The latest on the Ukraine-Russia border crisis

By Jeevan Ravindran, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Maureen Chowdhury, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 7:03 a.m. ET, February 16, 2022
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4:10 p.m. ET, February 15, 2022

Ukrainian president will travel to the city of Mariupol tomorrow

From CNN's From Olga Pavlova

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will travel to the city of Mariupol on Wednesday, his office tells CNN.

Mariupol is located in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.

Zelensky is expected to be there late in the afternoon.

4:16 p.m. ET, February 15, 2022

Biden warns of potential US effects should Russia invade Ukraine

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

(Alex Brandon/AP)
(Alex Brandon/AP)

President Biden warned a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine would have ramifications inside the United States.

"If Russia decides to invade that will also have consequences here at home, Biden said in remarks at the White House. "The American people understand that defending democracy and liberty is never without cost."

He said Republicans and Democrats were united in their desire to defend "our most basic, most bipartisan, most American principles."

But he added that it could lead to higher energy prices.

"I will not pretend this will be painless," he said, noting the US was coordinating with energy producers "to provide relief at the gas pump."

He said the US was prepared to respond to other attempts at inflicting pain on Americans, including in cyberspace.

"We're not seeking direct confrontation with Russia, though I've been clear that if Russia targets Americans in Ukraine, we will respond forcefully. If Russia attacks the United States or allies through asymmetric means, like disruptive cyberattacks against our companies or critical infrastructure, we're prepared to respond," Biden said.

3:56 p.m. ET, February 15, 2022

Biden to Russian citizens: "You are not our enemy"

From CNN's Jason Kurtz

Amid the ongoing tensions at the Ukraine-Russia border, President Biden made it clear that the United States is not seeking to add to the volatility.

"Let me be equally clear about what we are not doing: The United States and NATO are not a threat to Russia," said Biden, speaking from the White House.

"Ukraine is not threatening Russia. Neither the US nor NATO have missiles in Ukraine. We do not, do not have plans to put them there as well. We're not targeting the people of Russia. We do not seek to destabilize Russia. To the citizens of Russia: you are not our enemy. I do not believe you want a bloody, destructive war against Ukraine," he said.

Noting that Russia and the United States teamed up in World War II — which he called "a war of necessity" — Biden drew a distinction between the current state of affairs.

"If Russia attacks Ukraine, it will be a war of choice, or a war without cause or reason. I say these things not to provoke, but to speak the truth, because the truth matters. Accountability matters," Biden said.

"If Russia does invade in the days and weeks ahead, the human cost for Ukraine will be immense," he added.

4:28 p.m. ET, February 15, 2022

Biden: If Russia invades Ukraine it will be met with "overwhelming international condemnation"

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

(Alex Brandon/AP)
(Alex Brandon/AP)

President Biden warned that if Russia invades Ukraine in the coming days or weeks "it will be met with overwhelming international condemnation."

"Accountability matters. If Russia does invade in the days and weeks ahead, the human cost for Ukraine will be immense. And the strategic cost for Russia will also be immense. If Russia attacks Ukraine, it will be met with overwhelming international condemnation. The world will not forget that Russia chose needless death and destruction," the US President said in White House remarks.

"Invading Ukraine will prove to be a self-inflicted wound. The United States and our allies and partners will respond decisively. The West is united and galvanized. Today, our NATO allies and the alliances unified and determined as it's ever been," Biden continued.

3:52 p.m. ET, February 15, 2022

Biden says US has "not verified" reports Russia has withdrawn troops from near Ukraine

From CNN's DJ Judd

President Biden told reporters at the White House Tuesday that the United States has "not yet verified” that Russia has begun the withdrawal some troops following the completion of recent drills near Ukraine, warning “invasion remains distinctly possible.”

“The Russian Defense Minister reported today that some military units are leaving their positions near Ukraine. That would be good, but we have not yet verified that,” Biden said. “We have not yet verified the Russian military units are returning to their home bases — indeed, our analysts indicate that they remain very much in a threatening position, and the fact remains right now Russia has more than 150,000 troops circling Ukraine and Belarus, and along Ukraine's border and invasion remains distinctly possible.”

The Russian defense ministry said troops from its Southern and Western military districts — parts of which are next door to Ukraine — had begun to return to their home stations, though the announcement did not say precisely where those troops were permanently based, where they had been exercising, or how many of them were withdrawing.

In his remarks Tuesday, the President reiterated that Americans in the region should leave “before it’s too late to leave safely,” pointing to the decision to relocate the US Embassy in Kyiv to the western city of Lviv.

 

8:51 p.m. ET, February 15, 2022

Biden told Putin US is willing to pursue diplomacy to negotiate "written understandings" with Russia

From CNN's Mike Hayes and Kevin Liptak

(Alex Brandon/AP)
(Alex Brandon/AP)

President Biden said there is "plenty of room for diplomacy" with Russia that could avoid a conflict in Europe.

Speaking from the White House, Biden laid out areas where Washington and Moscow can continue talking as Russia continues to mass troops along their border with Ukraine.

"That's the best way forward for all parties, in our view. We'll continue our diplomatic efforts in close consultation with our allies and our partners," Biden said in the East Room.

"As long as there is hope of diplomatic resolution that prevents the use of force and avoids incredible human suffering that would follow, we will pursue it," Biden said.

Biden's remarks come amid mixed signals from Russia. While its leaders have said diplomacy is still possible, troops continue to build around three sides of Ukraine.

The President said that he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin this weekend and made it clear that the US is willing to "keep pursuing high-level diplomacy" to negotiate "written understandings" with Russia.

"Yesterday, the Russian government publicly proposed to continue the diplomacy. I agree," Biden said in the East Room.

He added, "We should give the diplomacy every chance to succeed." 

Biden said that he believes that there are ways "to address our respective security concerns." 

"The United States has put on the table concrete ideas to establish security environment in Europe. We're proposing new arms control measures, new transparency measures, new strategic stability measures," Biden said.

The President noted that the US "will not sacrifice basic principles, though."

"We're willing to make practical, result-oriented steps that can advance our common security," he said. "We will not sacrifice basic principles, though. Nations have a right to sovereignty and territorial integrity. They have the freedom to set their own course and choose with whom they will associate. But that still leaves plenty of room for diplomacy and for de-escalation."

3:38 p.m. ET, February 15, 2022

Biden: We are "prepared no matter what happens" in Ukraine

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

President Biden said that the US is "prepared no matter what happens," during his remarks from the White House on the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

"The United States is prepared, no matter what happens. We are ready with diplomacy, to engage in diplomacy with Russia and our allies and partners to improve stability and security in Europe as a whole. And we are ready to respond decisively to Russian attack on Ukraine, which is still very much a possibility. All the events of the last few weeks and months, this has been our approach and remains our approach now," the President said.  
3:31 p.m. ET, February 15, 2022

NOW: Biden gives update on situation in Ukraine 

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Maegan Vazquez

(Pool)
(Pool)

President Biden is providing a status update on the ongoing situation in Ukraine from the White House.

"He will reiterate that the United States remains open to high-level diplomacy in close coordination with our Allies, building on the multiple diplomatic off-ramps we and our Allies and partners have offered Russia in recent months. The United States continues to believe diplomacy and de-escalation are the best path forward, but is prepared for every scenario," the White House said ahead of the speech.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted that Biden would not be announcing "new policy" in his remarks.

More background: The speech comes as Russia has amassed more than 130,000 troops near Ukraine's border in recent weeks, according to US estimates, raising fears from Western and Ukrainian intelligence officials that an invasion could be imminent. 

Russia announced earlier Tuesday that some of its troops would return to base after completing recent drills, but stressed that major military exercises would continue.

The Russian defense ministry said troops from its Southern and Western military districts — parts of which are next door to Ukraine — had begun to return to their home stations, though the announcement did not say precisely where those troops were permanently based, where they had been exercising, or how many of them were withdrawing.

US ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith said Tuesday the US was "monitoring the situation" after the Kremlin's troop announcement, but added that the US "will have to verify" any claims of a potential move towards de-escalation by Russia.

3:14 p.m. ET, February 15, 2022

Senate Republicans introduce their own Russia sanctions package after stalled bipartisan negotiations

From CNN's Lauren Fox and Ellie Kaufman

Republican US senators introduced their own sanctions package to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin from invading Ukraine and to show support and provide assistance to Ukraine and Europe in the event of a Russian invasion, leading to questions about whether bipartisan negotiations over sanctions have ended on Capitol Hill. 

The Republican-led sanctions package comes after weeks of failed negotiations between bipartisan senators. Senators could not agree on whether to include sanctions that deal with the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The Republican proposal could be a negotiating tactic to get Democrats to re-open discussions on a bipartisan sanctions package.

But in order to make any kind of congressional sanctions package impactful, senators need to move quickly. Russia has amassed more than 130,000 troops on Ukraine’s border and Putin continues to add to his “menu of options” militarily, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said during a press briefing on Monday.

What the legislation would do: The proposed Republican sanctions package, introduced as the Never Yielding Europe’s Territory (NYET) Act, would “mandate sanctions” on the Nord Stream 2 project “without a waiver should Russia invade,” a release about the Act said.

The bill would sanction Putin’s “cronies, enablers and major banks,” and it would provide $500 million in foreign military financing for Ukraine. Out of the $500 million, $250 of that would be “emergency funding,” and $100 million would be for “emergency lethal assistance for critical capabilities like air defense, anti-armor and anti-ship capabilities.”

The proposed funding in this bill would be in addition to funding the US government has already given to Ukraine. In 2021, the US delivered approximately $450 million in security assistance to Ukraine, Kirby said in December. Since 2014, when Russia invaded and occupied the Crimean peninsula, the US has provided more than $2.5 billion in aid to Ukraine.

Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he was disappointed senators had not come to a bipartisan agreement on a sanctions package.

“I wish we had,” come up with a bipartisan sanctions package, Kaine said, but he cautioned that sanctions can sometimes make it harder for leaders to take a “diplomatic offramp because they don’t want to look like oh we had to back down because of the sanctions.”

On Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the US government "is offering a sovereign loan guarantee to Ukraine of up to $1 billion to support its economic reform agenda and continued engagement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF)."

The package would also double US “funding for US military exercises in Europe,” and it would create a new State Department Foreign Military Financing program for Eastern Europe to “help European allies strengthen their own defensive capabilities,” the release said.