March 3, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Jack Guy, Laura Smith-Spark, Adrienne Vogt, Melissa Macaya and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, March 4, 2022
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7:12 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Mayor of Mariupol speaks of "humanitarian catastrophe" amid intense bombardment

From CNN's Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych

The mayor of the besieged city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine, Vadym Boichenko, says the Russian military are creating a "humanitarian catastrophe" in the city.

In a post on his Telegram account Thursday, the mayor said:

"They are blocking the supply and repair of electricity, water and heat. They have also damaged the railways. They have destroyed bridges and smashed trains so that we can't evacuate women, children and the elderly out of Mariupol."

Russia is stopping food supplies, "blocking us like in former Leningrad [in the Second World War], deliberately destroying the city's critical life-support infrastructure for seven days," said the mayor, who added that the city had no light, water or heat. 

"We are working with international institutions to create a ‘green corridor’ for the humanitarian mission. We are working to ensure ceasefire to restore electricity," said Boichenko.

“We are being destroyed as a nation. This is the genocide of the Ukrainian people. These hypocrites came to ‘save’ Russian-speaking citizens of Mariupol and the region," continued the mayor. "But they arranged the extermination of Ukrainians -- Mariupol residents of Russian, Ukrainian, Greek and other origins."

7:09 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

President Zelensky says first wave of foreign fighters has arrived to assist Ukraine

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

The first foreign fighters have arrived in Ukraine to help defend the country against the Russian invasion, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“Ukraine is already greeting foreign volunteers. (The) first 16,000 are already on their way to protect freedom and life for us, and for all,” he said in a video address posted on Facebook Thursday.

The Ukrainian government has called for people around the world to join the fight against Russia.

But governments such as the US and UK have instructed citizens otherwise, while sending help in the form of weapons, aid and sanctions. Zelensky did not specify where the fighters have come from. 

He also praised allies for sending weaponry to Ukraine, saying it receives new “ammunition daily from our partners, from true friends. Every day we have more and more powerful weapons.”

Zelensky announced a plan to rebuild the country after the war, saying a program has been set up to assist Ukrainians who have lost jobs and promised that all pensions will be paid.

“Ukrainians in all regions burnt by war are receiving everything necessary. Coordinating headquarters are working in full, real humanitarian cargos are on their way," he said.

11:46 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Western allies must ensure no Russian bank can access SWIFT systems, UK urges

 From CNN’s Eleanor Pickston in London

Britain's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss speaks during a joint news conference with her counterparts from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Vilnius, Lithuania, on March 3.
Britain's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss speaks during a joint news conference with her counterparts from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Vilnius, Lithuania, on March 3. (Mindaugas Kulbis/AP)

Western allies must maintain their attempts to curb Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and ensure that no Russian bank has access to the SWIFT bank messaging system, said UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

“It’s vital that we keep our foot on the gas. [The United Kingdom] has worked with the US, EU and G7 to cut off funding for Putin’s war machine, kicking Russian banks out of the financial system, we’ve shut our airspace to Russian planes and we’re fast-forwarding sanctions against Russian oligarchs. But we need to go further," said Truss on Thursday.

"We need to make sure no Russian bank has access to SWIFT and we need to go further on reducing dependency on hydrocarbons from Russia including oil, gas and coal,” Truss said, speaking alongside her Lithuanian, Estonian and Latvian counterparts.in Vilnius, Lithuania.

On Wednesday seven Russian banks were removed from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a key messaging service that connects financial institutions around the world.

Truss said she will raise the extending the block to further Russian banks at the G7 meeting on Friday, as well as at the EU Foreign Affairs Council.

"We need to degrade the Russian economy, to stop the ability to fund Putin’s war machine,” Truss added.

However while Truss talks tough, critics have previously said that the British government's hands-off approach to Russian money, coupled with the ability of oligarchs to use the legal system to shield themselves from scrutiny, has allowed Russian expatriates to wield huge influence in the UK.

"The links of the Russian elite to the UK — especially where this involves business and investment — provide access to UK companies and political figures, and thereby a means for broad Russian influence in the UK," the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament said in its 2020 report.

"To a certain extent, this cannot be untangled and the priority now must be to mitigate the risk and ensure that, where hostile activity is uncovered, the tools exist to tackle it at source," it continued.

6:48 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Formula One terminates Russian Grand Prix deal

From CNN’s Aleks Klosok in London

Nikita Mazepin of Russia driving the Haas during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on September 24, in Sochi, Russia.
Nikita Mazepin of Russia driving the Haas during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on September 24, in Sochi, Russia. (Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

Formula One will no longer race in Russia, it announced Thursday.

Formula 1 can confirm it has terminated its contract with the Russian Grand Prix promoter, meaning Russia will not have a race in the future,” a spokesperson told CNN.

The 2022 running of the event, which was due to take place in September at Sochi’s Olympic Park, was cancelled last week following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian Grand Prix was due to move from Sochi to a new purpose-built circuit just outside St Petersburg in 2023, but this will now no longer happen.

6:34 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Russia shifting to more direct attacks on Ukrainian cities, says NATO official

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio in Moscow

Russia will take a more direct approach in its effort to capture Ukrainian cities after plans to encircle targets such as Kyiv have been frustrated, according to a NATO military official.

“We’re seeing a change in strategy from the Russian side … They’re less focused on encircling cities, more concentrated trying to go in," the unnamed official told CNN.

“[Heavier] bombardment is a side effect of that shift,” the official said.

Russia’s slow advance and heavy losses suffered in the first few days of its invasion have forced the change, the official said, with Russian forces now hamstrung by logistical issues as they attempt to push further into Ukraine.

“It’s the whole logistical chain that is somehow not working [properly],” the NATO official said. “So what we’ve seen is really poor strategy, combined with bad preparation and dwindling morale.”

“They have no food, they lack fuel and also spare parts," they added.

While a staunch Ukrainian resistance is largely responsible for stymying the Russian advance, the NATO official warned that the situation on the ground could change rapidly and that “expectations” should be “managed.”

The Ukrainians will tire while Russia still has fresh reserves, the official warned. “Russia can still escalate further," they said.

The official added there is still a chance the Belarusian military could join the offensive.

6:25 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Mariupol facing "critical" situation as Russian forces surround city, deputy mayor tells CNN

From CNN's Nada Bashir

The key south-eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol is “surrounded” by Russian forces the city’s deputy mayor Sergei Orlov told CNN.
The key south-eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol is “surrounded” by Russian forces the city’s deputy mayor Sergei Orlov told CNN. (CNN)

The key southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol is “surrounded” by Russian forces, the city’s deputy mayor told CNN Thursday.

“Our Ukrainian army and National Guard is very brave, they stand and fight for Ukraine, for Mariupol. But the situation is quite critical,” Deputy Mayor Sergei Orlov told CNN’s John Berman, calling on the West to provide further military support. 

“We are asking for help, for military help, and we are waiting for military help,” Orlov said. “Our internal forces are very brave, but we are surrounded by the Russian army, which has more people in their army.”

Speaking during an interview on CNN’s New Day, Orlov said Mariupol had faced 26 hours of continuous shelling, warning that the city is now facing a humanitarian crisis.

“They are destroying our city with all weapons, from artillery, from airplane bombing, from tactical rockets, from multiple launch rocket systems,” Orlov said. 

We do not have electricity in the whole city, we do not have water supplies, we do not have sanitary systems, we do not have heating,” he added.

The deputy mayor also said that Russian shelling had targeted multiple civilian buildings, including homes, kindergartens and schools, but added that the civilian death toll in the city remains unclear. 

“We do not know how many, because we cannot collect all the bodies and we cannot count,” Orlov said. 

In a video briefing on Thursday, Russian Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said the Russian military had made advances around Mariupol, repeating claims it was not targeting civilian areas in Ukraine.

Russia routinely denies causing civilian casualties in Ukraine, however international media and observers have extensively documented civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure.

6:11 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Ukraine will continue to stand against Russia, says President Zelensky

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers his latest video address on March 3.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers his latest video address on March 3. (President of Ukraine)

Ukraine will continue to defend itself from Russian troops encroaching on key cities a week after the invasion began, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his latest Facebook address. 

The “first hours and days” of “full-scale war” were “really difficult,” he said, but Ukrainians were “united, and therefore strong, and therefore we persevered. And so it will continue. We continue to stand.” 

Russian troops have been held off by fierce Ukrainian resistance which Zelensky claimed is still intact.

“All lines of our defense are kept. The enemy has no success in any of the strategic directions," he said.

Moscow has been “forced to change tactics,” said Zelensky, adding that “Russia's missile and bomb strikes on Ukrainian cities are a confession that they have failed to do anything significant on our land.”

Zelensky said Ukraine will prevail against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion as it did with “another virus, another disease,” namely Covid-19.

“The first weeks of fighting it were extremely difficult. But we were united, and therefore strong, and therefore we persevered," he added.

However, the situation appears to be worsening.

The mayor of the strategically important city of Kherson on the Black Sea indicated that Russian forces had seized control, though claims remain disputed.

In the capital Kyiv, residents were awoken in the early hours of Thursday morning by at least one large explosion in the southwest of the city, following a day of heavy shelling.

And in the port city of Mariupol, residents are without electricity and water, according to the mayor, as Russian troops step up their offensive.

6:56 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

France seizes yacht owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch

 From CNN’s Xiaofei Xu and Anaëlle Jonah in Paris

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) and Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin talk during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on February 11, 2020.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) and Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin talk during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on February 11, 2020. (Alexei Druzhinin/TASS/Getty Images)

French authorities seized a yacht owned by Igor Sechin, the chief executive officer of Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft, on Wednesday night, according to a statement from the French Finance Ministry.

“Thank you to the French customs officers who are enforcing the European Union's sanctions against those close to the Russian government,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said in a tweet.

The yacht, named “Amore Vero” – meaning “True Love” in Italian – arrived at the Mediterranean port of La Ciotat on January 3. It was scheduled to leave the port on April 1.

Earlier this week, Le Maire announced that France has set up a task force to assess the financial assets and luxury goods owned by Russian personalities targeted by EU sanctions.

5:56 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Kremlin addresses Russian military casualties from its invasion of Ukraine

From CNN's Nathan Hodge in Moscow

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has expressed "great sorrow" over Russian military casualties suffered during the invasion of Ukraine.

"Naturally, we all express condolences to relatives and friends, those who have lost their husbands and children. Of course, this is a great tragedy for all of us," said Peskov on Thursday.

"At the same time, we all admire the heroism of the military. Their acts of bravery will of course go down in history as a feat in the fight against the Nazis and the fulfillment of this important task."

The Nazi reference is part of a propaganda campaign by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has -- baselessly and inaccurately -- referred to his country's invasion of Ukraine as a campaign of "denazification." 

Peskov added that Putin would address casualties at the beginning of a Security Council meeting Thursday. He declined to say whether national mourning would be announced.

Peskov also dismissed online speculation about the possible introduction of martial law in Russia or a travel ban for military-age men.

"These are hoaxes, mere hoaxes circling around. Then citizens send them to each other and so on," he said. "Therefore, you need to be very careful about all the information and not become victims of rumors and simple deception."

Russia has introduced a raft of emergency economic measures including restrictions on currency transfers abroad.

The Russian ruble has plummeted against the dollar following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.