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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7:16 a.m. ET, March 9, 2022

EU slaps fourth round of sanctions on Russia targeting oligarchs and politicians

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in London 

The European Union has approved a fourth round of sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine that includes another 160 oligarchs, Russian politicians and three Belarusian banks, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday. 

“We are further tightening the net of sanctions responding to Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine,” von der Leyen said on Twitter.

The French Presidency for the Council of the European Union also said on Twitter that EU ambassadors had approved "new sanctions aimed at leaders and Russian oligarchs and members of their families implicated in the Russian aggression against Ukraine." 

"In particular the approved targeted measures exclude three Belarusian banks from the SWIFT system. They clarify the issue of cryptocurrencies and add to the list of goods and materials that cannot be exported," the French presidency continued. 

Further details will be set out in the Official Journal of the European Union later Wednesday. 

6:46 a.m. ET, March 9, 2022

Zelensky: "Threat to state is at maximum level"

From CNN's Anastasia Graham-Yooll and Sarah Dean

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers a video message on March 8 from Kyiv, Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers a video message on March 8 from Kyiv, Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that the threat to his country is "at maximum level" but affirmed the scale of its response is also at its highest.

As the war hits the two-week mark and millions of civilians flee the country, Zelensky said that the Ukrainian army would be recharged by weapons and supplies taken from Russians in combat.

"Our military have managed to replenish the ammunition arsenal with many trophies taken in battlefield. The enemy's tanks, armored vehicles and ammunition will work for our defense, our life, our country. What can be more humiliating for the occupants? We will fight the enemy with their own weapons, in addition to ours," Zelensky said.

Zelensky also made an appeal to Russian soldiers, speaking in Russian: "Leave."

Why are you here? You can save yourselves if you just leave. You take our lives, and leave yours. Let's end this war, and get back to peace," he said.

"Close the skies": Zelensky repeated his global call to "send us the planes" in order to avoid "a massive humanitarian catastrophe."

The Pentagon dismissed Poland's proposal to transfer their Mig-29 fighter jets to the United States for delivery to Ukraine as not "tenable."

Ukraine has been saying this to its partners from the first day of the war: If you don't close the skies, you will also be responsible for this catastrophe, a massive humanitarian catastrophe," Zelensky said.

The Ukrainian President cited Russia's use of rockets and helicopters against civilians, cities and infrastructure.

The US has agreed to send two Patriot missile batteries to Poland as a "defensive deployment," a spokesman for US European Command said Tuesday, but this is strictly to counter any potential threat to US and NATO allies and will not support "offensive operations."

Zelensky added: “Listen, we are at war. We have no time for this media, for the signals ... this is not a game of ping pong. This is about human life. We ask once again: make your decision quickly. Don't transfer responsibility to one another. Send us the planes."

5:57 a.m. ET, March 9, 2022

More businesses hit the brakes in Russia

From CNN's Michelle Toh

A growing number of international companies, including AppleDisney and Ford, are halting operations in Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine. Here are the latest:

Heineken will stop producing and selling beer in Russia.

The brewer announced Wednesday that it would “take immediate steps to ring-fence” its Russian business, “to stop the flow of monies, royalties and dividends” out of the country.

The beverage giant, which sells into more than 190 countries, had already announced a suspension on new investments and exports to Russia.

“We are assessing the strategic options for the future of our Russian operations,” it said in a statement. “We see a clear distinction between the actions of the government and our employees.”

Mothercare is also suspending business in Russia and stopping shipments there.

“Our local partner has confirmed that it will be immediately pausing operations in some 120 stores and online,” it said Wednesday.

Russia accounts for around 20% to 25% of sales for the retailer, which specializes in goods for parents and babies.

5:57 a.m. ET, March 9, 2022

Harris will consult with Poland on fighter jets after surprise idea caught administration off-guard

From CNN’s Kevin Liptak

US Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the IBEW local 553 apprentice training program in Durham Technical College on March 2, in Durham, North Carolina.
US Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the IBEW local 553 apprentice training program in Durham Technical College on March 2, in Durham, North Carolina. (Allison Joyce/AFP/Getty Images)

US Vice President Kamala Harris will discuss the thorny issue of delivering Soviet-era jets to Ukraine when she visits Poland this week, senior administration officials said ahead of her departure.

Harris’s visit was complicated when Poland issued a surprise statement saying it would hand over its MiG fighter jets to the United States instead of giving them directly to Ukraine, an idea that was roundly rejected by Washington.

“There are a lot of ideas on the table. As you’ve seen from the Pentagon statement, it is our judgment that this one is not a tenable one, but we want and certainly are encouraging all allies to bring ideas forward. And for us to stay in very close coordination across the board,” a senior administration official said.

The official said Harris would engage Polish leaders -- including the President and Prime Minister -- on the issue when she meets them Thursday in Warsaw.

“We have been in dialogue with the Poles for some time about how best to provide variety of security assistance to Ukraine. And that’s a dialogue that absolutely will continue up to and as part of the Vice President’s trip,” the official said.

“This is a key priority for us and for all of our NATO allies. And so we expect that we will continue talking about how to achieve this really important objective. A number of people have had a variety of ideas and we think all of them are worth discussing and that’s what we’re going to continue doing.”

A pair of MIG-29's belonging to the Polish Air Force at the 22nd Air Base Command in Malbork, Poland, on August 27.
A pair of MIG-29's belonging to the Polish Air Force at the 22nd Air Base Command in Malbork, Poland, on August 27. (Cuneyt Karadag/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Harris is traveling to Poland and Romania at a critical juncture for Europe and for the Biden administration.

“The past couple of months have all been very much focused on what has tragically become a defining issue for the entire administration,” a second senior administration official said.

Harris, for her part, has “really been immersed in this issue,” the first official said, “working intensively on a daily basis on all of the issues that are related to the ongoing crisis resulting from the Russian invasion.”

Also on the agenda: In Warsaw, Harris will also meet with refugees who have fled violence in Ukraine, as well as American diplomats who relocated to Poland from the US Embassy in Kyiv, which was closed.

She’ll also meet Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is visiting at the same time, and will speak to US and Polish troops on Friday.

The US has moved nearly 5,000 additional troops to Poland in a show of reassurance amid Russia’s aggression.

From Poland, Harris travels to Romania, where she’ll meet the country’s president and staff at the US embassy.

The officials said Harris arrived in Europe with a three-part message: that the US stands by its NATO allies, that it will continue to support the Ukrainian people, and that Putin has made a mistake that will result in “resounding defeat” for Russia.

5:48 a.m. ET, March 9, 2022

Ukraine bans exports of key goods, including wheat, sugar and meat

From CNN's Hannah Ritchie

Harvesting wheat in the fields of the Novovodolazhsky district of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on July 25, 2017.
Harvesting wheat in the fields of the Novovodolazhsky district of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on July 25, 2017. (Pavlo Pakhomenko/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

The Ukrainian government will ban exports on key agricultural goods including wheat, corn, grains, salt, and meat, according to a cabinet resolution that passed Tuesday.

According to the resolution it is now “forbidden” to export oats, millet, buckwheat, sugar, salt, wheat, meat, as well as cattle and its by-products from Ukraine.

“This means a de facto export ban,” the cabinet statement read.

Ukraine’s Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food Roman Leshchenko said the steps had been taken “to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Ukraine” and “meet the needs of the population in critical food products.”

Ukraine is one of Europe’s largest suppliers of agricultural produce, per data from the European Commission.

Combined, Russia and Ukraine are responsible for almost 30% of global wheat exports, according to Gro Intelligence, an agricultural data analytics firm.

Some context: Wheat prices spiked in the wake of Russia's invasion of the Ukraine, reaching prices not seen since 2008.

Ukraine had been on track for a record year of wheat exports prior to the invasion, while Russia's wheat exports were slowing, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

7:48 a.m. ET, March 9, 2022

Evacuations are set to begin from the town hosting Europe's largest nuclear power plant

From CNN's Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych

The mayor of Enerhodar, which was recently attacked by Russian forces, has welcomed the announcement of an evacuation corridor to and from the town.

Enerhodar is the site of Europe's largest nuclear power plant, which is held by the Russian troops since they captured the facility late last week. Fierce fighting during that attack drew international condemnation and sparked fears of a potential nuclear incident.

Insulin, some medicines and food will be delivered to Enerhodar," Mayor Dmytro Orlov said Wednesday.

Orlov urged women and children to join the convoy and leave.

The pace of evacuation from the nearby city of Zaporizhzhia has escalated since the plant's capture, yet millions of civilians remain trapped in grim conditions across Ukraine.

The Ukrainian military has agreed to a 12-hour ceasefire with Russia on Wednesday to allow civilians to escape through evacuation corridors, Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said earlier.

Read more on the nuclear power plant here:

5:18 a.m. ET, March 9, 2022

The "Big Four" consulting firms have pulled back from Russia

From CNN's Michelle Toh

The Spasskaya tower of the Kremlin, left, and Saint Basil's Cathedral, center, in Moscow, Russia, on February 15.
The Spasskaya tower of the Kremlin, left, and Saint Basil's Cathedral, center, in Moscow, Russia, on February 15. (Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

International companies are continuing to disengage with Russia following its ongoing invasion of Ukraine. This includes number of global consulting firms, including the four biggest worldwide, which are Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Deloitte announced on March 7 that it would stop operating in Russia and Belarus.

The firm said:

While we know this is the right decision, it will have an impact on Deloitte’s [approximately] 3,000 professionals located in Russia and Belarus. Like others, we know our colleagues in Russia and Belarus have no voice in the actions of their government."

“We will support all impacted colleagues during this transition and do all we can to assist them during this extremely difficult time.”

EY, otherwise known as Ernst & Young, also said it would remove its Russian practice from its official global network, but allow it to “continue working with clients as an independent group of audit and consulting companies.”

“EY in Russia is a team of 4,700 professionals working in 9 cities of the country. The company has been operating in the Russian market for more than 30 years,” it said.

Consulting and accounting firm KPMG International said that its “Russia and Belarus firms will leave the KPMG network.”

“KPMG has over 4,500 people in Russia and Belarus, and ending our working relationship with them, many of whom have been a part of KPMG for many decades, is incredibly difficult,” the company said.

“This decision is not about them – it is a consequence of the actions of the Russian Government. We are a purpose-led and values-driven organization that believes in doing the right thing.”

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is also planning to break away from its Russian business.

“As a result of the Russian government’s invasion of Ukraine we have decided that, under the circumstances, PwC should not have a member firm in Russia and consequently PwC Russia will leave the network,” the “Big Four” consultancy said in a statement.

“Our main focus at PwC continues to be doing all we can to help our Ukrainian colleagues and support the humanitarian efforts,” it added.

“We are also committed to working with our colleagues at PwC Russia to undertake an orderly transition for the business, and with a focus on the wellbeing of our 3,700 colleagues in PwC Russia.”

Another big firm, Accenture, is also discontinuing its business in Russia as it “stands with the people of Ukraine,” it said.

The firm announced the move last week in a statement, where it thanked its “nearly 2,300 colleagues in Russia for their dedication and service to Accenture over the years.”

“We will be providing support to our Russian colleagues,” the company added.

4:30 a.m. ET, March 9, 2022

It's now a criminal offense for Russian aircraft to fly into British airspace

From CNN's Amy Cassidy

The United Kingdom has made it a criminal offense for Russian aircraft to enter British airspace as part of further sanctions against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced via Twitter on Tuesday.

When Russia's invasion began on February 24, Britain initially banned any aircraft “owned, chartered or operated by a person connected with Russia, or which is registered in Russia.”

This latest move places the matter in the hands of the police rather than aviation authorities.

“We'll be able to be more specific, for example where we have aircraft which might be connected with Russian oligarchs flying into the country, they should know ... we can impound your aircraft and turn this into a criminal offense,” Shapps told Sky News on Wednesday.

The new law gives the government additional powers to detain Russian planes already present in the UK, according to an official press release.

New trade sanctions banning the export of aviation and space-related goods and technology to Russia were announced by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office on Wednesday.

These include cancelling insurance policies in the sector and prohibiting UK insurers from paying claims.

4:16 a.m. ET, March 9, 2022

More than 1.3 million people have fled to Poland from Ukraine

From CNN’s Hannah Ritchie

People who fled the war in Ukraine rest inside a temporary refugee shelter after being transported from the Polish Ukrainian border on March 8 in Przemysl, Poland.
People who fled the war in Ukraine rest inside a temporary refugee shelter after being transported from the Polish Ukrainian border on March 8 in Przemysl, Poland. (Omar Marques/Getty Images)

At least 1.33 million people have arrived in Poland from Ukraine since Russia launched its military invasion, Poland’s embassy to the European Union tweeted Wednesday, citing figures from the country’s border guard agency. 

“Among them 93% are Ukrainian, 1% are Polish and 6% are from 100 other different countries,” the post read. 

On Tuesday alone, some 125,800 people crossed into Poland according to the agency.