February 28, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Rob Picheta, Ed Upright, Maureen Chowdhury, Jason Kurtz, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, March 1, 2022
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6:07 p.m. ET, February 28, 2022

Ukrainian ambassador to US says House is on "the same page" with Ukraine

From CNN's Morgan Rimmer

Ukrainian Ambassador to the US, Oksana Markarova, left today’s meeting with US House members of the Ukrainian caucus feeling that they were on “the same page,” with the House. 

“We have very good understanding,” she added. 

“The United States has been very helpful in helping us supplying the financial assistance, defensive military assistance, but also being a great leader of the anti-war coalition on sanctions. And we just discussed what are we doing now, what can we do more, and we can continue doing more on all of this," Markarova said.

Asked what more the United States can do, Markarova emphasized Ukraine’s need for more weapons and the continuation of sanctions against Russia. “We work actively with the administration, the President, and also with Congress on getting more weapons, so we need more weapons,” she told reporters. “And we are not asking anyone to fight for us, we are defending our country ourselves. But we need all the support that all civilized world can give us to actually continue effectively fighting, and also sanctions," she said.

She added, “We believe Russia, which is now acting like Nazi Germany in WWII, essentially killing innocent civilians — today they shot into a again into not only residential areas but also the orphanages and schools and kindergartens, horrible — they have to pay the price. They have to be isolated.”

Leaving the meeting, Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley told reporters that what they heard from the ambassador was “a message of thanks and appreciation,” and added, “they need more sanctions and they need more supplies.”

“I want to give the administration a lot of credit, and I think the ambassador just did,” he said, “of unifying the West, and moving forward on sanctions that work, and supplying them with materials they need.”

Quigley emphasized he believes the ambassador’s message is, “When you’re dealing with this kind of threat, hope and prayers matter. But when you’re dealing with Putin, hope and a Stinger and a Javelin are even better.”

His colleague, Rep. Brad Sherman, seconded this. “They would like more. I think they are thankful for what we’re doing, and it appears as if we are doing not only the right amount of money for now, but the right mix of weapons,” he said.

“Obviously the Ukrainians would like us to do everything,” said Sherman. “That includes a no-fly zone. But frankly, a no-fly zone means dog fights between American and Russian pilots, and that’s dangerous.”

Later, he noted, “certainly in the back of my mind as others discussed the no-fly zone was the fact that once you have Americans shooting at Russians and Russians shooting at Americans, you are down a very dangerous road.” Sherman noted that the Ukrainians pushed for this option, but he sees it as “one step too dangerous.”

Asked about energy proposals discussed in the meeting, Sherman said, “We talked about strengthening the sanctions by preventing the entire world from buying oil and natural gas. Obviously from a Ukrainian standpoint, that’s an important step. It’s not a step that our European friends have been willing to take.”

A member of Ukraine’s Rada, or parliament, was also in attendance, Alexandra Ustinova.

“We are very grateful for all the support Ukraine gets right now and receives from the international community and from the United States who are the driving, leading force in protecting Ukraine,” she told reporters, “But unfortunately we need more help with every passing day, because we understand Putin becomes more aggressive, and something that seemed impossible a week ago to the whole normal world is a reality to my country today," Ustinova said.

5:48 p.m. ET, February 28, 2022

Biden remains committed to keeping US troops out of Ukraine conflict, White House press secretary says

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky continues to call for a no fly zone in Ukraine, the White House said Monday afternoon that US President Joe Biden remains firm in his commitment to keep US troops out of the conflict.

"The President has been very clear that he is not intending to send US troops to fight a war with Russia. And I think what’s important to note here is that is essentially what this would be a step toward, because a no fly zone would require implementation," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

"It would require deploying US military to enforce, which would be a direct conflict, potentially a direct conflict, and potentially a war with Russia, which is something we are not planning to be a part of," she said.

Other US officials have also said US enforcing a no fly zone in Ukraine is currently off the table. 

US ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the Biden administration "has made clear" the US will not "put boots on the ground," she told CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union."

"We're not going to put American troops in danger. That means we're not going to put American troops in the air as well, but we will work with the Ukrainians to give them the ability to defend themselves."

5:58 p.m. ET, February 28, 2022

Zelensky says Ukraine analyzing results of talks with Russia

From CNN's Oleksandra Ochman and Tim Lister

Delegations from Russia and Ukraine hold talks in Belarus on February 28. 
Delegations from Russia and Ukraine hold talks in Belarus on February 28.  (Alexandr Kryazhev/Sputnik/AP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that he is analyzing the results of Monday's talks with a Russian delegation, which lasted five hours.

"There can be fair negotiations if one side does not hit the other side with rocket artillery at the time of negotiations. So far, we do not have the result we would like to get. Russia has stated its position, and we have declared counterpoints to end the war. We received some signals. When the delegation returns to Kyiv, we will analyze what we have heard and then we will decide how to proceed to the second round of talks," Zelensky said in a message posted to his Facebook page.
5:52 p.m. ET, February 28, 2022

Turkey warns all countries to not let warships go through the Turkish Straits

From CNN's Isil Sariyuce in Istanbul 

A Russian patrol boat travels through the Bosphorus Strait, past the city of Istanbul, on February 16.
A Russian patrol boat travels through the Bosphorus Strait, past the city of Istanbul, on February 16. (Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images/File)

Turkish minister of foreign affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Monday evening that Turkey warned “all countries, that have coast to Black Sea, or not, not to let warships pass through the straits” according to Turkey’s state-run news agency Anadolu. 

On Sunday, Çavuşoğlu said Turkey recognizes Russia’s invasion as “war” which gives Turkey certain control over the straits that connect the Black Sea, Marmara and Aegean.

"We warned all countries, that have a coast on the Black Sea or not, not to let warships go through the straits," Çavuşoğlu told reporters after a Cabinet meeting in Ankara, Anadolu reported.

"To date, there has been no request for passage through the straits [since the war started],” Çavuşoğlu said according to Anadolu. “Until today, the Russians were asking whether we would implement Montreux if needed. We told them that we would apply it word by word,” he added.

"If Turkey is not a party to the war, it has the authority not to allow the passage of the belligerent countries' ships through the straits. If the warship is returning to its base in the Black Sea, the passage is not blocked,” he explained. 

More background on Montreux: The 1936 Montreux Convention gives Turkey the authority to ban warships of all countries, regardless of they are party to war or not and regardless they have a coast on the Black Sea or not, to pass from the straits during times of war if Turkey is a party of the war or if Turkey says it is under threat.

5:45 p.m. ET, February 28, 2022

Zelensky calls for closure "of the sky" for Russian missiles, aircraft and helicopters

From CNN's Oleksandra Ochman and Tim Lister

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky makes a speech in Kyiv on Monday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky makes a speech in Kyiv on Monday. (Office of the President of Ukraine/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday called for the "complete closure of the sky for Russian missiles, aircraft and helicopters."

"Evil, armed with missiles, bombs, and artillery, must be stopped immediately, destroyed economically. To show that humanity is able to defend itself, it is necessary to consider a complete closure of the sky for Russian missiles, aircraft, helicopters," he said in a message posted to his Facebook page.

"A state that commits crimes against civilians cannot be a member of the UN Security Council. For such a state the entrance to all ports, canals, airports in the world must be closed. Such a state should not receive hundreds of billions for energy exports. To buy Russian goods now is to pay for killing people," Zelensky added.

5:43 p.m. ET, February 28, 2022

France says it fears Ukrainian civilians will be targeted "massively" in a Russian invasion

From CNN's Simon Bouvier

French President Emmanuel Macron, center, chairs a Defense Council at the Elysée Palace in Paris on Monday.
French President Emmanuel Macron, center, chairs a Defense Council at the Elysée Palace in Paris on Monday. (Yoan Valat/Pool/AP)

France's Elysée Palace says it fears that Ukrainian civilians will be "massively" targeted in a Russian invasion, a spokesperson has said.

The concerns were revealed during a briefing with journalists on Monday, coming just after French President Emmanuel Macron's phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The spokesperson also expressed willingness to support Ukraine's aspirations to join the EU amid the escalation of the Russian offensive in Ukraine. 

As for the call between Macron and Putin, the spokesperson noted that it is "advisable to maintain all possible options to try to get out of the current spiral." 

The palace spokesperson described Putin as "following a logic of offense. So in the current situation, there are very serious risks of seeing Russia extend its operations with a considerable human, political, strategic and economic cost.”

After a follow-up question, the spokesperson added: "There are good reasons to fear that civilians will be targeted more massively and without precautions by the Russians."

The Elysée Palace spokesperson also commented on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's public request that the European Union consider admitting Ukraine as a member.

"There is a consensus among us that the European Union will emerge transformed from this ordeal, from this crisis," the spokesperson said. "In this context, I believe that everyone is well aware of the fact that Ukraine is a country in the heart of Europe, that Ukraine is a country whose destiny is important to us, whose democratic choice is important to us and that we want to be able to support its aspirations." 

However, they coached the palace's support by noting that, "we must be careful not to make promises that we cannot keep, not only to Ukraine, but also to all the countries around Russia that have close relations with Europe, which are themselves European countries."

5:19 p.m. ET, February 28, 2022

African nations on UN Security Council condemn racism at Ukrainian border

From CNN's Laura Ly

Representatives from the three African nations on the UN Security Council — Kenya, Ghana, and Gabon — all condemned discrimination against African citizens at the Ukrainian border during a UNSC meeting at the UN HQ in New York City Monday afternoon 

“In the unfolding emergency, there have been disturbing reports about the racist treatment of Africans and people of African descent seeking to flee Ukraine to safety. The media is covering these appalling incidents and several states have confirmed that their citizens are suffering such treatment. We strongly condemn this racism and believe that it is damaging to the spirit of solidarity that is so urgently needed today. The mistreatment of African peoples on Europe’s borders needs to cease immediately, whether to the Africans fleeing Ukraine or to those crossing the Mediterranean,” Kenyan Ambassador to the UN Martin Kimani said Monday.

Kimani added that the Security Council needs “to be able to understand that there are actors who want to magnify this story for cynical reasons that have nothing to do with the wellbeing and safety of Africans.” He also thanked Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia for allowing Kenyan citizens fleeing Ukraine visa-free entry into their countries. 

Ghanaian Deputy Ambassador to the UN Carolyn Oppong-Ntiri echoed the sentiment in her remarks, calling for the facilitation of persons fleeing Ukraine “without discrimination” and to provide them with humanitarian assistance, “including medical care in line with the principles of humanity, neutrality, and impartiality.” 

The UN Ambassador from Gabon called reports of racism “unacceptable.” 

“We ask for the respect of the dignity and for equitable treatment of all people in dire circumstances. It is an opportunity for my country to recall the African Union appeal for respect of international law that requires equal treatment for all people who cross international borders in conflict areas,” Ambassador Michel Xavier Biang said Monday. 

CNN’s Pooja Salhotra contributed to this report.

5:14 p.m. ET, February 28, 2022

Zelensky accuses Russia of war crimes in bombardment of Kharkiv

From CNN's Oleksandra Ochman and Tim Lister

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers a late-night address on Monday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers a late-night address on Monday. (Office of the President of Ukraine/AFP)

In a late night address Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that in five days, 56 missile strikes and 113 cruise missiles were launched in Ukraine by Russian forces.

He added, “Today, Russian forces brutally fired on Kharkiv from jet artillery. It was clearly a war crime.”

"Kharkiv is a peaceful city, there are peaceful residential areas, no military facilities. Dozens of eyewitness accounts prove that this is not a single false volley, but deliberate destruction of people: the Russians knew where they were shooting."

"There will definitely be an international tribunal for this crime — it's a violation of all conventions. No one in the world will forgive you for killing peaceful Ukrainian people," he said.

4:30 p.m. ET, February 28, 2022

Biden and key allies discussed aid to Ukraine and penalties on Russia in call today

From CNN's DJ Judd

The White House said US President Joe Biden and world leaders “recognized the bravery of the Ukrainian people in the face of Russian aggression and discussed their continued support to Ukraine, including security, economic, and humanitarian assistance,” during a secure call Monday. 

Joining Biden on the call, according to the White House, were:

  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
  • European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen
  • European Council President Charles Michel
  • French President Emmanuel Macron
  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz
  • Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi
  • Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida
  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
  • Polish President Andrzej Duda
  • Romanian President Klaus Iohannis
  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson

The White House said the group “also discussed their coordinated efforts to impose severe costs and consequences to hold Russia accountable while working to maintain global economic stability, including with regard to energy prices.”