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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8:40 p.m. ET, March 9, 2022

Nearly 35,000 people rescued through humanitarian corridors, Zelensky says

From CNN's Mariya Knight and Hira Humayun

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

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said “all in all almost 35,000 people were rescued” via the humanitarian corridors established Wednesday.

“Today we were able to organize three humanitarian corridors: from the city of Sumy, from city of Kyiv and Kyiv region, and from Enerhodar,” he said, adding that efforts will continue Thursday.

Zelensky said Ukrainian authorities were preparing six humanitarian corridors to get people out of areas under attack by Russian forces.

“We are praying to be able to evacuate people from Mariupol, from Izium, from Volnovakha, etc. to evacuate to safe places of free Ukraine. And I'm sure that every Ukrainian that knows these people need help will make sure these people feel cared for," he said.

While some routes were successful in evacuating people to safety, others had to be abandoned.

What happened: Local authorities in areas close to Kyiv that have been under attack for more than a week said efforts to evacuate people to safety Wednesday failed. The city council of Bucha said 50 buses had been blocked by the Russian military in nearby Stoyanka.

9:26 p.m. ET, March 9, 2022

Woman killed along with children in weekend’s Russian shelling had ties to global tech company

From CNN’s Abby Baggini

The dead bodies of people killed by Russian shelling lay covered in the street in the town of Irpin, Ukraine, Sunday, March 6.
The dead bodies of people killed by Russian shelling lay covered in the street in the town of Irpin, Ukraine, Sunday, March 6. (Diego Herrera Carcedo/AP)

Tatiana Perebeinis and her two children — Alise, 9, and Nikita, 18 — were killed on Sunday by Russian shelling as the family tried to evacuate Irpin, Ukraine, according to a statement from her employer, SE Ranking.

Another unidentified man, thought to have been a family friend, also died from the blast.

Perebeinis, 43, served as SE Ranking's chief accountant. The Bay Area tech company issued a statement on Monday confirming the deaths.

"There are no words to describe our grief or to mend our pain. But for us, it is crucial to not let Tania and her kids Alise and Nikita remain just statistics. Her family became the victim of the unprovoked fire on civilians, which under any law is a crime against humanity," the company said in the statement.

Ksenia Khirvonina, a PR manager for SE Ranking, said Perebeinis was originally from Donetsk and fled to Kyiv in 2014 following the city's occupation. Tatiana, her children, and her husband had been living in an apartment in the northern city of Irpin, just outside Kyiv, since 2018. 

Though much of Irpin had been left without water supply, electricity, and heating, Perebeinis was hesitant to leave the city because she had been taking care of her sick mother. One day before they fled, the apartments above their home were bombed, forcing them to take shelter in the basement of their building, where they remained until Sunday, according to Khirvonina.

"Even from there, she was telling us everything's okay, was cheering everyone around her, and texting my colleagues that everything's gonna be okay," Khirvonina said. 

According to Khirvonina, Perebeinis had wanted to leave on Saturday, but ultimately decided to wait to leave through the "green corridor" with other civilians. 

Ukrainian photojournalist Andriy Dubchak captured the moment the family was struck by a mortar shell in a graphic video published by the New York Times

"The Russian army are criminals, and they should be stopped. Our hearts are broken. Our prayers are for all Ukrainians, who are fighting for their right to exist," the company said.

Perebeinis was taken to a nearby hospital, where she later passed. Nikita, a university student, and Alise were killed immediately. The man with them also survived the initial blast but later died, according to the New York Times.

Previous media reports had mistakenly identified the man as the father of the children. Perebeinis' husband — with whom SE Ranking has been in touch — was not fleeing Irpin with the family and was in a different city at the time of their deaths. 

Khirvonina said she did not know where Perebeinis and the children were planning on fleeing to, but that it likely would have been a western Ukrainian city. Ukrainian men over the age of 18 are banned from leaving the country, and Perebeinis had refused to leave her son Nikita.

"My overall impression was that they had a great family, they were united," Khirvonina said. "Tatiana herself was very kind, very supportive person, you could always come to her to ask for advice for work advice or life advice, it didn't matter. She always cheered everyone around her up or with her stories and with her jokes. She was truly a great person."

SE Ranking, which specializes in search engine optimization (SEO), has a global presence, including in San Francisco; London; Minsk, Belarus; Kyiv and Moscow.

Hear from the photojournalist who captured the moment:

7:31 p.m. ET, March 9, 2022

A Ukrainian photographer is using TikTok to turn war zone destruction into art

From CNN's Shelby Rose

Sirens blare in the distance. Everywhere she looks, there’s devastation. Windows are cracked and pieces of wood and building debris lie scattered in the streets. The streets are eerily empty.

This is the scene that Ukrainian photographer Valeria Shashenok witnesses every day when she walks down the street in war-torn Chernihiv, Ukraine. Shashenok is taking shelter in an underground bunker with her mother, father and dog “Tory” in the northern Ukrainian city. Her close friends have already fled.

But instead of wallowing in the destruction around her, Shashenok has turned the war into art.

Shashenok is using TikTok to document her daily life. Her videos have gone viral, some getting millions of views.

In another video, Shashenok stands before a pile of rubble. The caption says, “Today Putin destroyed one of the old building(s) in my city. It was a cinema that survived World War II.” Then she shows large windows nearby, the glass shattered on the ground. “Windows flew out from the force of impact in neighboring houses too.”

You can see more of Shashenok's videos and read more of her story here.

7:38 p.m. ET, March 9, 2022

Polish Ambassador says Poland was "acutely aware" of consequences of proposal to transfer jets to US to give to Ukraine

From CNN's Paul LeBlanc

Marek Magierowski, Polish ambassador to the US
Marek Magierowski, Polish ambassador to the US (CNN)

Polish ambassador to the US Marek Magierowski said Wednesday that Poland was "acutely aware" of the consequences involved with its proposal to transfer its MiG-29 fighter jets to the United States for delivery to Ukraine.

"We were under immense pressure on the part of our allies, and public opinion also here in the United States. And we were acutely aware of all technical, legal, and diplomatic consequences of such a move -- which was risky, of course," Magierowski told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room."
"That is why we came up with a logical, conscionable solution. Our American partners rejected this proposal, because they have come to the conclusion that it was too escalatory. Well, we understand this, and I believe that we can continue coordinating our joint efforts with our American partners, and with other NATO members in order to help the Ukrainians defend themselves as effectively as possible."

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.

7:07 p.m. ET, March 9, 2022

US Commerce Secretary says "there’s no expiration date” on sanctions against Russia

From CNN's MJ Lee and Kaitlan Collins

Ginaa Raimondo, U.S. commerce secretary, during a meeting with business leaders and governors in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, March 9.
Ginaa Raimondo, U.S. commerce secretary, during a meeting with business leaders and governors in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, March 9. (Ting Shen/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Wednesday that the export controls that have been leveled against Russia by the United States and its allies in response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine have “no expiration date.”

“We’re in it for the long haul and our allies are in it for the long haul,” Raimondo told CNN, adding that the Biden administration is prepared to stick with the measures designed to inflict economic pain on Russia for “as long as it takes.”

“There’s no expiration date,” Raimondo said. “We’re in it to win it and our allies are too.”

The comments, coming from a member of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet, is yet another indication that the administration is bracing for a potentially prolonged and protracted conflict in Europe that has already roiled financial markets and that the White House has assessed would hurt American consumers’ wallets.

“This is going to be messy and probably extremely long term,” Raimondo predicted about the crisis.

Raimondo also warned that any country that does not abide by US restrictions on exporting to Russia would pay a heavy price — including China. She said her administration was prepared, for example, to cut China off from American or European equipment and software that are necessary to make semiconductors.

“We're going to prosecute any company, wherever they are, in China or elsewhere, who violates the rules,” she said. “So our expectation is that China won't violate the rules, and if they do, there will be consequences.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that the administration had observed China “largely [abiding] by the sanctions that have been put in place.”

“I would note, though, that if any country tries to evade or work around our economic measures, they will experience the consequences of those actions,” Psaki said.  

6:32 p.m. ET, March 9, 2022

How the US is trying to help Ukraine without triggering a wider war with Russia

From CNN's Jeremy Herb, Jeremy Diamond, Kevin Liptak, Natasha Bertrand, and Lauren Fox

The swift US rejection of a Polish plan to get MiG-29 fighter jets into Ukraine is the clearest example yet of the complications that the US and its NATO allies face trying to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s brutal assault while ensuring they don’t get dragged into a wider war.

The negotiations fell apart almost as quickly as they came together.

Poland’s announcement on Tuesday that it was ready to provide MiG fighter jets to Ukraine via a US Air Force base in Germany caught the US off-guard. By Wednesday morning, US and Polish officials were still discussing the prospect of providing fighter jets to Ukraine, an administration official told CNN.

But on Wednesday afternoon, the Pentagon bluntly announced it was opposed to the idea, which Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin conveyed in a call to his Polish counterpart.

“Secretary Austin thanked the minister for Poland’s willingness to continue to look for ways to assist Ukraine, but he stressed that we do not support the transfer of additional fighter aircraft to the Ukrainian air force at this time, and therefore have no desire to see them in our custody either,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said at a briefing.

The episode underscores how the US and its allies may be reaching the limits of what they can do to help Ukraine – while staying out of the conflict – and points to possible cracks in an alliance that has remained strongly unified in the early part of the war as members enacted stiff sanctions and provided security aid.

It also demonstrates that the Biden administration is still working to get on the same page.

You can read the rest of this story here.

6:41 p.m. ET, March 9, 2022

British soldiers may have unlawfully traveled to Ukraine, British army says 

From CNN’s Josh Campbell

The British army is imploring a “small number” of soldiers believed to have possibly traveled to Ukraine to immediately return to the United Kingdom, a British army spokesperson told CNN. 

“We are aware of a small number of individual soldiers who have disobeyed orders and gone absent without leave, and may have travelled to Ukraine in a personal capacity,” the British Army spokesperson said. “We are actively and strongly encouraging them to return to the UK.”

The UK’s Ministry of Defense also said in a statement, “all Service Personnel are prohibited from travelling to Ukraine until further notice. This applies whether the Service Person is on leave or not. Personnel travelling to Ukraine will face disciplinary and administrative consequences.”

As CNN has previously reported, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has called upon "citizens of the world" to join the fight against Russia.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry says it has created a special unit — the International Legion — which has already started to carry out combat missions to counter Russian aggression.

More than 20,000 volunteers and veterans from 52 countries have expressed their desire to join, according to Brig. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, commander of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Defense Ministry that will run this legion said on Monday.

6:18 p.m. ET, March 9, 2022

US State Department echoes White House in condemning Russia's "outright lies" on chemical weapons in Ukraine

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

The US State Department echoed the White House in condemning what they called the Kremlin’s “outright lies that the United States and Ukraine are conducting chemical and biological weapons activities in Ukraine.”

“As we have said all along, Russia is inventing false pretexts in an attempt to justify its own horrific actions in Ukraine,” spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement Wednesday.

“It is Russia that has active chemical and biological weapons programs and is in violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and Biological Weapons Convention,” he said, adding, “Russia has a track record of accusing the West of the very crimes that Russia itself is perpetrating.”

“These tactics are an obvious ploy by Russia to try to justify further premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attacks on Ukraine. We fully expect Russia to continue to double down on these sorts of claims with further unfounded allegations,” Price said.

Like White House press secretary Jen Psaki, Price also noted that they have “also seen [Chinese] officials echo these conspiracy theories.”

5:58 p.m. ET, March 9, 2022

UK PM Boris Johnson vows to impose "maximum economic cost" on Russia in call with Ukrainian president

From CNN’s Luke McGee and Arnaud Siad

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in London on March 9.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in London on March 9. (Matt Dunham/AP)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to tighten sanctions and “impose the maximum economic cost on Russia” during a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday,

According to a Downing Street spokesperson, Johnson told Zelensky of "the work the UK is doing to provide the military equipment Ukraine needed to defend itself.”

Zelensky and Johnson also discussed the bombing of a maternity hospital in the city of Mariupol on Wednesday:

“Both leaders condemned the horrifying attack on a maternity hospital in Mariupol and the failure by Russian forces to respect ceasefire agreements in humanitarian corridors. The Prime Minister noted that this was yet further evidence that Putin was acting with careless disregard for International Humanitarian Law,” the spokesperson said.

Johnson also praised Zelensky’s “moving address” to the House of Commons on Tuesday.

“The PM ended by reaffirming the UK’s unwavering support for the people of Ukraine and said that President Zelenskyy had earned the admiration and love of the British people,” the spokesperson added.

Johnson's comments also echo those made by British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who said Tuesday the United Kingdom will “drive forward” with “debilitating” the Russian economy alongside allies.