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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10:54 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022

Almost all of Russia’s proposed evacuation routes out of Ukraine go to Russia or ally Belarus

From CNN's Olga Voitovych and Tim Lister

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, delivers a video message on March 7.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, delivers a video message on March 7. (President of Ukraine)

The Ukrainian government has slammed Russia's unilateral announcement of evacuation routes for civilians trying to escape the conflict.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister, Iryna Vereshchuk described the Russian proposal as unacceptable, particularly as all but one of the corridors leads to Russia or close ally Belarus.

Meanwhile, an official with one humanitarian organization described the announcement as "cynical as well as impractical, without any preparation." 

The Russian proposal on Monday appears not to have been worked out in consultation with any international organization, such as the United Nations or International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Russian state news agency TASS did say that these organizations had been notified -- but the routes announced are unlikely to be seen as practical by many. 

All but one of the corridors leaves civilians in an uncertain future in Russia or Belarus, while several of the routes would pass through areas of active conflict. TASS said that once in Russia, civilians would be moved by "air, rail and road transport to selected destinations or temporary accommodation points."

The announcement also seems to have been framed as an ultimatum to the Ukrainian authorities, just as another round of talks is due to get underway.

"We demand from the Ukrainian side to strictly fulfill all the conditions for the creation of humanitarian corridors in the listed directions and to ensure an organized withdrawal of civilians and foreign citizens," the announcement said, according to TASS.

Monday's announcement followed two failed attempts over the weekend to open a corridor from the besieged port of Mariupol, which the ICRC tried to facilitate.

Skepticism towards the routes has grown after evacuations of civilians were paused within hours on both Saturday and Sunday, with Russian forces accused of violating an agreed ceasefire.

Speaking with BBC Radio 4's Today, Dominik Stillhart, director of operations for the ICRC, said problems remained in confirming the details of any ceasefire agreement.

Stillhart said the challenge was to get the two parties to an agreement that is "concrete, actionable and precise."

He added that so far there had only been agreements "in principle", which had immediately broken down because they lacked precision, regarding routes and who can use them.

Illustrating his point, he said some ICRC staff had tried to get out of Mariupol along an agreed route on Sunday, but soon realized "the road indicated to them was actually mined."

Read the full report here.

7:37 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022

The EU is working on further sanctions due to the Kremlin’s "recklessness"

From CNN’s James Frater, Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen delivers a statement prior to a meeting at the Berlaymont Building, headquarters of the European Commission, in Brussels, Belgium, on March 7.
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen delivers a statement prior to a meeting at the Berlaymont Building, headquarters of the European Commission, in Brussels, Belgium, on March 7. (Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images)

The European Union is preparing further sanctions on Russia due to “the Kremlin's recklessness towards citizens (including) women, children (and) men,” the European Commission President said Monday.

Speaking in Brussels ahead of a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Ursula von der Leyen said: “We are going to discuss, of course, the situation in Ukraine, the atrocious war led by Putin.” The two leaders will also discuss the a "new enforcement package,” she added.

“We had three packages of hard-hitting sanctions already, but now we have to make sure that there are no loopholes and that the effect of the sanctions is maximized,” von der Leyen said.

She added: “The sanctions in place are really biting. We see the downward turbulences in the Russian economy.”

Von der Leyen, also said the EU has to “get rid of the dependency on Russian gas, oil and coal,” and will present proposals tomorrow on ways the bloc can diversify its energy supply away from Russia.

Zelensky demands more sanctions: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a new video statement Monday demanding a tougher package of international sanctions on Russia.

"If the invasion is continuing and Russia didn't abandon its plans against Ukraine, it means a new sanctions package is needed. New sanctions, new sanctions steps against war and for peace."

"In particular, the rejection of oil and petroleum products from Russia. This can be called an embargo. Or just morality -- when you refuse to give money to a terrorist," he said.

7:40 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022

Russia planning to "encircle" city of Dnipro, says Ukrainian security official

From CNN’s Hannah Ritchie

Russia is mounting resources to “encircle” the city of Dnipro in central Ukraine, Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council said in a Facebook post Sunday.

“The Russian occupation forces command is shifting its focus to the South, trying to deprive Ukraine of access to the Black and Azov Seas, which, in their opinion, will create conditions for economic suppression of the Ukrainian Resistance,” the post from Danilov read.

“The enemy does not give up hopes to seize Kyiv and mounts resources to encircle Dnipro,” it continued, adding that Russia’s plan was to “encircle the major cities, exsanguinate the Ukrainian Armed Forces and create a situation of humanitarian catastrophe for civilians.”

7:17 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022

The European Union should be ready for five million people fleeing Ukraine, says top diplomat

From CNN's Joseph Ataman and Camille Knight in Paris

The European Union “needs to prepare for five million” refugees from Ukraine, the EU’s high representative Josep Borrell told journalists on Monday ahead of a meeting of European foreign ministers in Montpellier, France.

"We need to be prepared to receive five million people. We know that with the Syrian crisis in the 2015-16 years, which was the migrant crisis in Europe, we were talking about 1.5 million people; now it's going to be much more,” said Borrell.

Borrell said the EU must mobilize not just humanitarian aid, but also the bloc’s resources to support the EU countries bordering Ukraine set to receive refugees.

Some background: On Sunday, the UN refugee agency commissioner Filippo Grandi said more than 1.5 million refugees from Ukraine had crossed into neighboring countries in 10 days, describing the situation as "the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II."

7:22 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022

Russian tanks take up positions among civilian apartment blocks

From CNN's Tim Lister in Kyiv, Gianluca Mezzofiore and Katie Polglase

The Russian army hide military equipment at residential complex in Irpin, near Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 6.
The Russian army hide military equipment at residential complex in Irpin, near Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 6.

Video geolocated by CNN on Monday shows Russian tanks taking up positions in a densely-populated area just west of Kyiv.

The 17-second clip was apparently filmed by a resident in an apartment block in the district of Irpin, a site where Russian forces fired towards the capital on Sunday and Monday, killing several civilians.

The video shows at least five Russian tanks and their crews within a few yards of tall apartment blocks.

7:08 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022

“Desperate” conditions in Mariupol as civilians seek safe passage out of city, says ICRC

From CNN's George Ramsay

In the besieged city of Mariupol, living conditions have badly deteriorated and civilians are unable to leave safely.

On Saturday, Ukrainian authorities said thousands of civilians remain trapped in the southeastern city and accused Russian forces of breaching an agreement to pause fire to allow safe passage out.

“The situation in Mariupol is desperate,” Mirella Hodeib, spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), told CNN.

“People are now in their 10th day without water, without electricity, living in shelters, shelters are packed. The essentials are missing, a lot of healthcare needs as well.

“People need to have a safe passage to leave Mariupol and any other location where hostilities are active.”

According to Hodeib, the ICRC is “willing to facilitate” such a passage and is speaking to both Ukraine and Russia in a bid to safely evacuate civilians.  

“Safe passage is mandatory under international humanitarian law and both parties would need to agree on providing safe passage to civilians leaving those areas,” she said.

8:37 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022

A third round of Ukraine-Russia talks is set for 9 a.m. ET

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

The third round of talks between Ukraine and Russia is scheduled to get underway Monday at 4 p.m. Ukraine time (9 a.m. ET), Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter.

Russian state news agency TASS reported Sunday that Russian negotiator Leonid Slutsky had also confirmed that the talks would take place on March 7. 

The location for this event has not been disclosed. The first round of talks, on February 28, and the second set, on March 3, both took place in Belarus. 

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba will meet Thursday in Antalya, Turkey, according to the Russian foreign ministry. This has not yet been confirmed by the Ukrainian foreign ministry.

6:45 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022

NATO is looking at more permanent deployment in the Baltics, says Blinken

From Amy Cassidy in Glasgow, Scotland

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a joint news conference with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielus Landsbergis in Vilnius, Lithuania, on March 7.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a joint news conference with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielus Landsbergis in Vilnius, Lithuania, on March 7. (Olivier Douliery/AP)

NATO is looking at further expanding its presence in Eastern Europe with more permanent positions being considered in the Baltic countries, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Monday.

“We’re continuing to do that now including with the deployment of additional forces, including American forces here to Lithuania, F-35 fighters, various pieces of important equipment, all of which is being deployed here (and) deployed to the other states in the Baltics,” Blinken said at a news conference in the Lithuanian capital city Vilnius.

Speaking alongside Lithuanian Foreign Minister Garbrielius Landsbergis, Blinken continued: “At the same time, we're continuously reviewing within NATO our defense posture, including looking at questions of extending the deployment of forces, looking at questions of more permanent deployments.

“All of that is under regular review and we’re engaged with NATO allies in doing just that.”

He reiterated the US and allies’ commitment to NATO's Article 5, which deems an attack on one country is an attack on all.

“If there is any aggression anywhere, on NATO territory on NATO countries, we the United States, all of our allies and partners will take action to defend every inch of NATO territory. It's as clear and direct as that," he said.

6:40 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022

Taiwan's Foreign Minister says China is watching Western response to the Ukraine crisis

From CNN's Eric Cheung in Taipei, Taiwan

Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said Beijing is closely watching the events in Ukraine to evaluate its strategy towards Taiwan.

"When we watch the events in Ukraine evolving ... we are also watching very carefully what China may do to Taiwan," Wu said during a news conference on Monday.

The danger will be that the Chinese leaders think that the Western reaction to the Russian aggression is weak and not coherent, and not having any impact. The Chinese might take that as a positive lesson," he added.

"I'm sure the Chinese leaders [are] also watching and try[ing] to come up with their own conclusions."

Some background: Some analysts have pointed to parallels between Russia's designs on Ukraine and fears over the future of Taiwan -- a self-governing island democracy that China's Communist Party claims as its own and has not ruled out taking by force.

Wu was speaking at a press conference about additional steps that Taiwan is taking to help Ukraine, when CNN's Will Ripley asked if he is concerned the crisis in Ukraine makes it more or less likely for China to make a similar move.

In his response, Wu said the world has seen an "expansion of authoritarianism," pointing to the joint declaration issued by China and Russia last month.

"President Xi Jinping has also spoken about the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, including building up militarily around China," Wu said.

He refrained from making any predictions while Russia's invasion is still "unfolding" but noted that democracies around the world have come together to support both Ukraine and Taiwan. "I'm sure that will be a factor for the Chinese to take into their calculus," he added.

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