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March 1, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

What we covered here

  • Rockets struck a maternity clinic, a Holocaust memorial site, and near a TV tower in Kyiv on Tuesday, after the Russian military warned of "high-precision" strikes.
  • Russia appears to have taken the southern city of Kherson after days of heavy fighting and shelling.
  • US President Joe Biden condemned Russia’s invasion and pledged solidarity with the Ukrainian people during his State of the Union address Tuesday night — and reiterated the US will not deploy troops to Ukraine.
  • More than half a million refugees have fled Ukraine during Russia’s invasion, according to the UN. 
  • Want to help? You can learn how to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine here. 
  • Having connection issues? Bookmark CNN's lite site for fast connectivity.

11:35 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Putin is "not going to engage" with Biden's State of the Union comments, expert says

US President Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union address on Tuesday night. (Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool/AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin likely won't respond to comments made by US President Joe Biden during his State of the Union address tonight — and Russian media is following suit, said Jill Dougherty, former CNN Moscow bureau chief and expert on Russia affairs.

"I think those personal comments by Joe Biden were probably things that would get under — into the craw of the Russian President. Things like 'dictator, Putin alone is to blame, more isolated than ever.' But I don’t think they’re going to engage in that, Dougherty said. "You know, you can't really defend yourself by saying 'no, I'm not a dictator.' But what they can do is try to pick apart the argument."
State of the Union: Biden started his address by condemning Putin's invasion, calling him "a Russian dictator invading a foreign country."

"Six days ago, Russia's Vladimir Putin sought to shake the foundations of the free world, thinking he could make it bend to his menacing ways. But he badly miscalculated," Biden said. "He thought he could roll into Ukraine and the world would roll over. Instead he met a wall of strength he never imagined. He met the Ukrainian people.

"When the history of this era is written, Putin’s war on Ukraine will have left Russia weaker and the rest of the world stronger."
Russian media: Russian television did report on Biden's speech afterward, summing up his main points, including the US closing its airspace to Russian aircraft, the Justice Department's new investigation into Russian oligarchs, and Biden's insistence that the US would not deploy troops to Ukraine, she said.
"I think all of this is a good indication that they are not going to engage on a personal basis on President Putin and this war, even though it is obviously his war — that they're trying to keep it more on a plane of issues for Russia, protecting Russia," she said.
10:29 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Ukrainian tennis star pledges to donate prize money to her country's army

(Daniel Becerril/Reuters)

Ukrainian tennis star Elina Svitolina defeated Russia's Anastasia Potapova at the Monterrey Open on Tuesday, pledging afterward to donate her prize money to the Ukrainian army.

After her win at the opening-round match in Monterrey, Mexico, Svitolina put her hand on her heart and waved to the crowd.

“I was on a mission for my country,” Svitolina said in an on-court interview of her performance, which drew a roar from the crowd.

She added that this was “a very special match for me and moment here ... I’m in a very sad mood, but I’m happy that I’m playing tennis here."

Svitolina, the No. 1 seed in the tournament, wore blue and yellow -- the colors of the Ukrainian flag -- on the court.

She had earlier refused to play Russian athletes. On Monday, she wrote in a social media post that she would not play any Russian or Belarusian players, and would forego today's match unless tennis organizations took action.

On Tuesday, the Association of Tennis Professionals, Women’s Tennis Association and International Tennis Federation released a joint statement announcing players from Russia and Belarus would be allowed to continue competing -- but only as neutral athletes, instead of under the flag of either country.

11:53 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

US father watches as premature twin boys born in Kyiv: "Incredibly worried and incredibly hopeful"

(From Alexander Spektor)

For US resident Alexander Spektor, the birth of his twin boys came with as much fear as it did joy.

The two children were born prematurely to a surrogate in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv last week, with the mother going into labor just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the invasion.

The hospital where they were born was attacked on Tuesday, with hospital staff posting photos of significant damage to the structure.

"Today they were transferred from one hospital where there was no shelter, there was no basement," Spektor told CNN on Tuesday. Whenever the city's air raid sirens began sounding, hospital staff and patients had to "run across the street into a church where there was a basement," he added.

The babies have now been transferred to a safe and properly equipped hospital.

Spektor added he was "incredibly worried ... just worried, tired, but also most incredibly hopeful." He is currently in the US state Georgia, waiting for a chance to see his children.

"We're hoping every day that this moment will come soon," he said — but added that each day brings a new critical task. Today it was transferring the babies and surrogate mother to a safer hospital; tomorrow it's ensuring they receive the supplies they need.

Watch the interview:

10:15 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Russian military vehicles seen across Kherson after heavy shelling

(From Telegram)

The Russian military appears to have taken central Kherson, screenshots posted to social media and a video obtained by CNN show.

The screenshots from a webcam and the video have been geolocated, and their authenticity verified by CNN.

The video shows Russian military vehicles at a roundabout in northern Kherson on Tuesday. The screenshots from the webcam show Russian military vehicles parked on Svobody Square in central Kherson.

The Kherson Regional Administration building sits on Svobody Square.

Entering the city: On Tuesday, CNN reported that Russian military vehicles had been seen on the eastern side of the city after days of shelling and intense fighting.

The videos provide new evidence that the Russians are moving throughout Kherson, apparently unimpeded. It also shows that the Russian forces from Crimea have advanced and established a crossing across the Dnieper River.

Mayor's desperate plea: On Tuesday afternoon, Kherson Mayor Igor Kolykhaiev posted a stark message on Facebook, warning the city was under attack. "Residential buildings and urban facilities are burning," he wrote.
"We are NOT military! But I will hold the city and its functioning as long as I can," he wrote. “If the Russian soldiers and their leadership hear me. I ask: leave our city, stop shelling the civilians. You have already taken everything you wanted. Including human lives.”
10:03 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

UN says 13 children among at least 136 killed in Ukraine

At least 136 people, including 13 children, have been killed in Ukraine since Thursday, February 24, the UN said Tuesday.

Another 400 civilians, including 26 children, have been injured, according to Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"These are only the casualties we were able to cross-check, and the real toll is likely to be much higher," Throssell said.

She added that most of the casualties were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, and airstrikes. 

Ukraine's Interior Ministry reported higher figures on Sunday, saying 352 civilians had died and 1,684 had been injured since the Russian invasion.

9:58 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Japan moves embassy operations from Kyiv to Lviv

Japan will temporarily close its embassy operations in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Wednesday and move its operations to a temporary liaison office in Lviv, the country’s foreign ministry spokesman said on Wednesday.

The spokesperson added that Japan would ensure the safety of about 120 Japanese residents in Ukraine and support their evacuation from the country at the temporary liaison office in Lviv.

The Japanese Embassy in Poland has also set up a temporary liaison office in the city of Rzeszow, on the other side of the Ukrainian border, to support Japanese nationals evacuating from Ukraine, the spokesman said.

9:48 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Sick children in Kyiv moved to hospital bomb shelters

A woman named Helen comforts her 8-year-old daughter, Polina, in the bomb shelter of a Kyiv children’s hospital on Tuesday. The girl was at the hospital being treated for encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain. (Timothy Fadek/Redux for CNN)

Inside the underground bomb shelters of a Kyiv children’s hospital, the mood is somber and quiet.

“The parents do not smile. Neither do the children. But the parents try to make the best of the situation for their children by playing games, singing songs, playing cartoon videos on mobile phones,” photographer Timothy Fadek said. “When the sirens are heard, the parents gather their children and try to distract them from the outside noise.”

A look inside the bomb shelter of the hospital's pediatric ward. (Timothy Fadek/Redux for CNN)

The hospital’s intensive-care unit has been moved to the shelters. Some children are on ventilators. Others require transfusions. A few require surgery. Many are receiving chemotherapy to fight cancer.

A woman named Katya watches over her twin daughters, Sofia and Diana, while Diana is being treated for a serious lung infection. (Timothy Fadek/Redux for CNN)

Young cancer patients distract themselves in one of the hospital's bomb shelters. (Timothy Fadek/Redux for CNN)

There has been recent shelling near the hospital at night, and doctors told Fadek they fear the worst is yet to come.

“Hospital staff is unsure if the hospital will remain off-limits as a target,” Fadek said. “So they try to place as many parents and their children in the bomb shelter as possible, especially when the sirens go off, usually five times a day or more.”

(Timothy Fadek/Redux for CNN)

9:42 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

US will investigate Russian oligarchs and close off airspace to Russian planes, Biden announces

The US Department of Justice is launching a task force to investigate Russian oligarchs, President Biden announced during his first State of the Union address Tuesday evening.

“Tonight I say to the Russian oligarchs and corrupt leaders who have bilked billions of dollars off this violent regime: No more,” the President said, drawing a standing ovation from both Democrats and Republicans. 

Biden said the US would join with European allies to “find and seize their yachts, their luxury apartments, your private jets.” 

Speaking directly to oligarchs, he added, “we’re coming for your ill-begotten gains.”

Closing airspace: He also confirmed that the US will close off American airspace to all Russian flights to further isolate Russia, “adding an additional squeeze on their economy.”

“He has no idea what’s coming,” Biden said, presumably of Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

“The ruble has lost 30% of its value,” Biden added. “The Russian stock market has lost 40% of its value and trading remains suspended. Russia’s economy is reeling and Putin alone is to blame.”

Follow our live coverage of Biden's State of the Union address here.