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
71 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
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 (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:

12:19 p.m. ET, February 26, 2022

EU official "strongly condemns" Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič speaks during a European Parliament session in Strasbourg, France, in 2021.
European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič speaks during a European Parliament session in Strasbourg, France, in 2021. (Julien Warnand/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

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

"This is a clear violation of International Humanitarian Law. Shelling of civilian infrastructure needs to stop now," Lenarčič said on his verified Twitter account. 

A residential block near Kyiv's second airport was struck by a missile or rocket fire early Saturday.

Images and video from the scene showed a large impact some ten floors up.

Some background: On Friday, Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov sought to reassure the world about civilian casualties on day two of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"Nobody is going to attack the people of Ukraine," he said during a heated press conference, telling CNN that there were "no strikes on civilian infrastructure." 

But 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.

12:43 p.m. ET, February 26, 2022

Kremlin website is being targeted by cyberattacks, spokesperson tells state media

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio in Moscow

The Spasskaya Tower of the Kremlin in Moscow.
The Spasskaya Tower of the Kremlin in Moscow. (Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

The Kremlin website is being targeted by cyberattacks, spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told state news agency TASS on Saturday.

“Attacks are ongoing,” Peskov told TASS. "[The website] often freezes.”

Some Russian government websites, including the Kremlin and Ministry of Defence, have been down for a third day in a row. 

The hacking group Anonymous has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

On Friday, the same Russian websites appeared offline for a while, but the Kremlin denied it was being attacked by Anonymous, according to state media.

11:35 a.m. ET, February 26, 2022

Heaviest fighting in Ukraine is "in and around Kharkiv," senior US defense official says

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman and Oren Liebermann

The heaviest fighting in Ukraine is “in and around Kharkiv,” a senior US defense official said Saturday.

The official said the US saw “stiff resistance on the northern advance towards Kyiv,” as well. “But the heaviest fighting we still assess is in and around Kharkiv,” the official added.

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

Russian forces are facing “less resistance in the south,” the official added.

11:14 a.m. ET, February 26, 2022

US security assistance to Ukraine has arrived within "last couple of days," senior defense official says

From CNN's Oren Liebermann

US security assistance to Ukraine has arrived “within the last couple of days,” a senior defense official said Saturday, indicating that US President Joe Biden's administration has continued to send in aid even after Russia launched its invasion.

We have continued to flow assistance to the Ukrainians, even since the airspace has become disputed and contested, and we’re going to continue to look for additional venues to do that,” the official said on a call with reporters.

Late Friday night, the US approved another $350 million in security assistance to Ukraine. In a statement Saturday morning, the State Department announced that it would include “lethal defensive assistance” that would help Ukraine deal with armored, airborne and other threats. 

Though the senior defense official would not detail the exact types of equipment beyond Javelin anti-armor missiles, the US has provided Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine in the last few weeks.  

The official would not say how the assistance would arrive in Ukraine. 

Since Ukraine’s airspace is contested, the US has not flown any aircraft into or over Ukraine. But countries like Poland have openly stated that they have sent ammunition into Ukraine with ground convoys, one of the only viable options given the current situation.

“I think you'd have to assume that ground routes would certainly be on the list of options that we would consider,” the defense official said without providing further details.