Russia attacks Ukraine

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Rob Picheta, Ed Upright, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Melissa Macaya and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 9:58 a.m. ET, February 24, 2022
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5:12 a.m. ET, February 23, 2022

Putin says Russia is open to dialogue, but its interests and security are "non-negotiable"

From CNN's Radina Gigova in Atlanta

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks in a video message released by the Kremlin on February 23.
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks in a video message released by the Kremlin on February 23. (Kremlin)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a video message Wednesday that the country's interests were "non negotiable" — but he is open to dialogue for "the most difficult problems." 

"We see how difficult the international situation is developing, what dangers the current challenges pose, such as weakening of the arms control system or the military activity of the NATO bloc," Putin said in a clip released by the Kremlin for the national holiday, Defender of the Fatherland Day.

"At the same time, Russia's calls to build a system of equal and indivisible security that would reliably protect all countries remain unanswered." 

Russia was "always open for direct and honest dialogue, for finding diplomatic solutions to the most difficult problems," Putin said, adding: "But I repeat: Russia's interests and the security of our citizens are non-negotiable for us."

3:35 a.m. ET, February 23, 2022

Taiwan's President condemns Russia for undermining Ukraine's sovereignty

From CNN's Eric Cheung in Taipei, Taiwan

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen has condemned Russia for undermining Ukraine's sovereignty, presidential office spokesman Chang Tun-han said on Wednesday.

Tsai chaired a meeting to discuss the crisis in Ukraine on Wednesday morning, during which she said Taiwan must increase its surveillance on military activities in the Taiwan Strait to protect the self-ruled island's security.

"Taiwan and Ukraine are fundamentally different in geopolitics, geography and the importance to international supply chains," Tsai said, according to Chang.

Tsai said earlier this week that Taiwan could "empathize" with Ukraine's situation given its experience with "military threats and intimidation from China."

Mainland China and Taiwan have been governed separately since the end of the Chinese civil war more than 70 years ago, when the defeated Nationalists retreated to the island.

China's Communist Party seeks eventual "reunification" with the island it claims as its territory despite having never governed it — and has not ruled out doing so by force.

Read more.

4:30 a.m. ET, February 23, 2022

Analysis: China's leaders may be watching Ukraine with an eye on Taiwan

Analysis from CNN's Simone McCarthy

Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, attends a press conference on February 23 in Beijing, China.
Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, attends a press conference on February 23 in Beijing, China. (Yang Kejia/China News Service/Getty Images)

As the world's attention focuses on the escalating crisis between Russia and Ukraine, a spotlight has also been turned on an island halfway around the world — self-governing Taiwan.

On the surface, there may be parallels: both Taiwan and Ukraine are Western-friendly democracies whose status quo could be upended by powerful autocracies.

In Taiwan's case, China's Communist Party seeks eventual "reunification" with the island it claims as its territory despite having never governed it — and has not ruled out doing so by force. For Ukraine, that threat is unfolding: Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he considers Russians and Ukrainians as "one people," and it's yet unclear how far he'll go to realize that claim — on Monday he declared two breakaway, Moscow-backed territories in Ukraine as independent republics.

World leaders themselves have implied connections between the fates of Ukraine and Taiwan in recent weeks.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has said Taiwan could "empathize" with Ukraine's situation given its experience with "military threats and intimidation from China."

Concerns have been rising in recent years that a confident China under leader Xi Jinping may make a bold move to take control of Taiwan, and Beijing will likely be carefully monitoring the situation in Ukraine for signs of how Western powers respond — and just how severe those responses are.

The United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Canada, Australia and Japan have all announced economic sanctions to punish Moscow following Putin's moves earlier this week.

But there are limits to the parallels, and to how much Beijing could glean from the spiraling crisis in Ukraine when it comes any future actions toward Taiwan.

"How the US responds to Ukraine is not going to be the same as Taiwan because the way the US has constructed its relationship with Taiwan over decades is different than its responsibilities to Ukraine, the European Union, or NATO," said Lev Nachman, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard University's Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies.
"Even though (Beijing) will still be watching closely to see how the world reacts to invasion and a potential redrawing of borders, which will likely factor into Beijing's own geopolitical calculus, it is highly unlikely that Beijing is going to drastically alter its strategy towards Taiwan over Ukraine," said Nachman, who focuses on Taiwan politics.

Editor's Note: A version of this post appeared in CNN's Meanwhile in China newsletter, a three-times-a-week update exploring what you need to know about the country's rise and how it impacts the world. Sign up here and read more:

4:23 a.m. ET, February 23, 2022

Russia calls UK sanctions "illegal," decries "anti-Russian hysteria" in Britain

From CNN's Darya Tarasova in Moscow and Samantha Beech

In this handout photo provided by UK Parliament, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson updates MPs on the latest situation in Ukraine, in the House of Commons in London, on February 22 .
In this handout photo provided by UK Parliament, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson updates MPs on the latest situation in Ukraine, in the House of Commons in London, on February 22 . (Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament/AP)

Russia issued a strongly worded response to British sanctions on Wednesday, while attempting to justify Russia’s recognition of two pro-Moscow separatist regions of eastern Ukraine.

The Russian Embassy in London claimed the United Kingdom's "strong protest" and sanctions were "illegal in terms of international law."

“Over the course of the past several months, we have witnessed an escalation of anti-Russian hysteria in the British media, a targeted shaping of the image of an aggressive Russia in the eyes of the British public and international community," said the embassy on its verified Facebook page.

The statement accused the British government and media of ignoring the plight of residents in the two separatist-held regions of Luhansk and Donetsk. “London couldn’t care less when Donbas was living under full transport and economic blockade, suspension of social benefits and pension payments," it added.

UK sanctions: On Tuesday, the UK said it would sanction members of the Russian Parliament who voted in favor of recognizing Luhansk and Donetsk. Those sanctions are in addition to an earlier raft of measures against five Russian banks and three wealthy individuals announced by the British Prime Minister.  

In its response early Wednesday Moscow time, the Russian Embassy in London refuted the UK's demand that Russia withdraw troops from the two regions, claiming, “it is well known that they have not entered those territories.”

The statement added: "We have no illusions with regard to the focus of efforts by the British diplomacy, designed within a narrow circle of like-minded partners. London has little interest in resolving the crisis in Ukraine, instead being more keen to score political points with racking-up tensions.”
“It’s no secret to us either, that the British sanctions against our country would have been introduced in any case.”
12:17 a.m. ET, February 23, 2022

Analysis: Trump calls Putin a "genius" as Biden tries to stop a war

Analysis from CNN's Stephen Collinson

It took only 24 hours for Donald Trump to hail Russian President Vladimir Putin's dismembering of independent, democratic, sovereign Ukraine as an act of "genius."

The former President's remarks on a conservative radio show on Tuesday will not only find a warm welcome in the Kremlin. They also will concern allies standing alongside the US against Russia who fear for NATO's future if Trump returns.

Trump also sent an unmistakable message to Republicans, who are already playing into Putin's hands by branding President Joe Biden as weak, that siding with a US foe is the way into the ex-President's affections ahead of this year's midterm primaries.

Trump didn't take long to make sure Putin knew he approved of his movement of troops into parts of eastern Ukraine, knowing that his comments would be picked up and beamed around the world.

"I went in yesterday and there was a television screen, and I said, 'This is genius.' Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine, of Ukraine, Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that's wonderful," Trump said in an interview on "The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show."
The ex-President added: "So Putin is now saying, 'It's independent,' a large section of Ukraine. I said, 'How smart is that?' And he's going to go in and be a peacekeeper. That's the strongest peace force," Trump said. "We could use that on our southern border. That's the strongest peace force I've ever seen. ... Here's a guy who's very savvy. ... I know him very well. Very, very well."

Some context: Trump was referring to Putin's declaration on Monday that he would regard two rebel regions of eastern Ukraine, where he has been fostering separatism, as independent and his order for Russian troops, which Putin misleadingly called "peacekeeping" forces, to reinforce the enclaves.

The move was a flagrant violation of international law, was resonant of the tyrannical territorial aggrandizement of the 1930s that led to World War II and was, as Biden said on Tuesday, tantamount to "the beginning of a Russian invasion."

Read the full analysis:

1:31 p.m. ET, February 23, 2022

Your guide to the Ukraine-Russia crisis

After months of military buildup and brinkmanship, US President Joe Biden on Tuesday described Russia's movements in Ukraine as "the beginning of a Russian invasion."

Here's what you need to know:

What did Russia do? On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Donetsk and Luhansk — two separatist-held pro-Moscow regions of eastern Ukraine — in what the Kremlin called a "peacekeeping" mission. The move came just hours after he signed decrees recognizing the independence of the regions.

Multiple US and Western officials cautioned this could serve as the opening salvo of a larger military operation targeting Ukraine. More than 150,000 Russian troops now encircle Ukraine on three sides, according to estimates from US and Ukrainian intelligence officials.

How is Ukraine responding? On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he is still pursuing diplomacy as a way out of the crisis. Reservists would be called up for military training, he said, but there will be no general mobilization of armed forces.

"We desire peace and calm, but if we are quiet today then tomorrow we will disappear," Zelensky said.

How has the world reacted? Russia's actions have been strongly condemned by many nations, with Western leaders imposing new sanctions on Tuesday and cutting off a key pipeline with Russia.

Biden announced the United States will sanction Russia's financial institutions and oligarchs. The European Union also sanctioned 351 Russian lawmakers who voted to recognize the breakaway regions, and the United Kingdom announced sanctions against five Russian banks and three Russian oligarchs.

Also on Tuesday, Germany said it halted certifying an $11 billion 750-mile pipeline that connects Russia directly to Germany. The Nord Stream 2 project was completed in September but has not yet received the final green light from German regulators. Without that, natural gas cannot flow through the Baltic Sea pipeline from Russia to Germany.

On Wednesday, Japan and Australia joined the list of countries to impose sanctions on Russia, Donetsk and Luhansk.

Read more:

11:50 p.m. ET, February 22, 2022

Australia imposes sanctions against Russia, warns a "full-scale invasion" could happen within 24 hours

From CNN's Paul Devitt in Sydney and Sophie Jeong

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks at a news conference in Sydney on Wednesday.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks at a news conference in Sydney on Wednesday. (Bianca De Marchi/Pool/Reuters)

Australia is the latest country to announce sanctions against Russia, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiling new measures Wednesday in response to the "aggression by Russia against Ukraine."

Morrison said at a news conference that Australia will first enact travel bans and targeted financial sanctions on eight members of the Security Council of the Russian Federation — a group of top state officials and defense heads.

Canberra will also impose “strong” economic sanctions against the separatist-held pro-Moscow regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, which Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized as independent on Monday. The sanctions target transport, energy, telecommunications, oil, gas and mineral reserves, Morrison said.

He added that he will extend existing sanctions on Russian-held Crimea and Sevastopol to include Luhansk and Donetsk.

Australia will also move to sanction several Russian banks.

“The invasion of Ukraine has effectively already begun,” Morrison said. “Russia is at peak readiness to now complete a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and that is likely to occur within the next 24 hours.”

Morrison added that Australia always stands up to “bullies,” and that he will speak to Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on Wednesday.

11:25 p.m. ET, February 22, 2022

Russian envoy to US claims sanctions will hurt global markets and "ordinary Americans"

From CNN's Darya Tarasova in Moscow and Samantha Beech in Atlanta

Moscow's ambassador to the United States has hit back at the imposition of sanctions on Russia by President Joe Biden, suggesting the move would hurt global financial and energy markets as well as ordinary citizens.

“I don’t remember a single day when our country lived without any restrictions from the Western world. We learned how to work in such conditions. And not only survive, but also develop our state," said Ambassador Anatoly Antonov, according to a post on the Russian Embassy Facebook page early Wednesday.

“There is no doubt that the sanctions imposed against us will hurt the global financial and energy markets," he added. "The United States will not be left out, where ordinary citizens will feel the full consequences of rising prices.”

“With regard to Moscow, new US sanctions will not solve anything, Russia has learned to work and develop under restrictions.”

Context on the sanctions: Biden laid out what he called a "first tranche" of US sanctions against Russia for its actions in eastern Ukraine, including on two large financial institutions, Russian sovereign debt and Russian elites and their family members. He said the sanctions would effectively "cut off Russia's government from Western finance."

Biden pledged that his administration is using "every tool at our disposal" to limit the effect on gas prices in the US, acknowledging that Americans will likely see rising prices at the pump in the coming months.

Read more about the US sanctions here.

11:25 p.m. ET, February 22, 2022

Ukrainian foreign minister: "No sanctions will be enough" until Russian forces leave Ukraine

From CNN's Shawna Mizelle

Ukraine's foreign minister on Tuesday said that "no sanctions will be enough" until Russian forces leave Ukraine, a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized two separatist regions in the country as independent and announced he would deploy "peacekeeping" forces there.

"No sanctions will be enough until Russian boots withdraw from Ukrainian soil," Dmytro Kuleba told CNN's Jake Tapper on "The Lead."

Earlier Tuesday, President Joe Biden unveiled tough new sanctions to punish Moscow, describing the events underway in Ukraine as "the beginning of a Russian invasion." Kuleba told Tapper those sanctions are "just the beginning of the process of deterring President Putin and making him withdraw," adding that it "certainly won't be enough."

Kuleba, asked by Tapper what he thinks Putin's intentions are, said Tuesday that Putin's "ultimate goal is to destroy Ukraine."

"He is not interested in parts of Ukraine. He is not interested in even keeping the entire country in his control. He wants idea of the Ukrainian statehood to fail," the foreign minister continued.

Read more: