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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6:52 p.m. ET, March 8, 2022

Ukrainian biathlete who won bronze at Paralympics says house "was bombed and destroyed"

From CNN's Jillian Martin

Bronze medallist Dmytro Suiarko of Team Ukraine, left, and guide Oleksandr Nikonovych celebrate during the Men’s Para Biathlon Middle Distance Vision Impaired medal ceremony on Tuesday, March 08, in Zhangjiakou, China.
Bronze medallist Dmytro Suiarko of Team Ukraine, left, and guide Oleksandr Nikonovych celebrate during the Men’s Para Biathlon Middle Distance Vision Impaired medal ceremony on Tuesday, March 08, in Zhangjiakou, China. (Zhe Ji/Getty Images)

Ukrainian biathlete Dmytro Suiarko, who won bronze in middle distance vision impaired on Tuesday at the Paralympics in Beijing, said his house “was bombed and destroyed.”

Suiarko was part of a Ukrainian podium sweep in the biathlon event, with Vitaliy Lukyanenko winning gold and Anatoliy Kovalevskyi taking silver.

"I'm very happy. It's an amazing day today, 8 March,” Suiarko said, according to quotes provided by Beijing 2022. “Today is (international) women's day and my medal is for women in Ukraine. I'm very happy with the race because after my last shooting I lost 10 seconds on the bronze position, but (I did) the last loop very quickly and I took a medal," Suiarko said.

"I am very happy my friends Vitaliy and Anatoliy took the gold and silver medals," he added.

Suiarko said that despite feeling happy about his medal, the crisis in Ukraine is on his mind, he said that his home was bombed.

"I am happy, but you know the situation in Ukraine. Very hard concentration is needed in biathlon and I missed twice because yesterday my house where I live, it was bombed and destroyed," Suiarko said.

Regarding the podium sweep, Suiarko said: "I am very happy because three athletes from Ukraine stand on the podium again. For me, it's something amazing. I am very happy, but not 100% because in my country there is a very big situation and I want peace for Ukraine."

7:14 p.m. ET, March 8, 2022

Pentagon dismisses Poland's proposal to transfer fighter jets to US for delivery to Ukraine

From CNN's Oren Liebermann, Kaitlan Collins and Kevin Liptak

The Pentagon dismissed Poland’s proposal to transfer their MiG-29 fighter jets to the United States for delivery to Ukraine, calling it not “tenable,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Tuesday.

The Pentagon is in touch with the Polish government about the issue, but Poland’s proposal shows the “complexities” of transferring the fighters to Ukraine, Kirby said in the statement.

"It is simply not clear to us that there is a substantive rationale for it,” Kirby said. “We will continue to consult with Poland and our other NATO allies about this issue and the difficult logistical challenges it presents, but we do not believe Poland’s proposal is a tenable one.”

Earlier Tuesday, the Polish government proposed moving all of their MiG-29s to the US Air Force’s Ramstein Air Base in Germany, according to a statement from the foreign ministry. The US government would then provide them to Ukraine, the ministry said. In exchange, Poland requested used fighter jets to replace the MiG-29s.

Kirby said the idea as laid out by Poland was too risky, as the US and NATO seek to avoid an outright conflict between the alliance and Russia.

Multiple sources tell CNN that the Biden administration was completely caught off guard by the Polish offer to provide the US with the fleet of used MiG-29 fighter jets.

The Polish offer had not been discussed with the US before making it public and Polish officials did not bring it up with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken when he was recently in Poland, either. 

US officials have privately weighed sending aircraft to Ukraine but have repeatedly noted the difficult logistical challenges that doing so would come with.

More background: Poland’s surprise announcement complicates what had already been a high-stakes visit by US Vice President Kamala Harris. 

Harris had been expected to discuss the fighter jet issue while in Poland, according to officials. The White House had previously said it was in discussions with the Polish government about a plan for Poland to supply Ukraine with its Soviet-era fighter jets and the US to backfill the planes with F-16s.

Harris is still scheduled to depart Wednesday morning for Poland, but now there are intensive conversations within the administration about how to work with Poland to come to some sort of agreement that allows the jets to reach Ukraine.

7:05 p.m. ET, March 8, 2022

State Dept. official: "Every drop of Russian oil that is consumed, is another drop of Ukrainian blood spilled"

From CNN's Jason Kurtz

Victoria Nuland, the US State Department's undersecretary of State for Political Affairs
Victoria Nuland, the US State Department's undersecretary of State for Political Affairs (CNN)

On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden announced a ban on Russian oil, natural gas and coal imports to the US in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Victoria Nuland, the US State Department undersecretary for Political Affairs, reacted to the ban on CNN, saying, "we need to remember that the villain here is President Putin and President Zelensky is right, every drop of Russian oil that is consumed, is another drop of Ukrainian blood spilled."

Speaking live with CNN's Jake Tapper, Nuland noted that at this point in the conflict, the purpose of sanctions is to directly impact the Russian president. The official said that 70% of Russian oil "is now offline" as a result of sanctions and bans like the one that Biden announced today.

"Now we have to punish him. And unfortunately, we have to make the Russian people, too, also feel what he has done to global peace and security," Nuland told Tapper. "So that is the first purpose is to ensure that over the long-term, the medium-term, ideally over the short-term, that this is a strategic loss for President Putin."

Should the sanctions force Putin into altering his offensive, Nuland said the US would respond in kind.

"If in fact, he gets out of Ukraine, if in fact, he gives back what he has stolen and makes reparations, obviously, we will work with the Ukrainians on lifting of sanctions," she said. "I want to live for that happy day."

Nuland offered Tapper and his viewers a glimpse into where Russia is currently at in terms of the invasion into Ukraine, a view that doesn't reflect positively on Putin.

"He is losing tanks and aircraft. He has thousands of soldiers dying, who will go home in body bags to Russians. He has citizens now who have zero access to a free press or ATMs or western technology. The pressure on him is growing. And sooner or later, he will wake up or the Russian people will wake up," she said.

"Unfortunately, it could be a long and difficult grind to get from here to there and I think all of us owe a huge debt to the Ukrainian people. Because it is they who are sacrificing, not just for their democracy but for all of our democracies," she added.

Nuland spoke today at a US Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Russia's invasion on Ukraine. She told lawmakers 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."

CNN's Jennifer Hansler and Kyle Atwood contributed reporting to this post.

Check out Victoria Nuland's full interview with CNN's Jake Tapper:

7:07 p.m. ET, March 8, 2022

Kyiv has transformed into a fortress and its residents are determined to defend it

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová in Kyiv

Residents make Molotov cocktails, in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 4.
Residents make Molotov cocktails, in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 4. (Raphael Lafargue/Abaca/Sipa USA)

Just two weeks ago, residents of the Ukrainian capital were tending to their shops, teaching schoolchildren or parked at their office desks.

The Russian invasion changed all that. Fighting literally for their lives, civilians, turned into volunteer soldiers, helped construct defenses with military precision — and they are now manning them.

Trenches run deep into the woods that surround the highway leading in Kyiv from the south. Fortified fallback positions are ready for whatever comes next. Huge metal anti-tank barriers known here as "the hedgehogs" because of their spiky shape are placed at regular intervals along the road. And makeshift blockades made of sandbags and huge concrete blocks stand at every exit.

The people of Kyiv are determined to defend their city.

As Russian forces approach, the resolve of its residents is palpable — with many appearing in good spirits.

Some flash a victory sign as vehicles pass by. The blue and yellow national flag can be seen everywhere.

At one checkpoint en route to Kyiv on Tuesday, volunteer defenders were handing out flowers to women in their cars to mark International Women's Day.

Many volunteers do not seem to be dressed warm enough for the freezing weather. They wear civilian clothes, with big coats and sweatpants an unofficial uniform. Their pants are mostly green, black or camouflage motif — not the military kind — but the civilian pattern made for hunting.

Some, but not all volunteers, are armed with automatic rifles and big knives.

Oleksiy Goncharenko, a volunteer manning one of the defense positions in Kyiv, told CNN that he works in four-hour shifts at the checkpoint.
His face is red from the cold. "It's OK. Just cold," he says, adding that "locals are giving us soups and things like that."

Almost 40,000 volunteers joined the Territorial Defense Forces in the first two days after the invasion began, according to the Ukrainian armed forces' chief of staff. In Kyiv alone, 18,000 picked up weapons when authorities called for volunteers and reservists to do so.

Those who couldn't join the forces (so many people signed up that the Territorial Defense Forces had to start turning people away) are helping in other ways.

They are making Molotov cocktails, sewing camouflage nets for barricades, distributing food, hot drinks and cigarettes to those standing guard. They are raising money for the military, building more road blocks and even painting over traffic signs in an attempt to confuse invading forces.

Read more here.

5:58 p.m. ET, March 8, 2022

Putin orders import-export ban on certain products for 2022, state media reports

From CNN's Gena Somra

Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued an order to restrict or prohibit imports and exports of certain products and raw materials from Russia in 2022, but a list of those products that will be restricted and/or prohibited has yet to be defined by the government, Russian state media RIA reports, quoting the decree on special foreign economic measures aimed to ensure Russia’s security.

The government will have to define the list of states to be covered by these decisions within two days, RIA says, but adds these restrictions will not cover products or raw materials being transported by citizens for their personal needs.

Putin's ban comes as US President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that his administration is banning Russian energy imports — including oil, natural gas and coal — in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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.