March 24, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Helen Regan, Seán Federico O'Murchú, George Ramsay, Sana Noor Haq, Adrienne Vogt, Melissa Macaya, Maureen Chowdhury, Meg Wagner and Jason Kurtz, CNN

Updated 12:19 p.m. ET, March 25, 2022
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10:13 a.m. ET, March 24, 2022

Russian TV shows defense minister on a pre-taped video conference "reporting on operation in Ukraine"

From CNN's Anastasia Graham-Yooll in London

A Russia 24 TV channel anchor interrupted a live interview on Thursday to broadcast pre-taped footage of the country’s National Security Council operational meeting, which included Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, who hasn’t been seen in over a week. The broadcaster, however, did not say when the meeting took place.  

The anchor quoted Russia’s presidential spokesperson Dmitriy Peskov, suggesting Shoigu was giving a report on the so-called "Ukrainian military operation" remotely. The footage did not show Shoigu speak, but his image appeared on screen among other video call participants reporting to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Shoigu, a close ally of Putin, has not been seen lately despite having a leading role in Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Some Russian media reports have speculated that he could have health problems.

The Kremlin spokesman previously dismissed Shoigu’s lack of public presence by saying he “has a lot on his plate at the moment.” Speaking to CNN on Thursday, Peskov also refused to comment on an independent investigation into Defence Ministry sources leaking information about Shoigu’s health problems.  

Shoigu last appeared in a Channel One broadcast on March 18, which the Russian outlet said was from that day. But Russian journalists have speculated that the event being broadcast was from March 11.

10:27 a.m. ET, March 24, 2022

The G7 meeting is underway

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

US President Joe Biden is meeting with the G7 to discuss new sanctions and other actions to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

At the start of the meeting the leaders stood for a family photo, but did not otherwise engage with the press as the talks got underway.

Biden was seen sitting down at a round table and opening his notebooks as the meeting began. He walked in alongside British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, talks with US President Joe Biden ahead of a G7 summit in Brussels, Belgium, on March 24.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, talks with US President Joe Biden ahead of a G7 summit in Brussels, Belgium, on March 24. (Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images)

Some background: The G7 is shorthand for Group of Seven, an organization of leaders from some of the world's largest economies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the US.

Russia was indefinitely suspended from the group — which was at the time known as the G8 — in 2014 after the majority of member countries allied against its annexation of Crimea. It was the first violation of a European country's borders since World War II.

10:17 a.m. ET, March 24, 2022

Biden on NATO summit: "NATO is as strong and united as it has ever been"

From CNN's Allie Malloy

U.S. President Joe Biden attends a North Atlantic Council meeting at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on March 24.
U.S. President Joe Biden attends a North Atlantic Council meeting at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on March 24. (Evelyn Hockstein/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden in a statement said that the NATO alliance remains “as strong and united as it has ever been” and vowed continued support for Ukraine following Thursday’s NATO summit in Brussels. 

“NATO leaders met today on the one-month anniversary of Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine to reiterate our strong support for the Ukrainian people, our determination to hold Russia accountable for its brutal war, and our commitment to strengthening the NATO Alliance,” Biden said. 

Biden noted that the leaders were able to hear from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky via videoconference and said in the statement that NATO and the United States will “continue to support him and his government with significant, and increasing, amounts of security assistance to fight Russian aggression and uphold their right to self-defense.”

9:55 a.m. ET, March 24, 2022

US provides $1 billion in humanitarian assistance for people impacted by Russian invasion of Ukraine 

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

The United States said Thursday it would provide more than $1 billion in humanitarian assistance for people affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The funds will help provide food, shelter, clean water, medical supplies and other assistance, the White House said.

The money comes as US President Joe Biden meets with European leaders and works to determine the next phase of the response to Russia’s war.

In addition, the White House said it would stand up a $320 million fund meant to bolster democracy in countries bordering the European Union, including funding for human rights, independent media and anti-corruption initiatives.

10:25 a.m. ET, March 24, 2022

G7 leaders take family photo ahead of emergency summit

Left to right: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Joe Biden, Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, France's President Emmanuel Macron, Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi and European Council President Charles Michel pose for a G7 leaders' family photograph during a NATO summit at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on March 24.
Left to right: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Joe Biden, Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, France's President Emmanuel Macron, Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi and European Council President Charles Michel pose for a G7 leaders' family photograph during a NATO summit at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on March 24. (Photo by Henry Nicholls/AFP/Getty Images)

The G7 leaders just took a family photo in Brussels ahead of an emergency summit to discuss Russia's invasion in Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden is expected to speak soon to the group.

9:46 a.m. ET, March 24, 2022

Ukrainian teen escaped from Chernihiv and survived a blast that killed his mother

Andriy, a 15-year-old Ukrainian teen from Chernihiv, escaped his city after being forced from his home and then drove over what he thinks was a land mine, he told CNN.

"I see a yellow explosion. Sound in ears. And I just remember like I woke up in road. I see the broken car. And I see like my mother with fire," he told CNN's John Berman while recovering in a children's hospital in Lviv.
"I feel blood in my left ear. Then I hear shooting ... from rockets or something."

He said he was screaming and couldn't walk. Villagers who heard the explosion brought him to safety.

His mother burned to death.

Andriy started crying when asked about his mother, saying it is "very difficult" for his family.

"I want you to know my mother was a very beautiful woman," he said via a translator.

The northern city of Chernihiv has seen some of the most intense shelling since Russia invaded Ukraine a month ago. Badly damaged buildings line rubble-strewn streets, while still-burning fires fill the air with heavy smoke, as seen in a new video from Mayor Vladyslav Atroshenko.

"It's very hard to look what going on with my city," he added, saying that he'll go back once the war ends. 

Andriy said he wants to "distance myself from this war," then played a song on his guitar for Berman.

Watch the interview:

9:38 a.m. ET, March 24, 2022

US still opposes providing fighter jets to Ukraine, official says

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

The United States is still opposed to providing fighter jets to Ukraine after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made another appeal to NATO leaders on Thursday. 

A senior US official tells CNN the US position has not changed on the matter. 

During a video address on Thursday, Zelensky asked NATO for "one percent of all your planes," later adding, "you have thousands of fighter jets, but we have not been given one yet."

Previously, US officials said they opposed providing fighter jets to Ukraine because it could be viewed by Russian President Vladimir Putin as an escalatory step. 

9:29 a.m. ET, March 24, 2022

US will welcome 100,000 Ukrainians fleeing Russian aggression, Biden administration official says

From CNN's Allie Malloy 

A Ukrainian family wait with their luggage before being allowed to cross the San Ysidro Port of Entry into the United States to seek asylum on March 22, in Tijuana, Mexico.
A Ukrainian family wait with their luggage before being allowed to cross the San Ysidro Port of Entry into the United States to seek asylum on March 22, in Tijuana, Mexico. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The United States will welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainians and others fleeing Russia’s aggression, a senior administration official announced Thursday.

“To meet this commitment, we are considering the full range of legal pathways to the United States,” the official said, which includes US refugee admissions program, parole and immigrant and nonimmigrant visas.

The official said the White House will not have to ask Congress to expand the current cap on annual refugees — which is currently set at 125,000 for fiscal year 2022 — because it is more a “long-term commitment” and there will be other avenues to enter the United States for many of those Ukrainians.

“We still have a significant capacity within the 125,000 so we don’t currently envision the need to go beyond that,” the official said.

The official said that the administration is working to expand and develop new programs with “a focus on welcoming Ukrainians who have family members in the United States.”

There will be an emphasis on protecting the most vulnerable among the refugee populations, including members of the LGBTQI+ community, those with medical needs, journalists and third country nationals.

“By opening our country to these individuals, we will help relieve some of the pressure on the European host countries that are currently shouldering so much of the responsibility,” the official added.

9:25 a.m. ET, March 24, 2022

US will announce sanctions on over 300 members of the Russian Duma, Biden administration official says

From CNN's Allie Malloy

The Central Bank of the Russian Federation building, in Moscow, Russia, on September 10, 2013.
The Central Bank of the Russian Federation building, in Moscow, Russia, on September 10, 2013. (Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

The United States on Thursday will announce new sanctions against over 300 members of the Russian Duma and more than 40 Russian defense companies, a senior administration official told reporters. 

The official added that the EU and G7 will also announce a new sanctions evasion initiative that’s “designed to prevent circumvention or backfilling” of sanctions.

Asked by CNN’s Phil Mattingly for examples of the sanctions evasion initiative, a senior administration official said, in part, it will blunt the Central Bank of Russia’s ability to deploy international reserves by making clear that any transaction involving gold is prohibited — which prevents the ruble from being propped up.

“The overall message here is we have taken historic steps in imposing costs on Russia, now let’s make sure we are fully aligned and getting the maximum impact from the measures we have implemented,” the official said.

Asked about the expected joint energy strategy that is expected to be announced Friday, administration officials wouldn’t go into detail but said “it’s something we’ve been working on for some time and I think it’s going to be a meaningful step forward in terms of accelerating Europe’s diversification away from Russian gas.”