The latest on Ukraine and Russia tensions

By Laura Smith-Spark, Ed Upright and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 5:33 a.m. ET, February 14, 2022
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6:43 a.m. ET, February 13, 2022

Blinken says "no one should be surprised" if Moscow instigates an incident to justify military action

From CNN'S Jennifer Hansler in Honolulu

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at a press conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, on February 12.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at a press conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, on February 12. (Kevin Lamarque/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Saturday that "no one should be surprised if Russia instigates a provocation or incident which it then uses to justify military action it had planned all along."

The top US diplomat, speaking at a joint press conference with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts in Hawaii, said "the risk of Russian military action is high enough and the threat is imminent enough" that ordering the majority of US diplomats to leave Ukraine is "the prudent thing to do."

On Saturday, the State Department "ordered the departure of most US direct hire employees from Embassy Kyiv due to the continued threat of Russian military action," and will suspend consular services in Kyiv tomorrow. It will handle emergency services in Lviv.

"A core team will remain in Ukraine with our dedicated Ukrainian colleagues as we continue to work relentlessly to resolve this crisis through deterrence and diplomacy," said Blinken.

Speaking about his call Saturday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Blinken said he raised the United States' "serious concerns that Moscow may be considering launching a military attack against Ukraine in the coming days" and stressed that the diplomatic path remains open.

"On our call, Foreign Minister Lavrov said that Russians are working on a response to the paper that we sent to Moscow more than two weeks ago, proposing concrete areas for discussion," Blinken said.

"It remains to be seen if they'll follow through on that, but if they do we'll be ready to engage together with our allies and partners," he said.

Blinken said he, South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi also "discussed the threat that Russia's aggression poses not only to Ukraine, but to the entire international rules-based order" during their meeting in Honolulu.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday accused Western countries and the press of spreading a "large-scale disinformation campaign" about an allegedly impending Russian invasion of Ukraine "in order to divert attention from their own aggressive actions."

6:31 a.m. ET, February 13, 2022

White House: Biden told Putin the US will "impose swift and severe costs on Russia" if Ukraine invasion occurs

From CNN's DJ Judd

President Joe Biden speaks with President Vladimir Putin over the phone in this photo released by The White House on February 12.
President Joe Biden speaks with President Vladimir Putin over the phone in this photo released by The White House on February 12. (The White House)

During US President Biden's phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday, the White House says Biden “was clear that, if Russia undertakes a further invasion of Ukraine, the United States together with our Allies and partners will respond decisively and impose swift and severe costs on Russia.”

Biden’s call with Putin started at 11:04 a.m. ET and lasted just over an hour, concluding at 12:06 p.m. ET. 

“President Biden reiterated that a further Russian invasion of Ukraine would produce widespread human suffering and diminish Russia’s standing,” the White House says, adding Biden “was clear with President Putin that while the United States remains prepared to engage in diplomacy, in full coordination with our Allies and partners, we are equally prepared for other scenarios,” according to the White House. 

6:28 a.m. ET, February 13, 2022

Japan says it will supply natural gas to Europe if Russia invades Ukraine

From CNN's Wayne Chang

Japan's Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi attends a press conference in Melbourne, Australia, on February 11.
Japan's Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi attends a press conference in Melbourne, Australia, on February 11. (William West/AFP/Getty Images)

Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said Saturday that his country confirmed its “unwavering support” for Ukraine over its sovereignty and territorial integrity. 

Speaking at a joint press conference in Hawaii with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong, Hayashi said all three parties shared views that tensions are “escalating” in Ukraine, and that they agreed to “close coordination.” 

Hayashi also reaffirmed that Japan will supply liquified natural gas to Europe in the event that a Russian invasion of Ukraine leads to gas shortages across the region.

6:22 a.m. ET, February 13, 2022

US and Polish officials scouting border control sites to assist Americans leaving Ukraine, sources say

From CNN's Barbara Starr

US soldiers handle military equipment at a temporary base in Mielec, Poland, on February 12.
US soldiers handle military equipment at a temporary base in Mielec, Poland, on February 12. (Omar Marques/Andalou Agency/Getty Images)

US and Polish officials are scouting where to establish border control points to assist Americans coming out of Ukraine, according to two defense officials. 

Multiple sites have been identified along the border with Ukraine. The officials would not yet say the exact locations. 

One is expected to be an already existing Polish facility, while others are being built. The officials said the sites would offer temporary shelter and other amenities, as well as State Department services for Americans in transit. 

Troops of the 82nd Airborne in eastern Poland are expected to be handling much of the effort.

A senior defense official told CNN Friday that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had ordered 3,000 more soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division to deploy to Poland, joining the 1,700 already there. The soldiers are there to help Americans who may try to leave Ukraine.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters earlier this month that 82nd Airborne troops were sent to Poland primarily because "they are multi-mission capable."

4:36 a.m. ET, February 13, 2022

Macron and Putin discussed "conditions for security and stability" in Europe

From CNN’s Xiaofei Xu in Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on the phone for 1 hour and 40 minutes Saturday in a follow-up to discussions the two held on February 7, according to the Élysée Palace.

"The two presidents discussed different paths to proceed on the implementation of the Minsk Agreements and continued their discussion on the conditions for security and stability in Europe. They both expressed a willingness to continue the dialogue on these two points," the Élysée statement said. "The President of the Republic conveyed the concerns of his European partners and allies to his interlocutor. He told President Putin that sincere dialogue was not compatible with an escalation."

On Monday, the two leaders met for more than five hours. After that meeting, Macron said that he and Putin were able to find "points of convergence" over the crisis and that it was "up to us to agree, jointly, concrete and specific measures to stabilize the situation and to de-escalate tensions."

The Kremlin then appeared to pour cold water on reports that the two leaders had agreed to de-escalate the tense standoff on Ukraine's border