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
21 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
4:30 a.m. ET, February 26, 2022

Zelensky tweets it is time to decide on Ukraine's membership in the EU

From CNN's Eric Cheung in Taipei, Taiwan and Joseph Ataman in Paris

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to the nation via his smartphone in the center of Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 26.
In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to the nation via his smartphone in the center of Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 26. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/AP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said it is now a "crucial moment" to decide on his country's membership in the European Union, in a tweet on Saturday.

"It is a crucial moment to close the long-standing discussion once and for all and decide on Ukraine's membership in the #EU. Discussed with @eucopresident further effective assistance and the heroic struggle of Ukrainians for their free future," a tweet on his verified Twitter page said.

Defiant words: Earlier Saturday as the battle for Kyiv continued, Zelensky took to the social media platform a number of times to post updates.

In one 40-second video titled "do not believe the fakes," the president said: "I am here. We are not putting down arms. We will be defending our country, because our weapon is truth, and our truth is that this is our land, our country, our children, and we will defend all of this.

"That is it. That's all I wanted to tell you. Glory to Ukraine," he added.

In a separate tweet on Saturday morning, he also said: "A new day on the diplomatic frontline began with a conversation with @EmmanuelMacron. Weapons and equipment from our partners are on the way to Ukraine. The anti-war coalition is working!"

French support: French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday warned that the war in Ukraine and the crisis around it “will last” as he predicted impacts on food markets. 

"If I can tell you one thing this morning, it is that this war will last," Macron told France's annual agriculture fair.

"This crisis will last, this war will last and all the crises that come with it will have lasting consequences," Macron added, warning: "We must be prepared.

“French and Europeans, we will be there,” he said, “to build short and medium-term responses to try and fully secure our energy.”

The president said that the crisis’ “impact on our lives” will also extend to the world of farmers and food, without providing further details. 

4:56 a.m. ET, February 26, 2022

Kyiv resident shelters in her bathroom as fighting reaches capital's streets

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová in Kyiv


Olga lives in the Left Bank part of Kyiv, the area of the city that is to the east of Dnieper. 

Her little son Vadim, a kindergartener, is sleeping in the bathroom these days, the safest place in the apartment. 

“I sit next to him and caress him when he is not happy with something in his dream,” she said. “We are not going to the shelter, it does not guarantee 100% safety, and it can affect the psychology of a child. At home, he sleeps well, eats and thinks it's all fun,” she said. 

Olga described hearing many explosions between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. on Saturday morning that sounded like they were coming from the north.

“It's calm now, she said on Saturday morning. “Finally, I can take a nap.”

Oleksandra Ochman contributed to this report.

3:37 a.m. ET, February 26, 2022

Russian defense ministry says it launched missiles overnight, but claims it didn't target residents

From CNN's Nathan Hodge in Moscow

An apartment building damaged by recent shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine February 26.
An apartment building damaged by recent shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine February 26. (Gleb Garanich/Reuters)

Russia's defense ministry said Saturday it launched cruise missile strikes overnight against targets in Ukraine — but claimed it exclusively targeted military infrastructure, as videos emerged of a residential high-rise near Kyiv that was struck by a missile or rocket fire.

"During the night, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation launched a strike with long-range precision weapons using air- and sea-launched cruise missiles against Ukrainian military infrastructure facilities," Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said in a video statement.
"I emphasize once again that the fire is directed only on the objects of the military infrastructure of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, excluding damage to residential and social infrastructure."

Scenes on the ground: CNN and other international news outlets have seen and documented damage to civilian infrastructure around Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion. 

Images on Saturday morning showed severe damage to the outside of an apartment building in western Kyiv, with the outer walls blown out entirely for several apartment units. Emergency workers are on the scene, helping to evacuate residents. The extent of casualties is not yet clear.

The Russian ministry statement also claimed units of the Russian armed forces had taken control over the city of Melitopol in southeastern Ukraine. CNN on Thursday verified and geolocated footage circulating on social media of a massive explosion at Melitopol Airport. 

3:04 a.m. ET, February 26, 2022

As fighting intensifies in Kyiv, Chinese diplomat says national sovereignty "applies to the Ukraine issue"

As fighting in Kyiv intensified on Saturday, a top Chinese diplomat defended China's long-held position on protecting national sovereignty -- adding that it "applies equally to the Ukraine issue."

"China firmly believes that the sovereignty & territorial integrity of all countries should be respected & protected and the purposes & principles of (the UN Charter) abided by in real earnest. This position of China is consistent & clear-cut, and applies equally to the Ukraine issue," wrote Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese government's special representative on Korean peninsula affairs.

Liu previously served as the Chinese ambassador to the United Kingdom.

The UN Security Council vote: Liu's comments are especially striking as China had been one of the three countries that abstained from voting for a United Nations Security Council resolution to condemn Russia's actions in Ukraine, at a Friday night meeting.

India and the UAE also abstained from voting, while Russia used its veto power as a permanent seat on the council to block the measure. After the vote, 50 countries released a joint statement accusing Russia of abusing its veto power.

China's position on Ukraine: Over the last few days, as other countries moved to punish Russia and President Vladimir Putin, China has avoided condemning the invasion, instead calling for peace and diplomacy -- and pointing the finger at the US instead for "fueling fires."

Any action from the Security Council "should be truly conducive to defusing the crisis, rather than adding fuel to fire," said China's UN Ambassador Zhang Jun on Friday.

3:00 a.m. ET, February 26, 2022

How Zelenksy went from an actor playing President on TV to becoming a defiant wartime leader

From CNN's Joshua Berlinger

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers a video address in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 25.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers a video address in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 25. (ABACA/Reuters)

Volodymyr Zelensky approached a lectern under bright lights, preparing to deliver a message to the Ukrainian people.

"Today I will start with long-awaited words, which I wish to announce with pride," he said.

"Finally," he continued. "Ukraine is United ... This is our victory."

The speech was fiction: It is from the closing scene of "Servant of the People," a satirical TV show about a down-on-his-luck high-school teacher, played by Zelensky, who is thrust into the Ukrainian presidency after his rant about corruption goes viral.

The series didn't just make Zelensky a star. It eventually served as the springboard for his real-life presidential campaign. In April 2019, within a month of the show's finale, the comedian-turned politician was elected Ukraine's President.

Zelensky again found himself in front of a lectern Friday, but the picture he outlined in the show's final moments has never felt further away as Russia's war of aggression moved closer to the capital.

The battle for Kyiv continued to rage Friday. Explosions lit up the sky as the Kremlin targeted the city with missile strikes before dawn, forcing people into air raid shelters.

In his Friday morning televised address, the Ukrainian President struck a defiant tone and praised the country's armed forces for "brilliantly defending the country."

"Now is an important moment," Zelensky said. "The fate of our country is being decided."

Read the full story here.

2:31 a.m. ET, February 26, 2022

Images emerge of residents being evacuated from damaged apartment building

Residents being evacuated from damaged apartment building in Kyiv on February 26.
Residents being evacuated from damaged apartment building in Kyiv on February 26. (Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine)

Ukraine's Interior Ministry has released images of the apartment building in Kyiv that was damaged early Saturday, which show emergency workers helping evacuate residents.

The photos show several apartment units blown out entirely, their outer walls and windows missing -- a gaping hole in the building's side.

The sidewalk below the building is littered with debris. Some windows on the bottom few floors appear smashed, with similar damage on adjacent low rooftops.

One photo shows two emergency responders carrying a woman away from the scene, with other workers running in the background.

Damage to an apartment building in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 26.
Damage to an apartment building in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 26. (Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine)
2:07 a.m. ET, February 26, 2022

It's Day 3 of the Russian invasion into Ukraine. Here's the latest

War arrived on the streets of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Saturday, as the country's military battled to hold back advancing Russian troops in multiple locations, forcing residents to seek shelter amid the sound of explosions and gunfire.

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

  • Apartment building struck: A residential building was hit by a missile or rocket early Saturday as many in the city slept, with images and video showing extensive damage to apartments some tens floors up, with outer walls torn away completely. The cause of the strike and extent of casualties is not yet known.
  • Fighting on the streets: Early Saturday, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry warned on Facebook that "Active fighting is taking place on the streets of our city." It urged residents to stay calm, hide indoors, take cover — and head to the nearest shelter immediately if they hear air raid sirens.
  • Overnight battles: Explosions in and around the capital were seen and heard from 2 to 4 a.m., with a brief lull before gunshots were heard before dawn. It's the first time blasts have been reported inside the city proper, after days of heavy fighting on the outskirts. The Ukrainian military attributed some of the early morning explosions to to the destruction of a Russian tank.
  • Residents take up arms: Ukrainians have been preparing to defend their capital in recent days, with officials arming reservists and Ukrainian TV broadcasting instructions for making Molotov cocktails. Even members of parliament told CNN they have picked up guns and learned to shoot in preparation of battle.
  • President defiant: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed to defend his country in a video filmed Friday night while standing on a Kyiv street with other leaders of his administration. "We are all here defending our independence," he said. "Glory to Ukraine!"
  • Conflict elsewhere: The mayor of the town of Vasilkiv, some 35 kilometers (21.7 miles) south of Kyiv, said early on Saturday that fierce fighting in the town had led to losses on the Ukrainian side.
  • Ukrainians flee the war: Many Kyiv residents had left by Friday, leaving quiet the roads heading west of the capital that had been busy on Thursday. More than 50,000 Ukrainian refugees have left the country in less than 48 hours, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, who said the majority have gone to Poland and Moldova. 
2:02 a.m. ET, February 26, 2022

Kyiv residents go underground as Russian troops advance and escape routes dwindle

From CNN's Ivana Kottasova in Kyiv

A person looks out of a building in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Saturday February 26.
A person looks out of a building in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Saturday February 26. Umit Bektas/Reuters

The residents of Kyiv lived through yet another terrifying night as Russian forces entered the city limits.

While the previous two nights were marked by the sounds of sporadic explosions coming from further away, Friday night was different.

There were bursts of small arms fire, orange lines of fire going up into the sky. Gunfire could be heard near the city center. At dawn, a fire broke in western Kyiv after an apartment building was struck by missile or rocket 

The city remained dark with curtains drawn and lights off, an attempt to become invisible to the enemy. 

As the sun rose, Ukrainian Interior Ministry issued a warning to the people of Kyiv, saying active fighting was taking place on the streets of the capital city, although there was no sign of conflict yet in the city center.

Residents were told to stay indoors and away from the windows, an advice they followed diligently. There was not a soul in the streets around the city center as morning arrived, in contrast to the bustling streets just a few days ago. Many had spent the night in subway stations and underground garages, seeking safe havens from any potential explosions. 

As Russian troops close in on the city, the opportunities to escape the violence are getting fewer and far between. On Friday night, the Ukrainian Railway Company put out several special evacuation trains to the west, saying women, children and those with limited mobility would be given priority.

The passengers were told not to be alarmed if the lights go off. “The less the train looks like a garland, the safer the journey,” the company said.

2:02 a.m. ET, February 26, 2022

Apartment building in Kyiv struck by missile or rocket overnight, casualties unknown

From CNN's Tim Lister in Kyiv

(From Telegram Nexta)
(From Telegram Nexta)

A residential building near Kyiv's second airport was struck by a missile or rocket fire early Saturday, with images from the scene showing a large impact some ten floors up.

The outer walls of several apartment units appear blown out entirely, the interiors blackened and debris hanging loose. Smoke is still hanging in the air.

The cause of the strike is unclear. 

Emergency services are at the scene, but the extent of casualties is unknown, said Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko.

In a tweet Saturday morning, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba shared a photo of the damaged building. "Kyiv, our splendid, peaceful city, survived another night under attacks by Russian ground forces, missiles," he wrote. "I demand the world: fully isolate Russia, expel ambassadors, oil embargo, ruin its economy. Stop Russian war criminals!"