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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9:36 p.m. ET, February 28, 2022

Disney will stop releasing films in Russia

From CNN’s Frank Pallotta

Disney, Hollywood's largest and most influential movie studio, is pausing the release of its theatrical films in Russia following the country's invasion of Ukraine.

"Given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, we are pausing the release of theatrical films in Russia, including the upcoming 'Turning Red' from Pixar," a Disney spokesperson said in statement on Monday.
"We will make future business decisions based on the evolving situation."

Disney had multiple films set for release in Russia in the coming months. That includes Marvel's "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" on May 5 and Pixar's "Lightyear" on June 16.

Although Russia is not a major movie market like China and the United States, the move to pull films from the country, at least for the time being, is notable and could prompt other movie studios to follow suit.

Read the full story:

9:30 p.m. ET, February 28, 2022

Blinken condemns "Russia's attacks on Ukrainian cities and mounting civilian deaths"

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has condemned reports of “Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian cities and mounting civilian deaths,” according to the State Department.

Blinken made the comments while on a call with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Monday.

"The Secretary offered steadfast solidarity with the Ukrainian people, who are bravely resisting and repelling a brutal, premeditated, and unprovoked Russian invasion, according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price.
9:21 p.m. ET, February 28, 2022

Overwhelming wave of Russian troops expected in Ukraine, US officials warn

From CNN's Jeremy Herb and Lauren Fox

US administration officials warned lawmakers in classified briefings Monday that a second wave of Russian troops will likely consolidate the country's positions within Ukraine and by sheer numbers be able to overcome the Ukrainian resistance, according to two people familiar with the briefings.   

“That part was disheartening,” one lawmaker told CNN.

The officials also said Russia was likely to lay siege to Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, and predicted ugly scenes of urban warfare, one of the people familiar with the matter said.

Putin's mental state: Questions about Russian President Vladimir Putin's mental state arose during the briefings, but were not clearly answered by the administration officials, the sources said.

GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, who attended the Senate briefing, confirmed Putin's mental state came up, but he declined to elaborate on what was shared.

He did say, however, that regardless of the briefing, he personally is worried about Putin’s mental state.

The Biden administration officials were more upbeat about the unity emerging from Western countries, both in terms of sanctions as well as weapons coming from nations like Germany that were opposed to such a move just a few days ago, the sources said. 

9:20 p.m. ET, February 28, 2022

White House closely monitoring Russian convoy now reported to be more than 40 miles long

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

Along with part of the convoy, smoke can be seen rising from what appears to be burning homes, northwest of Invankiv, Ukraine.
Along with part of the convoy, smoke can be seen rising from what appears to be burning homes, northwest of Invankiv, Ukraine. (Maxar Technologies)

The White House is closely monitoring the Russian military convoy that, according to new satellite images released by Maxar, has reached the outskirts of Kyiv and appears to be more than 40 miles long.

Multiple officials told CNN they are not only concerned by the size of the convoy, but also by the increase in violence, civilian casualties and indiscriminate killings in recent days. 

Officials who were surprised by the fierce Ukrainian resistance when Russia invaded now fear the situation is becoming “a lot more challenging” for them. 

In recent days, US President Joe Biden instructed Secretary of State Antony Blinken to release up to $350 million in immediate support for Ukraine's defense, but officials have also acknowledged privately that getting new aid to Ukraine will be more difficult than it was previously when it could be flown directly to Kyiv. 

8:51 p.m. ET, February 28, 2022

How CNN verifies social media videos from Ukraine

From CNN's Gianluca Mezzofiore and Katie Polglase

From TikTok videos of tanks in Belgorod to Telegram clips of strikes near Kyiv, social media footage has played a key role in the news coverage of Ukraine, revealing new attacks and military movements.

But making sure the videos and images are real, accurate and correctly labeled is crucial amid a misinformation campaign that surrounds Russia’s offensive in Ukraine.

CNN’s investigative team has been monitoring the constant stream of information from social media by using several tools to filter through the noise and select relevant videos for our coverage to geolocate and verify.

Watch how CNN's investigative team verifies photos and video from social media:

8:50 p.m. ET, February 28, 2022

Brazil announces "humanitarian passport" for Ukrainian refugees

From CNN’s Mia Alberti

Brazil is creating a “humanitarian passport” to welcome Ukrainian refugees, President Jair Bolsonaro said in a Monday interview with radio station Jovem Pan.

Bolsonaro said the measure should be in place in the next day or two and is part of the country’s efforts to welcome “all refugees” from Ukraine.

The President, who’s been adamant in adopting what he called a “neutral” position on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, said he hoped the conflict would end soon and that Brazil wants “peace all over the world”.

Bolsonaro also said Brazil hosts a large Ukrainian community, including about 600,000 people in the southern state of Paraná.

8:42 p.m. ET, February 28, 2022

Russia's term as UN Security Council president ends in the next few hours

From CNN’s Liam Reilly and Pooja Salhotra

Russia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia.
Russia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia. (UNTV)

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia’s term as president of the United Nations Security Council ends at midnight ET Monday and he concluded his presidency by calling into question the veracity of statements about Ukraine made by his colleagues. 

“I would like to say … I was surprised, because just the reports and videos and information in Ukraine — some of them are taken as fact. And others … fully-reliable, unquestionably reliable — are being considered inaccurate, unreliable,” Nebenzia said in translated remarks. 

Nebenzia has maintained multiple times on the Security Council floor that Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine has not targeted civilian infrastructure and there is no evidence of civilian deaths caused by the Russia military.

He repeated these claims on Monday, stating the “tide of dirty lies replicated in Western mass media unfortunately have become a dangerous mark of our time.”

Fact check: A senior US defense official told reporters that Russian forces are “causing civilian harm and they are striking civilian targets." And 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.

In his final public remarks to the Security Council on Monday, Nebenzia also called February a “busy month” during which not every issue achieved consensus. 

"Abomination": Ukrainian UN Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya said in his remarks Monday that he welcomed the end of Nebenzia’s term.

“I’m looking forward to midnight, even though midnight is the most dangerous time right now because that’s when most of the attacks take place. But I’m looking forward to midnight, when this abomination, occupation of the seat of the president of the council will be over,” Kyslytsya said. 

The presidency of the council rotates between members every month. United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the UN Lana Zaki Nusseibeh will begin her presidency on Tuesday for March.

8:25 p.m. ET, February 28, 2022

Bipartisan group of senators urges Biden to extend Temporary Protected Status to Ukrainians in the US

From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez, Lauren Fox and Jeff Zeleny 

A bipartisan group of senators is urging the Biden administration to extend a form of humanitarian relief, known as Temporary Protected Status, to Ukrainians in the US. 

“In light of Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine, we respectfully request that your administration promptly take all necessary steps to ensure that Ukrainian nationals present in the United States are not forced to return to Ukraine, including the designation of Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status (TPS),” the senators wrote in a letter to President Joe Biden. 

TPS applies to people who would face extreme hardship if forced to return to homelands devastated by armed conflict or natural disasters, therefore the protections are limited to people already in the US.

8:17 p.m. ET, February 28, 2022

World Rugby sanctions Russia and Belarus

Russia and Belarus have been suspended from all international rugby and cross-border club activities until further notice, the sport's governing body said Monday.

Additionally, the Rugby Union of Russia has been suspended from World Rugby membership until further notice, World Rugby said on its website.

“World Rugby reiterates its condemnation of Russia’s aggressive invasion of Ukraine and the facilitation of this action by Belarus,” the organization said.
“The global rugby family is united in standing in solidarity with everyone affected by these deeply disturbing events and joins the global community in calling for the restoration of peace.”