March 2, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Meg Wagner, Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Maureen Chowdhury, Jason Kurtz and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 4:01 p.m. ET, March 7, 2022
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9:46 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

"I'm seeing my people die," says Ukrainian medical battalion volunteer

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

A volunteer with a Ukrainian medical battalion said she is seeing her people die as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine.

Tata Marharian moved from her hometown in the Donbas region to the capital of Kyiv in 2015 to study international law, she told CNN's Jim Sciutto in an interview.

“I’m seeing dead children. I'm seeing hospitals being bombed. I'm seeing churches being bombed. It’s difficult. … I’m seeing my people die. I'm seeing all sorts of horrible things. I studied crimes against humanity at the university. I studied international humanitarian law. I never thought I would see this with my own eyes in my country,” she said. 

Marharian said that she is convinced she and her fellow volunteers can make a difference.

“I’ve never been more happy to be Ukrainian," she said. 

"I've never been more lucky to be born in this country. We all are united, we all are consolidated, and one person maybe is powerless to make a difference, but trust me, we're not one. There are a lot of people fighting here, back to back. So, yeah, we do have hope,” she said. 

She called Russia’s claims that its forces are not targeting civilians as “ridiculous,” saying that her hometown of Volnovakha is "on the verge of humanitarian crisis" and invading forces "bombed the hell out of it."

"I know it is difficult for people to sort of realize the scale of the situation right now, but just imagine that there is a city and there is a town, small town, and you've spent there 17 years of your life. You drove your bike over there and you went to school, you said hello to your neighbors, you lived and loved, you laughed there, and then the other day you see the town, it's completely bombed and there is not a single house … The last thing I want is for my beautiful Kyiv to repeat the destiny of my Volnovakha. I'll do anything in my power to stop this aggression," she said.

9:31 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

Heavy snowfall expected for much of eastern Ukraine as conflict continues

From CNN's Brandon Miller

The most significant snowfall of the current conflict is forecast to spread across eastern Ukraine over the next couple of days, resulting in poor visibility, difficult travel conditions and widespread snowfall totals of more than 6 inches (or about 15 cm). 

While light snow is already falling in parts of the country, heavier snow will move in on Thursday as an area of low pressure moves northward from the Black Sea and along the eastern Ukrainian border with Russia on Thursday and Friday. This will bring periods of the heaviest snow and worst conditions on Thursday and Friday, lasting into Saturday. Key cities impacted include Donetsk, Kharkiv and Luhansk.

Kharkiv and Donetsk could each see more than 8 inches (or 20 cm), falling mostly on Thursday/Friday in Donetsk and Friday/Saturday in Kharkiv.

In addition to the snow, winds will pick up with the passage of the storm system as well. Widespread wind gusts of 25-30 mph (40-50 kph) will be felt throughout the region over the next three days.

Cloud cover will also remain dense over most of the country through at least the next three days as a result of this weather system.

Temperatures will stay cold, around the freezing mark, through the weekend, though an even colder air mass looks to move in next week after the snow.

9:09 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

US vice president says "everything is on the table" as US continues to assess sanctions on Russia

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

US Vice President Kamala Harris speaks to ABC's 'Good Morning America' on March 2.
US Vice President Kamala Harris speaks to ABC's 'Good Morning America' on March 2. (ABC)

US Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday said “everything is on the table” as the US assesses economic sanctions imposed on Russia for launching an attack on Ukraine and continued to stress the US will not send troops to fight Russian forces in Ukraine. 

“What we are going to continue to do is stand firm with our allies in terms of reassessing what we are doing with sanctions. Everything is on the table for consideration, frankly,” Harris told NBC’s “TODAY Show.” 

Harris continued: “What we are not going to do and that must be said also, as the President has continuously said, we are not going to put US troops in Ukraine to fight the Russians on the ground or in the air. But we are firm in our preparedness to defend our NATO alliance and our allies, every inch of the NATO territory, and we will continue to do that.”

Harris told ABC’s “Good Morning America” the US is closely monitoring Russia’s actions and assessing whether there has been intentional targeting of civilians and a violation of international law. 

“We are very concerned and we are monitoring it. We are fully aware that if there is any intentional targeting of civilians that we are looking at the fact that there may be a violation, very well may be a violation of international law. So this is an issue that we should all be paying attention to. It is atrocious, and it is a violation of all of the standards and principles that we, particular as NATO nations take seriously in terms of protecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of any nation,” Harris told ABC. 

Harris said the US would continue to provide humanitarian assistance as well as security assistance to the people of Ukraine. 

Harris told NBC that Russia is already seeing the effects of the economic retaliatory measures the US has levied against the nation. 

“The ruble is in a free fall. What we've seen is the Russian stock market is closed. What we've seen is that Russia has received a credit rating of basically junk. So we know it's having impact,” she said. 

“What history will show is that Vladimir Putin basically ended up strengthening NATO and weakening Russia,” the vice president said.

Harris said she spoke on Tuesday with the leaders of Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia and Romania about how the US will continue to support its allies. 

She also praised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, saying he “has shown extraordinary courage” and “has been an inspiration to all of us.”

8:56 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

Boris Johnson: Russia's actions in Ukraine qualify as war crime

From CNN's Gabby Gretener in London

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London, on March 2.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London, on March 2. (House of Commons/PA Images/Getty Images)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin's actions in Ukraine qualify as war crime.

"What we have seen already from Vladimir Putin's regime in the use of the munitions that they have already been dropping on innocent civilians ... in my view, [it] already fully qualifies as a war crime," he said at the UK parliament.

Johnson also said that Putin had "gravely miscalculated" the Ukrainian response.

"In his abhorrent assault on a sovereign nation, he has underestimated the extraordinary fortitude of the Ukrainian people, and the unity and resolve of the free world in standing up to his barbarism,” he said.

“If Putin doubles down so shall we, further ratcheting up economic pressure and supporting Ukraine with finance, weapons and humanitarian assistance,” Johnson added, saying the UK "will continue to tighten the noose around Putin’s regime.”

“Putin must fail in his venture” and “I have no doubt that he will fail and that we will succeed in protecting Ukraine,” he said.

9:05 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

OPEC and Russia hold firm on current policy despite soaring prices

From CNN's Chris Liakos

OPEC members and Russia agreed to stick to their current plan of gradually increasing output by just 400,000 barrels per day per month despite soaring prices following Russia’s invasion Ukraine.

OPEC said in a statement “that current oil market fundamentals and the consensus on its outlook pointed to a well-balanced market, and that current volatility is not caused by changes in market fundamentals but by current geopolitical developments,” adding that its next meeting will be on March 31.

This comes as global crude oil prices surged to more than $110 per barrel and the cost of natural gas skyrocketed to a new record in Europe on Wednesday as Russia's escalating military campaign in Ukraine stoked fear in markets.

8:42 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

Local authorities in Ukrainian town claim deal was struck after defying Russian forces

From Tim Lister and Julia Kesa in Kyiv and Anastasia Graham-Yooll in London 

A confrontation between Ukrainian civilians and Russian forces in the town of Konotop ended with a defiant message from the town's mayor and — according to the Ukrainian side — an agreement to preserve peace.

Konotop is a small town in the northeastern region of Sumy.

Social media video verified by CNN shows a Russian delegation emerging from city hall to be confronted by an angry crowd. One of the Russians appears to hold up two hand grenades as he returns to his vehicle, while onlookers shout abuse and jostle the Russians, chanting "shame."

His vehicle and a Russian infantry fighting vehicle then left. 

The Sumy regional authorities reported that “in Konotop, the invaders came to negotiate with city authorities. According to Mayor Artem Semenikhin, the Russian military came out and told him to surrender the city. They threatened to fire artillery on the city.”

But the mayor “explicitly defied threats,” the authorities said.

Video of the mayor addressing a crowd showed him saying: “They are giving me these terms now: If we start resisting, they will shell the city with artillery. If you vote for it, we will fight back! Who votes to fight back?”

There is a shout of approval, while some in the crowd said women and children should be evacuated.

“I'm voting for fighting back. But the decision has to be taken by everyone, because the artillery is aimed at us,” he said.

Later, Dmytro Zhyvytsky, head of Sumy region military administration, said an arrangement had been reached with the Russians.

“The conversation between my representative from the military administration and Russians in Konotop lasted about 12 minutes,” Zhyvytsky said. 

“The agreement is as follows: There can be no question of any change of government. They are interested in law and order. There won’t be any movement of troops. The Ukrainian flag is in its place,” he said.
“There is an agreement that we will not shoot and there will be no mutual provocations. They remain in their positions. Unobstructed passage of public transport and services, ambulances, vehicles with food, humanitarian goods will be provided,” he continued.
“To ensure security in the city and control, our volunteers will additionally build checkpoints in Konotop,” he said.

There has been no word from the Russian side about such an agreement.

Across Ukraine, there have been multiple instances of civil disobedience in the face of the Russian advance, with civilians blocking roads, standing in front of tanks and confronting Russian soldiers. 

10:57 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

Borscht and Molotovs: How one Ukrainian woman is supporting her country

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová in Kyiv

Kateryna Yurko said that she and her friends have made several thousand Molotov cocktails in recent days.
Kateryna Yurko said that she and her friends have made several thousand Molotov cocktails in recent days. (Ivana Kottasova/CNN)

Kateryna Yurko was in her store when the first missile hit the ground just across the street.

The impact shook her. It was very, very loud.

She and her employees ran to the basement, making it underground just before the next explosion. Yurko’s store is just across the road from Kyiv’s TV tower, which was hit by a Russian strike on Tuesday.

Five people were killed in the assault. There was still blood on the streets the next day.

The aftermath of Tuesday's explosion.
The aftermath of Tuesday's explosion. (Ivana Kottasova/CNN)

On Wednesday morning, Yurko was back at work sweeping up the shattered glass and debris. Most of her merchandise was gone. While most stores in Ukraine's capital have been shut since the invasion started, she kept the store open because it stocks spare car parts, oil and other necessities.

Yurko said that the events of the last few days had hardened her resolve.

I’m not scared anymore. I know Ukraine will win,” she said.

Yurko has three children and they all understand what is going on, she said. She showed off a video of her 5-year-old twin girls singing the national anthem. Yurko said her other child, who is 18, is volunteering with the Territorial Defense Forces, which is the volunteer military unit of the country's armed forces.

Yurko showing off pictures of her family.
Yurko showing off pictures of her family. (Ivana Kottasova/CNN)

Yurko has also been cooking Ukrainian borscht and making Molotov cocktails for the Territorial Defense units.

“The two most important things a Ukrainian woman needs to know is how to make borscht and Molotovs,” she said, referring to homemade petrol bombs commonly known as Molotov cocktails.

Yurko said that she and her friends have made several thousand of the projectiles in recent days, using up 2 tonnes (4,400 pounds) of gasoline.  

2:23 p.m. ET, March 2, 2022

Conflicting accounts about civilian deaths in Ukraine

From Olya Voitovych in Kyiv 

Police officers remove the body of a passerby on March 2 after an airstrike that hit Kyiv's main television tower in Kyiv, Ukraine, the previous day.
Police officers remove the body of a passerby on March 2 after an airstrike that hit Kyiv's main television tower in Kyiv, Ukraine, the previous day. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images)

More than 2,000 Ukrainian civilians have so far been killed during Russia’s ongoing invasion, Ukraine’s State Emergency Service said Wednesday. CNN has not been able to independently verify this figure.

“More than 2,000 Ukrainians died, not counting our defenders,” the service said in a statement before removing it.

CNN has reached out to Ukraine’s State Emergency Service for more information.

“Children, women and our defense forces are losing their lives every hour,” the statement said before it was removed. 

According to the service, some transport infrastructures, houses, hospitals and kindergartens have been “destroyed” by Russian forces over the last seven days. 

Meanwhile, the United Nations’ reported civilian death toll is far lower than the “more than 2,000” figure, although the UN has cautioned that the real toll is likely to be “much higher.” 

The United Nations High Commission for Human Rights said Tuesday that more than 500 civilian casualties had been reported in Ukraine by the UN – including at least 136 civilians killed and 400 civilians injured. 

“Most of these casualties were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, and air strikes,” the UN office said in a statement on Tuesday. 

“These are only the casualties we were able to cross-check, and the real toll is likely to be much higher,” the statement added.

This post has been updated to reflect that the statement from Ukraine’s State Emergency Service was removed.  

8:03 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

Here's the latest on the fighting in Ukraine

It's just gone 3 p.m. in Kyiv, and fierce battles are being fought between Ukrainian and Russian forces throughout Ukraine.

Here's what you need to know:

Talks to continue: A second round of Russia-Ukraine talks is set to take place today, according to a Ukrainian presidential aide.

The first round of talks on Monday lasted for five hours and ended without a breakthrough.

'The real test': US President Joe Biden used his annual State of the Union address to put forward a show of resolve that Western democracies stand firmly behind Ukraine, which Russia invaded last week.

"Throughout our history, we've learned this lesson: When dictators do not pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos. They keep moving," Biden said.

Yet Biden made it clear that no US troops would be deployed to fight alongside Ukrainians, but the West would instead use sanctions and economic measures to, as he said, continue "inflicting pain on Russia and supporting the people of Ukraine."

Biden also affirmed that US would staunchly defend its NATO allies, including those in Eastern Europe who are concerned that they, like Ukraine, could one day be the target of Russian aggression.

The fight for key cities: Russia's military appears to be steadily advancing on key southern cities. Russia's Ministry of Defense said its forces now fully held Kherson, though Ukrainian authorities denied it, saying "some parts are under our control.”

Fighting also continues in nearby Mariupol, where heavy shelling left dozens injured, its mayor said. Russian troops and Russian-backed separatist have surrounded the city on three sides. The Kremlin hopes to take Mariupol to complete a land corridor that would link the Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014 from Ukraine, with southern Russia. 

Kharkiv pummeled: Russian artillery and missile strikes have also pounded Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-most populous city. Videos posted to social media and confirmed by CNN have shown significant destruction in the northeastern Ukrainian city. One strike hit an apartment complex near a hospital on Tuesday, while Kharkiv's regional police department and Kharkiv National University were struck Wednesday morning.

Ukrainian authorities said the "massive" shelling continued on Wednesday.

Targets in Kyiv: On Tuesday, Russian forces fired rockets near a TV tower in the Ukrainian capital, hours after warning of "high-precision" strikes on other facilities linked to Ukrainian security agencies. The rocket attack took out broadcasting hardware, raising fears that Russia is attempting to knock out the city's communications infrastructure.

The UN said at least 136 people, including 13 children, have been killed in Ukraine since Thursday, February 24, though those figures are likely to underestimate the true toll.

Zelensky said in six days, almost 6,000 Russian soldiers have been killed. The Kremlin has not publicly shared any death toll.