March 15, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Eric Levenson, Meg Wagner, Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Ben Church, Jeevan Ravindran, Maureen Chowdhury, Melissa Macaya and Jason Kurtz, CNN

Updated 11:12 a.m. ET, March 16, 2022
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10:15 a.m. ET, March 15, 2022

About 2,000 cars leave Mariupol after days of failed evacuation attempts, city council says

From CNN’s Ivana Kottasová in Lviv and Marina Marukhnych in Odessa 

An estimated 2,000 private cars have been able to leave the besieged city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine on Tuesday, Mariupol's city council said in a statement.

A further 2,000 vehicles were parked up on the main route out of the city as of 2 p.m. local time still waiting to leave, the statement added. 

The departures took place despite the ongoing failure to formally establish safe corridors to evacuate civilians from Mariupol, which has been besieged since March 1. 

A large convoy of humanitarian aid that was supposed to arrive on Sunday had still not reached the city as of Tuesday morning, according to officials.

In a message posted on its official Telegram channel, the city council advised residents to travel west along the coast to Mangush and Berdyansk and then continue northwest to Tokmak, Vasylivka and Zaporizhzhia.  

The council advised people to remove messaging apps and photos from their phones ahead of the journey, to refrain from taking any photographs during the trip and avoid driving during the night.  

On Monday, around 160 private cars managed to leave the city, the council said, adding that by 10 a.m. local time, about 300 Mariupol residents made it to Zaporizhzhia, where they had received assistance. 

10:07 a.m. ET, March 15, 2022

President Zelensky says nearly 100 children killed in Russian attacks on Ukraine

From Oleksandra Ochman in Lviv

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky addresses attendees via video link at the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) Summit in London, England, on March 15.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky addresses attendees via video link at the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) Summit in London, England, on March 15. (Neil Hall/EPA/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky told leaders of the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force almost 100 children have been killed in Russian attacks on his country since the start of the invasion almost three weeks ago.

CNN cannot independently verify these casualty figures.

Zelensky made the comment as he called into question foreign companies’ commitment to a long-term boycott of Russia.  

"Some companies say they have left, but they are just waiting for the moment they can return to the Russian market. They don't care about 97 children; up to now, 97 children have been killed here," Zelensky told the leaders by video link.

10:01 a.m. ET, March 15, 2022

Russian TV presenter resigns from one of most popular channels, state media reports

From CNN’s Sarah Dean in London

A Russian presenter for the pro-Kremlin NTV channel Lilia Gildeeva "no longer works" for the channel, state news agency RIA Novosti reported Tuesday, citing the press office of the channel.

NTV refused to comment when contacted by CNN. CNN has attempted to contact Gildeeva for comment. The reason for her resignation has not been disclosed. 

The Telegram channel for popular Russian blogger Ilya Varlamov reported Gildeeva told him in an interview that she had resigned and left the country.

"At first I left [the country], I was afraid that they wouldn't just let me go, then I submitted my resignation," Varlamov quoted her as saying. 

The Varlamov channel on Telegram reported she had worked at NTV since 2006.

9:59 a.m. ET, March 15, 2022

Canada imposes new sanctions in response to Russian invasion of Ukraine

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Canada is imposing new sanctions in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, including restrictions on 15 Russian officials who enabled and supported President Vladimir Putin’s choice to invade the country, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly announced in a statement Tuesday.

The new measures seek to apply additional pressure on Putin to reverse course and align with measures taken by Canada’s international partners. According to Global Affairs Canada, the sanctions demonstrate a global commitment to impose sweeping economic measures on the Russian leadership to weaken its ability to wage war on Ukraine.

“Canada will not relent in its support of Ukraine and its people. President Putin made the choice to [further] his illegal and unjustifiable invasion, and he can also make the choice to end it by immediately ending the senseless violence and withdrawing his forces. Canada will not hesitate to take further action should the Russian leadership fail to change course,” Joly said in the release.
9:36 a.m. ET, March 15, 2022

Spanish authorities seize yachts of Russian oligarch

From CNN's Al Goodman in Madrid  

The super yacht Valerie moored in Barcelona, Spain, on March 1.
The super yacht Valerie moored in Barcelona, Spain, on March 1. (Angel Garcia/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Spanish authorities have seized a $140 million yacht “of one of the principal oligarchs” of Russia, in the port of Barcelona, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said late Monday in a televised interview. They did not name the oligarch. 

“We have seized – the technical term is provisionally immobilized – a yacht of one of the principal oligarchs,” Sanchez told Spain’s La Sexta TV. “We are talking about a yacht that we estimate has a value of $140 million. ... It is 85 meters (279 feet) long.”  

The yacht is named "Valerie," and Spanish authorities want to determine if it is owned or controlled by a person or company sanctioned by the European Union due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Spain’s Transport Ministry said in a statement.  

This is the first “provisional immobilization” of a yacht related to the EU sanctions against Russia, carried out by the Merchant Marine Directorate, an agency of the Transport Ministry, the statement said.  

The superyacht was ready to sail away from Barcelona’s port, where it was docked at the installations of MB92, a company that does repairs and maintenance of superyachts, the ministry statement said.  

Sanchez said that Spain will contact intelligence services and economic departments of allied countries in the European Union and elsewhere to try to pinpoint the yacht’s ownership.  

“It’s complex because these are people who have intermediary companies,” Sanchez said, referring to the oligarchs. But he added “there will be more.”  

The Transport Ministry said: “If, as suspected, the ship is the property of a person or company included in the list of (Russia) sanctions by the European Council, then the superyacht will be immobilized until further order.”  

Authorities on Tuesday also provisionally seized a second yacht to determine if its owner is subject to the latest European Union sanctions against Russia, according to the ministry.

Officials at the port of Palma de Mallorca on Tuesday retained the second yacht, “Lady Anastasia,” less than 24 hours after officials provisionally seized the first superyacht. 

Both sail under the flag of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. 

The “Lady Anastasia” is 48 meters (157 feet) long.


11:12 a.m. ET, March 16, 2022

Ukraine's Vinnytsia district prepares for the impact of the Russian invasion

By AnneClaire Stapleton, Ivan Watson and Tom Booth

The Ukrainian oblast of Vinnytsia has had two weeks to prepare their community for a potential Russian invasion.

While many Ukrainians join the defense force and many others flee the country, those who remain are prepared to defend their motherland. Officials here are trying to keep life as normal as possible, encouraging restaurants and stores to remain open.

Walking around, CNN saw government buildings stacked high with sandbags, road signs with colorful language denouncing Russian occupation, and many checkpoints. And yet, there are still people out in the streets, eating at cafes, and going about their life.

“If we don’t keep economy, we don’t keep army,” Vladyslav Kryveshko, the district's head, told CNN. “We must do this."

Humanitarian aid from all over Europe is being distributed from this warehouse to the hardest hit areas of Ukraine. Baby food, jackets, strollers, food, coffee, all supplies that are so desperately needed.
Humanitarian aid from all over Europe is being distributed from this warehouse to the hardest hit areas of Ukraine. Baby food, jackets, strollers, food, coffee, all supplies that are so desperately needed. (AnneClaire Stapleton/CNN)

He said the community has had some time to prepare, work on humanitarian aid and strengthen its defenses while other regions in the country get hit.

“Time is like gold,” he told CNN. “Today, we are ready ... but we don’t want this.”

On the ground, CNN saw a warehouse owner housing truckloads full of humanitarian aid sent from all over Europe, former police and firemen manning the village checkpoint around the clock — all preparing in case of Russian attack.

This checkpoint at the entrance to a village in Ukraine is completely community made. This is not a government checkpoint. Residents stand out here day and night ready to defend their motherland.
This checkpoint at the entrance to a village in Ukraine is completely community made. This is not a government checkpoint. Residents stand out here day and night ready to defend their motherland. (AnneClaire Stapleton/CNN)

In his message to the world, he said Ukrainians really need a no-fly zone over the country.

“I want to say thank you to the rest of the world. But I also want to say that we need help,” he said. “Please, we need to close the skies.”

Correction: An earlier version of this post misidentified that the preparations are happening in the city of Vinnytsia. They are happening in the oblast of Vinnytsia.

9:15 a.m. ET, March 15, 2022

4 killed as Russian forces hit residential areas to the north, east and west of Kyiv city center 

From CNN’s Ivana Kottasová and Yulia Kesaieva in Lviv

Four people were killed when a 16-story building in Sviatoshynskyi, a residential area of western Kyiv, was shelled early Tuesday morning, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.

Ukraine’s state emergency services had initially reported two people died in the strike.

A separate hit on another building in the same district caused minor damage, the emergency services said. 

At least four buildings in residential areas across the Ukrainian capital — to the east, north and west of the city center — were hit by Russian attacks within the space of an hour Tuesday morning.

Two residents of the 16-story building that was hit told CNN they were woken up by a strong blow that caused their bed to shake. The couple — Elena and her husband Vadim — tried to escape, but realized they could not use the stairs because of thick smoke.  

The couple said they ended up being evacuated through the fire escape by emergency services. Their dog was rescued four hours later, they told CNN, when Vadim was able to return to the apartment with firefighters.  

“They broke my house, but not my will,” Vadim told CNN.��

Another resident, Galina Borisovna, 70, who lives on the 10th floor, told CNN she had decided to spend the whole night in the shelter — a decision that likely saved her life.  

“When I left [the shelter], I realized I had lost everything. My one-room apartment has burned down completely,” she told CNN.

9:05 a.m. ET, March 15, 2022

It's mid-afternoon in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

At least four buildings in residential areas of Kyiv were hit by strikes early Tuesday morning, killing two people. In the besieged city of Mariupol, more than 2,500 civilians have died, Ukrainian officials estimate, and those who remain have no electricity, water or heat.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has renewed his calls for other countries to come to Ukraine's aid ahead of meetings with the Polish, Slovenian and Czech prime ministers, who are acting as European Union representatives.

  • Kyiv under attack: Two people were killed in shelling of a residential area in western Kyiv early Tuesday morning, according to Ukraine Emergency Services. A 35-hour curfew will be imposed in the city from Tuesday evening to Thursday morning. Satellite images show nearly every house in the northwestern side of the village of Moschun, near Kyiv, has sustained significant damage.
  • Zelensky to meet EU leaders: Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Slovenia's Janez Janša and the Czech Republic's Petr Fiala are heading to Kyiv from Poland to meet Zelensky and confirm the EU's "unequivocal support" and "present a broad package of support."
  • 350,000 trapped in Mariupol: Around 350,000 people are still trapped in Mariupol, the city in southeastern Ukraine that has been besieged by Russian troops since March 1, a local official said. He added that most people were living in "inhumane conditions," melting snow and dismantling the heating system to get drinking water.
  • Fresh sanctions: The UK and the EU have announced fresh sanctions against Russia. More than 600 Russian nationals are being targeted in the EU's sanctions, according to French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, who called it a "historical decision." The UK's sanctions include banning the export of luxury goods to Russia and tariffs on goods worth more than $1 billion.
  • Further casualties: A strike in northwestern Ukraine on Monday killed at least 19 people, officials said Tuesday, after having initially reported no casualties. The strike hit a TV tower near the city of Rivne and officials said the area was still being cleared.
  • NATO leaders meeting on the cards: The leaders of NATO could meet in person in Brussels as soon as next week for what would be an extraordinary meeting, according to a diplomatic source. Separately, this week’s meeting of NATO defense ministers is expected to focus on the alliance’s next steps to strengthen its defensive presence in eastern Europe in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
8:36 a.m. ET, March 15, 2022

German economy threatened by war in Ukraine, chancellor says

From Inke Kappeler

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks during a press conference with the King of Jordan following talks at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, on March 15.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks during a press conference with the King of Jordan following talks at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, on March 15. (Hannibal Hanschke/AFP/Getty Images)

The war in Ukraine, paired with the sanctions against Russia, pose a threat to the German economy, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said at a joint press conference with Jordanian King Abdullah II. 

"We must understand very well that this Ukraine war also brings challenges for us regarding economic consequences of the sanctions," Scholz said on Tuesday in Berlin. Some countries are expressing concerns about food security because of delivery shortfalls from Russia and Ukraine, Scholz said.

"We have to make sure that our economy goes well through these difficult times," he added.

Germany has the largest economy in Europe.

Scholz and King Abdullah condemned the war in Ukraine and called on Russian President Vladimir Putin "to stop all combat operations immediately and withdraw his invasion troops." Scholz reiterated the willingness for talks to end the war.

“A recession is becoming more and more likely,” warned economic research institute ZEW on its website on Tuesday. The war in Ukraine and the sanctions against Russia are significantly dampening the economic outlook for Germany," it said. 

The institute marked the “biggest drop in economic expectations ever” for Germany. The ZEW started monitoring Germany's economic development in December 1991.