March 9, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, George Ramsay, Jack Bantock, Ed Upright, Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Amir Vera, Maureen Chowdhury and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, March 10, 2022
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11:05 a.m. ET, March 9, 2022

Evacuation of some Kyiv suburbs has been abandoned, local authorities say

From CNN's Tim Lister in Kyiv

Local authorities in a town close to Kyiv that has been under attack for more than a week say that efforts to evacuate people to safety Wednesday have failed.

Ukraine and Russia had agreed what was called a "green corridor" to help thousands of people still trapped on the northern outskirts of the capital.

Two of the districts in that corridor are Bucha and Hostomel.

The city council of Bucha said that 50 buses had been blocked by the Russian military in nearby Stoyanka. 

"They do not allow the convoy to pass," according to the city council.

"The evacuation has been thwarted! It is impossible to evacuate residents from Bucha and Hostomel today," the council said.

CNN teams observed hundreds of residents from other districts around Kyiv where there has been heavy fighting arrive at a collection point to the west of the city aboard scores of buses.

10:58 a.m. ET, March 9, 2022

Germany says help for Ukraine will not include fighter jets

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

Germany will not be sending fighter jets to Ukraine to help in its defense against the Russian invasion, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Wednesday.  

Speaking alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Berlin, Scholz said that a military solution to the war in Ukraine “makes no sense” and urged for a diplomatic solution. 

Germany has provided humanitarian aid, equipment and some weapons “but otherwise we have to think very carefully about what we are doing now and that certainly does not include fighter jets,” he said. 

In the US, the Pentagon has dismissed a proposal from Poland to transfer its MiG-29 fighter jets to the United States for delivery to Ukraine.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement that the Pentagon did not believe Poland's proposal was "tenable," just hours after Polish officials released a statement saying the government was ready to deploy all of its MiG-29 fighter jets to US Air Force's Ramstein Air Base in Germany so they could then be provided to Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

10:11 a.m. ET, March 9, 2022

Dutch prime minister: Impossible for EU to completely cut off Russian gas and oil

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy

Netherlands' Prime Minister Mark Rutte addresses the media at The Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris, France, on March 9.
Netherlands' Prime Minister Mark Rutte addresses the media at The Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris, France, on March 9. (Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images)

It is "not possible" for the European Union to cut off its supply of Russian oil and gas completely, warned Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

"We have to discuss our vulnerabilities in terms of our dependency on Russian oil and Russian gas. I will not plead to cut off our supply of oil and gas today from Russia," Rutte said in a joint news conference with his French counterpart in Paris on Wednesday.

The bloc needs the Russian supply, Rutte stressed, calling it "the uncomfortable truth."

On Tuesday, the EU announced its plans to cut Russian gas imports by two-thirds this year and eliminate its overall need for Russian oil and gas “well before 2030." 

Rutte added that the bloc's sanctions against Russia are "pointed" at the Russian leadership, not the people.

10:42 a.m. ET, March 9, 2022

Retired US and European military leaders advocate for advanced air defenses for Ukraine

From CNN's Kylie Atwood and Peter Bergen

A group of senior retired US military officers and former chiefs of defense of three Eastern European countries are advocating for supplying the Ukrainian military with air defense capabilities to defend against attacks by the Russian air force, according to an open letter obtained by CNN.

Supplying the Ukrainians with such weaponry would be effective in allowing them to shoot down aircraft or missiles in their airspace, and it is something that Ukrainians have specially asked the US and western countries to provide.

“The purpose of this letter is to urge, in the strongest possible sense, immediate action to provide the Ukrainian Armed Forces with a viable mid- and high-altitude air defense capability. They need immediate reconstitution of their capability to defend themselves against air attacks from the Russian Air Force,” the retired military officials write. “We cannot stand idly by and wish them well as Russia prosecutes an unrestricted campaign of destruction on the Ukrainian government, its infrastructure, and its people.”

This move should would stop short of creating a no-fly zone, which the US and NATO have so far resisted supporting due to concerns that this could embroil the alliance in a war with a nuclear-armed power.

Earlier this week 27 foreign policy experts published an open letter calling on the Biden administration and the international community to establish a limited no-fly zone in Ukraine surrounding the humanitarian corridors.

The retired military leaders say that NATO’s decision to reject a no-fly zone was “devastating to the Ukrainian government and people’s morale.” They go on to assert that supplying the mid- and high-altitude air defense capability would prevent the Russians from dominating Ukrainian “airspace while delivering devastation of Ukraine’s cities.”

They note that, “Some nations have air defense systems similar to those which were previously destroyed in the opening days of the Russian campaign. Those nations could transfer existing stocks of Soviet-era and Russian-produced weapon systems to include radars. Other nations can purchase them on the international market and expedite their delivery to Ukraine.”

This proposal may have a better chance of success than implementing a no-fly zone because supplying the Ukrainian military with advanced air defense capabilities, 

The Ukrainians already have some S300 missile systems — which are a type of air defense — which means they are trained in operating these. The Croatians and few either other NATO nations have S300s in their inventory. 

Turkey could use this an opportunity to offload the S400s they bought from Russia, which was a purchase that created deep tensions within the NATO alliance. 

The letter's signatories: They include General Phillip M. Breedlove, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe, and General Sir Richard Shirreff, former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe.

The former chiefs of defense of three Eastern European countries also signed on to the letter Lieutenant General Raimonds of Latvia; Lieutenant General Vytautas Jonas Žukas of Lithuania, and General Riho Terras of Estonia.

A number of key former leaders of US Special Operations Forces also signed the letter including Lieutenant General John F. Mulholland, former Deputy Commander, Special Operations Command, Vice Admiral Sean Pybus, former Deputy Commander, Special Operations Command; Lieutenant General Francis M. Beaudette, former Commanding General, Army Special Operations Command, and Major General Michael S. Repass, former Commander, Special Operations Command Europe.

CNN military analyst, Lieutenant General, Mark P. Hertling, was also a signatory to the letter.

More background: Their letter comes just a day after the  Chair of Ukraine's Parliament requested surface-to-air defense systems, no-fly zones over critical areas and fighter jets for Ukraine in a letter to US lawmakers on Tuesday, according to the letter reviewed by CNN. 

The chair, Ruslan Stefanchuk, said that there is a need for “military assistance suitable for countering Russian attacks and military advances,” citing the Iron Dome as one example of the military equipment that Ukraine needs. 

When asked about providing this type of additional military assistance to Ukraine State Department Undersecretary for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, told lawmakers that some of it could be possible but cited challenges with certain highly advanced equipment. 

“I would only say with regard to Iron Dome, you can't just, you know, snap your fingers and you have an Iron Dome. It takes training, it takes the ability to emplace it and all of those kinds of things. But there are other things on your list, on their list, which we think that we can do,” Nuland said. She added that she could get into more detail in a classified setting. 

Read the full letter below:

9:33 a.m. ET, March 9, 2022

France prepares accommodations for 10,000 Ukrainian refugees

From CNN’s Joseph Ataman and Camille Knight in Paris

Ukrainian evacuees arrive at a France Terre d'Asile's welcome center for refugees in Paris, France, on March 7.
Ukrainian evacuees arrive at a France Terre d'Asile's welcome center for refugees in Paris, France, on March 7. (Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images)

France is preparing accommodations for the first 10,000 refugees from Ukraine, French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal said.

The French national defense council has activated an inter-ministerial unit to prepare for and coordinate the arrival of Ukrainian refugees in France, he added.

On Tuesday, the French Citizenship Minister Marlene Schiappa said that 5,000 Ukrainians have already arrived in France. A website has been established for French people to volunteer to host Ukrainian families fleeing the war.

“Today, nothing indicates a quick end to this tragic war. The bombings and Russian military manoeuvres could very easily get stronger in the days and weeks to come,” Attal said. “Our concern is quite obviously at its highest levels.”

9:08 a.m. ET, March 9, 2022

China pledges more than $790,000 in aid to Ukraine

From CNN's Beijing Bureau 

China's Red Cross will provide 5 million yuan (or around $791,000 USD) in humanitarian aid to Ukraine, China's Foreign Ministry said in a briefing, adding that the first batch of the aid left Beijing on Wednesday,

The aid, which includes food and daily necessities, comes at the request of Ukraine and will be delivered to the Ukrainian Red Cross "as soon as possible," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Wednesday.

Remember: China has repeatedly called for parties to exercise "maximum restraint" to prevent a massive humanitarian crisis. Beijing has also consistently refused to call the war in Ukraine a Russian invasion.

9:37 a.m. ET, March 9, 2022

Ukrainians say evacuation convoy blocked

From Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych 

Ukrainians enter a bus as they are evacuated from Irpin, Ukraine, on March 9.
Ukrainians enter a bus as they are evacuated from Irpin, Ukraine, on March 9. (Felipe Dana/AP)

The city council of Bucha, just north of Kyiv, has accused Russian forces of blocking the evacuation of people through an agreed evacuation corridor.

"The occupants are disrupting the evacuation. Currently, 50 buses are blocked by Russian military in the parking lot: do not give passage to the column," the city council said in a brief Facebook post. "Negotiations are ongoing to unlock traffic."

"We remind you that the "green corridor" was an agreement at the highest level," it added.

While there has been no progress in getting an evacuation convoy moving from the beleaguered Kyiv suburb of Bucha, the evacuations agreed for two other nearby towns appear to have got underway.

Oleksandr Markushyn, mayor of Irpin, said on Facebook: "The evacuation from the city continues. There are buses in the center of Irpin. We are evacuating as many people as possible."

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, an adviser in the president's office, says that all the children stranded in an orphanage in nearby Vorzel have been rescued and evacuated, as has the local maternity hospital.

9:00 a.m. ET, March 9, 2022

The UK is sending Ukraine more anti-tank weapons to defend against Russian troops, defense minister says

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac and Amy Cassidy in London

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace arrives to attend the government weekly cabinet meeting at Downing Street on March 8 in London, England.
UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace arrives to attend the government weekly cabinet meeting at Downing Street on March 8 in London, England. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Britain is increasing its supply of weapons systems to Ukraine in “response to further acts of aggression by Russia,” UK Defence Minister Ben Wallace said Wednesday.  

Britain has now supplied 3,615 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, and will also shortly be supplying a small consignment of Javelin anti-tank missiles, he told lawmakers in parliament. 

Wallace said the “initial supply was to be 2,000 New Light anti-tank weapons, small arms and ammunition,” but that has been increased and the UK will continue to deliver more.

“We will shortly be starting the delivery of small consignment of anti-tank Javelin missiles,” he said adding that all weapons are considered to be “defensive systems,” and are “calibrated not to escalate to a strategic level.”

The UK is also considering supplying Ukraine with Starstreak high velocity anti-air missiles “in response to their request. The ministry of defence believes that this system “will remain within the definition of defensive weapons, but will allow the accredit force to better defend their skies.”

Russia has only been successful in one of its original objectives in Ukraine, according to UK intelligence and failed to take out Ukrainian air defenses, Wallace said. 

“The Ukrainian armed forces have put up a strong defense while mobilizing the whole population. President Putin's arrogant assumption that he would be welcomed as the Liberator has deservedly crumbled as far as his troops morale.”  

10:30 a.m. ET, March 9, 2022

IAEA says "no critical impact" to Chernobyl safety after Ukrainian officials warn of nuclear leak

From CNN's Hannah Ritchie

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said there has been "no critical impact" to the safety of Chernobyl, following warnings by Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and the country's security and intelligence service of a possible radiation leak, after the plant was disconnected from the state's power grid. 

The warnings came in response to reports from Ukraine’s energy operator Ukrenergo and state-run nuclear company Energoatom that Chernobyl’s power had been “fully disconnected,” threatening cooling systems that are integral for preventing a “nuclear discharge.”

In a tweet Wednesday, the IAEA said it had been informed by Ukraine that Chernobyl had lost power, but that it saw “no critical impact” on the plant’s safety. 

“IAEA says heat load of spent fuel storage pool and volume of cooling water at #Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant sufficient for effective heat removal without need for electrical supply,” it added. 

Ukraine’s foreign minister repeated Energoatom’s warnings, saying that Chernobyl had “lost all electric supply” and calling on the international community to demand Russia “cease fire” to “allow repair units to restore power.”

“Reserve diesel generators have a 48-hour capacity to power the Chornobyl NPP. After that, cooling systems of the storage facility for spent nuclear fuel will stop, making radiation leaks imminent,” Kuleba said in a tweet Wednesday. 

Ukraine’s technical security and intelligence service echoed Kuleba’s concerns, warning that “all nuclear facilities” in the Chernobyl exclusion zone were without power, and that if the pumps could not be cooled, a “nuclear discharge” could occur. 

Neither Kuleba nor the intelligence service commented on whether the diesel generators could be sustained beyond the 48-hour period.

On Tuesday, the IAEA said it had lost contact with remote data transmission from safeguards monitoring systems installed at Chernobyl. 

In a statement Tuesday, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi expressed his willingness to travel to Chernobyl and expressed his concern for the staff operating the nuclear plant.