March 15, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Eric Levenson, Meg Wagner, Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Ben Church, Jeevan Ravindran, Maureen Chowdhury, Melissa Macaya and Jason Kurtz, CNN

Updated 11:12 a.m. ET, March 16, 2022
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12:54 p.m. ET, March 15, 2022

US issues new sanctions on Belarusian president

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko during a news conference at the Kremlin in Moscow, on February 18.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko during a news conference at the Kremlin in Moscow, on February 18. (Sergei Guneyev/Sputnik/AFP/Getty Images)

The United States applied new sanctions Tuesday on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has allied with Russia in its war in Ukraine.

A number of other Russians, including a Russian judge, were also targeted with sanctions for human rights abuses, according to the US Treasury Department.

The sanctions were applied to Lukashenko as well as his wife, Halina. They would block their property and interests in the United States and prohibit Americans from engaging in transactions with them.

“Today’s designations demonstrate the United States will continue to impose concrete and significant consequences for those who engage in corruption or are connected to gross violations of human rights,” Office of Foreign Assets Control Director Andrea Gacki said. “We condemn Russia’s attacks on humanitarian corridors in Ukraine and call on Russia to cease its unprovoked and brutal war against Ukraine."

The US previously applied sanctions to members of Lukashenko’s family in December after a migrant crisis on Belarus’s border with Poland, which led to accusations of human rights abuses.

The US has also targeted Belarus with sanctions previously for its role in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, including extending export control policies to Belarus and preventing diversion of tech and software to Russia through the country.

In addition to the Lukashenkos, the US targeted four individuals involved in the death of whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, who died in suspicious circumstances in 2009.

10:47 a.m. ET, March 15, 2022

Water the plants, feed the pets, call the relatives: The busy schedules of those left behind in Ukraine

From Oleksandr Fylyppov in Lviv

(Volodymir Hrynivetsky)
(Volodymir Hrynivetsky)

While 2.8 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion in late February, men between 18 and 60 years old have been banned from leaving.

Many of those who have stayed behind have joined the armed forces, but there are some who are not able to do so. The Territorial Defense Forces — the mostly volunteer branch of the Ukraine military — has received so many applications on the first day after the invasion, it had to start turning volunteers away.

Some of those volunteers who are not able to join are now on duty taking care of pets, flowers, houses and property left behind.

Volodymir Hrynivetsky’s wife and kids left Odessa, while he has stayed behind. He has keys to four apartments that belong to his friends and relative, and he says he's never been busier.

(Volodymir Hrynivetsky)
(Volodymir Hrynivetsky)

Hrynivetsky visits the homes to water the plants and look after the animals that live in the communal yards. He’s taking care of supplies and is in constant communication with the relatives.

The daily rhythm of his life is very different now, and for the first time in decades, he has far more space for himself than he wants.

10:35 a.m. ET, March 15, 2022

French and German officials offer support to Russia TV anti-war protester

From Inke Kapeller in Berlin and Eva Tapiero in Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron visits a center for refugees from Ukraine, in La Pommeraye, near Mauges-sur-Loire, France, on March 15.
French President Emmanuel Macron visits a center for refugees from Ukraine, in La Pommeraye, near Mauges-sur-Loire, France, on March 15. (Yoan Valat/AFP/Getty Images)

Officials in France and Germany offered their support for Marina Ovsyannikova, the Russian TV editor who held up an anti-war sign during a live broadcast Monday. Her lawyer had not been able to locate her for some time after the protest, but a photo showing her and a lawyer was published on Telegram on Tuesday.

French President Emmanuel Macron offered protection to Ovsyannikova in a press conference Tuesday.

“France strongly condemns any imprisonment of a journalist as well as any manipulation, and obviously we are going to launch diplomatic steps aimed at offering protection either at the embassy or an asylum protection to your colleague,” Macron said at a Ukrainian refugee center in the French region of Maine-et-Loire, about 300 kilometers southwest of Paris.

Macron also said he will address the issue directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin during their next call. 

“In any case I hope that we can have full clarity as soon as possible about her personal situation and her ability to continue her work," Macron added.

In addition, German Minister of Finance Christian Lindner offered his support in a post on Twitter.

"My respect for Marina Ovsyannikova. She has courage and is a fighter against propaganda and Putin's war. Thank you. CL," he wrote.

10:30 a.m. ET, March 15, 2022

Ukraine says it detained a "hacker" helping Russian troops communicate

From CNN's Sean Lyngaas

Ukrainian authorities have detained a “hacker” that was allegedly helping the Russian military send commands and instructions via mobile phone networks to its troops, Ukraine’s SBU security service said Tuesday.

The suspect, whom the SBU did not identify, was accused of being on “thousands” of phone calls to Russian officials, including senior military officials, and of sending text messages to Ukrainian officials suggesting that they surrender.

The battle for communication networks in Ukraine is ongoing as the Russian military continues to shell the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

Hackers last week caused outages at a Ukrainian internet service provider Triolan, which has customers in major cities. Triolan blamed “the enemy,” a reference to Russia, but did not provide evidence supporting that claim.

11:16 a.m. ET, March 15, 2022

Russia TV anti-war protester has been found and is in Moscow court, according to one of her lawyers

From CNN’s Paul P. Murphy

Marina Ovsyannikova with lawyer Anton Gashinsky in a picture taken from Telegram on March 15.
Marina Ovsyannikova with lawyer Anton Gashinsky in a picture taken from Telegram on March 15. (Telegram)

A lawyer for the Russian television editor who held up an anti-war sign during a live broadcast on Monday confirmed to CNN that they have found Marina Ovsyannikova and she is in Moscow court.

A photo showing Ovsyannikova and one of her lawyers, Anton Gashinsky, was published on Telegram this afternoon. 

Dmitry Zakhvatov and other lawyers had been trying to locate the Channel One editor since her protest on Monday.

Correction: An earlier version of this post misspelled Marina Ovsyannikova's name.

10:18 a.m. ET, March 15, 2022

Ukrainian negotiator says talks with Russia are "ongoing"

From CNN's Sarah Dean in London

Talks with Russia are ongoing, Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podoliak said in a brief message on Twitter on Tuesday.

“Consultations on the main negotiation platform renewed. General regulation matters, ceasefire, withdrawal of troops from the territory of the country,” he tweeted.

The update comes after a fourth round of talks between the two sides began on Monday before being “paused” until Tuesday.

The Russian delegation said later Monday that talks are now happening “daily,” state media reported.

10:15 a.m. ET, March 15, 2022

About 2,000 cars leave Mariupol after days of failed evacuation attempts, city council says

From CNN’s Ivana Kottasová in Lviv and Marina Marukhnych in Odessa 

An estimated 2,000 private cars have been able to leave the besieged city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine on Tuesday, Mariupol's city council said in a statement.

A further 2,000 vehicles were parked up on the main route out of the city as of 2 p.m. local time still waiting to leave, the statement added. 

The departures took place despite the ongoing failure to formally establish safe corridors to evacuate civilians from Mariupol, which has been besieged since March 1. 

A large convoy of humanitarian aid that was supposed to arrive on Sunday had still not reached the city as of Tuesday morning, according to officials.

In a message posted on its official Telegram channel, the city council advised residents to travel west along the coast to Mangush and Berdyansk and then continue northwest to Tokmak, Vasylivka and Zaporizhzhia.  

The council advised people to remove messaging apps and photos from their phones ahead of the journey, to refrain from taking any photographs during the trip and avoid driving during the night.  

On Monday, around 160 private cars managed to leave the city, the council said, adding that by 10 a.m. local time, about 300 Mariupol residents made it to Zaporizhzhia, where they had received assistance. 

10:07 a.m. ET, March 15, 2022

President Zelensky says nearly 100 children killed in Russian attacks on Ukraine

From Oleksandra Ochman in Lviv

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky addresses attendees via video link at the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) Summit in London, England, on March 15.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky addresses attendees via video link at the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) Summit in London, England, on March 15. (Neil Hall/EPA/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky told leaders of the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force almost 100 children have been killed in Russian attacks on his country since the start of the invasion almost three weeks ago.

CNN cannot independently verify these casualty figures.

Zelensky made the comment as he called into question foreign companies’ commitment to a long-term boycott of Russia.  

"Some companies say they have left, but they are just waiting for the moment they can return to the Russian market. They don't care about 97 children; up to now, 97 children have been killed here," Zelensky told the leaders by video link.

10:01 a.m. ET, March 15, 2022

Russian TV presenter resigns from one of most popular channels, state media reports

From CNN’s Sarah Dean in London

A Russian presenter for the pro-Kremlin NTV channel Lilia Gildeeva "no longer works" for the channel, state news agency RIA Novosti reported Tuesday, citing the press office of the channel.

NTV refused to comment when contacted by CNN. CNN has attempted to contact Gildeeva for comment. The reason for her resignation has not been disclosed. 

The Telegram channel for popular Russian blogger Ilya Varlamov reported Gildeeva told him in an interview that she had resigned and left the country.

"At first I left [the country], I was afraid that they wouldn't just let me go, then I submitted my resignation," Varlamov quoted her as saying. 

The Varlamov channel on Telegram reported she had worked at NTV since 2006.