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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12:00 a.m. ET, February 24, 2022

"Full scale" of sanctions on Russia to be deployed by US and allies on Thursday, US official says

From CNN's Phil Mattingly

The United States and its allies are planning on Thursday to trigger the “full scale” of sanctions against Russia that have been discussed over the past several weeks, according to a senior Biden administration official.

While the official declined to lay out specifics, the US has planned to target Russia’s two largest banks, as well as other financial firms, and has prepared to deploy export controls to cut off Russian access to critical Western technology for entire Russian economic sectors.

Additional members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and their families will also be targeted.

Discussions are ongoing late this evening between US and European officials about the final shape of the package, the official said. It will also be a topic of discussion at the virtual G7 meeting scheduled for Thursday morning, the official said.

US officials also remain on high alert for any cyber activity targeting key domestic targets including banks and critical infrastructure, the official said.

11:53 p.m. ET, February 23, 2022

China's ambassador to the UN calls all parties to "stay cool headed"

From CNN’s Beijing Bureau

China’s ambassador to the United Nations, Zhang Jun, called on all parties involved in the Ukraine-Russia crisis to “stay cool headed and rational.”

“It is especially important at the moment to avoid fueling tensions,” Zhang said at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Wednesday night.

“All parties concerned should exercise restraint and avoid the further escalation of tensions,” he said, adding that China believes the “door to a peaceful solution to the Ukraine issue is not fully shut.”

“China will continue to promote peace talks in its own ways and welcomes and encourages all efforts aimed at a diplomatic solution,” Zhang said. 

11:51 p.m. ET, February 23, 2022

NATO chief condemns Russia's "reckless attack" on Ukraine

From CNN's Akanksha Sharma in Hong Kong

In a tweet early Thursday morning, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg condemned Russia's "reckless attack on Ukraine, which puts at risk countless civilian lives."

“This is a grave breach of international law & a serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security. NATO Allies will meet to address Russia’s renewed aggression," Stoltenberg added.

11:47 p.m. ET, February 23, 2022

Biden and Zelensky are currently speaking

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Kevin Liptak

US President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky are currently speaking, according to a White House official.

11:46 p.m. ET, February 23, 2022

Trump calls Russian military operation "a very sad thing for the world" a day after calling Putin a "genius"

From CNN’s Devan Cole

Speaking to Fox News late Wednesday, former US President Donald Trump called Russia’s military operation in Ukraine “a very sad thing for the world” and claimed it wouldn’t have happened during his administration. 

“Well, this is something that should have never happened. This would not have happened during my administration,” Trump said. “It wouldn’t have taken place and it wouldn’t have taken place right now.” 
“And it's a very sad thing for the world, for the country and it’s certainly very sad for a lot of people that are going to be needlessly killed,” he added. 

The former President’s comments come a day after he hailed Russian President Vladimir Putin's recognition of the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, as an act of "genius."

White House response: Asked about Trump’s initial comments on Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the White House does not “take advice from anyone who praises President Putin.” 

Psaki added then that the Biden administration is taking a “different approach” from the Trump administration, adding, “That’s probably why President Biden and not his predecessor was able to rally the world and the global community in taking steps against Russian aggression.”

11:44 p.m. ET, February 23, 2022

UN secretary general urges Putin to stop "what could be the worst war since the beginning of the century"

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. (UNTV)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to bring his troops back to Russia and stop "what could be the worst war since the beginning of the century."

Speaking after a UN Security Council meeting late on Wednesday, Guterres warned Putin that Russian military action could not only be "devastating for Ukraine" and "tragic" for Russia "but with an impact we can not even foresee in relation to their consequences for the global economy.”

“In a moment when we are emerging from Covid and so many developing countries absolutely need to have space for the recovery, which would be very, very difficult with the high prices of oil, with the exports of wheat from Ukraine and with rising interest rates caused by instability in international markets,” he added.

“This conflict must stop now.”

Guterres earlier opened his remarks at the stakeout with a somber statement: “This is the saddest moment in my tenure as Secretary General of the United Nations,” he said.

11:39 p.m. ET, February 23, 2022

Putin threatens "those who may be tempted to intervene" in Russia's military action

From CNN's Darya Tarasova and Nathan Hodge in Moscow

After Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he had ordered military action in Ukraine early Thursday, he threatened "those who may be tempted to intervene" on Ukraine's behalf. 

"Now a few important, very important words for those who may be tempted to intervene in ongoing events from the outside," Putin said. "Whoever tries to interfere with us, and even more so to create threats to our country, to our people, should know that Russia's response will be immediate and will lead you to such consequences as you have never experienced in your history. We are ready for any development of events. All necessary decisions in this regard have been made. I hope that I will be heard."

CNN teams on the ground have reported explosions around Ukraine and outside of the Donbas region in the country's east.

11:38 p.m. ET, February 23, 2022

Russian troops have landed in Odessa and are crossing the border, Ukrainian official says

An adviser for the Interior Minister of Ukraine, Anton Gerashchenko, has told journalists on an official WhatsApp group that Russian troops have landed in the city Odessa and are crossing the border in the city of Kharkiv. 

Gerashchenko added there have been missile strikes on the Vasilkovsky airfield near Kyiv. 

He also said that Borys Filatov, the mayor of Dnipro, just called to say he was hearing explosions.

11:32 p.m. ET, February 23, 2022

Ukrainian ambassador to the UN: It's "too late" for de-escalation

Ukrainian Ambassador to the UN Sergiy Kyslytsya
Ukrainian Ambassador to the UN Sergiy Kyslytsya (UNTV via AP)

Ukraine's ambassador to the United Nations, Sergiy Kyslytsya, warned it was "too late" for de-escalation at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council Wednesday night, as he urged other countries to help stop the conflict.

“Because it’s too late, my dear colleagues, to speak about de-escalation, too late,” he said. “The Russian president declared war."

Kyslytsya cited the UN charter and the stipulation that only peace-loving states would be admitted into the Security Council, and then asked the Russian ambassador to relinquish his role as council president.

Earlier Wednesday night, the Russian ambassador, Vasily Nebenzya, defended Russia's military operation and denied that it was a "war," blaming the current tensions on Ukraine.