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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11:47 a.m. ET, March 8, 2022

US intel estimates between 2,000 and 4,000 Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

The US intelligence community estimates between 2,000 and 4,000 Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine since Moscow launched its invasion last month, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency said Tuesday.

DIA Director Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier told the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday that the intelligence community has “low confidence” in its assessment of how many Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine, but that the range is between 2,000 and 4,000 troops. 

Berrier said that the estimate is based both on intelligence sources as well as open-source material. 

11:46 a.m. ET, March 8, 2022

Biden says "Ukraine will never be a victory for Putin"

(Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)
(Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin will never be successful in taking the whole of Ukraine.

"Putin seems determined to continue on his murderous path no matter the cost," Biden said at the White House.

"He has already turned two million Ukrainians into refugees. Russia may continue to grind out its advance at a horrible price, but this much is already clear: Ukraine will never be a victory for Putin. Putin may be able to take a city, but he'll never be able to hold the country. And if we do not respond to Putin's assault on global peace and stability today, the cost of freedom, and to the American people, will be even greater tomorrow," he said.

Biden also commended the Ukrainian people for their resistance in the face of war.

"They've inspired the world with their bravery, their patriotism, their defiant determination to live free. Putin's war — Putin's war — has caused an enormous suffering and needless loss of life of women, children, everyone in Ukraine — both Ukraine and, I might add, Russians," he said.

11:45 a.m. ET, March 8, 2022

Biden: "Putin's war is already hurting American families at the gas pump"

(Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)
(Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden acknowledged that Russia's invasion of Ukraine is already hurting American families, including rising gas prices. He admitted that his decision to ban Russian oil imports will cost at home.

"The decision today is not without cost here at home. Putin’s war is already hurting American families at the gas pump. Since Putin began his military build-up at the Ukrainian border, just since then, the price of gas in America went up 75 cents. With this action is going to go up further," he said Tuesday.

Biden added, "I’m going to do everything I can to minimize Putin’s price hike here at home."

He also addressed the American oil and gas companies, saying the war and its impacts are "no excuse to exercise excessive price increases" that exploit the American consumer, adding that he will not tolerate it.

"Russia's aggression is costing us all. And it's no time for profiteering or price gouging. I want to be clear about what we'll not tolerate," he said.

But he also acknowledged the firms that were "leading by example" by pulling out of Russia.

"This is a time when we have to do our part," he said.

11:40 a.m. ET, March 8, 2022

Biden on ban of Russian oil imports: "Defending freedom is going to cost"

(Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)
(Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden said banning Russian oil, natural gas and coal imports to the United States will have a price in the country, but lawmakers are united in taking action.

"There will be cost as well here in the United States. I said I would level with the American people from the beginning, and when I first spoke to this, I said defending freedom is going to cost, it's going to cost us as well in the United States. Republicans and Democrats understand that alike. Republicans and Democrats alike are clear we must do this," the President said from the White House.

He also said the US has provided more than $1 billion in security assistance to Ukraine. 

"Shipments of defensive weapons are arriving in Ukraine every day from the United States, and we in the United States are the ones coordinating delivery of our allies and partners of similar weapons — from Germany to Finland to the Netherlands. We're working that out. We're also providing humanitarian support for the Ukrainian people," he said.  

11:44 a.m. ET, March 8, 2022

UK to phase out Russian oil imports by the end of 2022

From CNN's Chris Liakos

The UK will phase out “the import of Russian oil and oil products by the end of 2022,” UK Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said Tuesday.

“This transition will give the market, businesses and supply chains more than enough time to replace Russian imports – which make up 8% of UK demand,” he said on Twitter.

Kwarteng added that the government will work with companies to support them in finding alternative supplies. 

“The UK is a significant producer of oil and oil products, plus we hold significant reserves. Beyond Russia, the vast majority of our imports come from reliable partners such as the US, Netherlands and the Gulf. We’ll work with them this year to secure further supplies,” Kwarteng said.

He added that while the UK is not dependent on Russian natural gas, it only makes up 4% of UK supply, he is exploring options to end this altogether.

Read his tweets:

11:25 a.m. ET, March 8, 2022

Putin nuclear announcement "very unusual" but intended as "deterrence," top US intelligence official says  

From CNN's Katie Bo Lillis

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement that he was elevating the readiness status of his nuclear forces was “very unusual,” Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told lawmakers on Tuesday, but she said that it was better understood as messaging rather than an immediate threat to the United States. 

“We obviously take it very seriously when he's signaling in this way,” Haines said. “But we do think [that] he is effectively signaling, that he's attempting to deter” NATO from getting involved in the conflict in Ukraine, she said during testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. “That’s been his main purpose in doing so.”

Haines also said that the Russian announcement that Russian strategic forces would be placed on “special alert status” did not refer to a “technical term as we understand it within their system.” 

The intelligence community has closely tracked any Russian strategic movements, Haines said, but “we're not seeing something at this stage that indicates that he is doing something different than what we've seen in the past.”

11:23 a.m. ET, March 8, 2022

CIA director: Putin "proven wrong" on pre-invasion assumptions about success in Ukraine  

From CNN's Geneva Sands

CIA Director Bill Burns listens during his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in February 2021.
CIA Director Bill Burns listens during his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in February 2021. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call/Pool/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin is “determined to dominate and control Ukraine” and went to war based on a set of assumptions that led him to believe Russia would have a favorable outcome, CIA Director Bill Burns testified Tuesday. 

Putin believed several assumptions about use of force, including the belief that Ukraine was weak and easily intimidated. Second, Putin believed that Europeans, especially the French and Germans, were distracted and risk-averse.  

Third, he believed he had “sanctions-proofed” his economy and created a large war chest to foreign currency reserves.  

And fourth, he was confident that he had modernized his military and they were capable of a quick decisive victory at minimal cost.  

“He's been proven wrong on every count,” Burns said. 

Asked about what it would take for Putin to change his calculus in Ukraine, Burns offered a sober assessment, saying that “this is a matter of deep personal conviction for him.” 

Putin has “been stewing in a combustible combination of grievance and ambition for many years,” he said, adding that the Russian president has created a system in which his own circle of advisers is “narrower and narrower.” 

The global Covid-19 pandemic has also made his circle even smaller, Burns said during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats.  

Burns later predicted an "ugly next few weeks" with "scant regard for civilian casualties," given Russia is unlikely to be able to install a puppet regime or pro-Russian leadership in the face of opposition from the Ukrainian people. 

"The Ukrainians are going to continue to resist fiercely and effectively," he added. 

11:05 a.m. ET, March 8, 2022

US officials "very focused" on potential for ransomware attacks during Ukraine war, NSA chief says

From CNN's Sean Lyngaas

The US government is “very focused” on cybercriminals who might conduct ransomware attacks against US organizations during the Ukraine war, General Paul Nakasone, head of the National Security Agency, told the House Intelligence Committee on Friday.

US officials are also wary of the potential of Russian government-backed cyber operations aimed at Ukraine to inadvertently hamper US organizations, Nakasone and FBI Director Christopher Wray said at an annual hearing on worldwide threats to the US homeland.

“Even if the Russians think they have carefully calibrated some form of malicious cyber activity against our critical infrastructure, the reality is they’ve shown a history of not being able to manage the effects of it as well as they intend — even if you give them the benefit of the doubt, which I tend not to,” Wray told lawmakers.

Wray cited a 2017 cyberattack known as NotPetya that started by infecting Ukrainian accounting software but soon spread to major companies around the world, causing an estimated $10 billion in damages. The Justice Department later blamed Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency for the hack.

US officials say there aren’t any credible and specific threats to the US homeland stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But they have been warning for months about potential retaliatory hacking over Western sanctions on the Kremlin.

11:07 a.m. ET, March 8, 2022

US intelligence assessment from January states Russia "does not want a direct conflict" with US

From CNN's Katie Bo Lillis

The US intelligence community assessed that Russia “does not want a direct conflict with US forces,” according to an annual unclassified threat assessment completed in late January and published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Tuesday. 

“Russia seeks an accommodation with the United States on mutual noninterference in both countries’ domestic affairs and U.S. recognition of Russia’s claimed sphere of influence over much of the former Soviet Union,” according to the document. 

The assertion comes as tensions between Russia and the United States have hit their lowest point in decades amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — and as Russian President Vladimir Putin has publicly invoked the specter of nuclear weapons, unnerving U.S. officials. 

Moscow “views its nuclear capabilities as necessary for maintaining deterrence and achieving its goals in a potential conflict against the United States and NATO, and it sees a credible nuclear weapons deterrent as the ultimate guarantor of the Russian Federation,” according to the report.