March 14, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Melissa Macaya, Helen Regan, Steve George, Amy Woodyatt, Ben Church, Ed Upright, Maureen Chowdhury and Jason Kurtz, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, March 15, 2022
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5:48 p.m. ET, March 14, 2022

Russia requests food assistance and other forms of aid from China during war in Ukraine

From CNN's Kevin Liptak, Natasha Bertrand, Katie Bo Lillis, Kylie Atwood and Jennifer Hansler

Russia has requested both military and financial assistance from China amid the conflict in Ukraine.

Among the assistance Russia requested was pre-packaged, non-perishable military food kits, known in the US as "meal, ready-to-eat," or MREs, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The request underscores the basic logistical challenges that military analysts and officials say have stymied Russian progress in Ukraine — and raises questions about the fundamental readiness of the Russian military. 

Forward-deployed units have routinely outstripped their supply convoys and open source reports have shown Russian troops breaking into grocery stores in search of food as the invasion has progressed.

One of the sources suggested that food might be a request that China would be willing to meet, because it stops short of lethal assistance that would be seen as provocative by the west.

The US has information suggesting China has expressed some openness to providing Russia with requested military and financial assistance as part of its war on Ukraine, a Western official and a US diplomat told CNN, and is conveying what it knows to its NATO allies.

It is not yet clear whether China intends to provide Russia with that assistance, US officials familiar with the intelligence tell CNN. But during an intense, seven-hour meeting in Rome, a top aide to US President Joe Biden warned his Chinese counterpart of "potential implications and consequences" for China should support for Russia be forthcoming, a senior administration official said.

5:55 p.m. ET, March 14, 2022

What it's like in the Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv as the Russian invasion continues

From CNN's Jason Kurtz

A damaged building is seen in Mykolaiv, Ukraine.
A damaged building is seen in Mykolaiv, Ukraine. (CNN)

Violence and terror can be seen throughout Ukraine as the country tries to turn back Russian forces.

In Mykolaiv, a maritime city to the south, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh described first-hand what he's seen.

“It’s startling. This time of night … the city is absolutely dead," Paton Walsh told CNN's Jake Tapper, speaking of Mykolaiv.

But "just in the minutes before we started talking Jake, the skyline behind me lit up by the kind of roar of the sound of incoming rockets, quite a distance away from where I'm standing on the other side of the river that splits this city.”

As the conflict rages, Paton Walsh noted that a sad pattern is emerging.

“This is essentially part of a daily routine for people in Mykolaiv now. It’s rare for a day to pass where some sort of part of the civilian infrastructure hasn’t been hit by this relatively indiscriminate rocket fire,” he said.

5:08 p.m. ET, March 14, 2022

"We're fighting for our existence," says former Ukrainian first lady

From CNN's Jason Kurtz

With the Russian invasion of Ukraine now in its third week and the capital city of Kyiv under attack, citizens from across the country are struggling to understand the horrors.

“It's a tremendous tragedy. Every day I think in a few moments, that this is a nightmare, I'll wake up,” says former Ukrainian First Lady Kateryna Yushchenko. “We're not defeated. We're fighting for our existence, our identity, our statehood. We'll continue to fight, and I'm sure we will win because there's no other way. But how many losses it takes depends on how much ... support we receive.”

Despite the assistance Ukraine has received since the beginning of the conflict, Yushchenko stressed the need for further help.

“There is a lot more that the world needs to do. And we're very grateful, tremendously grateful, for everything that has been done,” said the former first lady during a live interview on CNN.

“We need the means to continue to fight, to protect our skies. We need aircraft, air defense missiles, missile defense, and our leaders have said that if we had had those airplanes one week, two weeks, three weeks ago, hundreds, thousands of people would be alive today. There's so much more that can be done with sanctions that have not been done," she said.

In the wake of the ongoing attacks, Yushchenko spoke to the toll that has been taken on the people of Ukraine.

“The attacks have been barbaric and the needs are tremendous,” she said. “The Ukrainian government does not have the resources it needs and it's very important for people to contribute ... for the government to be able to pay social costs, to be able to pay its army, there are so many organizations that are working both on the ground and internationally that have to be supported.”

4:17 p.m. ET, March 14, 2022

Upcoming NATO meeting expected to focus on defense of eastern Europe, officials say

From CNN's Barbara Starr

This week’s meeting of NATO defense ministers is expected to focus on the alliance’s next steps to beef up its defensive presence in eastern Europe in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine according to NATO and US officials. 

“It’s going to put meat on the bones” of a further NATO response, one US official said of the minsters goal. 

Discussions, in part, will center around whether additional steps are needed to beef up NATO reaction forces and possibly add more troops to the mix. However, decisions must still be made about what other tasks the reaction force would take one, the official said. 

There is expected to be some discussion of adding more forces under the NATO flag to the response force, and putting some command and control, including some provided by the US, possibly under the NATO flag according to both a US and also a NATO official. 

There is also expected to be a discussion of air defense capabilities in the eastern flank and whether there is currently enough there. This could involve everything from adding more capabilities, to moving things already there under a NATO flag.   

White House officials are also in early discussions about having President Joe Biden travel to Europe soon amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to multiple sources familiar with the planning. 

The trip would come on the heels of visits of several top aides, including Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

No trip has been finalized or announced. 

CNN's Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.

7:56 p.m. ET, March 14, 2022

Anti-war protester interrupts Russian state TV news broadcast

From CNN Staff

An anti-war protester holding a sign interrupted one of Russia's major state television broadcast news shows around 9:31 p.m. Moscow time.

"NO WAR. Stop the war. Do not believe propaganda they tell you lies here," the sign reads. 

"Russians against war," the last line of the sign says in English.

See the moment:

What we know about the protester: The woman holding the sign is an employee of the channel, according to OVD-Info, an independent human rights protest-monitoring group.

On its Telegram channel, OVD-Info reported that the employee is Maria Ovsyannikova. Friends of Ovsyannikova told OVD-Info that she was currently at the Ostankino Police Department in Moscow.

CNN cannot independently verify that the woman seen interrupting the news broadcast is Ovsyannikova, but photos on social media profiles bearing her name match the woman seen on screen. 

Russian state news agency TASS confirmed OVD-Info’s reporting, citing a source, and added that she could face prosecution.

OVD-Info also obtained a video purportedly made by Ovsyannikova before she interrupted the news broadcast.

"What is happening now in Ukraine is a crime, and Russia is the aggressor country, and the responsibility for this aggression lies on the conscience of only one person. This man is Vladimir Putin," Ovsyannikova says in the video, noting that her father is Ukrainian, and her mother is Russian. 

"Unfortunately, for the past few years, I have been working on Channel One and doing Kremlin propaganda, and now I am very ashamed of it," she says. "It's a shame that I allowed to speak lies from the TV screens, ashamed that I allowed to zombify Russian people."

"I am ashamed that we kept silent in 2014, when all this was just beginning," she says. "We didn’t go to rallies when the Kremlin poisoned Navalny, we just silently watched this anti-human regime and now the world has turned its back on us forever, and another ten generations of our descendants will not be able to wash away from the shame of this fraternal war.”

"We are Russian people, thinking and smart, and it is only in our power to stop all this madness," she says. "Go to the rallies and do not be afraid! They can't transplant us all!"

Videos of the interruption quickly were posted on social media shortly after it aired. CNN obtained the video from a live feed from Russia Channel One VK's profile. 

Within minutes, that live feed was removed.

See more:

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly reported the type of organization OVD-Info is. OVD-Info is an independent human rights protest-monitoring group.

4:16 p.m. ET, March 14, 2022

Pentagon spokesperson says it appears "Russians are broadening their target set" after strike near Lviv

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman and Jeremy Herb

A Russian airstrike that targeted the Yavoriv training facility near Lviv in western Ukraine on Sunday is the third airstrike in western Ukraine, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said during a briefing at the Pentagon on Monday.

With the latest strike, “it certainly appears as if the Russians are broadening their target set,” Kirby added.

The training facility was the location where Florida National Guard members had been doing their training before they left Ukraine before the invasion, Kirby said. No US contractors, civilians or government personnel were at the facility when it was hit, Kirby said.

This site was not one of the routes where US has been getting security assistance to Ukraine, Kirby added.

The Pentagon does not believe that Russia’s strike on a military training facility was a sign that Russia was targeting the delivery of foreign security assistance to Ukraine. 

“We’re not looking at this strike as an effort to go after the delivery of security assistance to Ukraine,” Kirby said.

“I’m not going to talk about all the modalities of how we’re continuing to find ways to help Ukraine defense itself,” Kirby added. “We’re going to continue to get as much security assistance to the Ukrainians as fast as we can and in the most efficient, effective way. And there’s lot of diff ways that we’re pursuing that.”

Kirby also said during the briefing that the airspace over Ukraine remains “contested."

“We still assess that Russia does not have air superiority over Ukraine and that the Ukrainians are defending their space ably,” Kirby said.

“It's contested because the Ukrainians are, are finding ways to continue to try to defend their airspace and preserve their own mobility and maneuver space,” he added.

A defense official earlier today echoed Kirby's comments regarding Ukraine's airspace, adding that the airspace is “dynamic” and there are “times and places” where Russia or Ukraine “has more dominance.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly called for the establishment of a no-fly zone over Ukraine as Russia continues strikes across the country. The US and NATO have opposed creating a no-fly zone in Ukraine, warning that such a move could lead to a "full-fledged war in Europe."

CNN's Daniel Maraccini contributed reporting to this post.

3:50 p.m. ET, March 14, 2022

US conveyed to China potential negative outcomes of assisting Russia in its war in Ukraine, official says

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

The US has conveyed directly to China the potential negative outcomes of assisting Russia in its war with Ukraine, a senior Biden administration official said after the US national security adviser met his Chinese counterpart in Rome on Monday.

“We do have concerns about China's alignment with Russia at this time and the national security adviser was direct about those concerns and the potential implications and consequences of certain actions," the official said, describing a "very candid," "intense" seven-hour meeting between US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi

In their conversation about Ukraine, Sullivan laid out "where we are, how we got here and what the risks are lying ahead," the official said. In particular, he described unity among the United States and its allies, including those in Europe and Asia, in punishing Russia for its actions. 

“We are communicating directly and privately to China about our concerns about the kinds of support that other countries might be providing to Russia," said the official.

Sullivan and Yang also discussed crisis management and North Korea in their meeting, the official said.

More context: The US has information suggesting China has expressed some openness to providing Russia with requested military and financial assistance, a Western official and a US diplomat told CNN. But it is not yet clear whether China intends to provide Russia with military or financial assistance as part of its war on Ukraine, US officials familiar with the intelligence tell CNN.

The consideration was detailed in a diplomatic cable relayed to allies in Europe and Asia, according to the sources.

The cable did not state definitively that assistance had been provided. One official also said the US warned in the cable that China would likely deny it was willing to provide assistance. 

Officials are also monitoring whether China provides some economic and diplomatic relief for Russia in other forms, like abstention votes at the United Nations.

3:33 p.m. ET, March 14, 2022

US defense secretary will travel to NATO Defense Ministerial in Brussels, Slovakia and Bulgaria this week

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

(Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
(Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will travel to Brussels, Belgium, to participate in the NATO Defense Ministerial this week. He will then travel to Slovakia and Bulgaria, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said at a briefing on Monday.

Austin’s trip to Brussels and Slovakia had already been announced, but he added a stop to Bulgaria for a day, Kirby said. Austin leaves for Europe on March 15. 

In Bulgaria, Austin will meet with “senior civilian and military leaders,” Kirby said.

3:20 p.m. ET, March 14, 2022

UN secretary general on conflict in Ukraine: "This war will have no winners, only losers"

From CNN staff

UN Secretary-General António Guterres delivers a statement on Monday, March 14.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres delivers a statement on Monday, March 14. (Richard Drew/AP)

UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged for peace in Ukraine on Monday.

"Ukraine is on fire. The country is being decimated before the eyes of the world. The impact on civilians is reaching terrifying proportions. Countless innocent people — including women and children — have been killed," he said addressing reporters.

Guterres added, "After being hit by Russian forces, roads, airports and schools lie in ruins. According to the World Health Organization, at least 24 health facilities have suffered attacks. Hundreds of thousands of people are without water or electricity. With each passing hour, two things are increasingly clear: First, it keeps getting worse. Second, whatever the outcome, this war will have no winners, only losers."

Guterres said he has spoken to several world leaders who have been in contact with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. He said they are working on mediation efforts.

Guterres has not spoken with Putin since the conflict in Ukraine began in late February.

Asked about his opinion of a no-fly zone, Guterres was cautious in responding, telling reporters “consider that possibility as a risk of escalation that could create a global conflict. It is based on that analysis that I think we need to be prudent, even if I understand the dramatic appeal of Ukrainian government.”

CNN’s Senior UN Correspondent Richard Roth contributed to this report.