Early reports are coming in from Ukraine that Russian forces have entered the city of Kherson, and have surrounded the city of Mariupol, both key targets for Russia in the south of the country.
Military experts say they expect the war in Ukraine to become more destructive and deadly as Russia turns to heavy artillery.
"And in doing that, they're going to do something that ... they didn't want to do, because they wanted to take the city intact," retired U.S. Army Col. Jack Jacobs told CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia."
In his State of the Union address, U.S. President Joe Biden promised to "inflict pain" on Russian President Vladimir Putin. He also commended the Ukrainian people for their courage and resilience in the face of Russia's onslaught.
Installing a pro-Moscow puppet government in Ukraine would be tough for Putin, professor says
At this point, it would be very hard for Russia to install a pro-Moscow puppet government in Ukraine, according to Chris Miller, assistant professor of international history at Tufts University.
Even if the Kremlin succeeds in taking capital city Kyiv and toppling President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, "how are they going to construct an effective government to replace him? It seems very difficult to imagine they can do so," Miller told CNBC's "Streets Signs Asia" on Thursday.
Miller said while Putin could install someone new in Zelenskyy's place, it would be extraordinarily "hard to actually keep them in power."
"One of the things that the invasion has brought forth is that almost all Ukrainians don't want to be ruled by Russia or a Russian puppet," he said.
"The last couple of Russian wars had very limited aims. They were trying to achieve limited political goals, not regime change on their border," Miller noted. "This time the goals are far grander and as a result, the resources simply aren't there."
— Sumathi Bala
Russian POWs presented to the press in Kyiv
Russian prisoners of war, officers of the police (L-R) sergeant Yevgeniy Plotnikov, lieutenant colonel Dmitriy Astakhov, and captain Yevgeniy Spiridonov as they are presented to the press in Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on March 2, 2022.
Anti-war protests continue in Moscow
Russian security forces take anti-war protesters into custody in Moscow, Russia.
Ukraine's second-biggest city suffers heavy bombardment
Ukraine's second biggest city, Kharkiv, suffered heavy bombardment on Wednesday as Russia's week-long invasion was denounced by the United Nations in a historic vote and dozens of countries referred Moscow to be probed for potential war crimes.
The biggest attack on a European state since 1945 has caused over 870,000 people to flee, led to a barrage of economic measures against Russia, and stoked fears of wider conflict in the West unthought-of for decades.
West of Kyiv, in the city of Zhytomyr, four people, including a child, were killed on Tuesday by a Russian cruise missile, a Ukrainian official said.
Rocket strikes on the centre of Kharkiv killed at least 10 people and wounded 35, Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko said. Similar strikes that killed and wounded dozens in the city the previous day involved cluster bombs, experts said.
U.S. House 'staunchly, proudly' passes resolution for Ukraine
The U.S. House has overwhelmingly approved a resolution "steadfastly, staunchly, proudly and fervently" in support of Ukraine.
Lawmakers said history was watching the way the world responds as Ukrainians fight to save their Western-style democracy from invasion by Russia. With intensifying urgency, many in Congress said more must be done to help Ukraine and cut off Russian President Vladimir Putin's ability to wage war.
In the Senate, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was also introducing a resolution that would back Ukraine's claim in international court that Putin and his "cronies" have committed war crimes.
— Associated Press
Civilians take shelter in Kyiv Metro
Civilians took refuge in an underground metro station used as bomb shelter in Kyiv as Russian forces shell the city.
Russian forces surround two key cities in southern Ukraine
Blinken slams Putin's irresponsible rhetoric on nuclear forces
Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to raise his nation's nuclear posture.
"Provocative rhetoric about nuclear weapons is the height of irresponsibility," Blinken told reporters at the State Department. "It's dangerous and it adds to the risk of miscalculation," the nation's top diplomat said, adding that the U.S. has not taken steps to alter its own nuclear posture.
Over the weekend, Putin placed his nation's nuclear forces on high alert amid tensions with the West over the invasion of Ukraine.
The United States and Russia own the lion's share of the world's combined nuclear weapons inventory.
– Amanda Macias
Major UK airshow bans Russia over Ukraine invasion
Russia has been barred from participating in a major airshow in England, organizers said.
"Following the on-going events taking place in Eastern Europe, we have made the decision to suspend Russian participation at the 2022 Farnborough International Airshow, taking place in July," Farnborough International Airshow organizers said in a statement. "Our hearts go out to the people of Ukraine, and everyone affected by the current situation. We continue to hope for a timely and peaceful resolution."
Russia has grown increasingly isolated from global aerospace manufacturers and suppliers like Boeing, Airbus and General Electric amid new sanctions. Russia's access to the world's airspace has narrowed as countries shun the Russian planes response to its invasion of Ukraine last week.
– Leslie Josephs
Blinken to visit Poland, Moldova and Baltics this weekend to discuss Ukraine
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will leave Washington on Thursday to spend nearly a week in Europe visiting U.S. allies and NATO members to coordinate the continuing global response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Blinken announced the trip himself during a rare secretarial briefing with press at the State Department. He will start the trip in Belgium, then go on to stops in Poland and Moldova, after which he will meet with leaders in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.
The three Baltic states in particular "are facing a renewed threat from Russia themselves, as President Putin seeks to reassert Russia's dominance over former Soviet republics," Blinken said Wednesday.
--- Christina Wilkie
U.S. Army’s 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team deploy to Europe
Soldiers from the U.S. Army's 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team rest while waiting at a staging area in the U.S. before boarding a transport plane bound for Europe. They are being deployed from the Hunter Army Airfield in Georgia today in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Uber offers free rides at Polish-Ukraine border
Uber announced a slew of initiatives on Wednesday aimed at helping Ukrainian refugees.
The rideshare giant said that people wishing to get to the southeastern cities of Lublin or Rzeszow from Hrebenne, Dolhobyczow, Dorohusk, Zosin, Budomierz, Korczowa or Medyka could enter the code "POMOCLUBELSKIE" or "POMOCPODKARPACKIE" to ride to and from either of the crossings for free.
Uber is also adding an in-app donation button later this week for its U.S. riders to make donations to the International Rescue Committee. The company said it will match donations made through this feature up to $1 million. The feature will roll out to other countries in the coming days, it said in a blog post.
"Our teams are working 24/7 to keep impacted employees, riders, and drivers safe and are partnering with NGOs to support relief efforts on the ground," the company said in a release.
Human costs from Kremlin's war in Ukraine are "staggering," Blinken says
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that the human costs of the Kremlin's war in Ukraine are "staggering."
"Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed or wounded. There are now more than 174,000 refugees in nearby countries," Blinken told reporters at the State Department.
The nation's top diplomat said the U.S. is working to support frontline countries like Poland, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia as these governments welcome Ukrainians fleeing Russia's violence.
– Amanda Macias
U.S. and allies impose new export controls on Belarus
The United States announced Wednesday it will extend the export controls originally imposed on Russia to Belarus, the Russian ally that has become a staging ground for Russian forces invading Ukraine.
According to an announcement from the Commerce Department, the action "will help prevent diversion of items, technologies, and software through Belarus to Russia and will significantly degrade both countries' ability to sustain their military aggression and project power."
In addition to the ban on exporting military technology to Russia, the U.S. and its allies also prohibited the export of oil and gas extraction technology and equipment.
The international community has agonized over how to degrade Russia's economy without depriving Europe of the Russian oil and gas it relies upon for heat and automotive fuel.
--- Christina Wilkie
More than 82% of Russian troops once on Ukraine's border are now fighting in the country
A U.S. Defense official said Wednesday that about 82% of Russian troops once stationed along Ukraine's borders are now fighting inside the country.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share new details from a Pentagon assessment, added that the Russian military advances in Ukraine have slowed since the start of the invasion.
The person said that Russian troops are suffering from sustainment and logistics issues on the battlefield, including fuel and food supply shortages.
"But again, I want to remind they [the Russians] have an awful lot of combat capability at their disposal and they will attempt to overcome these challenges," the official said.
– Amanda Macias
Kharkiv hammered by Russian shelling
Images show the aftermath of massive Russian shelling in Kharkiv.
Russian forces have launched more than 450 missiles into Ukraine so far
A U.S. Defense official said Wednesday that Russian forces have launched more than 450 missiles into Ukraine since the start of the invasion.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, says the Russians are using "the full menu" of missiles in their arsenal to include short-range, medium-range, surface-to-air as well as cruise missiles.
The person adds that in the past 24 hours there has been an increase in missiles and artillery targeting Kyiv.
– Amanda Macias
Parents and newborns take shelter in Kyiv
People with their newborn children take shelter in the basement of a perinatal centre as air raid siren sounds are heard amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Kyiv.
U.S. airspace ban on Russian flights begins tonight
The United States' ban of Russian passenger and cargo flights in U.S. airspace begins Wednesday at 9 p.m. EST, the Department of Transportation said.
It follows similar moves by Europe and Canada in protest of Russia's invasion of Ukraine last week. Russia reciprocated.
The tit-for-tat airspace bans have forced airlines to cancel flights, particularly between Europe and Asia, or take longer routes, the latest factor driving up transportation costs.
Russia's state-controlled Aeroflot is the only Russian commercial passenger carrier that was flying nonstop to the U.S. and had 56 flights U.S. flights on its schedule this month, according to aviation data and consulting firm Cirium.
UN General Assembly overwhelmingly demands Russia cease attacks on Ukraine
The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly for a resolution demanding that Russia immediately stop its attack on Ukraine and withdraw its military force.
The final tally was 141-5, with 35 abstentions.
Before the vote, Ukrainian Ambassador to the UN Sergei Kyslytsya suggested that Russia was attempting to commit a genocide.
"They have come to the Ukrainian soil, not only to kill some of us, not only to shift our course, and priorities, they have come to deprive Ukraine of the very right to exist," Kyslytsya said of Russia in a speech to the assembly.
"They have come to resolve the Ukrainian issue as their propagandists claimed," Kyslytsya said. "Just stop and think whether these wars remind you of something?"
— Kevin Breuninger
U.S. rolls out new ‘KleptoCapture’ task force to go after Russian oligarchs
The Department of Justice announced a new task force aimed at enforcing sweeping U.S. and allied sanctions imposed on Russian elites who have helped finance the Kremlin's unprovoked war in Ukraine.
The task force, dubbed Task Force KleptoCapture, is yet another approach the Biden administration has taken in lockstep with transatlantic allies to hold Russian President Vladimir Putin and complicit Russian officials and oligarchs to account.
The task force will use various tools at its disposable, including cryptocurrency tracing, to track down and prosecute those who violate the sanctions and seize assets, according to the Justice Department.
— Amanda Macias
WHO sends surgical supplies to Ukrainian refugees for amputations, bone grafts
The World Health Organization is delivering surgical equipment for skin and bone grafts as well as amputations to Ukrainian refugees as Russia's unprovoked invasion of the sovereign nation finishes out its first week.
A shipment of six tons of medical supplies for trauma care and surgery for 1,000 patients and other supplies to help 150,000 more people will arrive in Poland on Thursday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at a press briefing in Geneva.
"I think this gives you the graphic nature of what's happening. These are ordinary civilians being broken and the health system is going to have to put them back together again," said Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO's head of emergencies programs.
The U.N. relief agency has warned that the risk of another Covid contagion is growing as hundreds of thousands of people flee the Russian invasion to Ukraine's neighbors in Poland and elsewhere in Europe. Ukraine suffered a 555% increase of Covid cases, driven mostly by omicron, in January and February, according to a report from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Twitter will restrict Russian state media across EU
Twitter said it will start restricting Russian-controlled media RT and Sputnik across Europe in order to comply with new EU sanctions.
"The European Union (EU) sanctions will legally require us to withhold certain content in EU member states, and we intend to comply," a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement.
Outside of the EU, Twitter said it will continue to focus on downplaying Russian-affiliated media across its service and include labels to provide context.
Social media giants have in recent days begun to remove or restrict access to RT and Sputnik across their platforms, facing stark pressure from global leaders.
The U.S. will expand sanctions on Russian oligarchs, NBC News reports
The U.S. is preparing to expand sanctions against a growing number of Russian oligarchs, a move that follows similar actions already taken by the European Union. These sanctions could come within the next 24 to 48 hours, a person familiar with the matter confirmed to NBC News.
President Joe Biden warned Tuesday in his State of the Union address that his administration would "go after the crimes of Russian oligarchs."
"We are joining with our European allies to find and seize your yachts your luxury apartments your private jets. We are coming for your ill-begotten gains," Biden added.
— Amanda Macias
Ukraine claims at least 5,840 Russian troops have died during war to date
EDITORS NOTE- POST CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT:
Ukraine has released figures of the losses it claims to have inflicted on Russia's armed forces.
In data released on Wednesday, which is not easily verifiable, Ukraine says that from Feb. 24 to March 2, at least 5,840 Russian troops have died.
It also said, in statements posted on Twitter and Facebook, that it has destroyed Russian military hardware, including:
Tanks ‒ Up to 211
Armored combat vehicles ‒ 862
Artillery systems ‒ 85
Anti-aircraft missile systems ‒ 40
Aircraft – 30
Helicopters – 31
Vehicles ‒ 355
Light speedboats ‒ 2
It said that the data it has released still needs to be clarified. For its part, Russia has not released any figures regarding its losses but it has conceded that it has lost personnel.
— Holly Ellyatt
Kremlin says Russia ready to attend more peace talks on Wednesday
The Kremlin has said Russian delegates are ready to attend a new round of peace talks on Wednesday afternoon and will be ready for a meeting with representatives of Ukraine, according to comments by the Kremlin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov quoted by news agency TASS.
"This afternoon, in the late afternoon, our delegation will be in place [and will] wait for the Ukrainian negotiators. Our delegation will be ready to continue the conversation tonight," Peskov told reporters Wednesday.
According to TASS, a new round of negotiations between the delegations of Russia and Ukraine will be held again in Belarus. An initial round of talks on Monday proved unsuccessful. Then, Ukrainian delegates had called for an immediate cease-fire and the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine.
It's unclear whether Ukrainian officials will attend the talks. However on Monday, both sides signaled a willingness to continue discussions.
— Holly Ellyatt
Putin’s popularity soared after Russia invaded Crimea. This time, it’s different
When Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his first invasion of Ukraine in 2014, in which Crimea was annexed, his popularity ratings soared in Russia.
Back in February 2014, just ahead of the Crimea invasion, Putin's popularity stood at 69% (having languished at 61% in November 2013), according to the independent Levada Center, but it rose to 82% in April 2014, after Russia made its move on the Ukrainian peninsula.
Things could be very different this time around for Putin, however. Read more here.
— Holly Ellyatt
Aftermath of airstrike on Zhytomyr seen in a video released by city's mayor
The mayor of the Ukrainian city of Zhytomyr, which is located to the northwest of Kyiv, has posted a video on Facebook appearing to show the aftermath of an air strike on the city.
Mayor Sergey Sukhomlin posted the footage Tuesday night and said it showed damage caused to residential buildings and a hospital. NBC News has not yet been able to independently confirm this.
On Tuesday, Reuters reported that Anton Gerashchenko, advisor to the Ukrainian interior minister, said on his Telegram channel that four people were killed when homes in Zhytomyr were hit by a Russian cruise missile apparently aimed at a nearby air base. A child was among the casualties.
— Holly Ellyatt
Kharkiv's mayor defiant after reports of Russian paratroopers, shelling
Kharkiv's mayor has said the city, Ukraine's second largest, is not going to surrender to Russian forces and that the city is under regular rocket and air strikes from the Russian army.
Mayor Igor Terekhov's comments, reported by Reuters, come after earlier reports that Russian paratroopers had landed in the northeastern Ukrainian city.
Kharkiv's regional governor Oleg Synegubov said at least 21 people were killed and 112 wounded in shelling of the city in the last 24 hours, Reuters reported.
Ukraine's emergency services have said on Facebook that the city's National Police Department building has been shelled and that nearby buildings have been damaged. The services said four people had died in Wednesday morning's shelling.
— Holly Ellyatt
'We are putting up different defenses around Kyiv': Ukrainian MP Vadym Halaichuk
Defenses are being mounted around Ukraine's capital Kyiv, a Ukrainian lawmaker told CNBC on Wednesday, amid fears that Russia could soon launch a large-scale attack on the city.
"We are putting up different defenses around Kyiv," Ukrainian MP Vadym Halaichuk said Wednesday morning, explaining that the country's Territorial Defense Forces, largely made up of volunteers, "are becoming the back bone of the city defense line."
Recent resistance in northern parts of the city had shown volunteer defense forces to be a "very effective" way of defending the city and the country, he said.
"People rose up, the Russians did not expect it, and the Blitzkrieg [a rapid military strike] that Putin planned did not happen," he said. Halaichuk added that he believed that the Russian president's hopes to regain control and influence over Ukraine "in some sort of Soviet Union structure" is "completely bust."
There are widespread concerns that Russian forces will soon arrive to the north of Kyiv as a massive convoy of Russian military vehicles has been traveling slowly toward the city.
It's uncertain how far the convoy is currently away from the city on Wednesday and there have been reports that it has faced logistical challenges.
— Holly Ellyatt
Mixed reports on Kherson; Mariupol comes under heavy shelling
Russian forces have claimed they have entered the city of Kherson in southwestern Ukraine which, if confirmed, would represent a major victory for Moscow.
Russia's defense ministry issued a Facebook statement Wednesday morning, saying its forces had taken Kherson's center "under full control" and adding that "civil infrastructure, life support facilities for the population and urban transport operate on a daily basis. The city does not experience shortages in food and essential goods."
It said negotiations are ongoing between the Russian command and local officials "to address issues of maintaining the functioning of social infrastructure facilities, ensuring law and order and the safety of the population."
Ukrainian officials have not yet confirmed Russia's claims to have taken control of Kherson and Kherson's mayor had said earlier this morning that the city "needed a miracle" after Russian troops reportedly surrounded the city.
"It's hard to call this morning good, but let's try. We are still Ukraine. Still persistent. But already very much in smoke," Ihor Kolykhaev, mayor of Kherson, said, according to a NBC News translation.
"Last night, when my team and I were in the city hall, the building was shelled. Everyone is alive. But I ask you again: do not leave the house. Do not provoke shooting with your actions and behavior. We are in a very difficult situation, we do not need to aggravate it."
"Today I will work to find a way to collect the dead, how to restore light, gas, water and heat where it is damaged. But I warn you: to fulfil these tasks today is to perform a miracle. We are all waiting for a miracle now. We need it," he said.
According to Ukrainan officials, and confirmed by the Russians and U.K. defense department, the port city of Maripol experienced heavy shelling from Russia.
"We are fighting, we are not ceasing to defend our motherland," Mariupol's mayor Vadym Boichenko said live on Ukrainian TV, Reuters reported.
— Holly Ellyatt
Oil prices surge nearly 7% on supply fears amid Russia-Ukraine conflict
Oil prices surged during Asia afternoon trade as markets were roiled by concerns over supply, amid the Russia-Ukraine war. At one point, both Brent crude futures and U.S. crude soared nearly 8% higher.
Brent last pared some losses, jumping 6.88% higher to $112.19 per barrel. It briefly touched $113.02 per barrel — a level not seen since Dec. 2013, according to data from Refinitiv Eikon.
U.S. crude futures also saw big gains, last trading 6.98% higher at $110.63 per barrel. It had risen as high as $111.50, it's highest since May 2011, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.
— Eustance Huang
'Limited' overall gains for Russia in the last 24 hours, UK defense ministry says
In its latest intelligence update on the crisis in Ukraine, the U.K.'s Ministry of Defence said Wednesday that Russian forces have seen slow progress in their military assault on Ukraine in the last 24 hours.
Posting an update on Twitter, the MoD said "while Russian forces have reportedly moved into the centre of Kherson in the south, overall gains across axes have been limited in the past 24 hours."
Slow progress in Russia's advance was probably due to "a combination of ongoing logistical difficulties and strong Ukrainian resistance."
The ministry noted that heavy Russian artillery and air strikes have continued to target built-up areas, primarily focused on the cities of Kharkiv, Kyiv, Mariupol and Chernihiv.
— Holly Ellyatt
Ukraine war is likely heading into a more destructive phase
The next phase of the war in Ukraine is likely to exact an awful cost as Russia turns to bigger, more indiscriminate weapons to bombard cities and prepares for brutal urban fighting.
If Russian troops manage to encircle Kyiv, they are likely to use artillery, rockets and similar weapons on the city, retired U.S. Army Col. Jack Jacobs told CNBC.
Such an approach is one the Russians "didn't want to do, because they wanted to take the city intact," Jacobs said. Regardless, they'll use rockets, "artillery, missiles and other indirect fire in order to subdue the Ukrainians in the city. And then try to move in."
Indirect fire refers to weapons that don't require a direct line of sight on the target. Such weapons, such as artillery, can used in large numbers to destroy large areas.
But such a fight is the one Ukrainians have been preparing for.
The Ukrainians "have known from very beginning that ultimately, it may come down to their ability to destroy Russian forces inside the built-up areas," said Jacobs, who experienced urban fighting as an officer in the Vietnam War.
NBC News reported earlier that Russian troops have already begun shelling Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-biggest city.
Sanctions on Russia are not broad or deep enough, former Ukraine finance minister says
Western sanctions on Russia have not been severe enough, according to Natalie Jaresko, who previously served as finance minister of Ukraine.
"Sanctions have not been deep enough and not broad enough," she told CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia" on Wednesday.
She suggested that all Russian and Belarusian state banks should be sanctioned, instead of only selected ones.
"We did a very good job with the central bank of Russia — which is why I think we're seeing the reaction that we're seeing — but I think that we need to go beyond that to the energy companies," said Jaresko, who is now executive director of the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico.
"We need to stop financing the war," she said, pointing to the millions of dollars worth of goods that the U.S., U.K. and Europe import from Russia.
"That money is directly or indirectly financing the bombs that are falling on the heads of every Ukrainian today," she said.
Sanctions are meant to convince the people of Russia, including the elites, to get President Vladimir Putin to stop the war, she added.
"He has it in his control, he can stop," she said.
— Abigail Ng
Ukraine issues war bonds, raising about $270 million
Ukraine's government has raised about $270 million from war bonds it issued Tuesday.
"The proceeds from the bonds will be used to meet the needs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and to ensure the uninterrupted provision of the state's financial needs under the war," its finance ministry tweeted.
Ukraine's finance ministry said the bonds have a yield of 11% with a tenure of one year.
Ukraine has sought to raise funds through multiple ways, such as accepting funds through crypto wallets, as its conflict with Russia deepens.
— Weizhen Tan, Christine Wang
U.S. and allies vow to make Putin's war funds "worthless"
Biden rallied allies Tuesday night and praised joint economic measures imposed on Russian President Vladimir Putin's economy.
"We are cutting off Russia's largest banks from the international financial system," Biden said. "Putin is now isolated from the world more than ever," he added, referencing retaliatory measures taken for the Kremlin's war in Ukraine.
Biden said that the U.S. and its allies were making "Putin's $630 billion war fund worthless," by preventing Russia's central bank from defending the Russian ruble.
"We are choking off Russia's access to technology that will sap its economic strength and weaken its military for years to come," he added.
— Amanda Macias
Life in a bomb shelter in Donetsk region
Residents stay in a bomb shelter after recent shellings in the separatist-controlled settlements in Mykolayivka (Nikolayevka) and Bugas in the Donetsk region (DPR) of Ukraine on March 1.