March 1, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Jessie Yeung, Rob Picheta, Ed Upright, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 6:05 PM ET, Tue March 8, 2022
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10:02 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

UNHCR: Ukraine could become "Europe's largest refugee crisis this century"

From CNN's Alex Hardie and Niamh Kennedy in London and Antonia Mortensen in Milan

A girl walks among hundreds of beds inside a sports hall used to accommodate Ukrainian refugees at the border crossing town of Medyka, Poland, on March 1.
A girl walks among hundreds of beds inside a sports hall used to accommodate Ukrainian refugees at the border crossing town of Medyka, Poland, on March 1. (Visar Kryeziu/AP)

The situation in Ukraine could become “Europe’s largest refugee crisis this century” with more than 600,000 refugees believed to have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries so far, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said Tuesday. 

"UNHCR is mobilizing resources to respond as quickly and effectively as possible,” the statement added. 

Earlier on Tuesday, UNHCR issued an appeal for $1.7 billion USD in aid, estimating that 12 million people inside Ukraine could be left in need of relief and protection, with a further four million expected to be in need of assistance in neighboring countries. 

“While we have seen tremendous solidarity and hospitality from neighboring countries in receiving refugees, including from local communities and private citizens, much more support will be needed to assist and protect new arrivals,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Tuesday.

According to UNHCR, its aid program will include “cash assistance for the most vulnerable people, food assistance, water and sanitation, support to health care and education services, and shelter assistance to rebuild damaged homes.”

$1.1 billion of the funding will be used to assist six million people inside Ukraine for an initial three-month period, according to UNHCR.

“Aid groups will need safe and unimpeded access to all conflict-affected areas according to the core humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and operational independence,” the statement added.

9:27 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Italy moves its embassy from Kyiv to western Ukraine in light of "security situation"

From CNN's Nicola Ruotolo in Rome and Niamh Kennedy in London

Italy has moved its embassy from Kyiv to the city of Lviv in western Ukraine in light of the deteriorating "security situation" in the Ukrainian capital.

In an update Tuesday, the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs announced that it had moved the embassy so it could "continue carrying out its duties."

On Monday, France had also announced that it would move its embassy from Kyiv to Lviv.

9:22 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

France will provide Ukraine with $111 million in additional aid

From Xiaofei Xu in Paris

France has allocated a further 100 million euros ($111 million) worth of financial and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, the French foreign ministry said in a statement Tuesday. 

“Faced with the humanitarian situation in Ukraine caused by Russia's invasion of the country and in response to the request of the Ukrainian authorities, France has decided to mobilize a financial package of 100 million euros to provide a response for the population affected by the conflict,” read the statement.

“In addition to financial support to NGOs and multilateral organizations, our assistance takes the form of emergency humanitarian aid.”

A further eight tons worth of aid left France on Tuesday for Ukraine, with the statement adding that “other humanitarian aid operations for Ukraine are under consideration.”

France will also provide aid to Ukrainian refugees in Poland, the statement said.

France has already sent 33 tons of emergency aid, which includes tents, blankets and sleeping bags, to Ukraine via Poland. They were delivered to the Ukrainian authorities on Monday, according to the statement.

9:54 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Emergency oil release could help offset supply fears in the short term, Chevron CEO says

From CNN’s Matt Egan

Mike Wirth, chief executive officer of Chevron Corp., attends a panel discussion during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S. on October 18.
Mike Wirth, chief executive officer of Chevron Corp., attends a panel discussion during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S. on October 18. (Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Chevron CEO Mike Wirth expressed support on Tuesday for governments to release emergency stockpiles of oil to offset supply fears triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“I do think a coordinated response by multiple countries could help in the near-term,” Wirth said in response to a question from CNN during a briefing with reporters. “Certainly, we’ve seen markets on edge with concern about supply and supply reliability.”

Brent oil prices closed above $100 a barrel on Monday for the first time since 2014. US crude and Brent jumped another 5% on Tuesday even as the International Energy Agency meets to discuss a response to the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

US President Joe Biden indicated last week the United States stands ready to release more oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the nation’s stockpile of oil that was tapped in November in response to high prices.

“The Strategic Petroleum Reserve was intended to be used in times of actual supply disruptions or high risk of supply disruption,” Wirth said. “Unlike some other times when we’ve seen it used perhaps more because of anxiety about prices but no real supply concern, in this instance use of the reserve would be consistent with what it was established for.”

However, the Chevron CEO urged the federal government to take broader steps to encourage the long-term development of oil and natural gas. 

The invasion of Ukraine has driven concerns about a supply disruption from Russia, the world’s No. 2 oil producer. Wirth expressed confidence that won’t happen.

“I’ve seen nothing to indicate that either Russia’s intentions or the intentions of governments involved in sanctions would be to restrict oil supply,” Wirth said. “In fact, quite the opposite. It would appear to me that people have been very careful to signal their intention is to try to maintain energy supply to a world that needs it.”

Chevron said its only real exposure to Russia is through the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, a pipeline system that brings crude oil from West Kazakhstan and Russian oil producers. The Russian government and Chevron own stakes in the venture, according to its website.

“We’ve had no indications from any government that operations of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium are likely to be interrupted,” Wirth said, adding that this is an important source of supply, carrying more than one million barrels per day out of landlocked Kazakhstan.

High oil prices have lifted prices at the gas pump to seven-year highs. The national average for regular gasoline rose to $3.62 on Tuesday, up about 9 cents in a week and 24 cents in a month, according to AAA.

At some point, energy prices could get so expensive that it erodes demand from consumers and slows the broader economy. 

“We have a strong economic recovery underway globally. To this point, economies have been able to accommodate high energy prices and still deliver growth,” Wirth said. “I think there probably is a limit to that.”

9:16 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Russian military warns of strikes against facilities in Kyiv, according to statement via state media

From CNN's Nathan Hodge in Moscow

The Russian military said Tuesday it will carry out strikes against the facilities in Kyiv, warning civilians living near the areas to leave.

The Russians will target the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and the 72nd Main Center for Information and Psychological Operations (PSO) in Kyiv, the Russian defense ministry said in a statement Tuesday via Russian state news agency TASS. 

"In order to suppress information attacks against Russia, the technological facilities of the SBU and the 72nd main PSO center in Kyiv will be hit with high-precision weapons," the statement said, according to TASS. "We call on Ukrainian citizens attracted by Ukrainian nationalists to carry out provocations against Russia, as well as residents of Kyiv living near relay nodes leave their homes."

Speaking about the "relay nodes," CNN's Clarissa Ward said, "we understand that to mean communications towers. So large antennas, things of that nature." 

"This is not a surprise in a sense that people here have been bracing themselves for an uptick in the Russian onslaught. Up until now, most attacks have really been targeting the outskirts of the city. But now it appears that things will move to the center of the capital as so many had feared," Ward said.

More background: A massive 40-mile-long Russian military convoy — made up of armored vehicles, tanks, towed artillery and other logistical vehicles — has reached the outskirts of Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, according to satellite images from Maxar Technologies. 

Russia has repeatedly claimed it is not hitting civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. But social media videos, photos and satellite images analyzed and geolocated by CNN confirm that on several occasions densely populated areas have been hit by Russian forces.

In the past two days, accelerated strikes on the second-largest city of Kharkiv that have struck civilians suggest Russia is shifting toward a far less-restrained bombing campaign, in contrast with its earlier attacks that were more focused on military targets.

The UN says that at least 102 civilians have been killed across the country and 304 injured, though those figures are likely to underestimate the true toll.

9:50 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Ukraine are choking the country's borders

From CNN's Antonia Mortensen and AnneClaire Stapleton

Refugees from Ukraine line up to get in to Poland at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland, on February 28.
Refugees from Ukraine line up to get in to Poland at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland, on February 28. (Wojtek Radwanski/AFP/Getty Images)

There are now more than half a million refugees from Ukraine in neighboring countries, the UN said Monday, with people desperately heading west towards central Europe after Russia's invasion last week.

Here's a snapshot of the situation at Ukraine's borders:

Poland: More than 100,000 people crossed from Ukraine into Poland on Monday, according to Poland's border guard, the highest figure received by Ukraine's EU neighbors since the invasion began.

Since February 24, border authorities have cleared the entry of at least 377,400 people at its border crossings with Ukraine, according to a tweet Tuesday.

The longest line is at the Medyka crossing, border guard spokesperson Anna Michalska said.

On the Ukrainian side of that frontier, a 20-kilometer (12-mile) line of vehicles stretches through nearby villages. Residents told CNN the amount of people moving to the border has dropped in the past day.

The first few days of evacuations were chaotic, with many people walking vast distances to the border in cold conditions, they said. But now many volunteers from local villages have set up temporary shelter and are offering food.

A CNN team at the border has spoken to many non-Ukrainian citizens who say officials are still giving preferential treatment to Ukrainians crossing the border.

CNN has also met Ukrainian nationals who were waiting in line in their cars, but decided to abandon their vehicles and walk to the border instead, because they thought it would be faster.

Many men are escorting their families to the border, knowing they will likely be turned away and not be able to leave. Ukraine has banned military-aged men from leaving the country as it seeks to boost its armed forces.

Slovakia: Waiting times at Ukraine's borders with Slovakia stretch up to 35 hours in Ubla, towards the northeast of Slovakia, and 12 hours in Vysne Nemecke, towards the southeast. Another crossing in Velke Slemence is seeing less congestion.

A total of 54,304 people had entered the country by Tuesday morning, according to the Slovak border police.

According to the agency's spokesperson, guards have not turned around a single person since the beginning of the conflict, meaning any such incidents happened on the Ukrainian side. Roughly 15,000 people crossed through three crossings from Sunday morning to Monday morning, around a third of whom were non-Ukrainians, they said.

Romania: A total of 89,000 Ukrainian citizens have come through the Romanian border since the Russian invasion, with 50,000 then exiting to other countries, according to official border records.

Congestion has been seen at the border with Hungary, but police confirmed to CNN that the crossings are less busy today and people clearing the crossings faster.

8:55 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

World's biggest container shipping companies temporarily halt cargo bookings to and from Russia

From CNN's Chris Liakos

Two of the world’s biggest container shipping companies are halting cargo bookings to and from Russia.

“As the stability and safety of our operations is already being directly and indirectly impacted by sanctions, new Maersk bookings to and from Russia will be temporarily suspended, with exception of foodstuffs, medical and humanitarian supplies,” shipping giant Maersk said in a statement on Tuesday.

“We are deeply concerned by how the crisis keeps escalating in Ukraine,” the company added noting that it starts “seeing the effect on global supply chain flows such as delays, detention of cargo by customs authorities across various transshipment hubs, unpredictable operational impacts.”

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) will also stop all cargo bookings to and from Russia starting today, “covering all access areas including Baltics, Black Sea and Far East Russia,” the company said in a statement.

MSC will continue to accept and screen bookings for delivery of essential goods such as food, medical equipment and humanitarian goods.

8:40 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Russia preparing to launch large-scale information operation against Ukraine, says Ukraine's defense minister

From CNN's Olya Voitoych in Kyiv

Russia is preparing to launch a “large-scale information and psychological operation” against Ukraine, Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said Tuesday.

“Its goal is to break the resistance of Ukrainians and the Ukrainian army with lies,” Reznikov said in a statement.

According to the defense minister, Russia has planned to create “communication problems” and to fabricate reports that Ukraine’s military and political leadership have “agreed to surrender” to the Russian Forces.

“As a ‘confirmation’ of this, fake — supposedly signed — documents as well as edited fake videos will be spread,” Reznikov said.

“This is a lie. This won’t happen. There will be no surrender! Only victory,” he added. 

9:48 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Germany and Luxembourg express support for Ukraine

From Inke Kappeler in Berlin

The leaders of Germany and Luxembourg expressed their support for the people of Ukraine during a joint news conference in Berlin Tuesday.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to “immediately stop all combat operations, withdraw all Russian troops and return to dialogue.”

“The bloodshed has to come to an end. Vladimir Putin is offending the Ukrainian people," Scholz added. “These will be very dramatic times. The pictures with the many dead and injured, the destroyed buildings and infrastructure that we have had to bemoan are only a beginning of what is likely to come."

Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel echoed similar sentiments, “It is our damned duty to stand for the Ukrainian people." 

“You are not forgotten. You are not alone,” Bettel added. “We must continue our diplomatic efforts. We must achieve a ceasefire, and without talks this will not be possible.”