March 10, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Andrew Raine, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Leinz Vales and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 4:16 p.m. ET, March 12, 2023
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5:07 p.m. ET, March 10, 2023

Biden and EU chief discuss continued support for Ukraine during White House meeting

US President Joe Biden meets with European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on March 10.
US President Joe Biden meets with European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on March 10. (Sarah Silbiger/Reuters) 

US President Joe Biden and European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen discussed Russia's war in Ukraine, among other topics, during a meeting at the White House Friday. The United States and European Union pledged "security, economic, and humanitarian support" to Ukraine for as long as it needs, the two leaders said.

"We remain committed to providing and mobilizing international support," including from the private sector, to ensure Ukraine's economic stability, Biden and von der Leyen said in a joint statement. They added that military aid and training will also continue.

The leaders outlined initiatives aimed at helping Ukraine rebuild and highlighted efforts — including sanctions — to "further degrade Russia’s capacity to wage its illegal war and its military-industrial system," according to the statement.

The statement touted the success of a US and EU partnership put in place a year ago to reduce Europe's dependence on Russian fuel, something the leaders said they continue doing.

"Putin thought that he would divide us, and yet we are more united than ever. We stand together in our unwavering support for Ukraine for as long as it takes," the statement said.

3:29 p.m. ET, March 10, 2023

GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley defends US support of Ukraine

From CNN's Brian Rokus

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks at a foreign policy forum hosted by the Bastion Institute on March 10 in Clive, Iowa.
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks at a foreign policy forum hosted by the Bastion Institute on March 10 in Clive, Iowa. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley defended United States support of Ukraine at an event in Iowa Friday after she was interrupted by someone in the crowd arguing Ukraine isn’t an ally of the US. 

“Ukraine’s not our ally, why are we doing this?” an audience member at a foreign policy forum hosted by the Bastion Institute shouted out as Haley was speaking.

Haley responded that although Ukraine is not a direct ally, “we had no better ally at the United Nations than Ukraine," and argued losing the war in Ukraine could lead to a world war.

"This isn’t about starting a war, this is about preventing a war,” Haley said.

Haley argued how the US response to the war in Ukraine could impact how other international situations play out, namely concerns about tension between China and Taiwan.

“China’s watching what we do with Ukraine. They're watching who we've sanctioned. They're watching what other countries are joining us. If they see us stay true on Ukraine with our allies, they will hold off on Taiwan. That's the big issue of why this all matters," she said.

The US will have committed more than $32 billion to Ukraine since the start of the war more than one year ago. The latest package worth about $400 million was announced by officials last Friday. 

Some context: The moment highlights a divide within the Republican party over the level of involvement the US should have in Ukraine, now more than a year since the war started.

There is a split among possible GOP 2024 hopefuls on the issue, with some, like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, arguing the US is too involved in supporting Ukraine’s efforts and others, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, arguing the US should be doing as much as possible to aid the nation.

Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, are bitterly divided on Capitol Hill over whether to continue sending weapons and aid to the nation. 

2:59 p.m. ET, March 10, 2023

Why Russian missile bombardment is unlikely to force a major breakthrough in the war

From CNN's Rob Picheta

A plume of smoke rises above an infrastructure facility in the Holosiivskyi district of Kyiv during Russia's mass missile attack on March 9.
A plume of smoke rises above an infrastructure facility in the Holosiivskyi district of Kyiv during Russia's mass missile attack on March 9. (Eugen Kotenko/Ukrinform/Future Publishing/Getty Images)

Russia launched a total of 95 missiles of various types over the past day — 34 of which were intercepted — the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a morning update on Friday, as well as a number of Iranian-made Shahed drones.

Nearly half a million people are without power in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, following the latest barrage of strikes, according to the regional governor.

And there are concerns about how effectively Ukraine can stand up to such bombardments.

But aerial strikes like these are not going to win Russia the war, Western experts say.

“There is a long history of nations trying to win wars through strategic bombardment, to break the will or capacity of an opposing state to resist,” Justin Bronk, senior research fellow for airpower and technology at the London-based Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) think tank, told CNN. “It has an incredibly poor record of success.”

Russia’s limited stockpiles mean it’s unlikely they will force a major breakthrough in the war through the skies, so long as its air force is unable to gain supremacy above Ukraine.

New strategy?: The use of so many different weapons systems in one night has increasingly become Russia’s preferred method of striking through the skies, but with larger gaps between the raids, Bronk said.

The use of hypersonic missiles in particular follows the Kremlin’s years-long push to equip its military with such weaponry – a move that the United States and the West has been less keen to adopt, given the trade-offs in pursuing hypersonic capabilities.

“What you get is a missile that is much harder to intercept and gives your opponent much less warning. What you lose is that it’s much more expensive, and often can only be carried by a much more limited number of platforms,” Bronk explained.

How Ukraine's defenses held up: “They are not coping well enough,” an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said.

The Kinzhal missiles are a specific challenge: They are immune to Ukraine’s air defenses. An air-launched variant of the Iskander short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) which has also, more frequently, been used in Ukraine, the Kinzhal was unveiled by President Vladimir Putin in 2018 as a cornerstone of a modernized Russian arsenal.

Future attacks?: While Russia has deployed a handful of missiles that Ukraine is currently unable to stop, it appears unlikely that such attacks will become a regular or decisive feature of the conflict – because, by most Western assessments, Russia is running low on supplies.

Read more here.

12:50 p.m. ET, March 10, 2023

UN experts call recruitment of prisoners by Russia's Wagner Group "alarming"

From CNN's Sebastian Shukla and Radina Gigova

The recruitment of prisoners serving sentences in Russian correctional facilities by the Russian private military company Wagner is "alarming," a group of UN experts said in a joint statement released by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Friday. 

Members of the Wagner group are reportedly "offering pardons for criminal sentences" and "a monthly payment" to the prisoners' relatives of those who agree to join, the experts said.

Wagner has allegedly recruited both Russian and foreign nationals serving sentences in correctional facilities, they said, adding that in some cases, Wagner used threats, intimidation and pressure tactics to recruit.

Recruited prisoners "have been involved in a range of activities – including providing military services, rebuilding infrastructure, and taking direct part in hostilities on the side of the Russian forces," the statement added.

The experts say they "have information that several recruits have been executed for attempting to escape and, in other cases, seriously injured in public as a warning to other recruits. Such tactics constitute human rights violations and may amount to war crimes."

The group has expressed its concerns to the Wagner Group and the Russian government. It has also urged Moscow to protect detainees from "violence, exploitation and intimidation,” according to the statement.

2:59 p.m. ET, March 10, 2023

Power restored for critical infrastructure and many residents in Kharkiv, regional governor says

From CNN's Dennis Lapin in Kyiv

Power has been restored to 65% of consumers in the city of Kharkiv and to 90% of consumers in the larger Kharkiv region, regional governor Oleh Syniehubov said in an update on Telegram Friday.

"We continue to work on restoring power supply and eliminating the consequences of a massive Russian missile strike on the critical infrastructure of the region," he said. 

"In Kharkiv, power has been fully restored to critical infrastructure facilities, including the water utility, sewage treatment systems and heating networks," he added. 

Russia has launched a total of 95 missiles of various types over the past day, the Ukrainian military said Friday. While Ukraine's defenses knocked down 34 of the strikes, dozens of missiles pounded infrastructure targets, further battering the country's fragile energy systems.

Earlier Friday, Syniehubov said nearly half a million people lost power in the city of Kharkiv following the barrage.

1:25 p.m. ET, March 10, 2023

Ukrainian military spokesperson: 3rd wave of Wagner fighters being replaced by Russian army in Bakhmut area

From CNN's Dennis Lapin and Radina Gigova

Ukrainian service members fire a howitzer at a front line near the city of Bakhmut on March 10.
Ukrainian service members fire a howitzer at a front line near the city of Bakhmut on March 10. (Oleksandr Ratushniak/Reuters) 

The eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut is still "the hottest spot on the front line" and continues to be the target of some of the heaviest direct Russian fire, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian military told CNN.

"Bakhmut is still the hottest spot on the front line, with 20 of the 188 attacks of the entire Bakhmut direction this day coming directly at the town of Bakhmut," said Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesperson for the eastern grouping of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Cherevatyi also said a third wave of fighters from the Wagner private military company fighting in the area are being replaced by Russia's regular army.

"The first wave, which began last February, consisted of professional military, people associated with the FSB and the Interior Ministry. The second wave of Wagner consisted of those mobilized from prisons, who were almost all wiped out during the so-called 'meat assaults,' when Wagner tried to break through the defenses with live fire," he said. 

"Now we see the replacement of Wagner's group by the regular army. This is probably due to Prigozhin's conflict with the leadership of the Russian army," he added. 

Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin has publicly attacked the Russian Defense Ministry, blaming it for not supplying his fighters with enough ammunition to prevent their deaths.

Cherevatyi also said he cannot confirm the status of the village of Dubovo-Vasilyevka, located north of Bakhmut, which Prigozhin claimed to have been captured by his fighters on Wednesday.  

Prigozhin's Telegram post was accompanied by a video that purported to show several Wagner fighters standing next to the group's flag, one of them playing an accordion.

CNN is not able to independently verify Prigozhin's claims. 

11:10 a.m. ET, March 10, 2023

Russian shelling leaves at least 6 wounded in eastern Ukrainian city, regional head says

From CNN's Dennis Lapin and Radina Gigova 

Russian shelling wounded at least six people Friday in a city in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, said Pavlo Kyrylenko, the head of the region's military administration.

The shelling on Kostyantynivka, an industrial town north of Donetsk city, also hit private houses and damaged a gas pipeline, Kyrylenko said in a Telegram post.

According to preliminary information, Russian forces used Uragan (or Hurricane) multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) in the attack, the Ukrainian official said. Russia has used Uragan MLRS to shell the area relatively frequently.

"Rescuers and police are working at the scene," Kyrylenko said. 

1:10 p.m. ET, March 10, 2023

US intelligence believes individuals with Russian ties trying to stir insurrection against Moldovan leaders

From CNN's Natasha Bertrand

A man holds Moldovan national flag as special police officers patrol a street near a polling station during the second round of Moldova's presidential election in the town of Varnita in 2020.
A man holds Moldovan national flag as special police officers patrol a street near a polling station during the second round of Moldova's presidential election in the town of Varnita in 2020. (Sergei Gapon/AFP/Getty Images)

The US intelligence community believes that individuals with ties to Russian intelligence are planning to stage protests in Moldova to try to foment a manufactured insurrection against the Moldovan government, with the ultimate goal of seeing a more pro-Russia administration installed there, White House officials said Friday.

The US believes that Russia is working to weaken the Moldovan government, the officials said, which is seeking closer ties with the European Union. The US is also seeing signs that Russian government-linked actors could provide training to anti-government demonstrators in Moldova. Chisinau has been rocked by anti-government protests in recent weeks, largely organized by Moldova’s Russia-friendly Shor Party. 

The US also believes that Moscow is working to sow disinformation about Moldova’s overall stability. One example was the Russian Ministry of Defense’s claim last month that Ukraine has been planning to invade Transnistria, Moldova's Moscow-backed separatist region.

US officials said those allegations are “unfounded, false, and create baseless alarm.” 

Moldova’s President, Maia Sandu, said publicly last month that she believes the Russian government was planning “a series of actions involving saboteurs who have undergone military training and are disguised as civilians to carry out violent actions, attacks on government buildings and hostage-taking.”

Moldova has been a flashpoint on the periphery of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for the past year, with Russian missiles crossing into Moldovan airspace on several occasions, including this past February.

The Biden administration sees no immediate military threat to Moldova, officials said. But the US has been watching Russia’s activities in Moldova closely, wary of Russia’s ongoing efforts to destabilize Europe. President Joe Biden met with Sandu last month in Warsaw, where they discussed Russian malign influence activities. 

The US Treasury sanctioned nine individuals and 12 entities in October that the US believed to be involved in working to destabilize Moldova. 

CNN's Rob Picheta contributed to this post.

9:58 a.m. ET, March 10, 2023

Wagner head says private military company is opening new "recruitment centers" in over 40 cities across Russia

From CNN's Katharina Krebs and Radina Gigova

The head of Wagner private military company, Yevgeny Prigozhin, announced on Friday the opening of dozens of new "recruitment centers" across Russia, according to a statement published by his holding company, Concord.

“Wagner group recruitment centers have opened in 42 cities of the Russian Federation," Prigozhin is quoted as saying in the statement. "New fighters will be coming there, who will go with us side by side to defend their country and their families. To create our common future and protect the memory of the past." 

"Despite the colossal resistance of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, we will move forward. Despite the sticks that are stuck in our wheels at every step, we will overcome this together," he added. 

In addition to the statement by Prigozhin, the Concord press service also published a document that includes a list with the addresses and telephone numbers of the alleged recruitment centers.

The majority of those recruitment centers appear to be gyms and sports centers, according to the names listed in the document. 

Many of the alleged recruitment centers are in Moscow, where the document claims eight such centers will be opened. Saint Petersburg has the second-largest number of centers, with five, according to the document.

Other cities where alleged recruitment centers will be opened include Krasnodar, Kaliningrad, Irkutsk, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg and Murmansk. 

CNN in unable to independently verify Prigozhin's claims about the opening and operations of the alleged centers. 

The Wagner group has been active throughout the war in Ukraine, and Prigozhin has recently been outspoken about ammunition issues, placing the blame for his fighters' deaths on Russia's defense ministry.