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

Strategic land corridor established between Crimea and Donbas, Russian state media claims

From CNN's Alex Stambaugh and Yulia Sevchenko

A map showing Crimea and Mariupol in the Donetsk Oblast region of Ukraine.
A map showing Crimea and Mariupol in the Donetsk Oblast region of Ukraine. (Google Earth)

A land corridor has been established between Crimea and Donbas, according to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.

In its report, the news agency cited the Vice-Premier of Crimea Georgiy Muradov, who is the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Crimea under the President of Russia. 

CNN has not been able to independently verify the Russian state media report. 

According to RIA, the corridor provides a strategic route connecting Crimea to Mariupol, which is currently surrounded by Russian and Russian-backed separatist troops. 

The land corridor would allow troops in Crimea to join forces with Russian-backed rebels in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), as well as giving Russian-backed forces access to key port cities along the Sea of Azov. 

The RIA report also called it an "important route" for connecting Crimea to the steel-making capital Mariupol and the industrial Donbas region. 

3:19 a.m. ET, March 14, 2022

More than 2.5 million Ukrainians have fled their country since Russia's invasion. Here's where they are now

From CNN's Travis Caldwell

Refugees from Ukraine at the main railway station in Krakow, Poland, on March 13.
Refugees from Ukraine at the main railway station in Krakow, Poland, on March 13. (Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

In little over two weeks, millions of Ukrainian refugees have been forced to flee as the brutal Russian invasion of their homeland continues.

The amount of people on the move constitutes "the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II," UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Commissioner Filippo Grandi said Sunday.

While many residents in the central and eastern portions of the country have relocated to western Ukraine and away from the front lines, more than 2.5 million Ukrainians have left entirely following Russia's invasion on February 24, according to the latest United Nations refugee estimates.

Most of those fleeing Ukraine are women and children. Ukrainian males aged 18 to 60 were banned from leaving after its national government enforced martial law.

  • With more than 1.6 million Ukrainians crossing into its territory as of Friday, according to UNHCR data, Poland has received by far the most refugees.
  • Nations directly to the west and south of Ukraine have also accepted large numbers of refugees. Since the invasion, more than 245,000 Ukrainians have entered Hungary, while over 195,000 have fled to Slovakiaaccording to UNHCR data Friday.
  • Over 328,000 refugees have arrived in Moldova, the country's Foreign Affairs Minister Nicu Popescu said.
  • And more than 173,000 have since fled to neighboring Romania, according to UNHCR.

Across Europe, nations including Germany, Austria, Croatia, Estonia, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden have each reported thousands of Ukrainians arriving.

Read the full story:

2:12 a.m. ET, March 14, 2022

Russia-Ukraine talks are set to resume today. Here's what we know

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak tweeted Sunday diplomatic talks between Ukrainian and Russian officials will take place Monday through video.

Here's what we know:

  • Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed the negotiations, telling Russian state news agency RIA Sunday talks will continue Monday.
  • A tweet from Podoliak’s verified twitter page said: “Again. Negotiations go non-stop in the format of video conferences. Working groups are constantly functioning. A large number of issues require constant attention. On Monday, March 14, a negotiating session will be held to sum up the preliminary results…”
  • Podoliak earlier tweeted that Ukraine "will not give up any of the positions" or listen to Russian "ultimatums."
  • Ukraine's demands, Podoliak said, are the end of the war and the withdrawal of Russian troops from the country.
  • Podoliak also said he thinks they will “achieve concrete results” from talks with Russia.
  • In a video posted on Twitter, Podoliak said Russia has become "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 said. "We shall not give up on any points, out of principle.”
  • There are hopes the talks will open the way for more civilians to evacuate, particularly from areas bombarded by Russian shelling such as the besieged city of Mariupol. The city's administration confirmed Sunday a large convoy of humanitarian aid destined for the besieged city had not arrived, and trapped residents were in desperate need of aid.
  • Hundreds of thousands of people there are facing “extreme or total shortages of basic necessities like food, water, and medicine” in Mariupol and many are sheltering in “unheated basements,” the International Committee of the Red Cross said.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a Facebook video address Sunday that his team is continuing to work in 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. 
12:48 a.m. ET, March 14, 2022

War in Ukraine could make the Covid-19 pandemic worse, WHO says

From CNN's Jen Christensen

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Sunday it is concerned the war in Ukraine could worsen the Covid-19 pandemic, and it is trying to do more to limit the spread of infectious diseases.

Cases in the region are down from the previous week, but there's significant risk there will be more severe disease and death due to low vaccination rates in Ukraine, as well as among the more than 2 million who've fled the country to surrounding areas — regions also with low vaccination rates.

Ukraine's Covid-19 vaccination rate is around 34%, while neighboring Moldova's is around 29%, according to Our World In Data.

There have been a total of 791,021 new cases of Covid-19 and 8,012 new deaths in Ukraine and in surrounding countries between March 3 and 9, a WHO situation report published Sunday said.

Read the full story:

12:26 a.m. ET, March 14, 2022

Analysis: Only Putin can end the war — but he's escalating its brutal toll and spillover potential

Analysis from CNN's Stephen Collinson

One man started the brutal war in Ukraine and only one man can end it: Vladimir Putin.

The Russian President's escalation of his vicious onslaught over the weekend — taking the conflict close to NATO territory in Poland and pouring missiles and artillery into civilian areas blighted by a worsening humanitarian crisis — suggest he's nowhere near ready for a ceasefire.

In fact, the war is only becoming more dangerous and closer to spilling out of control after Moscow told the US it would target Western arms shipments to the Ukrainian armed forces that have helped slow the Russian advance.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Sunday night that it was only a matter of time before Russian missiles fell on NATO territory — as he renewed his call for the alliance to close the skies over his country.

There is every sign that the Russian leader, despite presiding over an invasion that has turned Russia into an economic and diplomatic pariah, plans to callously press on and destroy Ukraine to further his personal ambition of preventing it ever joining the West.

Read the full story:

12:22 a.m. ET, March 14, 2022

ICRC warns of a “worst-case scenario” for civilians trapped in Mariupol

From CNN’s Kareem El Damanhoury

Women and children sit on the floor of a corridor in a hospital in Mariupol on March 11.
Women and children sit on the floor of a corridor in a hospital in Mariupol on March 11. (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is calling for an urgent solution to prevent a “worst-case scenario” for civilians trapped in the southern city of Mariupol, according to a statement released Sunday.

“A worst-case scenario awaits the hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped by heavy combat in Mariupol unless the parties reach a concrete humanitarian agreement urgently,” the statement says.

The ICRC called on all parties fighting in Mariupol to agree on a ceasefire that ensures a safe passage for civilians. 

“All those participating in the fighting need to agree to the modalities and timing of a ceasefire, the precise locations of the safe passage route, and then ensure that the agreement is respected,” ICRC added.

Hundreds of thousands of Mariupol residents are facing “extreme or total shortages of basic necessities like food, water, and medicine” and many are sheltering in “unheated basements,” ICRC said.

Bodies are also trapped under the rubble or lying where they fell in the city. 

Earlier Sunday, Mariupol's city administration said in a Telegram post a large convoy of humanitarian aid destined for the besieged city had not arrived, and was still stuck in Berdyansk, some 50 miles to the west, leaving 400,000 people waiting for help.

Mariupol was subjected to “shelling and aerial bombardment all day long,” Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Sunday. 

12:23 a.m. ET, March 14, 2022

It's 6 a.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

Russian airstrikes hit close to a NATO member's border and Moscow asked China for military assistance in Ukraine, a senior US official said.

Here are the latest developments:

Russia expands west: Russian airstrikes hit a large military base near the western city of Lviv, which is close to the Polish border, killing 35 people and leaving more than 130 in hospital Sunday. More than 30 missiles fired from warplanes over the Black and Azov seas had hit the military base, according to a Ukrainian government statement. As Russia expands its offensive to western Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky says "it is only a matter of time before Russian missiles fall" on NATO territory.

Seeking China's help: Russia has asked China for economic support and military assistance in Ukraine, including drones, two US officials said Sunday. White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the development is a “concern" and 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. Sullivan will meet Chinese counterparts in Rome on Monday for talks.

Ukraine and Russia talks to continue Monday: Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak tweeted Sunday talks between Ukrainian and Russian officials will take place Monday through video.

Treason investigation: Ukraine's prosecutor general has opened a treason investigation into Galina Danilchenko, the newly installed mayor of Russian-occupied Melitopol. Danilchenko was installed as Melitopol's mayor after the elected mayor, Ivan Fedorov, was detained by armed men on Friday and accused of terrorism offenses. On Sunday, Danilchenko said in a televised video that "Russian TV channels" would begin broadcasting in the region.

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

Chernobyl staff: Staff at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant are so tired they have stopped carrying out the repair and maintenance of safety-related equipment, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said. The 211 technical personnel and guards have still not been able to rotate from the facility since Russian forces entered the site. Ukraine managed to resume the power supply at Chernobyl on Sunday.

Dire situation in Mariupol: The city's administration confirmed Sunday night a large convoy of humanitarian aid destined for the besieged city had not arrived, and was still stuck in Berdyansk, some 50 miles to the west. Berdyansk is being held by Russia. A resident of Mariupol painted a grim picture of the situation in the city in a video diary posted on Twitter, saying "the world doesn't know what's happening here ... This is horror."

12:04 a.m. ET, March 14, 2022

Analysis: Japan's tough talk on Russia is really about China

Analysis from CNN's Emiko Jozuka and Blake Essig

Japan has backed its condemnation of war in Ukraine with sanctions on Russian officials and oligarchs, but experts say they're not the only audience for Tokyo's outrage — China is meant to get the message, too.

Since Moscow attacked Ukraine, commentators have drawn comparisons between Russia's actions and China's stated ambition to seek the "reunification" of Taiwan with the mainland.

For Japan, support for Ukraine serves a dual purpose, according to Yoko Iwama, an international relations and security expert at the National Graduate Institute of Policy Studies.

"The purpose of Japan's response is to send a message that we will be ready and we will resist if there's an invasion (of Japanese territory), that we will not allow the borders to be changed by force," said Iwama.
"We don't want a real war, the objective is political -- that China is persuaded from an aggressive act like the one that Putin has taken in the last several days and weeks."

Read the full analysis:

12:02 a.m. ET, March 14, 2022

Treason investigation launched into newly installed mayor of Russian-occupied Melitopol

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy and Josh Pennington

Newly installed mayor of Russian-occupied Melitopol, Galina Danilchenko
Newly installed mayor of Russian-occupied Melitopol, Galina Danilchenko (Melitopol Mayor's Office)

Ukraine's prosecutor general has opened a treason investigation into Galina Danilchenko, the newly installed mayor of Russian-occupied Melitopol.

The investigation comes after a group of Melitopol City Council members issued a written address Sunday, requesting the prosecutor general initiate criminal proceedings against Danilchenko, "for the high crime of treason, for attempting to set up an occupying government in Melitopol."  

In its address, the Council accused Danilchenko, "a city council member from the Opposition Bloc," of dissolving the city government and transferring its powers to a People's Deputies Committee.

The prosecutor general's office announced it had opened an investigation in a statement posted on its website, accusing Danilchenko of, "fulfilling the task set to her by her Russian Federation representatives" when she declared herself Melitopol's acting mayor.

"In announcing the creation of a body not defined by Ukrainian law, this People's Deputies Committee, the suspect called on Ukrainian citizens for their support and citizens of Melitopol to stop resisting the occupying forces," the statement from the prosecutor’s office read.

According to the statement, the investigation and criminal proceedings will be conducted by the Security Service of Ukraine in the Zaporizhzhia region.

On Facebook, Ukraine's prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova lauded the Melitopol City Council address saying, "I heard you and I'm proud of you."  

Some context: Danilchenko was installed as Melitopol's mayor after the elected mayor, Ivan Fedorov, was detained by armed men on Friday. Shortly after he was detained, the prosecutor's office for the Russian-backed separatist region of Luhansk accused Fedorov of terrorism offenses.

On Sunday, Danilchenko said in a televised video that "Russian TV channels" would begin broadcasting in the region. She claimed, "a great deficit of trustworthy information being circulated," as reasoning for the broadcasting decision.