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March 3, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news
By Kathleen Magramo, Aditi Sangal, Leinz Vales, Tori B. Powell and Matt Meyer, CNN
Alexey Navalny's daughter calls on Putin to end war in Ukraine and to release her father
Dasha Navalnaya, the daughter of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, on Friday shared a message for Russian President Vladimir Putin:
“I have a couple of things to say to him — that he should stop this incredibly unnecessary and terrible invasion of Ukraine, that he should release my father and all of Russia’s political prisoners, who are just fighting for a better democratic, more prosperous country. And that until those two primary goals among others are met, we will not stop fighting,” she told CNN's Erin Burnett.
Navalny, a Kremlin critic and activist, was sentenced to nine years in prison on fraud charges that he said were politically motivated.
Navalnaya said once her father is released from prison, “he will continue fighting until Russia is a country that’s able to have free and fair elections."
"That’s the main goal of the anti-corruption foundation, is for Russia to become a free state, to have open elections, to have freedom of press, freedom of speech, and just you know, to have the opportunity to become a part of the normal Western democratized community in the world,” she said.
Navalnaya, 21, said she has not seen her father in person in over a year.
CNN's "Navalny" primetime special airs tonight. Here's how to watch
From CNN staff
CNN anchor Erin Burnett will interview Dasha Navalnaya, the daughter of jailed Putin opposition leader Alexey Navalny, about the latest on her father's case, concerns about his health and his nine-year sentence in a Russian penal colony as part of a CNN primetime special that airs tonight at 9 p.m. ET.
Burnett will also speak with the director of the Oscar-nominated documentary, "NAVALNY," Daniel Roher, along with Christo Grozev, the lead Russia investigator for Bellingcat who helped uncover the perpetrators behind Navalny's poisoning and tied them to Russia's FSB security service. In late 2022, Russia’s Ministry of the Interior placed Grozev on its "wanted" list.
The hour will also include conversations with others who are perceived to be Putin's enemies, including Bill Browder, an international businessman whom Russia declared an enemy and banned from the country.
Where to watch: "CNN Primetime: Navalny And the Cost of Standing Up to Putin" will stream live for pay TV subscribers via CNN.com and CNN OTT, as well as mobile apps under “TV Channels” or CNNgo where available.
The special will also be available on demand beginning Saturday, March 4 to pay TV subscribers via CNN.com, CNN apps, and cable operator platforms.
The critically-acclaimed, award-winning film, "NAVALNY," is available in select theaters in major cities now and is currently streaming via HBO Max. "NAVALNY" will also broadcast on CNN Saturday, March 4 at 8 p.m ET.
Fighting is intense around Bahkmut. Here are the latest headlines from Ukraine
From CNN staff
Fighting is intense around Bakhmut, according to the Ukrainian military, while Wagner, the Russian mercenary group, said Friday that the fiercely contested eastern city is surrounded.
Russian forces have also launched artillery fire near Lyman, which is north of Bakhmut, and on additional towns in the Donetsk region, the Ukrainian military said.
In the city of Kupyansk in the Kharkiv region, Ukrainian authorities ordered a mandatory evacuation for vulnerable residents due to constant Russian shelling.
Here are more of the latest headlines:
Top officials gather: US Attorney General Merrick Garland made an unannounced trip to Ukraine on Friday where he joined President Volodymyr Zelensky at the "United for Justice Conference." Zelensky also met with top government officials from the Netherlands, Latvia and Estonia in the western city of Lviv. Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the White House.
Sanctions and assistance: The Biden administration on Friday sanctioned a number of Russian individuals connected to the arbitrary detention of Vladimir Kara-Murza, a prominent human rights advocate and Kremlin critic who has been jailed in Moscow for nearly a year after speaking out against the war in Ukraine in an interview with CNN. The US also announced a new security assistance package for Ukraine that is valued at up to $400 million.
Money troubles. Russia could find itself with no money as soon as next year and needs foreign investment, outspoken Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska said. Russia’s economic output shrank 2.1% last year, according to a preliminary estimate from the government. The contraction was more limited than many economists initially predicted. But cracks are starting to show — Russia is cutting oil production this month — and Western sanctions could escalate further.
Zelensky holds talks with Latvia's president and visits wounded soldiers in Lviv
From CNN's Radina Gigova and Maria Kostenko
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said he met with the president of Latvia Friday on the sidelines of a conference in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.
"The negotiations with the president of Latvia, who today, by the way, visited Ukraine for the third time during the full-scale war, went very well," Zelensky said in his nightly address.
"We also signed an important bilateral declaration with our Latvian counterpart. The declaration that enshrines justice at the political level. Latvia fundamentally supports the full integration of Ukraine into the European Union and NATO and will defend this position at all levels," he added.
He thanked Ukraine's allies and politicians who have helped the country "for understanding the price that the Ukrainian people pay for their freedom and that of all Europeans."
In addition to meetings at the United for Justice Conference, Zelensky visited a Lviv hospital Friday, where wounded soldiers are being rehabilitated.
"I had the honor to communicate with the soldiers and present them with state awards," he said. "I also presented awards to doctors who save the lives of our soldiers."
Biden say US and Germany worked in lockstep to support Ukraine
US President Joe Biden said that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's support for Ukraine has "made a world of difference" during the war, as the two leaders met at the White House on Friday.
"You stepped up and provided critical military support and you know, I would argue that beyond your military support, the moral support you gave to Ukrainians has been profound. And you've driven historic changes at home — increase in defense spending and diversifying away from Russian energy sources — I know that has not been easy, very difficult for you," Biden said, noting they had moved in "lockstep" in supporting Kyiv.
"As NATO allies, we're making the alliance stronger and more capable," he added.
Scholz said Germany will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.
"This is a very, very important year because of the very dangerous threat to peace that comes from Russia invading Ukraine, and it's really important that we acted together, that we organized in lockstep, and that we made it feasible that we can give the necessary support to Ukraine during all this time," said Scholz, who added he felt the transatlantic partnership was in "very good shape."
Germany and the US were in a standoff earlier this year over sending tanks to Ukraine, but both countries announced plans to send the vehicles after intense pressure on Berlin and prolonged diplomacy between Germany, the United States and other European allies.
Zelensky discusses EU membership and military aid with foreign ministers from the Netherlands and Estonia
From CNN's Radina Gigova
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky met with top government officials from the Netherlands and Estonia in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv Friday, his office said in a statement.
Zelensky expressed his gratitude for the "significant defense, financial, energy and legal support" provided by both countries since the beginning of Russia's invasion, his office said.
The Netherlands: During his meeting with Wopke Hoekstra, the Dutch deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, Zelensky outlined the situation on the front line and the needs of Ukraine's military. He emphasized the need for more, swift aid from partners, according to the statement.
Zelensky also said he was grateful for the Dutch government's decision to establish an international center in The Hauge investigating the crime of aggression against Ukraine.
Zelensky also outlined Kyiv's hopes for the 2023 NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, and discussions on Ukraine's accession to the EU "by the end of the year," according to the statement.
Estonia: During the conversation with Urmas Reinsalu, Estonia's minister of foreign affairs, Zelensky said that "bringing to justice all those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide of the Ukrainian people is a fundamental issue for our country," and is a key component of Ukraine's proposed peace formula, according to the statement.
Zelensky noted Estonia's "substantial defense and humanitarian assistance," his office said.
"Ukraine especially appreciates the medical and rehabilitation assistance to our wounded, the training missions for the Ukrainian military, as well as the support for Ukrainians who left for Estonia because of the war," Zelensky said.
"The parties emphasized the importance of further increasing sanctions pressure on Russia," Zelensky's office added.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland makes unannounced trip to Ukraine
From CNN's Hannah Rabinowitz
US Attorney General Merrick Garland made an unannounced trip to Ukraine on Friday, his second trip to the country since Russia invaded a little more than a year ago.
The trip was not announced for security reasons, according to a Justice Department official.
Garland was invited to Lviv by the Ukrainian prosecutor general, the official said, and joined President Volodymyr Zelensky at the “United for Justice Conference.”
The attorney general “held several meetings and reaffirmed our determination to hold Russia accountable for crimes committed in its unjust and unprovoked invasion against its sovereign neighbor,” the official said.
The trip comes nearly two weeks after President Joe Biden made his first trip to Ukraine since the war began and is one of several trips made by members of Biden’s Cabinet. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also recently made a trip to Ukraine to meet with Zelensky.
The Justice Department has taken several steps to hold the Russian government and its supporters accountable since the invasion began.
On Wednesday, Garland testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that he believed the Russian government was committing crimes against humanity and said the Justice Department supports efforts by The Hague to investigate and prosecute those crimes.
“The United States supports what is now being developed in The Hague, sponsored by Eurojust, looking into the possibility of creating that court [to charge crimes of aggression],” Garland testified.
“There are concerns that we have to take into account with respect to how that might deal with our own service members and other circumstances,” he continued. “We have to be sure that the appropriate guardrails are up. But we support any number of different ways in which war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the potential for crimes against aggression are investigated.”
China is still considering providing lethal aid to Russia, White House national security official says
From CNN's Sam Fossum
China could still take the escalatory step of providing lethal military aid to Russia, US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Friday.
"We don't believe they've taken it off the table," Kirby told CNN's Abby Phillip, while noting that the administration still doesn't "believe that they've made the decision to move forward."
On fighter jets for Ukraine: Kirby also said that F-16 fighter jets are not a "key part" of the agenda for US President Joe Biden's meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz this afternoon, but the two leaders will speak extensively on what Ukraine will need this spring and summer for the tough fighting ahead.
About US detainee in Russia: Asked about detained American Paul Whelan, Kirby said that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken "absolutely" brought it up with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, despite Russian claims otherwise.
"Paul Whelan needs to be home with his family and with his friends," Kirby said. "We're going to keep working to get him released and get him back home."