The latest on Ukraine and Russia tensions

By Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 0111 GMT (0911 HKT) February 12, 2022
31 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
5:47 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022

Russia accuses Western countries and media of spreading disinformation about plans to invade Ukraine

From CNN's Darya Tarasova in Moscow and Sharon Braithwaite in London

Ahead of the expected call tomorrow between US President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is saying that Western countries and the media are spreading a "large-scale disinformation campaign" that promotes the thesis about an allegedly impending Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"At the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022, the global information space faced a media campaign unprecedented in its scale and sophistication, the purpose of which is to convince the world community that the Russian Federation is preparing an invasion of the territory of Ukraine," according to a ministry statement Friday published on its website.

The ministry accused Western countries and Western media of spreading disinformation "in order to divert attention from their own aggressive actions."

What the US is saying about Russia-Ukraine tensions: President Biden's national security adviser Jack Sullivan warned a Russian assault on Ukraine could begin soon, beginning with aerial bombings and missile attacks. He advised all Americans to depart the country for their own safety as quickly as possible.

Earlier Friday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US believes a Russian invasion of Ukraine could begin "at any time," including during the ongoing Olympics in Beijing. He also said the US continues "to see very troubling signs of Russian escalation, including new forces arriving at the Ukrainian border."

CNN's Maegan Vazquez, Kevin Liptak, Natasha Bertrand, Kylie Atwood and Kaitlan Collins contributed reporting to this post.

5:01 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022

US secretary of state spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart, according to official  

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens during a joint press availability at the Quad meeting of foreign ministers in Melbourne, Australia, on February 11. (Kevin Lamarque/Pool Photo via AP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens during a joint press availability at the Quad meeting of foreign ministers in Melbourne, Australia, on February 11. (Kevin Lamarque/Pool Photo via AP) (Kevin Lamarque/Poo/AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba Saturday morning local time in Australia, according to a senior State Department official.

The latest call between the two diplomats comes as CNN has learned that the US and its allies have new intelligence that suggests Russia could launch an attack on Ukraine even before the end of the Olympics, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

Spokesperson Ned Price said Blinken reaffirmed "the United States’ robust support for Ukraine in the face of an increasingly acute threat of possible further Russian aggression."

"The Secretary underscored that any and all aggression against Ukraine by Russia will be met with swift, severe, and united consequences. The Secretary briefed on global efforts to urge de-escalation and enhance defense and deterrence measures against Russia’s unprovoked and continued build-up of troops and equipment in Ukraine and around its borders. He reinforced that Ukraine continues to have the United States’ enduring and steadfast support for its sovereignty and territorial integrity," according to Price.

5:54 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022

Biden-Putin call will take place tomorrow, Kremlin spokesperson says

From CNN's Kevin Liptak, Kaitlan Collins and Matthew Chance

President Joe Biden on the South Lawn of the White House before boarding Marine One in Washington, on Friday.
President Joe Biden on the South Lawn of the White House before boarding Marine One in Washington, on Friday. (Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a telephone conversation with US President Biden on Saturday at 7 p.m. Moscow time (11 a.m. ET), Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told CNN on Friday.

According to Peskov, a telephone conversation between Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron is also planned on Saturday.

A person familiar with the matter told CNN earlier that Biden and Putin would speak tomorrow.

The White House confirmed CNN's reporting that the leaders will speak tomorrow, but an official says the Kremlin proposed holding a call on Monday. The White House, offering a bit of unusual detail, says they counter-offered a call for tomorrow. 

"President Biden and President Putin of Russia will be speaking on Saturday morning. Russia proposed a call Monday. The White House counter-proposed Saturday, and they accepted," a White House official says. 

At a White House press briefing today, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the two men would speak by phone, but didn't say when.

Biden last spoke to Putin at the end of December. Prior to that, on Dec. 7, they had negotiations via videoconference. The first face-to-face meeting between Putin and Biden as leaders of state took place in Geneva in June 2021.

Biden is spending the weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat.

CNN's Darya Tarasova and Sharon Braithwaite contributed reporting to this post.

4:16 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022

Some Americans in Ukraine are receiving calls from the State Department asking if they have plans to leave 

From CNN's Kylie Atwood

The State Department is calling Americans in Ukraine to find out if they have plans to leave as the US continues to urge Americans to depart the country.  

Lee Humerian, an American living in Ukraine with his family and working as a missionary, told CNN that he got a call from the State Department on Friday asking if he had plans to leave the country.

The State Department official asked if he read the most recent email from the State Department encouraging Americans to leave, he said. He told her he had read it and he did not have plans to leave.  

Humerian registered with the State Department's program that tracks Americans abroad.

The State Department did not immediately respond to request for comment about these calls.


3:55 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022

Last night's White House Situation Room meeting was abruptly scheduled because of Russian escalation

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

The meeting of President Biden's top national security aides in the Situation Room Thursday night was abruptly scheduled in the context of Russia’s escalating military buildup and had not been organized in advance, a source familiar with the meeting said.  

Biden joined for part of the meeting, CNN previously reported. 

Following Thursday night's meeting, officials have begun warning publicly that Russia could invade Ukraine before the end of the Olympics. 

"We continue to see signs of Russian escalation including new forces arriving at the Ukrainian border. As we've said before, we are in the window when an invasion could begin at any time should Vladimir Putin decide to order it," Biden's national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Thursday. "I do want to be clear, it could begin during the Olympics, despite a lot of speculation that it will only happen after the Olympics."

"Russians are in a position to be able to mount a major military action in Ukraine in day now," Sullivan said.

Today's urgent messages from Biden's top aides comes after last week they had decided to no longer use the word "imminent" to describe the likelihood of an invasion. 

"I used that once. I think others have used that once. And then we stopped using it because I think it sent a message that we weren’t intending to send, which was that we knew President Putin had made a decision," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

3:26 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022

There is no mandatory evacuation at British Embassy in Kyiv, diplomat says, but nonessential staff are leaving

From CNN's Alex Marquardt

A British diplomat tells CNN that staff are not evacuating the British Embassy in Kyiv, but they are "temporarily removing all nonessential staff and dependents" and "a core team will remain to continue with essential duties."

A European Union spokesperson added it will not evacuate its staff from Kyiv: "We are not evacuating. For the time being, the nonessential staff has been given the opportunity to telework from outside the country."

Earlier: The UK government advised nationals in Ukraine to leave now while commercial means are still available, according to the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

3:33 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022

US will send 3,000 more troops to Poland as concerns grow over Russia and Ukraine

From CNN's Oren Liebermann and Barbara Starr

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered 3,000 more soldiers from the 82nd Airborne to deploy to Poland amid rising concern about Russia’s potential invasion of Ukraine, according to a senior defense official. The troops will leave in the next couple of days, joining about 1,700 members of the unit already there. 

The soldiers will fall under the command of Maj. Gen. Christopher Donahue, who was the commander of forces during the final evacuation and withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Three hundred members of the 18th Airborne Corps have also arrived in Germany, the official said. They are under the command of Lt. Gen. Michael Kurilla, slated to be the next commander of US Central Command.

This group of 5,000 troops will “reassure our NATO allies, deter any potential aggression against NATO’s eastern flank, train with host-nation forces, and contribute to a wide range of contingencies,” the official said.

On Wednesday, CNN reported that the White House has approved a plan for members of the 82nd Airborne in Poland to help Americans who may try to leave Ukraine. The troops will begin setting up processing areas and temporary shelters.

3:54 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022

French president will speak with Putin on Saturday

From CNN’s Xiaofei Xu

French President Emmanuel Macron meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday.
French President Emmanuel Macron meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday. (SPUTNIK/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron will speak Saturday at noon local time (or 6 a.m. ET), according to Élysée Palace.

Macron met with Putin on Monday in Moscow, and he said he and the Russian president were able to find "points of convergence" over the crisis.

3:23 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022

Ukrainian authorities acknowledge threat of "provocations" that may be staged by Russia

From CNN's Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

Ukrainian authorities discussed the threat from "provocations" during heightened tensions caused by the buildup of Russian forces around the borders of Ukraine and insisted that cities under threat will be protected.

Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, was asked at a press briefing in the city of Kharkiv about possible provocations that Russia might blame on Ukraine, so-called false flag operations.

"We are currently considering any issues. Every day we receive information from our services," he said.

"We have heard so far about the Chernobyl [nuclear] station, we have heard about the territory of the occupied Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and about other facilities both in our territory and in the occupied Crimea, and in the occupied Donetsk and Luhansk regions," he said.

The Chernobyl area near the border with Belarus is an exclusion zone after the disaster at its nuclear plant in 1986. Much of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are under the control of pro-Russian separatists and have been since 2014.

"If we are talking about a provocation that the Russian Federation will try to make, we are well aware of what we are talking about," Danilov said. 
"We do not know where this or that provocation may take place, in what form it will be realized," he said. 

"The Russian Federation has started a war in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and is now beginning to tell nonsense that we will allegedly reclaim the Donetsk and Luhansk regions militarily. I would like to emphasize once again that we cannot do that because we are responsible for the civilian population," Danilov said.

"I just do not understand why the Russians need that 'trouble' called our country? Believe me, we will not give anything to anyone," he said. "They are aware of the position of our citizens that we will fight for our [land.] ... We have never attacked anyone in the history of our country. But we will not give ours to anyone."

Danilov said the city of Kharkiv will be protected in case of an invasion.

Speaking on the evacuation of government institutions, Danilov said. "To date, there are no reasons to take out or evacuate documents. If there are such reasons, the relevant institutions will immediately work in the appropriate direction."

"Now no one is moving anywhere, because we do not see any reasons for it today," he added.