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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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." 

4:01 p.m. ET, March 12, 2022

It's 11 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

As a new day nears for Ukraine, these are the latest updates from on the ground:

Russian troops loom near Kyiv: The bulk of Russian ground forces are currently about 15.5 miles from the center of the Ukrainian capital, the UK's Ministry of Defence said Saturday in its latest intelligence assessment.

Significant destruction seen in cities and towns: In Mariupol, satellite imagery showed damage and fires in apartment buildings and gas stations. An emergency coordinator for Doctors Without Borders told CNN that the city is in "the disaster phase now."

In Makariv, a village 30 miles west of Kyiv, apparent Russian airstrikes hit apartment complexes, schools and a medical facility.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said "a few small towns just don’t exist anymore. ... They are just gone."

Casualties mount: The United Nations has recorded 1,581 civilian casualties — 579 who were killed and 1,002 injured — since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. Among the dead are 42 children, with 54 children among the injured, according to the UN's latest report on civilian casualties.

French and German leaders speak with Putin:French official told CNN that Putin seemed still to be "determined to achieve his objectives in Ukraine" but the fact that he continues to speak to the French and German leaders suggests that "he does not exclude the possibility of a diplomatic solution altogether." Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he was holding out little hope for a negotiated settlement to end Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

3:59 p.m. ET, March 12, 2022

Bipartisan delegation of US senators arrives in Poland, meets with US ambassador and troops

From CNN's Joe Johns and Sarah Fortinsky

A bipartisan US congressional delegation, including Republican Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, arrived Saturday in Warsaw, Poland, where they met with US Ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski and traveled to Rzeszow to meet with US troops from the 82nd Airborne Division.

The delegation plans "to meet with senior government officials and visit refugee sites to affirm the United States' commitment to Poland, Ukraine, and other allies in response to Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine," according to a Saturday news release from Wicker's office.

Senate staff familiar with the trip tell CNN the delegation will also visit the Ukrainian border on Sunday.

3:57 p.m. ET, March 12, 2022

US sanctions more Russian elite and others in Putin's inner circle

From CNN's Jennifer Deaton

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov looks on during a press conference in Moscow on December 17, 2020.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov looks on during a press conference in Moscow on December 17, 2020. (Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images)

The US Treasury Department on Friday sanctioned additional Kremlin “elites, leaders, oligarchs” and some of their family members for “enabling Putin’s war against Ukraine,” the department said in a statement.   

Those sanctioned included three family members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Russian tycoon Viktor Vekselberg and 10 members of the management board of the sanctioned VTB Bank. Also sanctioned were 12 members of the Russian State Duma, including Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin, and the Chairman of Russia’s Communist Party Gennady Zyuganov. 

Zyuganov’s sanctioning in particular garnered coverage in Russian state media in ensuing hours. He has since responded, calling it a “reward” and validation of his efforts to “create peace” and “struggle against Nazism,” echoing Putin's rhetoric for his justification of the Ukraine invasion.

Peskov was sanctioned on March 3 for being the “lead propagandist” of the Russian Federation. But on Friday, Peskov’s wife, Tatiana Navka, and two of Peskov’s adult children – Nikolay Peskov and Elizaveta Peskova – were also sanctioned. Tatiana Navka, who won a gold medal in ice dancing at the 2006 Olympics, has a ”property empire worth more than $10 million,” according to the Treasury Department statement.

Two of Vekselberg’s luxury assets, an Airbus A319-115 aircraft and a yacht named Tango — each valued at approximately $90 million each — were identified as blocked property, the statement said. 

CNN's Michael Callahan, Maria Angelova and Mariya Knight contributed to this report.

3:50 p.m. ET, March 12, 2022

New satellite images show extensive damage in western Mariupol, Ukraine

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

A large fire is seen raging in an industrial area in the Primorskyi neighborhood of western Mariupol on March 12.
A large fire is seen raging in an industrial area in the Primorskyi neighborhood of western Mariupol on March 12. (©2022 Maxar Technologies)

New satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies shows the extent of damage caused by military strikes in western Mariupol. 

The images were taken on Saturday morning.

In Mariupol's western neighborhood of Zhovteneyvi, a large, still smoldering, crater is seen near the Okko gas station. Smoke appears to be rising from an apartment complex across the street. The roofs of warehouses down the street also appear to have large holes in them.

Within the apartment complex, several buildings have sustained significant damage. A debris field can be observed surrounding some of the buildings with a large smoke plume.

A field just northwest of the gas station shows the impact of craters dotting a snow-covered field. Vehicle tread marks are also seen.

Just over a mile south, in an industrial area in the Primorskyi neighborhood, a large fire is seen raging. 

With relatively clear skies over Mariupol, some of the damage that was reported earlier in the week is coming into clearer focus. 

The satellite images show extensive damage at the children's and maternity hospital that was hit by Russian military strikes on Wednesday. 

Mariupol is completely surrounded by Russian and Russian-backed separatist troops. Earlier in the week, CNN published Maxar satellite images that showed significant damage across the city. 

3:34 p.m. ET, March 12, 2022

Mariupol is in a "disaster phase now," Doctors Without Borders emergency coordinator says

An emergency coordinator for Doctors Without Borders told CNN that the humanitarian situation in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol is deteriorating by the day.

"We have staff, MSF [Medecins Sans Frontières] staff, who are currently in Mariupol who we've been able to keep contact with, although that contact is getting harder and harder to keep every day. They confirmed to us there's been no access to clean drinking water for over a week now," Alex Wade told CNN's Jim Acosta.

"They're using snow and rain water, they're breaking into heating systems to access the water in heating systems, but for many, water has already run out and so has the food for many people. The only people left with food are those who have stocks that they're rationing," he said from Vinnytsia, Ukraine.

"I think we can say we're in the disaster phase now," he added.

Staff on the ground in Mariupol have told Wade that people are dying from lack of access to medicine, He said.

"The next phase we will see people who potentially could die from dehydration and hunger or ... fleeing from the city trying to find food and water and dying from the violence outside the city," he said.

Wade said there's a "sense of panic" in the city right now.

"We had communication with a staff member today who was telling us that they've [been] ... taking the dead bodies of their neighbors and burying them in their own yards, just so that their own neighbors will have a burial and not remain dead on the streets," he said.

While evacuation corridors were slated to take place for the city Saturday, the lack of available communication hampers safety efforts, he said.

"When there are discussions around humanitarian corridors or safe passage out of the city, many people are uninformed and they don't know about it because there's no communication inside the city. There's no phone network. There's no internet," he said.

2:41 p.m. ET, March 12, 2022

Significant destruction seen in Makariv, a Ukrainian village 30 miles west of Kyiv

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

Makariv, Ukraine
Makariv, Ukraine (From Telegram)

A large swath of Makariv, a village 30 miles west of Kyiv, has sustained significant damage from apparent Russian airstrikes.

CNN geolocated and verified the authenticity of photos posted to social media on Saturday, which show major damage to apartment complexes, schools and a medical facility.

A stark image from Makariv shows a large hole in the northern wall of an apartment building. Many of the buildings in the photos have sustained damage on their northern facades, evidence that points to military strikes that hit them being Russian.

Several hundred feet east of that apartment building, a kindergarten also sustained significant damage.

Smoke can be observed still billowing up from the building, the roof has completely caved in and the windows have all been blown out. 

The Russian Ministry of Defence has repeatedly claimed they are not targeting civilians.

At another apartment building just west of the school, another photo shows the roof and a number of upper floor residences destroyed.

Just south of the school, the Adonis-Makariv Medical and Diagnostic Center is seen on fire. The street in front of it is littered with debris and the windows have been blown out of the center.

A photo taken on the street in front of the center showed that the debris in front of it is all that remains of the north-facing front facade of the building.

Immediately west of the school and medical center, near the center of Makariv, a massive crater was observed in the road. The medical center can be seen in the background on fire. Next to that crater, another photo shows a residential building with a grocery store on the ground floor has been hit.

In the center of town, a cultural center that also houses government and police offices has been hit by a strike. A portion of the building was destroyed and a structure on the roof appeared to have been clipped by some sort of munition.

"Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes" was written on a large sign in the front of the building.

South of central Makariv, a preschool also sustained significant damage. The windows have been blown out and portions of the roof appear to be damaged.