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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1:32 a.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Russia issues notice closing flight paths along border with Ukraine

From CNN’s Tim Lister, Pete Muntean and Josh Pennington

Russia has issued a notice banning civil aircraft from flight routes bordering north-eastern Ukraine.

Russia issued a NOTAM (notice to airmen or notice to air missions) that covers a corridor of territory where Russian forces have gathered over the past weeks.

The NOTAM remains in force until May 18.

 

8:17 p.m. ET, February 23, 2022

"If we are attacked, we will defend ourselves," Ukraine's president says

(Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky/Facebook)
(Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky/Facebook)

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said his country has no need for war but added that if attacked, his nation will defend itself.

“We have no need for another Cold War, or a bloody war, or a hybrid war,” Zelensky said in an address posted on his official Facebook account early Thursday local time.

“But if we are attacked militarily, if they try to take away our freedom, our lives, our children’s’ lives, we will defend ourselves,” the Ukrainian president added, in a speech in Russian, aimed at Russian citizens. “When you attack, you will see our faces and not our spines, our faces."

Zelensky called war a “terrible misfortune.” He said he was ready to continue diplomatic talks with Russia and argued that Ukraine does not pose a threat to Russia. 

“They say that Ukraine may pose a threat to Russia. This wasn’t a case in the past, nor is it now, and won’t be in the future,” he said. "Our main goal is to maintain peace in Ukraine and keep Ukrainian citizens safe. For this we are prepared to hold discussions with everyone, including you [Russia], in whatever format you like at whatever venue."

“Russian TV will surely not show this video, but the Russian people must watch it. The truth must be known. And that truth is that this all needs to stop now, before it's too late,” Zelensky said.

“If the leadership of Russia does not want to sit at the table with us to make peace, perhaps it will sit at the table with you. Does Russia want a war? I would very much like an answer to this question. But that answer depends only on you, citizens of the Russian Federation," he said.

Watch part of President Zelensky's speech:

7:25 p.m. ET, February 23, 2022

UN Security Council will hold emergency meeting related to Russia Wednesday night

From CNN’s Mirna Alshariff

The United Nations Security Council will hold an emergency meeting Wednesday night related to Russia at the request of Ukraine.

The meeting, which is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. ET, is expected to be open, though CNN is working on further details.

“Ukraine has requested an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council due to the appeal by Russian occupation administrations in Donetsk and Luhansk to Russia with a request to provide them with military assistance, which is a further escalation of the security situation,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted earlier in the evening.

 Read the tweet:

7:13 p.m. ET, February 23, 2022

US secretary of state says Russia is putting "final touches" on forces for a "full-on invasion"

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler, Kylie Atwood and Adrienne Winston

Russia is “putting the final touches” on having forces in places for a “full-on invasion,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday, and said the US has “certainly seen the presence of Russian forces inside of Ukraine.” 

Blinken did not elaborate on the Russian forces he said they have seen inside Ukraine.

In an interview with ABC News, Blinken said he couldn’t give “specific numbers,” but “everything we've seen over the last 24 to 48 hours has Russia of putting the final touches on having its forces in place across all of Ukraine's borders, to the north, to the east, to the south, to be ready for a full-on invasion.” 

Blinken pushed back on the notion that a Russian invasion into Ukraine would be a failure of US diplomacy during an interview with the CBS Evening News. 

“Diplomacy succeeded very effectively in bringing the world together, the United States and Europe together in standing up to Russian aggression,” Blinken said

He also held out hope that the threat of further costs could still prevent President Putin from going forth with a full-scale invasion.

“We've made it clear that if Russia continues to escalate, if it engages in a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, beyond what it's already doing, we will escalate to and I hope that that knowledge may still act as a deterrent,” Blinken said.

He warned of the long-term costs to Putin if the invasion happens.

“It doesn't deter Putin from further aggression to Ukraine,” he said, referring to joint action by the US and its allies, “there will be a very swift and severe response. This is a price that Vladimir Putin and Russia will pay for a long, long time.”

7:56 p.m. ET, February 23, 2022

Ukraine's president: "Trigger can appear any minute" for a Russian invasion

From CNN's Tim Lister and Katherina Krebs

(Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky/Facebook)
(Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky/Facebook)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the trigger for a Russian invasion can happen “any minute,” during an address posted on his official Facebook account early Thursday local time.

“The whole world is saying this can happen any day now. The trigger can appear any minute,” he said, addressing Russians in Russian. “You are being told this fire will free the Ukrainian people. But Ukrainian people are free."

“Ukraine in your news and Ukraine in reality are two different countries. Their main difference between them is that ours is real," Zelensky added.

Zelensky went on to reject accusations that Ukrainians were neo-Nazis and hated Russian culture.

“You are being told we are Nazis. How can a nation that gave 8 million lives to combat Nazism support it? How can I be a Nazi? Tell my grandpa about that,” Zelensky said. “He was, through the whole war, in the infantry of the Soviet Army and died as a colonel in independent Ukraine."

“You are being told we hate the Russian culture? How can someone hate culture? Any culture? Neighbors always enrich one another culturally, but that does not make them one, does not dissolve us in you,” the Ukrainian president went on to say. “We are different. But it is not a reason to be enemies."

Zelensky concluded: “We want to determine our history by ourselves. In peace, calm and honesty."

 

6:33 p.m. ET, February 23, 2022

Ukraine's president says Russian leadership approved military incursion into Ukraine

From CNN Team in Kyiv

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russian leadership has approved a military incursion into Ukraine, according to an address posted to his official Facebook account in early hours Thursday local time.

“I want to address all the Russian citizens. Not as a President. I address Russian citizens as a citizen of Ukraine,” Zelensky said in Russian. “There are over 2000 km of common border between us. Your army is along that border now. Almost 200,000 soldiers. Thousands of military vehicles."

Zelensky added: “Your leadership approved for them to take a step further, to the territory of another country."

The Ukraine president concluded, “This step can become a beginning of a great war at the European continent."

6:28 p.m. ET, February 23, 2022

The OSCE says its monitors in eastern Ukraine threatened and harassed by separatists

From CNN's Tim Lister in Kyiv

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) says its mission in eastern Ukraine was threatened and harassed on Wednesday by militia of the self-declared Luhansk People's Republic.

The OSCE said its team of monitors "was approached by two armed members of the armed formations," some 6 miles from the line of contact which divides separatist and Ukrainian forces as it was about to launch a surveillance drone (UAV).

"Armed formations" is the term the OSCE uses to describe the separatist militia in Donetsk and Luhansk.

"The patrol members also saw a third individual, wearing a uniform with a Russian Federation flag patch on his shoulder," the OSCE said.

At a second location, "patrol members saw a green Lada approaching at speed with two armed members of the armed formations who were shouting at the patrol and threatening to destroy the UAV."

At a third location, one of the separatists "loaded his rifle. Another forcibly took the UAV’s control panel."

The UAV was lost, the OSCE said.

6:08 p.m. ET, February 23, 2022

Ukraine president says he tried to call Russian President Vladimir Putin

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky says he tried to call Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday but was unsuccessful, he said in an address posted on his official Facebook account in the early hours of Thursday local time.

“Today I initiated a telephone conversation with the President of the Russian Federation. Silence. Although there should be silence in the Donbas,” Zelensky said.

5:55 p.m. ET, February 23, 2022

White House: Harris says US remains vigilant as "threat of a full-scale attack on Ukraine remains"

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

(Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)
(Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

Vice President Kamala Harris threatened further sanctions on Russia for the country’s aggressive actions in Ukraine if “Russia goes further” in the region, calling the situation on the ground a “reinvasion.”

“As you know, we have imposed significant costs in response to Russia’s reinvasion of Ukraine, and we are working closely with our partners and allies in that regard,” the vice president said, ahead of a meeting with leaders from the National Black Caucus of State Legislators on Wednesday. 

She warned the “threat of a full-scale attack on Ukraine remains,” and added that the administration would “remain vigilant in watching what is happening there”

“If Russia goes further,” Harris said, “we will impose more costs that will be swift and severe.”

Last week: Harris vowed there would be a "swift, severe and united" response if Russia invades Ukraine and assured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky the US "stands with Ukraine,” as CNN reported. 

In remarks at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, Harris laid out retaliatory measures in a manner befitting her past career as a prosecutor, promising "significant and unprecedented" economic costs.

"We will impose far-reaching financial sanctions and export controls. We will target Russia's financial institutions and key industries. And we will target those who are complicit and those who aid and abet this unprovoked invasion," Harris said as she took center stage at the security conference.