The latest on the Ukraine-Russia crisis

By Helen Regan, Brad Lendon, Rob Picheta, Mike Hayes, Maureen Chowdhury, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 0629 GMT (1429 HKT) February 22, 2022
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6:14 p.m. ET, February 21, 2022

Germany, France and US agree recognition of separatist areas "will not go unanswered," German official says

From Sharon Braithwaite and Nadine Schmidt

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Joe Biden have agreed that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decrees recognizing two separatist pro-Moscow regions in Ukraine as independent “will not go unanswered," Scholz’s spokesperson said. 

In a statement Monday, Scholz’s spokesperson said Scholz spoke to Biden and Macron on Monday evening about the "deteriorating situation" after the Russian President formally recognized the two so-called People's Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk on Monday.

"All three parties agreed that this unilateral move by Russia is a clear breach of the Minsk Agreement. Germany, France and the US sharply condemned the Russian President's decision. This move will not go unanswered," the spokesperson said.

Scholz, Biden and Macron expressed their solidarity with Ukraine and commended Ukraine's cautious response to date, led by President Volodymyr Zelensky, he added.

"The partners agreed not to let up in their commitment to Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty. At the same time, every effort will be made to prevent the situation from escalating further," the spokesperson concluded. 

6:10 p.m. ET, February 21, 2022

Ukraine requests UN Security Council meeting, Ukrainian foreign minister says 

From CNN's Aliza Kassim Khalidi

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has asked the UN Security Council for an urgent meeting, according to a tweet in the early hours of Tuesday morning local time. 

“Ukraine has requested an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council due to Russia’s illegal actions. We have already sent the request to the Council," Kuleba tweeted.

See the tweet here:

6:03 p.m. ET, February 21, 2022

Blinken: "We will take appropriate steps" in response to Putin's recognition of separatist regions

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

(Ina Fassbender/Pool/AP/FILE)
(Ina Fassbender/Pool/AP/FILE)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to recognize Donetsk and Luhansk as independent “represents a complete rejection of Russia’s commitments under the Minsk agreements."

In statement Monday, Blinken added that the move "directly contradicts Russia’s claimed commitment to diplomacy, and is a clear attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

“President Biden will sign an executive order that will prohibit all new investment, trade, and financing by US persons to, from, or in the so-called 'Donetsk and Luhansk People's republics' regions of Ukraine," Blinken said.

“We will continue to coordinate with Ukraine and our Allies and partners to take appropriate steps in response to this unprovoked and unacceptable action by Russia. The EO [executive order] is designed to prevent Russia from profiting off of this blatant violation of international law. It is not directed at the people of Ukraine or the Ukrainian government and will allow humanitarian and other related activity to continue in these regions,” he said.

6:21 p.m. ET, February 21, 2022

US official says Russia is preparing for invasion, but diplomacy will be pursued "until the tanks roll"

From CNN's Kevin Liptak 

Russian troops continue preparations for an invasion of Ukraine, but diplomacy will be pursued "until the tanks roll," a senior US administration official says. 

"Russian troops have continued to move closer to the border," the official said, saying they see plans being laid for an invasion "at any moment."

The official acknowledged Russian President Vladimir Putin's order of "peacekeeping" troops to enter Moscow-claimed regions in eastern Ukraine, but said the US would respond to Russian actions and not words. 

"We will observe and assess what actions Russia actually takes and respond accordingly," the official said.

The official declined to provide additional information or confirmation of Russian troops entering Ukraine, but said the US was closely observing events on the ground.

And the official noted that Russian troops operating in these regions wasn't a new phenomenon.

"This has been the state of affairs in that region" since 2014, the official said.

The official said the US would take additional actions to respond to Russia's recognition of the breakaway territories on Tuesday.

"We will take further measures tomorrow to hold Russia accountable for this clear violation of international law and Ukraine sovereignty and territorial integrity," the official said.

Watch CNN's Oren Liebermann report on the Pentagon reaction to Putin's remarks:

5:45 p.m. ET, February 21, 2022

US official: Russian troops could move into separatist regions in coming hours

From CNN's Jim Sciutto

The US expects Russian troops could move as soon as tonight or tomorrow into Donbas for their so-called “peacekeeping” mission, a senior US official familiar with latest intelligence. 

The US is still seeing preparations for a potential broadening operation including loading amphibious ships and loading equipment for airborne units.

5:31 p.m. ET, February 21, 2022

Putin orders Russian troops into separatist-held areas of Ukraine

From CNN's Nathan Hodge, Darya Tarasova and Jim Sciutto

(Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin Pool/Sputnik/AP)
(Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin Pool/Sputnik/AP)

A decree signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday, which recognized two-pro Moscow breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, ordered Russian armed forces into the territories in what it called “peacekeeping functions.”

The US expects Russian troops could move as soon as tonight or tomorrow into Donbas for their so-called “peacekeeping” mission, according to a senior US official familiar with latest intelligence. 

The US is still seeing preparations for a potential broadening operation including loading amphibious ships and loading equipment for airborne units.

5:02 p.m. ET, February 21, 2022

Foreign secretary says the UK will announce new sanctions on Russia

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss arrives for an EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee in Brussels on Monday, February 21.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss arrives for an EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee in Brussels on Monday, February 21. (Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images)

The United Kingdom will announce new sanctions on Russia on Tuesday, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Monday, following Putin's recognition of separatist regions in Ukraine.

"Tomorrow we will be announcing new sanctions on Russia in response to their breach of international law and attack on Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," Truss said on her verified Twitter account.

Truss's tweet comes after the White House announced President Biden is planning to impose new restrictions on trade and financing in the two pro-Moscow territories.

The UK toughened its sanctions regime against Russia on Feb. 10, when the new legislation was laid in Parliament.

4:57 p.m. ET, February 21, 2022

French president calls for an urgent meeting of UN Security Council and for EU sanctions

From CNN's Xiaofei Xu in Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron has condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to recognize the separatist states of eastern Ukraine, the Elysée Palace said Monday in a press statement.

"This is clearly a unilateral violation of Russia's international commitments and an attack on the sovereignty of Ukraine," the Elysée said.

Macron is requesting, "an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council and for the adoption of targeted European sanctions," the Elysée also said.

4:29 p.m. ET, February 21, 2022

Estonia's president condemns Putin's decision to recognize separatist regions

From CNN's Tim Lister

President of Estonia Alar Karis has condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to recognize the independence of two separatist pro-Moscow regions in Ukraine, adding that Estonia stands with the people of Ukraine.

In a post from Karis’s verified Twitter account, on Monday he said, “We are seeing a planned, premeditated escalation by Russia. No matter the outcome, the message could not be clearer: nothing uttered by the Russian state can unfortunately be trusted. The path for a free, European Ukraine is clear and Estonia supports if fully #WeStandWithUkraine.”

Another tweet from Karis' account added that “Estonia will never accept the illegal decision by Russia to recognize Donetsk and Luhansk regions. They are an internationally recognized part of Ukraine, like Crimea. Clearly, Moscow is not serious about diplomacy but is looking for casus belli. #StandWithUkraine.”