March 7, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Mike Hayes, Amy Woodyatt, George Ramsay, Ed Upright, Jessie Yeung, Steve George and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 12:38 a.m. ET, March 8, 2022
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2:53 p.m. ET, March 7, 2022

US Ambassador to NATO: Alliance "not prepared to move forward with a no-fly zone" in Ukraine

From CNN's Emmet Lyons and Ken Olshansky 

US Ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith said Monday that the alliance will not move forward with a no-fly zone in Ukraine as it stands. 

“Our goal right now is to actually stop the war. We don't want to expand this conflict beyond Ukraine, and so right now, the signal from NATO collectively is that NATO is not prepared to move forward with a no-fly zone,” Smith told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview. 

Smith did, however, say that members of NATO were taking steps to “provide lethal support to Ukraine and assess their security needs in real time.” 

Smith also said that the alliance is taking steps to protect its members. “We will defend every inch of NATO territory. NATO is prepared to do that and is already taking steps to reinforce its eastern flank,” she said.   

The ambassador said that US officials are discussing with the Polish government the potential for Poland to send MiG-29 Soviet-era fighter jets in support of the Ukrainians. “That is a sovereign decision for Poland to take. The US has noted that it is willing to sit down and talk through some of the challenges of that. There are a lot of open-ended questions about the number of Ukrainian pilots that are available, how these jets would actually move from Poland to Ukraine. That's all being worked right now.”   

When asked about whether the Russians have dominance in the skies, Smith said that Moscow does not have air superiority in Ukraine and that it’s “bad news for President Putin.” 

“They have not taken Kyiv as they planned to do in the first few days of this conflict. President Zelensky is still the president of Ukraine, and what we've seen is some of these convoys, the 40-kilometer convoy that everyone has been keeping an eye on, in essence, has gone nowhere,” she said.  

“It tells us a lot about the ability of the Russian military and the challenges, particularly the logistic challenges, that the Russians are facing.” 

“It's quite astounding actually, their inability to provide their forces with the simple things like meals and fuel,” Smith added.   

2:45 p.m. ET, March 7, 2022

Ukraine says more 20,000 foreign volunteers want to join special unit to combat Russian forces

From CNN staff

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry says it has created a special unit — the International Legion — which has already started to carry out combat missions to counter Russian aggression.

More than 20,000 volunteers and veterans from 52 countries have expressed their desire to join, according to Brigadier General Kyrylo Budanov, commander of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry that will run this legion.

Burdanov expressed his gratitude to the fighters and said they are mostly experienced fighters who have participated in many peacekeeping campaigns around the world.

"Any help is worth its weight in gold," he said.
2:47 p.m. ET, March 7, 2022

Ukrainian President Zelensky will address UK House of Commons on Tuesday

From CNN’s Max Foster and Arnaud Siad 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky looks on at a press conference on March 3 in Kyiv.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky looks on at a press conference on March 3 in Kyiv. (Laurent Van der Stockt/For Le Monde/Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is set to make a "historic" address to the British House of Commons on Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET.

Zelensky will address members of parliament via video link – “the first time they have done so in the Chamber,” while formal parliamentary business will be suspended, according to a news release from the House of Commons on Monday. 

Speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle granted that request, saying, “Every parliamentarian wants to hear directly from the president, who will be speaking to us live from Ukraine, so this is an important opportunity for the House.”  

“Thanks again to our incredible staff for working at pace to make this historic address possible,” Hoyle added in the statement. 

MPs will be able to watch the speech on screens installed overnight above either side of the Chamber, with over 500 headsets enabling members to hear a simultaneous translation in English, the House of Commons said.   

There will be no questions-and-answers session at the end of the address, it added.  

 

2:03 p.m. ET, March 7, 2022

US House and Senate lawmakers have a deal on outline of bill to punish Russia

From CNN's Manu Raju

In a significant statement, four top lawmakers — the leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee — said they would craft a bill that would suspend normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus and provide the White House with authority to increase tariffs on the two countries.

In addition, the agreement — announced by the top Republican on House��Ways and Means, Kevin Brady, and the Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal, along with the top Republican on Senate Finance, Mike Crapo, and Finance Chair Ron Wyden — would do the following, according to a statement released by their offices:

  • Provide US President Joe Biden with authority to further increase tariffs on products of Russia and Belarus
  • Require the US Trade Representative to use the voice and influence of the United States to seek suspension of Russia’s participation in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and halt Belarus’ WTO accession
  • Provide the President with authority to restore normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus subject to certain conditions and congressional disapproval

Also noting that the lawmakers say in their statement: "We have agreed on a legislative path forward to ban the import of energy products from Russia and to suspend normal trade relations with both Russia and Belarus."

2:10 p.m. ET, March 7, 2022

US and allies call on Interpol to suspend Russia's access to the global police agency's systems

From CNN's Jessica Schneider and Priscilla Alvarez

Interpol headquarters is seen in Lyon, France, in 2010.
Interpol headquarters is seen in Lyon, France, in 2010. (Jean-Philippe Ksiazek/AFP/Getty Images/File)

US Attorney General Merrick Garland has joined justice ministers from several allied countries to demand that Interpol immediately suspend Russia from accessing its systems, according to Justice Department spokesperson Anthony Coley.   

Coley tweeted Sunday night that Garland, alongside other justice ministers from what’s known as the Five Country Ministerial — the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, called on Interpol and its executive committee “to decide this week on the immediate suspension of Russia's access to its systems.”

British Home Secretary Priti Patel also tweeted Sunday night, saying, “Russia’s actions are a direct threat to the safety of individuals and to international law enforcement cooperation.”

More background: Interpol, which stands for the International Criminal Police Organization, is a global agency which facilitates police across its 195 member countries to collaborate on criminal investigations. Interpol issues what are known as Red Notices to request the location and arrest of an individual pending their extradition.

If Russia is suspended from Interpol, it would bar the country from continuing to participate and therefore put in requests for Red Notices, but it would not remove Red Notices that are already in the system, said Ted Bromund, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an expert in Interpol. 

Russia is among a handful of countries that are known as abusers of the system for going after opponents to the government, according to attorneys and experts.

“Generally, (Russia) uses it to harass opposition figures, but these could be businessmen who the regime wants to steal their money, it could be theatre directors who have a rep for producing politically touchy material… Opposition figures covers a lot of ground,” Bromund said, adding that they’ll frequently base the notice on financial crimes.

1:49 p.m. ET, March 7, 2022

Mayor of Mykolaiv claims Russian forces are being pushed back from city following attack on airport 

From CNN’s Emmet Lyons and Nicholas Pearce 

The mayor of the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv claimed Monday that Russian forces are retreating following what he says was an attempted attack on the city’s airport. 

Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that the Russian military attempted “to attack the airport, and our troops fought with them and they fell back to the border… for 20-25 km.” 

Earlier Monday in a video posted to Telegram, the regional administrator for the Mykolaiv area, Vitali Kim, also claimed the Russians were retreating after they lost two tanks in a "tank battle" at the airport. 

Intense fighting has broken out in Mykolaiv and video which has been authenticated by CNN shows explosions from military strikes and large plumes of smoke around the Ukrainian city located about 250 miles south of Kyiv.

Senkevych said that the city had faced a “rocket attack… about 60 rockets fell on our city, and 61 buildings were… destroyed, and about 40 rockets fell down unexploded. So starting from the morning, we also got an attack by heavy weapons like tanks and heavy weapon machines around the city.” 

The mayor went on to claim that the Russian forces were relying heavily on cluster bombs, which are banned under the Geneva convention. “90% of the rockets sent to our city, that launched to our city, were cluster bombs,” he said. 

“They are illegal, but we have plenty of photos and evidence that they are using illegal weapons now, in the 21st century.” 

Despite the assaults, Senkevych said that Ukrainian forces are “motivated, they want to defend our motherland, our city, and they are really motivated and want to fight to the death.” He said that the city had “a good amount of people and heavy machines.”

“We're ready to defend our city, and also still we have a corridor to get the support, food etc from Odessa region. This is the only way left for us and we are getting help from our different partners, sister cities and cities from western Ukraine. We’re in need right now of helmets and vests for our territorial defense troops and we are collecting food for long term storage,” the mayor said. 

He told Amanpour that Russian soldiers were lying when captured by Ukrainian forces. “Every time we catch them alive, they say that they didn't know where they go, they were on training, they crossed the border, and then they found out in Mykolaiv that they were far from Russia. But it's a lie. Because from Mykolaiv to Crimea is about 500km.” 

“They should know where they are, they are gathering near Kherson, and they spread around our city and they are trying to attack our city,” he said. 

1:40 p.m. ET, March 7, 2022

European Union agrees to begin examining bids from Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova to join bloc

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy and James Frater in London

European Union ambassadors agreed on Monday to examine bids by Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova to join the EU, starting the lengthy process towards accession. 

In a tweet Monday, the French Presidency of the EU said that the 27 Permanent Representatives of European Countries had, "agreed to invite the European Commission to present an opinion on each of the applications for EU membership submitted by Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova.”

About the process: This starts a process that could takes years to complete before the three former Soviet countries are considered candidate countries to join the EU.

Countries wishing to become part of the European Union must meet strict “accession criteria,” which involves complex social, legal and political reforms and are “essential conditions all candidate countries must satisfy to become a member state,” according to EU rules.

The EU’s “capacity to absorb new members,” is also part of the consideration for allowing new countries to join the bloc.

Meanwhile, European Council President Charles Michel said in a tweet earlier Monday that Ukraine's membership bid will be discussed in the “coming days."

1:45 p.m. ET, March 7, 2022

Russia's ruble plunges to new record low against the US dollar

Russian rubles are seen in this February 28 photo illustration.
Russian rubles are seen in this February 28 photo illustration. (Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images)

The Russian Ruble has plunged even further against the US dollar, hitting record lows, as talk grows over possible sanctions against Russian energy.

The US dollar/Russian Ruble is currently trading at around 155, meaning $1 is worth 155 rubles

Before the conflict with Ukraine began, it would normally trade between 70 to 80 rubles to the dollar. On Monday's lows, the Russian ruble has lost 90% of its value against the US dollar since the beginning of the year.

The ruble has plunged as the West brings in tough economic sanctions and the Russian government introduced capital controls to try and stop the flow of money out of Russia. 

1:20 p.m. ET, March 7, 2022

Russian forces are "increasing bombardments" on major Ukrainian cities, senior US defense official says

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

Russian forces are “increasing bombardments” of major Ukrainian cities including Kharkiv, Kyiv and Chernihiv, as well as Mykolaiv and Mariupol in the south, a senior US defense official told reporters on Monday. 

“We’ve certainly have noticed increases in what we call long-range fires, bombardments, rocket attacks, artillery, as well as missile strikes, and we do assess that these strikes are hitting civilian targets, infrastructure, residential areas,” the official said.

It’s “not clear” if the Russians are hitting civilian targets deliberately or if they are the “result of imprecision,” but “clearly it’s happening,” the official said.

“It’s happening on a greater rate and a greater scale, and all the more evidence of the reckless nature with which the Russians are propagating this invasion,” the official added.