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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10:29 p.m. ET, February 21, 2022

China ambassador to the UN calls for "a diplomatic solution" in terse statement


China released a terse statement at an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, with the Chinese ambassador to the UN saying "all parties concerned must exercise restraint and avoid any action that may fuel tensions."

"We welcome and encourage every effort for and call on all parties concerned to continue dialogue and consultation and seek reasonable solutions to address each other's concerns, on the basis of equality and mutual respect," said Zhang Jun in a statement that was significantly shorter than those of the council's major powers. 

"The current situation in Ukraine is the result of many complex factors. China always makes its own position according to the merits of the matter itself. We believe that all countries should solve international disputes by peaceful means in line with the purposes and principles of the UN charter," he said. 

A difficult position: The crisis in Ukraine has put China in a tough spot, as it tries to balance its friendship with Russia with its practiced foreign policy of staunchly defending state sovereignty.

US response: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also spoke with China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi about the Ukraine-Russia situation, said a statement released by the State Department. "The Secretary underscored the need to preserve Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity," the statement said.

10:06 p.m. ET, February 21, 2022

UK will announce new sanctions against Russia, says ambassador to the UN

From CNN’s Mirna Alsharif


The United Kingdom will announce new sanctions on Russia as a result of its decision to recognize the independence of Donetsk and Lugansk and send military forces into Ukraine, said Barbara Woodward, permanent representative of the United Kingdom to the UN.

"There will be severe economic consequences to its actions," said Woodward at an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting in New York on Monday night. 

Woodward said Russia's actions "will have severe and far-reaching consequences" to human life, to the sovereignty of Ukraine, and to international law. 

"The council must be united in calling on Russia to de-escalate immediately, in condemning aggression against a sovereign nation and defending the territorial integrity of Ukraine," said Woodward. "Russia has brought us to the brink, we urge Russia to step back.”

10:00 p.m. ET, February 21, 2022

China’s embassy in Ukraine warns Chinese nationals to avoid “unstable” regions

From CNN's Lizzy Yee and Sophie Jeong in Hong Kong, and CNN's Beijing bureau

China’s embassy in Ukraine has warned Chinese nationals and businesses in Ukraine to avoid “unstable” regions and to stock up on daily necessities such as food and water.

"At present, the situation in eastern Ukraine is undergoing major changes," the Chinese Embassy said in a statement on its website on Tuesday.
“The Chinese Embassy in Ukraine reminds Chinese citizens and Chinese-funded enterprises in Ukraine to pay attention to the safety notices issued locally and do not go to unstable regions."

The embassy also advised Chinese citizens to “take precautions and reserve some daily necessities, such as food and water, in due course,” according to its statement. 

In the statement, the embassy did not give any advice on whether Chinese nationals and businesses should consider leaving Ukraine. 

The Russia-China relationship: China is navigating a complex position as it attempts to balance a robust friendship with Russia with its practiced foreign policy of staunchly defending state sovereignty.

On Feb. 14, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the embassy in Ukraine is “working normally” and continues to provide consular protection and assistance to Chinese citizens and enterprises in Ukraine.

9:52 p.m. ET, February 21, 2022

US ambassador to UN says Russia has taken the exact actions US predicted

From CNN's Kylie Atwood

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, said on Monday that Russia has taken the exact actions that the US predicted, and that the US does not believe that Russian President Putin Vladimir will stop now.

“The sequence of events that Secretary (Antony) Blinken spelled out for this council last Thursday appear to be proceeding exactly as he predicted. Today President Putin has torn the Minsk agreement to shreds," said Thomas-Greenfield at a last-minute UN Security Council meeting.
"We have been clear that we do not believe he will stop it, that in light of President Putin's latest actions, we must all stand up for the principles upon which this organization was founded."

US response: Tomorrow, the US will take further measures to hold Russia accountable for this “clear violation of international law," Thomas-Greenfield said. She added there must be "swift and severe consequences" for an attack on Ukraine from the international community.

9:50 p.m. ET, February 21, 2022

US ambassador to UN: Russia's recognition of pro-Moscow regions in Ukraine is "pretext for a further invasion"

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

(Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)
(Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

The US ambassador to the UN said Russian President Vladimir Putin's recognition of separatist regions in Ukraine was an “attempt to create a pretext for a further invasion of Ukraine.” The ambassador spoke at a last-minute UN Security Council meeting Monday evening.

Putin's claim that Russian forces entering those regions are “peacekeepers” is “nonsense," said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, adding, “We know what they really are."

She added that Putin’s actions on Monday has “put before the world a choice.” 

“We must meet the moment, and we must not look away. History tells us that looking the other way in the face of such hostility will be a far more costly path,” she said. 

Thomas-Greenfield said there was no need to guess Putin’s motivations, noting that he “made a series of outrageous false claims about Ukraine, aimed at creating a pretext for war, and immediately thereafter announced Russian troops are entering the Donbas.”

She said his claim that Ukraine is seeking nuclear weapons from the West is untrue, adding that the US and its allies have “no intention of supplying nuclear weapons to Ukraine and Ukraine doesn’t want them.”

“Then President Putin asserted that Russia today has a rightful claim to all territories, all territories from the Russian Empire, the same Russian empire from before the Soviet Union from over 100 years ago. That includes all of Ukraine. It includes Finland. It includes Belarus and Georgia and Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Lithuania. Latvia, and Estonia. It includes parts of Poland and Turkey,” Thomas-Greenfield said. 
“In essence, Putin wants the world to travel back in time, to time before the United Nations, to a time when empires ruled the world. But the rest of the world has moved forward. It is not 1919. It is 2022. The United Nations was founded on the principle of decolonization, not recolonization, and we believe the vast majority of UN member states and the UN Security Council are committed to moving forward not going back in time,” she said.
9:15 p.m. ET, February 21, 2022

Ukraine foreign minister: “Further Russian actions rely on how the world reacts”

In a tweet early Tuesday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said further actions by Russia will “rely on how the world reacts." He spoke ahead of his meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“World capitals don’t sleep now, regardless of their time zones. The scope & timeline of sanctions are being finalized. Ukraine insists: further Russian actions rely on how the world reacts. Russia must be in no doubt that the world talks the talk and walks the walk on sanctions," said a tweet from Kuleba's verified account.

Call for sanctions: Kuleba plans to meet with Blinken in Washington on Tuesday, and will then head to New York on Wednesday to address the UN General Assembly, according to the official website of Ukraine's Foreign Ministry.

Kuleba also tweeted, “Taking into account the dynamics of the situation, I had another call with @SecBlinken ahead of our tomorrow’s meeting in Washington, DC. Key topic: sanctions. I underscored the need to impose tough sanctions on Russia in response to its illegal actions.”

US President Joe Biden plans to impose new sanctions on trade and financing in the two pro-Moscow territories in Ukraine that Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to recognize as independent on Monday.

9:02 p.m. ET, February 21, 2022

The US has ordered diplomatic personnel to leave Ukraine for the night, Blinken says 

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Monday that State Department personnel currently in the Ukrainian city of Lviv "will spend the night in Poland," citing "security reasons" amid fears of Russian military action in Ukraine. 

“Our personnel will regularly return to continue their diplomatic work in Ukraine and provide emergency consular services. They will continue to support the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian government, coordinating on diplomatic efforts,” Blinken said in a statement.

The top US diplomat reiterated that American citizens should leave Ukraine immediately.

“The security situation in Ukraine continues to be unpredictable throughout the country and may deteriorate with little notice,” he said. 

“There is a strong likelihood that any Russian military operations would severely restrict commercial air travel. Russian troops have continued to move closer to the border in what looks like plans for an invasion at any moment."

Some context: Last week, Blinken announced the US was closing its embassy in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and "temporarily relocating" the small number of remaining diplomatic personnel to Lviv "due to the dramatic acceleration in the buildup of Russian forces."

The move came days after the US ordered the vast majority of its government employees to leave the country, and weeks after families were ordered to depart.

9:19 p.m. ET, February 21, 2022

Russia puts China in difficult position

From CNN's Simone McCarthy in Hong Kong

China is navigating a complex position as the crisis in Ukraine intensifies, as it attempts to balance a robust friendship with Russia with its practiced foreign policy of staunchly defending state sovereignty.

Responding to questions on China’s stance on the situation in Ukraine on Saturday, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said "sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected and safeguarded."

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Wang called for all parties to return to the Minsk agreements, reached after earlier conflicts in eastern Ukraine.

But Russia’s latest actions, recognizing two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, raise questions about China’s next stance.

China may also be careful not to be seen to condemn Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping made a show of their tightening bonds during a meeting early this month, where the two sides – who are not in a formal military alliance – pledged that there were “no limits” and “no 'forbidden’ areas of cooperation." 

China also backed Russia’s central demand to the West in an agreement following that meeting, with both sides "opposing further enlargement of NATO.”

China has yet to comment on Russia’s move to recognize breakaway eastern Ukrainian territories as independent, while China’s state media on Tuesday morning local time referred to the republics using quotation marks in early reporting. 

The emergency session of the UN Security Council, an open session where all member nations – including the Russians and the US – are expected to make statements, will be a test of how China will navigate the escalating situation.

8:42 p.m. ET, February 21, 2022

EU foreign policy chief: “Russia's illegal actions will not go unpunished"

Ukraine’s foreign minister said he has spoken to European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the two Moscow-backed regions as independent. 

A tweet from the verified account of Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said, “Had a call with @JosepBorrellF. We share the same assessment of Russia’s illegal decision. HR/VP (High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy) assured me that EU response will be resolute and united.”

On Monday, Borrell urged Putin to not recognize the pro-Moscow regions of Donbas.

Following Putin’s announcement, Borrell tweeted, “The decrees by President Putin ordering a so-called peacekeeping mission into the so-called Donetsk & Luhansk people’s republics is another outright aggression against Ukraine, a violation of its territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

He added, “We are aligned with our transatlantic partners. Russia’s illegal actions will not go unpunished.”