Our live coverage of Russia's war in Ukraine has moved here.
March 5, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news
By Hafsa Khalil, Matt Meyer and Mike Hayes, CNN
Zaporizhzhia declares day of mourning after rocket strike on residential high-rise kills 13 people
From CNN's Dennis Lapin and Mitchell McCluskey
The city council in the southern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia has declared Monday a day of mourning after 13 people were killed when a rocket hit a high-rise residential building earlier this week, the council's secretary Anatoliy Kurtiev said.
“This is a great grief for the whole Zaporizhzhia. That is why tomorrow is declared a day of mourning in our city. Together, let us honor the cherished memory of everyone whose life was cut short forever on that tragic night in March,” Kurtiev said on Telegram Sunday.
Rescuers from the State Emergency Service searched for survivors for four days after the strike hit Thursday. Crews found men, women and a small child deceased.
Nine people — including one pregnant woman — were rescued from the rubble early Thursday, the State Emergency Service reported. Five others remain missing, Kurtiev said.
“Let's also thank the rescuers of the State Emergency Service who have been clearing the rubble for almost four days, day and night, without a break. They are our heroes. We bow to them,” he said.
Kurtiev added that a city council meeting will be held Monday with the surviving residents of the affected building.
Kyiv says it will use seized Russian assets to rebuild country and compensate Ukrainians
From CNN's Dennis Lapin and Mitchell McCluskey
Ukraine is planning to use more than $460 million worth of assets seized from Russian banks to rebuild the country and compensate Ukrainians, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said at a conference in Lviv Saturday.
In a Facebook post about the conference, Shmyhal said Ukraine is developing procedures for using the confiscated assets to help Ukrainian citizens and their communities recover in the wake of Russia's invasion.
The government is working with allies to develop a system based on an international treaty, which will help decide how to issue reparations to Ukrainians.
The system will include an international register of losses from the war, a commission to consider applications for compensation and a fund from which compensation will be paid.
Aid from abroad: The prime minister also said Saturday that Ukraine is using billions of dollars worth of assistance from the United States and European Union to rapidly restore the country's battered energy infrastructure and other ailing sectors.
Kyiv expects additional aid to come from Norway and Japan.
Diplomatic efforts to return control of Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant to Ukraine have stalled, minister says
From CNN's Denis Lapin and Sugam Pokharel
Negotiations to return the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) to Ukraine’s control are not progressing, Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko said Sunday.
“The situation is currently at a standstill,” the energy minister said during the Ukrainian national telethon “United News.”
The nuclear plant, which is Europe’s largest, has been under Russian control since March last year.
“Our position, which we voice on all international platforms, is that any negotiations on ZNPP should be based on: first, demilitarization of the plant, second, withdrawal of (Russian nuclear company) Rosatom employees from ZNPP. Thirdly, Ukrainian personnel should be able to operate the nuclear facility without pressure,” the minister said.
“But in response to this, we received (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's null and void decree that ZNPP is 'federal property,'" the energy minister said.
Zaporizhzhia is among the Ukrainian regions annexed by Russia in violation of international law, and as part of that seizure, Putin has declared the plant Russian property and installed workers there.
As Russia continues to occupy the plant, Halushchenko claimed Ukraine is receiving “alarming signals” from experts with the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency working at the plant. The minister accused the Russian side of “behaving extremely unprofessionally” at the nuclear site.
Last week, the head of IAEA, Rafael Grossi, expressed concern about the situation in the plant, citing delays in rotations of its team of experts in the facility, an increased security presence on-site and nearby fighting.
It makes sense for Ukraine to withdraw to a more defensible position in Bakhmut, says former head of UK army
From CNN’s Alex Hardie in London
Gen. Lord Richard Dannatt, formerly a top military leader in the United Kingdom, said Sunday that it makes “complete sense” for Ukraine's troops to “withdraw to a more defensible line,” in the fiercely contested city of Bakhmut.
Dannatt is the UK's former chief of the General Staff — the professional head of the British Army. Speaking on Britain's Sky News, he argued that Bakhmut is strategically “not very significant" to Ukraine.
Despite that, the besieged city has already served effectively as “the anvil on which so many Russian lives have been broken, and therefore it makes complete sense for the Ukrainians now to withdraw to a more defensible line and continue the battle there,” Dannatt said.
A local Ukrainian commander on Sunday dismissed the growing speculation of a possible Ukrainian withdrawal from the city, saying that there have been no “tactical changes” on their side.
Speaking on Sky News, he said that for Ukrainian forces, Bakhmut is strategically “not very significant,” but has “achieved its aim of effectively being the anvil on which so many Russian lives have been broken, and therefore it makes complete sense for the Ukrainians now to withdraw to a more defensible line and continue the battle there.”
What fighters on the frontline are saying: A local Ukrainian commander on Sunday dismissed the growing speculation of a possible withdrawal from the city, saying there have been no “tactical changes” on their side.
"On the contrary, some new reserves are coming in as reinforcement to hold the defense," said Volodymyr Nazarenko, a deputy commander in Ukraine's National Guard. "The entire combat area is under chaotic shelling but there is connection with the city, there are routes that are not cut off."
More from Dannatt on the shape of the war: The general said it will be key for Ukraine to hold off Russia's current offensives, which he believes will yet intensify. Then, in the late spring or early summer, Ukraine "can mount a really strong counteroffensive utilizing the modern equipment that we are now giving them."
“I think that I am not alone in believing that a few decisive blows struck at certain points along that very extended front on the Russian army could well have the effect of breaking the morale of the Russian soldier or breaking the back of the Russian army,” Dannatt said.
Asked about the West supplying equipment to Ukraine, the general said: “To be frank, I don’t think we have done enough. We need to do as much as we possibly can to ensure that this war is concluded this year.”
Russian reservists fought with shovels during assault on Ukrainian stronghold, says UK Ministry of Defence
From CNN's Hafsa Khalil
Russian reservists said they were ordered to attack a Ukrainian strong point armed only with "firearms and shovels," according to the UK Ministry of Defence.
"The ‘shovels’ are likely entrenching tools being employed for hand-to-hand combat," it said in an intelligence update tweeted on Sunday. An entrenching tool is a digging tool used by military forces.
Designed in 1869, the ministry described the lethality of the standard issue MPL-50 entrenching tool as "particularly mythologised" in Russia.
"Its continued use as a weapon highlights the brutal and low-tech fighting which has come to characterise much of the war," it said, adding that evidence has shown an increase in close combat.
One reservist told the MoD that they were "neither physically nor psychologically" prepared for attack.
According to evidence obtained by the ministry, there has been a rise in close combat, which it says may be the result of a Russian insistence on an offensive despite being short of munitions.
In December, Russian citizens were crowdfunding to equip soldiers deployed in Ukraine with socks, winter clothes, sleeping bags and body armor. This came after troops complained they were short of basic equipment, which Russian officials said were teething problems.
German chancellor says any negotiations on Ukraine must start with Putin ending his aggression
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told CNN's Fareed Zakaria that any negotiations around ending the war in Ukraine will only begin once Russian President Vladimir Putin understands he will not win.
"My view, it is necessary that Putin understands that he will not succeed with this invasion and his imperialistic aggression — that he has to withdraw troops. This is the basis for talks," Scholz said in an interview that aired Sunday.
He added that he believes Ukraine is "ready for peace."
"If you look at the proposal of the Ukrainians, it is easy to understand that they are ready for peace. There must be something done. This has to be done by Putin," Scholz said.
Asked by Zakaria if there is a deal to be made that ends the war, perhaps with Ukraine conceding it will not retake Crimea or parts of the eastern Donbas region, Scholz said there will be no decision made without the Ukrainian side.
"We will not take decisions instead of them. We support them," he said.
Zakaria asked the chancellor if he would encourage Ukraine to consider such an agreement, however.
"We told (Ukraine) that they can go for membership into the European Union. They are working to make progress in all the criteria that are important for this. I think they know that we are ready to organize a certain way of security guarantees for the country, in times of peace to come, but we are not there yet," Scholz said.
Scholz in the US: The German chancellor held meetings with US President Joe Biden in Washington Friday after a transformative 12 months that saw Germany undergo its most significant shift in military and energy policy in decades.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has turned Scholz, who took office two months before Moscow’s invasion, into a crisis leader, overseeing Europe’s largest economy and most powerful democracy during the worst violence on the continent since World War II.
And it has thrust him and Biden into one of the world’s most consequential relationships, sustained by shared opposition to Russia’s invasion but strained at moments over how to respond.
“You stepped up to provide critical military support. And I would argue, beyond the military support, the moral support you’ve given Ukrainians has been profound. Profound,” Biden told his counterpart this week in the Oval Office.
CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.
Analysis: Russia's war pushed Finland and Sweden to seek NATO membership. Now Turkey stands in the way
Analysis by CNN's Luke McGee
When Sweden and Finland declared their intention to join NATO last May, it was seen by many as a poke in the eye for Russia.
Historically, both countries had committed to non-alignment with NATO as a way of avoiding provoking Moscow. The invasion of Ukraine changed that.
Both Finland and Sweden – along with the vast majority of NATO allies – would like to see the countries formally join the alliance at a NATO summit on July 11. However, a significant hurdle stands in the way of this becoming a reality: Turkey has yet to give the plan its formal and official blessing.
Turkey is not the only nation blocking the move: Hungary has also failed to ratify the Nordics’ accession. But right now getting Turkey on side is considered the priority.
Unfortunately for the pro-NATO gang, Western officials are increasingly pessimistic that Turkey will budge.
Officially, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan objects to Sweden and Finland’s membership on security grounds, stemming from a dispute over the extradition of a designated terror group from both Nordic countries.
But Gonul Tol, an expert in the Middle East Institute’s Turkey program, believes there are other reasons that Erdogan doesn’t want to upset Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
From protecting his strongman image to maintaining Russia's economic lifeline to Turkey, Tol says the Turkish claims about Sweden and Finland harboring terrorists provide perfect cover for Erdogan not to engage on the NATO question at a politically inconvenient time.
European Parliament president visits Ukraine and vows Russia's war will not go unpunished
From CNN’s Alex Hardie
European Parliament President Roberta Metsola visited Ukraine Saturday, vowing “the aggressors that have started a war on our continent will not go unpunished."
Speaking on a panel at the “United for Justice” conference in Lviv, Metsola reiterated the parliament’s support for initiatives collecting evidence of potential crimes committed by Moscow and its forces.
The three-day conference was organized by Ukrainian authorities “to ensure accountability for core international crimes allegedly committed in Ukraine,” according to the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation.
“I am the mother of four sons. I would like to be able to tell them, when Ukraine wins the war, that everybody will be held accountable for the crimes that they have committed and the atrocities that we have seen committed against the brave Ukrainians,” Metsola said.
Ukraine's first lady Olena Zelenska was also on the panel with the European Parliament leader.
Metsola met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Saturday, and together the pair met students at the Ivan Franko National University in Lviv.
“The future of Ukraine & of Europe rests on the shoulders of the young," the European leader said in a tweet. On the college visit, Metsola said the pair met "young women & men hopeful for a brighter future. Eager to play an important part in rebuilding Ukraine. Hope. Believe. Lead.”
In another tweet about her meeting with Zelensky, Metsola said she has “learnt many things from Ukraine the past year. But perhaps the most important lesson is one articulated by (Ukrainian poet) Taras Shevchenko: ‘Keep fighting, you are sure to win.'”
“True in the quest for peace & freedom as it is in life. Never give up,” she added.