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
6 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
9:20 p.m. ET, March 8, 2022

US sending Patriot missiles to Poland to counter any threats to allies

From CNN's Barbara Starr

The United States is sending two Patriot missile batteries to Poland as a “defensive deployment” to counter any potential threat to US and NATO allies during Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, a spokesman for US European Command said Tuesday night.

Patriots are air defense missile systems: They are designed to counter and destroy incoming short-range ballistic missiles, advanced aircraft and cruise missiles.

“At the direction of the Secretary of Defense and at the invitation of our Polish allies, General Wolters, Commander, of US European Command has directed US Army Europe and Africa to reposition two Patriot Batteries to Poland,” Capt. Adam Miller, spokesman for EUCOM said in a statement.
“This is a prudent force protection measure that underpins our commitment to Article Five and will in no way support any offensive operations,” the statement said, referring to the principle that an attack on one member of NATO is an attack on all members. “Every step we take is intended to deter aggression and reassure our allies.”

CNN reported earlier this week that the US was considering sending Patriots to allies.

9:19 p.m. ET, March 8, 2022

Analysis: The US could be making a high stakes bet with Venezuela. Putin is the reason

Analysis from CNN's Stefano Pozzebon in Caracas, Venezuela

The recent trip by two top US foreign policy officials to Caracas, Venezuela, is a sign of just how much the geopolitical balance could be shifting in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

National Security Council Senior Director Juan Gonzalez and Venezuela Affairs Unit Chief James Story met embattled Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro and his wife on Saturday — the first since diplomatic relations between the two countries broke down in 2019.

Coverage of the meeting has, so far, focused on the possibility the White House might lift some of the sanctions it has imposed in recent years on the Venezuelan oil industry in order to replace imports from Russia, which US President Joe Biden banned earlier today.

Context: Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world — and historically, much of its crude oil has been exported to US refineries.

Venezuelan oil: Maduro confirmed Venezuela’s intention to increase its crude oil output on Monday, a move that comes as Russia’s oil exports are plummeting due to sanctions over its invasion in Ukraine.

“We are ready to regain production. One, two, or three million barrels, everything! Everything in the name of peace!” he said.

American deal might be easier said than done: Oil production in the country is at an almost all-time low after years of mismanagement and lack of maintenance of oil facilities.

It would take years, and billions of dollars of investments, to recover oil exports from Venezuela to what they used to be, suggests expert Francisco Monaldi, director of the Latin American Energy Program at the Baker Institute in Houston. So if the White House needs a short-term solution to lower the price of gasoline, it cannot come from Venezuela.

US citizens released: However, the US officials’ Venezuelan deployment did bring some immediate results. Venezuela released at least two US citizens late Tuesday, with speculation it was done as a "sign of goodwill" from Maduro (and as part of potential sanctions relief) that has yet to happen.

This undated file photo posted on Twitter on June 18, 2020 by Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, shows CITGO oil executives, from left to right, Jose Angel Pereira, Gustavo Cardenas, Jorge Toledo, Jose Luis Zambrano, Tomeu Vadell and Alirio Jose Zambrano, standing outside the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service, in Caracas, Venezuela.

This undated file photo posted on Twitter on June 18, 2020 by Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, shows CITGO oil executives, from left to right, Jose Angel Pereira, Gustavo Cardenas, Jorge Toledo, Jose Luis Zambrano, Tomeu Vadell and Alirio Jose Zambrano, standing outside the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service, in Caracas, Venezuela.
This undated file photo posted on Twitter on June 18, 2020 by Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, shows CITGO oil executives, from left to right, Jose Angel Pereira, Gustavo Cardenas, Jorge Toledo, Jose Luis Zambrano, Tomeu Vadell and Alirio Jose Zambrano, standing outside the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service, in Caracas, Venezuela. (Jorge Arreaza/Venezuela's Foreign Ministry via AP/FILE)

Gustavo Cárdenas is a US citizen detained in Caracas since 2017 and one of six detained oil executives from US refinery CITGO. Later, Jorge Alberto Fernandez, a Cuban-US dual citizen detained in Venezuela since February 2021, was released from prison. He is not one of the so-called "CITGO 6."

The Caracas trip signals the intention that the White House might be ready to change its relationship to Venezuela in the long term. That’s because Caracas has grown much closer to Moscow under Maduro’s rule.

But it is a high stakes bet: Maduro has walked away from negotiations before — and if it doesn’t work out, Biden will likely pay a political price.

9:39 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.

8:27 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

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:

8:31 p.m. ET, March 8, 2022

Key things to know about the White House's ban on Russian energy imports to the US

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Jeremy Diamond, Kevin Liptak, Phil Mattingly, MJ Lee and Kate Sullivan

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced his administration is banning Russian oil, natural gas and coal imports to the United States in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a step he warned could lead to a spike in gas prices at home.

"Today I am announcing the United States is targeting the main artery of Russia's economy. We're banning all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy," Biden said in remarks from the White House. "That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at US ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to Putin's war machine."

Here are key things to know about Biden's announcement:

How we got here: Sanctions on Russia's oil and gas industry had once been viewed as mostly off the table as officials in the US and Europe worried about a global spike in prices. But pressure had been growing on Biden to act, including from Ukraine's President and American lawmakers from both parties, as Russia's onslaught in Ukraine increasingly targets civilians.

The US expected to 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. Not long before Biden's announcement, the United Kingdom announced that it planned to phase out Russian oil imports by the end of the year.

Americans will feel the impact at the pump: Biden emphasized in his remarks that his decision will likely hurt Americans at the gas pump.

"The decision today is not without cost here at home," Biden said. "Putin's war is already hurting American families at the gas pump. Since Putin began his military build-up at Ukrainian borders, just since then, the price of gas at the pump in America went up 75 cents and with this action it's going to go up further. I'm going to do everything I can to minimize Putin's price hike here at home."

The President also warned companies against price gouging during a time of crisis.

"To the oil and gas companies and to the finance firms that back them: We understand Putin's war against the people of Ukraine is causing prices to rise. We get that. That's self-evident. But, but, but, but — it's no excuse to exercise excessive price increases or padding profits or any kind of effort to exploit this situation or American consumers, exploit them. Russia's aggression is costing us all. And it's no time for profiteering or price gouging," Biden said.

The move comes as gas prices skyrocket in the US as Russia's invasion of Ukraine rocks the global oil market. The average price for a gallon of regular gas broke its 2008 record, hitting $4.14 on Monday, according to the Oil Price Information Service, the firm that collects and calculates prices for AAA. That breaks the previous record of $4.11 a gallon that has stood since July 2008.

Energy imports from Russia: US imports from Russia make up a small slice of American energy portfolio — roughly 8% in 2021, of which only about 3% was crude oil. White House economic officials have been engaged for more than a week as to how to manage any decision to cut off those imports, officials say. The Department of Energy reported that in the last two weeks of February, Russian oil imports dropped to zero as US companies cut ties with Russia, effectively implementing their own ban.

Impact on Russian economy: The sanctions the West has slapped on Russia following its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine had so far exempted oil exports.

Biden said the package of economic sanctions and export controls the US has already imposed on Russia has been causing "significant damage to Russia's economy," and that the value of the Russian ruble has tanked since Putin launched his attack on Ukraine.

"One ruble is now worth less than one American penny," Biden said. The President said Russia would not be able to boost the value of the ruble because the West has cut off Russian's largest banks from the international financial system.

The President noted major companies independently have suspended their services in Russia, including Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Ford, Nike and Apple.

"The private sector is united against Russia's vicious war of choice," Biden said.

Read more about the announcement here and see Biden's full executive order here.

12:06 a.m. ET, March 9, 2022

Ukraine responds to Russia ceasefire proposal: "It is difficult to trust the occupier"

From CNN's Tim Lister in Kyiv and Oleksandra Ochman

In a brief response to Russia's new ceasefire announcement, the Ukrainian Armed Forces noted that "the Russian side announces a 'silence regime' for the opening of humanitarian corridors tomorrow, March 9, from 9:00 am in Kyiv."

In a Telegram post, the Armed Forces said that "Russia will request that Ukraine agree on the routes and opening hours of humanitarian corridors and notify representatives of foreign embassies, the UN, the OSCE, and the Red Cross by 02:00 in Kyiv on March 9."

But it ends: "It is difficult to trust the occupier."

More on Russia's announcement: Russia announced a new ceasefire starting at 10 a.m. Moscow time (9 a.m. Ukrainian/2 a.m. ET) Wednesday, saying it’s ready to provide evacuation corridors from Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and Mariupol, along with other towns negotiated with the Ukrainian side.

Russian media reported the ceasefire parameters quoting the Russian Coordination Headquarters for Humanitarian Response in Ukraine.