February 26, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Adrienne Vogt, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Jeevan Ravindran, Peter Wilkinson, Jessie Yeung, Brad Lendon, Steve George, Meg Wagner, Amir Vera and Helen Regan, CNN

Updated 10:27 a.m. ET, March 6, 2022
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2:26 p.m. ET, February 26, 2022

Russian thermobaric "vacuum bombs" launcher seen by CNN team in Ukraine

From CNN's Fred Pleitgen, Ivana Kottasová and Tim Lister

(CNN)
(CNN)

A Russian thermobaric multiple rockets launcher has been spotted by CNN team south of Belgorod, Russia, near the Ukrainian border early Saturday afternoon. 

The TOS-1 or TOS-1A Multiple Rocket Launcher seen by CNN is capable of launching rockets with thermobaric warheads.

There is no evidence that thermobaric weapons have been used in the conflict in Ukraine.

These types of weapons do not use conventional ammunition. Instead, they are filled with high-temperature, high-pressure explosive. They are sometimes called “vacuum bombs” because they suck in the oxygen from the surrounding air to generate a powerful explosion and a large pressure wave that can have enormous destructive effects. 

Thermobaric weapons have been used in Chechnya, with horrifying consequences, according to Human Rights Watch. Their use has been condemned by number of non-governmental organizations.

1:10 p.m. ET, February 26, 2022

Ukrainians try to block Russian tanks with their bodies and bicycles

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy and Josh Pennington

Dramatic video out of Bakhmach, Ukraine, shows Ukrainians citizens standing in front of Russian tanks, attempting to stop them from moving forward.

In the video, tanks can be seen driving on roads in Bakhmach, which is just over 110 miles northeast of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. 

CNN has confirmed the authenticity and location of the video.

"They are throwing their bicycles underneath the Russian tanks," a voice on the video says. 

Then a man steps in front of one and jumps on top. The tank continues to roll forward until the man jumps off, puts his hands on the tank and tries to hold it back. The tank stops suddenly, and the man moves in front, kneeling in front to obstruct its path.

The tank stops for just a moment longer as bystanders appear to pull the man to the side. 

"People are begging the tanks to stop," the voice on the video says.

It starts to move again, but is again confronted by another Ukrainian standing in front of it. 

"They are just throwing themselves under the wheels," the voice on the video says, as other bystanders are seen gesturing and yelling toward the tanks. 

The legs of the individual that stood in front of the tank are seen airborne in the video; they appeared to have jumped on the tank again.

Before the video cuts off, the tank spits out a black cloud of exhaust and continues moving forward. 

WATCH:

12:46 p.m. ET, February 26, 2022

Twitter says it is being restricted inside Russia

From CNN's Pierre Meilhan

Twitter said Saturday it is being restricted inside Russia and is working to address the issue.

“We’re aware that Twitter is being restricted for some people in Russia and are working to keep our service safe and accessible,” the company said on its support account

Twitter did not immediately comment on whether it is in touch with the Russian government about this problem or whether any action would be taken by Russia. 

12:45 p.m. ET, February 26, 2022

Russian ministry says civilian involvement in Ukraine defensive effort will "lead to accidents and casualties"

From CNN’s Nathan Hodge and Vasco Cotovio in Moscow

The Russian Ministry of Defence has criticized the Ukrainian government for handing out weapons to civilians, saying it “will inevitably lead to accidents and casualties.”

“The Kyiv nationalist regime massively and uncontrollably distributes automatic small arms, grenade launchers and ammunition to residents of Ukrainian settlements,” the Ministry of Defence spokesperson Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said in a statement on Saturday. “The involvement of the civilian population of Ukraine by the nationalists in the hostilities will inevitably lead to accidents and casualties."

Despite Russian claims to the contrary, evidence suggests civilian infrastructure is under attack. Reports about apartment buildings and kindergartens being shelled, civilians being killed, and rockets being found in residential streets have been trickling in since the beginning of the offensive.

Social media videos, photos and satellite images analyzed and geolocated by CNN confirm that on several occasions densely populated areas have been hit by Russian forces.

European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič said Saturday he "most strongly" condemns Russian attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. 

Konashenkov also repeated claims that the Ukrainian military was deploying heavy military equipment in civilian areas. 

“Our intelligence data continues to record the deployment of rocket and artillery units by Ukrainian nationalists in residential areas not only in Kyiv, but also in other Ukrainian cities,” he said. 

“We call on the people of Ukraine to be conscious, not to succumb to these provocations of the Kyiv regime and not to expose themselves and their loved ones to unnecessary suffering,” Konashenkov concluded. 

10:27 a.m. ET, March 6, 2022

People with disabilities and mobility issues find themselves trapped in Kyiv

From CNN's Ivana Kottasova in Kyiv

From left, Sofia, Yulia, Yulia’s mother and Maryna.
From left, Sofia, Yulia, Yulia’s mother and Maryna. (Courtesy Yulia Klepets)

About a minute after the sirens went off on Saturday morning, Yulia Klepets heard a huge boom. She saw from her window that an apartment building roughly 200 meters from her home got hit by something.

A huge hole appeared on one side of the high-rise building. There was fire and smoke. Debris was flying around. She started panicking; her whole body was shaking. 

Klepets has been hunkering down in her home alongside her mother, two daughters and a cousin. The five women had to made a quick decision. Klepets’ cousin and younger daughter went down to an underground carpark that turned into a bomb shelter. She stayed behind with her mother and older daughter.

“My mother is 82 years old. She cannot walk on her own and there is no way to get her down, because we're on the seventh floor,” she told CNN on Saturday. 

Klepets’ older daughter, Maryna, is 25 years old and has autism. She was in a state of shock, unable to move.

“She couldn’t go down the stairs. She wouldn’t be able to stay in the shelter,” Klepets said. 

Maryna doesn’t understand what is going on, Klepets said. She keeps asking her mother whether or not there will be any more shaking. 

“She wants to go to the sea, or at least to the pool, and I have to explain to her that there is a war right now so we cannot do that, and then she says, ‘Maybe it will end and then we'll go to someplace nice [near] the sea,’” Klepets said, adding that Maryna doesn’t know how to swim, but she really loves the seaside. “She finds [it] miraculous when she's next to the sea.” 

Maryna
Maryna (Courtesy Yulia Klepets)

Not long after the strike, Klepets’ cousin came back from the basement. She said Sofia, Klepets’ younger daughter, was too scared without her. She tried to resist, refusing to leave her mother and Maryna behind, but was forced to go.

“We said our goodbyes. We hugged each other without saying a word,” she said.

Klepets said she has been trying to get help for her mother and Maryna for the past four days.

“I called the rehabilitation service center and was told that people who were unable to move by themselves needed to call and register so that they are on the list of people who need help with mobility,” she said. “They told me to call the next day, that they would tell me which documents we needed. Then they told me that they can come to my apartment and help me clean but they did not offer to take my daughter out. I don't know what to say about this,” she said. 

Klepets said that families of people with disabilities are finding themselves trapped in Kyiv. 

“Yesterday, there were evacuations, so there was a chance to get away. There were trains, the local transport was running fee of charge, the trains were free, but you had to come to the railway station on your own and I cannot leave my mother,” she said.

This post has been updated to correct the spelling of Maryna's name.

12:42 p.m. ET, February 26, 2022

Nearly 2,700 people detained in anti-war protests in Russia since Thursday, monitoring site says

From CNN's Anna Chernova in Moscow

A demonstrator against the invasion of Ukraine is led away by police in Moscow, on February 24.
A demonstrator against the invasion of Ukraine is led away by police in Moscow, on February 24. (Daniil Danchenko/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

A total of 2,692 people have been detained in anti-war protests in Russia since Thursday, independent protest monitoring site OVD-Info said Saturday.

At least 1,370 of them were detained in protests in Moscow, according to the same site. 

Protests are ongoing in at least 27 cities, according to OVD-Info.

On Thursday, Russia's Investigative Committee warned that participation in any anti-war protest was illegal. It also said that offenses could be entered on participants’ criminal records which would “leave a mark on the person’s future.”

12:21 p.m. ET, February 26, 2022

On the ground: CNN correspondent observes Russian armored vehicles moving toward Ukraine

A large column of Russian armored vehicles drove past CNN correspondent Frederik Pleitgen on Saturday headed toward Ukrainian territory and the city of Kharkiv.

"This is something ... that we've seen throughout the entire course of the day, that more of this heavy equipment has been moving towards the front line," he reported from near Belgorod, Russia.

"To see the Russians move that many of those in one column towards the front line is certainly something that at least for us right now is remarkable," he said.

He also said that he and his team have been hearing more rocket launchers going off today than in the past few days.

Earlier today, a senior US defense official said Russian forces are facing the “stiffest resistance” to their invasion in the northern part of Ukraine along two axes: “down towards Kyiv and generally from Belgorod towards Khakriv."

See the moment here:

12:16 p.m. ET, February 26, 2022

Heavy shelling and small arms fire seen in strategic maritime town of Mykolaiv

From CNN's Nick Paton Walsh and Natalie Gallon in Mykolaiv, Ukraine

Heavy shelling reverberated around the outskirts of the strategic maritime town of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine on Saturday night.

One substantial blast lit up the skyline at around 6 p.m. local time. The impacts of multiple rockets were heard on several occasions and small arms fire grew.

The shelling comes after a day of heightened tensions in the city where a CNN crew saw Ukrainian troops fire warning shots and throw suspected Russian saboteurs from their cars to the ground. 

The town, which sits on an inlet from the Black Sea, raised its bridge Saturday, a rare event locals said had not happened for years. The move was apparently designed to cut a main connection between the north and south of the city after unconfirmed reports Russian paratroopers landed in the city’s northern areas. 

The city’s main fuel plant was also hit by an apparent missile late Friday, causing significant damage, even though the tanks were empty, an official at the plant told CNN.

1:35 p.m. ET, February 26, 2022

Russian defense ministry orders troops to resume offensive "in all directions," according to statement

From CNN’s Nathan Hodge and Vasco Cotovio in Moscow

The Russian Ministry of Defence says its troops have been ordered to resume their offensive “in all directions,” after a suspension was ordered for negotiations with the Ukrainian government. 

“[On Friday], after the Kyiv regime declared its readiness for negotiations, active hostilities in the main directions of the operation were suspended,” Ministry of Defence spokesperson Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said in a statement on Saturday. “After the Ukrainian side abandoned the negotiation process, today all units were ordered to continue their offensive in all directions in accordance with the operation plan.”

A Ukrainian presidential adviser denied in the early hours Saturday that Ukraine had refused to negotiate.

Konashenkov’s remarks, also echoed by the Kremlin, were made after Western officials said the Russian invasion was not progressing as fast as Moscow would have expected. 

Alex Marquardt reports: