March 5, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Jessie Yeung, Steve George, Laura Smith-Spark, Angela Dewan, Adrienne Vogt, Joe Ruiz and Alaa Elassar, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, March 6, 2022
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10:08 a.m. ET, March 5, 2022

Putin says countries imposing no-fly zone would be considered "participants in a military conflict"

From CNN's Mostafa Salem

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that he would consider countries imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine as participating in the conflict. 

“We will immediately consider them as participants in a military conflict, and it doesn't matter members of which organizations they are,” Putin said in a meeting with flight crewmembers of Russian national airlines. 

“It is impossible to do it, on the very territory of Ukraine, it's possible only from the territory of some neighboring states. But any movement in this direction will be considered by us as participation in an armed conflict,” Putin added.

More background: President Volodymyr Zelensky and other Ukrainian leaders have repeatedly pleaded with NATO and Western officials to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine. 

NATO's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday that a no-fly zone is not an option being considered by the alliance.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that the establishment of a no-fly zone in Ukraine by the United States and its NATO allies could lead to a “full-fledged war in Europe,” but added that Washington would continue to work with its allies to provide Ukrainians with the means to defend themselves from Russian aggression.

9:32 a.m. ET, March 5, 2022

Russia’s largest airline suspends international flights to everywhere except Belarus, according to state media

From CNN's Amy Cassidy

Aeroflot, Russia’s largest airline, will suspend all flights abroad from March 8 — except flights to Minsk, Belarus — Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported Saturday. 

Passengers with return tickets to Russia will not be allowed on international flights from March 6 if the departing flight is scheduled from March 8 “to mitigate the risks of impossibility to use return flights to Russia,” according to the report.

It comes after the majority government-owned carrier’s ability to sell seats was crippled on Thursday after being removed from the global distribution system, marking the latest measure against Russia's aviation industry after most of the western world closed airspace to Russian aircraft.

RIA Novosti cites “the occurrence of additional circumstances that impede the operation of flights” as the reason behind the temporary cancellations. 

Rossiya and Aurora airlines will also cancel international flights, the report added.

9:09 a.m. ET, March 5, 2022

Ukrainians in Mariupol in "desperate need," according to Doctors Without Borders

From Sharon Braithwaite in London 

A medical worker reacts after failing to save the life of an 18-month-old boy who was wounded by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine on March 4.
A medical worker reacts after failing to save the life of an 18-month-old boy who was wounded by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine on March 4. (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

Staff members of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) have reported "dire conditions" on Saturday in Mariupol, Ukraine.

In a statement issued Saturday, one staff member of MSF gave the following account:

"The situation is the same as in recent days. This night the shelling was harder and closer. We collected snow and rain water yesterday to have some utility water. We tried to get free water today but the queue was huge. We also wanted to get ‘social’ bread but it is not clear the schedule and the places of distribution. According to people, multiple grocery stores were destroyed by missiles and the remaining things were taken by people in desperate need. Still no power, water, heating and mobile connection. No one heard about any evacuation yet. Pharmacies are out of medicine."

MSF said in the statement that people are now effectively trapped in Mariupol, where the war arrived so suddenly that many could not even flee.

MSF Director of Operations Christine Jamet on Saturday called for safe routes to allow civilians to flee from Mariupol, including MSF staff and their families. 

"Civilians must not be trapped in a war zone," Jamet said, adding that "people seeking safety must be able to do so, without fear of violence”.

CNN's Nada Bashir contributed reporting to this post.

8:23 a.m. ET, March 5, 2022

Spanish clothing retailer Inditex suspends activity at more than 500 stores in Russia 

From CNN’s Al Goodman in Madrid

Spain’s Inditex, the global fashion giant whose brands include Zara, announced Saturday it is “temporarily suspending” activity in its 502 stores in the Russian Federation, Inditex said in a statement. 

“Inditex reports that in the current circumstances it cannot guarantee the continuity of its operations and the commercial conditions in the Russian Federation,” the statement said, adding that the suspension also applies to the firm’s online sales there. 

Of the 502 stores, 86 are of the Zara brand, the company said, adding that Russia accounts for about 8.5% of the company’s pre-tax profits, as measured by EBIT. Inditex has more than 9,000 employees in the Russian Federation and is developing a “special support plan” for them, the statement said.  

Inditex sent its statement to Spain’s stock market regulator, known by its Spanish initials, CNMV, on Saturday.  

Inditex has eight brands that sell online globally, and also in some 7,000 stores in 96 countries, according to the firm’s website. 

2:34 p.m. ET, March 5, 2022

Germany registers more than 27,000 refugees from Ukraine

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

People fleeing Ukraine arrive at Hauptbahnhof main railway station on March 5, in Berlin, Germany.
People fleeing Ukraine arrive at Hauptbahnhof main railway station on March 5, in Berlin, Germany. (Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

More than 27,000 refugees have arrived in Germany from Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24, according to Germany’s interior ministry. 

Germany’s Federal Police has registered 27,491 refugees from Ukraine in Germany to date, an interior ministry spokesperson confirmed to CNN Saturday.

But the actual number of incoming refugees could be significantly higher, the ministry said.

"Since there are no border controls, the number of war refugees entering Germany may in fact already be much higher," according to the interior ministry statement sent to CNN.

Here's a look at the the number of people who've fled to countries bordering Ukraine:

8:20 a.m. ET, March 5, 2022

Russian plane shot down on outskirts of northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, Ukrainian officials say

From CNN's Tim Lister in Kyiv

Ukraine's State Emergency Service (SES) says that a Russian plane was shot down at the edge of the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, which has seen intense fighting for almost a week.

The plane crashed into a residential area, the SES said, adding that it was unknown if there were casualties. The crash caused fires in four private homes.

Local people were being evacuated after three 500-kilogram bombs were found, the SES said.

Authorities said 17 people were killed in the Chernihiv region over the 24 hours to 8 a.m. Saturday as a result of shelling. Another person died due to fire.

CNN cannot independently confirm the number of deaths.

According to the Chernihiv Regional State Administration, "during the day on March 4 and on the night of March 5, Russian aircraft systematically bombed Chernihiv, mostly residential areas."

8:13 a.m. ET, March 5, 2022

Germany's military says more reservists are reaching out following Russia's invasion of Ukraine

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

Germany's armed forces (Bundeswehr) say ''an increasing number of reservists'' are coming forward to offer support for the country's military services following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

''Following the start of the war of aggression on Ukraine, an increasing number of reservists are contacting various departments of the Bundeswehr to offer their support,'' the Bundeswehr website said Friday.

''Currently, a concrete requirement for the Bundeswehr is not yet foreseeable; on the other hand, the development of the situation is characterized by high dynamics,'' the statement on the Bundeswehr website added. 

The Bundeswehr also said that communications channels have now been set up on its website for inquiries.

According to the Bundeswehr website, Germany introduced conscription in 1956 with men over the age of 18 expected to serve in the military for a year -- although they could claim exemption due to moral obligations.

Germany scrapped compulsory military service in 2011 in a step that marked a historic change for the country's post-World War II forces. Since 2011, Germany's armed forces has relied on volunteers to fill its ranks. In the event of a national defense emergency, an automated reactivation of conscription takes place.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has reignited a debate in Germany, however, about whether young men and women should be required to fight for their country.

9:17 a.m. ET, March 5, 2022

See where the Ukrainian government alleges Russian shelling violates agreement on two evacuation corridors 

From Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

A Ukrainian minister has accused Russian forces of shelling the city of Volnovakha in the eastern Donetsk region, where an evacuation corridor was due to allow civilians to escape fighting on Saturday.

"At 11:45 the Russian Federation began shelling the city of Volnovakha with heavy weapons," said Iryna Vereshchuk, Minister of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories, in a video posted on Facebook. "As you know, we had a preliminary agreement that from 9:00 we will create two humanitarian corridors -- Volnovakha and Mariupol."

Russia violated agreements even with the mediation of the Red Cross, [and] failed to fulfill its commitments and shelled the city of Volnovakha."

Vereshchuk said that fighting was also preventing the second corridor from the besieged city of Mariupol from operating.

"There is fighting taking place in the direction of Mariupol-Zaporizhzhia, near Pology-Orikhove, which prevents the movement of the column from Mariupol to Zaporozhzhia," she said.

"We call on the Russian side to end the shelling, return the ceasefire and allow columns of the humanitarian corridor to form so that children, women and the elderly can leave the settlements.

"We also appeal to the Russian Federation to provide the opportunity to send humanitarian aid from the city of Dnipro and the city of Zaporizhzhia, especially those ones consisting of medicines and food.”

Read the story in full here.

8:34 a.m. ET, March 5, 2022

Hundreds of Nigerian evacuees from Ukraine arrive home

From CNN’s Nimi Princewill and Stephanie Busari

More than 400 Nigerian citizens fleeing the war in Ukraine have returned home after being evacuated by the government, according to the West African country’s Diaspora Commission.

The first batch of returnees arrived in the capital Abuja early Friday from Romania, according to the government agency Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM).

The second batch of evacuees arrived from Poland later Friday while the third batch landed in Abuja close to midnight Friday in a chartered flight from Hungary, NIDCOM said in a series of tweets.

NIDCOM stated Saturday that another flight provided by the Nigerian government had arrived in the Hungarian capital Budapest to evacuate more Nigerians.

Hundreds of international students, many of them Nigerians, remain trapped in their hostels in Sumy, in northeast Ukraine, surrounded by Russian troops and amid explosions and gunfire.

Nigeria's foreign minister Geoffrey Onyeama told CNN on Thursday that his office was aware of the plight of the stranded students, and that arrangements were being made for their evacuation.

Read more here: