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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6:35 a.m. ET, March 13, 2022

Russian airstrike damages historic Ukrainian monastery 

From CNN's Alex Stambaugh and Lizzy Yee

An airstrike damaged Ukraine's historic Holy Dormition Sviatogirsk Lavra, an Orthodox monastery in the Donetsk Oblast region of eastern Ukraine, the country's Parliament said on Telegram.

Several people were wounded and taken to a hospital in the eastern town of Sviatogirsk, while others were treated on site. No one was killed, the parliament statement said. 

The blast, which went off around 10 p.m. local time Saturday, hit 50 meters away from a bridge connecting the right and left banks of the Siverskyi Donets River, near an entrance to the monastery. 

The explosion damaged the monastery's temple windows and smashed windows and doors of a nearby hotel. 

Some 520 refugees were seeking shelter in the monastery, including 200 children. There are around 10,000 refugees and locals in Sviatogirsk town, the statement said. 

The monastery's bishop, Metropolitan Arseny, said there are no military units in Sviatogirsk and the attack was inflicted on a "peaceful city," and on one of Ukraine's holiest sites.

The Holy Dormition Sviatogirsk Lavra is a member of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. It dates back to as early as the year 1526 and houses relics of St. John the Hermit of Sviatohirsk. 

4:06 a.m. ET, March 13, 2022

Russia is attempting to envelop Ukrainian forces in the east and advance westward, says UK MOD

From CNN's Wayne Chang

Russian troops are attempting to “envelop” Ukrainian forces in the east of the country and “circumvent” the southern city of Mykolaiv as they advance from Crimea westwards toward Odessa, the Britain's Ministry of Defense said Sunday in its latest intelligence assessment.

“Russian forces are attempting to envelop Ukrainian forces in the east of the country as they advance from the direction of Kharkiv in the north and Mariupol in the south,” the ministry said.
“Russia is paying a high price for each advance as the Ukrainian Armed Forces continues to offer staunch resistance across the country."

4:13 a.m. ET, March 13, 2022

Zelensky speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett 

From CNN's Hadas Gold in Jerusalem

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (R).
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (R). (Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke Saturday evening about ways to stop the fighting in Ukraine and Israeli's efforts to resolve the conflict, according to a statement by the Israeli Prime Minister's office.  

The conversation between the two leaders lasted over an hour, Bennett's office said. 

Following the call, Zelensky tweeted he spoke with Bennett about "Russian aggression and the prospects for peace talks" and asked for assistance in securing the release of the "captive mayor of Melitopol and local public figures."

Earlier, Israeli and Ukrainian officials denied reports that Bennett pressured Zelensky to accept Russia’s terms to end the war.

3:08 a.m. ET, March 13, 2022

Western Ukrainian airport hit by Russian airstrike

From CNN's Tim Lister in Kyiv

An airport in the western Ukrainian city of Ivano-Frankivsk has had its infrastructure almost completely destroyed by a Russian airstrike, the city's mayor Ruslan Martsinkiv said while speaking to Parliamentary TV channel "Rada." 

According to preliminary information, there are no casualties. 

This is the third attack on the airport, Martsinkiv said. 

1:12 a.m. ET, March 13, 2022

Airstrikes near Lviv come as Russian forces expand west

The Russian airstrikes on a military base near the northwestern city of Lviv come as Russian forces have been expanding their offensive in Ukraine to the west.

On Friday, Russian forces attacked airports in the far west of the country, which had previously been spared from the conflict.

There was substantial damage to the airport at Lutsk in northwestern Ukraine, some 70 miles from the Polish border. The Governor of Volyn region said four missiles had been fired from a Russian bomber and two people were killed Friday. Plumes of smoke also rose from the military airfield at Ivano-Frankivsk, western Ukraine, which was struck by missiles. 

Lviv is a cultural hub of Ukraine and the city's historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also a waypoint for those displaced by war, with thousands of people pouring into the city to escape bombarded towns and cities across the country or to make their way to the Polish border about 43 miles (70 kilometres) away.

12:43 a.m. ET, March 13, 2022

Russian airstrikes hit military base near Lviv

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq in Lviv

Russian airstrikes hit the International Peacekeeping and Security Center (IPSC) near the northwestern city of Lviv early Sunday morning local time, according to the press office of the Lviv regional government. 

The IPSC is a huge military base that includes a training center for soldiers, predominantly for peacekeeping missions.

According to preliminary data, Russia fired eight missiles near Lviv, the regional government said. Officials are looking into whether there are casualties. 

Multiple explosions were heard shortly before 6 a.m. local time near the city, according to a CNN team on the ground.

12:01 a.m. ET, March 13, 2022

It's 7 a.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

Russian troops are moving closer to Kyiv and significant destruction is being seen in cities and towns as Moscow continues with its bombardment of Ukraine. Multiple explosions were heard by CNN teams on the ground shortly before 6 a.m. on the outskirts of the northwestern city Lviv.

Russia could target foreign weapons: Russia has threatened to fire on weapons shipments to Ukraine, saying convoys with foreign weapons could be considered "legitimate targets." The warning, issued by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, raises the risk of direct confrontation between Moscow and a NATO country.

US rushes through military aid: The warning came as the United States authorized directed $200 million in "immediate" defense aid and services, including military education and training, for Ukraine. A US official said the aid will include “anti-armor, anti-aircraft systems, and small arms in support of Ukraine’s front-line defenders facing down Russia’s unprovoked attack."

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 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. Zelensky said 12,729 Ukrainians were successfully evacuated Saturday.

Ukraine united: Zelensky said his country is more united than ever as it faces Russian violence but sees a "lack of courage from the members of NATO to come together for Ukraine. it’s a huge problem. A philosophical problem of the alliance." Zelensky said Ukraine has lost approximately 1,300 troops as of Saturday and that all of the country is "a front line."

11:43 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. 

11:41 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."