March 9, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, George Ramsay, Jack Bantock, Ed Upright, Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Amir Vera, Maureen Chowdhury and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, March 10, 2022
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6:18 p.m. ET, March 9, 2022

US State Department echoes White House in condemning Russia's "outright lies" on chemical weapons in Ukraine

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

The US State Department echoed the White House in condemning what they called the Kremlin’s “outright lies that the United States and Ukraine are conducting chemical and biological weapons activities in Ukraine.”

“As we have said all along, Russia is inventing false pretexts in an attempt to justify its own horrific actions in Ukraine,” spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement Wednesday.

“It is Russia that has active chemical and biological weapons programs and is in violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and Biological Weapons Convention,” he said, adding, “Russia has a track record of accusing the West of the very crimes that Russia itself is perpetrating.”

“These tactics are an obvious ploy by Russia to try to justify further premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attacks on Ukraine. We fully expect Russia to continue to double down on these sorts of claims with further unfounded allegations,” Price said.

Like White House press secretary Jen Psaki, Price also noted that they have “also seen [Chinese] officials echo these conspiracy theories.”

5:58 p.m. ET, March 9, 2022

UK PM Boris Johnson vows to impose "maximum economic cost" on Russia in call with Ukrainian president

From CNN’s Luke McGee and Arnaud Siad

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in London on March 9.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in London on March 9. (Matt Dunham/AP)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to tighten sanctions and “impose the maximum economic cost on Russia” during a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday,

According to a Downing Street spokesperson, Johnson told Zelensky of "the work the UK is doing to provide the military equipment Ukraine needed to defend itself.”

Zelensky and Johnson also discussed the bombing of a maternity hospital in the city of Mariupol on Wednesday:

“Both leaders condemned the horrifying attack on a maternity hospital in Mariupol and the failure by Russian forces to respect ceasefire agreements in humanitarian corridors. The Prime Minister noted that this was yet further evidence that Putin was acting with careless disregard for International Humanitarian Law,” the spokesperson said.

Johnson also praised Zelensky’s “moving address” to the House of Commons on Tuesday.

“The PM ended by reaffirming the UK’s unwavering support for the people of Ukraine and said that President Zelenskyy had earned the admiration and love of the British people,” the spokesperson added.

Johnson's comments also echo those made by British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who said Tuesday the United Kingdom will “drive forward” with “debilitating” the Russian economy alongside allies.

5:42 p.m. ET, March 9, 2022

Ukrainian president says Mariupol maternity hospital strike is “proof” of a “genocide of Ukrainians”

From CNN's Mariya Knight and Hira Humayun

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol is “proof of a genocide of Ukrainians taking place” in a video message posted to Telegram late Wednesday night.

“The hospitals are ruined, the schools are ruined, the churches are ruined, ordinary buildings and all the dead people, dead children, he said, adding, “a strike on a maternity hospital is a final proof, proof of a genocide of Ukrainians taking place.”

Zelensky called on Europeans to condemn the “Russian war crime” saying, “Europeans! Ukrainians! Citizens of Mariupol! Today we have to be united in condemning this Russian war crime in which is reflected all the evil that Russian occupants brought to our land.”

The Ukrainian president addressed Europeans and called on them to ramp up sanctions on Russia. 

“Europeans you won't be able to say you haven't seen what was going on to the Ukrainians, what was going on in Mariupol, to the residents of Mariupol, you have seen it and you know what's going on so you have to strengthen sanctions against Russia in a manner that leaves it no more chance to continue this genocide,” he said.

5:40 p.m. ET, March 9, 2022

US Deputy Secretary of State "horrified" by "credible reports" of Mariupol hospital strike

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said Wednesday that she is “horrified, outraged, and heartbroken by credible reports that a Russian airstrike destroyed a maternity and children's hospital in Mariupol.”

How much more devastation will Putin's senseless war of choice bring to the people of Ukraine? He must stop these heinous acts now,” Sherman tweeted.

Although Sherman does not say the US has itself determined Russia was behind the strike, it is significant that she calls the reports “credible” and they are the strongest condemnation so far from a US official.

See the tweet:

5:34 p.m. ET, March 9, 2022

USAID administrator says a worker at a partner organization was killed in Ukraine

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

US Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power tweeted Wednesday that a worker at one of USAID’s partner organizations “was killed by the Russian military just shy of her 32nd birthday.”

“I'm enormously sad to share the death of Valeriia ‘Lera’ Maksetska — proud Ukrainian, beloved @USAID implementing partner & brilliant, compassionate leader on building social cohesion & fighting disinformation,” Power wrote on Twitter.

“Born & raised in Donetsk, Lera answered Russia's 2014 invasion by working on the humanitarian response. She survived the shelling of Donetsk, moved to Kyiv, and started working with USAID — where she became beloved as ‘a brave woman with a kind heart,’” Power tweeted.

“Lera, a trained medic, could've left Kyiv when the invasion began, but stayed to help others. Only when her mom Irina ran out of medicine did she evacuate. As Lera, Irina & their driver Yaroslav waited in a car for a Russian convoy to pass, a tank fired on them—killing all three,” added Power.

Power said Maksetska’s death was devastating to USAID, her organization Chemonics, and “all who knew her.”

Read her tweets:

5:37 p.m. ET, March 9, 2022

White House warns that Russia could use chemical weapons in Ukraine 

From CNN's Sam Fossum

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House on March 9 in Washington, DC.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House on March 9 in Washington, DC. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

The White House warned Wednesday that Russia could use chemical weapons in Ukraine or manufacture a "false flag" operation that uses them. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki, slamming what she called false claims from Russia that the US is developing chemical weapons in Ukraine, tweeted: 

"Now that Russia has made these false claims, and China has seemingly endorsed this propaganda, we should all be on the lookout for Russia to possibly use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, or to create a false flag operation using them. It’s a clear pattern.”

Psaki also noted Russia’s “long and well-documented track record of using chemical weapons” as well as its pattern of “accusing the West of the very violations that Russia itself is perpetrating.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned earlier this year of the possibility of Russia carrying out a fake or real chemical weapons attack as a manufactured pretext for an invasion into Ukraine. But his comments came before Russia’s full invasion began.

Read the tweets:

CNN's Kylie Atwood contributed to this report.

5:13 p.m. ET, March 9, 2022

Ukrainian president asks why a maternity hospital was a “threat” to Russia

From CNN’s Mariya Knight

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked why a maternity hospital was a “threat” to Russia, in a video message posted to Telegram late Wednesday night.

The video comes after a maternity hospital in Mariupol was bombed earlier in the day.

“Russian bombs fell on a hospital and maternity center in Mariupol. A children’s hospital, a working maternity hospital, those buildings are ruined!” the president said.

“Children`s hospital? Maternity ward? Why were they a threat to Russian Federation? What kind of country is the Russian Federation that is afraid of hospitals, afraid of maternity wards and destroys them?” he asked.

Zelensky said at least 17 people were injured in the attack and authorities are continuing to through the rubble for more victims.

Russia claims Ukraine was establishing combat positions at the hospital, something CNN has not been able to verify. 

Several hours before the maternity hospital in Mariupol was bombed, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused Ukraine of establishing combat positions at the hospital.

At her regular briefing, Zakharova said that "in Mariupol, the Ukrainian national battalions, having expelled the staff and patients from the maternity hospital, equipped combat positions in it."

4:46 p.m. ET, March 9, 2022

Mariupol mayor asks for help and calls for no-fly zone after maternity hospital bombing

From CNN's Josh Pennington and Tim Lister

In a video message posted to Telegram on Wednesday, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko called on the global community for help and called on them to “close the sky over Ukraine” following the bombing of a maternity hospital in the city.

“Today I am asking the global community for help. Close the sky over Ukraine. Our will has not been broken, we will fight to the end,” Boichenko said, “We have motivated soldiers and officers who defend our homeland. But today we need support.”

The mayor said he is sure the time will come when “all these occupiers will face justice at The Hague” and said this “war crime will be punished, and the perpetrators will burn in hell.”

What happened at the children's hospital is pure evil,” Boichenko said.

But Russia claims Ukraine was establishing combat positions at the hospital, something CNN has not been able to verify. 

Several hours before the maternity hospital in Mariupol was bombed, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused Ukraine of establishing combat positions at the hospital.

At her regular briefing, Zakharova said that "in Mariupol, the Ukrainian national battalions, having expelled the staff and patients from the maternity hospital, equipped combat positions in it."

4:55 p.m. ET, March 9, 2022

Scenes from the Mariupol hospital bombing

From CNN's Jack Guy, Tim Lister, Olga Voitovych and Clint Alwahab 

Russian forces bombed a maternity and children's hospital in southern Ukraine, authorities there said Wednesday, an attack described by the country's President Volodymyr Zelensky as an "atrocity."

The reported attack came despite Russia agreeing to a 12-hour pause in hostilities to allow refugees to evacuate a number of towns and cities.

Mariupol city council posted a video of the devastated hospital in the city and accused Russian forces of dropping several bombs on it from the air.

"The destruction is enormous," said the council. "The building of the medical facility where the children were treated recently is completely destroyed."

Zelensky repeated his call for the NATO military alliance to declare a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

Here are some images from the scene:

A medical worker walks inside of the damaged hospital in Mariupol.
A medical worker walks inside of the damaged hospital in Mariupol. (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

A woman holds her head in hand outside the hospital.
A woman holds her head in hand outside the hospital. (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

Ukrainian soldiers and emergency personnel work at the site of the shelling.
Ukrainian soldiers and emergency personnel work at the site of the shelling. (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

An injured pregnant woman leaves the damaged hospital with her belongings.
An injured pregnant woman leaves the damaged hospital with her belongings. (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

Smoke rises after shelling in Mariupol on March 9.
Smoke rises after shelling in Mariupol on March 9. (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)