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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3:28 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

Ukraine’s third-largest city is on edge as Russian forces inch closer

From CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh in Odessa

Local residents load sand bags onto the truck to defend the city, Odessa, Ukraine, on March 1.
Local residents load sand bags onto the truck to defend the city, Odessa, Ukraine, on March 1. (Nina Lyashonok/Ukrinform/Future Publishing/Getty Images)

The city center in Odessa is a ghost town. Barricaded with sandbags, this is a city ready for battle.

The bombing hasn’t started, but Ukraine’s third largest city on the southern coast appears as if it’s already under bombardment.

For days, Odessa’s residents have been warned of the possibility of a Russian amphibious landing. Young residents now know it is their turn to fight. Some civilians have already taken up arms.

Scarred from a war for the last generation, locals are on edge as Russian forces encroach on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast. They say this is just like an episode that causes their grandparents to burst into nervous tears when they recall the horror of 1941 during the assault by Nazi Germany.

A food hall has been hurriedly converted into a well-oiled machine designed to sustain the city’s youth with medicine and other essential supplies. The city’s nearby Opera House is fortified – just as it was more than eight decades ago.

One man, Nick, tells me he couldn't help but weep after seeing a photograph of the building barricaded.

"It is impossible to imagine that this picture in reality, it is only our memory," he said.

But while it can feel like everyone is staying to fight, trains are filling with people – young mothers and their children – desperate to escape.

They watched the chilling march of the Russians into the town of Kherson, about 125 miles (200 km) west of Odessa — a town where locals never imagined they would have Russian troops walking around the streets.

3:36 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

World champion boxer Oleksandr Uysk on taking up arms in Ukraine: "It is my duty to fight"

Heavyweight boxing champion Oleksandr Usyk.
Heavyweight boxing champion Oleksandr Usyk. (CNN)

Just a few months ago, world heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk was facing off against opponents in the boxing ring. Now, he's back home in Ukraine, prepared to take up arms to defend his country.

When asked on Tuesday why he had returned, he replied, "What do you mean, why?"

It's my duty (to fight), to defend my home, my family," he said, speaking to CNN from a basement in Kyiv. "I have to do this."

He added that he didn't want to kill anybody, but would do what was necessary to protect himself and his loved ones.

When asked if he was afraid, he said, "My soul belongs to the Lord, and my body and my honor belong to my country, to my family. So there is no fear. Absolutely no fear."

The 35-year-old's last appearance in the ring was in September when he became world heavyweight champion by winning a unanimous decision against Anthony Joshua.

Boxers fighting for Ukraine: Usyk is not the only boxing champion to take up arms to defend his country from Russia's attack.

Former world heavyweight champion and Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko told CNN Tuesday he is proud of Ukrainian citizens for defending their country and sees the battle ahead as a fight for its future. Klitschko and his brother, fellow Hall of Famer Wladimir Klitschko, have both pledged to fight for Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian three-weight world champion Vasily Lomachenko has joined a defense battalion in his home country, according to a post on his Facebook account.

Watch Usyk's interview with CNN's Don Riddell:

3:07 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

An Indian student was killed in Ukraine while in line for groceries

From CNN's Esha Mitra and Vedika Sud in New Delhi 

Naveen Shekharappa Gyanagoudar, an Indian national killed during Russia’s shelling of Kharkiv on Tuesday, was a fourth-year medical student at Kharkiv National Medical University, India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla said at a news briefing late Tuesday.

“He had moved out to get some groceries and foreign exchange when he was killed,” his cousin Kantesh Gyanagoudar told CNN on Wednesday, adding that Naveen had planned to leave for Poland later that day.

Shringla said Naveen was in line to buy groceries at a shop when it was hit with shelling. 

Naveen had spoken to his father moments before he stepped out for groceries and to his mother earlier Tuesday morning, Kantesh said. 

As of Tuesday evening, his body was at a morgue in his university, Shringla said, adding that Indian officials are in touch with local authorities to repatriate his body. 

“We request the Indian government to bring Naveen’s body back as soon as possible. And to bring back all Indian students back. We don’t want a repeat of this incident,” Kantesh said.

India’s Prime Minister “conveyed his deep anguish on the loss of the life of an Indian national.”

Shringla added that he had spoken to the ambassadors of Russia and Ukraine to “strongly” reiterate the “demand for urgent safe passage for all Indian Nationals who are still in Kharkiv and other cities in the conflict area.”

Some context: So far more than 9,000 Indian nationals have been evacuated while a "considerable number" are now in safer areas, an Indian official said Tuesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Indian Embassy in Kyiv asked its citizens to urgently leave the capital as Russia's military convoy closed in on the city, according to satellite images from Maxar Technologies.

2:49 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

Russian troops control Kherson, defense officials claim

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio and Nathan Hodge in Moscow 

Russian troops have taken full control of the city of Kherson, Russian state media reported Wednesday, citing defense ministry spokesperson Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov.

Civilian infrastructure, life support facilities and urban transport are working as normal, state news agency TASS reported Konashenkov as saying. 

CNN was unable to immediately verify the Russian MoD’s claims.

Some context: Screenshots posted to social media and a video obtained by CNN appear to show the Russian military in control of the city center, with military vehicles seen traveling along a roundabout in northern Kherson on Tuesday, and parked on Svobody Square in central Kherson.

An image from social media appears to show the Russian military in the centre of Kherson, Ukraine, on March 2.
An image from social media appears to show the Russian military in the centre of Kherson, Ukraine, on March 2. (Telegram)

This comes after several days of heavy fighting and shelling, with apartment buildings and civilian structures damaged. On Tuesday, the mayor posted a stark message on Facebook warning the city was under attack, and that "residential buildings and urban facilities are burning."

2:44 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

Kharkiv sees explosions in the north and destruction in the west

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy, Adam Pourahmadi and Celine Alkhaldi 

A grab from a video published by ТРУХА, a local Kharkiv news outlet, shows a massive explosion and shockwave seen from the upper floor of a residential building on March 2.
A grab from a video published by ТРУХА, a local Kharkiv news outlet, shows a massive explosion and shockwave seen from the upper floor of a residential building on March 2. (ТРУХА)

The northeast city of Kharkiv in Ukraine has faced significant destruction, new videos posted to social media and obtained by CNN show.

The videos obtained by CNN have been geolocated, and their authenticity verified by CNN. 

In the videos, which were taken in the Kholodna Hora neighborhood in western Kharkiv, a number of buildings seen are badly damaged along Kholodhnohirska Stretet.

The area is home to a number of markets and stores, in addition to some residential buildings.

Kharkiv is the second-largest city in Ukraine, home to about 1.4 million people.

Explosions to the north: The damage in the city's western area is unrelated to a major explosion that took part in the northern part of the city.

Yuriy Kochubej, a local Kharkiv resident, told CNN at least two large explosions rocked the city Tuesday evening near the Oleksiyivka neighborhood in northern Kharkiv, around 10 p.m. local time. 

In one video published by ТРУХА, a local Kharkiv news outlet, a massive explosion and shockwave is seen from the upper floor of a residential building. 

Suspilne News, Ukraine's public broadcaster, spoke with the head of the local police who confirmed that fighting between the Russian and Ukrainian military had taken place overnight near a military hospital in Kharkiv. It's unclear at this time whether the explosion is related to the reported fighting.

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

Moscow stock exchange to stay closed Wednesday

The Moscow stock exchange will not open for trading Wednesday for the third day in a row, the Russian Central Bank said in a statement.

However, limited operations will be allowed for the first time this week. 

Russian economy tanks: Russia has been scrambling to prevent financial meltdown since the United States, European Union and other Western allies imposed sanctions on much of the country's banking system, including freezing hundreds of billions of dollars worth of foreign reserves Moscow had been stockpiling for years to shield the Russian economy.

The Russian ruble has plunged, and shares in Russian companies listed overseas have crashed. Several Western businesses have abandoned Russia since the invasion began, including oil giant BP, Shell and Exxon Mobil.

2:17 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

Zelensky calls for more international support as Ukraine faces Russian assault largely alone

From CNN's Julia Hollingsworth and Matthew Chance


Russia's brutal onslaught of Ukraine is raging on multiple fronts, but despite desperate pleas for more international assistance, the country faces Moscow's offensive largely alone.

Key cities in Ukraine were attacked from several sides Tuesday, with Russia launching strikes on buildings in the center of the capital Kyiv, and scaling up its bombardment of Ukraine's second-largest city, Kharkiv.

Russian military appears to have taken central Kherson after heavy shelling, with video and social media posts verified by CNN providing new evidence that the Russians are moving throughout the southern Ukrainian city apparently unimpeded.

But while the US and NATO allies have aided Ukraine by sharing arms, military equipment and intelligence while imposing dramatic sanctions on Russia, the alliance has thus far made clear it has no plans to send soldiers into Ukraine -- a position US President Joe Biden reiterated in his State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Ukraine, which is not a NATO member, has mounted a fierce resistance, but in a rare interview from a Kyiv bunker Tuesday, President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that his country -- which has a much smaller military than Russia -- needs more help to prevent the crisis from spreading across Europe.

"I've spoken to Biden many times," Zelensky told CNN. "And I've told them many times that Ukraine will resist and fight stronger than anyone else but on our own against Russia we won't manage it."

Read the full story here.

2:17 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

Ukraine's youngest MP: "If we can survive Stalin, we can survive Putin"


Sviatoslav Yurash, Ukraine's youngest member of parliament, told CNN on Tuesday he and other Ukrainians were determined to keep fighting Russia's assault on the capital Kyiv.

"My great grandfather survived Stalingrad, so I think we can survive whatever they throw at us," he said, speaking from Kyiv. "We had an unfortunate, tragic, unbelievable history in the 20th century. So if we survive Stalin, we can survive Putin."

Life during war: He described life in Kyiv as having changed "immensely," as citizens brace themselves for the Russian attack.

Money, for instance, no longer has any real value during wartime -- meaning people are exchanging goods instead, he said. His neighborhood is quiet and empty, while military recruitment stations are full.

But supplies such as food and ammunition are running low. "Nothing is enough," he said. So he and his team spend their time organizing supplies, distributing food, providing weaponry and medicine, and "trying to be useful in the defense of our capital," he said.

Some of his assistants with military backgrounds are now out in the combat field, leading platoons and helping construct barricades.

Russia tries to destroy our nation, and we will not let it," he said.
12:50 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

Blinken calls strike on Holocaust memorial in Kyiv "appalling"

US State Secretary Antony Blinken said in a tweet Tuesday he was "appalled" by the missile attack close to the Babyn Yar Holocaust memorial in Kyiv.

"We are appalled by reports that Russian bombs have struck near the memorial site of Babyn Yar, killing more people where tens of thousands of Jews were massacred in the Holocaust. We condemn this brutal war against Ukraine," he wrote.

The Holocaust memorial site was hit by a missile, Ukrainian authorities said Tuesday.

"Putin seeks to distort and manipulate the Holocaust to justify an illegal invasion of a sovereign democratic country is utterly abhorrent," said Natan Sharansky, advisory board chair of the site. He added it was "symbolic" that the attack happened where an estimated 70,000 to 100,000 people were shot by the Nazis.