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Latest Developments in Ukraine: March 2

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A woman cries outside houses damaged by a Russian airstrike, according to locals, in Gorenka, outside the capital Kyiv, Ukraine, March 2, 2022.

For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

For the latest developments of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, all times EST:

11:32 p.m.: Ukrainian staff maintaining the decommissioned nuclear power plant at the site of the 1986 nuclear accident are hungry, exhausted and at increased risk of making errors while under the control of Russian military occupiers, officials with Ukraine's main nuclear regulatory agency say. VOA's Tatiana Vorozhko has the story.

10:58 p.m.: Read the US State Department's statement condeming Russia's "full assault on media freedom and the truth."

10:25 p.m.: The United States on Wednesday announced a comprehensive effort to identify and seize the assets of wealthy Russians who have supported the regime of Russian President Vladmir Putin, as part of its response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. VOA's Rob Garver has the story.

9:34 p.m.: Sirens are heard in Kyiv as the Ukrainian news agency (UNIAN) reports several powerful explosions. A VOA correspondent in Kyiv confirms explosions could be heard in the city center, in the vicinity of the Druzhby Narodiv metro station. They have video. VOA correspondent got confirmation explosions could be heard in the city center (in the vicinity of Druzhby Narodiv metro station).

7:05 p.m.: Russia Media Regulator Moves to Block VOA -- Moscow’s media regulator threatened on Wednesday to block access to VOA’s Russian news network.

A screenshot shows the website of VOA's Russian Service.
A screenshot shows the website of VOA's Russian Service.

In a notice sent to VOA, the regulator Roskomnadzor said that the network’s Russian-language site had 24 hours to remove content that Moscow deems “illegal” or be blocked.

VOA Acting Director Yolanda Lopez said the network was aware of the media regulator's order but could not comply.

In another sign of the importance all sides attach to how the war is reported to their publics, the European Union announced Wednesday a ban on broadcasts and websites affiliated with Russian state-funded media outlets RT and Sputnik for spreading disinformation.

5:57 p.m.: Citing the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, VOA's Margaret Besheer reports that the number of people that have left Ukraine over the past week in the face of Russia's invasion has now hit the 1 million mark.

5:26 p.m.: The U.S. Justice Department announced on Wednesday a "KleptoCapture" task force that would work to further strain the finances of Russia's oligarchs to pressure the country to cease its invasion of Ukraine, which began a week ago.

The interagency law enforcement group would enforce sanctions, export restrictions and economic countermeasures designed to freeze Russia out of global markets, Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.

The task force's name comes from the word "kleptocracy," defined as corrupt individuals who misuse their powers to accumulate wealth at the expense of those they govern.

4:56 p.m.: According to VOA's Patsy Widakuswara, an International Criminal Court prosecutor has opened an investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.


3:47 p.m.: VOA has created a map of countries and organizations that have announced aid to Ukraine.

3:34 p.m.: The European Union has delivered weapons to Ukraine and slapped punishing sanctions on Moscow in some of its strongest actions against Russia in years. But it is unclear how Brussels will respond to Ukraine’s call for fast-tracked membership to the bloc, as VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

3:17 p.m.: The Pentagon’s press secretary said Wednesday that Russia may be deliberately re-grouping and re-assessing its military progress in Ukraine so far, according VOA’s Carla Babb.

2:55 p.m.: VOA’s Patsy Widakuswara reports that the U.S. announced additional sanctions Wednesday. A statement released by the White House said, “Today, the United States, in coordination with Allies and partners, is imposing additional economic costs on Russia and Belarus in response to President Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.”

2:28 p.m.: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is traveling to several European countries to consult with NATO leaders and other partners about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as VOA’s Nike Ching reports.

2:20 p.m.: Russia escalated attacks on several Ukrainian cities Wednesday, even as the two sides expressed a willingness to resume talks aimed at ending the nearly week-old war. Seven days after the invasion started, Russia had not overthrown Ukraine’s government in the capital Kyiv as had been planned, VOA News reported.

Moscow said it seized control of Kherson, a port city with a quarter million people on the Black Sea, a claim that was disputed by Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych. "The city has not fallen, our side continues to defend," he said.

The most intensive airstrikes hit the northeastern city of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city and home to 1.5 million people. An attack destroyed a police building in the city’s center, further reducing it to an area of ruined buildings and debris. Ukrainian authorities said Russian attacks killed 21 people in Kharkiv on Tuesday, and four more Wednesday morning.

Heavy shelling also continued in the southern port city of Mariupol, where the wounded were unable to evacuate, according to the city’s mayor.

Ukraine’s emergency agency said Russia’s attacks have killed more than 2,000 at hospitals, kindergarten facilities and homes. Russia’s defense ministry put out its first report on casualties, saying 498 of its troops were killed in Ukraine, while more than 1,500 others were wounded.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov dismissed allegations of war crimes and told reporters that “Russian troops don’t conduct any strikes against civilian infrastructure and residential areas,” despite extensive, mounting evidence of Kremlin attacks on homes, schools and hospitals documented by reporters.

1:58 p.m.: African workers and students seeking to flee Ukraine in the face of Russia’s invasion are complaining of being blocked from buses, trains and border crossing points while priority is given to Ukrainian citizens, VOA News reports.

1:50 p.m.: In Ukraine, tens of thousands of refugees continue to flee their country every day. Lesia Bakalets spoke with some of the women and children fleeing the Russian invasion. Anna Rice narrates the story.

Waves of Women and Children Leaving Ukraine
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1:27 p.m.: Russian artists and art groups are no longer welcome at many venues, VOA News reports. The invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces has ignited responses from arts and cultural institutions around the world, which are canceling performances by Russian artists, many of whom are supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

1:09 p.m.: Leading Russian bank Sberbank said Wednesday that it was pulling out of European markets amid tightening Western sanctions, according to The Associated Press. The bank said its subsidiaries in Europe were facing an “abnormal outflow of funds and a threat to the safety of employees and branches,” according to Russian news agencies. They did not provide details of the threats.

The U.S. and E.U. have levied sanctions on Russia’s biggest banks and its elite, frozen the assets of the country’s Central Bank located outside the country, and excluded its financial institutions from the SWIFT bank messaging system, AP reported.

People stand in line to withdraw money from an ATM in Sberbank in St. Petersburg, Russia, Feb. 25, 2022.
People stand in line to withdraw money from an ATM in Sberbank in St. Petersburg, Russia, Feb. 25, 2022.

The sanctions and resulting crash of the ruble have left the Kremlin scrambling to keep the country’s economy running. For Putin, that means finding workarounds to the Western economic blockade.

China won’t impose financial sanctions on Russia, the country’s bank regulator said Wednesday. China is a major buyer of Russian oil and gas and the only major government that has refrained from criticizing Moscow’s attack on Ukraine, AP added.

12:37 p.m.: Russia’s advance on Ukraine’s capital Kyiv was stalled outside the city center, according to a senior U.S. defense official who spoke Wednesday with VOA’s National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin. “There hasn’t really been a lot of significant change on the ground since yesterday,” he said, despite just over 80 percent of Russia’s combat capability staged inside Ukraine.

View from a Russian Army aviation helicopter as it escorts units of Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine, during their invasion, at in unspecified location in this screengrab obtained from social media, March 2, 2022.
View from a Russian Army aviation helicopter as it escorts units of Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine, during their invasion, at in unspecified location in this screengrab obtained from social media, March 2, 2022.

12:07 p.m. : U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres released press remarks following the vote of the General Assembly on Ukraine Wednesday. "The message of the General Assembly is loud and clear,” he said. “End hostilities in Ukraine – now. Silence the guns – now. Open the door to dialogue and diplomacy – now.” He added, “We don’t have a moment to lose.”

The results of a vote on a resolution concerning the Ukraine are displayed during an emergency meeting of the General Assembly at United Nations headquarters in New York, March 2, 2022.
The results of a vote on a resolution concerning the Ukraine are displayed during an emergency meeting of the General Assembly at United Nations headquarters in New York, March 2, 2022.

11:57 a.m.: The U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, VOA’s U.N. Correspondent Margaret Besheer reports. She noted that 141 countries voted in favor of the resolution, 35 countries abstained, and only five countries voted against it – Russia, Belarus, DPRK, Syria and Eritrea.

11:27 a.m.: Four U.S. senators on Wednesday announced that they had written a formal letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen expressing their concerns regarding the potential use of cryptocurrency to evade sanctions, according to VOA’s Katherine Gypson. “We write to inquire about the Treasury Department’s progress monitoring and enforcing sanctions compliance by the cryptocurrency industry,” the group said.

Senators Elizabeth Warren, Mark Warner, Sherrod Brown, and Jack Reed noted that the issue has “become even more urgent amid the sanctions imposed on Russia after their invasion of Ukraine.” They said, “Strong enforcement of sanctions compliance in the cryptocurrency industry is critical given that digital assets, which allow entities to bypass the traditional financial system, may increasingly be used as a tool for sanctions evasion.”

11:19 a.m.: U.N. aid agencies are ramping up humanitarian operations in Ukraine as Russia's bombing of civilian residential areas and infrastructure escalates and civilian casualties mount, VOA’s Lisa Schlein reported Wednesday.

The Ukrainian government reports Russian airstrikes have killed hundreds of people and wounded more than 1,600. U.N. human rights office estimates are more conservative, but officials say the real toll is likely to be much higher than their monitors have been able to verify.

A view shows a residential building destroyed by recent shelling in the city of Irpin in the Kyiv region, Ukraine, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, March 2, 2022.
A view shows a residential building destroyed by recent shelling in the city of Irpin in the Kyiv region, Ukraine, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, March 2, 2022.

A spokesman for the U.N. children’s fund, James Elder, is in Lviv in western Ukraine. He says the city is in utter turmoil, with thousands of people seeking to escape the fighting. Given the chaotic situation, he says it is not possible to know how many people, including children, are being killed.

11:02 a.m.: VOA’s White House Bureau Chief Patsy Widakuswara reports that U.S. President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday the continuation of the national emergency with respect to Ukraine for an additional year.

10:47 a.m.: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited a local Ukrainian church in Washington D.C. Wednesday morning and met with community leaders there, according to VOA’s Nike Ching.

10:36 a.m.: The U.N. refugee agency on Wednesday said more than 874,000 Ukrainians have now left their homes as a result of Russia’s invasion. “The military offensive in Ukraine has caused destruction of civilian infrastructure and civilian casualties and has driven many thousands of people from their homes seeking safety, protection and assistance,” UNHCR says on its operational data portal, which tracks Ukrainian refugee movements and shows on a map where they are headed.

UNHCR added, “In the first few days, more than half a million refugees from Ukraine have crossed into neighboring countries, and there is a clear indication that many more people are on the move. They are in need of protection and support. As the situation continues to unfold, an estimated 4 million people may flee Ukraine in the coming weeks and months.”

Refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine warm up in a tent after crossing the border in Palanca, Moldova, March 2, 2022.
Refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine warm up in a tent after crossing the border in Palanca, Moldova, March 2, 2022.

10:14 a.m.: VOA’s photo gallery chronicles some of the latest developments following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

9:22 a.m.: The U.N. General Assembly will vote Wednesday on a resolution demanding that Russia immediately stop using force against Ukraine and withdraw its military from the country, and condemning Moscow’s decision “to increase the readiness of its nuclear forces,” The Associated Press reports.

The 193-nation General Assembly met Tuesday for a second day of speeches about the war, with more than 110 member states signed up to speak. Unlike the U.N. Security Council, the General Assembly doesn’t allow vetoes. And unlike Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions aren’t legally binding, though they have clout in reflecting international opinion, AP states.

VOA’s U.N. Correspondent Margaret Besheer has been following developments. She reports that the General Assembly will resume its session at 10 a.m. Wednesday, eight more speakers will address the gathering, and then there will be a vote.

8:56 a.m: “Just hours ago, 20 Ukrainian athletes and 9 guides safely arrived in Beijing to compete in the Paralympics,” Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Olympics Reporter Devin Heroux tweeted. However, the death of Ukrainian biathlete Yevhen Malshev, who was reportedly killed this week during the Russian assault on Kharkiv, has raised questions. Heroux also tweeted part of this exchange between journalist Lee Reaney and the International Paralympic Committee about Malshev’s death.

8:31 a.m.: Russia’s assault on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, continued Wednesday, with a Russian strike hitting the regional police and intelligence headquarters, according to the Ukrainian state emergency service. Three people were wounded, The Associated Press reported.

The strike blew off the roof of the police building and set the top floor on fire, and pieces of the five-story building were strewn across adjacent streets, according to videos and photos released by the emergency service.

Kharkiv Police Building Engulfed in Flames after Russian Missile Strike
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In Wednesday’s strikes, four people died, nine were wounded and rescuers pulled 10 people out of the rubble, according to the service.

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the attack on Kharkiv “undisguised terror,” AP reported.

8:02 a.m.: Two panels of Harvard experts and scholars examined the historical roots of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and assessed where the situation stands now, The Harvard Gazette reported early Wednesday in an online article titled “Why peace in Ukraine isn’t likely soon.” Panel participants also examined whether the West’s tough financial sanctions will nudge Moscow toward a quick resolution.

7:28 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has become a major figure on the world stage in the days since Russian forces invaded his country, declaring his intention to remain in Kyiv, even as tens of thousands of Russian troops converge on the capital city.

His notable answer to a U.S. offer to evacuate him and his family after the invasion began – "The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride" – has become an emblem of the Ukrainian people's fierce resistance to invading Russian troops.

Zelenskyy's video addresses, delivered from the streets of Ukraine's threatened capital, and his calls on the European Union and other international bodies to support his nation's resistance to the Russian invasion, have put his face on screens all over the world. But until recently the former actor and comedian was not well-known outside his native country.

7:15 a.m.: Ukraine’s president on Wednesday tweeted that he is coordinating actions with Britain’s prime minister and expressed gratitude for continued support in his country’s fight against Russian forces.

7:09 a.m.: Stock markets in Asia and Australia were mixed Wednesday as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to cast a pall over the global economy, VOA News reports.

6:28 a.m.: Some of America's best-known companies including Apple, Google, Ford, Harley-Davidson and Exxon Mobil rebuked and rejected Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, under steady pressure from investors and consumers decrying the violence, Reuters reports.

6:10 a.m.: Russian officials said they were ready for another round of talks with Ukraine, even as Russian forces shelled multiple Ukrainian cities Wednesday, VOA News reported. Violence included shelling of the southeastern port city of Mariupol, and unconfirmed Russian military claims of seizing the southern city of Kherson Wednesday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said a Russian delegation was ready to hold a second round of talks with Ukrainian officials, after a first round earlier this week yielded only an agreement for further negotiations.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Ukraine is also ready to engage in diplomacy, but “not ready to accept any Russian ultimatums at all.” He added that it was not yet known when a new round of talks would take place.

Zelenskyy said Tuesday that Russia should first halt its fighting in order to give negotiations a chance.

“It’s necessary to at least stop bombing people, just stop the bombing and then sit down at the negotiating table,” Zelenskyy told Reuters and CNN in a joint interview in a heavily guarded government compound in Kyiv.

Firefighters work to contain a fire at the Economy Department building of Karazin Kharkiv National University in Kharkiv, Ukraine, allegedly hit during recent shelling by Russia, March 2, 2022.
Firefighters work to contain a fire at the Economy Department building of Karazin Kharkiv National University in Kharkiv, Ukraine, allegedly hit during recent shelling by Russia, March 2, 2022.

6:04 a.m.: An Indian student has been killed in the ongoing fighting in Ukraine according to India’s foreign ministry even as New Delhi ramped up efforts to rescue thousands of Indian students stranded in the war-torn country.

The 21-year-old medical student was killed in the town of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city that is under attack from Russian forces. “With profound sorrow we confirm that an Indian student lost his life in shelling in Kharkiv this morning. The Ministry is in touch with his family,” the foreign ministry said Tuesday.

The ministry said the Indian foreign secretary is calling in ambassadors of Russia and Ukraine to “reiterate our demand for urgent safe passage for Indian nationals who are still in Kharkiv and cities in other conflict zones."

5:44 a.m.: The French Presidency of the European Union said on Wednesday the EU approved new sanctions against Belarus for its role in supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “Certain sectors of the Belarusian economy, in particular the wood, steel and potash sectors,” will be impacted the Twitter post said. The measures will be published in an official EU journal “for entry into force,” the statement added.

5:00 a.m.: In his first State of the Union address, U.S. President Joe Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin badly miscalculated when he launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

“He thought he could divide us at home in this chamber in this nation. He thought he could divide us in Europe as well,” Biden said. “But Putin was wrong. We are ready. We are united and that’s what we did.”

The United States and its NATO allies will remain united, and freedom will prevail over tyranny, Biden said. VOA’s State Department correspondent Cindy Saine reports.

Biden: Putin Miscalculated on Ukraine-the West is United
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4:30 a.m.: The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs shared a video Wednesday showing first responders digging through debris after a Russian airstrike hit a maternity home in Zhytomyr, located in northern Ukraine, the department said.

3:25 a.m.: Russia’s Defense Ministry said Wednesday it has captured the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, Russian state-owned news agency RIA reported. The Russian government’s claim could not be independently verified.

3:00 a.m.: The British Ministry of Defence published its latest intelligence report Wednesday focusing on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Firefighters work near the buildings of Kharkiv National University and a regional police department, which city officials said were damaged by recent shelling, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 2, 2022.
Firefighters work near the buildings of Kharkiv National University and a regional police department, which city officials said were damaged by recent shelling, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 2, 2022.

Despite reports that Russian forces have moved into the center of Kherson, located in the south, Russia’s gains are “limited,” the report said. However, in the past 24 hours, Russian artillery and air strikes have been targeting Ukrainian cities including, Kharkiv, Kyiv, Mariupol and Chernihiv.

2:33 a.m.: Ukraine’s Defense Ministry shared a video Wednesday saying Russian missiles hit the national police building in Kharkiv, the country's second-largest city.

2:14 a.m.: In his first State of the Union address Tuesday night, U.S. President Joe Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin badly miscalculated when he launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, meeting “a wall of strength he never anticipated or imagined” instead of a world that would “roll over.”

VOA’s State Department correspondent Cindy Saine reports:

2:04 a.m.: U.S. soldiers landed in Nuremberg, Germany, Tuesday to support the eastern flank of NATO after training at a U.S. military area in Bavaria at Grafenwoehr.

1:15 a.m.: In an official Republican response to the Democratic president’s State of the Union address, Republican Governor Kim Reynolds of the midwestern U.S. state of Iowa laid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine squarely at the feet of President Joe Biden and his approach to foreign policy.

Read VOA’s story for more:

Shortly after the State of the Union address concluded Tuesday, U.S. President Joe Biden shared a photo of the U.S. Congress and said, “The United States of America stands with the Ukrainian people.” He called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine during his address “unprovoked and premeditated.”

12:30 a.m.: Russian stock exchange remains closed. The Moscow Exchange, Russia’s largest stock exchange, will remain closed on Wednesday marking a third consecutive day without trading.

Russia halted trading on Monday as sanctions took hold and its currency, the ruble, dropped in value. However, funds with investments in Russia in other parts of the world continued to be traded and dropped in value wiping out millions of dollars. Russia’s central bank said a limited number of operations will be allowed on Wednesday for the first time, the Independent reported.

FILE - People walk past a currency exchange office screen displaying the exchange rates of U.S. Dollar and Euro to Russian Rubles in Moscow's downtown, Feb. 28, 2022.
FILE - People walk past a currency exchange office screen displaying the exchange rates of U.S. Dollar and Euro to Russian Rubles in Moscow's downtown, Feb. 28, 2022.

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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