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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6:34 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Russia shifting to more direct attacks on Ukrainian cities, says NATO official

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio in Moscow

Russia will take a more direct approach in its effort to capture Ukrainian cities after plans to encircle targets such as Kyiv have been frustrated, according to a NATO military official.

“We’re seeing a change in strategy from the Russian side … They’re less focused on encircling cities, more concentrated trying to go in," the unnamed official told CNN.

“[Heavier] bombardment is a side effect of that shift,” the official said.

Russia’s slow advance and heavy losses suffered in the first few days of its invasion have forced the change, the official said, with Russian forces now hamstrung by logistical issues as they attempt to push further into Ukraine.

“It’s the whole logistical chain that is somehow not working [properly],” the NATO official said. “So what we’ve seen is really poor strategy, combined with bad preparation and dwindling morale.”

“They have no food, they lack fuel and also spare parts," they added.

While a staunch Ukrainian resistance is largely responsible for stymying the Russian advance, the NATO official warned that the situation on the ground could change rapidly and that “expectations” should be “managed.”

The Ukrainians will tire while Russia still has fresh reserves, the official warned. “Russia can still escalate further," they said.

The official added there is still a chance the Belarusian military could join the offensive.

6:25 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Mariupol facing "critical" situation as Russian forces surround city, deputy mayor tells CNN

From CNN's Nada Bashir

The key south-eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol is “surrounded” by Russian forces the city’s deputy mayor Sergei Orlov told CNN.
The key south-eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol is “surrounded” by Russian forces the city’s deputy mayor Sergei Orlov told CNN. (CNN)

The key southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol is “surrounded” by Russian forces, the city’s deputy mayor told CNN Thursday.

“Our Ukrainian army and National Guard is very brave, they stand and fight for Ukraine, for Mariupol. But the situation is quite critical,” Deputy Mayor Sergei Orlov told CNN’s John Berman, calling on the West to provide further military support. 

“We are asking for help, for military help, and we are waiting for military help,” Orlov said. “Our internal forces are very brave, but we are surrounded by the Russian army, which has more people in their army.”

Speaking during an interview on CNN’s New Day, Orlov said Mariupol had faced 26 hours of continuous shelling, warning that the city is now facing a humanitarian crisis.

“They are destroying our city with all weapons, from artillery, from airplane bombing, from tactical rockets, from multiple launch rocket systems,” Orlov said. 

We do not have electricity in the whole city, we do not have water supplies, we do not have sanitary systems, we do not have heating,” he added.

The deputy mayor also said that Russian shelling had targeted multiple civilian buildings, including homes, kindergartens and schools, but added that the civilian death toll in the city remains unclear. 

“We do not know how many, because we cannot collect all the bodies and we cannot count,” Orlov said. 

In a video briefing on Thursday, Russian Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said the Russian military had made advances around Mariupol, repeating claims it was not targeting civilian areas in Ukraine.

Russia routinely denies causing civilian casualties in Ukraine, however international media and observers have extensively documented civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure.

6:11 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Ukraine will continue to stand against Russia, says President Zelensky

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers his latest video address on March 3.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers his latest video address on March 3. (President of Ukraine)

Ukraine will continue to defend itself from Russian troops encroaching on key cities a week after the invasion began, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his latest Facebook address. 

The “first hours and days” of “full-scale war” were “really difficult,” he said, but Ukrainians were “united, and therefore strong, and therefore we persevered. And so it will continue. We continue to stand.” 

Russian troops have been held off by fierce Ukrainian resistance which Zelensky claimed is still intact.

“All lines of our defense are kept. The enemy has no success in any of the strategic directions," he said.

Moscow has been “forced to change tactics,” said Zelensky, adding that “Russia's missile and bomb strikes on Ukrainian cities are a confession that they have failed to do anything significant on our land.”

Zelensky said Ukraine will prevail against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion as it did with “another virus, another disease,” namely Covid-19.

“The first weeks of fighting it were extremely difficult. But we were united, and therefore strong, and therefore we persevered," he added.

However, the situation appears to be worsening.

The mayor of the strategically important city of Kherson on the Black Sea indicated that Russian forces had seized control, though claims remain disputed.

In the capital Kyiv, residents were awoken in the early hours of Thursday morning by at least one large explosion in the southwest of the city, following a day of heavy shelling.

And in the port city of Mariupol, residents are without electricity and water, according to the mayor, as Russian troops step up their offensive.

6:56 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

France seizes yacht owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch

 From CNN’s Xiaofei Xu and Anaëlle Jonah in Paris

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) and Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin talk during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on February 11, 2020.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) and Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin talk during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on February 11, 2020. (Alexei Druzhinin/TASS/Getty Images)

French authorities seized a yacht owned by Igor Sechin, the chief executive officer of Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft, on Wednesday night, according to a statement from the French Finance Ministry.

“Thank you to the French customs officers who are enforcing the European Union's sanctions against those close to the Russian government,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said in a tweet.

The yacht, named “Amore Vero” – meaning “True Love” in Italian – arrived at the Mediterranean port of La Ciotat on January 3. It was scheduled to leave the port on April 1.

Earlier this week, Le Maire announced that France has set up a task force to assess the financial assets and luxury goods owned by Russian personalities targeted by EU sanctions.

5:56 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Kremlin addresses Russian military casualties from its invasion of Ukraine

From CNN's Nathan Hodge in Moscow

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has expressed "great sorrow" over Russian military casualties suffered during the invasion of Ukraine.

"Naturally, we all express condolences to relatives and friends, those who have lost their husbands and children. Of course, this is a great tragedy for all of us," said Peskov on Thursday.

"At the same time, we all admire the heroism of the military. Their acts of bravery will of course go down in history as a feat in the fight against the Nazis and the fulfillment of this important task."

The Nazi reference is part of a propaganda campaign by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has -- baselessly and inaccurately -- referred to his country's invasion of Ukraine as a campaign of "denazification." 

Peskov added that Putin would address casualties at the beginning of a Security Council meeting Thursday. He declined to say whether national mourning would be announced.

Peskov also dismissed online speculation about the possible introduction of martial law in Russia or a travel ban for military-age men.

"These are hoaxes, mere hoaxes circling around. Then citizens send them to each other and so on," he said. "Therefore, you need to be very careful about all the information and not become victims of rumors and simple deception."

Russia has introduced a raft of emergency economic measures including restrictions on currency transfers abroad.

The Russian ruble has plummeted against the dollar following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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.

(Natali)
(Natali)

“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.”

(Natali)
(Natali)

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!"