March 10, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Meg Wagner, George Ramsay, Jack Guy, Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Melissa Macaya, Jason Kurtz, Aditi Sangal and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 12:11 a.m. ET, March 11, 2022
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1:04 p.m. ET, March 10, 2022

US considering more sanctions against Russia, Treasury secretary says

From CNN's Matt Egan 

(from Washington Post Live)
(from Washington Post Live)

The United States and its allies are considering additional sanctions to punish Russia for “atrocities” committed in Ukraine even as existing sanctions deal a powerful blow to the Russian economy, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Thursday.

“The Russian economy will be devastated as a consequence of what we’ve already done, but we…continue to consider further steps we can take,” Yellen said during a Washington Post Live event.

Yellen did not detail specifics on what additional sanctions could be imposed, though she did note that Russia has not halted its invasion of Ukraine.

“We continue to work very closely with our allies to consider sanctions,” Yellen said. “At this point, we are not seeing Russia back off the horrific war they started, an unprovoked invasion of the Ukrainian homeland. In fact, the atrocities they are committing against civilians seem to be intensifying. So, it’s certainly appropriate for us to be working with our allies to consider further sanctions.”

The Treasury secretary spelled out the economic and financial damage caused by Western sanctions imposed in recent weeks.

“We have isolated Russia financially. The ruble has been in a free fall. The Russian stock market is closed. Russia has been effectively shut out of the international financial system,” Yellen said, adding that the Russian central bank’s access to its reserves has been largely cut off. 

Yellen conceded there is “certain” to be an economic effect on the United States and Europe from the sanctions, though she said officials have worked to minimize this. 

“It’s already pushed up global oil prices. We’re seeing that ourselves in prices at the pump,” Yellen said.

Asked if European allies will move to ban Russian oil and gas, Yellen reiterated that US officials recognize “not all countries are in the same position” to cut off shipments of Russian energy. 

“We have very little dependence on Russian oil,” Yellen said.

11:49 a.m. ET, March 10, 2022

Governor of Ukrainian region offers Russian troops a "chance to stay alive" with a deserter's hotline

From CNN's Anastasia Graham-Yooll in London

The governor of Ukraine's Mykolaiv region, Vitaliy Kim, announced his plans to provide a hotline for what he called Russian soldiers “stranded” on the frontline in Ukraine’s south. 

In a video released on Kim’s Telegram channel on Thursday, the governor addressed the Russian troops, offering “a chance” for those who don’t want to fight. 

“What is the Russians' problem? They don't want to attack. They think they've been misled, they've been told these are military exercises, almost every one of them says that. But they can't go back either, because they say those in Kherson will shoot at them when they retreat. So they are stranded in those villages, nor here nor there,” Kim said.

There have been no independently verifiable reports of desertion by Russian troops.

Based on the conversations between the locals and Russian troops “at the border between Mykolaiv and Kherson regions,” Kim announced his plan to create an option for Russian soldiers to avoid confrontation. 

“I'd like to arrange some kind of ‘green corridor’ for the Russians, those who haven't fired at the civilians or committed any crimes yet. For those who'd like to live, I'll organize a hotline to call in, to come and stay alive, and avoid jail when you get back to Russia. I'm arranging this, and I'm hopeful this will work,” he added.

Kim was unclear about what options or safety guarantees might be provided for those who call the hotline. He added the "green corridor" option won’t apply to artillery fighters and or rocket launching personnel, saying "after Mariupol, those guys have no chance: either run or lie in soil.”

11:39 a.m. ET, March 10, 2022

US lawmakers blast Biden administration for decision on not transferring aircraft

From CNN's Lauren Fox

US Senate Republicans and Democrats blasted the administration for not acting immediately to help in the transfer of aircraft to Ukraine, a sign of daylight emerging between Congress and the White House on Ukraine after weeks of unity on Capitol Hill. 

Members on both sides of the aisle during a Foreign Relations Committee hearing this morning challenged the administration about why the US isn’t helping facilitate planes to Ukraine that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said are desperately needed. They warned that Congress may take further action on banning Russian energy imports that go beyond what was passed by the House of Representatives and is backed by President Joe Biden's administration. 

“It’s not clear why we are standing in the way,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire, told CNN about the US’s position that it would not be appropriate to send Poland planes so that Poland could transfer their planes to Ukraine. 

Over the last several days, members have come to believe that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken share differing views on how to handle a potential transfer of aircraft to Poland that would facilitate Poland to transfer planes directly to Ukraine, a difference that has enraged some members on Capitol Hill who have come to see the administration itself as fracturing.

Sen. Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN it was an “embarrassing” division. 

“The first branch of government is almost unanimous on this. I don’t know who is against this up here, but it’s embarrassing for the second branch of government to be divided. This is a job for the President of the United States. He needs to step up. Knock heads together and get everybody in the same place,” Risch said. “We really need to do that. This is a matter of life and death.” 

Risch said the Pentagon’s explanation that a plane transfer could be perceived as escalatory by the Russians is “nonsense.”

“We’re taking their yachts, we’re taking their vacation properties, we are giving the Ukrainians all the arms we can give them. It is foolish to say this is somehow going to aggravate them more. That’s nonsense,” he said. 

GOP Sen. Rob Portman, who has been outspoken on this issue, told CNN that he believed that it was not the Biden administration’s place to be making decisions for Ukraine on what their military strategy should be and if they wanted planes, and the US needed to do everything in its power to help them. 

“The administration just told us they think Ukraine needs other things more and would be more effective in the battlefield. In theory, that means that you have the United States government deciding what the military strategy should be for Ukraine,” Portman said. “Ukraine wants planes. They have made a decision.”

Some Democrats, however, argue that Congress should give the administration more room to make the decisions for how they want to approach this conflict without “micromanaging.”

“I generally trust the administration’s decision making,” Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, told CNN. “I think this is a time when we should get behind the administration rather than constantly second-guessing.”

1:04 p.m. ET, March 10, 2022

Humanitarian situation in Mariupol is "increasingly dire," International Committee of the Red Cross says

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London

The humanitarian situation in Mariupol is becoming "increasingly dire and desperate," the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Thursday.

The ICRC warned that "hundreds of thousands of people have no food, water, heat, electricity, or medical care," and said that "people urgently need respite from violence and humanitarian aid."

"All the shops and pharmacies were looted four to five days ago. Some people still have food but I’m not sure for how long it will last," said Sasha Volkov, the ICRC's deputy head of sub-delegation, in an interview recorded Wednesday and published on the ICRC website. 

"Many people in Mariupol have reported having no food for children," Volkov said.

"People started to attack each other for food. People started to ruin someone’s car to take the gasoline out," Volkov continued. 

Medicine is also starting to run out, “especially for diabetes and cancer patients,” Volkov said, adding that there is no way to find it in the city. Hospitals are partially functioning because the city council delivers fuel, Volkov added.

11:01 a.m. ET, March 10, 2022

Biden says costs that US is imposing on Putin are "far more devastating than the costs we are facing"

From CNN's Betsy Klein and Lindsay Isaac

US President Joe Biden reacted to news Thursday that consumer prices have soared over 7.9% over the last 12 months, suggesting the new consumer price index report reflected the pinch Americans are feeling due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Biden cast blame on Russian President Vladimir Putin and his country's invasion for the rising prices, but said the costs the US has imposed on Russia in response are “far more devastating” than the costs Americans are facing at home. 

“Today’s inflation report is a reminder that Americans' budgets are being stretched by price increases and families are starting to feel the impacts of Putin’s price hike. A large contributor to inflation this month was an increase in gas and energy prices as markets reacted to Putin’s aggressive actions,” Biden said in a statement. 

He continued: “As I have said from the start, there will be costs at home as we impose crippling sanctions in response to Putin’s unprovoked war, but Americans can know this: the costs we are imposing on Putin and his cronies are far more devastating than the costs we are facing.” 

He pointed to efforts to bring prices down, including a release from the strategic petroleum reserve, and other actions the administration is taking to strengthen supply chains and promote competition.  

What Putin is saying: The Russian president has claimed Western nations that have taken “unfriendly steps” toward Moscow are trying to blame Russia for their own mistakes and are deceiving their own populations. Sanctions that have been imposed against Russia are illegitimate and would have happened regardless, he said. 

“They point to the sanctions that they impose against us as the reason for the deterioration of their situation. It is very strange, despite the fact that we fulfill all our obligations,” Putin told a meeting of his government ministers in Moscow. 

Russia is fulfilling its obligations on energy exports, he said, and blamed inflation on bans on Russian oil.

"Their prices are rising, but it is not our fault. This is the result of their miscalculations. Nothing to blame on us. They are trying at all costs to reach an agreement with countries against which they themselves have imposed illegitimate restrictions. The same will happen in relations with our country, I have no doubt about that,” he said.

Putin added that with Russia and its partners, “those who do not recognize these illegal actions,” together will “certainly find solutions to all the problems that they are trying to create for us."

Putin acknowledged that sanctions will bite, but Russia has weathered such problems in the past. "The markets will gradually re-direct themselves and will understand that there are no such problems that we could not solve." 

He also warned that food prices will rise if international economic pressure on Russia continues because it is a major global supplier of fertilizer.

10:55 a.m. ET, March 10, 2022

IMF chief says Africa is "particularly vulnerable to impacts from the Ukraine war"

From CNN's Chris Liakos

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said the war in Ukraine comes “at a delicate time for Africa,” which is particularly vulnerable to economic aftershocks.

“Africa is particularly vulnerable to impacts from the Ukraine war through four main channels—increased food prices, higher fuel prices, lower tourism revenues, and potentially more difficulty accessing international capital markets,” Georgieva said in a statement published on Thursday.

Georgieva urged the international community and African policymakers to come together to address policy responses.

“Redoubling efforts to advance reforms that further promote resilience is a priority for many countries. At this difficult moment, the Fund stands ready to help African countries address the repercussions of the war, and to help design and implement reforms through our policy advice, capacity development, and lending. Recent reforms to the Fund’s lending toolkit provide greater flexibility to help meet financing needs,” she said.

More background: Russia and Ukraine are key players in the global agricultural trade, with both nations accounting for a quarter of the world's wheat exports, including at least 14% of corn exports in 2020, and a joint 58% of global sunflower oil exports in the same year, analyses show.

Trade between African countries and the former Soviet neighbors, especially Russia, has flourished in recent years with Russian exports to the continent valued at $14 billion annually, and imports from Africa pegged at around $5 billion per year.

But parts of Africa could be plunged into hunger in as fast as three months if Russia's invasion of Ukraine lingers, said Wandile Sihlobo, the chief economist of the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa.

Read more on the situation here:

CNN's Nimi Princewill contributed reporting to this post.

11:50 a.m. ET, March 10, 2022

Thousands more Ukrainians pour into Romania, according to Romanian border police

From CNN’s Miguel Marquez and Bonney Kapp in Bucharest

Refugees fleeing the conflict from neighbouring Ukraine cross the border in Siret, Romania, on March 10.
Refugees fleeing the conflict from neighbouring Ukraine cross the border in Siret, Romania, on March 10. (Andreea Alexandru/AP)

A total of 343,515 Ukrainian citizens have entered Romania since the onset of the Russian invasion through Wednesday, of which 258,844 have since proceeded onward to other countries, according to Romanian officials. More than 84,000 Ukrainians currently remain in Romania.

Many of the Ukrainian refugees who remain are in the capital of Bucharest, which has shelters open for others arriving. The city is planning to open its largest indoor public space, Romexpo, to accommodate the influx, the government announced. It can hold up to 2,000 refugees. 

Romania is also trying to expand more permanent housing options for Ukrainians, according to Dr. Raed Arafat, Romania’s minister of internal affairs. The government is also organizing large aid shipments to go to Ukraine. 

At the main Bucharest train station, throngs of refugees have been arriving daily. Ukrainians are now getting specific colored cards to direct them either to airports or other borders or elsewhere, to make the process quicker and more streamlined.   

Romanian Border Police have released the latest daily tally on those entering Romania, saying that 69,662 people entered through multiple border points on March 9, of which 23,546 were Ukrainian citizens, which was a decrease of the previous day's numbers.

12:58 p.m. ET, March 10, 2022

Ukrainian government says about 2,000 people have left eastern city of Izium

From CNN's Tim Lister in Kyiv

Ukraine said that 44 evacuation buses carrying about 2,000 people have left the eastern city of Izium on Thursday.

The evacuees will go to the central city of Dnipro, according to presidential adviser Kirill Timoshenko.

Timoshenko said that humanitarian aid was delivered for those still in Izium, which has suffered extensive damage. 

The city's hospital was damaged by shelling on Tuesday and much of the city is without power and water.

10:04 a.m. ET, March 10, 2022

Putin and Lukashenko to hold talks in Moscow on Friday

From CNN's Sarah Dean

Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko in Moscow on Friday, the Belarusian state news agency Belta reports.

Lukashenko and Putin will discuss topical issues of bilateral relations, the development of cooperation of the Union State of Russia and Belarus, economic cooperation under sanctions pressure, as well as the situation in the region and Ukraine, according to Belta.

Belarus is an ally of Russia and is being used as a launch point for Russian troops into Ukraine.