February 24, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner, Adrienne Vogt, Melissa Macaya, Rob Picheta, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Ed Upright, Maureen Chowdhury and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 8:06 a.m. ET, February 25, 2022
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10:24 p.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Russian forces are about 20 miles from Kyiv, Biden administration officials tell lawmakers

From CNN's MJ Lee and Michael Callahan

Russian mechanized forces that had entered Ukraine through Belarus were about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Kyiv, top Biden administration officials told House lawmakers in a briefing Thursday, according to two sources on the call, which occurred about 6:30 p.m. ET.

The officials described another Russian element that entered Ukraine from Russia being a bit further away, but that both were headed toward Kyiv with the goal of encircling the city and potentially toppling the Ukrainian government, according to the lawmaker on the call.

10:20 p.m. ET, February 24, 2022

New satellite images show dozens of vehicles have moved across a pontoon bridge near Chernobyl

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

A long convoy of vehicles has been moved across a military pontoon bridge over the Pripyat River near the Ukrainian-Belarussian border, according to new satellite images from Capella Space.

The images, taken at 9:57 p.m. Kyiv time on Thursday, show the vehicles lined up on the southern shore of the Pripyat River. 

This location is deep in Palieski State Radioecological Reserve, which is part of the greater Chernobyl exclusion zone.

A mile away from the convoy and pontoon bridge site, dozens of other vehicles are arranged in columns near the abandoned village of Dovlyady, Belarus. 

Dozens of vehicles are arranged in columns near the abandoned village of Dovlyady, Belarus seen in this satellite photo taken Thursday night.
Dozens of vehicles are arranged in columns near the abandoned village of Dovlyady, Belarus seen in this satellite photo taken Thursday night.

The road from Dovlyady travels across the Ukrainian border to Pripyat and to the damaged Chernobyl nuclear reactor. 

Earlier on Thursday, Russian forces reportedly took control of the reactor site. CNN has been reporting about the pontoon bridge’s existence since it was first identified on satellite imagery on Feb. 15.

10:28 p.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Indian Prime Minister urges "immediate cessation of violence" in call with Putin

From CNN's Manveena Suri in New Delhi

India's leader Narendra Modi "appealed for an immediate cessation of violence" in a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, according to a statement issued by the Indian Prime Minister's office.

Modi “appealed for an immediate cessation of violence, and called for concerted efforts from all sides to return to the path of diplomatic negotiations and dialogue,” the statement said.

Putin briefed Modi about the recent developments in Ukraine, with Modi “reiterating his long-standing conviction that the differences between Russia and the NATO group can only be resolved through honest and sincere dialogue,” the statement added.

Modi also expressed concern over the safety of Indian citizens in Ukraine, especially students, adding “India attaches the highest priority to their safe exit and return.”

At least 20,000 Indian nationals including students live in Ukraine, according to India's ambassador to the UN.

Russia-India ties: Moscow and New Delhi have a military and technical cooperation pact until 2031, and a pledge to boost annual trade to $30 billion by 2025.

They reinforced their ties in December, when Putin traveled to India and the two leaders signed a flurry of trade and arms deals, including 28 investment pacts.

9:48 p.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Kyiv hit with cruise or ballistic missiles, Ukrainian government adviser says

Ukraine's capital was targeted with missile fire early on Friday local time, according to an adviser to the country's government.

"Strikes on Kyiv with cruise or ballistic missiles continued," Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to Ukraine's head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, told reporters via text message.

A CNN team on the ground reported hearing two large blasts in central Kyiv and a third loud explosion in the distance early on Friday.

9:33 p.m. ET, February 24, 2022

US Defense Secretary pledges support for Kyiv in call with Ukrainian counterpart

From CNN's Oren Liebermann

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart on Thursday following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, according to a readout of the call. 

Austin told Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov that the US supports Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and would continue to provide defensive assistance to Kyiv in the face of Russia's "unfounded and unprovoked war."

Austin also held a series of conversations Thursday with US allies, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and the Bucharest Nine — a group of European nations including Romania and Poland that formed in 2015 following Russia's annexation of Crimea and intervention in eastern Ukraine.

He also spoke with the Turkish and Canadian defense ministers.

9:49 p.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Heavy explosions heard in central Kyiv

From CNN's Tim Lister

A CNN team in the Ukrainian capital reported hearing two large blasts in central Kyiv and a third loud explosion in the distance early on Friday.

9:25 p.m. ET, February 24, 2022

UN Security Council vote on resolution condemning Russia scheduled for Friday

From CNN’s Senior UN Correspondent Richard Roth

A United Nations Security Council vote on a resolution condemning Russia is now officially listed on a UN schedule for Friday, but the proposal is expected to be vetoed by Moscow.

The meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET though last minute haggling can’t be ruled out. 

Russia is the president of the council for February. The presidency rotates between members every month.

9:11 p.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Taiwan announces sanctions against Russia

Taiwan will impose economic sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, the self-ruled island's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Friday.

In a news release, the ministry said it "strongly condemns" Russia's decision to start a war against Ukraine, adding that Moscow had posed a serious threat to the rules-based international order.

"In order to compel Russia to halt its military aggression against Ukraine, and to restart peaceful dialogue among all parties concerned as soon as possible, the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) announces it will join international economic sanctions against Russia," it said. 

The statement did not specify how Taiwan will sanction Russia, but the island is a global leader in the production of semiconductor chips.

Read more about the parallels between Taiwan and Ukraine:

9:05 p.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Australia announces new sanctions against Russia, criticizes China's "lack of a strong response"

From CNN's Isaac Yee

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced new sanctions against Russia on Friday, targeting "oligarchs whose economic weight is of strategic significance to Moscow," and more than 300 members of the Russian Parliament who voted for the invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking at a news conference, Morrison added that Australia is also working with the United States to coordinate sanctions on "key Belarusian individuals and entities complicit in the aggression, so we are extending those sanctions to Belarus."

The new sanctions come after Canberra imposed travel bans and targeted financial sanctions on eight top Russian officials on Thursday.

Ukraine aid: Morrison also confirmed that Australia has been working with NATO to provide “non-lethal military equipment and medical supplies to the people of Ukraine.”

He added that Australia is working “very closely with those partners and allies to support them in their time of need.” 

On China's response: The Prime Minister also criticized Beijing for its "lack of a strong response" to Russia's invasion of its former Soviet neighbor.

"At a time when the world was seeking to put additional sanctions on Russia, they have eased restrictions on the trade of Russian wheat into China. So at a time when Australia, together with the United Kingdom, together with the United States and Europe and Japan are acting to cut off Russia, the Chinese government is following through on easing trade restrictions with China, and that is simply unacceptable," Morrison said.

China refused to condemn Russia's invasion on Thursday, instead repeating calls for parties to "exercise restraint" and accusing the US of "fueling fire" in the tensions. The move to begin importing Russian wheat could ease the impact of Western sanctions on Russia.