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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5:30 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022

Russian forces continue offensive towards strategic port city of Mykolaiv

From CNN's Nick Paton Walsh

Russian troops continued an assault towards the strategic port city of Mykolaiv Monday morning, with officials warning residents to stay in their shelters.

Regional governor Vitali Kim, said in a Telegram message: “We are going on the offensive. The enemy entered our airport.”

The warning of an assault came hours after Mykolaiv Mayor Oleg Senkevich said the city had been hit by Russian missiles at dawn.

Today all Mykolaiv woke up from sounds of the Russian attacks,” he wrote on Telegram. “As throughout Ukraine, the enemy vilely aimed at the city's apartment buildings.”

The mayor warned civilians not to touch unexploded ordnance. CNN saw Sunday evidence that cluster munitions had landed near civilian areas.

One person had been killed and three injured in the shelling, an official at one Mykolaiv hospital told CNN.

5:10 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022

Indian Prime Minister Modi holds phone call with Zelensky on student evacuations

From CNN’s Swati Gupta in New Delhi

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky by phone on Monday to discuss the need to evacuate Indian students from Ukraine.

“The Prime Minister thanked Ukrainian authorities for their facilitation in evacuating more than 20,000 Indian citizens from Ukraine. He expressed deep concern for the safety and security of Indian students remaining in Ukraine and emphasized the need for their quick and safe evacuation,” a press release issued by Modi’s office read.

The call, which was the second phone call between the two leaders since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, comes amid the Indian government’s efforts to evacuate at least 700 students who are stranded in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Sumy, which is close to the border with Russia.

During the call, Modi called for an “immediate cessation of violence” and noted that “India has always stood for a peaceful resolution of issues and direct dialogue between the two parties,” according to the release.

In a tweet on Monday, Zelensky said that India was committed to “direct peaceful dialogue at the highest level.”

4:50 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022

China indicates willingness to "mediate" between Russia and Ukraine

From Hannah Ritchie and CNN’s Beijing Bureau

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is seen on screens during a press conference at the Media Center on March 7, in Beijing, China.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is seen on screens during a press conference at the Media Center on March 7, in Beijing, China. (Andrea Verdelli/Getty Images)

China’s top diplomat has indicated that Beijing is willing to “mediate” between Russia and Ukraine for the first time since Moscow launched an invasion against its neighbor.

“China is ready to continue to play a constructive role in promoting peace talks and work with the international community to conduct necessary mediation, when necessary,” said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at his annual press conference on the sidelines of the country’s legislative session.

Wang offered no further details on what such a role might entail, or the level of China’s potential involvement. Wang has previously said China supports all constructive international efforts aimed at a political settlement in Ukraine.

In a separate exchange, Wang reiterated that the friendship between Russia and China is "as firm as a rock" and represents "one of the most crucial bilateral relations in the world."

“The development of China-Russia relations has a clear historical logic and strong internal driving force. The friendship between the two peoples is as firm as a rock and the prospects for bilateral cooperation are bright,” Wang said when asked by Russian state news agency RIA Novosti if the pressure from international sanctions being imposed on Moscow would impact Russia-China relations. 

“No matter how dangerous the international situation may be, China and Russia will maintain strategic focus and promote comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination in the new era,"  Wang continued in response to the question, adding that both nations “oppose a return to the Cold War mentality." 

In a call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday, Wang urged the United States, NATO, and Europe to engage in "equal dialogue" with Russia regarding the war in Ukraine.

Some background: China has so far avoided calling Russia's military activity in Ukraine an "invasion," instead reiterating that the conflict stems from a "complicated history and reality" and pointing to NATO’s eastward expansion as the root cause for Moscow’s invasion – a key Russian talking point – according to statements and remarks from Chinese officials.

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3:46 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022

European markets open sharply lower as oil prices surge

An electric board shows the world's stock market prices in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on March 7.
An electric board shows the world's stock market prices in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on March 7. (The Yomiuri Shimbun/AP)

European markets have opened sharply lower after oil prices surged to the highest level in 13 years. In the opening minutes of trade the German Dax fell more than 3% and the French CAC 40 is down nearly 3%. The UK FTSE 100 was around 0.5% lower. 

The sell-off follows big losses in Asia. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index sank as much as 5% in morning trading. It was last down 3.4%, on track to log its worst daily drop in seven months. Japan's Nikkei 225 tumbled 3.6%. South Korea's Kospi dropped 2.5%. China's Shanghai Composite lost 1%.

On the US market, Dow futures fell 450 points, or 1.3%. S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures were down 1.6% and 2% respectively.

The latest turmoil came as US crude futures surged more than 7% to trade at $124.17 a barrel, the highest level since August 2008. Brent crude also rose to the highest level since 2008, up 8% to $127.66 a barrel.

Oil prices soared further after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday in an interview with CNN that the United States is working with its allies in Europe to look into the possibility of banning Russian oil imports in an effort to further punish the country.

3:32 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022

Russia has killed at least 8 people in Kharkiv over the last 24 hours, Ukrainian authorities say

From CNN's Radina Gigova in Atlanta

A man walks in front of a building damaged by recent shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on March 6.
A man walks in front of a building damaged by recent shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on March 6. (Oleksandr Lapshyn/Reuters)

At least eight people have died as a result of Russian bombardments of residential areas in the northeastern city of Kharkiv over the last 24 hours, Ukraine's Emergency Service said in a statement Monday. 

The Emergency Service said a bombing that took place around 7:15 p.m. local time Sunday (12:15 p.m. ET) "completely or partially demolished" multi-story residential buildings, administrative buildings, medical institutions, educational institutions and dorms.

There were also large-scale fires in 21 buildings in the central part of the city, the Emergency Service said. 

About 200 people were rescued and evacuated by rescuers during the fires. Authorities are still gathering information about additional possible victims. 

3:28 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022

Images show devastation and rubble across key cities after weekend of shelling

Attacks on residential housing in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, in this image taken from social media.
Attacks on residential housing in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, in this image taken from social media. (State Emergency Service Ukraine)

New images released by Ukrainian authorities show the extent of damage in key cities, as Russia steps up its unprovoked assault with standoffs continuing in several locations.

The southern city of Mykolaiv was hit by multiple rockets on Monday morning, said the State Emergency Service of Ukraine on Facebook. It posted images along with its statement, with one showing emergency workers and a firetruck outside still-smoking buildings.

Another image showed the inside of the ruined apartment; much of the home had been reduced to rubble, with the outer wall torn open, dust and slabs of broken concrete covering the floor.

The northeast city of Kharkiv also endured shelling and bombing on both Saturday and Sunday night, said the National Police of Ukraine in a Facebook statement. Images show the aftermath, the glow of fires lighting up the darkness at night and similar homes torn apart.

The aftermath of Russian shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine, over the weekend is seen in this image taken from social media.
The aftermath of Russian shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine, over the weekend is seen in this image taken from social media. (National Police of Ukraine)

3:27 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022

Moldova PM urges more aid for refugees: "After just 10 days of war, we are at capacity"

From CNN's Ivan Watson

Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita gave an exclusive interview to CNN on Sunday, March 6.
Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita gave an exclusive interview to CNN on Sunday, March 6. (CNN)

In an exclusive interview with CNN on Sunday, Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita urged the international community to step in as Ukrainian refugees leave the country by the thousands.

"We are seeing an extraordinary humanitarian crisis," said Gavrilita. "Already 230,000 people have crossed the Moldovan border from Ukraine, and about 120,000 have chosen to stay. 96,000 are Ukrainian citizens."

That figure makes up 4% of Moldova's entire population of 2.6 million, she added. "Every eighth child in Moldova is now a refugee."

She "strongly condemned" Russia' invasion into Ukraine, adding that the Moldovan government was doing its best to support refugees -- but their capacity was limited.

"We wouldn’t have been able to deal with this massive inflow if it wasn’t for the extraordinary solidarity of people," she added. "At least three fourths of the refugees are staying with families. A lot of Ukrainians have friends or relatives in Moldova -- but also regular people have just taken in Ukrainian families, and invited them into their homes."

She urged the European Union to set up corridors to help refugees move toward other countries, warning, "after just 10 days of war, we are at capacity. I think the flow of refugees is higher and faster than even predictions indicated."

3:13 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022

UK's Defense Ministry says intelligence suggests Russia is seeking to limit Ukrainians’ access to news

From Amy Cassidy in Glasgow, UK

A blast is seen at the TV tower in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 1.
A blast is seen at the TV tower in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 1. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Britain's Ministry of Defense said on Monday that intelligence suggests that Russia is seeking to limit Ukraine’s access to independent news. 

“Russia is probably targeting Ukraine’s communications infrastructure in order to reduce Ukrainian citizens’ access to reliable news and information,” the ministry said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“Russia reportedly struck a TV tower in Kharkiv yesterday, suspending broadcasting output. This follows a similar strike on a TV tower in Kyiv on 01 March 2022," the ministry said. 

“Ukrainian internet access is also highly likely being disrupted as a result of collateral damage from Russian strikes on infrastructure. Over the past week, internet outages have been reported in Mariupol, Sumy, Kyiv and Kharkiv."

Last week, Russia passed a law criminalizing the publication of news considered false by authorities -- further censoring Russian press and limiting dissenting voices.

4:14 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022

Human Rights Watch slams Russia's "ruthless effort to suppress all dissent"

Police officers detain a protestor during a demonstration against the Russian military operation in Ukraine on March 6 in St Petersburg, Russia.
Police officers detain a protestor during a demonstration against the Russian military operation in Ukraine on March 6 in St Petersburg, Russia. (SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images)

The international organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) has condemned Russia's crackdown on media following the invasion of Ukraine, saying the violation of freedom of expression and access of information "cannot be justified under international law even in times of war."

“These new laws are part of Russia’s ruthless effort to suppress all dissent and make sure the population does not have access to any information that contradicts the Kremlin’s narrative about the invasion of Ukraine,” said Hugh Williamson, HRW's Europe and Central Asia director, in the statement.

“The Kremlin is wiping out all options for dissent to ensure that brave anti-war protesters do not return to the streets,” he added. “When President Putin goes after such a fundamental right – the cornerstone of democracy – with such totalitarian tactics, he is dispensing with any pretense that his government has any respect for rule of law, human rights, or democracy.”

Censoring the media: Russian authorities have restricted access to news publications including BBC Russia, Radio Liberty and Latvia-based Meduza, state-run RIA Novosti reported on Friday. The media outlets have been added to a list of publications "containing appeals for mass riots, extremism, and participation in illegal mass rallies," it said.

On Friday, lawmakers approved a law criminalizing the spread of "fake" information that discredits the Russian armed forces or calls for sanctions against the country, state media agencies reported. Lawbreakers face fines of up to 1.5 million rubles ($13,877).

The crackdown has forced some outlets to shut up shop and their journalists to leave the country.

Anti-war protests: At least 4,640 people were detained in Russia on Sunday for participating in anti-war rallies across the country, according to an independent human rights monitoring group tracking detentions.