March 11, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Julia Hollingsworth, Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Jeevan Ravindran and Jason Kurtz, CNN

Updated 9:59 a.m. ET, March 12, 2022
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3:28 p.m. ET, March 11, 2022

Armed men detain Ukrainian mayor in Russian-occupied city

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy, Mariya Knight and Celine Alkhaldi

Melitopol mayor Ivan Fedorov.
Melitopol mayor Ivan Fedorov. (From Facebook)

The mayor of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov, was seen on video being led away by armed men from a government building in the city on Friday, and the prosecutor's office for the separatist Russia-backed Luhansk region now says they are weighing terrorism charges against him. 

Fedorov's detention by the armed men is the first known instance of a Ukrainian political official being detained and investigated by Russian or Russian-backed forces since the invasion began.

According to a message on the Luhansk prosecutor's website, Fedorov is being accused of assisting and financing terrorist activities and being part of a criminal community.

The Luhansk prosecutor's office claimed that Fedorov was a member of the "Right Sector." CNN has previously reported that the group is a Ukrainian nationalist paramilitary and political group that operates in Ukraine. It has an anti-Russian stance, but independent observers say it’s not the fascist threat that Russian President Vladimir Putin claims it to be.

The prosecutor's office claims "Right Sector" has conducted terroristic acts against civilians in the Donbas region without providing any details. 

Local media, citing conversations with the Melitopol City Council, confirmed that the man being led away in the video was Fedorov. 

CNN has geolocated and verified the authenticity of the video. 

CNN has not been able to identify an attorney for Fedorov on the charges.

3:19 p.m. ET, March 11, 2022

Ukrainian man with 1-month-old son says he feels "fury" after Russian invasion: "I will fight to the end"

Alex Dayrabekov
Alex Dayrabekov (CNN)

Alex Dayrabekov, the father of a one-month-old baby, told CNN what it was like to live in a war zone.

Dayrabekov said he has gone through a roller coaster of emotions since Russia invaded just over two weeks ago.

"Millions of Ukrainians are in the same situation now. ... And we share the same emotions. The emotion I felt on the second or third day of the war couldn't be called anger; it is not anger, it's fury. I was furious. On the first and second day, I cried like baby. I cried, my wife cried, but on the third day, I got really, really furious, and I wanted to do something. And now I know that every single Ukrainian feels the same," he told told CNN's Anderson Cooper from Cherkasy, Ukraine.  

"Because we have kids here, we have homes here, we have belongings here, and we are really peaceful and hospitable nation. Everybody who has ever who has been to Ukraine can say that. But If enemy comes to my place, I will fight to the end and I will fight to the death. I will protect my land, I will protect my kid, protect my home," he continued.

He said he was able to evacuate his home on the second day of the war and has gone back to help other families leave. But he was stopped by the army from entering the area last Thursday.

He said he "cannot just sit and read the news," so he created a volunteer group to deliver supplies to those in hiding in Kyiv bomb shelters.

Dayrabekov said he even tells his son now that "this is a historical moment."

"It is a historical moment for Ukraine, historical moment for Europe. ... I don't want to leave.  I want to stay here and I want to fight," he said.

Watch the interview:

2:26 p.m. ET, March 11, 2022

YouTube blocks Russian state-funded media channels globally

From CNN's Chris Liakos

(Shutterstock)
(Shutterstock)

YouTube said on Friday it is blocking Russian state-funded media channels globally “effective immediately.”

“Our Community Guidelines prohibit content denying, minimizing or trivializing well-documented violent events, and we remove content about Russia’s invasion in Ukraine that violates this policy. In line with that, effective immediately, we are also blocking YouTube channels associated with Russian state-funded media, globally,” YouTube said in a statement.

The tech company said today on Twitter it began blocking RT and Sputnik’s YouTube channels across Europe. It added that it has already taken other steps since Russia began its invasion in Ukraine.

“We paused monetization and significantly limited recommendations for Russian state-funded media channels. Both actions are global & indefinite. Our Trust & Safety team has worked to quickly remove violative content. We’ve removed hundreds of channels & thousands of videos for violating our Community Guidelines, including our policies around deceptive practices and misinformation,” it said on Twitter.

YouTube added that when people search for topics on Russia and Ukraine, “our systems prominently surface authoritative news content in both our Top News and Breaking News shelves, and will continue to as needed.” It also displays information panels underneath videos from news publishers with government funding.

2:15 p.m. ET, March 11, 2022

G7 agriculture ministers urge countries to keep food and agricultural markets open

From CNN's Chris Liakos

G7 agriculture ministers have called on all countries to keep their food and agricultural markets open as food security concerns rise following Russian’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We call on all countries to keep their food and agricultural markets open and to guard against any unjustified restrictive measures on their exports. Any further increase in food price levels and volatility in international markets could threaten food security and nutrition at a global scale, especially among the most vulnerable living in environments of low food security,” they said in a joint statement.

“We nevertheless recognise the extreme circumstances behind the export restrictions announced by the government of Ukraine and the vital importance of preserving the availability of food in Ukraine,” they added.

The G7 consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In the statement, the agriculture ministers also condemned Russia's aggression of Ukraine and expressed their solidarity with the country.

The ministers voiced their concerns over the impacts on food security and "the rising number of people suffering from hunger and all forms of malnutrition, caused by the unprovoked and unjustifiable Russian war of aggression, adding to the already severe situation caused by COVID-19, climate change and biodiversity loss.”

"We call on international organisations to support food production in Ukraine during this crisis and ensure food security in affected areas. We remain determined to do what is necessary to prevent and respond to a food crisis, including with humanitarian aid, and stand ready to act as needed to address potential disruptions," the ministers said.

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

Russia is the world's top exporter of wheat, and Ukraine is also a significant exporter of both wheat and corn.

2:11 p.m. ET, March 11, 2022

How one woman and her children escaped their Ukrainian village that came under attack

From Yuliia Presniakova and Oleksandr Fylyppov in Lviv

Ekaterina Kryshtal's underground shelter in her home.
Ekaterina Kryshtal's underground shelter in her home. (Courtesy Ekaterina Kryshtal)

In the small village of Nemeshaevo, located about 25 miles from Kyiv, residents have had to huddle underground in cold cellars usually used to store potatoes and beets in order to protect themselves from shelling and bombs.

There have been no evacuation corridors, according to resident Ekaterina Kryshtal.

Kryshtal, along with her husband and their two children, aged 4 and 11, used an electric heater to warm themselves in their rural home for a few days. But then the electricity went out, and they were also left with no gas or supplies, she said.

Several times, she went outside, despite the pleas from her family. And often she came under fire, she said, but survived.

Two days ago, some of the villagers took a chance to evacuate by themselves. They had no escort or guards, but they formed a column of about 70 cars and set off. Kryshtal's husband was not able to join them, as there were nine people in one car.

On the way, the column was fired upon, she said, despite white flags and signs that had "children" written on them. Kryshtal and her children managed to escape and are now in a safe area near Khmelnytskyi.

8:03 p.m. ET, March 11, 2022

Biden emphatic that the US will not "fight World War 3" in Ukraine

From CNN's Sam Fossum

President Joe Biden speaks at the House Democratic Caucus Issues Conference on March 11 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
President Joe Biden speaks at the House Democratic Caucus Issues Conference on March 11 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

US President Joe Biden emphasized once again on Friday that the US will not send ground troops into Ukraine. 

"We will not fight the third world war in Ukraine," Biden said after reiterating the United States' full support to its NATO allies and promising that the US will defend "every inch" of NATO territory. 

He added: "I want to be clear though, we are going to make sure that Ukraine has the weapons to defend themselves of an invading Russian force. And we will send money and food aid to save Ukrainians lives. We're going to welcome Ukrainian refugees with open arms if in fact they come all the way here."

Biden also thanked the House of Representatives members for their support of Ukraine, noting he spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky today for about an hour. Biden added that he speaks to the Ukrainian president "almost daily."

Biden also stressed the importance that the US and its allies move together on any moves to counteract the Kremlin.

"I know I've occasionally frustrated you, but more important than us moving when we want to is making sure all of NATO is together ... They have different vulnerabilities than we do," Biden said. 

2:01 p.m. ET, March 11, 2022

On the ground: Refugee says Russians think invasion will "free" Ukrainians — "but we are free people" already

When Ukrainian Olga Batochka told her Russian friend that her hometown Kharkiv was being bombed, he didn't believe she was in danger and told her to go back home instead of staying underground.

"People in Russia don't know what [has] happened in Ukraine," she told CNN, adding that the friend told her that Russia is doing this to "free us."

"But we are free people. We have a beautiful government, beautiful country ... Now, that's all destroyed. And we have no houses, no families."

Batochka fled to Romania with her 14-year-old daughter. They are two of the UN-estimated 2.5 million people who have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began.

She told CNN she believes she will return home some day, and she wished good luck to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelesnky, whom she voted for.

For now, volunteers in Romania are taking care of the mother and daughter, who plan to go to Portugal once they have their paperwork, where they have family waiting for them.

1:40 p.m. ET, March 11, 2022

It's 8:30 p.m. in Kyiv. Catch up on the latest developments in Ukraine

A Ukrainian serviceman walks down a road in the Luhansk region on March 11.
A Ukrainian serviceman walks down a road in the Luhansk region on March 11. (Anatolii Stepano/AFP/Getty Images)

As Russian forces expand their offensive in Ukraine with new strikes in the western part of the country, here's a look at the latest developments unfolding on the ground:

Where Russian forces have made further advances: There's growing evidence that the town of Volnovakha in eastern Ukraine has fallen to Russian forces and their allies in the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic.

Additionally, according to a senior US defense official:

  • Forces to the north of Kyiv have “moved closer” to Kyiv over the last 24 hours.
  • A separate group of Russian forces closer to Sumy, to the east of Kyiv, have stalled and are repositioning.
  • Chernihiv, another Ukrainian city, remains isolated with Russian forces "right outside the city."
  • In Kharkiv, Russian forces are "on the outskirts” of the city but they haven't yet taken it.
  • The southern city of Mariupol is under “increasing pressure."
  • Kherson appears to have been captured.
  • In Mykolaiv, Russian forces have not taken the city yet but it is coming under “increasing pressure."

Where recent attacks have happened, according to Ukrainian authorities:

  • There was substantial damage to the airport at Lutsk in northwestern Ukraine, which is only about 70 miles (about 112 kilometers) from the Polish border.
  • The governor of the Volyn region said four missiles had been fired from a Russian bomber and two people were killed.
  • The military airfield at Ivano-Frankivsk in western Ukraine was struck by missiles.
  • A missile strike on the outskirts of Dnipro killed one civilian and damaged a primary school building, apartment buildings and a shoe factory.
  • There were also overnight airstrikes in the Brovary district just east of Kyiv and a missile strike in the town of Baryshivka, some 45 miles (about 72 kilometers) east of the capital.
  • A soccer stadium and library in Chernihiv, a city in northern Ukraine, have been badly damaged by an airstrike.

An update on the more than 40-miles-long Russian convoy: The convoy that had sat for nearly two weeks outside Kyiv has now largely dispersed, according to Maxar satellite imagery from Thursday. The forces appear to be regrouping.

New actions against Russia by the United States: US President Joe Biden announced that the US, along with the G7 and EU, will call for revoking "most favored nation" status for Russia, referred to as permanent normal trade relations in the US. Additionally, he said Russian imports of seafood, vodka and diamonds will be banned. Meanwhile, the G7 is also adding sanctions to more Russian oligarchs and their families as the invasion of Ukraine continues.

Russia says it has received applications from foreigners asking to join fight: The Kremlin has said volunteers from the "Middle East and Syria" can be sent to fight for Russia in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, claiming that over 16,000 applications have been received from abroad. The US has not seen the “actual arrival” of foreign fighters from the Middle East to fight alongside Russian forces in Ukraine, but it does believe that Russia is moving in the direction of recruiting and using foreign fighters.

Here's a map of Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory known to CNN:

1:11 p.m. ET, March 11, 2022

White House calls Putin's actions "escalation without an endgame"

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Pressed on a path toward resolution of the war in Ukraine, the White House said Friday that Russia’s current strategy is “escalation without an endgame,” echoing US President Joe Biden’s assessment that an ultimate Russian victory is “impossible.” 

“We have provided Putin with possible off-ramps from the beginning, and we will continue to do so. But he is the only one who can decide whether to take them. So far, every time he has had an opportunity to take an off-ramp, he's instead gone full speed ahead. And the longer he forces his abused troops to attack Ukraine, the more he broadcasts his own profound weakness as a leader,” White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates told reporters aboard Air Force One.

He continued, “Putin's only strategy has been escalation at every turn, but it's becoming increasingly clear that it's escalation without an endgame, and his erratic brutality, which comes at the expense of the Russian people, and again, his own demoralized troops, is proving to be a disaster for his country.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has a “clear plan to be savage toward Ukraine,” but his strategy, Bates added, “will make effective long term Russian control of Ukraine impossible.” 

Asked to elaborate on future off-ramps, Bates declined to weigh in, but detailed the costs to Russian troops and the Russian economy.

“That is not going to stop until he stops,” Bates said, referring to Putin.

More background: The White House's comments come after Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo predicted a “messy” and “extremely long term” conflict in Ukraine, telling CNN's MJ Lee and Kaitlan Collins earlier this week that the export controls that have been leveled against Russia by the United States and its allies in response to 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,” she said, adding that the Biden administration was prepared to stick with the measures designed to inflict economic pain on Russia for “as long as it takes.”