March 5, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Jessie Yeung, Steve George, Laura Smith-Spark, Angela Dewan, Adrienne Vogt, Joe Ruiz and Alaa Elassar, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, March 6, 2022
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11:33 p.m. ET, March 5, 2022

Chinese Foreign Minister: "Evolution" of Ukraine situation is "something China does not want to see"

From CNN's Elizabeth Yee in Hong Kong

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the “evolution” of the situation in Ukraine is “something China does not want to see,” in a phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, according to a statement from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Saturday. 

Wang said the Ukraine crisis should be solved through "dialogue and negotiation" and called on the United States, NATO, and the European Union to engage in “equal dialogue” with Russia. He said they should “pay attention to the negative impact of NATO's continuous eastward expansion on Russia's security.”

"China supports all efforts conducive to de-escalation and political settlement of the situation, while opposing any moves which are adverse to promoting a diplomatic solution and add fuel to the flames," Wang said.

Blinken underscored on the call that Moscow will “pay a high price” for its “premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified war” in Ukraine, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. He said “the world is watching to see which nations stand up for the basic principles of freedom, self-determination and sovereignty.”

Some context: China and Russia share a strategic interest in challenging the West but the invasion of Ukraine has put their friendship to the test.

Beijing finds itself in a complex position as Russia's invasion intensifies, needing to balance a close strategic partnership with Moscow with its seemingly contradictory policy of supporting state sovereignty.

China has not rushed to help Russia after its economy was slammed by sanctions from all over the world, with experts saying Beijing's options are limited. Analysts say Chinese banks and companies also fear secondary sanctions if they deal with Russian counterparts.

10:09 p.m. ET, March 5, 2022

Ukrainian-Americans scared for family in Ukraine, say people in the country urgently need food and medicine

Kristina Boroday and Dmytro Teterev.
Kristina Boroday and Dmytro Teterev. (CNN)

Americans with family in Ukraine are desperately searching for a way to help their loved ones.

Kristina Boroday and Dmytro Teterev, a Ukrainian-American couple living in San Diego, say most of their family is still in Ukraine and they need shelter and security.

“I talk to them every morning, every night. Sometimes I will wake up in the middle of the night because I can't sleep, so I texted them. I call them. I make sure that they are alive. I make sure that they are safe. So, all I'm hearing from them is that we need help, we need shelter, we need some kind of certainty that we are going to be safe. They don't have that,” Boroday said. 

Teterev said his family face an impossible decision about whether to stay or leave.

"It's a day by day, hour by hour situation," he said. "I'm living in two time zones. One is primarily the Ukrainian time zone and then one out here. I just care for their safety. I do whatever it takes."

Boroday said her immediate family are staying put "because that is their home."

But her other family members, "are unable to escape, even if they could, because they don't even know if they are going to get bombed or a rocket is going to fly over their head while they are driving to the border. So, it's just those conversations that — are we going to be safe if we even try to escape?" she said.

Teterev said he's been working with volunteer groups to try and get first aid kits and other supplies into the country but even sending money to Ukraine is an issue, "because there's not a way to access that money."

Boroday urged people to donate what they could as people in Ukraine urgently need supplies like food and medicine.

"Yes money will help but they need supplies," she said. "They are not getting food delivered into the country. They are not getting medicine delivered into their country ... they need to get the supplies over to them, so they have something to live off of."

Want to help? Learn how to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine here. 

9:38 p.m. ET, March 5, 2022

German Embassy in South Africa slams Russia's "de-Nazification" claim

From CNN's Josh Campbell

Germany's Embassy in South Africa has hit back at Russia’s claim the invasion of Ukraine is aimed at "de-Nazifying" the country.

“Sorry, but we can't stay silent on this one,” the German Embassy in Pretoria tweeted Saturday in response to a post by the Russian Embassy that Putin’s forces were fighting against Nazis. 

The Russian Embassy in South Africa tweeted on Friday, “Dear subscribers, we have received a great number of letters of solidarity from South Africans, both individuals and organizations. We appreciate your support and glad you decided to stand with us today, when Russia, like 80 years ago, is fighting Nazism in Ukraine!”

The German Embassy hit back at the Russian tweet saying: “What [Russia] is doing in [Ukraine] is slaughtering innocent children, women and men for its own gain.
“It's definitely not ‘fighting Nazism.’ Shame on anyone who's falling for this. (Sadly, we're kinda experts on Nazism.)”
9:33 p.m. ET, March 5, 2022

Germany and Israel share "common goal to end war in Ukraine as soon as possible"

From CNN's Susanna Capelouto

The German government issued a statement early Sunday following German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's meeting with Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Berlin.

The focus of their 90-minute meeting were the results of talks between Bennett and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday in Moscow, according to German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Hebestreit said the leaders of Germany and Israel agreed to stay in close contact and that "a common goal remains to end the war in Ukraine as soon as possible."

"We will work on that with all our might," the statement added.
9:23 p.m. ET, March 5, 2022

The war in Ukraine is tearing families apart. One woman shares her harrowing journey to safety

From CNN's Chloe Melas

Elena Belaya from Kyiv is taking refuge in Poland with her 2-year-old daughter while her husband remains in Ukraine.
Elena Belaya from Kyiv is taking refuge in Poland with her 2-year-old daughter while her husband remains in Ukraine. (CNN)

Russian rockets are forcing many Ukrainian families to choose whether to stay or go, or even leave behind loved ones who can't make the treacherous journey out of the country.

Elena Belaya fled Kyiv to Poland with her 2-year-old daughter. Sharing videos and pictures of a helicopter overhead as they were trying to escape, Belaya said she was worried they wouldn't even make it to the border.

Belaya said it was 5:36 a.m. and she was catching up with the news on her phone when she heard "something like a big burst" outside.

"I sent my husband to look what's going on outside. He said that, yes, something really is going (on) but very far. Then we started to look through the news, and we realized that the war (had) began," she said.

They decided to leave for the Polish border but her husband couldn't go with them — Ukrainian men ages 18 to 60 are barred from leaving the country.

"It was most difficult (time) in this situation... He said that I must save our child and go to the (place of) safety, and he convinced me to cross the border alone only with my child."

At the border, Belaya said they encountered long lines of cars and they had to walk 30 kilometers to cross into Poland.

"It was very, very hard because I don't know (the) Polish language. I don't know Poland at all. I have only money for several weekends to live, for this money with my child. It's like something very unknown to me and because of my child I made this step. I couldn't let my husband go for very long period of time. We were crying, we were hugging," she said.
"I realized that I must stay strong for my daughter. It's a big mission for me to protect my daughter."

Belaya said her daughter asks every day when daddy is going to be with them. She texts her husband constantly to check he is still alive, she said.

For now, she's living day by day in a hostel with about 40 other refugees, including children, with only the clothes she has on her back. She said her daughter has made some friends and it's like a kindergarten there. They're holding out hope that one day their family will be reunited. 

"We must survive, and I think that Ukraine has a big future," she said.
9:09 p.m. ET, March 5, 2022

Zelensky tells people of Donbas to fight for their rights

From CNN's Mariya Knight and Hira Humayun

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the people of Donbas to fight for their rights and freedom.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the people of Donbas to fight for their rights and freedom. (Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky/Facebook)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the people of the breakaway regions in Donbas in his Saturday video address posted to Facebook.

He called on the people of Donbas to fight for their rights and freedom and urged them to protect themselves from Russia.

"To everyone who can hear us, whose memory hasn't been erased by propaganda, whose eyes weren't shut by fear, whose soul wasn't disfigured by cynicism — Fight!" he said. "Fight for your rights! For your freedom, for Ukraine! Together with Kherson, together with Berdyansk, together with Kyiv and all the rest of Ukrainian cities that value life and are not afraid of anything."

Zelensky addressed Donbas’ skepticism of Ukraine, saying, “I know that many of you believed that Ukraine allegedly hates you. Will allegedly attack you. Will allegedly destroy you. Liars on Russian TV talk about it every day. Liars. It's their job to lie to you every day. But this should not be your destiny.”

Days prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the leader of the pro-Moscow Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, Denis Pushilin, ordered a general mobilization, claiming Ukraine was planning an offensive against the region.

The Ukrainian government in Kyiv asserts the two separatist-controlled regions in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region, known as the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) and the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), are in effect Russian-occupied, where unmarked Russian forces have been propping up separatist fighters since 2014.

Zelensky pointed to the scale of attacks Russian forces have carried out on Ukrainian cities.

“You were told that we are destroying cities. Look at Kharkiv. At Chernihiv …They were killing us. They were killing children,” Zelensky said.
“It did it right in front of your eyes. Protect yourself! Otherwise, it will take your life, too. Your houses.”

He said Ukraine does not shoot its people or attack residential buildings, adding Donbas “has always been and will be our people. Our citizens.”

8:56 p.m. ET, March 5, 2022

Ukrainian nuclear officials are in contact with staff at Zaporizhzhia reactor, IAEA says

From CNN's Hira Humayun and Amy Cassidy

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant was attacked by Russian forces on Friday.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant was attacked by Russian forces on Friday. (Press Service of National Nuclear Energy Generation Company Energoatom/AP)

Ukraine’s nuclear regulator is in communication with staff at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant after it was seized by Russian forces on Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Saturday.

Following reports staff at the plant had been forced to work at gunpoint, Rafael Grossi, head of the IAEA, told reporters the agency is in touch with Ukrainian nuclear officials and has obtained shift patterns for staff.

Grossi has repeatedly stressed the importance that staff operating Ukraine’s nuclear facilities be allowed to rest and rotate so they can carry out their jobs safely, according to the IAEA.

He called it a “tense” situation with Russian forces controlling the Zaporizhzhia plant and Ukrainian staff operating it, saying the situation “certainly cannot last for too long.” 

The head of Energoatom, the body that oversees Ukraine’s power plants, told Grossi on Friday the atomic engineers at the plant were now allowed to change work shifts, according to a statement from the IAEA.

"This I think is important, it’s a sign that people are listening to us or at least to the things we are saying," Grossi said.

Chernobyl staff work without a break: However, the IAEA has not yet ascertained the shift patterns of staff at the Chernobyl power plant, he continued. 

Russian forces have prevented Chernobyl workers from changing shifts since occupying the plant, meaning the same 100 personnel have been operating the plant for 10 days straight, Yuriy Fomichev, the mayor of Slavutych, told CNN on Saturday.

“We are continuing in our conversations,” said Grossi, adding that he is “prepared to come to Ukraine as soon as possible.”
8:31 p.m. ET, March 5, 2022

War in Ukraine will have "severe impact on the global economy," IMF warns

From CNN's Ramishah Maruf

The International Monetary Fund said on Saturday it would bring Ukraine's request for $1.4 billion in emergency financing to its executive board as early as next week.

Countries with close economic ties to Russia are also at risk for shortages and supply disruptions, the IMF added. It is in talks with neighboring Moldova for aid options.

"The ongoing war and associated sanctions will also have a severe impact on the global economy," the IMF said.

After a meeting Friday led by Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF said there were serious economic consequences in the region. Energy and wheat prices have surged, adding to the effects of inflation from the pandemic and global supply chain disruptions.

"Price shocks will have an impact worldwide, especially on poor households for whom food and fuel are a higher proportion of expenses," the IMF said in a statement. "Should the conflict escalate, the economic damage would be all the more devastating."

The IMF said the effects of sanctions on Russia would also spill into other countries.

Monetary authorities throughout the world will have to carefully monitor rising prices in their nations, it added, and policies should be implemented to protect economically vulnerable households.

Ukraine, whose airports have been damaged and are now closed, will face significant reconstruction costs, according to the IMF. The organization said earlier this week the country has $2.2 billion available between now and June from a previously approved standby arrangement.

8:21 p.m. ET, March 5, 2022

Biden speaks with Zelensky about ongoing efforts to "raise costs on Russia for invading Ukraine"

From CNN’s DJ Judd

US President Joe Biden "highlighted the ongoing actions undertaken by the United States, its Allies and partners, and private industry to raise the costs on Russia for its aggression in Ukraine," in a phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart Saturday evening, the White House said.

“In particular, he welcomed the decision this evening by Visa and Mastercard to suspend service in Russia,” the White House said.
“President Biden noted his administration is surging security, humanitarian, and economic assistance to Ukraine and is working closely with Congress to secure additional funding.” 

The call lasted for about 30 minutes.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the US for assistance in establishing a no-fly zone over Ukraine during a Zoom call with US lawmakers earlier Saturday, according to a person familiar with the session.

Zelensky and other Ukrainian leaders have repeatedly pleaded with NATO and Western officials to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, a move which could prevent Russian forces from carrying out airstrikes against their country.

In the Zoom call, Zelensky also asked US senators for greater sanctions on Russia, including on energy, and for more military assistance directed to Ukrainian forces. He thanked the US for the support it has delivered so far, but his overall message was that his country needs more help as it strains against Russia's invasion.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the two leaders have spoken at least five times.

On Saturday’s call, the White House said Biden “reiterated his concern about the recent Russian attack on a Ukrainian nuclear power plant, and he commended the skill and bravery of the Ukrainian operators who have kept the reactors in safe condition.” 

Putin's warning: Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Saturday he would consider countries imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine as "participants in a military conflict."

But NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday that a no-fly zone is not an option being considered by the alliance.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that establishing such a zone could lead to a "full-fledged war in Europe," but added Washington would continue to work with its allies to provide Ukrainians with the means to defend themselves from Russian aggression.