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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10:59 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Canada says there will be "no limit" for Ukrainian applications for both temporary and permanent residency

From CNN’s Paula Newton

In an extraordinary measure, Canada announced Thursday it would fast-track Ukrainian applications for both temporary and permanent residency status with full access to work and study programs, as well as family reunification applications.

“Canada is ready to welcome Ukrainians fleeing Vladimir Putin’s war, and there is no limit to the number of applications that we are going to be willing to accept,” said Sean Fraser, Canada’s immigration minister, at a news briefing in Ottawa.

Canada is home to the world’s largest Ukrainian diaspora after Russia, with more than a million Canadians who claim Ukrainian heritage. 

One of them is Canada’s deputy prime minister, Chrystia Freeland, who says she is proud of Ukrainians and how they are resisting the Russian onslaught, but has a sobering prediction for what lies ahead for them. 

“There is every reason to believe it is going to get worse, and a lot more people are going to die and we as Canadians need to brace ourselves for that. It’s already been a bloodbath, I think it’s going to be become more of a bloodbath,” said Freeland, adding that Russian soldiers fighting against their will are also casualties of this conflict.

Canada also said it will revoke "most-favored nation" status for both Russia and Belarus. It means imports from those countries will now automatically face a 35% tariff. Freeland said Canada was one of the first nations to take that step and encouraged allies to do the same.

Canada also announced it has sent more shipments of lethal military aid to Ukraine, including rocket launchers. 

10:57 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Germany must freeze assets of Russian oligarchs "immediately," economy minister urges

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt

Germany must freeze assets of Russian oligarchs immediately as part of sanctions on Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine,German Economy Minister Robert Habeck urged on Thursday.

''The assets of oligarchs must be frozen immediately and I assume that the relevant agencies of the federal government will take the necessary steps,'' Habeck told reporters in Berlin following talks with German business leaders. 

The process of freezing the assets of Russian billionaires in Germany would involve the finance and justice ministries of Germany as well as the chancellery, he added. 

More context: Since Putin's invasion of Ukraine, Western governments have sought to freeze the oligarchs' overseas assets along with Putin's, as well as prevent them from traveling.

The goal is two-pronged: Sanctions act as both a punishment for Russia's ruling class and a cudgel to try to force Putin to back down.

Yesterday, the US Justice Department said it is launching a special unit to help enforce sanctions against Russian government officials and oligarchs, targeting their yachts, jets, real estate and other assets.

CNN's Evan Perez contributed reporting to this post.

10:55 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Russian and Belarusian athletes banned from Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics

From CNN’s Aleks Klosok in London

Russian athletes warming up during a Russian Paralympic Committee Para Ice Hockey training session at National Indoor Stadium on March 3, in Beijing, China. They have now been banned from participating in the games.
Russian athletes warming up during a Russian Paralympic Committee Para Ice Hockey training session at National Indoor Stadium on March 3, in Beijing, China. They have now been banned from participating in the games. (Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said Thursday it was banning Russian and Belarusian athletes from the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, which begin on Friday.

“At the IPC we are very firm believers that sport and politics should not mix. However, by no fault of its own the war has now come to these Games and behind the scenes many Governments are having an influence on our cherished event," IPC President Andrew Parsons said in a statement.

Russia is preparing to file a lawsuit with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) following the decision, Russian state news agency TASS reported on Thursday.

“We are currently in work to establish our legal position to file lawsuits on the protection of our athletes’ rights, against the discrimination of athletes based on their ethnicity and the use of sports as a tool of a political pressure,” Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin said, according to TASS. 

Parsons said the IPC's decision was also a matter of safety and security, with the situation in the athletes' village becoming "untenable" as tensions escalate, he said.

He said Paralympic committees from multiple countries had threatened not to compete, and that if Russian and Belarusian athletes were allowed to take part, "nations will likely withdraw" and "we will likely not have a viable Games."

“To the Para athletes from the impacted countries, we are very sorry that you are affected by the decisions your governments took last week in breaching the Olympic Truce. You are victims of your governments’ actions," he said.

The decision comes less than a day after the IPC initially permitted athletes from both countries to compete as neutrals under the Paralympic flag and the Paralympic anthem. It will affect 83 athletes from the two countries, Parsons said.

According to TASS, Matytsin said: “It is extremely inadmissible to put in action any type of sanctions in regard to Paralympians, who have already arrived for the tournament.”

Matytsin said he wanted CAS to consider the matter before Friday’s opening ceremony, TASS said.

 

10:33 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations have started

From CNN's Tim Lister and Katya Krebs

Russian and Ukrainian officials take part in talks in Belarus on March 3.
Russian and Ukrainian officials take part in talks in Belarus on March 3. (Maxim Guchek/BelTA/Reuters)

Talks between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations have begun at an undisclosed location on Ukraine's border.

A short video clip showed the Ukrainian delegation entering a conference room where the Russian delegation was seated. The two teams shook hands before sitting down to begin their talks. 

This is the second round of talks.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak also tweeted, "Start talking to Russian representatives. The key issues on the agenda:

1. Immediate ceasefire
2. Armistice
3. Humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians from destroyed or constantly shelled villages/cities."
10:03 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Ukraine accuses Russia of committing "blatant violations" of human rights

From CNN's Nada Bashir

Ukraine's deputy Foreign Minister Emine Aiiarovna Dzhaparova is seen on a TV monitor as she gives a remote speech during an urgent debate on the Ukraine conflict at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, on March 3.
Ukraine's deputy Foreign Minister Emine Aiiarovna Dzhaparova is seen on a TV monitor as she gives a remote speech during an urgent debate on the Ukraine conflict at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, on March 3. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova accused the Russian Federation on Thursday of engaging in acts that amount to war crimes, adding that Russian forces in Ukraine have carried out “blatant violations” of human rights. 

“Recent events clearly point to the fact that the Russian troops fighting in Ukraine carry out the most blatant violations and abuses of human rights, systematically engaging in acts that clearly amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity,” Dzhaparova said. 

“Russian bombs are destroying the cities and villages of my homeland, targeting residential areas, schools, orphanages, hospitals, churches, museums, TV towers, central squares and critical infrastructure,” she added. 

Addressing the United Nations Human Rights Council via video link, Dzhaparova called on the UN to hold the Russian Federation to account for its invasion of Ukraine and ongoing military aggression. 

“We believe the Human Rights Council has a leading role to play in uniting efforts for ensuring the accountability of Russia for its crimes against my country,” the deputy foreign minister told the council. 

“This is the very moment of truth, not only for my country that is fighting for its survival, but for the whole international human rights system and its fundamental institutions, and for those who were entrusted to promote human rights as members of this council,” she said. 

More context: US President Joe Biden has said it is evident civilians are being targeted by Russia, echoing an accusation made by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that Russian President Vladimir Putin's forces are dropping munitions on innocent people.

Unlike Johnson, however, Biden stopped short of labeling Russia's actions a war crime. "We are following it very closely," Biden said. "It's too early to say that."

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

According to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, the UN confirmed at least 752 civilian casualties, including 227 killed, by Tuesday night. However, accounts of civilian death tolls have varied greatly across different authorities and agencies. CNN cannot independently verify the number of deaths.

Speaking on Thursday, Dzhaparova said Russia holds itself “above international law and above the rules-based order,” but noted that Ukraine “is resisting” Russian military aggression.

“Our international coalition is strengthening every day,” she added. “In this extraordinary moment, we must stand together to ensure accountability.”

9:40 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Ukrainian tennis star says he returned to his country to fight Russia so it has "a history to tell to my kids"

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Ukraine's Sergiy Stakhovsky at the Roland Garros 2019 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on May 27, 2019.
Ukraine's Sergiy Stakhovsky at the Roland Garros 2019 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on May 27, 2019. (Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images)

Sergiy Stakhovsky, a former Ukrainian tennis pro who left his family to go fight Russia, said he decided to go back to his country because he "would like it to still be on a map."

Stakhovsky and his wife did not tell their three young children where he was going, but he said he thinks they may figure it out.

"It was not an easy decision. ... If I would stay home, I would feel guilt that I didn't come back. And now that I'm here, I feel guilty that I left them at home," he told CNN from Kyiv.

Stakhovsky beat Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2013.

"I was born here, my grandparents are buried here. And I would like to have a history to tell to my kids. If I would stay home and Ukraine would fail, then there would be no Ukraine, not even in the history books," he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's "lies would be transformed into history books," he said. "The modern history of Ukraine would be nonexistent."

He said he has had a basic military training class and that "people like me will be the last resort," but he is also in good health.

When asked if he'd be willing to sacrifice his life for his country, he said:

"This is a question which I don't have an answer to. I'm not sure that there is one individual who is ready to tell you now whether he's ready to sacrifice his life. I want to see my kids, that's for sure. I want to see my wife. That's my goal. But in a given moment, nobody knows what's happening."

Watch the interview:

9:33 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Russian airline yanked from global reservation system, a crippling blow to travel in the country

From CNN's Pete Muntean

The reservation system that is the backbone of airlines worldwide says it has terminated its agreement with Russia's government-owned carrier, which could significantly hamper domestic travel.  

The technology company Sabre says Aeroflot has been removed from its global distribution system, meaning the airline will not be shown in its "marketplace used by travel agencies, travel websites and corporations around the world to shop, book and service flight reservations."

The move is the latest significant measure against Russian aviation industry after the western world closed airspace to Russian aircraft. Earlier this week, Boeing and Airbus said they would no longer do business with Russian customers. Last week, Delta Air Lines ended its codeshare booking agreement with Aeroflot.

“Sabre has been monitoring the evolving situation in Ukraine with increasing concern," said Sabre CEO Sean Menke in a statement. “We are taking a stand against this military conflict."

9:16 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Biden's Cabinet meeting today illustrates how his administration is consumed by Ukraine

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

As US President Joe Biden collects his Cabinet for a meeting today in Washington, DC, the officials sitting around the table will provide a good illustration of how widely the Ukraine crisis is being dealt with in the Biden administration.

Nearly every agency or department represented has played some type of role, a rare example of the tired phrase "whole of government" actually being true.

Around the table today will be:

  • Vice President Kamala Harris, who traveled to Germany last month to meet with allies and deliver a message from the US at the Munich Security Conference.
  • Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has assumed overall responsibility for military aid to Ukraine, including the Stinger anti-aircraft missiles that were delivered this week.
  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has quarterbacked the sanctions packages rolled out over the last week by the administration, and also worked with phones with counterparts in Europe to ensure they are aligned.
  • Attorney General Merrick Garland announced yesterday the "Kleptocapture" task force meant to go after oligarchs yachts, private jets and luxury apartments.
  • Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo's department has assumed responsibility for the export controls levied on Russia and Belarus that restricts critical technology.
  • Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has oversight of the Federal Aviation Administration, which enforces the ban on Russian flights in US airspace.
  • Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm worked this week to coordinate the release of 30 million barrels from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve, along with other nations.
  • Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will have oversight of potential temporary protection status for Ukrainian refugees, along with ensuring there are no spillover security concerns within the US.
  • Office of the Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines has led the US intelligence community at one of its most extraordinary junctures as the Biden team employs a strategy of declassifying and releasing intelligence about Russia's intentions and plans. She also traveled to Europe to coordinate intel sharing with allies.
  • US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield has assumed her highest-profile yet with speeches at the Security Council and General Assembly castigating Russia for its invasion.
  • United States Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young will head-up White House efforts to secure $10 billion in lethal and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.

And while Secretary of State Antony Blinken is not expected to attend, his absence is because he is traveling to Europe for meetings today with NATO allies.

8:50 a.m. ET, March 3, 2022

Situation in Mariupol "remains difficult" but Ukrainian military will not surrender city, official says

From CNN’s Katharina Krebs 

The situation in the city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine “remains difficult,” a spokesperson of the Ukrainian National Guard told CNN Thursday, stressing however that the military “is not going to surrender the city.” 

“Soldiers of the National Guard of Ukraine, together with the Armed Forces, continue to defend the city,” the spokesperson said. 

“The Ukrainian military is not going to surrender the city and will strike at the occupying forces. The military will also continue to destroy enemy sabotage groups on the outskirts of Mariupol," the official continued.

Where things stand in the city: According to the spokesperson, Russian forces have been “constantly bombing” the city, with the objective of destroying infrastructure — including the city’s rail network. 

“Shelling is taking place even in the direction of residential buildings, schools and kindergartens,” the spokesperson told CNN. 

Earlier on Thursday, the city’s Deputy Mayor Sergei Orlov said during an interview on CNN’s New Day that Mariupol had faced 26 hours of continued shelling, describing the situation as “critical.”