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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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.”

1:14 p.m. ET, March 11, 2022

A third Russian general has been killed by Ukrainian forces, western officials say

From CNN’s Max Foster and Sarah Dean

Western officials say a third Russian general has been killed by Ukrainian forces.

He was identified as Major General Andriy Kolesnikov. 

According to the Russian Ministry of Defense’s website, Kolesnikov was commander of the Eastern Military District.

A western defense official noted for context that only three Russian general staff officers were killed during the whole Syrian conflict and estimated that Russia would maintain a total of 20 generals in theatre in Ukraine at this time.

The official paid tribute to the strength of the Ukrainian resistance, particularly around Kyiv and Mykolaiv, where Russian attempts to circle the cities have been frustrated.

More context: Kolesnikov is the third Russian general to be killed during the invasion of Ukraine.

On Thursday, CNN reported that Russian Maj. Gen. Andrey Sukhovetsky was also killed while fighting in Ukraine, according to a statement from the Novorossiysk city government in Russia on March 3.

In the statement, the government said Sukhovetsky — the deputy commander of the 41st Combined Arms Army of the Russian Ground Forces — died on Feb. 28 "while performing a combat mission during a special operation in Ukraine."

Sukhovetsky had previously served in the Russian military during operations in the North Caucasus region and Syria, the statement said. 

On Tuesday, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense said a Russian general — Maj. Gen. Vitaly Gerasimov — was killed in battle near Kharkiv.

The Russian Ministry of Defense has not commented.

1:01 p.m. ET, March 11, 2022

EU announces more sanctions against Russia, includes luxury goods export ban and crypto-assets crackdown

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London

A fourth package of sanctions against Russia over its "ruthless" invasion of Ukraine, will be imposed tomorrow by the European Union, the head of the European Commission said Friday.

On Saturday, the bloc "will take a fourth package of measures to further isolate Russia and drain the resources it uses to finance this barbaric war," EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement.

"First, we will deny Russia the status of most-favoured-nation in our markets. This will revoke important benefits that Russia enjoys as a WTO member. Russian companies will no longer receive privileged treatment in our economies," von der Leyen said.
Th EU "will also work to suspend Russia's membership rights in leading multilateral financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. We will ensure that Russia cannot obtain financing, loans, or any other benefits from these institutions."

The bloc will also make sure that “the Russian state and its elites cannot use crypto assets to circumvent the sanctions," and will ban exports to Russia of EU luxury goods and import of iron and steel goods, she said.

The G7 finance, justice and home affairs ministers will meet next week to "coordinate the task force we set up targeting Putin's cronies," she added.

Earlier on Friday, G7 nations announced they would take action to deny Russia a so-called "most favored nation" status, which would revoke benefits of Russia's membership of the World Trade Organization.

"In addition to announced plans, we will make further efforts to reduce our reliance on Russian energy, while ensuring that we do so in an orderly fashion and in ways that provide time for the world to secure alternative and sustainable supplies. In addition, private sector companies are leaving Russia with unprecedented speed and solidarity. We stand with our companies that are seeking an orderly withdrawal from the Russian market," the G7 nations said in a statement.

1:03 p.m. ET, March 11, 2022

Here's where Russian forces have made advances in Ukraine over the last 24 hours, according to a US official

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

Russian forces have continued to make some additional advances over the last 24 hours, a senior US defense official told reporters on Friday.

Russian forces that are the closest to Kyiv, about 15 kilometers (about 9 miles) outside of the city center, have not moved any closer since yesterday, the official said.

There are two other groups of Russian forces outside of Kyiv that are potentially moving towards Kyiv. To the north of Kyiv, a group of Russian forces are “somewhere between 20 and 30 kilometers” (or between more than 12 and 18 miles) from Kyiv’s city center. This group has “moved closer” to Kyiv over the last 24 hours, the official said.

A separate group of Russian forces closer to Sumy, to the east of Kyiv, have stalled and are repositioning around Sumy, the official said.

“We think many of those forces have in fact repositioned back to the vicinity of Sumy. It is unclear to us why they did this. It could be as benign as they are making progress on that northern leg, and they didn’t feel they needed another leg going, or they’re going to combine what’s left with that southernmost leg, with the northernmost leg, it could be just that benign, we just don’t know,” the official said.

Chernihiv, another Ukrainian city, remains isolated. Russian forces are “right outside the city,” and there is “obviously some fighting in the city,” but the US does not assess that Russian forces have “moved beyond Chernihiv,” the official said.

“They’re still in and around Chernihiv, and again we assess Chernihiv is isolated, and under increasing pressure,” the official said.

In Kharkiv, Russian forces are ��on the outskirsts” of the city,” the official said. The US is seeing reports of internet outages in the city, “which seems to be part of the playbook,” the official said, but there’s still “a lot of fighting there.”

“They haven’t taken Kharkiv, it’s being well-defended but they are closing in on it if you will from a geographic perspective,” the official said. 

The southern city of Mariupol is under “increasing pressure,” the official said. 

“Mariupol is also being defended, they’re fighting back, and we continue to see heavy bombardment there as the Russians try to increase their pressure,” the official said.

The US continues to assess that Russian forces have captured Kherson.

In Mykolaiv, Russian forces have not taken the city yet but it is coming under “increasing pressure,” the official said.

“We’ve observed the Ukrainians are continuing to defend the city, and the Russians are just outside the city, again mostly to the northeast, so again not a lot of change there from yesterday, but continues to be heavily fought over,” the official said.

12:55 p.m. ET, March 11, 2022

Evidence indicates Volnovakha in eastern Ukraine has fallen to Russian-backed forces

From CNN's Tim Lister in Kyiv

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.

The city had been surrounded almost since the beginning of Russia's invasion but had been fiercely defended by Ukrainian forces.

The Russian defense ministry's spokesperson, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, said that a "group of troops of the Donetsk People's Republic liberated the city of Volnovakha" and several surrounding settlements.

Konashenkov said that the militia had advanced about six kilometers (about 3.7 miles) and continued to tighten the encirclement of the besieged city of Mariupol.

Some social media videos from the city showed Russian soldiers and vehicles in several neighborhoods, as well as abandoned Ukrainian tanks. Other videos showed widespread destruction in Volnovakha.

The apparent fall of Volnovakha — which is halfway between Donetsk and Mariupol — allows Russian forces to consolidate their control of the Donbas region.

Earlier Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Volnovakha remained completely blocked to humanitarian relief convoys, but the Ukrainian authorities have not acknowledged that the city has fallen under Russian control. 

1:07 p.m. ET, March 11, 2022

European and African food supplies will be "profoundly destabilized" by war, French president says

From CNN's Xiaofei Xu in Versailles, Anaelle Jonah in Paris and Niamh Kennedy in London

French President Emmanuel Macron holds a press conference following an EU leaders summit in Versailles, France on March 11.
French President Emmanuel Macron holds a press conference following an EU leaders summit in Versailles, France on March 11. (Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images)

European and African food supplies will be "profoundly destabilized" by the war in Ukraine, warned French President Emmanuel Macron.

"Our Europe is already destabilized by the war in this regard, and it could be worse in 12 to 18 months," Macron told a news conference in Versailles earlier on Friday. 

He warned that both Europe and Africa "will be very profoundly destabilized in food supplies." 

The French leader said he will speak with the Russian President Vladimir Putin in "several hours" alongside the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

He added that "nothing is taboo" as far as sanctions against Russia are concerned, adding that European leaders "will do everything that we consider effective and useful to stop Russia in this path of aggression."

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.

Read more about how war could impact Africa here.