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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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.

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

A convoy showing a military convoy heading southwest of Chernihiv, Ukraine, on February 28.
A convoy showing a military convoy heading southwest of Chernihiv, Ukraine, on February 28. (Maxar Technologies)

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.

Read the full story here:

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

Oil depot hit by airstrike in northern Ukraine city

This image from the State Emergency Service of Ukraine shows the fire caused by a shell that landed on an oil depot in Chernihiv, Ukraine, on March 3.
This image from the State Emergency Service of Ukraine shows the fire caused by a shell that landed on an oil depot in Chernihiv, Ukraine, on March 3. (State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Cover Images/Reuters)

An oil depot in the city of Chernihiv, northern Ukraine was hit by shelling during an airstrike on Thursday morning, according to the State Service of Ukraine for Emergencies.

Photos from Chernihiv show clouds of thick black smoke from what appear to be oil tanks, with firefighters and emergency workers on the scene.

3:07 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Pakistan abstains from UN vote condemning Russia's actions, calls for "de-escalation"

From CNN's Sophia Saifi in Islamabad, Pakistan 

Pakistan's Ambassador to the United Nations Munir Akram speaks at UN Headquarters in New York on March 2.
Pakistan's Ambassador to the United Nations Munir Akram speaks at UN Headquarters in New York on March 2. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Pakistan's United Nations ambassador said Wednesday the country is "deeply concerned" by the war in Ukraine, despite abstaining from a UN General Assembly vote condemning Russia's invasion.

“Pakistan remains deeply concerned at the recent turn of events,” which “reflects a failure of diplomacy," Ambassador Munir Akram said in a statement.

Pakistan has “repeatedly stressed the need for de-escalation, renewed negotiations, sustained dialogue, and continuous diplomacy,” and that “all efforts must be made to avoid further escalation of violence and loss of life as well as military, political and economic tensions which can pose an unprecedented threat to international peace and security and global economic stability," he added.

Some context: Earlier this week, the heads of various foreign missions in Pakistan — including the EU, the US, the UK, Norway and Japan — issued a joint letter urging Islamabad to condemn Russia's invasion in the special session of the UN General Assembly.

On Wednesday, the General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with 141 nations voting in favor, five nations against and 35 countries abstaining, including Pakistan, India and China. 

11:50 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Russian stocks are becoming "uninvestable," says top index provider

From CNN's Michelle Toh

Russian stocks plummeted following the invasion of Ukraine.
Russian stocks plummeted following the invasion of Ukraine. (Andrea Ronchini/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

Investment service provider MSCI is booting Russia from its emerging markets indices and is now calling the country a "standalone" market.

The firm said Wednesday that Russian stocks were "uninvestable," based on feedback from "an overwhelming majority" of investors and asset managers following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Starting next Wednesday, all Russian indices will be reclassified, MSCI added.

The move speaks to how isolated Moscow is becoming as it continues to grapple with new waves of punishing sanctions.

“It’s very difficult to see any scenario right now where buying Russian assets makes sense,” David Coombs, head of multi-asset investments at Rathbones, told CNN Business last week.

The view is gaining traction. On Wednesday, FTSE Russell, another index provider under the London Stock Exchange, also said it would cut Russia from all its widely tracked stock indices from next week.

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

As refugees flee Ukraine, volunteers return home to fight

As more than a million people fled Ukraine this week, some Ukrainian volunteers were traveling in the opposite direction — returning to the country to join the ranks of those defending it.

One volunteer, Valery, left his home in France last week, determined to see his aging parents in Kyiv before war broke out. The next morning, he awoke to air raid sirens marking the beginning of Russia's invasion.

Within a day of Russia's initial attack, he had joined the Ukrainian armed forces. CNN is identifying him only by his first name for his safety.

"What can I do when Russian aircraft are throwing bombs on the capital city? I just couldn't stay inside, indoors, in four walls doing nothing. So I came, and I joined," he told CNN on Wednesday.

Like tens of thousands of volunteers, he received weapons from the government as he joined the defense effort.

"First when I joined, first when I received the weapon, I felt this sense of nausea," he said.  "If you go outside and see the eyes of the people who are queueing up to get guns as well, there's a lot of hope, and there is a lot of determination to defeat the enemy."

At a Ukrainian cathedral in Paris, the parish has been gathering donations and compiling a database of hosts for Ukrainian refugees. One man, Andre, told CNN he was collecting funds to buy body armor for his two best friends before they head to join the fight in Ukraine.

"It's a moment of great unison of all Ukrainians, of all our diaspora around the world," he said.