March 7, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Mike Hayes, Amy Woodyatt, George Ramsay, Ed Upright, Jessie Yeung, Steve George and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 12:38 a.m. ET, March 8, 2022
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6:45 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022

NATO is looking at more permanent deployment in the Baltics, says Blinken

From Amy Cassidy in Glasgow, Scotland

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a joint news conference with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielus Landsbergis in Vilnius, Lithuania, on March 7.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a joint news conference with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielus Landsbergis in Vilnius, Lithuania, on March 7. (Olivier Douliery/AP)

NATO is looking at further expanding its presence in Eastern Europe with more permanent positions being considered in the Baltic countries, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Monday.

“We’re continuing to do that now including with the deployment of additional forces, including American forces here to Lithuania, F-35 fighters, various pieces of important equipment, all of which is being deployed here (and) deployed to the other states in the Baltics,” Blinken said at a news conference in the Lithuanian capital city Vilnius.

Speaking alongside Lithuanian Foreign Minister Garbrielius Landsbergis, Blinken continued: “At the same time, we're continuously reviewing within NATO our defense posture, including looking at questions of extending the deployment of forces, looking at questions of more permanent deployments.

“All of that is under regular review and we’re engaged with NATO allies in doing just that.”

He reiterated the US and allies’ commitment to NATO's Article 5, which deems an attack on one country is an attack on all.

“If there is any aggression anywhere, on NATO territory on NATO countries, we the United States, all of our allies and partners will take action to defend every inch of NATO territory. It's as clear and direct as that," he said.

6:40 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022

Taiwan's Foreign Minister says China is watching Western response to the Ukraine crisis

From CNN's Eric Cheung in Taipei, Taiwan

Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said Beijing is closely watching the events in Ukraine to evaluate its strategy towards Taiwan.

"When we watch the events in Ukraine evolving ... we are also watching very carefully what China may do to Taiwan," Wu said during a news conference on Monday.

The danger will be that the Chinese leaders think that the Western reaction to the Russian aggression is weak and not coherent, and not having any impact. The Chinese might take that as a positive lesson," he added.

"I'm sure the Chinese leaders [are] also watching and try[ing] to come up with their own conclusions."

Some background: Some analysts have pointed to parallels between Russia's designs on Ukraine and fears over the future of Taiwan -- a self-governing island democracy that China's Communist Party claims as its own and has not ruled out taking by force.

Wu was speaking at a press conference about additional steps that Taiwan is taking to help Ukraine, when CNN's Will Ripley asked if he is concerned the crisis in Ukraine makes it more or less likely for China to make a similar move.

In his response, Wu said the world has seen an "expansion of authoritarianism," pointing to the joint declaration issued by China and Russia last month.

"President Xi Jinping has also spoken about the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, including building up militarily around China," Wu said.

He refrained from making any predictions while Russia's invasion is still "unfolding" but noted that democracies around the world have come together to support both Ukraine and Taiwan. "I'm sure that will be a factor for the Chinese to take into their calculus," he added.

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6:30 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022

Dire conditions in Volnovakha as civilians hide underground for days on end

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová in Kyiv

Fears are mounting for civilians trapped in the besieged southern Ukrainian cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha, as the onslaught from Russian forces continues.

One man, who escaped from Volnovakha two days ago, told CNN about the conditions in parts of the city, where he spent days hiding in a basement.

"People are there for 11 days now. Some got out, but around 450 are still there," he told CNN, adding that he has had no communication with the people since he left, and they are still there as far as he knows.

People are sick. There is no toilet. Girls and women use a bucket for toilet and they take it out when there is no shelling," he said.

Food and water are very limited, he warned, and the basement only gets fresh air when there is no shelling -- which is rare.

"It stinks a lot all the time. Children are vomiting. There is no place to lie down so people sleep sitting," he told CNN.

6:00 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022

Ukraine given nearly 20k anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles so far

From CNN's Jim Sciutto

Ukrainian servicemen unpack Javelin anti-tank missiles, delivered as part of the US security assistance to Ukraine, at the Boryspil airport, Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 11.
Ukrainian servicemen unpack Javelin anti-tank missiles, delivered as part of the US security assistance to Ukraine, at the Boryspil airport, Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 11. (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

The United States and other NATO members have so far sent Ukraine 17,000 antitank missiles and 2,000 stinger anti-aircraft missiles, a senior US official told CNN.

Even before Russia's invasion began February 24, the skies above Europe have been filled with military cargo aircraft of the US and others, particularly C-17s, the backbone of the US airlift fleet. The flights have been repositioning troops along NATO's eastern flank, but also moving weapons to the transfer points where they can be delivered to Ukraine. And the pace of the flights has only increased.

Once Russia's invasion began, 14 countries have sent security assistance to Ukraine, some of whom had rarely sent such substantial equipment before, a senior Defense Department official previously told CNN

The "vast majority" of a $350 million US security assistance package has already been delivered to Ukraine, according to the official, only one week after it was officially approved by the White House.

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5:37 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022

There's heavy fighting around Kyiv

From CNN's Tim Lister in Kyiv

There has been heavy fighting early on Monday in a broad area from the north to the west of Kyiv, according to Ukrainian officials and social media content.

Russian forces appear to have gone on the offensive in several areas to push towards the Ukrainian capital.

With extreme rage, the enemy destroys Bucha, Hostomel, Vorzel, Irpin. They deliberately kill civilians," said Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko.

Multiple reports speak of heavy fire in all four districts on Monday as civilians continue to flee the fighting.

"We are doing everything in the capital to support the city, to create a reserve of food, medicines, essential goods. We distribute and provide aid to those who need it the most today. Humanitarian aid was also sent to Chernihiv [a city north of Kyiv]," Klitschko added.

"We are trying to deliver it to Bucha and Hostomel. We are forming humanitarian cargoes for some other cities. The capital is preparing for defense. I ask all Kyiv residents to keep calm, to stay at home, or -- in case of alarm -- in shelters."

The mayor of Hostomel, Yuriy Prylypko, was killed while "handing out bread to the hungry and medicine to the sick, comforting the desperate," according to the town's Facebook page. Two others with him were also killed.

5:35 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022

Putin loses all his positions at the International Judo Federation

From CNN's Aleks Klosok

Arkady Rotenberg (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin attend judo training at Yug Sport complex on February 14, 2019 in Sochi, Russia.
Arkady Rotenberg (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin attend judo training at Yug Sport complex on February 14, 2019 in Sochi, Russia. (Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin and oligarch Arkady Rotenberg have been removed from all their positions at the International Judo Federation (IJF), the sport’s governing body said in a statement on Sunday.

The decision comes after the IJF announced it had suspended Putin's role of honorary president last month due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

The International Judo Federation announces that Mr. Vladimir Putin and Mr. Arkady Rotenberg have been removed from all positions held in the International Judo Federation,” reads the latest one-line statement.

The IJF is one of a number of governing bodies to strip Putin of honorary sporting titles since the outbreak of the war.

World Taekwondo stripped Putin of his honorary black belt conferred in November 2013, while the International Swimming Federation (FINA) withdrew the FINA Order previously awarded to the Russian president in October 2014.

Rotenberg, meanwhile, had been a member of the IJF's executive committee as development manager since 2013.

5:30 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022

Russian forces continue offensive towards strategic port city of Mykolaiv

From CNN's Nick Paton Walsh

Russian troops continued an assault towards the strategic port city of Mykolaiv Monday morning, with officials warning residents to stay in their shelters.

Regional governor Vitali Kim, said in a Telegram message: “We are going on the offensive. The enemy entered our airport.”

The warning of an assault came hours after Mykolaiv Mayor Oleg Senkevich said the city had been hit by Russian missiles at dawn.

Today all Mykolaiv woke up from sounds of the Russian attacks,” he wrote on Telegram. “As throughout Ukraine, the enemy vilely aimed at the city's apartment buildings.”

The mayor warned civilians not to touch unexploded ordnance. CNN saw Sunday evidence that cluster munitions had landed near civilian areas.

One person had been killed and three injured in the shelling, an official at one Mykolaiv hospital told CNN.

5:10 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022

Indian Prime Minister Modi holds phone call with Zelensky on student evacuations

From CNN’s Swati Gupta in New Delhi

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky by phone on Monday to discuss the need to evacuate Indian students from Ukraine.

“The Prime Minister thanked Ukrainian authorities for their facilitation in evacuating more than 20,000 Indian citizens from Ukraine. He expressed deep concern for the safety and security of Indian students remaining in Ukraine and emphasized the need for their quick and safe evacuation,” a press release issued by Modi’s office read.

The call, which was the second phone call between the two leaders since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, comes amid the Indian government’s efforts to evacuate at least 700 students who are stranded in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Sumy, which is close to the border with Russia.

During the call, Modi called for an “immediate cessation of violence” and noted that “India has always stood for a peaceful resolution of issues and direct dialogue between the two parties,” according to the release.

In a tweet on Monday, Zelensky said that India was committed to “direct peaceful dialogue at the highest level.”

4:50 a.m. ET, March 7, 2022

China indicates willingness to "mediate" between Russia and Ukraine

From Hannah Ritchie and CNN’s Beijing Bureau

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is seen on screens during a press conference at the Media Center on March 7, in Beijing, China.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is seen on screens during a press conference at the Media Center on March 7, in Beijing, China. (Andrea Verdelli/Getty Images)

China’s top diplomat has indicated that Beijing is willing to “mediate” between Russia and Ukraine for the first time since Moscow launched an invasion against its neighbor.

“China is ready to continue to play a constructive role in promoting peace talks and work with the international community to conduct necessary mediation, when necessary,” said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at his annual press conference on the sidelines of the country’s legislative session.

Wang offered no further details on what such a role might entail, or the level of China’s potential involvement. Wang has previously said China supports all constructive international efforts aimed at a political settlement in Ukraine.

In a separate exchange, Wang reiterated that the friendship between Russia and China is "as firm as a rock" and represents "one of the most crucial bilateral relations in the world."

“The development of China-Russia relations has a clear historical logic and strong internal driving force. The friendship between the two peoples is as firm as a rock and the prospects for bilateral cooperation are bright,” Wang said when asked by Russian state news agency RIA Novosti if the pressure from international sanctions being imposed on Moscow would impact Russia-China relations. 

“No matter how dangerous the international situation may be, China and Russia will maintain strategic focus and promote comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination in the new era,"  Wang continued in response to the question, adding that both nations “oppose a return to the Cold War mentality." 

In a call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday, Wang urged the United States, NATO, and Europe to engage in "equal dialogue" with Russia regarding the war in Ukraine.

Some background: China has so far avoided calling Russia's military activity in Ukraine an "invasion," instead reiterating that the conflict stems from a "complicated history and reality" and pointing to NATO’s eastward expansion as the root cause for Moscow’s invasion – a key Russian talking point – according to statements and remarks from Chinese officials.

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