February 27, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Helen Regan, Steve George, Rob Picheta, Jeevan Ravindran, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Maureen Chowdhury, Amir Vera and Emma Tucker, CNN

Updated 8:17 a.m. ET, February 28, 2022
73 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
2:13 p.m. ET, February 27, 2022

More than half of central bank reserves of Russia will be blocked under new EU sanctions, top diplomat says

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in London

More than half of the central bank reserves of Russia will be blocked as part of new EU sanctions against the country, the EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell announced on Sunday.

Speaking alongside European Commission chief Ursula Von der Leyen in Brussels, Borrell said later on Sunday he would provide the political endorsement of the 27 EU member states for a new package of sanctions against Russia.

"With these measures, more than half of the central bank reserves of Russia will be blocked," Borrell said.

Under the package, "important Russian banks will be excluded from the SWIFT system," Von der Leyen told the news conference.

Measures against neighboring country Belarus will also be "reinforced," Borrell said, in return for its role in "facilitating the Russian assault against Ukraine."

Von der Leyen also announced that the EU will provide finance to purchase weapons for Ukraine, adding that this is the first time the bloc has ever done so.

Borrell said the EU is doing so "because this war requires our engagement in order to support the Ukrainian army."

"We asked for SWIFT and we asked for arms and now we are delivering on both sides," the diplomat remarked.

Some more context: SWIFT, the high-security network that connects thousands of financial institutions around the world, was founded in 1973 to replace the telex and is now used by over 11,000 financial institutions to send secure messages and payment orders. With no globally accepted alternative, it is essential plumbing for global finance.

On Saturday, the White House, along with the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and Canada, announced that they would expel certain Russian banks from SWIFT, pledging to "collectively ensure that this war is a strategic failure for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin."

Read more about SWIFT here.

1:47 p.m. ET, February 27, 2022

These countries have closed their airspace to Russian aircrafts. Here's how it can impact the world's air map

From CNN's John Walton

Russia's invasion of Ukraine and aviation bans are creating huge no-go areas in the sky, with major implications for long-haul carriers that normally criss-cross the skies of Eastern Europe en route to Asia.

As of Sunday, many European countries announced that they were closing their airspace to Russian airlines and aircrafts, including Germany, Italy, France and Spain.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen confirmed on Sunday that the European Union is shutting down the EU airspace to Russia.

Canada also announced that the country is closing its airspace to Russia as well on Sunday.

The United Kingdom and Russia have banned each other's aircraft from overflying or landing on their territories. Other bans have begun to follow, with Poland and the Czech Republic both restricting access to Russian aircraft on Friday.

All this could have significant consequences for passengers, airlines and the cost of flying if Europe and Russia revive the Cold War era, when sky routes were diverted around an Iron Curtain that extended into the sky.

Apart from punching a significant hole in the aviation traffic map of Eastern Europe, disruption of long-haul traffic is minimal so far. Even Russian aircraft using international airspace over the Atlantic are unaffected, despite the area being managed by air traffic services based in the UK.

But what about flights to East Asia? During the frostiest days of the Cold War, avoiding the Soviet Bloc meant flying north around Greenland to Alaska, refueling in Anchorage, and then around the Bering Straits to reach Japan. China-bound flights skirted the Black Sea and Caucasus, avoiding Afghanistan and entering China across Central Asia.

We're not there yet. And perhaps thanks to the range of modern aircraft, such steps won't be needed.

The effects on already Covid-impacted commercial airlines and their passengers will at this point be relatively limited if the bans stay between Russia on one side and the UK, Poland and Czech Republic on the other. Equally, the situation could easily escalate.

"Because of Russia's geographic scale, overflights from airlines all over the world pass through Russian airspace each day," Mikael Robertsson, co-founder of aircraft tracking service Flightradar24, tells CNN. "From the UK, normally about a dozen flights each day pass through Russia en route to places like Hong Kong and India.
"From the EU, hundreds of flights each transit through Russia en route to destinations in Asia. And from the US, most cargo traffic between the US and Asia passes through at least a small portion of Russian airspace. Pre-Covid, the numbers were even greater, especially from the UK, but long-haul passenger flights have yet to really recover."

In terms of flight services, the only Russian passenger airline serving the UK is Aeroflot. The UK's largest carrier, British Airways, served Moscow before the war. BA's parent company, International Airlines Group, has announced that its airlines will not be overflying Russian airspace.

At the beginning of the conflict, the US Federal Aviation Administration issued NOTAM (Notice To Air Missions) instructions to US carriers to avoid operations in areas that include all of Ukraine, Belarus and western parts of Russia. Few US passenger airlines overfly Russia, with nonstop flights to India slow to restart after aviation's Covid shutdowns.

British Airways' and Virgin Atlantic's Asian networks, meanwhile, have largely not been restored after being suspended because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The relatively closed borders of Japan, China and other countries to international arrivals for public health reasons mean that passenger services by UK airlines remain limited.

Read more about how worldwide air traffic could be impacted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine here.

CNN's Al Goodman, Paula Newton, Martin Goillandeau, Hada Messia and Chris Liakos contributed to this report.

2:14 p.m. ET, February 27, 2022

US President Biden is receiving regular updates on Ukraine today 

From CNN's Arlette Saenz and Sam Fossum  

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

US President Joe Biden is receiving regular updates on the evolving situation in Ukraine, according to a White House official.

Biden has been speaking with his national security team regularly, the White House official said.

2:09 p.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Ukrainian ambassador to the US says they are ready for talks, "but we are not ready to surrender"

From CNN's Sarah Fortinsky

Ukrainian Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova speaks during a news conference on February 26, in Washington, DC.
Ukrainian Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova speaks during a news conference on February 26, in Washington, DC. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Ukrainian Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova told CNN's Dana Bash that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will "definitely not" be part of the delegation attending talks with Russia, saying Zelensky is in Ukraine defending the country.

Markarova called on the Russian president to stop the war, and said that Ukraine would send people to the talks. She added that Ukraine is always ready for talks, "but we are not ready to surrender. And we will defend our country, and we will win."

Asked whether she thinks Russia is genuine in extending this olive branch, Markarova said, "There is an ongoing, full-fledged war with war crimes conducted by Russians in Ukraine on a daily basis. So how genuine is this proposal? We don't know."

On Putin putting deterrence force, including nuclear weapons, on high alert, Markarova said, "This is yet one more example of a terrorist behavior of Russia. They attacked our country. They are scaring everyone."

2:14 p.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Ukrainian woman recounts decision to escape from Kyiv

From CNN's Oleksandra Ochman

(Courtesy Diana Poladova)
(Courtesy Diana Poladova)

Diana Poladova told CNN she hesitated on whether she'd flee the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, but ultimately decided to move Friday.

Poladova described her journey to escape the city as Russia invaded the country, saying at times, people were running when they felt threatened.

"We hesitated for a long time — about an hour, whether to leave Kyiv. We went to the station without a plan, there was a train to Lviv. We stood in line. There was a huge queue. Someone started shouting about the bomb, about the grenade — we all ran in different directions. Then it turned out that it just drove people away from the train. We could not fit on the train, stayed at the station. We looked at train schedules to the West, anywhere," Poladova said

She said she was able to eventually find a train going to Rivne, Ukraine, where they were able to stay with a friend.

"We heard by chance that a train was going from the suburban station to Rivne. We ran there. There was some space in one of the train cars, we got up there. It was an electric train. We have been going to Rivne 8 hours, we were standing there 8 hours in crush with bags, with our cats. We arrived in Rivne. It turned out that there was a friend of a friend in this city, and we spent the night at her place. I plan to manage to take the train to Poland. In Rivne we were able to vaccinate and chip our cats in order to have an international passport for them," she told CNN.

12:57 p.m. ET, February 27, 2022

BP says it will offload its 19.75% stake in the state-owned Russian oil firm Rosneft

From CNN's Anna Stewart and Niamh Kennedy in London

Oil pumping jacks in a Rosneft oilfield near Sokolovka village, Russia.
Oil pumping jacks in a Rosneft oilfield near Sokolovka village, Russia. (Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Oil giant BP will offload its 19.75% shareholding in Russian state-owned oil firm, Rosneft, according to a statement from the company.

"The bp board today announced that BP will exit its shareholding in Rosneft. Bp has held a 19.75% shareholding in Rosneft since 2013," the statement published on Sunday said.

Chief Executive Officer Bernard Looney will also resign immediately from Rosneft's board, according to the statement.

The British company had faced calls from the UK government to offload its ownership stake following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Looney said he “like so many" others was "deeply shocked and saddened by the situation unfolding in Ukraine," which prompted the company "to fundamentally rethink bp’s position with Rosneft."

"I am convinced that the decisions we have taken as a board are not only the right thing to do, but are also in the long-term interests of bp," the CEO added.

BP chair Helge Lund added that "the Rosneft holding is no longer aligned with bp’s business and strategy."

12:49 p.m. ET, February 27, 2022

About 120 Americans have left Ukraine in the last 24 hours, senior US defense official says

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman and Oren Liebermann

About “120 or so Americans” have left Ukraine and entered Poland in the last 24 hours, a senior US defense official told reporters Sunday morning.

These individuals “did not need US military assistance,” the official said. “They already had their plans. They already had transportation available,” the official added.

The US is “in discussions” with Polish authorities about what their needs might be and if they need American military resources to help with the flow of people across the Ukraine-Poland border, the official added.

Some 82nd Airborne troops are “poised at a couple of assembly areas farther back from the border” but they have not seen “any ‘customers’ to date,” the official said.

“If there’s a need for additional US military assistance, as the secretary has said, we’ll be poised and trained and ready to do that,” the official said. “But thus far, the Americans that we’ve seen cross the border have been able to take care of themselves quite well.”


1:57 p.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Remembering 1968, Czechs protest in solidarity with Ukraine

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová

People gather for a demonstration against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 27 in Prague, Czech Republic.
People gather for a demonstration against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 27 in Prague, Czech Republic. (Ondrej Deml /CTK/AP)

Tens of thousands of people attended a pro-Ukrainian rally in Prague on Sunday, filling the Czech capital’s famous Wenceslas Square to the brink.

While protests, vigils and prayer meetings in support of Ukraine are being held across the globe, the event in Prague was particularly poignant given that many of its attendees experienced a Russian invasion first hand.

More background: On Aug. 21, 1968, Soviet-led armies of the Warsaw Pact invaded Czechoslovakia, crushing the so-called Prague Spring democratic reform movement and restoring the totalitarian communist regime.

Overnight, an estimated 500,000 troops from the Soviet Union, Poland, Hungary, East Germany and Bulgaria flooded the country.

At least 137 people were killed during the invasion. Tens of thousands fled the country during the weeks and months after the invasion. Soviet troops stayed in Czechoslovakia for over two decades, with the last leaving in June 1991, a year and half after the Velvet Revolution toppled the Communist regime.

Protestors take part in a demonstration against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, on February 27 in Prague, Czech Republic.
Protestors take part in a demonstration against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, on February 27 in Prague, Czech Republic. (Michal Cizek/AFP/Getty Images)

1:51 p.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Ukrainian president says he doesn't expect much from Monday's meeting but "let them try"

From CNN’s Tim Lister in Kyiv and Chris Liakos

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to the nation during a televised address on Sunday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to the nation during a televised address on Sunday. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/AP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a brief televised statement that he doesn’t expect much from a meeting between Ukrainian and Russian delegations on Monday. 

“I will say frankly, as always: I do not really believe in the result of this meeting, but let them try. So that no citizen of Ukraine would have any doubt that I, as president, did not try to stop the war when there was even a small chance,” Zelensky said.

“And while our guys are there, the president is here, the chief of staff is here, the prime minister is here, the army is here, the commander-in-chief is here. We will all defend our state and our borders,” he added.

Earlier Sunday, Ukraine’s Deputy Interior Minister Evgeny Yenin said talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations will take place Monday morning local time.