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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1:40 p.m. ET, March 13, 2022

Ukraine denies Russia's claims it has killed up to 180 foreign mercenaries during strike on Yavoriv military base

From CNN’s Mick Krever in Lviv

Ukraine responded to Russia’s claims it has killed up to 180 foreign mercenaries during a strike on Yavoriv military base, calling it “pure Russian propaganda,” Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesperson Markiyan Lubkivsky told CNN. 

“This is not the truth. Pure Russian propaganda,” Lubkivsky said in a message to CNN, further saying there are still no foreigners confirmed among the dead in Yavoriv military base.

Earlier on Sunday, Russian Ministry of Defense spokesperson Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said in a briefing, "On the morning of March 13, high-precision long-range weapons attacked the training centers of the Ukrainian armed forces in the village of Starichi and at the Yavoriv military base. At these facilities, the Kyiv regime deployed a point for the training and combat coordination of foreign mercenaries before being sent to the areas of hostilities against Russian military personnel, as well as a storage base for weapons and military equipment coming from foreign countries. As a result of the strike, up to 180 foreign mercenaries and a large consignment of foreign weapons were destroyed. The destruction of foreign mercenaries who arrived on the territory of Ukraine will continue."

1:23 p.m. ET, March 13, 2022

UK prime minister to host Nordic and Baltic leaders for summit on European defense

From Alex Hardie in London

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to host the leaders of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) for a summit on European defense this week.

Representatives from Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway will attend meetings “on shoring up European security and increasing defensive military support to Ukraine,” according to a UK government statement released Sunday.  

The statement adds that “leaders are expected to discuss joint military exercises in the High North and Baltic regions.”

Johnson said in a statement, “European security has been shaken by the attack of Russia on Ukraine, and alongside our partners, we will take action to ensure we emerge stronger and more united than before.”

“Ensuring we are resilient to Putin’s threats needs to go beyond our military footing - together alongside our North and Baltic Sea partners we must ensure we are insulated from Russia’s interference and impact on our energy supplies, economy and values,” he added.

The group will have dinner at Chequers on Monday, before meeting in London on Tuesday.

1:22 p.m. ET, March 13, 2022

American journalist Juan Arredondo in hospital after being wounded by Russian forces, Kyiv police say

From CNN's Lauren Kent in London and Clarissa Ward in Kyiv

Kyiv region police said on Sunday that two other journalists were wounded by Russian troops. One of the wounded journalists is believed to be Colombian-American photographer Juan Arredondo, who is now in the hospital, according to social media video and international media reports. 

In a Facebook post, head of the Kyiv region police Andriy Nebitov said that Russian forces killed American journalist Brent Renaud and that "two more journalists were injured, adding that "the injured have been already saved and moved to a hospital in the capital. What condition they are in is unknown at the moment."

Social media footage has emerged of a journalist identified as Juan Arredondo at Okhmatdyt hospital in Kyiv, in which he describes being shot at by Russian forces while driving through a checkpoint in Irpin, Ukraine, while on the way to film refugees leaving the city. 

"There was two of us, my friend Brent Renaud. And he's been shot and left behind," Arredondo said in the video, adding that Renaud was shot in the neck. "We got split and I got pulled into the [points to stretcher] ... an ambulance, I don't know."  

Arredondo, a filmmaker and visual journalist who is also an adjunct professor at Columbia Journalism School, posted photos from Zhytomyr, Ukraine on Saturday, noting in an Instagram post that he is "#onassignment." 

The Dean of Columbia Journalism School, Steve Coll, told CNN, "We don’t have any independent information about his injuries at this time but are working now to learn more and to see if we can help."

The Committee to Protect Journalists also noted Arredondo's injuries in a statement released Sunday, in which the organization also denounced the shooting and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. 

Arredondo is a 2019 Harvard Nieman fellow. He has previously had his photography featured in The New York Times, National Geographic, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, ESPN, Vanity Fair, and other media outlets, according to his personal website bio

1:19 p.m. ET, March 13, 2022

Latvian president says permanent NATO base in country needed to protect against Russian aggression

From CNN's Devan Cole

Latvian President Egils Levits stressed Sunday that a permanent NATO military base in Latvia is “absolutely” needed in order to protect the country against any potential Russian aggression there.   

“Absolutely. NATO should strengthen the NATO eastern flank. That’s the Baltics, Poland, Romania, so that this would be a strong signal to Moscow that NATO is ready to defend the member states,” Levits told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” when asked whether US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s announcement that NATO is establishing a permanent base in Latvia would help protect the country against Russia.

“I welcome also the American troops in Poland and Baltics, and we need a permanent presence of American troops in this area. I think it is a response to Russian ideas on aggression beyond Ukraine,” he added.

“So, we should defend our way of life, our democracies, and this is a question for the confidence to the West. It is an exam for the West. It is an exam for the American leadership. And I'm sure that America and the West as a whole, they'll pass this exam.”

Latvia, a NATO member that shares a border with Russia, has in recent days condemned Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. The war has caused the US to help Latvia shore up its defenses, including by sending hundreds of American troops and some fighter jets to the country.

1:13 p.m. ET, March 13, 2022

Journalists are among the people detained during Russian anti-war protests

From CNN's Alla Eshchenko

Journalists were among the people arrested during anti-war protests in Russia on Sunday, Russian journalist Andrey Okun told CNN.

Russian journalists Anastasia Romanova from MR7, Angelina Trofimenko from Avtozak Live, Anastasia Rogacheva from SOTA, Andrey Okun from Zaksru and Elena Lukyanova from Novaya Gazeta were detained during the anti-war protests in St. Petersburg.

“I haven't been able to work for even a minute today. As soon as I took out the phone, the riot police approached me and forcibly escorted me to the paddy wagon. The reason for the detention was not announced,” journalist Andrey Okun, who has since been released, told CNN.

All of the detained journalists were wearing yellow “Press” vests, had accredited press cards and editorial assignments, Okun told CNN.

“My colleagues and I filed a collective complaint against the police actions and the illegal detentions of journalists, that are becoming larger with each protest action,” Okun said.

Some more context: Russia’s riot police arrested more than 776 people in 37 Russian cities on Sunday, almost half detained in Moscow, according to OVD-Info, an independent human rights protest-monitoring group. According to the group, more than 5,000 people were arrested across Russia for participating in the anti-war protests last weekend and more than 14,763 protesters have been detained in 151 Russian cities since the start of Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24.

11:49 a.m. ET, March 13, 2022

Mariupol officials say nearly 2,200 have been killed by Russian offensive 

From CNN's Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych

As a long-awaited humanitarian convoy remains some distance from Mariupol, officials in the besieged city said, it has suffered 22 bombing attacks in the last 24 hours (to 10 a.m. ET). 

"To date, 2,187 Mariupol residents have died from attacks by Russia," the city council said. That is a sharp increase on the figure of nearly 1,600 last announced.

"The situation in Mariupol continues to be very difficult. The city has no electricity, water, heat, almost no mobile communication, is running out of food and water," officials said.

The council accused Russian forces and the separatist militia supporting them of "deliberately firing on residential neighborhoods." It said part of Mariupol State University had been shelled Sunday.

12:46 p.m. ET, March 13, 2022

Kyiv region police say American journalist Brent Renaud killed by Russian forces in Irpin

From CNN's Clarissa Ward, Mick Krever, Brian Stelter and Lauren Kent

Brent Renaud attends the annual Peabody Awards in New York in 2015.
Brent Renaud attends the annual Peabody Awards in New York in 2015. (Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

Award-winning American journalist Brent Renaud was killed by Russian forces in Irpin, Ukraine, according to Kyiv region police in social media posts on Sunday. Kyiv police said another American journalist was wounded by Russian troops.

In a tweet, Kyiv region police named the 50-year-old American journalist who was killed as Brent Renaud. Police posted a photo of his body and his American passport as evidence, as well as a photo of an outdated New York Times press badge with Brent Renaud's name.

An adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, Anton Gerashchenko, said in a statement that Renaud “paid with his life for attempting to expose the insidiousness, cruelty and ruthlessness of the aggressor," according to a New York Times report.  

CNN has been unable to verify which media outlet the American journalists were working for in Ukraine.

The New York Times said in a statement on Sunday, "We are deeply saddened to hear of Brent Renaud’s death. Brent was a talented filmmaker who had contributed to The New York Times over the years. Though he had contributed to The Times in the past (most recently in 2015), he was not on assignment for any desk at The Times in Ukraine. Early reports that he worked for Times circulated because he was wearing a Times press badge that had been issued for an assignment many years ago." 

Some more context: The northern Ukrainian city of Irpin, just outside Kyiv, has been the site of substantial Russian shelling in recent days and has seen extensive destruction, according to the Kyiv regional government on Friday.

Brent Renaud was a Peabody Award-winning documentary filmmaker, producer, and journalist, who lived and worked in New York City and Little Rock, Arkansas, according to his biography on the Renaud Brothers website. 

Brent Renaud, right, with his brother Craig Renaud at the HBO building screening area in New York City on  September 19, 2007.
Brent Renaud, right, with his brother Craig Renaud at the HBO building screening area in New York City on  September 19, 2007.  (Oscar Hidalgo/New York Times)

With his brother Craig, Renaud spent years "telling humanistic verite stories from the World's hot spots," including projects in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Egypt, and Libya, according to his website bio. Brent Renaud was a 2019 Harvard Nieman Fellow

Christof Putzel, a friend and colleague of Renaud, told CNN his passing is a "devastating loss to journalism today."

"I woke up this morning to the news that Brent, long-time best friend, incredible colleague, the best war journalist I think ever existed, finding out about his passing. Brent had this ability to go anywhere, get any story, listen and communicate what was happening to people that others wouldn't otherwise see it. And it is a devastating loss to journalism today," Putzel told Brian Stelter on CNN's Reliable Sources Sunday.

Putzel said Renaud was working on a documentary about refugees around the world when the crisis in Ukraine hit. He said that "Brent was on the plane the next day" and covered the plight of refugees from Kyiv into Poland. A post on the Renaud Brothers' Facebook page, dated March 8, urged readers to follow their coverage of the war Ukraine.

Several years ago, Putzel and Renaud won a duPont Award for a story they worked on about guns being smuggled into Mexico from the US. "What I said when we accepted our award was, the only thing bigger than Brent's balls are his heart. And I stand by that. That's what kind of journalist he was," Putzel said.

He said Renaud had a unique ability to make people trust him as he told their stories in places like Iraq and other war zones. "You could sit down and spend a week watching all of Brent's stories over the years back-to-back and just be flabbergasted. The career that he had, his ability to reach people, his ability to capture the humanity behind people's suffering is something I have never seen before, and I was just honored to work with him as long as I did," Putzel said.

The director of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard said on Sunday that the foundation is "heartsick" over the death of American journalist Brent Renaud in Ukraine. 

"Our Nieman Fellow Brent Renaud was gifted and kind, and his work was infused with humanity. He was killed today outside Kiev, and the world and journalism are lesser for it. We are heartsick," said foundation curator Ann Marie Lipinski in a tweet. 

The Committee to Protect Journalists on Sunday condemned the killing of Renaud and called for the killers to be brought to justice. 

The New York-based organization said in a statement, "U.S. reporter Brent Renaud was shot and killed, and another journalist was injured on Sunday in the city of Irpin, outside of Kyiv, according to a Ukrainian police official and news reports. In denouncing the shooting, the Committee to Protect Journalists called for the killers to be brought to justice."

“We are shocked and saddened to learn of the death of U.S. journalist Brent Renaud in Ukraine. This kind of attack is totally unacceptable, and is a violation of international law,” added the CPJ’s program director Carlos Martinez de la Serna in the statement. “Russian forces in Ukraine must stop all violence against journalists and other civilians at once, and whoever killed Renaud should be held to account.”

11:15 a.m. ET, March 13, 2022

Ukrainian presidential adviser says he thinks they will achieve results from talks with Russia in next few days

From CNN's Alex Hardie in London

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak said on Sunday that he thinks they will “achieve concrete results” from talks with Russia in the next few days.

In a video posted on Twitter, Podoliak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said that Russia “becomes much more sensitive to the Ukrainian position” and has “started to talk constructively.”

“Our proposals are on the table. They are very tough. Among them, the withdrawal of troops, the ceasefire," Podoliak added. "We shall not give up on any points, out of principle.”

11:12 a.m. ET, March 13, 2022

Here’s where Russian troops have advanced so far

From CNN staff

Russian troops continue to slowly move closer to Kyiv, while cities in the southern and western parts of the country sustain ongoing attacks as well.

Here's a look at where Russian forces have advanced so far. Note: This map was generated using data from The Institute for the Study of War with AEI's Critical Threats Project and shows where Russian forces have operated in or launched attacks in Ukraine, but do not have control over areas.

For more context, here's the latest on the Russian invasion of Ukraine:

  • Airstrikes hit military base near Lviv: At least 35 people were killed Sunday when Russian strikes hit the Yavoriv military training ground at the edge of Novoyavorivsk, the Lviv regional administration said. More than 30 missiles fired from warplanes over the Black and Azov seas had hit the military base, according to a statement.
  • Russian troops inch closer to Kyiv: The bulk of Russian ground forces are about 15.5 miles (25 kilometers) from the center of the Ukrainian capital, the UK's Ministry of Defense said Saturday in its latest intelligence assessment. Russian strikes continue to hit civilian areas: A large swath of Makariv, a village 30 miles west of Kyiv, has sustained significant damage from apparent Russian airstrikes. Photos posted to social media, geolocated and verified by CNN, show major damage to residential apartment complexes, schools and a medical facility.
  • Chernobyl running on generators: Repairs to the nuclear power plant's electrical system, damaged during a Russian attack on March 9, are ongoing, as the plant is now dependent on external diesel generators to keep its reactors operating, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said. Russian officials have also arrived to Ukraine's largest nuclear power plant, demanding to take control of the facility, according to a statement from Energoatom, Ukraine’s state-operated nuclear energy company.
  • Significant destruction: The cities of Kharkhiv, Mariupol, Mykolaiv, Dnipro, Chernihiv and Sumy are under a sustained Russian onslaught and Russian forces have been expanding their offensive in Ukraine to the west. In the besieged city of Mariupol, satellite imagery showed damage and fires in apartment buildings and gas stations. An emergency coordinator for Doctors Without Borders told CNN on Saturday that the city is in "the disaster phase now." Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said "a few small towns just don’t exist anymore. ... They are just gone."
  • Evacuations: Seven civilians, including women and a child were killed by Russian troops while trying to flee the village of Peremoga, in the Kyiv region, according to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said 12,729 Ukrainians were successfully evacuated Saturday.