to ease the situation and solve the issue, instead of blaming others," said ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin in a briefing Thursday. 

11:48 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Czech government declares state of emergency anticipating a major influx of Ukrainian refugees

From Tomas Etzler 

The Czech government has declared a state of emergency from Friday in anticipation of a major influx of Ukrainian refugees fleeing the ongoing Russian invasion.

“We are implementing it purely for technical reasons, so we can handle the influx of refugees,” Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said Wednesday during a press briefing. 

“In no way this will affect Czech citizens,” he added. 

The state of emergency is set to last 30 days, but it could be extended by the government if necessary.

8:16 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Kharkiv authorities say 34 civilians killed in past day during Russian attacks 

From CNN's Tim Lister in Kyiv

This handout image shows damaged buildings in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on March 3.
This handout image shows damaged buildings in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on March 3. (State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

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

A residential building, in Mariupol, Ukraine, which was allegedly damaged by recent shelling, on February 26.
A residential building, in Mariupol, Ukraine, which was allegedly damaged by recent shelling, on February 26. (Nikolay Ryabchenko/Reuters)

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.