March 8, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Meg Wagner, Jessie Yeung, Steve George, Sana Noor Haq, George Ramsay, Ed Upright, Amir Vera and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, March 9, 2022
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6:15 p.m. ET, March 8, 2022

Zelensky addresses reports of UN email which advised staff not to refer to Russian invasion as a "war"

From CNN's Gena Somra

(Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky)
(Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky)

Speaking in a video posted on Telegram on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed reports of an internal UN email advising staff not to refer to the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a “war.” 

“You may have seen in the news today the story that the United Nations allegedly does not consider the Russian invasion a war. I know this outraged many, and not only in Ukraine,” Zelensky said. 

“I am grateful to our team. We made everything clear and quickly received assurances: there will be no lies in the UN structures. There will be no playing along with the aggressor. The word "war" will be heard on this site. Because that is the truth. We will not allow anyone in the world to ignore the suffering and murder of our people, our children,” he added.

The United Nations in New York, for its part, walked back the email contents in a Tuesday news briefing, with UN spokesperson Stephan Dujarric saying that an unnamed regional office should not have issued a memo warning staff to not use the words “war” or “invasion” to describe what is happening in Ukraine, “because there are no official instructions on what words saying those things.”

The UN spokesperson said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has used the word “war” and so has his top political deputy in a tweet, saying, “This war is senseless.”

5:44 p.m. ET, March 8, 2022

The West will form new "Marshall Plan" for Ukraine, President Zelensky says

From CNN's Gena Somra

Speaking in a video posted on Telegram on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for committing to a new “Marshall Plan” for Ukraine and indicated the West will form the support for the plan.

There will be a new Marshall Plan for Ukraine. The West will form this support package. The British Prime Minister said this today. A man of his word, a sincere friend of Ukraine,” Zelensky said.

The Marshall Plan was an initiative to rebuild Western Europe immediately after World War II in an attempt to stave off Communist influence, according to the US Office of the Historian, Foreign Service Institute.

“We are already expecting tough decisions from the European Union. Sanctions. Against Russia. For this war. For this aggression, which its authors will regret. They will. For sure. That is why it is so important that the Russian leadership realizes that the world will follow the example of the United States, Great Britain, the European Union, Canada, Australia, Japan and other free countries. So, the world cannot be fooled. Sanctions cannot be avoided," Zelensky added.

The Ukrainian president also said he is grateful to the UK for offering to phase out the import of Russian oil and oil products by the end of 2022. Zelensky's comments come just hours after he spoke via video to the British Parliament.

Zelensky went on to thank Russian citizens who support peace saying: “I am grateful to those Russians who support us, take to the streets and fight. They are fighting daily for us and for themselves. Because they are fighting for peace.

"The war must end. We need to sit down at the negotiating table — honest, substantive, in the interests of the people, not obsolete murderous ambitions,” Zelensky said.

5:19 p.m. ET, March 8, 2022

Bank of Russia establishes new procedures for withdrawing funds from foreign currency deposits

From CNN staff

Bank of Russia announced new procedures for withdrawing funds from foreign currency deposits between March 9 and Sept. 9, 2022, limiting cash withdrawal to the equivalent of $10,000, Russian state media RIA reports.

"From March 9 to September 9, 2022, the Bank of Russia establishes the following procedure for issuing funds from foreign currency deposits or accounts of citizens: all customer funds from foreign currency accounts or deposits … the client can withdraw up to 10 thousand US dollars in cash, and the rest of the funds — in rubles at the market rate on the day of issue," the statement read. 

During the period of this temporary order, the currency will be issued in US dollars, regardless of the currency of the account. Conversion of other currencies to USD will be at the market rate on the date of issue. Russia’s Central Bank notes that citizens can continue to keep funds in foreign currency deposits or accounts, RIA adds.

Currently, 1 Russian Ruble is equivalent to $0.0078 in US dollars.

5:17 p.m. ET, March 8, 2022

State Department official: "Russia is trying to up the ante and broaden its demands" in Iran nuclear deal

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler and Kylie Atwood

A top State Department official said Tuesday that “Russia is trying to up the ante and broaden its demands” regarding the Iran nuclear deal “and we are not playing ‘Let's Make a Deal.’”

Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland’s comments come after Secretary of State Antony Blinken said earlier in the day that Moscow remains engaged in the effort to salvage the Iran nuclear deal, despite a recent demand by the Russian foreign minister for written guarantees that sanctions imposed for its invasion of Ukraine will not its impact future dealings with Tehran.

Nuland said “no” when asked at a US Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing if the administration has provided any written guarantees to Russia that their trade, investment or military cooperation with Iran will not be subject to sanctions.   

In his public comments, Blinken has stressed that the Ukraine and Iran nuclear deal issues are "totally different" and "not in any way linked together.” 

However, when asked by Sen. Todd Young, a Republican from Indiana, if “anything about your negotiations with the Russians changed as a result of their invasion of Ukraine,” Nuland replied: “Senator in this open setting, I will simply say that you are right. Russia is trying to up the ante and broaden its demands with regard to the JCPOA and we are not playing ‘Let's Make a Deal.’”

Nuland said the US is not negotiating with Russia “vis-à-vis” Iran and echoed the top US diplomat that Russia and the US share the “same strategic objective” when it comes to efforts to salvage the nuclear deal: to ensure that Iran is never able to get a nuclear weapon.

5:35 p.m. ET, March 8, 2022

Sanctions on Russia must not include ban on Russian energy imports, Hungarian prime minister says 

From CNN’s Emmet Lyons and Sugam Pokharel  

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives ahead of bilateral talks in London on March 8.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives ahead of bilateral talks in London on March 8. (Andy Rain/EPA/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Tuesday that while Hungary condemns Russia’s attack on Ukraine, it doesn't support sanctions against Moscow covering ban on Russian energy imports.   

"While we condemn Russia’s armed offensive and we also condemn the war, we will not allow Hungarian families to be made to pay the price of the war; and so the sanctions must not be extended to the areas of oil and gas,” Orban said in a statement following bilateral talks in London with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.  

The extension of the sanctions to the Russian energy sector would represent a “disproportionately large burden” for Hungary, he said.  

Most of Hungary’s oil and natural gas imports come from Russia, and 90% of Hungarian families heat their homes with gas, Orban said, stressing that the Hungarian economy “simply cannot function" without Russian oil and gas.

5:01 p.m. ET, March 8, 2022

Ukraine responds to Russia ceasefire proposal: "It is difficult to trust the occupier"

From CNN's Tim Lister in Kyiv and Oleksandra Ochman

In a brief response to Russia's new ceasefire announcement, the Ukrainian Armed Forces noted that "the Russian side announces a 'silence regime' for the opening of humanitarian corridors tomorrow, March 9, from 9:00 am in Kyiv."

In a Telegram post, the Armed Forces said that "Russia will request that Ukraine agree on the routes and opening hours of humanitarian corridors and notify representatives of foreign embassies, the UN, the OSCE, and the Red Cross by 02:00 in Kyiv on March 9."

But it ends: "It is difficult to trust the occupier."

More on Russia's announcement: Russia announced a new ceasefire starting at 10 a.m. Moscow time (9 a.m. Ukrainian/2 a.m. ET) Wednesday, saying it’s ready to provide evacuation corridors from Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and Mariupol, along with other towns negotiated with the Ukrainian side.

Russian media reported the ceasefire parameters quoting the Russian Coordination Headquarters for Humanitarian Response in Ukraine.

4:43 p.m. ET, March 8, 2022

Zhytomyr mayor claims apartment building and vital textile factory destroyed by Russian military strikes

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy and Josh Pennington

An apartment building and a major textile factory in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, were destroyed by Russian military strikes, Mayor Serhii Sukhomlyn said in two video messages posted to Telegram.

Sukhomlyn said that a dormitory, which was used by retired Army soldiers and civilians, was destroyed. He did not have any information on fatalities from the military strike at this time. 

In another video, Sukhomlyn said that a textile factory in the city, which manufactures roughly 70 percent of all cotton wool in the country, was destroyed by Russian military strikes.

5:15 p.m. ET, March 8, 2022

European countries prepare for an influx of refugees as hundreds of thousands flee Ukraine

From CNN's Jason Kurtz

Since the start of the Russian invasion, more than two million people have fled Ukraine. The European Union is being told to brace for as many as five million Ukrainian refugees, CNN's Anderson Cooper reported from Kyiv.

Moving forward, the question stands: how are other European countries going to handle the steady influx of refugees?

"The numbers are just staggering. They're coming in, in the hundreds of thousands at this point," said Chris Skopec, executive vice president of Global Health at Project HOPE. "We've seen two million in 10 days. We've never seen anything like this."

Poland alone has seen 1.2 million refugees cross its border, and as Skopec notes, the Polish government itself has offered an outpouring of support.

"They're helping them get access to shelter, to clothes, to food," he told Cooper.

As for Skopec's organization specifically — Project HOPE — the emphasis is on the most immediate, basic needs, including medical services for refugees upon arrival. 

"The situation inside Ukraine is such that the primary health care system has been devastated. Hospitals are completely out of supplies ... and just desperate for more support. People are coming after days and days of trying to travel and get into a refugee country, a hosting country. They are coming across. We're seeing exhaustion, dehydration, gastrointestinal issues and certainly a lot of emotional and traumatic issues, just in how they are being able to cope with what's happening," said Skopec, adding, "The ability to get us medical care immediately as a matter of priority, screen them, try to understand what support and assistance they need ... that's really what our top priority is right now."

With the number of refugees expected to increase in the coming weeks, Skopec is moved by the generosity of spirit he's witnessing from humans willing to provide assistance and aid to each other.

"We're seeing a huge number of people coming from around Poland, individuals out of the goodness of their heart, hoping to try to help out and provide people with rides, homes to stay in, temporary shelters, so they have [a] place to go. Really people are moving as quickly as they can through the border areas getting into major cities," he said.

Skopec went on to share a story of a woman who was dealing with a range of emotions as she fled Ukraine for a safer space.

"I met a woman today right at the border, a Ukrainian woman, who on one hand was laughing at how ridiculous it was that she was getting on the first bus she could find to a city she'd never heard of in Germany, and then the next second turns around and is just weeping at the fact that she had to leave behind her two sons and her husband, and was all alone by herself and had no idea what she was going to do, and where she was going to go," he said.

A Ukrainian refugee fled to Moldova. Here's what she said to CNN's Ivan Watson:

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

War will end when Putin realizes it puts his own leadership at risk, top State Department official says

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler and Kyle Atwood

Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland testifies before a Senate Foreign Relation Committee hearing on Ukraine on March 8 in Washington, DC.
Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland testifies before a Senate Foreign Relation Committee hearing on Ukraine on March 8 in Washington, DC. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Victoria Nuland, the US State Department's undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, said Tuesday she believes the war will end “when Putin realizes that this adventure has put his own leadership standing at risk, with his own military, with his own people, that he is hemorrhaging the lives of the people of Russia, the army of Russia and their future to his own vain ambition.”

Speaking at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Nuland said at that point, Putin “will have to change course, or the Russian people take matters into their own hands.”

But from the US perspective, the end game is the strategic defeat of President Putin in this adventure,” she said.

Asked what drove Putin to invade now, Nuland said such a question would have to be directed to the Russian leader, but added she believes that “over the years, President Putin's imperial ambition has grown and he is dissatisfied with the last 30 years of Russian history and has longed for some time to be the guy that helps recreate the Soviet Union, the fall of which he said was one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century.”

"I think in the last couple of years he's been particularly obsessed with this and particularly consumed. He has created, as you know, a whole bed of lies about how the US would use Ukraine as a springboard to Russia or that NATO would, and he has frankly made clear in the last couple of days that he doesn't actually think that Ukraine is an independent country from Russia,” she continued.

“And so I think his interior mind is now out there and for everybody to see. So that's what makes me worried that not only do we have to ensure that this Ukraine gambit is a strategic failure for Putin for Ukraine’s sake, but also for all of the other countries in the region, and his appetite has only grown with the eating. So you know, we can't allow this to stand,” Nuland said.