March 13, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Helen Regan, Steve George, Maureen Chowdhury, Mike Hayes and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 12:15 a.m. ET, March 14, 2022
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8:41 p.m. ET, March 13, 2022

Czech Republic to bolster its military aid to Ukraine

From CNN's Emmet Lyons and Pierre Meilhan

The Czech Republic plans to deliver further military aid to Ukraine, worth at least $31.5 million dollars, government spokesman Václav Smolka told CNN Sunday.

Smolka declined to elaborate on the details of the aid package but said the time of delivery depends on when his government will be able to get "the required material." 

The Czech Republic already committed on Feb. 26 to send a “shipment of weapons to Ukraine” worth over $8.5 million to a “place of Ukrainians choice."

Prime Minister Petr Fiala said last month his country was sending "machine guns, submachine guns, sniper rifles and pistols and their corresponding ammunition valued at CZK 188 million," to support the Ukrainian government in its fight against Russia. 

8:05 p.m. ET, March 13, 2022

More than 328,000 refugees have crossed into Moldova from Ukraine, Moldovan foreign minister says

From CNN's Pierre Meilhan

Over 328,000 refugees have arrived in Moldova from Ukraine since Russia's invasion began on February 24, the country's Foreign Affairs Minister Nicu Popescu tweeted Sunday.

"About 101K refugees are in shelters or private homes across the country, including 48,254 minors," Popescu tweeted.

7:57 p.m. ET, March 13, 2022

Snake Island buildings damaged; Russian Naval landing ship seen anchored offshore in new satellite image

From CNN’s Paul P. Murphy

(Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)
(Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)

Some of the buildings on Snake Island appear damaged from Russian military strikes, and a Russian Naval ship is seen anchored off the island in the first clear satellite image of the Ukrainian island in the middle of the Black Sea.

The image, taken on Sunday by Maxar Technologies, is the first clear look of the island since it was bombed at the beginning of the Russian invasion.

In the image, some of the red-roofed buildings in the island's center are shown to have been significantly damaged by the Russian shelling of the island. The ship seen offshore was identified by Maxar as a Ropucha-class landing ship. Although parts of it are snow-covered, there are impact craters dotting parts of the island.

Snake Island, also known as Zmiinyi Island, sits about 30 miles (48 kilometers) off the Ukrainian mainland's southern tip in the northwestern Black Sea. It's about 185 miles west of Crimea, the Ukrainian territory that Russia annexed in 2014.

The defiant soldiers who were stationed on the island quickly became lauded as heroes at the start of the Russian invasion into Ukraine.

Initial reports from the Ukrainian government claimed they responded to a warning from a Russian naval ship to lay down their weapons or they would be bombed. Their reported reply was, “Russian warship, go f*** yourself.” The Ukrainian Navy had feared the soldiers on the island were dead, but now believe they are “alive and well” but are prisoners of war.

CNN's Sebastian Shukla and Lianne Kolirin contributed to this report.

7:37 p.m. ET, March 13, 2022

Ukrainian president says "it is only a matter of time before Russian missiles fall" on NATO territory

From CNN’s Emmet Lyons in London

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday it is only a matter of time before Russia’s military assault on Ukraine expands to members of NATO unless the alliance installs a no-fly zone over his country.

“Last year, I made a clear warning to NATO leaders that if there were no tough preventive sanctions against Russia, it would start a war,” Zelensky said in a video address Sunday posted to his Facebook page. 

He added, “We were right … now I repeat again -- if you do not close our sky, it is only a matter of time before Russian missiles fall on your territory. NATO territory. On the homes of citizens of NATO countries.”

In addressing NATO countries, Zelensky cited the killing of American journalist Brent Renaud in Irpin, Ukraine, on Sunday.

“An American journalist was killed in the Kyiv region today. Brent Renaud. His colleague was wounded. It was a deliberate attack by the Russian military. They knew what they were doing. But not everyone in the West seems to know what they are doing,” he said.

Zelensky also said his team is continuing diplomatic negotiations with Russia to arrange a meeting between him and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Representatives of our countries’ delegations speak in video format every day. Our delegation has a clear task -- to do everything to ensure a meeting of the presidents, the meeting that I am sure people are waiting for,” he said.

6:29 p.m. ET, March 13, 2022

UK Ministry of Defense says Russian naval forces have cut off Ukraine from international maritime trade

From CNN’s Emmet Lyons and Samantha Beech

The UK Ministry of Defense said Russian forces have blockaded Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, cutting the nation off from international maritime trade.

An intelligence update posted to the Ministry’s Twitter on Sunday said, “Russian naval forces have established a distant blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, effectively isolating Ukraine from international maritime trade.”

 

According to the World Trade Organization, trade by sea accounts for more than 80% of the world's trade volume. 

The UK MOD intelligence briefing also said Russian naval forces are “continuing to conduct missile strikes against targets throughout Ukraine" and that Moscow has conducted “one amphibious landing in the Sea of Azov and could look to conduct further such operations in the coming weeks.”

An amphibious landing is a military attack of coordinated land, sea, and air forces.

6:18 p.m. ET, March 13, 2022

US Secretary of State condemns Russia's attack near Ukraine's border with Poland

From CNN’s Sonnet Swire

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a joint press conference with Latvian Foreign Minister at the Latvian National Museum of Art in Riga, Latvia, on March 7.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a joint press conference with Latvian Foreign Minister at the Latvian National Museum of Art in Riga, Latvia, on March 7. (Olivier Douliery/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Russia’s attack near Ukraine’s border with Poland early Sunday, calling for the “brutality” to stop as war inches closer to NATO’s doorstep.

“We condemn the Russian Federation’s missile attack on the International Center for Peacekeeping and Security in Yavoriv, close to Ukraine’s border with Poland,” Blinken tweeted Sunday.

Thirty-five people were killed and 134 injured after more than 30 missiles were fired at a military base early Sunday morning. The International Peacekeeping and Security Center is a huge military base that includes a training center for soldiers, and has housed US and NATO forces in the past.

6:34 p.m. ET, March 13, 2022

Ukrainians thwart Russian attempt toward Kyiv on pontoon bridge, satellite image shows

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

A photo, published on social media on March 13, shows the pontoon bridge destroyed, in addition to nearby Russian military vehicles.
A photo, published on social media on March 13, shows the pontoon bridge destroyed, in addition to nearby Russian military vehicles. (Telegram)

The Ukrainian military has thwarted an attempt by Russian military vehicles to cross the Irpin River on a pontoon bridge near Hostomel, a new satellite image from Maxar Technologies shows.

The bridge first appeared in satellite imagery from Maxar on Thursday, March 10, and in that photo, it appears to have been destroyed. An additional photo, published on social media on March 13, also shows the pontoon bridge destroyed, in addition to nearby Russian military vehicles.

CNN has geolocated and confirmed the authenticity of the photo posted to social media.

Ukrainian forces in Kyiv's suburb of Irpin have so far repelled Russian advances toward the Ukrainian capital city. With the main bridge crossing the Irpin River having been destroyed by Ukrainians to thwart a Russian advance, the Irpin River poses a significant obstacle for the Russian military.

The pontoon bridge was located in an open field roughly five miles (eight kilometers) north of the main bridge across the Irpin River.

It's the second known location where the Russians have built a pontoon bridge to move vehicles. Before the invasion began, Russia constructed a pontoon bridge across the Pripyat River in the greater Chernobyl exclusion zone and later moved dozens of forces across it.

7:38 p.m. ET, March 13, 2022

Russia has requested military assistance from China in Ukraine

From CNN’s Jim Sciutto and Kylie Atwood

Russia has asked China for military assistance in Ukraine, including drones, a senior US official said Sunday.

CNN has reached out to the Russian embassy in the US for comment but did not receive an immediate response.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN's Dana Bash Sunday that China providing Russia with support is a “concern.”

“We also are watching closely to see the extent to which China actually does provide any form of support, material support or economic support, to Russia. It is a concern of ours. And we have communicated to Beijing that we will not stand by and allow any country to compensate Russia for its losses from the economic sanctions,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said the US has made it clear to Beijing there will "absolutely be consequences" for "large-scale" efforts to give the Kremlin a workaround to US sanctions.

"We will not allow that to go forward and allow there to be a lifeline to Russia from these economic sanctions from any country anywhere in the world," he said.

Sullivan is set to meet with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi in Rome Monday.

Chinese embassy spokesperson Liu Pengyu told CNN Sunday he had not heard of Russia's request.

"I've never heard of that. China is deeply concerned and grieved on the Ukraine situation. We sincerely hope that the situation will ease and peace will return at an early date," Pengyu said. "The current situation in Ukraine is indeed disconcerting. Utmost efforts should be made to support Russia and Ukraine in carrying forward negotiations despite the difficult situation to produce a peaceful outcome. We support and encourage all efforts that are conducive to a peaceful settlement of the crisis. The high priority now is to prevent the tense situation from escalating or even getting out of control. There is consensus about this among the international community, including the parties concerned.”

“China calls for exercising utmost restraint and preventing a massive humanitarian crisis. China has put forward an initiative for responding to the humanitarian situation in Ukraine. China has provided Ukraine with humanitarian assistance, and will continue to do so,” Pengyu said.

The White House said last week China was “abiding by the requirements that have been put in place” over sanctions.

"Our assessment right now is that (China is) abiding by the requirements that have been put in place, but we would continue to encourage any country to think a lot about what role they want to play in history as we all look back," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a Wednesday news conference.

5:42 p.m. ET, March 13, 2022

Chernobyl staff stops safety repairs and maintenance because of "physical and psychological fatigue,” IAEA says

From CNN's Samantha Beech in Atlanta

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

Staff at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (NPP) are so tired they have stopped carrying out the repair and maintenance of safety-related equipment, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Sunday.

In a statement, the IAEA said the Ukrainian regulator informed the agency that NPP staff were no longer carrying out repairs and maintenance, “in part due to their physical and psychological fatigue after working non-stop for nearly three weeks.” Earlier Sunday, Ukraine’s National Energy Company (NEC) Ukrenergo said it completed repair work and resumed power supply to the Chernobyl NPP.

The IAEA said the staff of 211 technical personnel and guards have still not been able to rotate from the facility since the day before Russian forces entered the site on 24 February, citing the Ukrainian regulatory authority.

“The regulator has no direct communication with the staff but receives information from off-site NPP management,” the IAEA said.

“The increasingly dire situation facing personnel at the facility – coupled with persistent issues related to communication from the site as well as the now resolved power supply problem – added further urgency to an IAEA initiative aimed at ensuring safety and security at Ukraine’s nuclear power plants," said IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi.

The Director General has proposed a framework that would enable the IAEA to deliver technical and other assistance for the safe and secure operation of all of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities, the statement said. Grossi discussed this last week with the Ukrainian and Russian Foreign Ministers Dmytro Kuleba and Sergei Lavrov, respectively, the statement said.

“We can’t afford to lose more time," he said. "The IAEA stands ready to act immediately, based on our proposed framework that requires agreement from the parties of the conflict before it can be implemented. We can only provide assistance to Ukraine’s nuclear sites once it has been signed. I’m doing everything I can to make this happen very soon.”

The full IAEA statement can be read here.