March 11, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Julia Hollingsworth, Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Jeevan Ravindran and Jason Kurtz, CNN

Updated 9:59 a.m. ET, March 12, 2022
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9:34 a.m. ET, March 11, 2022

Hackers cause outages at Ukrainian internet provider

From CNN's Sean Lyngaas

Hackers disrupted a Ukrainian internet service provider Thursday, and engineers were still working on restoring service as of Friday afternoon Ukraine time. 

It wasn’t immediately clear who carried out the hack. The internet provider did not explicitly blame Russian hackers for the incident, but said “the enemy” was responsible, a term that Ukrainian officials have used to refer to Russia during the war. 

“This is the second time since the beginning of the war that we have suffered from a hacker attack on key network nodes,” Triolan, an internet provider with customers in Ukrainian cities such as Kyiv, Kharkiv and Dnipro, said in a statement on the Telegram messaging platform on Thursday. 

The hack caused outages across Triolan’s service areas on Thursday, according to Doug Madory, director of internet analysis at network monitoring firm Kentik. 

Triolan said Thursday that 70% of the network “nodes” that support internet services were restored. 

“We are trying to stop the hackers as quickly as possible and restore network operation in all areas,” the Triolan statement said. The provider told CNN through its Facebook account on Friday that its engineers were still working on recovering from the hack.

Cyberattacks have played a supporting role in the war in Ukraine, with hacks on Ukrainian government websites and agencies occurring hours before Russian tanks rolled across the border.

 

9:36 a.m. ET, March 11, 2022

Russia opens criminal case against Meta following reports of leaked internal guidance on hate speech

From CNN's Sarah Dean

The Meta headquarters is seen on Menlo Park, California in 2021.
The Meta headquarters is seen on Menlo Park, California in 2021. (Nick Otto/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Russia’s Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case against Meta, accusing the company’s employees of “illegal calls for murder and violence” against Russian citizens, according to a statement published Friday. 

“A criminal case has been initiated in the Main Investigation Department of the Russian Investigative Committee in connection with illegal calls for murder and violence against citizens of the Russian Federation by employees of the American company Meta, which owns the social networks Facebook and Instagram,” according to a statement from the committee.

The Investigative Committee of Russia cited Meta’s decision to temporarily remove a ban on its platforms on incitement to violence against the Russian military. 

“These actions contain signs of crimes under Articles 280 and 205.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation - public calls for extremist activities; assistance to terrorist activities,” the committee’s statement said.

CNN has reached out to Meta for comment.

Reuters reported Thursday on getting access to internal Meta emails that allege the company will allow Facebook and Instagram users in some countries to call for violence against the Russian military invading Ukraine. 

"In light of the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, we made a temporary exception for those affected by war, to express violent sentiments toward invading armed forces such as ‘death to the Russian invaders’. These are temporary measures designed to preserve voice and expression for people who are facing invasion. As always, we are prohibiting calls for violence against Russians outside of the narrow context of the current invasion," Meta said in a statement to CNN.

Roskonadzor, Russia’s information watchdog, said Friday it will restrict access to Instagram, saying the “social network distributes informational materials containing calls to commit violent acts against citizens of the Russian Federation, including military personnel.”

9:14 a.m. ET, March 11, 2022

It's just after 4 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

As evening approaches in Ukraine's capital, Russian forces are expanding their offensive with new strikes in the western part of the country.

Where attacks have happened: There was substantial damage to the airport at Lutsk in northwestern Ukraine, which is only about 70 miles from the Polish border. The governor of the Volyn region said four missiles had been fired from a Russian bomber and two people were killed. Plumes of smoke also rose from the military airfield at Ivano-Frankivsk in western Ukraine, which was struck by missiles.

The Russian column that had sat for nearly two weeks outside Kyiv has now dispersed, according to Maxar satellite imagery from Thursday. The forces appear to be regrouping.

According to Ukraine's Operational Command East, a missile strike on the outskirts of Dnipro killed one civilian and damaged a primary school building, apartment buildings and a shoe factory. 

There were also overnight airstrikes in the Brovary district just east of Kyiv and a missile strike in the town of Baryshivka, some 45 miles east of the capital. A soccer stadium and library in Chernihiv, a city in northern Ukraine, have been badly damaged by an airstrike. And civilians have been left with no heating in sub-zero temperatures amid relentless shelling and missile strikes, the mayor of Kharkiv said Friday. 

Biden to address US: President Joe Biden is expected to announce Friday morning that the US, along with the G7 and European Union, will call for revoking "most favored nation" status for Russia, referred to as permanent normal trade relations in the US, sources familiar with the move tell CNN.

EU to vote on more financial support for Ukraine: European Union leaders at a summit in Versailles, France, will vote Friday on doubling financial support for the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Friday. If approved by the leaders, this will bring the bloc’s financial support to the Ukrainian military to over $1 billion.

Bioweapons conspiracy: The UN Security Council will hold a meeting Friday at the request of Russia about the unfounded allegation the US is developing bioweapons in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said no chemical weapon or weapons of mass destruction were developed in the country. Meanwhile, the United States' UN Mission spokesperson Olivia Dalton said Russia has a track record of falsely accusing the West of the very violations that Russia itself is perpetuating and warned Russia is "gaslighting the world."

Refugee numbers keep climbing: The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Friday that the number of people who have fled from Ukraine has now hit 2.5 million.

9:27 a.m. ET, March 11, 2022

Attack on Ukrainian capital could happen "at any moment," brother of Kyiv mayor says

Trenches are dug by the side of the road as a precaution against Russian attacks, in Kyiv, Ukraine on March 10.
Trenches are dug by the side of the road as a precaution against Russian attacks, in Kyiv, Ukraine on March 10. (Emin Sansar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Wladimir Klitschko, a member of Ukraine's territorial defense forces, former boxing champion and brother of Kyiv’s mayor, told CNN that Russian troops have been attacking areas in the entire country of Ukraine today, with their main target being the capital of Kyiv. 

"In the next upcoming days, we're expecting significant attack on the capital. They are regrouping. They're trying to find different strategies and trying to find the right way and the right timing. So every hour counts, and then we're expecting an attack on the capital at any moment, especially, as I said, the next coming days. Their target is the capital," Klitschko said.

He said the will of the Ukrainian people remains strong but they need support.

"We have lot of equipment, military equipment, and we'll do anything possible, we're trying to outsmart the Russian army as much as we can. I don't know how long we're going to hold up, but we're going to hold up as long as we can. What's really necessary is international support. You guys need to isolate Russia and Russian economy," he said.

"This is important to understand to the Western world and our allies to act now. We cannot wait for weeks or months for certain decisions. It's about hours and minutes. We need support — financial, humanitarian, military equipment. We're going to take care of ourselves, trust us," he added.

8:45 a.m. ET, March 11, 2022

Russian ground forces are regrouping, as Ukraine's west is attacked for the first time

From CNN's Tim Lister in Kyiv, Gianluca Mezzofiore, Paul Murphy and Celine Alkhaldi

Russian forces launched multiple missile attacks early Friday on a wide range of targets across Ukraine, causing substantial damage in and around the central city of Dnipro, and also attacking airports in the far west of the country, which had previously been spared from the conflict.

There was substantial damage to the airport at Lutsk in northwestern Ukraine, some 70 miles from the Polish border. The Governor of Volyn region said four missiles had been fired from a Russian bomber and two people were killed. Plumes of smoke also rose from the military airfield at Ivano-Frankivsk, western Ukraine, which was struck by missiles. 

The Russian Defense Ministry said Friday: “high-precision long-range weapons attacked Ukraine's military infrastructure.

The military airfields in Lutsk and Ivano-Frankovsk were put out of action."

Closer to Kyiv, fighting has intensified to the northeast and east of the capital, after the Ukrainians successfully intercepted and attacked an advancing Russian tank column on Thursday. That front is still very active.  

An overnight airstrike in the Brovary district just east of Kyiv caused no casualties, according to Kyiv authorities.

Ukrainian authorities also reported a missile strike in the town of Baryshivka overnight, some 45 miles east of the capital. According to authorities, 60 apartments were damaged along with four apartment buildings and 10 houses. 

According to Ukraine's Operational Command East, a missile strike on the outskirts of Dnipro killed one civilian and damaged a primary school building, apartment buildings and a shoe factory.  

"All components of Ukraine's defense forces, state authorities and local governments are working to eliminate the consequences of another missile attack on Ukraine's civilian infrastructure and provide assistance to the victims," it said.

The Russian column that had sat for nearly two weeks outside Kyiv has now dispersed, according to Maxar satellite imagery from Thursday. The forces appear to be regrouping.

Thomas Bullock, senior analyst at Janes, told CNN that, "Ukraine’s tactic of targeting supply lines has worked well especially during the first 5-10 days of the war. This was partially down to Ukrainian tactics and partially down to how Russia was operating."

"During the first couple of days of the war Russian forces appear to have prioritized rushing forward to secure objectives quickly. This means they weren’t advancing as a coherent frontline securing territory as they go," he said.

"This effectively allowed Ukrainian forces to slip behind Russia’s advanced mechanized units and attack logistics columns traveling on unsecured roads in the rear.

"It’s unclear how effective this tactic will be as Russia begins to reorient its forces for a longer war following their failure to secure a quick victory," Bullock added.

10:02 a.m. ET, March 11, 2022

Biden will announce Friday that US will move to revoke "most favored nation" status for Russia

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Manu Raju

US President Joe Biden speaks in Washington, DC, on Thursday, March 10.
US President Joe Biden speaks in Washington, DC, on Thursday, March 10. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden will announce Friday that the US, along with the G7 and European Union, will call for revoking "most favored nation" status for Russia, referred to as permanent normal trade relations in the US, sources familiar with the move tell CNN.

Biden is set to deliver remarks at 10:15 a.m. ET from the White House.

The move requires an act of Congress.

Each country is expected to implement this measure based on its own national processes. The sources made note of congressional efforts to revoke Russia's permanent normal trade relations.

CNN reported Thursday that bipartisan talks in the Senate had been taking shape to take more aggressive action on Russia's trade status — after the White House effectively watered down the House-passed bill banning importing Russian oil, natural gas and coal into the US.

The earlier version of the legislation had included a provision that would suspend permanent normal trade relations for Russia and Belarus. But the White House expressed concerns over that part of the bill, and ultimately it was excised. The bill banning Russian energy imports that passed the House Wednesday night instead simply called for a review of Russia's status in the World Trade Organization.

Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, a Democrat of Oregon, told CNN that he was engaging in talks with the top tax writers in Congress and the Biden administration about the matter, as pressure grew to include tougher language in the House bill when the Senate takes it up — as soon as next week.

8:32 a.m. ET, March 11, 2022

Putin claims Russia and Belarus will actually benefit from Western sanctions

From CNN's Sarah Dean

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Moscow, Russia on March 11.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Moscow, Russia on March 11. (Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/AP)

Western sanctions are an opportunity for Russia to strengthen its technological and economic sovereignty, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday.

“Recent years have shown that where Westerners imposed restrictions against us, we acquired new competencies and restored old ones at a new technological level," Putin said in opening remarks of his in-person meeting with Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko in Moscow.

“This is a time of opportunity to move towards strengthening technological and economic sovereignty,” Putin added.

Putin also said he believes Russia and Belarus will get through these difficulties and will even “acquire more competencies, more opportunities to feel independent, self-sufficient, and ultimately benefit [from them], as it was the case in previous years.”

Lukashenko echoed Putin’s sentiment, saying Belarus has everything it needs for restoring its economy under sanctions.

“We need to rebuild our economy. And we have all we need to restore our own economy, we can do without them. We have everything to continue normal life and work,” the Belarusian President said.

Lukashenko also said he was glad the war in Ukraine started, citing false allegations regarding biological weapons and nuclear power stations being at risk if Russia did not invade. Lukashenko also made an unfounded claim that Ukraine was “preparing to attack not only Donbas, but also placed positions to attack Belarus.”

Some key context: Western sanctions against Russia have been devastating for the country's economy.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen yesterday outlined the economic and financial damage caused by sanctions imposed by the United States, United Kingdom and European Union in recent weeks.

"We have isolated Russia financially. The ruble has been in a free fall. The Russian stock market is closed. Russia has been effectively shut out of the international financial system," Yellen said, adding that the Russian central bank's access to its reserves has been largely cut off.

On Wednesday, one US dollar could buy 117 rubles in Moscow after the currency fell 10% and hit a new record low.

Fitch Ratings slashed Russia's credit rating on Tuesday and warned that a default was "imminent."

7:34 a.m. ET, March 11, 2022

UK slaps hundreds of Russian lawmakers with sanctions

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

Britain has added 386 Russian lawmakers to a raft of sanctions it has imposed on Moscow since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Under the measures, politicians who supported Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine face travel bans and asset freezes, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement Friday. 

The lawmakers are members of Russia’s Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, which recognized the independence of the eastern Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk regions and authorized the permanent presence of Russian military there, “acting as a pretext for Russia’s invasion.”

“We’re targeting those complicit in Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and those who support this barbaric war," Truss said. "We will not let up the pressure and will continue to tighten the screw on the Russian economy through sanctions.” 

Britain has now sanctioned 800 of Russia’s most “significant and high-value individuals, entities and subsidiaries,” including banks, Putin’s inner circle and oligarchs, she said.

 Read more:

8:02 a.m. ET, March 11, 2022

WHO recommended Ukraine destroy high-threat pathogens in health labs to prevent potential spills

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

As Russia continues its invasion, the World Health Organization has "strongly recommended" to the Ministry of Health in Ukraine to safely destroy "high-threat pathogens" that might be housed within the country's public health labs in order to prevent "any potential spills," WHO confirmed to CNN in an email Friday.

WHO's recommendation was first reported by Reuters.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine puts public health facilities at risk of damage. Similar to other nations, scientists in Ukraine sometimes conduct research involving pathogens to better understand their biology, how they spread and how they might cause illness in humans.

"WHO also promotes biosecurity at laboratories, e.g. prevention of accidental or deliberate release of pathogens. As part of this work, WHO has strongly recommended to the Ministry of Health in Ukraine and other responsible bodies to destroy high-threat pathogens to prevent any potential spills," Jašarević said.

WHO noted in its email that it encourages "the safe and secure disposal of any pathogens" and would assist as needed and wherever possible. 

"WHO routinely assists Member States in improving their public health capacities, including by facilitating improved safety and security of laboratories holding samples of pathogens of public health concern," WHO spokesperson Tarik Jašarević wrote in an email to CNN on Friday. 

"WHO’s country office in Ukraine has been working for several years with the Ministry of Health and other partners, including other WHO Member States, to support the enhancing of biosafety and biosecurity of labs, as well as the capacity of lab personnel, in particular to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic," Jašarević said.