March 6, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Amy Woodyatt, Ed Upright, Maureen Chowdhury, Mike Hayes and Alaa Elassar, CNN

Updated 8:07 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022
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2:09 p.m. ET, March 6, 2022

Russian forces have switched off some mobile networks and internet at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, IAEA says

From CNN staff

Russian forces have switched off some mobile networks and the internet at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, according to Rafael Mariano Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). 

In a statement, the IAEA said that this meant that “reliable information from the site cannot be obtained through the normal channels of communication.”

Ukraine’s nuclear regulator confirmed that it had started having major problems communicating with staff operating the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, according to the statement.

The IAEA added that there were also problems with food availability and supply at the plant.

“I’m extremely concerned about these developments that were reported to me today. Just a few days after I presented the seven main elements of nuclear safety and security to the IAEA Board, several of them are already being compromised. In order to be able to operate the plant safely and securely, management and staff must be allowed to carry out their vital duties in stable conditions without undue external interference or pressure,” Grossi said.

“The deteriorating situation regarding vital communications between the regulator and the Zaporizhzhia NPP is also a source of deep concern, especially during an armed conflict that may jeopardize the country’s nuclear facilities at any time. Reliable communications between the regulator and the operator are a critical part of overall nuclear safety and security,” Grossi added.

Some more context: The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is now under orders from the commander of Russian forces that took control of the site last week, according to the IAEA.

The statement said that regular staff continued to operate the nuclear power plant, but that “any action of plant management – including measures related to the technical operation of the six reactor units – requires prior approval by the Russian commander.”

5:07 p.m. ET, March 6, 2022

Pussy Riot member says she's buoyed by Russians risking penalties to protest Ukrainian invasion

From CNN’s Keith Allen

(CNN)
(CNN)

Pussy Riot founding member Nadya Tolokonnikova joined CNN’s State of the Union Sunday and told Jake Tapper that it’s incredible to see the ongoing protests in her native Russia, especially given the risk associated with speaking out against the invasion of Ukraine.

“One thing we need to understand about Russians opposing the war in Ukraine is that the numbers of people who are against the war are actually much higher than those you can see on the streets,” Tolokonnikova said. “The price of participating in it today is increasingly high, especially it became incredibly dangerous over the last week and people are facing jail time up to 15 years, according to the new law, even for tweets and stories and posts on social media. You can go to jail for up to 15 years, and by going into the streets, you’re actually exposing yourself to a greater danger,” she said.

“Knowing that and seeing the thousands of people are still going to the streets and getting arrested shows that a lot of Russians are actually against the war,” she added.

Tolokonnikova told Tapper that in the wake of the government ban of Facebook and closure of the last remaining independent television station, Russians have found alternative means such as using VPN to access accurate information about the invasion, but that the cost involved makes it difficult for many to afford such technology.

The musician and activist also shared with CNN a harrowing story about a family friend beaten and detained in a recent protest and added that her friends back in Russia are angry and terrified by the current circumstances.

“A week ago, police beat a friend of my daughter. My daughter is 14, her friend is 14 as well, and she went with her dad to an anti-war protest, and police started to beat her, and her dad came to the policeman and said, ‘what are you doing — she’s 14, don’t do that.’ Then instead of beating the kid, policemen switched to beating the dad and the dad ended up in the police station for a couple days, pretty brutally beaten. Situations like that, they’re unfortunately happening quite often.”

2:06 p.m. ET, March 6, 2022

Woman offers shelter to pets left behind in Kyiv

From Timothy Fadek

Sandra Ishchenko runs Dog City in Kyiv, Ukraine on March 5. The center now serves as a shelter for pets left behind by their owners.
Sandra Ishchenko runs Dog City in Kyiv, Ukraine on March 5. The center now serves as a shelter for pets left behind by their owners. (Timothy Fadek/Redux for CNN)

Before Russia launched its war against Ukraine, Sandra Ishchenko ran a pet care center called Dog City. Now, it’s a shelter for pets, mostly dogs, left behind by their owners. The people who left their pets behind in the care of Sandra, hope and expect that they will return to retrieve their pets once the fighting ceases and it is safe to return.

Owners left their bird in Sandra’s care until they can return to Kyiv, Ukraine.
Owners left their bird in Sandra’s care until they can return to Kyiv, Ukraine. (Timothy Fadek/Redux for CNN)

Anastasia, an employee at Dog City, carries a frightened dog into the shelter.
Anastasia, an employee at Dog City, carries a frightened dog into the shelter. (Timothy Fadek/Redux for CNN)

Owners left their cat “Kitty” in Sandra’s care until they can return.
Owners left their cat “Kitty” in Sandra’s care until they can return. (Timothy Fadek/Redux for CNN)

2:02 p.m. ET, March 6, 2022

Members of Congress call on Biden administration to facilitate the transfer of fighter jets to Ukraine

From CNN's Chandelis Duster

Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, a Republican and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Sunday called for the transfer of fighter jets to Poland after a plea from Ukrainian President Zelensky for Western countries to send fighter aircraft into his country.

“I strongly urged the Secretary of State yesterday to complete this transaction. You know, the Ukrainians can fly Russian MiGs. But then Poland wants a back order, and that may be possibly F-16s,” McCaul, who is in Poland, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”

“We're not going to put our troops in there, but you know what we can help the Ukrainian people win this war … I think the will of the Ukrainian people will basically beat the will of the Russian troops. The Russian troops are not into this. But the Ukrainians are. And if we can arm them to defend themselves, that's how we beat the Russians.”

A White House spokesperson confirmed to CNN on Saturday that the US is working with Poland on the possibility of Poland providing fighter jets to Ukraine along with consulting with other allies.

More on this: Following a Zoom call with Ukrainian leader President Volodymyr Zelensky, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer called on the Biden administration to facilitate the transfer of “desperately-needed” aircraft to Ukraine. 

At a Sunday press briefing, Schumer stressed that Zelensky is in short supply of aircraft and that several Eastern European countries have Soviet-made jets which the Ukrainian Air Force pilots know how to operate. 

“Today I’m announcing the push for the U.S. administration to explore all feasible options to transfer these desperately needed aircraft to Ukraine,” Schumer said. “We are asking our administration to do everything they can to facilitate the transfer of planes from Eastern Europe to Ukraine.” 

12:36 p.m. ET, March 6, 2022

Ukraine’s top diplomat tells CNN that "all western companies must withdraw from Russia"

From CNN’s Emmet Lyons in London

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has told CNN that “all western companies must withdraw from Russia” on humanitarian grounds. 

Speaking to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Sunday, the foreign minister said that it is "simply against basic principles of morale to continue working in Russia and making money there. This money is soaked with Ukrainian blood.” 

After receiving criticism from Kuleba for continuing to buy crude oil from Russia, energy company Shell had said that they “will commit profits from the limited amount of Russian oil we have to purchase to a dedicated fund… to alleviate the terrible consequences that this war is having on the people of Ukraine.”

When asked about this by Zakaria, Kuleba said that all energy companies need to “stop buying Russian oil. This goes not only to Shell but also to other companies. Some tough measures were imposed on Russia, but we all know that the biggest revenues come from trade in oil and gas.” 

“Today, Russian oil and gas smells with Ukrainian blood,” Kuleba said. 

Kuleba also reserved criticism for Coca-Cola and McDonalds as two multinational companies that continue to do business in Russia. 

“We were upset to hear companies like Coca-Cola and McDonald's remain in Russia and continue providing their products,” he said.

12:34 p.m. ET, March 6, 2022

US and Europe weigh plans for Ukrainian government in exile

From CNN's Natasha Bertrand and Kylie Atwood

US and European officials have been discussing how the West would support a government-in-exile helmed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky should he have to flee Kyiv, western officials tell CNN.

The discussions have ranged from supporting Zelensky and top Ukrainian officials in a potential move to Lviv in western Ukraine, to the possibility that Zelensky and his aides are forced to flee Ukraine altogether and establish a new government in Poland, the officials said.

The discussions are only preliminary and no decisions have been made, the sources said.

Western officials have also been wary of discussing a government-in-exile directly with Zelensky, because he wants to stay in Kyiv, and has so far rejected conversations that focus on anything other than boosting Ukraine in its fight against Russia, two western diplomats explained. They added that there have been discussions about sending one or more members of Zelensky’s government to an external location where a government could be set up in case Kyiv falls and Zelensky is unwilling or unable to get out.

“The Ukrainians have plans in place that I’m not going to talk about or get into any detail about to make sure that there is continuity of government one way or another, and I’m going to leave it at that,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CBS on Sunday.

US and European officials believed in the earlier days of the war that Zelensky moving to Lviv might be feasible because it was not clear whether Russia would target western Ukraine. But now—given Russia’s dramatic escalation over the last several days against civilian targets across Ukraine—they are not as sure that Russia will spare any inch of Ukrainian territory.

12:32 p.m. ET, March 6, 2022

Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant under Russian order, says International Atomic Energy Agency

From CNN Staff

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is seen in this handout photo provided by the Ukrainian National Nuclear Energy Generation Company Energoatom, after it was attacked by Russian forces early on Friday morning.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is seen in this handout photo provided by the Ukrainian National Nuclear Energy Generation Company Energoatom, after it was attacked by Russian forces early on Friday morning. (Press Service of National Nuclear Energy Generation Company Energoatom/AP)

The International Atomic Energy Agency tweeted Sunday that Ukraine’s nuclear regulator has reported communication problems with staff operating at the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia in southeastern Ukraine.

The Ukrainian authorities have told the IAEA that regular staff continue to operate the plant, “but plant management is now under orders from commander of Russian forces controlling site.”

 

7:24 p.m. ET, March 6, 2022

Russia detains at least 4,640 people on Sunday during protests, says independent monitoring group

From CNN Staff

Russian police detain a protester in downtown Moscow on March 6.
Russian police detain a protester in downtown Moscow on March 6. (Yuri Kochetkov/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

At least 4,640 people were detained during protests in Russia on Sunday, OVD-Info, an independent monitoring group that tracks detentions in Russia, reports.

People have been detained in 147 cities, according to OVD-Info. Since the invasion, more than 13,000 people have been arrested in Russia in anti-war demonstrations, OVD-Info calculates.

CNN cannot independently verify these numbers.

Russian state news agency TASS cited the Russian Interior Ministry, which said it arrested 3,500 people “who took part in unauthorized public events” on Sunday. 

“The units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, in cooperation with other law enforcement agencies, ensured law and order in places where unauthorized public events were held in a number of constituent entities of the Russian Federation," Irina Volk, the official representative of the Russian Interior Ministry said, TASS reported.

Some of the cities where arrests were made included Moscow and St. Petersburg.

The detainees were “taken to the territorial police departments for investigation,” Volk said, adding "the issue of bringing them to justice is being decided.”

12:12 p.m. ET, March 6, 2022

At least 964,000 refugees have fled from Ukraine into Poland, says Polish government

From CNN's Emmet Lyons

Ukrainian refugees rest in a tent after crossing the border into Medyka, Poland on March 6.
Ukrainian refugees rest in a tent after crossing the border into Medyka, Poland on March 6. (Visar Kryeziu/AP)

The Polish Border Patrol said that nearly one million people have been cleared to cross over the Polish border from Ukraine since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began last month.

In a tweet on Sunday, the Polish Border Guards confirmed that “already 964 thousand people fleeing from Ukraine to Poland have been cleared at border crossings.”

A record number of over 129,000 refugees had crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border on Saturday alone, according to the Polish Permanent representation to the European Union.