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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11:51 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Thousands of Russian protesters have been arrested as students and intellectuals speak out

From CNN contributor Jill Dougherty

Police detain demonstrators in St. Petersburg, Russia, on March 1.
Police detain demonstrators in St. Petersburg, Russia, on March 1. (Dmitri Lovetsky/AP)

Tasya, 19, stood with her friends on a cold morning in St. Petersburg as they joined protesters' chants against the Russian invasion of Ukraine: "Nyet Voine!" ("No to War!").

"It's always safer to stand together with others ... to look over your shoulder, in case you need to run," said Tasya, who asked that her last name not be used for her safety. At some point, Tasya said her friends left the protest to go home or somewhere else to warm up, leaving her standing alone in the street.

"Then a group of cops walked past me ... and suddenly one of them looked at me and then they turned around, walked towards me and detained me," she said of the February 24 protest.

Protests are continuing across Russia as young citizens, along with middle-age and even retired people, take to the streets to speak out against a military conflict ordered by their President — a decision in which, they claim, they had no say.

Now, they are finding their voice. But Russian authorities are intent on shutting down any public dissent against the attack on Ukraine. Police clamp down on demonstrations almost as quickly as they pop up, dragging some protesters away and roughing up others.

Police in St. Petersburg arrested at least 350 anti-war protesters on Wednesday, taking the total number of protesters detained or arrested to 7,624 since the invasion began, according to an independent organization that tracks human rights violations in Russia.

Intellectuals speak out: Members of Russia's "intelligentsia" — academics, writers, journalists and others — have issued public appeals decrying the war, including a rare "open letter" to Putin signed by 1,200 students, faculty and staff of MGIMO University, the prestigious Moscow State Institute of International Relations, affiliated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which produces most of Russia's government and foreign service elite.

The signers proclaim they are "categorically against the Russian Federation's military actions in Ukraine."

"We consider it morally unacceptable to stay on the sidelines and keep silent when people are dying in a neighboring state. They are dying through the fault of those who preferred weapons instead of peaceful diplomacy," the letter says.

Read the full story:

12:26 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Analysis: How Moscow's propaganda network warps reality to present Russia as a victim

Analysis from CNN's Oliver Darcy

On Wednesday morning, as Russia's unprovoked war on Ukraine entered its seventh day, I turned on RT, the Russia-controlled network that has in recent days been banned in Europe and dropped by television carriers across the world.

Founded in 2005, RT, which operates multiple channels, including RT America, has served as one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's largest megaphones across the world. It offers insight into how the Kremlin would like to portray the world and its role in it.

For several hours I watched the channel and was struck by how brazenly its hosts and personalities worked to mislead its audience and deflect from the issues at hand. The main thrust of RT's coverage presented Russia as a mere victim of Western aggression, a country forced to launch a limited "military operation" after its hand was forced by a high-and-mighty NATO that showed no interest in taking Moscow's security concerns seriously.

Here's a breakdown of what I observed on the network.

Russia the "liberator": Peter John Lavelle, the host of RT's signature talk program, "Crosstalk," put it like this: He said that the failed "liberal order" implemented by the West was to blame. "It is so irritating," Lavelle said on his show. "The way it is being framed: Ukraine's democracy. Well, it has nothing to do with Ukraine's democracy — if you can say it even has one... This is about security... There is only security for other countries."

Missing from coverage: Noticeably left out of the coverage was a focus on how unbearable life has been for Ukrainians whose cities are under attack by unrelenting Russian forces. I did not see much coverage showing the damage that Russian forces have caused as they try to seize control of the country. Or coverage about the residents of cities such as Kyiv who live in terror and sleep underground in bomb shelters. Or coverage about the hundreds of thousands who have simply chosen to flee the country for their safety. Those inconvenient facts were not the emphasis of the narrative RT pushed.

Also left out of RT's coverage: The ramifications the West's sanctions and other actions are having on Russia's economy.

Read the full analysis:

11:52 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Mariupol mayor says Wednesday was the most difficult day so far, calls citizens "great heroes"

From CNN's Josh Pennington

The mayor of the southern Ukrainian city Mariupol called Wednesday the most difficult day yet of the Russian invasion, amid heavy shelling and growing numbers of wounded civilians in hospitals.

In a statement posted late Wednesday on Telegram, Mayor Vadym Boychenko addressed the citizens of Mariupol and said Ukrainian forces fought back valiantly against those who were shooting at homes.

CNN has not been able to independently verify the reports of Russian soldiers shooting at civilian homes.

Boychenko also said critical infrastructure was compromised in the city, and that citizens are without water and electricity until utility services restore them on Thursday.

“And you dear citizens of Mariupol are great heroes," he wrote. "All of us are fighting for our freedom, for our country, for our one-and-only Mariupol. We aren’t attacking anyone. We are simply sitting at home. That means God is with us. That means truth is with us. That means victory will be on our side."

He also thanked doctors, utility service workers, Ukrainian armed forces and all citizens.

“Together we really will survive this. We will be victorious. I think we deserve it. We are Ukrainians. We love our country. We love our city. Glory to the heroes! Glory to Ukraine!” he said.

Injuries mount: Russian and Russian-backed troops had surrounded the city of some 400,000 residents from three sides as of Wednesday afternoon, as the Kremlin looks to complete a land border that would link Crimea with southern Russia. 

Early Wednesday morning, Boychenko said there were 128 people in hospitals, with doctors working nonstop "for the lives of Mariupol residents."

12:10 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

US State Department condemns Russia's media crackdown

From CNN's Kylie Atwood

The US State Department criticized the Kremlin on Wednesday for cracking down on Russian media and for its disinformation campaign on the invasion of Ukraine.

“At home, the Kremlin is engaged in a full assault on media freedom and the truth, and Moscow’s efforts to mislead and suppress the truth of the brutal invasion are intensifying,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.

Earlier this week, the Russian Prosecutor General blocked access to two independent media outlets, Echo of Moscow and TV Rain, accusing them of reporting "false" information about the invasion.

"The outlets were baselessly accused of ‘calling for extremist activity and violence’ and sharing ‘deliberately false information about the actions of Russian military personnel in Ukraine,’” Price said, adding that Echo of Moscow “has been respected for its even-handed treatment of breaking news since its founding 32 years ago."

Price did an interview with Echo of Moscow earlier this week.

Price added that Russia's Parliament will meet on Friday to consider a bill to criminalize 'unofficial' reporting on the invasion.

"The people of Russia also have a right to know about the human costs of this senseless war to their own soldiers," Price said. "We call upon Putin and his government to honor Russia's international obligations and commitments, to immediately cease this bloodshed, withdraw its troops from Ukraine’s territory, and to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of their own citizens."
12:05 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

India denies Russia's claims of stranded Indians held hostage by Ukrainian forces

From CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

India on Thursday denied Russia's claims that Indian students stranded in Ukraine were being held hostage by Ukrainian forces and used as “human shields.”

After Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke on the phone Wednesday, the Kremlin released a statement saying Putin had warned of Indian students being "taken hostage by the Ukrainian security forces."

“We have not received any reports of any hostage situation regarding any student,” Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, said in a statement on Thursday.
“Our embassy is in constant touch with Indian nationals in Ukraine. We note that with the cooperation of Ukrainian authorities, many students have left Kharkiv yesterday."

Bagchi thanked authorities in Ukraine and neighboring countries for facilitating the evacuation of Indian nationals.

As of Wednesday, more than 17,000 Indians have been evacuated from Ukraine with a few thousand remaining, according to India’s Foreign Ministry.

12:06 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

It's 7 a.m. in Kyiv as Russia's invasion enters a second week. Here's what you need to know

As dawn breaks in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, Thursday marks one week since the Russian invasion began. Here's the latest:

  • Ukraine-Russia talks: A second round of talks will take place Thursday between delegations of the two countries, held in Belarus. The first round on Monday lasted five hours.
  • ICC probe: The International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands said on Wednesday it would immediately proceed with an active investigation following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • Advance on Kyiv: Russian forces moving toward Ukraine's capital, including a large military convoy, "remain stalled," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday. The troops could be "regrouping," or facing challenges such as supply shortages and Ukrainian resistance.
  • Battle for Kherson: The mayor of the southern city of Kherson indicated it had fallen on Wednesday, saying Ukrainian forces had left. This follows several days of heavy fighting, with Russian forces surrounding the strategically significant city north of the Crimean peninsula.
  • Shelling in Kharkiv: Ukraine's second-largest city, Kharkiv, faced intense shelling Wednesday, with Russian missile strikes hitting at least three schools, a cathedral and shops. A member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) was killed while getting supplies in Kharkiv on Tuesday.
  • China's alleged request: A Western intelligence report indicated that Chinese officials in early February requested that senior Russian officials wait until after the Beijing Winter Olympics had finished before beginning an invasion of Ukraine, US officials said Wednesday.
  • UN vote: The United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to condemn Russia’s invasion on Wednesday. The result is legally non-binding and it's doubtful it will change Moscow's military aggression, though it carries some political weight globally.
  • Wave of refugees: One million people have left Ukraine in just a week, according to the UN. You can learn how to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine here. 
11:00 p.m. ET, March 2, 2022

New satellite images show destruction wreaked by Russian strikes in areas north of Kyiv

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

A bridge across the Stryzhen River appears to have been destroyed.
A bridge across the Stryzhen River appears to have been destroyed. (Maxar Technologies)

New satellite images of areas in Ukraine hit by Russian military strikes show the extent of the damage in the first five days of the invasion.

The images were captured on February 28 by Maxar Technologies. Since then, dense cloud cover has prevented most satellites from observing anything on the ground across the country. 

Homes on fire in the village of Rivnopillya.
Homes on fire in the village of Rivnopillya. (Maxar Technologies)

The images show homes on fire in the village of Rivnopillya in the Chernhiv region, roughly 80 kilometers (about 50 miles) north of the capital, Kyiv. Dozens of impact craters can be seen dotting the fields surrounding the village.

In Chernihiv, a bridge across the Stryzhen River appears to have been destroyed, while residential buildings and a factory nearby seem to have sustained damage. A Russian military convoy was also seen on a nearby roadway.

Burned remains of Russian military vehicles in a residential area in Bucha.
Burned remains of Russian military vehicles in a residential area in Bucha. (Maxar Technologies)

The satellite images also show the burned remains of Russian military vehicles in a residential area in Bucha, a town outside of Kyiv. On Sunday, Ukrainian officials claimed they had thwarted the advance of a Russian column in Bucha. 

A large impact crater is seen in Sukachi.
A large impact crater is seen in Sukachi. (Maxar Technologies)

In Sukachi, a small town 70 kilometers (about 43.5 miles) northwest of Kyiv, a large impact crater is seen in the middle of a roadway, with houses nearby appearing significantly damaged.

A line of people is seen outside a grocery store in Kyiv.
A line of people is seen outside a grocery store in Kyiv. (Maxar Technologies)

The images also captured scenes of daily life amid the war in both Chernihiv and Kyiv, with dozens of people lining up outside supermarkets.

11:53 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

1 million refugees have fled Ukraine in a week, UN says

From CNN’s Sahar Akbarzai and Jennifer Landwehr

One million refugees have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a tweet Wednesday evening.

“In just seven days we have witnessed the exodus of one million refugees from Ukraine to neighbouring countries,” Grandi said. 

“For many millions more, inside Ukraine, it’s time for guns to fall silent, so that life-saving humanitarian assistance can be provided,” he added.

Want to help? You can learn how to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine here. 

8:09 p.m. ET, March 2, 2022

China asked Russia to delay Ukraine invasion until after Olympics, Western intel shows

From CNN's Katie Bo Lillis and Natasha Bertrand

A Western intelligence report indicated that Chinese officials in early February requested that senior Russian officials wait until after the Beijing Olympics had finished before beginning an invasion into Ukraine, US officials said Wednesday.

US officials broadly view the report as credible, but its particulars are open to interpretation, according to one source familiar with the intelligence.

Although the request was made around the time that Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Beijing for the opening ceremony of the Olympics — where he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping — it is not clear from the report whether Putin addressed the matter with Xi directly, the source said.

The New York Times first reported the existence of the report.

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