Netherlands will give Ukraine minesweepers and drone detection systems, Dutch defense minister says
From CNN’s Catherine Nicholls in London
The Netherlands will send two minesweepers to Ukraine, along with drone detection radar systems and so-called M3 ferrying and bridge building systems, according to Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren.
In a statement Tuesday, the Dutch Defense Ministry outlined its plans to work with Belgium and possibly other allied countries to train Ukrainian forces in the use of the minesweepers.
Supplying minesweepers to Ukraine will “contribute to Black Sea safety, Europe's security and global food security," Ollongren said.
The defense minister spent the past few days in Ukraine visiting the southern cities of Mykolaiv and Odesa alongside her Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksiy Reznikov.
The two ministers discussed the strengthening of coastal defenses, the importance of maritime safety and protecting grain ships, according to the statement.
Ollongren highlighted the efforts of the Ukrainian forces, saying that although the Netherlands can provide Ukraine with “the material,” it is the Ukrainians themselves who are fighting “for every centimeter of [their] land.”
2:19 p.m. ET, March 14, 2023
Russian fighter jet forces down US drone over Black Sea after intercept
From CNN's Oren Liebermann
A Russian fighter jet forced down a US Air Force drone over the Black Sea on Tuesday after damaging the propeller of a MQ-9 Reaper drone, according to a US official familiar with the incident.
The Reaper drone and two SU-27 Flanker jets were operating over international waters over the Black Sea when one of the Russian jets intentionally flew in front of and dumped fuel in front of the unmanned drone, according to the official. One of the jets then damaged the propeller of the Reaper, which is mounted on the rear of the drone, the official said. The damage to the propeller forced the US to bring down the Reaper in international waters in the Black Sea.
Russian and US aircraft have operated over the Black Sea during the course of the war, but this is the first known such interaction, a potentially dangerous escalation at a critical time in the fighting.
According to a statement from the US Air Force:
"At approximately 7:03 AM (CET), one of the Russian Su-27 aircraft struck the propeller of the MQ-9, causing U.S. forces to have to bring the MQ-9 down in international waters. Several times before the collision, the Su-27s dumped fuel on and flew in front of the MQ-9 in a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner. This incident demonstrates a lack of competence in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional."
"Our MQ-9 aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft, resulting in a crash and complete loss of the MQ-9," said US Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker, commander of US Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa, according to the Air Force statement. "In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both aircraft to crash."
"U.S. and Allied aircraft will continue to operate in international airspace and we call on the Russians to conduct themselves professionally and safely," Hecker added, according to the statement.
Some context: The US has been operating Reaper drones over the Black Sea since before the beginning of the war, using the spy drone to monitor the area. The Reaper drone can fly as high as 50,000 feet, according to the Air Force, and has the sensors and capabilities to gather intel and perform reconnaissance for extended periods of time, making it an ideal platform to track movements on the battlefield and in the Black Sea.
12:32 p.m. ET, March 14, 2023
Russian parliament passes bill on punishment for discrediting "special military operation"
From CNN's Katharina Krebs and Radina Gigova in London
Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, on Tuesday adopted the third and final reading of a bill that introduces criminal liability for discrediting all participants, including volunteers, in the so-called "special military operation."
The law now extends the Article 207.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation on liability for "fakes" about the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation to volunteer formations. Public dissemination of deliberately false information about the Russian Armed Forces, as well as volunteer formations, which had grave consequences, will see offenders facing up to 15 years in prison.
What's next?: The bill has to pass the upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, and be signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.
In January, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the private military company Wagner Group, which is considered a volunteer formation, appealed to the Russian State Duma to issue protections for the volunteers and convicts who fight as Wagner mercenaries in Ukraine.
“There are media outlets that purposefully look out for negative information about the volunteers, including former prisoners, and publish such materials that portray the defenders of Russia — people who give up their lives for us — in a bad light, vilifying them as villains and criminals," Prigozhin said in a letter to Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the Russian State Duma, according to a version published by his holding company, Concord.
Later in March, Prigozhin wrote another letter to the State Duma speaker Volodin, asking him to exclude “constructive criticism” of Russia’s top military officials and Wagner commanders, from the draft bill.
Prigozhin himself has often been critical of the Russian Defense Ministry, has frequently alluded to the tension in the relationship with the ministry, and has pointed out that some of the top Russian generals have not visited the frontline positions around the eastern city of Bakhmut.
12:15 p.m. ET, March 14, 2023
At least 1 dead in Russian strike of Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, according to police
From CNN’s Maria Kostenko and Radina Gigova
At least one person was killed and seven injured in a Russian strike Tuesday on a residential area in the city of Kramatorsk in the eastern in Donetsk region, Ukraine's National Police said in an updated statement.
Russia struck the residential area with an anti-radiation surface-to-surface Kh-58 cruise missile, police said.
There were 14 people inside the building at the time of the strike, police said.
At least nine multi-apartment buildings were damaged in the strike, as well as a kindergarten, a bank and five vehicles, police said.
The State Emergency Service earlier on Tuesday said a three-story apartment building was partially destroyed.
Kramatorsk sits about 25 kilometers (more than 15 miles) from the front lines and has been frequently hit by Russian missiles.
12:23 p.m. ET, March 14, 2023
Leopard 2 tanks will soon be deployable, German defense forces spokesperson says
From CNN's Inke Kappeler in Berlin
Ukrainian soldiers have nearly completed their training on Leopard 2 battle tanks in Munster, Germany, according to a spokesperson for the special training command of its armed forces, the Bundeswehr.
The spokesperson — who is routinely not named — told CNN that with training now concluding, it would soon be feasible for Germany to deploy the Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Germany has so far vowed to supply Ukraine with 18 of the latest A6 model Leopard 2 tanks.
The spokesperson said the Ukrainian soldiers were “highly motivated” and used the five-week training “more than effectively.”
The spokesperson said the soldiers were trained 12 to 14 hours a day, six days a week, over the past five weeks. The spokesperson said they were trained as drivers, gunners, technicians, commanders and maintenance personnel.
The soldiers were first taught how to maneuver the main battle tank as drivers and commanders, the spokesperson said, adding the soldiers said driving the Leopard 2 tanks was like “driving a Mercedes.”
The soldiers completed their final shooting training session Monday, with the spokesperson stating that trainees achieved an 82-85% hit rate under combat conditions.
"This is a super result," he said, adding that the simulator shooting training substantially enhanced the soldiers’ progress.
The spokesperson added the Bundeswehr’s special training command benefited from the experience at a tactical level and regarding wartime experience. He said the instructors were also highly motivated as they knew “what they were making the soldiers fit for.”
The Bundeswehr’s special training command group aims to train 9,000 Ukrainian soldiers in 2023 after training 1,100 in 2022.
Remember: After weeks of squabbling, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced the move to send tanks in late January, bowing to intensifying international pressure – led by the United States, Poland and a bloc of other European nations that called on Berlin to step up its military support and commit to sending their sought-after vehicles. US President Joe Biden announced at the same time that he would send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine.
11:37 a.m. ET, March 14, 2023
Older women who stayed in Ukraine during the war share their stories of resilience
From CNN's Ivana Kottasová and Yulia Kesaieva
Ukraine has a large population of older people — one in four of its residents is over the age of 60 — and most of them are women. Some lived through World War II as children, only to see their lives disrupted again in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine began.
When Russia then launched its full-scale invasion last February, many of these women were unable or unwilling to leave. Of the 4.8 million Ukrainians who have registered in other European countries as refugees since the war began, most are younger women and children, while older women stayed in Ukraine.
Here are some of their stories, edited for clarity and brevity.
Valentina Tokariova, 85, was born in Russia. She lived in the Donbas in eastern Ukraine for 60 years until 2014, when she fled to Kyiv:
I am Russian by birth, born in Novosibirsk. So, in my head, I still don’t understand how this happened and how there can be a war. I thought it was impossible. I came to Donbas in 1962. I was 23 and I followed a young man. He is not worth telling you about. We lived together for seven years and then he abandoned me and our son. For 60 years, I’ve been living in Ukraine. I worked my whole life for Ukraine, this is my family, my home, this is my country. I am Ukrainian now. I consider Ukrainian culture my own.
Yulia Hermanovska is 79 and has been living on her own in Kyiv since her husband died five years ago:
I have stage-four cancer. I've been fighting it for three years already, this is my fourth. My doctor evacuated at the exact time I was due to start my treatment, in February 2022. She only came back in May. I felt really bad at the time, but by the end of May I started intensive therapy. I feel so much better now! When I was diagnosed in 2020, I was told I would have two to five years. We'll see. I have always liked the Ukrainian language more, but I was forced to speak Russian because it was not modern and popular to speak Ukrainian back then. It was considered a villagers’ language. The last seven-and-a-half years of my career, I worked as a librarian at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. When I had the job interview, they told me if I wanted to work there, I could only use two languages: English or Ukrainian. So I had to switch back to Ukrainian at the age of 50, having spoken Russian all my adult life.
Klara Rozkishna, 94, spent 40 years teaching chemistry in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. She lives in Kyiv with her daughter:
We left Donetsk on May 29, 2014. Once we saw Russian tanks, we left immediately. Donetsk used to be a beautiful city. It was called the city of a million roses. One would think it's a miners’ city, but there were so many roses! We used to live downtown and I loved walking along the Pushkin Boulevard. It was very green. Me and my husband lived in a house close to the Kalmius river. It was such a beautiful spot, so many flowers! We abandoned everything we had there and locked our apartment. My husband died in 2009 and is buried in Donetsk. I even bought a spot for myself right next to him. But the cemetery was bombed. Because this is not a war. This is a slaughterhouse. They are barbarians. But it is ok, Ukraine will win — I am sure.
Museums recategorize artworks from Russian to Ukrainian
From CNN's Tim Lister
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has quietly reclassified some of its paintings. Two artists, once labeled as Russian, are now categorized as Ukrainian, and a painting by the French Impressionist Edgar Degas has been renamed from "Russian Dancer" to "Dancer in Ukrainian Dress."
For one woman in Kyiv, these changes are a vindication of sorts. Oksana Semenik, a journalist and historian, has been running a months-long campaign to persuade institutions in the United States to relabel the historical works of art she believes are wrongly presented as Russian.
At the Met, they include work by Ilya Repin and Arkhip Kuindzhi, artists whose mother tongue was Ukrainian and who depicted many Ukrainian scenes, even if the region was in their day part of the Russian Empire.
Repin, a renowned 19th century painter who was born in what is now Ukraine, has been relabeled on the Met's catalog as "Ukrainian, born Russian Empire" with the start of each description of his works now reading, "Repin was born in the rural Ukrainian town of Chuhuiv (Chuguev) when it was part of the Russian Empire."
On Semenik's Twitter account, Ukrainian Art History, which has over 17,000 followers, she wrote: "All [Repin's] famous landscapes were about Ukraine, Dnipro, and steppes. But also about Ukrainian people."
One of Repin's lesser-known contemporaries, Kuindzhi was born in Mariupol in 1842 when the Ukrainian city was also part of the Russian Empire, his nationality has also been updated. The text for Kuindzhi's "Red Sunset" at the Met has been updated to include that "in March 2022, the Kuindzhi Art Museum in Mariupol, Ukraine, was destroyed in a Russian airstrike."
In reference to the recent relabeling process, the Met told CNN in a statement that the institution "continually researches and examines objects in its collection in order to determine the most appropriate and accurate way to catalogue and present them. The cataloguing of these works has been updated following research conducted in collaboration with scholars in the field."
Read about more reclassified Ukrainian works here.
9:19 a.m. ET, March 14, 2023
Russian defense minister orders doubling of high-precision weapons production
From CNN's Katharina Krebs
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered the doubling of production of precision-guided weapons during a visit to major Russian arms manufacturer Tactical Missiles Corporation, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement Tuesday.
"Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu noted that the Tactical Missiles Corporation adequately fulfills the state defense order. However, even taking into account the increase in production this year, he ordered to double the production of high-precision weapons," according to the statement.
The corporation faces a "very serious task,” Shoigu said.
“For its implementation, the enterprise has the necessary reserves: highly qualified specialists and production facilities. Therefore, the task is tough, but doable,” Shoigu said.
He added that some of the latest weapons presented today by the corporation are "missing not only from today's enemy but also from the armed forces of other countries."
9:07 a.m. ET, March 14, 2023
Ukraine says it shot down 4 Russian missiles over sea near Odesa
From CNN's Maria Kostenko in Kyiv
The Ukrainian military said it destroyed four Russian missiles that were headed toward the Odesa region in southern Ukraine.
"The enemy conducted an airstrike in Odesa region using tactical aircraft ...The Su-24 aircraft fired four anti-radar missiles towards the coast, presumably X-31P," Operational Command South said.
"The missiles have been destroyed over the sea," the command said.