March 4, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Jessie Yeung, Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Joshua Berlinger, Sana Noor Haq, Blathnaid Healy, Adrienne Vogt, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 12:12 AM ET, Sat March 5, 2022
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10:46 a.m. ET, March 4, 2022

"Vast majority" of $350 million US security assistance package delivered to Ukraine, defense official says

From CNN's Oren Liebermann

The “vast majority” of a $350 million US security assistance package has been delivered to Ukraine, a senior defense official said, one week after it was officially approved by the White House.

Approximately $240 million of the package has reached Ukraine, and the rest should arrive within days and maybe weeks “but not longer,” the official said Friday. The components that have already been delivered including “the most-needed capabilities, like anti-armor capabilities.”

The equipment being sent in is equipment on which the Ukrainians have already received training, including some “just-in-time” training in late December and early January. The Ukrainians can “use proficiently” the vast majority of the military equipment being sent in, the official said.

The US has also been coordinating the delivery of security assistance from other countries. A total of 14 countries have contributed security assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, but the official declined to list the countries, instead preferring they speak for themselves.

US European Command is using its liaison network with allies and partners to coordinate “in real time” to send materials into Ukraine, the official said. 

EUCOM is also coordinating with other countries, including particularly with the UK, in terms of the delivery process “to ensure that we are using our resources to maximum efficiency to support the Ukrainians in an organized way,” the official said.

 

11:08 a.m. ET, March 4, 2022

What we know about Russia's attack at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

From CNN's Rob Picheta

A screen grab captured from video shows a view of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant following clashes at the stie on March 4.
A screen grab captured from video shows a view of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant following clashes at the stie on March 4. (Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Russian troops have occupied Europe's largest nuclear power plant, after fierce fighting near the Ukrainian facility that drew international condemnation and sparked fears of a potential nuclear incident.

Those concerns were quickly downplayed by experts, who warned against comparisons with the plant at Chernobyl, where the world's worst nuclear disaster occurred in 1986.

Modern plants are significantly safer than older ones like Chernobyl, they said. But analysts nonetheless expressed horror that Russia's violent invasion of Ukraine has spilled into nuclear facilities, a development with few recent parallels.

And the operator and regulator of the site have communicated that the situation on the ground is "extremely tense and challenging," according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"No country besides Russia has ever fired upon an atomic power plant's reactors. The first time, the first time in history," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a Facebook post.

The IAEA called for fighting around the facility to end, and world leaders were swift in their criticism of Russia's move.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said that what happens next at Zaporizhzhia is "a situation that is very difficult to sustain, very fragile" while there is an active military operation and Russian forces in control. "This is unprecedented," he said. "Completely uncharted waters."

Read more about the attack here.

11:16 a.m. ET, March 4, 2022

Russian forces are still about 15 miles outside of Kyiv city center, senior US defense official says

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

Russian forces are still about 25 kilometers (more than 15 miles) outside of the city center of Kyiv in the north, and Russian forces remain 10 kilometers (about 6 miles) outside of the city centers of Chernihiv and Kharkiv in the north, a senior US defense official told reporters on Friday. 

In Kharkiv and Chernihiv, being 10 kilometers away from the city center “equates to really being on the outskirts of the city,” because of the way the city is spread out, the official said.

The US does see more success for Russian forces in the south. The US does not dispute reports that Kherson has been taken by Russian forces, but has no way to independently verify those claims, the official said.

The US is also seeing fighting between Ukrainians and Russians near the city of Mykolaiv in the south, the official said. Mykolaiv is northwest of Kherson.

The Russians have not taken the southern city of Mariupol yet, according to US observations, but there is continued fighting there, the official said.

“We have observed Russian forces continue to advance on Mariupol, but we don’t assess that they’re in there, they are obviously bombarding that city as well,” the official said 

“We continue to believe that the Russians want to move on Mariupol from the north as well as moving up that coast on the Sea of Azov,” the official added. 

10:38 a.m. ET, March 4, 2022

EU official says Russian military is "bombing and shelling everything" in Ukraine

From CNN’s Martin Goillandeau

Residential buildings damaged in yesterday's shelling in the city of Chernihiv, Ukraine, on March 4.
Residential buildings damaged in yesterday's shelling in the city of Chernihiv, Ukraine, on March 4. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images)

The European Union’s diplomacy chief Josep Borrell said the Russian army is “bombing and shelling everything” in Ukraine.

“Today, what we see is the ugly face of war erupting again in our borders. And the Russians are bombing and shelling everything: hospitals, houses, schools. A lot of civilian casualties. It is a barbarian way of doing war,” Borrell told journalists ahead of a EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting on Friday.

He appealed for Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop the shelling and bombing.

“Putin has to stop to stop this war. We remain united in order to ask for this war to stop. To stop and avoid killing of innocent people,” Borrell added.

The EU diplomacy chief added that the UN’s Human Rights Council would soon “launch a mission in order to assess the violation of human rights which are happening in Ukrainian territory.”

US and other Western officials have told CNN Russia is expected to increasingly hit civilian targets and shifting toward a strategy of "slow annihilation" of the Ukrainian military.

CNN has geolocated and verified 13 incidents involving civilians over three days, as attacks intensified on Kharkiv, a city of about 1.5 million people, following Ukraine's resistance. CNN has analyzed and verified digital evidence, including videos and photos, of several indiscriminate attacks in the city.

10:25 a.m. ET, March 4, 2022

Switzerland will adopt further EU sanctions on Russia

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London

Switzerland will adopt the new European Union sanctions on Russia and freeze the assets of more people with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the government announced Friday in a statement.

The newly adopted measures concern certain goods and financial services, the government said in a statement, adding that Switzerland’s list of sanctions has been extended accordingly. 

According to the government, the implementation of these sanctions is compatible with Switzerland’s neutrality.

"The export of all dual-use items to Russia is now prohibited, regardless of their end-use or end-user. In addition, the export of goods that could contribute to Russia's military and technological enhancement or the development of the defence and security sector is prohibited," the government said, adding that "it is also prohibited to provide technical assistance, brokering services or financing."

"The export to Russia of certain goods and services in the oil sector is no longer permitted. Furthermore, the export of certain goods and technology that can be used in aviation and the space industry is prohibited," the government also said.

Transactions with the Russian Central Bank are also no longer permitted.

The government has also decided "to add the individuals on the list of persons adopted by the EU on 28 February to Annex 8 of the Ordinance and thereby freeze the assets of further persons with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin."

10:25 a.m. ET, March 4, 2022

Ukrainians in Odessa form chain to fill sandbags to protect city

Citizens of Odessa form a human chain has they prepare for a Russian offensive, Odessa, Ukraine, on March 3.
Citizens of Odessa form a human chain has they prepare for a Russian offensive, Odessa, Ukraine, on March 3. (Gilles Bader/Le Pictorium/Cover Images/Reuters)

Ukrainians in Odessa, a city on the Black Sea in southern Ukraine, formed a human chain to fill sandbags in preparation of a possible Russian attack.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh showed the chain of mainly young men who were passing down the sandbags to be placed into trucks and brought to the center of the city, which is the third largest in Ukraine and a popular tourist destination.

Residents are concerned about a Russia amphibious landing on the shore, Paton Walsh reported, especially because an Estonian vessel sank off the city's port on Thursday. The ship was hit by Russian artillery, according to the official Twitter account of Ukrainian parliament.

When a man in line was asked if he ever expected to be there in the chain, he said, "We will defend our city and our country, for sure."

7:46 p.m. ET, March 4, 2022

Russia tells Germany there will be a third round of talks with Ukraine this weekend

From CN's Nadine Schmidt

Russian President Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that a third round of talks between Russia and Ukraine has been scheduled for this weekend, according to a readout from Germany's chancellery following a telephone call between the two leaders on Friday.

The second round of talks held Thursday didn’t deliver any results that Ukraine needed, a Ukrainian negotiator said after the talks ended. However, humanitarian corridors for civilians were agreed on during that round of talks.

"Unfortunately, the results Ukraine needs are not yet achieved. There is a solution only for the organization of humanitarian corridors," senior Ukrainian official Mykhailo Podolyak said in a tweet.

10:01 a.m. ET, March 4, 2022

Videos show large explosion in western outskirts of Kyiv

From Tim Lister in Kyiv and Katie Polglase

Social media videos Friday afternoon showed the aftermath of what was likely a missile strike against the Chaika area in western Kyiv. The strike caused considerable damage to multi-story buildings in the area, according to videos geolocated by CNN.

According to map databases, the building that appears to have been most impacted by the blast is a business center. It is surrounded by open land.

The explosion reverberated across the city. 

There is no news of possible casualties.

10:02 a.m. ET, March 4, 2022

At a ceremony for a new ferry, Putin details phone call with Belarusian leader and mentions Baltic Sea access

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio and Nathan Hodge in Moscow

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko shake hands as they pose for a photograph during a ceremony in the Kremlin, Moscow, Russia on June 24, 2020.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko shake hands as they pose for a photograph during a ceremony in the Kremlin, Moscow, Russia on June 24, 2020. (Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he discussed Belarus’ interest in having access to the Baltic Sea in a phone call with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko.

“Just today we talked with the President of Belarus on this matter. Our Belarusian friends are interested in being present in the Baltic, interested in developing their own port facilities. You know that I also support it,” Putin said during a ceremony for a new Russian ferry, which he attended virtually. 

Belarus is a landlocked country, so it is unclear what practical steps Putin and Russia could take to provide access to the Baltic Sea. However, Russia has customs union with Belarus and shares a long common border. 

NATO’s Baltic members — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — are among those most concerned about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

This week, a Ukrainian government official told CNN that Ukrainian intelligence indicates Belarusian "readiness to maybe participate directly" in the invasion.

So far, however, US officials have not seen Belarusian troops "being readied to move into Ukraine" or "that they are moving or are in Ukraine," a senior US defense official said Monday, adding that the forces inside Ukraine are Russian.

The White House on Wednesday detailed a new slate of economic measures levied against Russia and Belarus, condemning Belarus for "enabling Putin's invasion of Ukraine."

“I’ve asked you to provide all possible assistance. This applies to various places, points, structures where our Belarusian friends could fulfill these options. I won't go into details now, you know about them,” Putin also said during his remarks. “They are important not only for Belarus, but also for us because this is the development of our infrastructure, an increase in cargo transportation on our coast, for our country. Accordingly, the benefits of Belarus will extend to the Russian economy. We are also interested in this, so I ask you to support all these initiatives.”

A province of Russia, Kaliningrad, is situated between Poland and Lithuania along the Baltic Sea coast.