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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9:22 p.m. ET, February 26, 2022

Six-year-old boy killed in Kyiv clashes, several more Ukrainian civilians wounded

From CNN's Tim Lister in Kyiv

Heavy gunfire in a western district of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Saturday evening killed a six-year-old boy and injured several other people, according to a local hospital.

Serhii Chernysuk, a doctor at Kyiv's Okhmatdyt hospital, said the injured included two teenagers and three adults. 

9:05 p.m. ET, February 26, 2022

Ukraine and Russia's militaries are David and Goliath. Here's how they compare

Ukrainian service members sit atop armored personnel carriers Thursday as they drive on a road in the Donetsk region.
Ukrainian service members sit atop armored personnel carriers Thursday as they drive on a road in the Donetsk region. (Vadim Ghirda/AP)

Here's how the two country's military capabilities stack up:

Defense spending: Ukraine spent $4.7 billion in 2021, just over a tenth of nuclear-armed Russia's $45.8 billion, according to a recent "The Military Balance" report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

Manpower: Russia has 900,000 active personnel in its armed forces, and 2 million in reserve. Ukraine has 196,000 and 900,000 reservists. In land forces, Russia has a twofold advantage, with 280,000 troops to Ukraine's 125,600. And its air force is nearly five times as strong, with 165,00 to Ukraine's 35,000. Russia had an estimated 200,000 personnel in and around Ukraine.

Weaponry and vehicles: Russia has more than 15,857 armored fighting vehicles, for example, to Ukraine's 3,309. It has more than 10 times the aircraft -- 1,391 to Ukraine's 128, and 821 helicopters to Ukraine's 55, if you include Navy aircraft. Where Russia has 49 submarines, Ukraine has none, according to IISS.

Combat will: Ukrainian forces have, however, launched some successful counterattacks. Experts have noted that the sheer combat will among Ukrainian troops to defend their homes and families against Russian acts of violence has been the armed forces' greatest strength.

Read more here:

8:35 p.m. ET, February 26, 2022

Russian aircraft banned from German airspace

From CNN’s Inke Kappeler

Germany has ordered the ban of Russian aircraft from entering the country's airspace, according to German Minister of Transport Volker Wissing.

The restriction is being prepared at the moment, a ministry spokeswoman told CNN.

German airline Lufthansa will also avoid Russian airspace immediately due to the war in Ukraine, a Lufthansa spokeswoman said Saturday. The airline said it will no longer operate services to Russian destinations.

All flights to and from Russia have been suspended from Saturday for the next seven days. Flights that are in Russian airspace will leave it within a short time. 

“The safety of our passengers and crew has utmost priority for us at any time,” Lufthansa said in a news statement sent to CNN.

8:35 p.m. ET, February 26, 2022

UK defense ministry: Russia's force "suffering from logistical challenges and strong Ukrainian resistance"

From CNN's Josh Campbell and Jonny Hallam 

Russian forces are facing stiff resistance in Ukraine and making slower progress than they planned, according to Britain's Ministry of Defense in a statement late on Saturday.

"Russian forces are not making the progress they had planned. They are suffering from logistical challenges and strong Ukrainian resistance," the United Kingdom MOD intelligence update said. 

The MOD said Russian forces are "sustaining casualties and a number of Russian troops have been taken prisoner by Ukrainian forces."

"The Russian government has reportedly restricted access to a number of social media platforms in a probable attempt to conceal details regarding the situation in Ukraine from their own people," it added.

9:38 p.m. ET, February 26, 2022

It's 3:30 a.m. in Kyiv. If you're just joining us on Sunday, here's what you need to know

An explosion lights up the sky to the south of Kyiv, Ukraine, early on Sunday.
An explosion lights up the sky to the south of Kyiv, Ukraine, early on Sunday. (CNN)

Ukraine’s highly-motivated, outgunned forces held their capital against the Russian onslaught for a third day Saturday, as battles continued across the country, while a defiant Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged citizens to defend their country against the invading forces.

If you're just joining us, here's what you need to know:

  • Two large explosions near Kyiv and oil tanks on fire: Two large explosions lit up the night sky to the southwest of Kyiv early Sunday morning. They appear to have been around Vasylkiv, some 30 kilometers, or about 18 miles, south of Kyiv — a town with a large military airfield and multiple fuel tanks. Shortly after, CNN verified video of a fire raging at an oil storage area at the Vasylkiv Air Base, southwest of the air base’s main runway.
  • Russian banks expelled from SWIFT: The White House, European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and Canada, said they back the expulsion of certain Russian banks from SWIFT, the high-security network that connects thousands of financial institutions around the world, and pledged efforts to “collectively ensure that this war is a strategic failure for Putin.”
  • Stiff resistance: Russia is encountering “stiffer than expected” resistance from the Ukrainian military as well as unexpected difficulties supplying its forces, two senior US officials with direct knowledge told CNN. Russia is suffering heavier losses in personnel and armor and aircraft than expected, and has yet to establish air supremacy over Ukraine, a senior defense official said.
  • Social media giants step in: Russian state media outlets will no longer be allowed to run advertising or otherwise monetize their content on any platform owned by Meta, the parent of Facebook and Instagram, the company said Friday evening. Similarly, YouTube blocked Russian state media outlet RT from Ukraine and suspended its ability to monetize its content on the platform globally.
  • Presidential appeal: Zelensky also appealed to Ukrainians to resist the invasion, and called for those living abroad to return and defend the country. He also welcomed volunteers from abroad, saying, "we will give you weapons."
  • Ukrainians flee: More than 120,000 Ukrainians have already left while 850,000 are internally displaced, according to the United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees. She said up to 4 million Ukrainians could flee if the situation continued to deteriorate, and that there were queues at a number of border crossings.
8:24 p.m. ET, February 26, 2022

Russian invasion runs into stiff resistance, supply lines are a "definite vulnerability," US officials say

From CNN's Jim Sciutto, Oren Liebermann and Jeremy Herb

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is encountering “stiffer than expected” resistance from the Ukrainian military as well as unexpected difficulties supplying its forces, two senior US officials with direct knowledge tell CNN.

On the battlefield: Russia is suffering heavier losses in personnel and armor and aircraft than expected. This is due in part to the fact that Ukrainian air defenses have performed better than pre-invasion US intelligence assessments had anticipated.

In the air: In addition, Russia has yet to establish air supremacy over Ukraine, a senior defense official said, as the Ukrainian Air Force and air defense systems fight for control of the airspace.

“Ukrainian air defenses, including aircraft, do continue to be operable and continue to engage and deny access to Russian aircraft in places over the country,” the official said.

Without uncontested control of the skies, it becomes more difficult for an army on the move to see and strike targets from the air.

Quick overthrow prevented: Together, these challenges have so far prevented the quick overthrow of major Ukrainian cities, including the capital, Kyiv, which US officials were concerned could play out in a matter of days. The city of Kharkiv near Ukraine’s border with Russia also has not fallen to invading forces, which officials worried could happen on the first night of an invasion.

Officials caution that this picture of the battlefield is just a moment in time, and the situation on the ground could change very quickly as Russian forces keep up their assault.

Read more here:

8:12 p.m. ET, February 26, 2022

Oil tanks on fire at Vasylkiv Air Base

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy 

A fire at an oil storage area was seen raging at the Vasylkiv Air Base, which is southwest of Kyiv.

CNN has verified a video of the fire at the oil storage area southwest of the air base’s main runway.

Earlier, the two vast explosions were seen around Vasylkiv, some 30 kilometers, or about 18 miles, south of Kyiv.

Vasylkiv has multiple fuel tanks.

The area was the scene of heavy fighting Friday night, according to Ukrainian officials.

CNN's Tim Lister contributed reporting to this post.

SEE IT HERE:

7:53 p.m. ET, February 26, 2022

Mayor of Ukrainian city Vasylkiv: "The enemy wants to destroy everything"

From CNN's Tim Lister in Kyiv

After the explosions in Vasylkiv, the town's mayor, Natalia Balasynovych, recorded a Facebook message for residents:

"You can see what is going on, you can see the fire -- unfortunately, this is the petroleum storage depot in Kriachky village. The enemy wants to destroy everything around, but he will not be successful. You’ve seen that during the day there was heavy shelling from ballistic missiles. Our airfield was shelled as well, but we got it, it's under control of Ukraine."

"The night will be difficult here, as well as in Kyiv, but we will stand our ground and we will win, because God is with us," Balasynovych said.

7:50 p.m. ET, February 26, 2022

Defenders of Ukrainian island may still be alive and now POWs, the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine says

From CNN's Sebastian Shukla in Kyiv

The defenders of the small Ukrainian island of Zmiinyi in the Black Sea may still be alive, according to a statement released on Saturday by the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine (SBGSU).

"We [have a] strong belief that all Ukrainian defenders of Zmiinyi (Snake) Island may be alive,” the statement said.

Both President Zelensky and the SBGSU said Friday all the soldiers had been killed following the small island’s capture by Russian forces.

Preliminary information that border guards may be dead came before the defenders lost contact," Saturday's statement said.

On Friday, Russian Major-General Igor Konashenkov said 82 Ukrainian servicemen “laid down their arms and voluntarily surrendered to a unit of the Russian Armed Forces.”

The SBGSU statement added, “Russian media reported that Ukrainian servicemen on the island had been sent to Sevastopol” in Crimea.

On Friday, audio emerged of an exchange between the Ukrainian fighters and an officer of the Russian navy. In the exchange, the Ukrainians were heard to say to “Russian warship – go f*** yourself.”