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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8:40 p.m. ET, March 14, 2022

Ukraine's Zelensky says he's grateful to those Russians "not afraid to protest"

From CNN’s Samantha Beech

A man looks at a computer screen showing Russian Channel One employee Maria Ovsyannikova protesting against Russia's military action in Ukraine on March 14.
A man looks at a computer screen showing Russian Channel One employee Maria Ovsyannikova protesting against Russia's military action in Ukraine on March 14. (AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he’s “grateful” to Russians who “are not afraid to protest” and who “tell the truth” about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

“I am grateful to those Russians who do not stop trying to convey the truth. To those who fight disinformation and tell the truth, real facts to their friends and loved ones," he said in a Telegram video uploaded early Tuesday local time.

Zelensky also spoke directly about Maria Ovsyannikova, the Russia Channel One employee who held an anti-war sign, to interrupt one of Russia's major state television broadcast news programs in prime time on Monday.

"NO WAR. Stop the war. Do not believe propaganda they tell you lies here," the sign read. "Russians against war," the last line of the sign said in English.

Zelensky thanked Ovsyannikova following her protest.

“And personally to the woman who entered the studio of Channel One with a poster against the war,” he said.
“To those who are not afraid to protest. As long as your country has not completely closed itself off from the whole world, turning into a very large North Korea, you must fight. You must not lose your chance.” 

Ovsyannikova's lawyer, Dmitry Zakhvatov, told CNN earlier that he is unable to find his client, despite reports she is in Moscow's Ostankino Police station.

8:04 p.m. ET, March 14, 2022

In Putin's vision for the world, a medieval narrative resurfaces of the Russian world vs. western culture

From CNN's Delia Gallagher

(Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/AFP/Getty Images)
(Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has given several explanations for his country's war on Ukraine, and some are more plausible than others. They include stopping NATO's advance towards Russia's borders, protecting fellow Russians from "genocide" or the baseless claim of "de-Nazifying" Ukraine.

The top-ranking priest in the Russian Orthodox Church, meanwhile, has offered a very different reason for the invasion: gay pride parades.

Patriarch Kirill said last week that the conflict is an extension of a fundamental culture clash between the wider Russian world and Western liberal values, exemplified by expressions of gay pride.

Yet experts say that Kirill's comments offer important insights into Putin's larger spiritual vision of a return to a Russian Empire, in which the Orthodox religion plays a pivotal role.

The hardline stance of the Russian patriarch is also costing him followers, however. The Russian Orthodox church in Amsterdam announced on Sunday it was severing ties with the leader, just the latest in number of priests and churches who are abandoning Moscow over the war in Ukraine.

"Putin has been putting forward this concept of the so-called Russian World and that concept is grounded in Russian Orthodoxy," Victoria Smolkin, associate professor of history at Wesleyan University, told CNN.
"The Russian World is wherever there are Russian speakers, the Russian World is wherever there is a Russian church — it does not acknowledge existing political borders," Smolkin said.

Putin's vision is supported by Kirill, who also sees Ukraine as an integral, historical part of his Russian church, Georg Michels, professor of history at University of California Riverside, told CNN.

"At the beginning of the war, Patriarch Kirill gave a sermon in which he emphasized the God-given unity of Ukraine and Russia," said Michels in a UC Riverside News interview.

"Kirill denounced the 'evil forces' in Ukraine that are out to destroy this unity," Michels explained.

Last Sunday, Kirill went a step further during a sermon in Moscow when he specifically linked these "evil forces" to gay pride events.

According to the patriarch, the war in Ukraine is about "a fundamental rejection of the so-called values that are offered today by those who claim world power" -- that is, the West.

The "test" of which side you are on, said Kirill, is whether your country is willing to hold gay pride parades.

"In order to enter the club of those countries, it is necessary to hold a gay pride parade. Not to make a political statement, 'we are with you,' not to sign any agreements, but to hold a gay parade," he said during the March 6 sermon.

"If we see violations of [God's] law, we will never put up with those who destroy this law, blurring the line between holiness and sin, and even more so with those who promote sin as an example or as one of the models of human behavior," Kirill said. "Around this topic today there is a real war," he added.

Kirill's speech denounced the infiltration of Western liberal values into the hearts and minds of what he said were the historically unified and Orthodox Ukrainian and Russian people.

"He's saying there is a civilizational clash and that the gay pride parades in this narrative is a litmus test for which side you're on," Smolkin said.

Despite calls for Kirill to denounce Putin's war, the "Russian Pope" has not only refused to do so, but instead has provided moral legitimacy for the invasion by calling it a struggle of "metaphysical significance," of humanity choosing to follow God's laws.

"The Russian Orthodox Church is providing much of the symbolism and ideology that Putin has used to cement his popularity," added Michels.

Read more.

8:51 p.m. ET, March 14, 2022

New satellite images show additional damage in Mariupol and outside of Kyiv

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

A color infrared satellite image shows burning homes in Moschun, Ukraine.
A color infrared satellite image shows burning homes in Moschun, Ukraine. (Maxar Technologies)

New satellite images from Maxar Technologies are helping to shed light on the areas impacted by military strikes across Ukraine.

Just 24 miles northwest of central Kyiv, the satellite images show that nearly every single house in the northwestern side of the village of Moschun has sustained significant damage.

Fires are still burning in some of the houses while the fields surrounding the village are also scorched.

The photos, taken on Monday, also show damage across Mariupol. The satellite images are offering the only look at the latest destruction in the city.

Damage and scattered debris is seen at Mariupol's Regional Intensive Care Hospital.
Damage and scattered debris is seen at Mariupol's Regional Intensive Care Hospital. (Maxar Technologies)

Mariupol's Regional Intensive Care Hospital in the city's Zhovteneyvi neighborhood has a hole in the southern facade of the building while debris is also scattered outside. 

It's unclear which side is responsible for the damage at the hospital. Nearby the hospital building, a number of apartment complexes appear to have been significantly harmed with one seeming to have suffered noticeable fire damage.

Homes and apartment buildings are seen damaged after an apparent military strike in the the Primorskyi neighborhood.
Homes and apartment buildings are seen damaged after an apparent military strike in the the Primorskyi neighborhood. (Maxar Technologies)

Roughly a mile south, in the Primorskyi neighborhood, a number of homes are seen smoldering after an apparent military strike. Nearby apartment complexes have also sustained damage, while additional homes in a residential area in the city's center are also facing concerns.

7:02 p.m. ET, March 14, 2022

"This is just yet another day in Kyiv," CNN reporter says after explosions heard

From CNN's Jason Kurtz

CNN’s Sam Kiley is in Kyiv, where there has been heavy explosions as Russia's invasion continues.

“Just as you were coming to me, Wolf, we could hear a few detonations," Kiley reported as he spoke live to Wolf Blitzer.

Kiley shared details on a pair of recent incidents he had learned of.

“On the western edge of the city, earlier on today there was an attack against a civilian apartment building,” he said.

“We were also in the southwest of the city … there, a missile of some kind was intercepted, we understand, and landed fairly close to where we were. A number of people were injured there and there was a lot of damage.”

Kiley noted the scene has become all too familiar as the conflict continues.

“This is just yet another day in Kyiv … Putin has continued his campaign against civilian areas and expanded the target list,” he said.

Amid the ongoing destruction, Kiley pointed out that the invasion has not gone as seamlessly as the Russian president may have hoped.

“They have not achieved what Putin was told would be easily achieved in a matter of days, which is the capture of this city and the decapitation of its administration,” said Kiley. “Things are getting tougher by the day for the Russians but it's principally Ukrainian civilians that seem to be paying the price.”

6:13 p.m. ET, March 14, 2022

US State Department ready to assist Fox News correspondent injured in Ukraine, spokesperson says

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

(From Fox News)
(From Fox News)

The US State Department stands ready to assist injured Fox News correspondent Ben Hall in any way they can, spokesperson Ned Price said Monday.

Hall, who had been deployed in recent weeks to cover the war in Ukraine, was hospitalized after being injured while reporting near Kyiv, the network said on Monday.

“I’m heartbroken by reports that my colleague, a State Department correspondent, was injured in Ukraine today,” Price wrote on Twitter.

“Our thoughts are with him, his family, and all of his colleagues, and we wish him a full recovery. We stand ready to assist in any way we can,” he wrote.

Hall has been covering the State Department since last year.  

Shaun Tandon, the president of the State Department Correspondents Association, said in a statement Monday, “we are horrified to learn that our fellow correspondent Benjamin Hall was injured as he covered the Ukraine war.” 

“We know Ben for his warmth, good humor and utmost professionalism. We wish Ben a quick recovery and call for utmost efforts to protect journalists who are providing an invaluable service through their coverage in Ukraine,” Tandon said.

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.