The latest on Ukraine and Russia tensions

By Aditi Sangal, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 0402 GMT (1202 HKT) February 8, 2022
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4:14 p.m. ET, February 7, 2022

Biden vows to shut down Nord Stream 2 if Russia invades: "I promise you we will be able to do it"

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

President Biden vowed to stop the Nord Stream 2, an undersea pipeline set to deliver gas from Russia to Germany, if the Russians invade Ukraine.

“If Russia invades, that means tanks or troops crossing the border of Ukraine again, then there will be – there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2,” Biden said at a news conference Monday. “We will bring an end to it.”

The President, speaking alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the White House, was asked how the US could do that given the US does not control the project. 

“I promise you we will be able to do it," Biden responded.

4:21 p.m. ET, February 7, 2022

German chancellor warns Russia would pay "high price" for Ukraine invasion

From CNN's Leinz Vales

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks during a news conference with President Joe Biden in the East Room of the White House on February 7 in Washington, DC.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks during a news conference with President Joe Biden in the East Room of the White House on February 7 in Washington, DC. (Alex Brandon/AP)

German chancellor Olaf Scholz said that "there will be a high price for Russia" if they invade Ukraine, during a joint news conference with President Biden from the White House.

"We are in a very difficult situation," Scholz said. "There is a military threat against Ukraine, we cannot remain silent on that. We see a number of troops along the Ukrainian border and that is a serious threat to European security and this is why it is important that we act together, stand together and do what it necessary together."

Germany's new chancellor, who took office in December, arrived in Washington as Russian President Vladimir Putin assembled 70% of the military personnel and weapons on Ukraine's borders he would need for a full-scale invasion of the country, according to two US officials familiar with the latest estimates.

"We're one voice, and do things together and we made it very clear if there was military aggression against Ukraine, this will entail severe consequences that we agreed upon together," Scholz said. "What is important is that we also intensively worked on preparing possible sanctions together. We don't want to start once there is a military aggression against Ukraine," he said.

4:04 p.m. ET, February 7, 2022

Biden: If Russia invades Ukraine "all of NATO is ready"

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

President Biden said that his White House meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was "very productive" and that discussions about "deterring Russia's threats against Ukraine" were top of the agenda.

"Germany with the United States together with our allies and partners are working closely together to pursue diplomatic resolutions to this situation and diplomacy is the very best way forward for all sides and we both agree, including [what's] best for Russia in our view," Biden said during a join news conference with Germany's leader.

The President continued, "And we have made it very clear that we're ready to continue important talks in good faith with Russia. Germany has also been a leader pushing de-escalation of tensions and encouraging dialogue through the Normandy Format. But if Russia makes a choice to further invade Ukraine, we are jointly ready and all of NATO is ready."

Biden added that both leaders discussed maintaining a close alliance and developing a "strong package of sanctions that clearly demonstrate international resolve and impose swift and severe consequences if Russia violates Ukraine's sovereignty and it's territorial integrity."

"I thank Germany and all of our other partners in eastern Europe and the European Union for their work in this united effort," Biden said.

3:55 p.m. ET, February 7, 2022

NOW: Biden holds joint news conference with German chancellor 

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

(Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)
(Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

President Biden is holding a White House news conference with Germany's new chancellor following a meeting earlier today in the Oval Office.

"Germany and the United States together with our allies and partners are working closely together to pursue diplomatic resolutions. We have made it clear we're ready to continue talks in good faith with Russia," Biden told reporters.

Olaf Scholz took office in December, succeeding a towering figure in global politics — Angela Merkel — whose absence during the current crisis is being felt on both sides of the Atlantic.

Scholz arrived in Washington as Russian President Vladimir Putin has assembled 70% of the military personnel and weapons on Ukraine's borders he would need for a full-scale invasion of the country, based on US intelligence estimates — though no one seems to know what his true intentions might be.

Ahead of the President's meeting with Scholz, US officials said the two leaders would spend most of their time together discussing the Ukraine matter, including a "robust sanctions package" being prepared to punish Moscow should an invasion go ahead.

When they sat down in the Oval Office, Biden said the US and Germany were "working in lockstep" to deter Russian aggression. 

Read more about the German leader's visit here.

4:12 p.m. ET, February 7, 2022

Russian forces increased over the weekend — now "well north of 100,000," Pentagon says

From CNN's Michael Conte and Ellie Kaufman

The Defense Department said that Russian President Vladimir Putin has added “sizeable forces” near the Ukrainian border even “just over the course of the weekend” and are now “well north of 100,000.”

“He is really putting in place robust, what we would call combined arms capabilities, in Belarus and along that border with Ukraine in Russia. That means not just infantry or tracked vehicles, but artillery and long range fires and air and missile defense, as well as special operations,” said Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby at a briefing with reporters. “He has a full suite available to him. And it continues to grow every day, including just over the last two days.”

Kirby said that Russia has also been adding “logistics and sustainment capability” to be able to sustain a deployment “for longer and longer periods of time,” but that there is still “nothing specific” indicating that Putin has decided on an invasion.

“We don’t have anything specific that we can point to as an a-ha moment and say, well, that’s it, now we know that he’s definitely going in and he’s definitely going in on such and such a date,” said Kirby.

More context: New satellite imagery obtained by CNN shows that a large base which held Russian tanks, artillery and other armor near the Ukrainian border has been largely emptied, with the equipment apparently being moved much closer to the frontier in recent days.

3:17 p.m. ET, February 7, 2022

No Senate deal yet on Russia sanctions bill as final sticking points remain unresolved, source says 

From CNN's Manu Raju

Bipartisan talks in the Senate are continuing over the Russia sanctions package, but the two sides have yet to resolve the same thorny issues that have so far eluded them from reaching a deal, according to a person briefed on the matter.

The source said the same issues — how to impose pre-invasion sanctions before any Russian invasion into Ukraine as well as imposing sanctions over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline remain unresolved. The administration has been leery of pre-invasion sanctions on Russia, worried it would take away US leverage over Russia and would divide NATO countries, while Republicans have pushed for immediate punishments — namely over the pipeline.

Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey and the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on "State of the Union" on Jan. 30 that they were on the "one-yard line," a characterization that Sen. Jim Risch, the ranking Republican, concurred with at the time.

Menendez is headed to the German embassy tonight to meet with chancellor Olaf Scholz, a source familiar with the matter said.

2:20 p.m. ET, February 7, 2022

US and Germany "working in lockstep" to deter Russian aggression, Biden says

From CNN's DJ Judd

President Biden welcomed German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to the White House Monday and told reporters gathered in the Oval Office that both countries are "working in lockstep to further deter Russian aggression in Europe.”

Biden acknowledged that the two leaders “have a lot to talk about” in the Oval Office meeting, adding he looked forward to working with Scholz “to address the challenges posed by China and promote stability in the Western Balkans—we then have to take on the pandemic, climate change and many of those other issues.”

The President also said he looks forward to Germany’s presidency of the G7 this year.

Scholz, in brief remarks, acknowledged today’s meeting was “an important meeting at an important time,” pointing to a number of topics they planned to discuss, including “fighting against Russian aggression against Ukraine.”

Neither leader responded to shouted questions from reporters before being escorted out.

2:35 p.m. ET, February 7, 2022

Blinken defends US messaging on Russia-Ukraine: "This is not alarmism, this is simply the facts"

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler, Casey Riddle and Kylie Atwood

(Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)
(Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken defended the US messaging about the Russia-Ukraine crisis, saying Monday that “this is not alarmism, this is simply the facts.”

“We have to deal with the facts. We have to deal with the facts in the context of history and we have to deal with the facts in making sure that we are fully prepared,” he said at a news conference at the State Department alongside EU High Representative Josep Borrell.

He said Russia’s massing of troops along the Ukrainian border is “not happening in a vacuum, it's happening in the context of what Russia already did in 2014 in invading Ukraine, seizing Crimea, creating a conflict in the Donbas that continues to this day.”

Blinken reiterated that the US does not believe Russian President Vladimir Putin has made a decision about whether to invade Ukraine, “but he has put in place the capacity should he so decide to act very quickly against Ukraine and in ways that would have terrible consequences for Ukraine, for Russia, but consequences also for all of us because these actions, this aggression, this threatened aggression against Ukraine would undermine the core principles that were hard established after World War II and after The Cold War that have helped to protect security, stability, peace and prosperity in Europe and beyond ever since.”

2:09 p.m. ET, February 7, 2022

UK says it wants to offer further reassurances to Moscow about NATO's role  

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in London  

The UK wants to offer further reassurances to Moscow about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's role because it is a defensive alliance, a UK government spokesperson said Monday.  

A Downing Street press officer confirmed to CNN that the spokesman told a lobby briefing that Russia has expressed concerns about possible aggressions from NATO.   

The UK has stressed that these concerns are unfounded due to NATO's status as a defensive alliance, the spokesperson said.  

Whilst the UK does want to provide Russia with diplomatic reassurance, it is continuing to emphasize the right of other countries to join NATO, the spokesperson added.