March 12, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Tara John, Sana Noor Haq, Adrienne Vogt, Joe Ruiz and Alaa Elassar, CNN

Updated 12:06 a.m. ET, March 13, 2022
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12:03 a.m. ET, March 13, 2022

Our live coverage of Russia's invasion of Ukraine has moved here.

11:47 p.m. ET, March 12, 2022

Russia sends warning to the US about transferring weapons to Ukraine. Here’s what we know

Russia has threatened to target supplies of western weapons being shipped to Ukraine, suggesting convoys with foreign weapons could be considered "legitimate targets."

"We warned the United States that pumping Ukraine with weapons from a number of countries orchestrated by them is not just a dangerous move, but these are actions that turn the corresponding convoys into legitimate targets," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on the state-run Channel One, according to Russia’s state-owned RIA Novosti news agency. 

The warning could escalate the situation in Ukraine further.

Some context: Ryabkov's comments came as the US directed $200 million in defense aid and services, including military education and training, for Ukraine. 

Aid includes small arms: A US administration official said the $200 million will provide “immediate military assistance to Ukraine" and will include “anti-armor, anti-aircraft systems, and small arms in support of Ukraine’s front-line defenders facing down Russia’s unprovoked attack."

President Joe Biden directed the drawdown using a memorandum that allows him to authorize assistance without legislative authority or budgetary appropriations.

A White House official said the total amount of security assistance provided to Ukraine by the US is $1.2 billion in the past year.

More military equipment needed in Ukraine: On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded with allies for more aid, saying “The evil which purposefully targets peaceful cities and ambulance vans and explodes hospitals will not stop with just one country."

He has repeatedly called for a no-fly zone to be imposed to stop Russian aircraft and for military planes to be sent to Ukraine.

US reluctant to escalate further: The US is concerned that more direct measures could escalate tensions with nuclear powered Russia even further and risk dragging NATO directly into the war.

The US and other NATO members have so far provided Ukraine with about 17,000 anti-tank missiles and 2,000 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, according to a senior US official.

11:39 p.m. ET, March 12, 2022

Multiple explosions heard near Lviv

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq in Lviv

Multiple explosions were heard shortly before 6 a.m. local time Sunday on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Lviv, near Ukraine's border with Poland.

The explosions were heard by a CNN team on the ground. 

9:50 p.m. ET, March 12, 2022

New mayor installed in Russia-controlled Melitopol after kidnapping. Here’s what we know

Galina Danilchenko
Galina Danilchenko (Melitopol Acting Mayor's Office)

A new mayor has been installed in the Ukrainian city of Melitopol, which is under Russian military control, after the elected mayor was kidnapped on Friday, according to the Zaporozhye regional administration.

Here's what we know about the situation in the city:

  • Melitopol is a city in southern Ukraine that lies between the besieged city of Mariupol and the now Russian-occupied city of Kherson. Russian forces occupied Melitopol within days of the invasion beginning, but the city has seen sporadic protests since.
  • On Friday, Melitopol mayor, Ivan Fedorov, was seen on video being led away from a government building in the city by armed men. 
  • A short time later, the Russian-backed Luhansk regional prosecutor claimed that Fedorov had committed terrorism offenses and was under investigation. 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.
  • Fedorov's detention by the armed men is the first known instance of a Ukrainian political official being detained by Russian, or Russian-backed forces, since the invasion began.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded his immediate release, saying it was "crime against democracy" and Russia has "switched to a new stage of terror" in its invasion by "trying to physically eliminate representatives of the legitimate local Ukrainian authorities."
  • The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry called Fedorov's detention an "abduction" and a "war crime."
  • Hundreds of people protested the kidnapping outside Melitopol's city hall, with the crowd chanting "Freedom for the Mayor."
  • On Saturday, the Zaporozhye regional administration installed a new mayor, Galina Danilchenko, a former member of the city council.
  • In her televised statement, which was posted by the regional administration on Telegram, Danilchenko said that her "main task is to take all necessary steps to get the city back to normal." 

8:42 p.m. ET, March 12, 2022

Tato and Mama gave me a home in Ukraine. Now they're under attack

From CNN's Mayumi Maruyama

They're not my parents, but after two years of living in Ukraine, they grew to become my Tato and Mama — Ukrainian for "mom" and "dad." 

Five years ago, they welcomed me into their home like a daughter — now they're living under Russian bombardment, the sound of shelling punctuating every precious call.

Tato, a white-haired man in his early 60s, tells me on the phone he can see explosions from the front yard of their home in a small village outside the northern city of Chernihiv. Mama, who's a few years younger, sobs as she tells me they have no water, no power, and no safe way to leave. 

Their only form of transportation is a rundown Soviet-era car that's so rusted you can see the ground rush by through a hole in the floor. And Mama's 91-year-old mother, Babusya, is so frail she rarely leaves her bed.

Ukrainians in some other cities have been been able to flee their homes, escaping the Russian attacks via temporary evacuation corridors, but no clear route exists out of Chernihiv or their village. 

Just over a week ago, Tato sent me a photo of black smoke billowing into the air from explosions near his village.

"If we survive, maybe we'll see each other," his text read.

Read the full story:

8:11 p.m. ET, March 12, 2022

Zelensky pleads for more aid, says 12,729 Ukrainians successfully evacuated Saturday

From CNN's Mallory Gafas


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was grateful for international support and pleaded with allies for more aid in an address Saturday.

“I keep reiterating to our allies and friends abroad; they have to keep doing more for our country, for Ukrainians and Ukraine. Because it is not only for Ukraine, but it is for all of Europe,” he said. “The evil which purposefully targets peaceful cities and ambulance vans and explodes hospitals will not stop with just one country if they have the strength to keep going.”

Zelensky also said humanitarian corridors in Ukraine have been “working,” announcing 12,729 people were evacuated Saturday.

“All of the humanitarian corridors, by the way, which were agreed to – they have worked,” he said, adding “and then there will be humanitarian aid to Mariupol [but] because of difficulties, they had to stop in Gdansk.”

Zelensky also vowed to bring Russian occupiers and their sympathizers to justice, saying “all the occupiers and all the collaborators will know that Ukraine will not forget. Never, nothing. Ukraine will not forget. Ukraine will find them and will call them to responsibility, each one of them.”

6:51 p.m. ET, March 12, 2022

Seven civilians killed while trying to evacuate Kyiv region, Ukrainian Defense Ministry says

From CNN Staff

Seven civilians, including women and a child, were killed while trying to flee Ukraine's Kyiv region, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry confirmed Saturday.

"Russians shot at a column of women and children in Kyiv region, who were trying to evacuate along a previously agreed 'green' corridor. The result of this brutal act - seven dead. One of them is a child," a tweet from the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said.

However, an update from the Defense Intelligence of Ukraine said the civilians were fleeing on a route that was not an agreed-upon "green corridor." 

The group of women and children were attempting to evacuate near the village of Peremoga in Kyiv on Friday when they were shot at by Russians, according to Ukraine's intelligence agency.

Russia did not immediately comment on this incident, but has denied targeting civilians since invading Ukraine last month.

6:20 p.m. ET, March 12, 2022

Chernobyl nuclear plant running on generators with staff "living" there since Russian attack

From CNN Staff

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows a close view of Chernobyl nuclear facilities, Ukraine, on Thursday, March 10.
This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows a close view of Chernobyl nuclear facilities, Ukraine, on Thursday, March 10. (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)

Repairs to Chernobyl's electrical system, damaged during a Russian attack on March 9, are ongoing, as the nuclear power plant is now dependent on external diesel generators to keep its reactors operating, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Saturday. 

Alexey Likhachev, the director general of Russia's nuclear agency Rosatom, told the IAEA additional fuel arrived on March 11. 

Ukraine's nuclear power plant operator Energoatom told the IAEA that Chernobyl's 211 personnel and guards "have still not been able to rotate, in effect living there since the day before Russian forces took control."

"[IAEA] Director General Grossi has repeatedly stressed the urgent need to ensure they can properly rest and rotate, saying this is also a vital element for safe and secure nuclear power operation," IAEA said in a statement. 

Regarding the situation at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), Ukraine said the site remains under Russian control and that Moscow is planning to take "full and permanent control." It also said 400 Russian soldiers are "present full time" at the site. 

Russia said experts are present at the Zaporizhzhya plant but denied it "had taken operational control" or it has plans to take on permanent management of the site, according to the IAEA.

Power supplies to this plant remain unchanged, despite damage to two of its four power lines, the IAEA said.

The IAEA added eight of Ukraine's 15 reactors remain in operation, "including two at the Zaporizhzhya NPP, three at Rivne, one at Khmelnytskyy, and two at South Ukraine" and that "radiation levels remain normal."

5:21 p.m. ET, March 12, 2022

New mayor installed in Russia-controlled Melitopol after the Ukrainian city's elected mayor was detained

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy and Josh Pennington

The Zaporozhye regional administration says a new mayor has been installed in the Ukrainian city of Melitopol, which is under Russian military control, after the elected mayor was detained on Friday. 

Ivan Fedorov, the elected mayor of Melitopol, was detained by armed men on Friday and accused of terrorism offenses by the prosecutor's office for the separatist Russia-backed Luhansk region.

The newly installed mayor is Galina Danilchenko, a former member of the city council, according to a statement on the Zaporozhye regional administration website.

Danilchenko, who was not elected by the people, was introduced as the acting mayor on local TV, the statement said.

In her televised statement, which was posted by the administration on Telegram, Danilchenko said her "main task is to take all necessary steps to get the city back to normal." 

She claimed there were people still in Melitopol who would try to destabilize "the situation and provoke a reaction of bad behavior."

"I ask you to keep your wits about you and not to give in to these provocations," Danilchenko said. "I appeal to the deputies, elected by the people, on all levels. Since you were elected by the people, it is your duty to care about the well-being of your citizens." 

Danilchenko proposed the creation of a "People's Choice Committee" to "solve all the critical issues for Melitopol and the Melitopol region."