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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12:33 p.m. ET, March 8, 2022

Ukrainian city of Mariupol is now isolated by Russian forces, senior US defense official says

From CNN's Michael Conte

The city of Mariupol in the south of Ukraine has now been “isolated” by Russian forces, though Russian forces are only still bombarding the city and are not in Mariupol “in any significant way,” according to a senior US defense official.

CNN has previously reported that residents of Mariupol have been cut off from water and electricity for days.

The US is also seeing that Russian forces have not yet entered Mykolaiv, a key city that could be used as part of a coordinated assault against the city of Odessa, though there has been an increase in the bombardment and shelling of Mykolaiv, according to the official.

Russian forces are still trying to advance on the cities of Kharkiv and Chernihiv, but are still facing Ukrainian resistance and are making more progress in the south of Ukraine than elsewhere in the country, according to the official.

1:00 p.m. ET, March 8, 2022

Ukraine claims Russian general killed in battle

From CNN's Richard Greene

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense said a Russian general — Maj. Gen. Vitaly Gerasimov — was killed in battle near Kharkiv.

The short statement on Monday offered no proof of the death of Gerasimov, and gave no details of when he was killed.

Russian state media said nothing Tuesday about Gerasimov, although it did name other Russians killed in Ukraine. The Russian Ministry of Defense did not immediately respond to CNN questions about Gerasimov on Tuesday, which is a national holiday in Russia.

Ukraine identified Gerasimov as “a Russian military commander, major general, chief of staff and first deputy commander of the 41st Army of the Central Military District of Russia” and said he was a veteran of Russian campaigns in Chechnya and Syria.

“A number of senior Russian army officers were also killed and wounded,” the Ukraine Defense Ministry statement said.

The ministry also alluded in its statement to communication problems that it says Russia’s army is facing. Christo Grozev, executive director of the open source investigative outlet Bellingcat, detailed in a Twitter thread that the information of the general’s death may have been gleaned from an intercept of a phone call on an unsecured network.

CNN has been unable to confirm those details.

12:41 p.m. ET, March 8, 2022

Mykolaiv official asks residents to gather tires and set them on fire at to stop Russian advance

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy and Olga Voitvych

Vitali Kim, Mykolaiv regional administrator, asked residents of the city to gather tires, which will be set on fire to impede the movement of Russian troops in the city. 

In order to limit visibility for the enemy vehicles in the city, I need tires at every intersection in the city," Kim said in a message posted to Telegram. "If the vehicles break through in some direction, the task will be to go out and set fire to the tire so that there is smoke in order to limit visibility."

Once disoriented by the smoke, Kim said that Ukrainian forces would utilize weapons like rocket-propelled grenades to take out the vehicles. 

"We will stop them with smoke and will shoot them," he said. "We know the city. This is our city, we know it by heart."

Kim said that the Russian forces are regrouping. 

"We will avenge the victims in other cities — Kharkiv, Sumy, Kyiv," he said.

2:34 p.m. ET, March 8, 2022

Zelensky says Ukraine "will not give up" and receives standing ovation from UK House of Commons

From CNN’s Sugam Pokharel and Amy Cassidy  

(UK Parliament TV)
(UK Parliament TV)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the UK House of Commons via video on Tuesday, saying “we will fight to the end,” echoing former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's famous wartime speech.

"We will not give up and we will not lose. We will fight until the end at sea, in the air. We will continue fighting for our land, whatever the cost," he said in his comments translated by an interpreter.

Channeling a line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the Ukrainian leader said: “To be or not to be," adding, "Thirteen days ago this question could have been asked about Ukraine, but now, absolutely not. It is obvious, we will be. It is obvious, we will be free.

Zelensky also expressed his gratitude to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and asked the parliament to “strengthen the sanctions” against Russia and recognize it “as a terrorist state.” He reiterated his request with NATO to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine, asking Britain to find a way to make the “Ukrainian skies safe.”

“Do what you can, what you have to, what the greatness of your country and your people obliges you to,” he added.

He criticized NATO for not delivering what Ukrainians were “looking for."

“I don't want to offend anyone, but we felt the alliances are not working, they can't even close the skies. So there is a need to rebuilt European security from zero,” Zelensky said.

The Ukrainian president also used a portion of his remarks to describe how Russia's invasion has unfolded in the country.

“I would like to tell you about the 13 days of war. The war that we didn't start, and we didn't want it,” he told British lawmakers.  

“We do not want to lose what we have what is ours, our country, Ukraine,” Zelensky said, adding “Just the same way as you once didn't want to lose your country... And you had to fight for Britain.” 

The House of Commons gave Zelensky a standing ovation at the end of his address.

12:20 p.m. ET, March 8, 2022

Pelosi announces US House will vote to ban Russia oil imports today

From CNN's Annie Grayer

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced in a letter that the US House would vote today on a bill to ban imports of Russian oil and energy products. 

According to Pelosi, the bill contains "three major provisions that will further isolate Russia from the global economy and leave it weaker in every way."

She went on to list the components:

  • "The bill will ban the import of Russian oil and energy products into the United States."
  • "The bill will take steps to review Russia’s access to the World Trade Organization and explore how we can further diminish Russia in the global economy."
  • "The bill will reauthorize and strengthen the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act so that the United States can impose further sanctions on Russia."

Earlier today, US President Joe Biden said his administration is banning Russian oil, natural gas and coal imports to the US in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The US will make the move unilaterally, without its European allies, due to disagreement among European nations about whether to ban Russian energy imports. EU countries have significantly more exposure to Russian energy than the US.

12:18 p.m. ET, March 8, 2022

Ukrainian governor says evacuation from Sumy is about to end

From CNN's Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych

Dmytro Zhyvytsky, head of the regional administration in the Sumy region, has said that the evacuation route out of the city is about to close at 7:30 p.m. local/12:30 p.m. ET.

The city of Sumy has seen heavy attacks in the last few days and is almost cut off from the rest of the country. Twenty-one people were reported killed in the city in an airstrike Monday night.

"At the moment, citizens are being evacuated by their own vehicles. The organized column set off in the direction of the city of Romny. There are private cars there. They are accompanied by a Red Cross car," Zhyvytsky said on his Telegram channel.

"The final time of departure from Sumy is 19:30. After 19:30 the checkpoint closes and it will be impossible to leave Sumy. The ceasefire regime has been agreed until 21:00."
11:53 a.m. ET, March 8, 2022

Moscow Stock Exchange to remain closed on March 9

From CNN staff

The Moscow Stock Exchange will remain closed on March 9, the Russian Central Bank announced in a statement on Tuesday.

Only limited operations will be allowed, according to the statement.

The exchange has been closed since Feb. 28, as the United States, European Union and other Western allies imposed sanctions and the Russian ruble plunged to record lows against the US dollar.

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.