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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12:39 a.m. ET, February 26, 2022

Ukrainian Interior Ministry warns of "active fighting" in Kyiv

From CNN's Tim Lister in Kyiv

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry has warned civilians in the capital Kyiv that fighting is taking place on the streets.

In a Facebook post Saturday, the ministry said:

"Active fighting is taking place on the streets of our city. Please stay calm and be as careful as possible!
If you're in the shelter, don't leave it now.
If you are at home -- do not go close to the windows, do not go to the balconies. Hide indoors, for example in the bathroom, and cover yourself with something that will prevent injury from bullet fragments.
If you hear sirens ("Air Alarm" signal) -- go immediately to the nearest shelter!"
11:57 p.m. ET, February 25, 2022

Biden instructs State Department to release up to $350 million in security assistance to Ukraine

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

United States President Joe Biden has instructed Secretary of State Antony Blinken to release up to $350 million in immediate support to Ukraine's security and defense, according to a new memo released by the White House late Friday.

This is the third drawdown of money; previous orders have been for $60 million and $250 million, putting the total over the last year at over a billion dollars, according to an administration official.

The State Department is expected to issue its own statement with more details shortly.

This release comes after a 40-minute call between Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky earlier Friday, during which they discussed "concrete defense assistance."

12:07 a.m. ET, February 26, 2022

The sun is rising in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know


Residents in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv are waking up to explosions and the sounds of war for the third morning, as the battle arrives in the city proper. Here's the latest:

  • Explosions through the night: Blasts were reported inside the capital Saturday morning, after days of heavy fighting on the outskirts as Russian troops advanced on the city. Gunfire was also heard close to the city center.
  • Zelensky's address: In a national address Friday night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed Ukrainians would stay and fight for their country, and accused Russia of targeting civilian infrastructure.
  • Peace talks: A spokesperson for Zelensky said the President accepted a Russian proposal to hold negotiations and that he is ready to talk about peace and a ceasefire.
  • UNSC meeting: On Friday, Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning the invasion of Ukraine. China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstained from voting. After the vote, 50 countries issued a joint statement saying Russia abused its power in blocking the resolution. 
  • Sanctions pile up: The US and Canada announced sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov on Friday, joining the European Union and UK in doing so.
11:49 p.m. ET, February 25, 2022

Ukrainian military says it destroyed a Russian tank in western Kyiv

The Ukrainian military has given its first account of explosions that rocked western Kyiv in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The Military Law Enforcement Service of Ukraine said that country's the military "destroyed a column of equipment of the occupiers" in the Beresteiska district in Kyiv.

"According to preliminary information, it is about 2 cars, 2 trucks with ammunition, and also with the help of NLAW anti-tank missiles an enemy tank was destroyed," said the service.

CNN has not been able to independently verify this account.

The United Kingdom supplied NLAW anti-tank missiles to Ukraine in the weeks before Russia invaded.

12:13 a.m. ET, February 26, 2022

Gunfire in Kyiv after explosions throughout the night

Smoke and flames rise over during the shelling near Kyiv, as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine February 26.
Smoke and flames rise over during the shelling near Kyiv, as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine February 26. (Gleb Garanich/Reuters)

Several bursts of gunfire were heard in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, close to the city center around 5:45 a.m. local time Saturday (10:45 p.m. ET Friday). It appeared to come from the southeast. 

It came after a quiet lull that lasted around 45 minutes — a break from the explosions seen and heard in and around Kyiv throughout the night.

Earlier Saturday between 2 to 4 a.m., CNN teams reported hearing loud explosions to the west and south of the city, with the sky lit up with a series of flashes. Shortly after, videos from eyewitnesses showed explosions to the city's northwest.

11:49 p.m. ET, February 25, 2022

Ukrainian TV broadcasts instructions for how to make Molotov cocktails

As Ukrainian leaders urge residents to stand their ground and resist Russia's invasion, one television channel broadcast instructions on how to make Molotov cocktails on Friday.

The TV segment showed a person creating the makeshift explosive, pouring colored liquid into a glass bottle, with a diagram on the side showing how to stopper the bottle with a cloth wick.

Earlier Friday, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry tweeted that citizens should "make Molotov cocktails and take down the occupier," as Russian forces drew closer to the capital Kyiv.

11:49 p.m. ET, February 25, 2022

Ukrainian MP: When the Russians come, "that's when you get a gun and you learn how to shoot it"

Kira Rudik, a member of Ukraine's parliament, had been going about daily life just a few days ago, holding meetings and discussing legislation even as the threat of a Russian invasion loomed.

"And then one day, you just know they're coming," said Rudik, speaking to CNN from the capital city Kyiv. "And then you have to do something. And that's when you get a gun and then you learn how to shoot it."

Rudik posted a photo of herself holding a gun on Twitter late Friday, captioned: "Our women will protect our soil the same way as our men." The post has since circulated widely online, with more than 91,000 likes on Twitter.

"It was super unusual and super crazy for myself to understand and realize that I'm holding a gun and I'm ready to bear arms, and I'm ready to go and shoot other human beings," Rudik said early Saturday. "And the reason for that change was because Russian soldiers are coming to Kyiv and Russian soldiers are trying to take what is actually not theirs."

She and her family are now hiding in a bomb shelter as heavy fighting intensifies, with explosions heard and seen in the city in the early hours of Saturday.

But, she added, "We are actually fighting them very, very hard ... (Putin) underestimated the readiness of our army, and he underestimated that on every step of the way of his soldiers, they were given really hard resistance."

"People are arming themselves. People are fighting them for every inch of our soil," she said. "We are not leaving because this is our city. This is our country."

11:49 p.m. ET, February 25, 2022

See what parts of Ukraine Russian forces have occupied so far

From CNN's Renée Rigdon

Russian forces have taken control of portions of northern Ukraine outside the capital of Kyiv, including the Chernobyl exclusion zone, according to analysis from the Institute for the Study of War in Washington, DC.

They've also moved into the city of Kherson, north of the Crimean peninsula.

12:17 a.m. ET, February 26, 2022

"We are all here" Zelensky pledges to defend Ukraine in Facebook video from streets of Kyiv

(Office of the President of Ukraine)
(Office of the President of Ukraine)

“We are here. We are in Kyiv. We are defending Ukraine.”

That was the title of a video posted on Facebook Friday night by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, as he vowed to defend his country while standing on a Kyiv street with other leaders of his administration.

"Good evening everyone! Leader of the faction is here. Head of the president’s administration is here. Prime Minister (Denys) Shmyhal is here. (Adviser to the head of the President's Office Mykhailo) Podoliak is here. The President is here," said Zelensky, pointing to the various men around him as he spoke, ending with himself.

“We are all here. Our military are here. Citizens and society are here. We are all here defending our independence, our state and it will remain so. Glory to our defenders! Glory to our women defenders! Glory to Ukraine!"

The rest of the group chimed in: "Glory to heroes!"

Zelensky's post, which has since gone viral online has been widely shared across different social media platforms.

Also on Friday night, Zelensky released a formal national address, confirming that Russian forces were close to the capital, advancing from the north and the east. He added that he was still communicating with world leaders including US President Joe Biden.

"Our main goal is to finish this slaughter," Zelensky said in the address. "Ukrainians resist the Russian aggression heroically."

Watch Zelensky's video: