March 13, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Helen Regan, Steve George, Maureen Chowdhury, Mike Hayes and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 12:15 a.m. ET, March 14, 2022
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12:46 p.m. ET, March 13, 2022

Kyiv region police say American journalist Brent Renaud killed by Russian forces in Irpin

From CNN's Clarissa Ward, Mick Krever, Brian Stelter and Lauren Kent

Brent Renaud attends the annual Peabody Awards in New York in 2015.
Brent Renaud attends the annual Peabody Awards in New York in 2015. (Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

Award-winning American journalist Brent Renaud was killed by Russian forces in Irpin, Ukraine, according to Kyiv region police in social media posts on Sunday. Kyiv police said another American journalist was wounded by Russian troops.

In a tweet, Kyiv region police named the 50-year-old American journalist who was killed as Brent Renaud. Police posted a photo of his body and his American passport as evidence, as well as a photo of an outdated New York Times press badge with Brent Renaud's name.

An adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, Anton Gerashchenko, said in a statement that Renaud “paid with his life for attempting to expose the insidiousness, cruelty and ruthlessness of the aggressor," according to a New York Times report.  

CNN has been unable to verify which media outlet the American journalists were working for in Ukraine.

The New York Times said in a statement on Sunday, "We are deeply saddened to hear of Brent Renaud’s death. Brent was a talented filmmaker who had contributed to The New York Times over the years. Though he had contributed to The Times in the past (most recently in 2015), he was not on assignment for any desk at The Times in Ukraine. Early reports that he worked for Times circulated because he was wearing a Times press badge that had been issued for an assignment many years ago." 

Some more context: The northern Ukrainian city of Irpin, just outside Kyiv, has been the site of substantial Russian shelling in recent days and has seen extensive destruction, according to the Kyiv regional government on Friday.

Brent Renaud was a Peabody Award-winning documentary filmmaker, producer, and journalist, who lived and worked in New York City and Little Rock, Arkansas, according to his biography on the Renaud Brothers website. 

Brent Renaud, right, with his brother Craig Renaud at the HBO building screening area in New York City on  September 19, 2007.
Brent Renaud, right, with his brother Craig Renaud at the HBO building screening area in New York City on  September 19, 2007.  (Oscar Hidalgo/New York Times)

With his brother Craig, Renaud spent years "telling humanistic verite stories from the World's hot spots," including projects in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Egypt, and Libya, according to his website bio. Brent Renaud was a 2019 Harvard Nieman Fellow

Christof Putzel, a friend and colleague of Renaud, told CNN his passing is a "devastating loss to journalism today."

"I woke up this morning to the news that Brent, long-time best friend, incredible colleague, the best war journalist I think ever existed, finding out about his passing. Brent had this ability to go anywhere, get any story, listen and communicate what was happening to people that others wouldn't otherwise see it. And it is a devastating loss to journalism today," Putzel told Brian Stelter on CNN's Reliable Sources Sunday.

Putzel said Renaud was working on a documentary about refugees around the world when the crisis in Ukraine hit. He said that "Brent was on the plane the next day" and covered the plight of refugees from Kyiv into Poland. A post on the Renaud Brothers' Facebook page, dated March 8, urged readers to follow their coverage of the war Ukraine.

Several years ago, Putzel and Renaud won a duPont Award for a story they worked on about guns being smuggled into Mexico from the US. "What I said when we accepted our award was, the only thing bigger than Brent's balls are his heart. And I stand by that. That's what kind of journalist he was," Putzel said.

He said Renaud had a unique ability to make people trust him as he told their stories in places like Iraq and other war zones. "You could sit down and spend a week watching all of Brent's stories over the years back-to-back and just be flabbergasted. The career that he had, his ability to reach people, his ability to capture the humanity behind people's suffering is something I have never seen before, and I was just honored to work with him as long as I did," Putzel said.

The director of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard said on Sunday that the foundation is "heartsick" over the death of American journalist Brent Renaud in Ukraine. 

"Our Nieman Fellow Brent Renaud was gifted and kind, and his work was infused with humanity. He was killed today outside Kiev, and the world and journalism are lesser for it. We are heartsick," said foundation curator Ann Marie Lipinski in a tweet. 

The Committee to Protect Journalists on Sunday condemned the killing of Renaud and called for the killers to be brought to justice. 

The New York-based organization said in a statement, "U.S. reporter Brent Renaud was shot and killed, and another journalist was injured on Sunday in the city of Irpin, outside of Kyiv, according to a Ukrainian police official and news reports. In denouncing the shooting, the Committee to Protect Journalists called for the killers to be brought to justice."

“We are shocked and saddened to learn of the death of U.S. journalist Brent Renaud in Ukraine. This kind of attack is totally unacceptable, and is a violation of international law,” added the CPJ’s program director Carlos Martinez de la Serna in the statement. “Russian forces in Ukraine must stop all violence against journalists and other civilians at once, and whoever killed Renaud should be held to account.”

11:15 a.m. ET, March 13, 2022

Ukrainian presidential adviser says he thinks they will achieve results from talks with Russia in next few days

From CNN's Alex Hardie in London

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak said on Sunday that he thinks they will “achieve concrete results” from talks with Russia in the next few days.

In a video posted on Twitter, Podoliak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said that Russia “becomes much more sensitive to the Ukrainian position” and has “started to talk constructively.”

“Our proposals are on the table. They are very tough. Among them, the withdrawal of troops, the ceasefire," Podoliak added. "We shall not give up on any points, out of principle.”

11:12 a.m. ET, March 13, 2022

Here’s where Russian troops have advanced so far

From CNN staff

Russian troops continue to slowly move closer to Kyiv, while cities in the southern and western parts of the country sustain ongoing attacks as well.

Here's a look at where Russian forces have advanced so far. Note: This map was generated using data from The Institute for the Study of War with AEI's Critical Threats Project and shows where Russian forces have operated in or launched attacks in Ukraine, but do not have control over areas.

For more context, here's the latest on the Russian invasion of Ukraine:

  • Airstrikes hit military base near Lviv: At least 35 people were killed Sunday when Russian strikes hit the Yavoriv military training ground at the edge of Novoyavorivsk, the Lviv regional administration said. More than 30 missiles fired from warplanes over the Black and Azov seas had hit the military base, according to a statement.
  • Russian troops inch closer to Kyiv: The bulk of Russian ground forces are about 15.5 miles (25 kilometers) from the center of the Ukrainian capital, the UK's Ministry of Defense said Saturday in its latest intelligence assessment. Russian strikes continue to hit civilian areas: A large swath of Makariv, a village 30 miles west of Kyiv, has sustained significant damage from apparent Russian airstrikes. Photos posted to social media, geolocated and verified by CNN, show major damage to residential apartment complexes, schools and a medical facility.
  • Chernobyl running on generators: Repairs to the nuclear power plant's electrical system, damaged during a Russian attack on March 9, are ongoing, as the plant is now dependent on external diesel generators to keep its reactors operating, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said. Russian officials have also arrived to Ukraine's largest nuclear power plant, demanding to take control of the facility, according to a statement from Energoatom, Ukraine’s state-operated nuclear energy company.
  • Significant destruction: The cities of Kharkhiv, Mariupol, Mykolaiv, Dnipro, Chernihiv and Sumy are under a sustained Russian onslaught and Russian forces have been expanding their offensive in Ukraine to the west. In the besieged city of Mariupol, satellite imagery showed damage and fires in apartment buildings and gas stations. An emergency coordinator for Doctors Without Borders told CNN on Saturday that the city is in "the disaster phase now." Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said "a few small towns just don’t exist anymore. ... They are just gone."
  • Evacuations: Seven civilians, including women and a child were killed by Russian troops while trying to flee the village of Peremoga, in the Kyiv region, according to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said 12,729 Ukrainians were successfully evacuated Saturday.

11:23 a.m. ET, March 13, 2022

Kherson residents say armed Russian men visited hotel, documented locals' details, amid large protests

From CNN’s Natalie Gallón and Nick Paton Walsh in Mykolaiv, Ukraine.

Residents of Kherson turned out en masse on Sunday, March 13, in the largest protest the city has seen since the invasion began and it came under Russian occupation. 
Residents of Kherson turned out en masse on Sunday, March 13, in the largest protest the city has seen since the invasion began and it came under Russian occupation.  (Obtained by CNN)

Armed Russian men visited a local hotel in Kherson twice, once on Saturday and then on Sunday morning, a local resident told CNN.

“They checked our passports and asked for guests’ phone numbers,” the resident said adding that the men put the details into “their notebook.”

This comes as protests in Kherson have grown into the largest the area has seen since the invasion began and come under Russian occupation, with protesters demonstrating against suspected Russian plans to turn the southern Ukrainian oblast into a breakaway republic.

Videos shared by locals with CNN and social media footage Sunday show a large gathering at the main square while people are heard chanting, “Fascists!” and “Kherson is Ukraine!” 

The resident noted the men were not soldiers but were dressed in green uniforms and were “polite.”

“They asked each one: who are you, what do you do, why are you here, how did you get here?” the resident said.

“They were polite with us, but not with our neighbors,” the resident said regarding another hotel guest. “They knocked down the doors and lay people face down on the floor.”

The resident, who asked to remain anonymous for safety concerns, is unsure why they wanted all the information.

CNN's Tamara Qiblawi in Lviv and Paul P. Murphy contributed to this report.

11:03 a.m. ET, March 13, 2022

Mayor of Kyiv says he's worried about potential Russian chemical or biological attack on Ukraine

From CNN’s Devan Cole

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko stands with troops at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine on March 6.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko stands with troops at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine on March 6. (Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Images)

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said Sunday that he’s worried about the possibility of Russia using chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine as it wages an unprovoked invasion of the country.

“Yes, of course, we're worried. Yes, of course, they can use -- right now, from beginning, Putin told it's just war against military forces,” Klitschko told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” when asked whether he was worried about the possibility of Russian President Vladimir Putin using such weapons in Ukraine.

“Right now, we see the thousand of civilians and also children die," he said. “This war (is) against all Ukrainian population. It's this challenge for whole war.”

While the US has so far not presented any evidence that Russia plans to use chemical weapons in Ukraine, the White House -- most notably, press secretary Jen Psaki -- has warned that the weapons could be used in the conflict.

On Friday, President Joe Biden told CNN that Russia will pay a “severe price” if they use chemical weapons in Ukraine, a warning that came after he announced further economic moves against Russia.

11:26 a.m. ET, March 13, 2022

US senator says sending fighter planes to Ukraine is “essential”

From CNN's Chandelis Duster

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman speaks with CNN on Sunday.
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman speaks with CNN on Sunday. (CNN)

US Sen. Rob Portman, co-chair of the Ukraine caucus, said Sunday that getting fighter planes to Ukraine, including MiG-29s, is essential as Russia intensifies its attacks on the country.

“What we have heard directly from the Ukrainians is they want them badly. They want the ability to have better control over the skies in order to give them a fighting chance,” Portman, a Republican from Ohio, told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”

The Pentagon said last week the US was opposed to a Polish plan to transfer fighter jets to Ukraine through the US and a German air base “at this time.” CNN previously reported that NATO members have expressed concerns that providing fighter jets to Ukraine -- even if done bilaterally -- could be perceived by Russia as the alliance becoming directly involved in the war. National security adviser Jake Sullivan told Bash on Sunday the US is focused on providing other anti-air systems that could help Ukrainians make progress.

Portman, who is in Poland, said he is not sure why the US is hesitating on sending the fighter aircraft after the US has already sent other military equipment, including Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, to Ukraine and said, “the airplanes are also essential.”

“And to me, you know, Vladimir Putin and the Russians seem to be saying everything is escalatory and yet they are escalating every single day by coming into Ukraine with these weapons,” he said. “So, as they escalate, what the Ukrainian people are asking for is just the ability to defend themselves. Give them the ability to try to stop some of this Russian superiority in terms of air power to be able to save lives and to hopefully end up with a peaceful solution to this.”

10:54 a.m. ET, March 13, 2022

Protests over suspected Russian plans to turn occupied Ukrainian province into breakaway state

From CNN's Tamara Qiblawi in Lviv  

Residents of Kherson turned out en masse on Sunday, March 13, in the largest protest the city has seen since the invasion began and it came under Russian occupation.
Residents of Kherson turned out en masse on Sunday, March 13, in the largest protest the city has seen since the invasion began and it came under Russian occupation.  (From Telegram)

Hundreds of demonstrators have flocked the streets of Russian-occupied Kherson to protest against suspected Russian plans to turn the southern Ukrainian oblast into a breakaway republic.  

In recent days, at least one Kherson regional council official warned that occupation forces were laying the groundwork for the “Kherson People’s Republic.” If true, the move would mirror Moscow’s establishment of two breakaway states in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. Ukraine considers those breakaway regions — the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic — to be Russian occupied.  

Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the independence of those two territories in the days leading up to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine as part of his pretext to launch an assault on the country. 

“A referendum on the creation of the HPR (Kherson People’s Republic) is being prepared in Kherson region,” wrote Kherson region council member Sergey Khlan in a Facebook post on Saturday calling on fellow council members to boycott meetings with Russian occupation forces. 

“Become a part of Ukrainian history as citizens, whose names will be remembered by next generations, not as dispensable traitors,” he added. 

Demonstrators in Kherson on Sunday morning waved Ukrainian flags, chanted anti-Russian slogans and shouted expletives at Putin, videographer Artem Ivanov, who is on the ground in Kherson, told CNN. “Kherson is Ukrainian,” “Putin is a ” “Russian soldiers are fascists,” and “Russian soldiers go home” were some of the slogans chanted at the protest, according to Ivanov. 

Residents of Kherson turned out en masse on Sunday, March 13, in the largest protest the city has seen since the invasion began and it came under Russian occupation. 
Residents of Kherson turned out en masse on Sunday, March 13, in the largest protest the city has seen since the invasion began and it came under Russian occupation.  (Obtained by CNN)

  

11:07 a.m. ET, March 13, 2022

US "concerned" about nuclear escalation from Russia, but hasn't seen anything requiring change in posture, says US national security adviser

From CNN's DJ Judd and Jasmine Wright

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan speaks with CNN on Sunday.
US national security adviser Jake Sullivan speaks with CNN on Sunday. (CNN)

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN Sunday that while the Biden administration is “concerned about the possibility of escalation,” with respect to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear posture, “we have not seen anything that would require us to change our nuclear posture at this time.”

"We are watching this extremely closely, and obviously, the escalation risk with a nuclear power is severe, and it is a different kind of conflict than other conflicts the American people have seen over the years,” Sullivan told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.” “And the American President, Joe Biden, has to take that responsibility extremely seriously, even as we redouble our efforts to support the Ukrainians. As things stand today, the United States has not adjusted our nuclear posture, but it is something that we monitor day by day, hour by hour, because it is a paramount priority to the President.”

He also said that Russian strikes on Lviv, approximately 12 miles from Ukraine’s border with Poland, is a sign Putin “is frustrated by the fact that his forces are not making the kind of progress that he thought that they would make against major cities, including Kyiv, that he is expanding the number of targets, that he is lashing out, and that he is trying to cause damage in every part of the country.”

9:35 a.m. ET, March 13, 2022

Missile strikes in Lviv region are third strike in western Ukraine in the last couple of days, Pentagon says

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

A series of missile strikes early Sunday that struck the Yavoriv military training ground in the Lviv region of western Ukraine is the third strike by Russian forces in the western part of Ukraine “in the last couple of days,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on ABC’s This Week Sunday.

“This is the third now facility or airfield that the Russians have struck in Western Ukraine in just the last couple of days, so clearly, at least from an airstrike perspective, they’re broadening their target sets,” Kirby said.

There has been “some damage” to the military training facility, Kirby said, but the Pentagon is “still assessing and talking to the Ukrainians” about the extent of the damage from the strikes, Kirby said. 

No American service members were at the training facility; they had all left the training facility weeks prior, Kirby added.

When asked if a no-fly zone would have prevented this attack, Kirby said, “No, I don’t think so.” 

Kirby added that the US establishing a no-fly zone over Ukraine would mean war with Russia.

“The United States getting involved in combat in Ukraine right now, or over the skies of Ukraine right now leads to war with Russia, and there’s very little that you can see that would make sense for this war to be escalated between two nuclear powers,” Kirby said.