March 30, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Maureen Chowdhury, Travis Caldwell, Seán Federico O'Murchú, Lianne Kolirin and Sana Noor Haq, CNN

Updated 12:02 a.m. ET, March 31, 2022
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1:27 p.m. ET, March 30, 2022

Putin is attacking "core of transatlantic security," US secretary of defense says

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion involves not just attacking Ukraine, but also “attacking principles at the core of transatlantic security.” 

Austin called the war in Ukraine “Putin’s war of choice” during opening remarks at the Pentagon on Wednesday ahead of a meeting with German Minister of Defence Christine Lambrecht.

“Putin’s war of choice has taken a terrible toll on civilian casualties and forced millions of innocent Ukrainians to flee their country,” he said. 

Austin thanked Germany for working with the US to deploy forces “to and through Germany in recent months,” as part of the US’s increased security presence in Europe. He also said he applauds Germany’s decision to spend 2% of their “economic output on defense.”

“Together, we send a clear message, and that message is any challenge to our security will meet a firm and united response. And our commitment to NATO’s collective defense is ironclad,” Austin said.

Lambrecht said the relationship between the US and Germany is “good” and “permanent” in her opening remarks.

“We met in very troubling times, and what is important for me is that the transatlantic relationship, especially the relationship between Germany and the United States, is meant to last and is sustainable, so we were able to show that we were able to unite NATO, that we were able to unite Europe against President Putin in the form of the sanctions that we decided on together, and especially through the support that we have shown our allies in the alliance,” Lambrecht said via a translator.

10:03 a.m. ET, March 30, 2022

US official: "We believe that Putin is being misinformed" about Russian military performance

From CNN's Jeremy Diamond

The US believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin is being "misinformed" by his advisers about how badly the Russian military is performing in Ukraine and the impact of sanctions on Russia's economy, a US official tells CNN.

"We believe that Putin is being misinformed by his advisers about how badly the Russian military is performing and how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions, because his senior advisers are too afraid to tell him the truth," a US official said.

The official said the assessment is based on declassified US intelligence findings.

The official added that the US has information indicating that Putin has become aware of the misinformation, leading to a rift between Putin and his top defense officials.

“We have information that Putin felt misled by the Russian military. There is now persistent tension between Putin and the (Ministry of Defence), stemming from Putin’s mistrust in MOD leadership," the US official said.

The official said Putin did not know his military was "using and losing conscripts in Ukraine, showing a clear breakdown in the flow of accurate information to the Russian president."

10:34 a.m. ET, March 30, 2022

UNICEF says 2 million children have fled Ukraine, with more than 100 killed

From CNN's Richard Roth

A train with refugees fleeing Ukraine crosses the border in Medyka, Poland, on March 7.
A train with refugees fleeing Ukraine crosses the border in Medyka, Poland, on March 7. (Visar Kryeziu/AP)

Roughly two million children have now been forced to flee Ukraine — making up half of all refugees from the war — the United Nations Children's Fund said Wednesday.

More than 1.1 million have arrived in Poland alone, with hundreds of thousands in nearby countries of Romania, Moldova, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

UNICEF warned of a heightened risk of exploitation and trafficking for children fleeing violence. In an effort to quell those risks, the UN agency is scaling up “Blue Dots,” which are one-stop safe spaces for traveling families. 

More than 100 children have been killed in the conflict, UNICEF added, with more than 130 injured. 

More than 2.5 million children have been internally displaced within Ukraine, according to UNICEF.

9:53 a.m. ET, March 30, 2022

Zelensky asks for more weapons and urges port closures in address to Norwegian parliament

From CNN's Anastasia Graham-Yooll in London

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is seen on large screens as he addresses members of Norway's Parliament, The Storting, in Oslo, Norway, on March 30.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is seen on large screens as he addresses members of Norway's Parliament, The Storting, in Oslo, Norway, on March 30. (Torstein Bøe/NTB/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for more weapons and for Europe to close its sea ports to Russia in an address to the Norwegian parliament on Wednesday.  

Zelensky asked for anti-ship missiles, Harpoon rockets, anti-air missile systems and anti-tank guns.

“All weapons you can help us with will be used only to protect our freedom, your freedom,” he said. 

Zelensky said Russia is blocking Ukraine’s sea ports, amounting to piracy. 

“Russia should not be able to use the world ports freely. This is a matter of global maritime security,” he said.

He warned the future of the “entire continent, from north to south, from east to west, is being decided right now” in Ukraine.  

9:36 a.m. ET, March 30, 2022

Russia has used banned anti-personnel landmines in Ukraine, according to Human Rights Watch

From CNN's Chris Liakos

A landmine set up by Russian army is seen on a street in the Lukâyanivka frontline, eastern of Kyiv, Ukraine, March 28.
A landmine set up by Russian army is seen on a street in the Lukâyanivka frontline, eastern of Kyiv, Ukraine, March 28. (Narciso Contreras/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Russian forces fighting in Ukraine have used banned anti-personnel mines in the eastern Kharkiv region of the country, according to Human Rights Watch.

The international organization said that the anti-personnel mines were located by Ukrainian explosive ordnance disposal technicians on March 28.

“Russia is known to possess these newly deployed landmines, which can indiscriminately kill and maim people within an apparent 16-meter (52 feet) range,” HRW said, adding that Ukraine does not possess this type of landmine or its delivery system.

“Countries around the world should forcefully condemn Russia’s use of banned antipersonnel landmines in Ukraine,” said Steve Goose, the arms director of Human Rights Watch. “These weapons do not differentiate between combatants and civilians and leave a deadly legacy for years to come.”

The 1997 international Mine Ban Treaty comprehensively bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel mines. Russia is not among the 164 countries that have joined the treaty, said HRW.

“Russia’s use of antipersonnel mines in Ukraine deliberately flouts the international norm against use of these horrid weapons,” Goose added.

CNN cannot independently verify this information. CNN has asked the Russian Ministry of Defence for a response to the report.

8:39 a.m. ET, March 30, 2022

China's foreign ministry: "China-Russia withstood test of changing international landscape"

From CNN's Beijing bureau and Irene Nasser in Hong Kong

Following a meeting between the Chinese and Russian foreign ministers, China said the two countries' relations have withstood the new test of changing international landscape.”

“China is ready to work with Russia to take China-Russia relations to a higher level in the new era," China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Wednesday after meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Anhui Province.

In a statement, Wang Yi also voiced support for Russia and Ukraine “in overcoming difficulties and continuing peace talks” as well as for “efforts made by Russia and other parties to prevent a large-scale humanitarian crisis."

“In the long run, we should draw lessons from the Ukraine crisis, respond to the legitimate security concerns of all parties based on the principle of mutual respect and indivisibility of security, build a balanced, effective and sustainable European security architecture through dialogue and negotiation,” Wang Yi added.

More background: China is walking a tightrope as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues. While officials have said the Chinese president was alarmed at what has taken place since Russia invaded, there is little to indicate China is prepared to cut off its support entirely. The Chinese Communist Party leadership is not all in agreement regarding how to respond to Russia's request for assistance, said a source. Two US officials said that China's desire to avoid economic consequences may limit its appetite to help Russia.

"There is real concern by some that their involvement could hurt economic relationships with the West, on which China relies," said one of the sources.

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

8:19 a.m. ET, March 30, 2022

Former UK Prime Minister David Cameron says Putin is "effectively a war criminal"

From CNN’s Cece Armstrong in London

Former British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks to CNN on March 30
Former British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks to CNN on March 30 (CNN)

Former British Prime Minister David Cameron said Russian President Vladimir Putin is “effectively a war criminal,” and stressed that the UK “must do our bit economically, just as the Ukrainian armed forces are doing their bit militarily.”

Cameron urged the US, Britain, European countries and others not to attend the upcoming G20 summit in November in Bali, Indonesia, if Putin is invited and able to attend.

It is unthinkable for, you know, an American President to have to sit next to someone who is effectively a war criminal. Who is indiscriminately bombing and shelling civilians in their homes and schools and hospitals. It should be unthinkable,” he told CNN’s John Berman,

Cameron said the UK must do “everything else we can” to help Ukraine aside from military action, including increasing pressure on Russia with sanction.

“We’ve also got to recognize that while we can’t put our own troops in, and while we can’t operate a no-fly zone for fear of making this conflict go wider, we must do everything else we can,” Cameron said.

Cameron also detailed two occasions during his time in office when he believed President Putin “flat-out lied.” He said that the international community should “judge [Russia] by their deeds. Do not believe their words.”

“I remember one was him lying about the presence of Russian troops in the Donbas in 2014,” Cameron said. “Another occasion was about the fate of the Malaysian Airliner MH17 that was shot down over Ukraine.”

Some background: Cameron's remarks come nearly two weeks after US President Joe Biden also called Putin a "war criminal."

It was the harshest condemnation of Putin's actions from any US official since the war in Ukraine began on February 24. Previously, Biden had stopped short of labeling atrocities being documented on the ground in Ukraine as "war crimes," citing ongoing international and US investigations.

But on March 16, speaking with reporters at an unrelated event, Biden affixed the designation on the Russian leader, saying, "I think he is a war criminal."

However, other Western leaders have been more reticent in their condemnation of Putin.

At the beginning of March, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Russia's actions in Ukraine qualify "as a war crime," but he didn't refer to Putin as a war criminal himself.

CNN's Sam Fossum, Kevin Liptak, Gabby Gretener and Sarah Diab contributed reporting to this post.

8:04 a.m. ET, March 30, 2022

It's 3 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what to know

Ukraine says that Chernihiv has come under "colossal attack," while Russia says that there has been "no breakthrough" in negotiations being held in Istanbul.

If you're just joining us, here's the latest on the war in Ukraine:

  • Chernihiv attack: The mayor of the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv dismissed Moscow’s claim of a scale-back in operations, following what he describes as a "colossal attack." The city was “under fire” from Russian airstrikes while shelling continued through the night, according to Viacheslav Chaus, head of the Chernihiv regional administration. 
  • "No breakthrough": Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday there were no breakthroughs following a round of Russia-Ukraine in-person negotiations in Istanbul but welcomed Ukraine’s written demands.
  • Disabled children: About 80 disabled children, some accompanied by their guardians, have arrived in the border town of Przemyśl, Poland, after being transferred from the central Dnipropetrovsk region on Tuesday. A CNN team on the ground saw ambulances and crowds of paramedics waiting for the children at the train station earlier in the day.
  • Belgorod explosions: Explosions in Russia's Belgorod region late Tuesday night may have occurred because of a fire at an ammunition depot, regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said Wednesday, citing preliminary information. 
  • Refugees: More than 4 million people, or almost 10% of Ukraine’s pre-war population, have fled their home country since the start of the Russian invasion in late February, the UN says.
  • Evacuation corridors: Ukraine and Russia have agreed on three evacuation corridors for the day, Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister said Wednesday. Vereshchuk announced one corridor for the evacuation of Mariupol residents and delivery of humanitarian aid to Berdyansk, one route for humanitarian aid delivery to and evacuation from Melitopol, and another for a column of people in personal vehicles from Enerhodar to Zaporizhzhia.
  • Russian units return to Belarus: Some Russian units have returned to Belarus after suffering heavy battlefield losses in Ukraine, according to the UK. The units will need to reorganize and resupply in Belarus, in what the MoD said was an indication of the logistical difficulties Russia is having in Ukraine.

Here's a look at the map of Ukraine as it stands amid the Russian invasion:

8:42 a.m. ET, March 30, 2022

Putin's war has triggered an exodus out of Russia — but the escape options are shrinking

From Carlotta Dotto and CNN Staff

From Moscow to the Siberian oil capital of Novosibirsk, and from the intellectual hub of St. Petersburg to the nuclear submarine base of Murmansk, Russians are searching for a way out in anticipation of a grim future in a country torn apart by isolation, censorship and belligerence.

"On February 24, everything changed, our lives were divided into before and after," said Veronica, a 26-year-old digital marketer who lives in Moscow. She gave a pseudonym to protect her identity.

She didn't want to make a rushed decision as she watched her friends and acquaintances abruptly packing their bags and breaking rental agreements, days after they learned that Russia had attacked Ukraine.

Instead, she went to anti-war protests in the Russian capital.

New legislation was passed in Russia in early March that can send people to prison for up to 15 years for posting or sharing information about the war that the authorities deem to be false. They made it illegal even to use the word "war," Veronica said.

The last straw for her, however, was the reaction of the wider Russian population who she thinks largely "believe TV propaganda."

"I was screaming that it was time for us to protest, to go to rallies, to write complaints to deputies -- instead, people went shopping on IKEA's last business day," Veronica said. "I don't want to live with people like that, they broke my heart."

It doesn't matter where we go, we just want to escape," she told CNN.

Read the full story: