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Gunfire and explosions reported in Kyiv as Ukraine's leader accuses Putin of waging "war against Europe"

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Zelensky: Russia will soon try to storm Kyiv
Russia will soon try to storm Kyiv, Ukrainian president says 03:25

Kyiv — Explosions from what Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called "horrific Russian rocket strikes" were heard in Ukraine's capital on Friday amid unverified reports that the fighting had already reached the heart of Kyiv. Videos posted online showed what residents said were Russian tanks driving through their city, and gunfire and air raid sirens were heard in the capital.

In an address on Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Russia was going to try to "destroy our resistance" overnight. 

"All of us should understand what is awaiting us this night," he said, according to Reuters. "We have to hold out. Ukraine's destiny is being decided right now."

Ukrainian officials say they're fighting on multiple fronts to repel a "full-scale invasion," and President Joe Biden has accused Putin of choosing to carry out "a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering."  

Ukraine map
Source: CIA World Factbook

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov doubled down Friday on Putin's claim that the invasion was necessary to "demilitarize" Ukraine's Western-backed government, which the Kremlin has labeled a "Nazi cell." Lavrov said after Ukraine was "liberated from this burden, Ukrainians will have the chance to freely choose their future."

But CBS News' Haley Ott reports that Ukrainians are rushing to back up their country's military forces, hoping to prevent any future on Russia's terms.  

Russia closes in on Kyiv with more explosions reported across Ukraine overnight 13:32

Ott said people streamed into a makeshift recruitment center in Kyiv on Friday morning, saying they were ready to die to defend their city. One commander said thousands had reported for duty — very few of them with military experience. Guns were being distributed to those who showed up, and the commander said they were quickly running out.

 

"This night they will storm," Ukraine's president warns

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a dire warning Friday, telling his country that "this night will be harder than the day." 

"This night, the enemies uses on all fronts all their power to destroy our resistance," Zelensky said in a pre-recorded video, according to Reuters. "In a mean and brutal way, and not in a human way. This night, they are going to storm. All of us should understand what is awaiting us this night. We have to hold out. Ukraine's destiny is being decided right now."

 

Russia vetoes U.N. resolution condemning Ukraine attack; China abstains

Russia has vetoed a resolution brought up in the U.N.'s Security Council that would have condemned its invasion of Ukraine. Russia cast the sole vote against the measure. The surprising vote was the abstention by China, which effectively cast Russia as alone among the world powers. 

"China is deeply concerned about the latest developments of the situation in Ukraine. Currently, it has come to the point which we do not want to see," Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun wrote in a statement after the vote. "We welcome and encourage all efforts for a diplomatic solution, and support the Russian Federation and Ukraine in resolving the issue through negotiations."

In total, 11 nations voted in favor, with the United Arab Emirates and India also abstaining.

Council members knew that this would be the fate of the measure — but the results of the vote were seen by supporters of the resolution as a win for the U.S. and Albania, the lead sponsors. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that the sponsors would now introduce a similar resolution in the 193-nation General Assembly where there are no vetoes.

"You cannot veto our principles. You cannot veto the Ukrainian people. You cannot veto the UN Charter. And you will not veto accountability," Thomas-Greenfield told the diplomats. 

"We are united behind Ukraine and its people, despite a reckless, irresponsible Permanent Member of the Security Council abusing its power to attack its neighbor and subvert the UN and our international system," she added. 

After the vote, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, "Time after time, when the international community has rallied together in solidarity, those values have prevailed. They will prevail, independently of what happened today." 

France's Ambassador to the U.N. Nicolas de Riviere noted that the situation on the ground is grim. 

"At this very moment, Russian missiles are killing civilians, bombing cities, destroying essential infrastructure with the sole purpose of vassalizing Ukraine," he said. 

Before the meeting began, representatives from 27 European nations as well as the Ukrainian U.N. Ambassador held up a Ukrainian flag in front of the anti-war tapestry Guernica to show solidarity with Ukraine. 

By Pamela Falk
 

Ukraine tells residents to make Molotov cocktails

The situation in Ukraine has become so desperate that its government has told residents in Kyiv to make Molotov cocktails to use against Russian forces. Ukrainian TV aired videos showing how to make the incendiary weapons. 

The government has also called on men between 18 and 60 to stand and fight. Even with 18,000 guns handed out to citizens in an effort to hold the city, one commander told CBS News that they don't have enough guns to go around.

By Charlie D'Agata
 

Ukraine and Russia "consulting" about a place and time to hold negotiations, Zelensky spokesman says

Representatives from Ukraine and Russia have contacted each other and are discussing a place and time for potential negotiations, a spokesperson for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Facebook. A Ukrainian official confirmed the authenticity of the post to CBS News' Camilla Schick. 

The spokesman, Sergii Nykyforov, said in the post that "Ukraine was and remains ready to talk about ceasefire and peace. This is our constant position," according to a translation of his remarks.   

"We responded in agreement to the proposal of the President of the Russian Federation," Nykyforov continued. "Directly at these hours, the parties are consulting about the place and time of the negotiation process. The sooner the negotiations begin, the more chance there will be to restore normal life." 

 

NATO to use response force for the first time to defend allies

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the 30-nation organization will send parts of the NATO Response Force and elements of a quickly deployable spearhead unit to the alliance's eastern flank. It's the first time the force has been used to defend NATO allies.

Stoltenberg did not say how many troops would be sent or where they might go, but he did confirm that the move would involve land, sea and air power.

In response to Europe's biggest security crisis in decades, Stoltenberg said, "We are now deploying the NATO Response Force for the first time in a collective defense context. We speak about thousands of troops. We speak about air and maritime capabilities."

"There must be no space for miscalculation or misunderstanding. We will do what it takes to protect and defend every ally, and every inch of NATO territory," he said.

The NRF can number up to 40,000 troops, but Stoltenberg said that NATO would not be deploying the entire force. Parts of a spearhead unit known in NATO jargon as the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, which is currently led by France, will also be sent.

By Associated Press
 

IAEA says military traffic at Chernobyl likely caused slight increase in radiation levels

The director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed Friday that military forces overtook Chernobyl and said the reported rise in radiation levels in the area is likely due to heavy military traffic.

"We have received information indicating that there has been an increase, but I should say without getting into minutia, these levels are, let's say, extremely low, and they are not putting any danger to the public," IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi told CBS News in an interview.

Grossi said there is a slight increase in radiation levels that is probably caused by the commotion that comes as a result of heavy equipment moving the ground.

Chernobyl is the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster that has been blamed for dozens of deaths.

Reports of Russian forces taking the plant Thursday raised fears that the fighting could puncture the dome over the destroyed reactor and release radiation. Grossi said although the Russians had taken Chernobyl, the dome is intact and operations have not been interrupted.

Grossi would not say that the Ukrainian staff who continue operations at the plant are "hostages." He said it's a delicate line since external forces now run the plant.

The other 15 nuclear reactors in Ukraine are operating and are under the control of Ukraine.

-David Martin and Mary Walsh

 

U.S. to join European allies in sanctioning Putin and Lavrov

White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced Friday the U.S. will join its European allies in imposing sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other members of the Russian national security team.

Psaki told reporters one component of the sanctions against Putin would be a travel ban, and she said President Biden arrived at the decision in consultation with allies over the "last day or so."

She declined to discuss the kind of impact the move could have on the Russian president, but a former Treasury official expressed doubt that personal sanctions on Putin would have much of an impact, saying it was "noble and valiant" for the U.S. to try, and that it was an effort that should be made, "but he obviously has enough wealth to last a thousand lifetimes — well-hidden across multiple jurisdictions."

The official noted that "Western governments have been searching for decades for sources of Putin's wealth, but they've only scratched the surface at finding it" and suggested that his cash is hidden "far from U.S. and European shores."

By Michael Kaplan
 

U.S. official says Russian forces aren't moving as quickly as Russia anticipated

Russian forces have not moved as quickly into Ukraine as they anticipated, according to a U.S. senior defense official. In particular, the Russian assault on Ukraine's capital of Kyiv has "slowed" over the past 24 hours, meaning they have not achieved the progress they expected.

"In general, the Russians have lost a little bit of their momentum," the defense official said. "They are not advancing as far or as fast as we believe they expect that they would."

About one-third of the combat power the Russians have arrayed around Ukraine's eastern, northern and southern borders are being utilized as of now, according to the defense official, who described what the Pentagon is seeing as the initial phase of a large-scale invasion.

The Russians in total have launched around 200 missiles into Ukraine. There are indications the missiles hit some civilian residential areas, but it's not clear if they are targeting civilian areas. 

There are three main advances of the assault: from the north toward Kyiv, from the south and from the northeast. There are still indications that Kharkiv, a city about 30 miles from the Russian border, is being contested.

There has been fighting at the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant and dam, which provides a lot of the electrical power to Crimea and southern Ukraine, according to the defense official.

By Eleanor Watson
 

Former champion boxers plan to take up arms and fight for Ukraine

Hall of Fame Ukrainian boxer Vitali Klitschko said he will take up arms to fight Russia. Vitali said he will fight alongside his brother and former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, who enlisted earlier this month into the Ukrainian reserve army.

Vitali, 50, who is also the mayor of the capital city of Kyiv, told Good Morning Britain that Ukraine is already fighting a "bloody war" and he doesn't have "another choice."

"I have to do that...I would be fighting," the 6-foot-7-inch politician said. Vitali is joining calls from the country's minister of defense for civilians over the age of 18 to take up arms to help defend the country.

Read more here

By Christopher Brito
 

Biden speaks with Ukrainian leader

President Biden held a secure call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for 40 minutes Friday, a White House official told CBS News' Arden Farhi.

On Twitter, Zelensky said they discussed "strengthening sanctions, concrete defense assistance and an anti-war coalition."

By Alex Sundby
 

Ukraine's Defense Ministry posts video of President Zelensky with aides in Kyiv

A video was posted on the Ukraine's Defense Ministry's Twitter account Friday showing President Volodymyr Zelensky with a group of his top advisors in Kyiv as the threat of a Russian attack on the capital became more intense.

"Good evening everyone. The leader of the presidential party is here. The leader of the presidential office is here. The prime minister is here. The advisor to the leader of the presidential office is here. The president is here. We are all here. Our service members are all here. Citizens are here. We all protect our independence and our country, and it will stay like that. Glory to the heroes, glory to Ukraine," Zelensky said.

The ministry appeared to be posting the video as proof that the country's leader was still in the capital amid rumors online that he had left.

By Haley Ott
 

Cruz says Russia is invading Ukraine because of Biden's "enormous" mistakes

Republican Senator Ted Cruz on Thursday said Russia is invading Ukraine "because of enormous mistakes that the Biden administration has made."

"What we're seeing right now is the most serious military conflict in Europe since World War II," Cruz told CBS News chief election and campaign correspondent Robert Costa on Thursday. "It is devastating, and unfortunately, I expect it's likely to get worse before it gets better. What is frustrating is that what is happening right now was entirely avoidable. The reason that Russia is invading Ukraine is because of enormous mistakes that the Biden administration has made, and two in particular."

In particular, Cruz, who was interviewed by Costa at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Florida, blamed the president's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan last summer, claiming it made the Oval Office look weak to America's enemies. He also pointed to the president's earlier decision to waive sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would bring natural gas from Russia to Germany.

Read more here

By Kathryn Watson
 

Man pulled from car crushed by armored vehicle as Russian forces push into northern Kyiv

A dead man in civilian clothes lay sprawled on the sidewalk of a residential neighborhood in northern Kyiv on Friday, as Ukrainian soldiers took up positions under the cover of a two-story building. Less than 30 yards away, medics were rushing to help another man, who had been driving a civilian car that was completely crushed under the tracks of an armored vehicle.

Videos posted online, including one verified by the BBC using geolocation, showed the incident happen:

An advance party of Russia's invasion force left a trail of damage in its wake as clashes erupted inside Ukraine's capital Kyiv for the first time, amid rising fears the city was about to be stormed or come under siege.

Pedestrians ran for safety as small arms fire and explosions erupted in the Obolonsky district in the city's north. Larger blasts could be heard in the city center, where residents endured a first tense night under curfew and the sounds of bombing.

War In Ukraine
Passers-by stand near a civilian vehicle that was driven over by what Ukrainian civilians and defense forces said was a Russian armored vehicle operated by a saboteur group, before the Russians were killed in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 25, 2022. Sergii Kharchenko/NurPhoto/Getty

Eyewitnesses said they saw corpses of what looked to be two dead Russian soldiers near the crushed vehicle, but the Ukrainian military, who were inspecting the wrecked car, did not allow AFP to come closer.

By AFP
 

Stocks up on Wall Street despite invasion

How the Russian invasion could impact gas prices and U.S. economy 03:39

Some relief flowed through Wall Street on Friday, even as deadly attacks continued to rage in Ukraine. Stocks rose, oil fell and investors turned away from gold and other traditional havens they favor when fear is high.

The S&P 500 was 1.3% higher in midday trading, following up on a wild Thursday where the benchmark index careened from a 2.6% loss to a gain of 1.5%. Stocks have swung sharply with uncertainty about how much Russia's invasion will push up inflation, particularly oil and natural gas prices, and drag on the global economy.

Such big swings are likely to continue in the hours and weeks ahead, with so much uncertainty not only about Ukraine but also about interest rates.

Read more here

By Associated Press
 

Ukrainian soldiers defy Russians in final moment: "F*** you"

The reported actions of a small group of soldiers who were in charge of guarding a tiny island in the Black Sea have sent shockwaves across the world. As Russian forces descended on Thursday, threatening to bomb them if they didn't surrender, 13 guards allegedly refused and instead issued a resounding, "f*** you." 

Moments later, they were killed.

Audio appearing to document the encounter was posted on YouTube on Thursday by local news outlet Ukrayinska Pravda. CBS News could not independently verify the audio.

Read more here

By Li Cohen
 

Ukrainians shell-shocked and sheltering, but not submitting to Putin's invasion

The war is taking a devastating toll on Ukraine's civilians. CBS News senior foreign correspondent Holly Williams said the mayor of the country's second largest city warned citizens to seek shelter as Kharkiv became the focus of a fierce fight between Russian forces and Ukrainians trying to defend it.

Russia claims it isn't targeting civilians, but Ukrainian officials said a Russian missile hit an apartment building in the town of Chuhuiv, just outside Kharkiv, killing a teenage boy and injuring 15 residents.

"My house is completely destroyed," said Olena Kurilo. "I must have a guardian angel to still be alive."

See our full report from the front lines in eastern Ukraine here:

Ukrainians flee their homes and hide underground hoping for safe haven from Russian attacks 02:46
 

Biden administration considering protecting Ukrainians in the U.S. from deportation

The Biden administration is considering protecting certain Ukrainians living in the U.S. from deportation due to Russia's military attack, two people familiar with the deliberations told CBS News Thursday.

The deportation relief could be authorized through a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas or a Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) order by President Biden, the sources said, requesting anonymity to discuss ongoing discussions.

U.S. immigration law authorizes the DHS secretary to offer TPS to immigrants in the U.S. if it is determined that their home countries are unable to safely accept deportees because of armed conflict, natural disasters, an epidemic or other "extraordinary" emergencies.

Read more here

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez
 

Pro-Putin conductor removed from role at Carnegie Hall

A Russian conductor who's a friend and supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin will no longer lead an orchestra at Carnegie Hall, CBS New York reports. Valery Gergiev was supposed to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic in New York for three days starting Friday, but a Carnegie Hall spokesperson said the change was made due to recent events.

A Russian pianist who's also made pro-Putin statements won't perform, either.

A protest against both men was planned at Carnegie Hall on Friday.

 

In rare move, Pope Francis takes concerns over Ukraine war to Russian Embassy

In an extraordinary departure from protocol, Pope Francis visited the Russian Embassy to the Holy See on Friday to meet with Ambassador Alexander Avdeev and personally express his concern over the war in Ukraine. According to the Holy See Press Office, the Francis remained in the embassy for a little over half an hour. 

Russian Ambassador Avdeyev told Russian media after the meeting that "the Pope wanted to personally ask about the situation in Donbas and Ukraine," and said he had "made an appeal for the welfare of children, the sick and all those who are suffering."

Normally, popes receive heads of state at the Vatican, and if the pontiff wishes to speak to an ambassador, he or she is generally summoned to the Vatican. 

Pope Francis Leads Weekly Second Vespers Prayer
Pope Francis presides at the celebration of Second Vespers on the feast of the Conversion of the Apostle Paul at Basilica of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls, in a January 25, 2022 file photo in Rome, Italy.  Getty

For weeks, Francis called on all sides in the conflict to avoid an escalation to war. During his general audience on Wednesday, before the start of the Russian invasion, he expressed "the great sorrow in his heart" and appealed "to those with political responsibility to examine their consciences seriously before God, who is the God of peace and not of war."  

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni would not comment on whether the Pope had offered to mediate the conflict between the two sides. In the months leading up to the invasion, Ukraine repeatedly signaled willingness for a Vatican mediation. 

Francis has instituted a day of prayer and fasting for Ukraine on March 2, but the pope has refrained from forcefully calling out Russia for its actions in public, perhaps for fear of upsetting the fragile relationship between the Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches.  

By Anna Matranga
 

Ukrainians pour across the border into Poland on foot, many with small children

A steady stream of people were crossing into Poland from western Ukraine on Friday, as thousands fled with their country under attack by Russian forces. Many families with small children were among those crossing the border.

One woman shuffled her feet as she carried a toddler, looking exhausted and on the verge of tears. Asked if she needed help, she shook her head and kept walking.

Another woman said she'd come from the major Ukrainian city of Lviv, walking 18 hours overnight with her daughter and their tiny dog. She said if it was up to her, she would've stayed, and she knows a lot of people who did. But she was worried for her daughter. She said never expected Russia's invasion to hit Lviv, which is in Ukraine's far west, only around 40 miles from the Polish border. 

Thousands of Ukrainians flee to Poland in search for safety as Russia forces continue invasion 01:50

While their country is not a member of the European Ukrainians can cross into Poland without visas, even though their country is not a member of the European Union, for a limited period.

A pair of women in their 20s held signs offering free rides to people coming across from Ukraine. They said they were from Belarus, a close Russian ally that also borders Ukraine, but felt they needed to leave about six months ago, so they know what it's like to have to leave your home and start again with nothing, and they wanted to help.

A U.N. refugee agency spokesperson told reporters in Geneva on Friday that at least 100,000 people had fled their homes in Ukraine amid the Russian attacks, including 29,000 who have entered Poland. A worst-case projection by the U.N. said up to 5 million people could be driven from their homes.

  - Christinia Ruffini, Anna Noryskiewicz

 

Putin "ready" to negotiate with Ukraine over "neutral status"

President Vladimir Putin's official spokesman said Friday that the Russian leader was prepared to negotiate directly with Ukrainian officials to establish a possible "neutral status" for the country that his military has attacked for two days.

"As you know, today the President of Ukraine Zelensky announced his readiness to discuss the neutral status of Ukraine. Initially, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the purpose of the operation was to help the LPR and the DPR [separatist regions of Ukraine], including through the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine. And this, in fact, is an integral component of the neutral status," Peskov told reporters in Moscow.

"In this context, in response to Zelensky's proposal, Vladimir Putin is ready to send a Russian delegation to Minsk at the level of representatives of the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the presidential administration for negotiations with the Ukrainian delegation," he said.

Earlier on Friday, Zelensky said his government was "not afraid of talking about neutrality," noting that Ukraine was not a NATO member "at the moment."

"But what guarantees will we get?" the Ukrainian leader asked, "and most importantly, which countries will give us those guarantees?"

  - Tucker Reals, Svetlana Berdnikova

 

Ukraine leader: Putin waging "war against Europe," U.S. and allies not doing enough to stop him

"Europe hasn't seen something like this for the past 75 years," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday. "This is a war against Europe, against the unity of Europe, against basic human rights in Europe."

He said the bombardment of Ukrainian cities on the second day of Russia's invasion was "similar to what Europe saw during World War II… I'm sure Europe is seeing what's going on, but we don't see, you know, how to deal with it and what to do. How are you going to protect yourself if it takes so much time to help us?"

Zelensky said attacks on Ukraine's capital of Kyiv were continuing despite Western sanctions, and he urged the U.S. and Europe to immediately exclude Russia from the SWIFT international banking system, along with other actions. 

He also asked citizens of other European countries to protest, and people with combat training from other countries to come to Ukraine to help.

"We ask Europeans to get on the streets and demand peace for the world. Demand peace for Europe, peace for Ukraine, to stop this war. Demand more security for Europe, more security for Ukraine as part of the democratic world. Demand from your governments that Ukraine receives more financial and military help. This is help not only for us, but also for you. If you are in Europe and have combat experience and you can't watch the helplessness of your government, you can come here and protect Europe together with us. We need you. You have already been blackmailed about gas delivery. They are trying to divide you in the same way as they are doing it with Ukraine right now."

By Haley Ott
 

U.N. condemns "arbitrary arrests" of anti-war protesters in Russia

The United Nations on Friday condemned numerous "arbitrary arrests" of people in Russia for protesting the country's invasion of Ukraine and urged their immediate release. 

"Arresting individuals for exercising their rights to freedom of expression or a peaceful assembly constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of liberty," U.N. rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva.

She said the agency understood that "more than 1,800 protesters were reportedly arrested. It is unclear whether some have now been released."

Her comment came a day after authorities in Moscow warned Russians against participating in unsanctioned protests. Thousands of Russians have ignored the warnings, staging demonstrations in major cities across the country.

By AFP
 

Russia stripped of major European soccer championship as UEFA final moved to France

Europe's top soccer body, UEFA, has decided to move a major soccer final from Russia to France. The decision announced on Friday followed UEFA's condemnation the previous night of Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The 2021/22 Men's Champions League final was to have been played in Russia's second largest city of St. Petersburg. UEFA contacted French President Emmanuel Macron personally on Thursday to see if the final could be moved to Paris. It will now be played at the Stade de France just outside the French capital. The date, May 28, remains unchanged.

UEFA announced the move following an extraordinary meeting of its executive committee Friday morning to discuss the security situation in Europe. 

The organization also pledged to help footballers in Ukraine: "Together with the French government, UEFA will fully support multi-stakeholder efforts to ensure the provision of rescue for football players and their families in Ukraine who face dire human suffering, destruction and displacement."

By Elaine Cobbe
 

Russia claims "no strikes" on Ukraine's civilian infrastructure

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed on Friday that no Russian missiles were hitting civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, despite photos and video showing a residential apartment building with significant damage from what residents said was a Russian rocket. Earlier in the day Ukraine's Foreign Minister said Russia had unleashed a "horrific" missile attack on the capital city, and CBS News witnessed damage from shelling on Thursday that indicated not all of Russia's artillery was hitting military targets. 

"No strikes are being conducted on civilian infrastructure," Lavrov insisted. "No strikes are being made on the location of the personnel of the Ukrainian army in dormitories and other places that are not associated with shock military facilities, and the statistics that are available now confirms this." 

UKRAINE-RUSSIA-CONFLICT
A woman and a child walk in front of a damaged residential building at Koshytsa Street, a suburb of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, where a military shell allegedly hit on February 25, 2022. DANIEL LEAL/AFP/Getty

The head of the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed: "No one is going to attack the Ukrainian people, no one is going to treat the servicemen of the Ukrainian armed forces in some degrading way." 

- Mary Ilyushina, Tucker Reals

 

North Kyiv residents warned "active hostilities" approaching

City authorities in Ukraine's capital warned residents in the northern Obolon district not to venture outside Friday as "active hostilities" were approaching the area, which sits less than two miles from the center of Kyiv. 

"In connection with the approach of active hostilities, residents of Obolon district are asked not to go outside," the Kyiv City Council said in an alert posted on its website.

"Please be vigilant and stay indoors — at home or in shelters. Going outside is now very dangerous due to the approach of the enemy. The only exception may be the need to move to a shelter if the Air Alarm signal is activated. Stay away from windows while at home, "the Department said.  

By Tucker Reals
 

U.S. looks to show Russia alone – but for China – with U.N. Security Council vote on Ukraine

The United States, Britain and France, along with several other countries, are set to bring a resolution up for a vote Friday in the U.N. Security Council that would condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Russia is sure to use its power as one of the permanent members of the Council to veto the resolution, which, according to a senior Biden administration official includes language stating that the Council "condemns, in the strongest terms possible, Russia's aggression, invasion, and violation of Ukraine's sovereignty. It reaffirms the sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity of Ukraine and requires Russia to immediately, completely, and unconditionally withdraw its forces."  

The open debate on the measure was set for 5 p.m. Eastern on Friday at U.N. Headquarters in New York.  

The Western powers sponsoring the resolution are hoping to garner enough support among the 15 Council members to send a message to Russia that the world condemns Putin's invasion of Ukraine. But all eyes will be on whether China — a close Russian ally that Moscow said on Thursday had backed its invasion of Ukraine — abstains or vetoes the measure, and how the elected, non-permanent African nations, known as the "A3" (Kenya, Ghana and Gabon) vote, as well as India and the United Arab Emirates.

The draft resolution takes its authority from the "use of force" provision of the U.N. Charter, meaning that if it were adopted it would impose legally binding Chapter VII obligations on Russia in response to its aggression against Ukraine. 

"Russia's attack on Ukraine is an attack on the UN Charter and every UN Member State," U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said in a tweet on Thursday evening. "Tomorrow, the Security Council will vote on a resolution to hold Russia accountable. We are asking every UN Member State to co-sponsor this action in Ukraine's hour of need."

By Pamela Falk
 

Biden comments draw attention to U.S.-Russian space station

Severe U.S. and allied economic sanctions announced Thursday in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine will "degrade their aerospace industry, including their space program," President Biden said. The comments raised fresh questions about the ongoing operation of the International Space Station, which has been continuously staffed since 2000 by rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts.

The relationship has been rocky at times, but both sides have helped the other throughout and neither can operate the space station on its own.

NASA said in a statement late Thursday that the agency is continuing to work "with all our international partners, including the [RussianState Space Corporation Roscosmos, for the ongoing safe operations of the International Space Station."

"The new export control measures will continue to allow U.S.-Russia civil space cooperation," the statement said. "No changes are planned to the agency's support for ongoing in orbit and ground station operations."

Earlier, Roscomos Director Dmitry Rogozin fired off a string of tweets directing sarcasm and anger at Biden and the West, alluding to the fact that Russian engines will provide the thrust needed to safely drive the station back into the atmosphere at the end of its life — targeting re-entry over an unpopulated stretch of ocean to ensure no debris falls on populated areas.

"If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States or Europe?" he tweeted in Russian, according to Google Translate. "There is also the option of dropping a 500-ton structure to India and China. Do you want to threaten them with such a prospect?"

Read more here.

By William Harwood
 

Zelensky accuses Russian forces of targeting civilians

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asserted Friday that invading Russian forces are targeting civilian areas. He also praised his countrymen for their "heroism" and said Kyiv is doing "everything possible" to protect them.

Zelensky spoke as Moscow's forces reached the outskirts of the capital city of Kyiv, where explosions were heard.

"They say that civilian objects are not a target for them. But this is another lie of theirs. In reality, they do not distinguish between areas in which they operate," Zelensky said in a video.

"Ukrainian air defense systems are defending our skies," he said. "Ukrainians are demonstrating heroism."

"All our forces are doing everything possible" to protect people, he added.

The Ukrainian leader called on people to show "solidarity," to help the elderly find shelter, and to seek "access to real information."

Zelensky also said Moscow will eventually have to talk to Kyiv to end the war.

"Russia will have to talk to us sooner or later. Talk about how to end the fighting and stop this invasion. The sooner the conversation begins, the less losses there will be for Russia itself," he said.

Switching into Russian in his address, Zelensky acknowledged Russian street protests against Vladimir Putin's attack on Ukraine that ended with mass arrests Thursday.

"To the citizens of the Russian Federation that are coming out to protest, we see you. And this means that you have heard us. This means that you believe us. Fight for us. Fight against war."

Russian police detained more than 1,700 people at anti-war protests across dozens of cities Thursday night.  

By AFP
 

Explosions heard in Kyiv before dawn

Russia pressed its invasion of Ukraine to the outskirts of the capital Friday, with explosions heard in Kyiv before dawn.

The nature of the blasts wasn't immediately clear, but Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said they were from "horrific Russian rocket strikes."

Air raid sirens were heard in Kyiv later Friday morning.

The explosions came amid signs that the capital and largest Ukrainian city was increasingly threatened.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the government had information that "subversive groups" were encroaching on the city, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Kyiv "could well be under siege" in what U.S. officials believe is a brazen attempt by Russian President Vladimir Putin to dismantle the government and install his own regime.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told U.S. lawmakers on a phone call that Russian mechanized forces that entered from Belarus were about 20 miles from Kyiv, according to a person familiar with the call.

UKRAINE-RUSSIA-CONFLICT
Firefighters work at a damaged residential building at Koshytsa Street, a suburb of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, where a military shell allegedly hit on February 25, 2022. GENYA SAVILOV/AFP via Getty Images

-- CBS/AP

 

Amid Ukraine crisis, Pakistan's prime minister visits Moscow for first time in over 20 years

Prime Minister Imran Khan met with President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, the same day that Russia began its attack on Ukraine. Khan said Pakistan would not take a side in the conflict, and instead, the two leaders discussed energy and economic cooperation.

Khan, the first Pakistani prime minister to visit Russia in more than two decades, pushed for a Pakistan-Stream Gas pipeline, a million-dollar project that would be built by both countries. Russia, the world's second largest producer of natural gas, is seeking new clients after Germany halted certification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline earlier this week.

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan during a meeting in Moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan during a meeting in Moscow, Russia, February 24, 2022.  Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin/REUTERS

Sanctions leveled against Russia by the U.S. and other countries across the world could affect these plans.

Regarding the crisis in Ukraine, the prime minister said in a statement that he regretted the situation and "Pakistan had hoped diplomacy could avert a military conflict."

"The prime minister stressed that conflict was not in anyone's interest, and that the developing countries were always hit the hardest economically in case of conflict," it said. "He underlined Pakistan's belief that disputes should be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy."

Reporting by Maria Usman in Islamabad.

 

Russia's attack on Ukraine ignites protests across the globe

Ukrainian Americans rallied outside the White House on Thursday, calling for stiffer sanctions against Russia and more military support for Ukraine. 

At the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., "murder" was spray-painted in red outside the compound's gates on the sidewalk. 

There were also protests in Austin, Chicago, Denver and New York City. 

There were also demonstrations abroad in London, Berlin and Moscow, where more than 900 were arrested protesting the attack.

Ukrainian Americans rally against Russian invasion 01:22
By Scott MacFarlane
 

Ukrainians shelter in subway stations as Russia attacks

Ukrainians were sheltering in Kharkiv's subway stations after Russia attacked. 

Andriy Ostapenko showed CBS News correspondent Holly Williams where he and hundreds of others will likely sleep — the city's subway — after they fled their homes. 

With the train's halted, people camped out with their children and pets. 

Marina Omelyanenko and her mother told CBS News that they heard it was too dangerous to flee the city by road. 

"It will be really scary to stay at home. At night it will be dark," she said.

Ukrainian civilians seek safety as missiles fall 02:27
By Holly Williams
 

DHS to lead response to possible Russia-related impacts on U.S.

President Biden chose the Department of Homeland Security to "coordinate domestic preparedness and response efforts related to the current Russia-Ukraine crisis," the agency said in a statement Thursday.

"As lead Federal agency, DHS has established a Unified Coordination Group (UCG) to ensure unity of effort across the Federal Government in preparing for and responding to possible threats to the homeland; develop and pursue strategic objectives and priorities; and coordinate with Federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial officials, as well as representatives of the private sector and nongovernmental entities in support of these objectives and priorities," it said.

The DHS reiterated that there are no current credible threats against the U.S.

By Sophie Reardon
 

In speech about Russia's attack, Zelensky says "the enemy has marked me as target No. 1"

Zelensky said Thursday night that Russia has marked him as its top target, and his family as a close second.

"They want to damage Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state," he remarked.

By Sophie Reardon
 

Ukraine's president says 137 people died in first day of fighting

In a late-night video address to his country, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said 137 Ukrainians died on Thursday, the first day of fighting after Russia began its attack on the country.

"Today we have lost 137 of our heroes, our citizens. Military and civilian," Zelensky said, adding that another 316 people had been injured.

 

White House "outraged" by reports of Russia taking hostages at Chernobyl

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration was "outraged" by what she said are "credible reports" that Russian forces have taken hostages at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

"This unlawful and dangerous hostage-taking, which could upend the routine civil service efforts required to maintain and protect the nuclear waste facilities, is obviously incredibly alarming and greatly concerning. We condemn it and we request their release," she said during Thursday's press briefing.

She said the administration is in touch with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and that the U.S. is "working to provide him with a range of support" and knows where he is located.

Mr. Biden did not have a call with Zelensky on Thursday, but he had an hourlong meeting in the morning with his national security team and a virtual meeting with leaders of the Group of 7 industrialized nations, which spanned several hours.

The president also spoke for an hour Thursday afternoon with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders on a secure call, briefing them on the situation on the ground in Ukraine and fielding questions, Psaki said.

By Melissa Quinn
 

Men aged 18 to 60 barred from leaving Ukraine under martial law

Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60 have been temporarily barred from leaving the country. The State Border Guard Service told CBS News' Erin Lyall it's a result of President Volodymyr Zelensky declaring martial law following Russia's attack on the country.

"Such a rule will apply for the period of martial law," the border guard said in a statement. "We ask citizens to take this information into account."

By Alex Sundby
 

U.N. chief says Russian invasion is wrong but "not irreversible"

United Nations – U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres called Russia's military offensive "wrong" and "unacceptable" but "not irreversible."

Guterres had a message for Russia's President Vladimir Putin: "Stop the military operation. Bring the troops back to Russia."

The U.N. chief said the protection of civilians is the first priority of the United Nations and it was "scaling up" its humanitarian operations in and around Ukraine. He also announced the allocation of $20 million from an emergency response fund to meet urgent needs.

"We and our humanitarian partners are committed to staying and delivering, to support people in Ukraine in their time of need," he said.

The secretary-general's spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric, told CBS News some personnel were being relocated and staff were instructed to "take necessary precautions."

"A core group of mission-critical staff remains working in the areas around the line of contact," Dujarric said.

Guterres said U.N. staff are "working on both sides of the contact line, always guided by the humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality, humanity and independence."

As of Thursday, the number of U.N. staff in Ukraine is 1,573, Farhan Haq, the secretary-general's deputy spokesman, told CBS News.

"Some staff are being relocated, but some others came in as surge capacity over the past day," Haq said.

Other agencies of the U.N. have personnel in Ukraine. The World Food Program is also staying.

"We are deeply concerned about the evolving conflict in Ukraine and its potential impact on access to food for civilians in affected areas and on our operations globally," said David Beasley, the agency's executive director.

"The Black Sea basin is one of the world's most important areas for grain and agricultural production, and the food-security impact of the conflict will likely be felt beyond Ukraine's border, especially on the poorest of the poor," he said.

The agency said an interruption to the flow of grain out of the region will "increase prices and add further fuel to food inflation at a time when its affordability is a concern across the globe following the economic damage" from the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Pamela Falk
 

U.S. sending 7,000 more troops to Germany

The U.S. is deploying 7,000 additional troops to Germany in response to Russia's attack on Ukraine, a senior U.S. defense official said Thursday, as President Biden warned that the U.S. will "defend every inch of NATO territory with the full force of American power."

The additional troops "will deploy to Germany to reassure NATO Allies, deter Russian aggression and be prepared to support a range of requirements in the region," the official said in a statement. "We expect them to depart in the coming days."

What the U.S. can do to counter Russian invasion into Ukraine 06:58

In his remarks Thursday, Mr. Biden said he was "authorizing additional U.S. force capabilities to deploy to Germany as part of NATO's response, including some of the U.S.-based forces that the Department of Defense placed on standby weeks ago."

Mr. Biden reiterated that no U.S. troops would be involved in defending Ukraine, which is not a member of NATO, but stressed that the U.S. is ready to come to the aid of NATO partners in Eastern Europe in the event of a Russian incursion. He said he and his military advisers had also discussed the possibility of "additional moves should they become necessary to protect our NATO allies and support the greatest military alliance in the history of the world."

By Stefan Becket
 

Biden says new sanctions won't include pulling Russia's access to SWIFT

The U.S. slapped a number of Russian financial institutions and "elite" individuals with sanctions Thursday over the invasion of Ukraine, but President Biden ruled out removing Russia from the SWIFT banking system despite calls to do so from a number of U.S. lawmakers, world leaders and Ukrainian officials.

"It is always an option — but right now, that's not the position that the rest of Europe wishes to take," Mr. Biden said in a speech at the White House. The president also suggested the sanctions on other banks may be of more consequence than taking action on SWIFT.

Biden unveils new sanctions as Russia attacks Ukraine 02:23

SWIFT is a member-owned cooperative founded in 1973 that provides secure global financial messaging services. It links more than 11,000 institutions in more than 200 countries. According to SWIFT, in 2021, an average of 42 million payments and securities transactions were processed each day using their messaging, a more than 11% increase from the year before.

Headquartered in Belgium, shareholders elect the board composed of 25 independent directors, which governs the company and oversees its management. Each country's use of the messaging services determines both the SWIFT shareholding allocations and the number of directors they are entitled to. Russia is on the board.

Despite Mr. Biden leaving action regarding SWIFT off the table for now, the U.K. foreign secretary indicated the country is working with allies to exclude Russia from the financial system.

This comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for Russia to be banned from SWIFT. Multiple U.S. lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, have signaled they support the move.

By Sarah Ewall-Wice
 

Biden unveils new sanctions on Russia for "premeditated attack"

President Biden declared Russia's continuing assault on Ukraine a "premeditated attack" and announced additional economic sanctions the U.S. and Western allies will impose on Russia in response to its aggressive actions.

"Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war. And now he and his country will bear the consequences," Mr. Biden said during remarks at the White House.

Special Report: President Biden addresses Russia's invasion of Ukraine 25:50

The president announced the U.S. will impose sanctions on four of Russia's largest banks, in addition to two financial institutions the U.S. sanctioned earlier this week, meaning "every asset they have in America will be frozen," he said. The U.S. and Western allies are also imposing new export controls, which Mr. Biden said will block more than half of Russia's high-tech imports and strike a blow to Moscow's military and technological capabilities.

-Kathryn Watson and Melissa Quinn

Read more here

 

Ukrainian official says Russia has taken control of Chernobyl nuclear plant

An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the country has lost control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant after Ukrainian forces fought to defend it from Russian troops, according to reports.

Myhailo Podolyak, the adviser, was quoted by The Associated Press and other news agencies as saying that after a "senseless attack of the Russians… it is impossible to say that the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is safe."

Zelensky warned earlier on Thursday that Russian troops were attempting to seize the abandoned and sealed up nuclear site, an effort he called "a declaration of war against the whole of Europe."

Chernobyl was the scene of the 1986 nuclear disaster following an explosion in the Soviet-era plant. Scores of people were evacuated from the highly contaminated area following the meltdown, and at least 32 people died because of the blast and its immediate aftermath. Thousands of cases of cancer have been linked to the disaster in the years since.

By Melissa Quinn
 

Ukrainian lawmaker breaks down, begs world to "save our people"

Ukrainian Parliament member Halyna Yanchenko broke down in tears on CBS News Thursday as she made an emotional plea to the world: "Please, save our people. Dozens of people, maybe hundreds of people might be murdered tonight," she said.

A Ukrainian lawmaker's plea for help 06:20

Vladimir Putin said his forces would not attack Ukrainian cities, but the initial battery of shelling on Thursday hit military targets in and near many of the country's biggest population centers. CBS News journalists in Kyiv saw damage to non-military infrastructure that appeared to suggest that at least some of Russia's missiles had failed to hit their targets.

Ukrainian authorities have provided no death or casualty figures, but a senior government official said early in the day that "dozens" of Ukrainian military forces had been killed in Russia's attack.

By Tucker Reals
 

Ukrainians grapple with reality that Russia could try to take Kyiv

Up until the day before Russia launched its full-scale attack on their country, Ukrainians in the capital city of Kyiv said they didn't expect Vladimir Putin to invade the way he has. 

On Thursday, they woke up to attacks on the capital, and they reacted in their numbers. 

Ukrainians face reality that Russia may try to take Kyiv 03:44

This morning, cars were backed up on the highways trying to get out of Kyiv. CBS News saw long lines at a gas station as people tried to fill up for the exodus, and some who are staying in Kyiv decided to take shelter in subway stations and underground car parks. 

So while they may have never expected this to happen, they're certainly responding now.

By Haley Ott
 

Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S.: "It's a war against Ukraine"

Ukraine's ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin's characterization of the action he ordered against Ukraine as a "special military operation" and said Russian forces had "launched a war" against her country.

"Make no mistake," Markarova told reporters during a press conference at Ukraine's embassy in Washington, "it's not a military operation or whatever it was called yesterday in Donetsk or Luhansk. It's a war against Ukraine."

The Ukrainian ambassador said her country had been fighting to repel "simultaneous" attacks from three sides, as well as from the air since the overnight hours.

Marakova joined other Ukrainian officials in calling for the U.S. and its partners to impose "devastating" sanctions on Russia, including cutting it off from SWIFT, a system used by most large financial institutions to carry out international transactions, and to cut diplomatic ties with Moscow.

"We do not expect anyone to fight for us, but we expect all the help and all the response the West can send to us," she said, adding, "it's the moment when it's not okay for anyone who values peace to continue business as usual with Russia."

Markarova said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was still in Ukraine, but she would not say if he was still in the capital of Kyiv.

"We will defend our country, and we are not scared," she said.

By Melissa Quinn
 

U.S. official says initial Russian barrage included 100 missiles, 75 bombers

The U.S. observed Russian forces firing roughly 100 missiles from both land and sea against targets in Ukraine beginning around 4:30 a.m. local time on Thursday, a senior U.S. defense official told reporters. The initial barrage included short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles, the official said. About 75 fixed-wing Russian bombers were used in the onslaught, with targets focused on military depots and air defense systems, according to the official.

Several hours later, the U.S. observed some ground incursions from Belarus into Ukraine, northwest of Kyiv. The Russian offensive is operating on three fronts, the official said: from Crimea in the south; from the north in Belarus into Ukraine, and from Ukraine's northeast border with Russia toward the south, toward the city of Kharkiv. Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, is the site of the heaviest fighting, the official said.

Teen in Ukraine describes chaotic scenes as Russia attacks 08:40

"It is likely you will see this unfold in multiple phases. How many? How long? We don't know. But what we're seeing are the initial phases of a large-scale invasion," the official said, adding that there hasn't been "a conventional move like this, nation state to nation state, since World War II, certainly nothing in this size and scope and scale."

The official said the Russians are "making a move on Kyiv, but what they're going to do in Kyiv, it's hard to say."

"It's our assessment they have every intention of basically decapitating the government and installing their own method of governance which would explain these early moves towards Kyiv," the official said.

By Eleanor Watson
 

General H.R. McMaster on what motivated Putin to invade Ukraine

Former U.S. National Security Advisor and veteran military commander General H.R. McMaster appeared Thursday on "CBS Mornings" and said in his estimation, Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine was driven "by an obsession with restoring Russia to national greatness" — by way of dragging his neighbors down with Russia.

"His plan to do that is not to make Russia great, it's really to drag everybody else down," McMaster said, suggesting the Russian president's thinking "goes back to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 — what Putin saw as a disaster. And what Putin has been driven by since that time, since he took over the year 2000, you know, 22 years ago, he's been driven by an obsession with restoring Russia to national greatness."

"You're seeing this sustained campaign against any of the former territories of the Soviet Union… really designed to restore Russian influence," he said. 

Watch the full interview here: 

Former national security adviser General H.R. McMaster discusses Russia's invasion of Ukraine 04:07
By Tucker Reals
 

European soccer league holds crisis meeting as championship final pulled from Russia

Europe's UEFA soccer league called an extraordinary meeting of its executive committee for Friday to discuss the deepening crisis between Russia and Ukraine, with its governing body set to move the final of this season's Champions League on May 28, which is due to take place in Saint Petersburg's Krestovsky Stadium, after Russia stepped up its campaign against its neighbor with a military invasion of Ukraine in the early hours of Thursday morning.

"Following the evolution of the situation between Russia and Ukraine in the last 24 hours, the UEFA President has decided to call an extraordinary meeting of the Executive Committee for Friday 25 February at 10:00 CET, in order to evaluate the situation and take all necessary decisions," said a statement. "Further communication will be made after the meeting of the UEFA Executive Committee."  

Read the full story on CBSSports.com.

 

Russians join anti-war protests as prominent artists and journalists reject Putin's claims

Many Russians woke up on Thursday dismayed to learn that their president had announced "a special military operation" in separatist controlled regions of eastern Ukraine. There was dismay as Russians watched videos purportedly showing Russian forces firing at Ukrainian police.

People participate in anti-war protest, in Saint Petersburg
A demonstrator holds a sign during an anti-war protest in St. Petersburg, Russia, after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a military operation in eastern Ukraine, February 24, 2022. The placard reads: "No to war!" ANTON VAGANOV/REUTERS

Instagram and Twitter feeds were filled with posts expressing shame and condemnation of Putin. Media outlets, including student outlet DOXA and independent news site Meduza, launched a "No to War" campaign or issued editorial letters urging Russia to cease its military activities.

Russian media reported demonstrations in 300-400 people had gathered on Pushkin Square in Moscow, shouting "No to war." Police had detained several people but were not dispersing the group, according to some reports.

As street protests reportedly got underway in St. Petersburg in the west and Perm in central Russia, a group of more than a dozen prominent Russian artists and journalists signed an open letter calling for protests and an end to the invasion.

"We do not want our children to live in an aggressor country, so that they are ashamed that their army attacked a neighboring independent state.  We call on all citizens of Russia to say no to this war," the group said in the letter posted online by journalist Mikhail Zygar, founder of the independent TV channel Dozhd.

"We do not believe that an independent Ukraine poses a threat to Russia or any other state. We do not believe Vladimir Putin's claims that the Ukrainian people are under the rule of 'Nazis' and need to be 'liberated'," the statement said. "We demand an end to this war."

Russian authorities earlier warned people in the country that joining unsanctioned demonstrations could lead to their arrest. The independent rights monitoring group OVD.Info said Russian police had detained more than 160 people in 24 cities across Russia on Thursday.

By Mary Ilyushina
 

Ukraine's leader says Russian troops trying to seize Chernobyl nuclear plant

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Russian forces are attempting to seize the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster.

"Russian occupation forces are trying to seize the #Chornobyl_NPP. Our defenders are giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated. Reported this to @SwedishPM. This is a declaration of war against the whole of Europe," Zelensky tweeted.

The explosion and fires at the site more than 35 years ago sent radiation into the air, with large amounts carried over Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. Scores of people were evacuated from the area following the meltdown, and at least 32 people died because of the blast and its immediate aftermath. 

February 18, 1990: The abandoned city of Pripyat 01:06

Roughly 11,000 cases of thyroid cancer since then may be linked to the disaster, according to a 2016 report from the World Health Organization. The area around the reactor is off-limits to the public.

By Melissa Quinn
 

Biden to speak on Russia's "unprovoked and unjustified" attack on Ukraine

President Biden is set to address the American people on Thursday afternoon after Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine. He is expected to announce additional sanctions the U.S. and Western allies will impose on Russia in response.

Mr. Biden condemned what he called an "unprovoked and unjustified attack" on Ukraine in a statement issued late on Wednesday evening in Washington, after Russia began launching missile strikes against targets in Ukrainian cities, including the capital of Kyiv. The president accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of choosing "a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering."

You will be able to watch Mr. Biden's remarks live in the CBS News live player at the top of this page, or at this link. He is expected to speak at 12:30 p.m. Eastern in the East Room of the White House after a meeting with Group of 7 leaders, many of whom joined the U.S. in issuing widespread condemnation of Russia's attack.

By Melissa Quinn
 

Moscow warns Russians of "consequences" of joining anti-war protests

Russian authorities on Thursday warned anti-war sympathizers against gathering for protests over President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. The Investigative Committee, a government body that investigates major crimes, warned Russians of legal repercussions for joining unsanctioned protests related to "the tense foreign political situation."

It said it was responding to social media calls to protest against Putin's decision to attack Ukraine.

"One should be aware of the negative legal consequences of these actions in the form of prosecution up to criminal liability," it said.

The Russian interior ministry said it would take "all necessary measures to ensure public order."

Russia has strict protest laws and demonstrations often end in mass arrests. Some Russians called on social media for people to take to the streets to protest against the Ukraine attack, and pictures soon emerged of a demonstration in the western city of St. Petersburg.

A video posted on the Telegram social media app, which is popular in Russia, showed an elderly woman being detained by police while holding a sign showing the Ukrainian flag and the words "No to War."

 - CBS/AFP

 

Residents in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, seek shelter in metro station

Ukrainians took shelter in train stations on Thursday as Russia's bombardment continued. In Kyiv, there were social media reports of people gathering below ground with luggage and plans to wait out the night.

In Kharkiv, Ukraine's second city which sits only about 30 miles from the border with Russia, CBS News saw people gathering in subway stations and parked trains, which appeared to have been turned off.

kharkiv-metro-shelter-feb22.jpg
Civilians take shelter in a metro station in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, amid a Russian military invasion and shelling in the area. Erin Lyall/CBS

Families were sitting on platforms and in the trains, some of them with small children.

 - Holly Williams, Erin Lyall and Haley Ott

 

Putin said he wouldn't occupy Ukraine, but he also said he wouldn't invade

CBS News senior foreign correspondent Holly Williams said that after weeks of warnings from Washington that a Russian invasion was imminent, when it came down to it, there was almost no direct warning before missiles started falling on Wednesday evening.
 
Just minutes after Vladimir Putin announced his country's military operation, Williams and her team heard the thuds of what they assumed to be missile strikes close to their location in the eastern city of Kharkiv, only around 30 miles from the Russian border.

Inside Ukraine as Russia attacks 03:47

Putin said Wednesday night, that his government's plans "do not include an occupation," but given that Russia denied for months any plans to invade Ukraine at all, it's not clear how much faith could be put in his statement.
 
Ukraine said Thursday that Russian forces were coming across the country's borders — including just near in Kharkiv, but Williams said there was no sign of them yet in the city.

 

Ukraine says "dozens" of troops killed and Russian forces crossing border in Kyiv region

Ukraine's State Border Guard Service said on Thursday that Russian forces had begun breaking through the country's border in the Kyiv region. 

The Ukrainian military and border guards were working to defend the crossing, they said, but Russian vehicles had made it through one crossing point.

Oleksiy Arestovich, head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, said during a briefing on Thursday that "dozens of Ukrainian servicemen has been confirmed" killed amid Russia's attacks.

By Haley Ott
 

Jailed Russian opposition leader Navalny calls war a diversion tactic by Putin

Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny said Thursday he was against Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, even as he appeared remotely from a Russian prison for his latest court hearing.

"I am against this war," Navalny was heard saying in a video of the trial published by independent news outlet Dozhd. "This war between Russia and Ukraine was unleashed to cover up the theft from Russian citizens and divert their attention from problems that exist inside the country."

Wearing a prison uniform, Navalny said the war would "lead to a huge number of victims, destroyed futures and the continuation of this line of impoverishment of the citizens of Russia." 

He is being tried from inside a maximum security prison outside Moscow on fresh charges that could see his time behind bars extended by a decade. His allies have said the trial — which opened last week — has been purposefully timed to coincide with the Ukraine crisis. Navalny has been behind bars for a year on old fraud charges, after surviving a poison attack he and the West blame on the Kremlin.  

Visibly gaunt Alexei Navalny makes first public appearance since hunger strike 01:29
By AFP
 

Russia says China "agreed" that Ukraine and U.S. to blame for current crisis

Russia said on Thursday that China had given its backing for President Vladimir Putin's military attack on neighboring Ukraine, claiming that the Russian and Chinese Foreign Ministers had held a phone call during which they "agreed that the reason for the current crisis was Kyiv's refusal, encouraged by the United States and its allies, to implement" ceasefire agreements hashed out almost eight years ago between Russian-backed rebels and Ukrainian forces.

"It was emphasized that Russia and China insist on the need for all countries to respect the principle of the indivisibility of security," Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

During a U.N. Security Council meeting on Wednesday night, after Russia began its attack on Ukraine, China's Ambassador Zhang Jun said there was a "complex historical context for the Ukraine issue, and that the current situation is a result of the interplay of many factors."

Zhang called on "all parties concerned" to "stay cool-headed and rational, and commit themselves to enhancing dialogue and consultation to resolve relevant issues through negotiations."

He said China's "position on safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states has been consistent," and urged both sides to address each others' "legitimate security concerns in line with the principles of the UN Charter."   

- Tucker Reals, Pam Falk, Svetlana Berdnikova

 

U.S. Ambassador to Russia staying put to keep diplomatic channel open

U.S. officials told CBS News on Thursday that there were no plans to move America's ambassador in Moscow out of the Russian capital as Russia carried out what Ukraine's foreign minister called a "full-scale invasion" of his country.

One American official said it would be the U.S. Embassy in Moscow's goal to remain in a position to keep diplomatic communication open and to convey any messages from Washington to Vladimir Putin's government. 

A diplomatic source told CBS News that it was particularly important to keep the American ambassador in Moscow given the extremely low staffing of the embassy at this point following Russia's expulsion of some employees, including the second-in-command.

U.S. ambassador to Russia John Sullivan walks out of the Russian Foreign Ministry headquarters in Moscow
U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan leaves after visiting the Russian Foreign Ministry headquarters in Moscow, Russia in a January 26, 2022 file photo. MAXIM SHEMETOV/REUTERS
By Christina Ruffini
 

NATO to "further strengthen deterrence and defence" in region amid "horrifying" attack on Ukraine

The North Atlantic Council, the governing political body of the transatlantic NATO military alliance, warned on Thursday that Russia would "pay a very heavy economic and political price" for its attack on Ukraine.

"It is Russia, and Russia alone, which has chosen escalation," the Council said in a statement, calling Moscow's decision to invade Ukraine "a serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security" that would have "geostrategic consequences."

Ukraine is not a NATO member, but the alliance has made it clear that Russia's actions are considered a threat not only to its neighbor, but to the wider European community, and the Council said it would "continue to take all necessary measures to ensure the security and defence of all Allies."

The Council said it had "decided, in line with our defensive planning to protect all Allies, to take additional steps to further strengthen deterrence and defence across the Alliance" — measures that it stressed were "preventive, proportionate and non-escalatory."

The statement called on Russia to "immediately cease its military action and withdraw" all of its forces from Ukraine and around its borders, condemning Moscow for the "horrifying attack on Ukraine, which is entirely unjustified and unprovoked."

By Tucker Reals
 

Residents rush to gas up and get out of Kyiv

CBS News visited a gas station in Kyiv on Thursday morning and saw dozens of cars lined up for fuel as a second round of Russian shelling hit the city.

@haleyjoelleott At a gas station in Kyiv this morning, where the line stretches down the highway. #ukraine ♬ original sound - haleyjoelleott

One man said he had heard explosions overnight and was filling up his tank to leave Kyiv, "just to be on the safe side if anything happens."

"In my case, I have a small house next to the city, so there's totally nothing to bomb in the village. So, just to be on the safe side, I have an option to be here or to be there, so just now I'm ready to be there... I have to. I have a family. I have to."

There were also long lines at ATM machines around the capital as residents flocked to take out their cash.

Reaction in Kyiv as Russia Launches Broad Attack on Ukraine
Customers wait in line to use an automated teller machine in Kyiv, Ukraine, amid shelling by the Russian military in the capital and elsewhere across the country, February 24, 2022. Ethan Swope/Bloomberg via Getty
By Haley Ott
 

Russians claim Ukraine's security services plotting "fake videos" of civilian mass-casualty events

As Russian shelling hit Ukrainian military installations on Thursday, Russia's Defense Ministry claimed Ukrainian forces were plotting "provocations," including what it suggested were to be fake videos showing "mass casualties among the civilian population."

Major General Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Defense, said Ukrainian security services were "preparing provocations according to the patterns of the White Helmets with staged videos," referring to civilian rescue teams in Syria who have responded for years to attacks on civilians in that country.

Russia has accused the emergency Syrian medics of faking attacks perpetrated by Russian and Syrian government forces amid that country's civil war. The U.S. and its allies have accused Russia and Syria of deliberately targeting hospitals and other civilian infrastructure in territory held by Western backed Syrian rebels — and of targeting the White Helmets directly.

"We draw the attention of the media that the Security Service of Ukraine is preparing and is already implementing provocations according to the well-known patterns of the White Helmets. Staged video filming was conducted in Ukrainian cities with allegedly 'mass casualties' among the civilian population of Ukraine," Konashenkov claimed.

- Svetlana Berdnikova, Tucker Reals 

 

Ukraine's leader calls for support amid Putin's war "against the whole democratic world"

Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky addressed his nation as Russian troops reportedly crossed into the country, asking his people to stay strong and be wary of false information, and promising hourly updates.

"I will provide you with updated and verified information every hour," Zelensky said. "Now we are attacked by bombs as well as fakes. It is important to receive truth from the official sources. Today, Russia started invasion of Ukraine. Putin started a war against Ukraine, against the whole democratic world. He wants to destroy my country. He wants to destroy our country, everything we have been building, what we live for."

Praising the country's troops for defending its borders, Zelensky urged all Ukrainians to remain calm and support the military's efforts: "Let's not panic. Let's do everything that is needed to support armed forces of Ukraine."

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses his nation on February 24, 2022. Presidential Handout

The president, who spoke from an undisclosed location in Ukraine, said he had spoken to President Biden, as well as leaders across Europe, and that they had started to create an "anti-Putin coalition."

"I have already called on world leaders to impose all possible sanctions against Putin, start full-scale defense support," he said. "Together, we must save Ukraine, save democratic world. We will do it. Glory to Ukraine!"

By Haley Ott
 

Residents stock up in eastern city of Kharkiv amid shelling

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People line up at a grocery story in Kharkiv, Ukraine, February 24, 2022, after Russian bombs struck targets around the city, according to Ukraine's military. CBS

People in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv lined up to buy groceries on Thursday, clearing store shelves of some basic goods after Russian shelling was heard nearby.

CBS News saw smoke rise from the site of one blast in or near Kharkiv on Thursday morning amid reports that military facilities and warehouses were being targeted around various Ukrainian cities.

- Haley Ott, Holly Williams and Erin Lyall

 

U.N. Security Council: From pleas for restraint, to condemnation

As the United Nations Security Council was in emergency session Wednesday night in a last-ditch effort to ward off a Russian invasion of Ukraine, word began filtering in that an attack was beginning.

At that point, Ukrainian U.N. Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya said, "It's too late, my dear colleagues, too late to speak about de-escalation. The Russian president declared the war. It is the responsibility of this body to stop the war."

As he spoke, Kyslytsya pointedly showed video on his phone to Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, who was across the room.

As stunned diplomats were exiting the meeting, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres addressed Putin directly, saying, "President Putin, in the name of humanity, bring your troops back to Russia. This conflict must stop now."

And U.S. U.N. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said, "Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and our allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way. The world will hold Russia accountable."

-Pamela Falk, Brian Dakss

 

Early claims of deaths, injuries

The Ukrainian National Police say six people were killed and seven wounded in a bombing in the Odessa region city of Podolsk, adding that 19 people were missing.

And another person was killed and two more injured in shelling in the city of Mariupol in the Donetsk region, the National Police said.

By Brian Dakss
 

U.S. Embassy in Ukraine issues alert

The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine said in a security alert early Thursday that, "There are reports of Russian attacks on targets in a number of major Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, Mariupol, and others. U.S. citizens in Ukraine are advised to shelter in place" and take other steps to try to stay safe if explosions or sirens are heard.

"Further Russian military action can occur at any time without warning. U.S. citizens throughout Ukraine are strongly encouraged to remain vigilant and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness," the alert said.

-Brian Dakss, Li Cohen

 

Already, conflicting claims on air war

Russia's defense ministry said Thursday it had neutralized Ukrainian military air bases and its air defense systems, hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a military offensive against his country's neighbor.

"Military infrastructure at Ukrainian army air bases has been rendered out of action," the defense ministry said in a statement carried by news agencies, adding that Kyiv's air defense systems were "eliminated."

But the Ukrainian military claimed Thursday that it had downed five Russian planes and a helicopter in the east of the country near a rebel-held enclave.

"According to the Joint Forces Command, today, February 24, in the area of the Joint Forces operation, five planes and a helicopter of the aggressors were shot down," the army general staff said.

CBS/AFP

 

Ukrainian president declares martial law

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has declared martial law, urging citizens to not panic as Russia launches military strikes.

Zelensky said Russia has targeted Ukraine's military infrastructure and explosions are being heard across the country. Zelensky said he had just talked to President Biden and that the U.S. was rallying international support for Ukraine. He urged Ukrainians to stay home.

By Associated Press
 

Biden says he spoke with Zelensky about Russia's "unjustified attack"

President Biden released a statement early Thursday morning, saying Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reached out to him and the two spoke about Russia's "unjustified attack."

The call took place shortly before midnight ET, a White House official confirmed. 

"I condemned this unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces. I briefed him on the steps we are taking to rally international condemnation, including tonight at the United Nations Security Council," Mr. Biden said in the statement. "He asked me to call on the leaders of the world to speak out clearly against President Putin's flagrant aggression, and to stand with the people of Ukraine. Tomorrow, I will be meeting with the Leaders of the G7, and the United States and our Allies and partners will be imposing severe sanctions on Russia. We will continue to provide support and assistance to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people."

-Sophie Reardon, Bo Erickson

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson vows decisive response from U.K. and allies

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned Putin for his "unprovoked attack" on Ukraine and vowed that the United Kingdom and its allies "will respond decisively."

"I am appalled by the horrific events in Ukraine and I have spoken to President Zelenskyy to discuss next steps," Johnson tweeted. "President Putin has chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction by launching this unprovoked attack on Ukraine."

The U.K. imposed economic sanctions on five Russian banks and three oligarchs earlier this week in response to Putin's decision to recognize the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine as independent. Johnson told the House of Commons on Tuesday the U.K. had additional sanctions at the ready if Russia escalated.

By Melissa Quinn
 

Russian Ministry of Defense claims it is not attacking Ukrainian cities

The Russian Ministry of Defense told state-run news agency RIA Novosti that the Russian military is not carrying out any missile, air or artillery strikes on the cities of Ukraine.

"The military infrastructure, air defense facilities, military airfields, aviation of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are being disabled with high-precision weapons," the agency said.

Nothing threatens the civilian population, the Ministry of Defense said.

Despite that claim, CBS News correspondents reported hearing loud blasts in the capital city of Kyiv and in the eastern city of Kharkiv shortly after Putin announced the military operation had begun.

By Mary Ilyushina
 

Biden briefed on Russia's attack on Ukraine by members of national security team

President Biden was briefed on a secure call about the ongoing attack by Russian forces against Ukraine by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley and national security adviser Jake Sullivan, White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted.

The president is monitoring the situation from the residence at the White House.

-Melissa Quinn, Nancy Cordes

 

Ukraine's foreign minister is heading back to the country, official says

A Ukrainian official said Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is on a plane back to the country, although the air space is closed. He had been in the U.S. for high-level meetings.

Kuleba told the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday that "the beginning of a large-scale war in Ukraine will be the end of the world order as we know it."

Kuleba met with President Biden in Washington on Tuesday, with the White House saying the meeting was to "reaffirm the United States' commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity." Kuleba also met with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and appeared in a joint press conference with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. 

By Caroline Linton
 

NATO secretary general condemns Russia's "reckless and unprovoked attack"

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declared Russia's attack "reckless and unprovoked," and said NATO will do all it must to protect its members. 

"Once again, despite our repeated warnings and tireless efforts to engage in diplomacy, Russia has chosen the path of aggression against a sovereign and independent country," he said.

Stoltenberg called Russia's attack a "grave breach of international law, and a serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security," and urged Russia to immediately cease all military action. 

"NATO Allies will meet to address the consequences of Russia's aggressive actions," he added. "We stand with the people of Ukraine at this terrible time. NATO will do all it takes to protect and defend all Allies."

By Kathryn Watson
 

Ukraine's ambassador to the U.N. calls on Russia to relinquish leadership of Security Council

Ukraine's ambassador to the United Nations Sergiy Kyslytsya lambasted Russia during a meeting of the U.N. Security Council Wednesday night and called on its ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, to give up his seat as president of the council over its attack on Ukraine. (The presidency of the U.N. Security Council rotates on a monthly basis among the 15 members. February 2022 is Russia's month.)

"I was intending to ask the Russian ambassador to confirm on the record that the Russian troops will not start firing at Ukrainians today and go ahead with the offensive," Kyslytsya said. "It became useless 48 minutes ago, because about 48 minutes ago, your president declared war on Ukraine."

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Ukraine's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Sergiy Kyslytsya attends an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Ukraine in New York on February 23, 2022.  TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images

The Ukrainian ambassador called for Nebenzia to state "on the record" that Russian forces at this moment are not bombing Ukrainian cities, and troops are not moving into the country.

"You have a smartphone. You can call Lavrov right now," he said, in reference to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. 

Kyslytsya continued, "If you are not in a position to give an affirmative answer, the Russian Federation ought to relinquish responsibilities of the president of the Security Council, pass these responsibilities on to a legitimate member of the Security Council, a member that is respectful of the charter."

The Ukrainian ambassador told Security Council members it's "too late" to speak about an escalation of Russian aggression against Ukraine.

"The Russian president declared the war on the record. Should I play the video of your president, ambassador? Should I do that? You can confirm it," he told the Russian envoy. "It is the responsibility of this body to stop the war, so I call on every one of you to do everything possible to stop the war." 

In response to Kyslytsya's remarks, Nebenzia declined to disturb Lavrov and rejected the characterization of Russia's actions as "a war."

"This isn't called a war — this is called a special military opportunity in the Donbas," he said.

Kyslytsya reiterated his call for Russia's representative at the U.N. to relinquish his duties and declared "There is no purgatory for war criminals. They go straight to hell, ambassador."

By Melissa Quinn
 

Ukrainian foreign minister says the country "will win" in Russia's "war of aggression"

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine's minister of foreign affairs, tweeted that Ukraine "will defend itself and will win."

"Peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strikes," he wrote. "This is a war of aggression. Ukraine will defend itself and will win. The world can and must stop Putin. The time to act is now."

By Sophie Reardon
 

Hope for diplomatic solution evaporates

Congressional leaders were notified of the Russian attack on Ukraine before it began. Two U.S. officials told CBS News that while diplomatic activity will continue, there appears to be little hope of a diplomatic solution at this point. Any continued diplomatic measures would be aimed at underscoring moral outrage of the international community and maintaining unity on sanctions, the officials said.

Emergency meetings are expected to be called at the U.N., NATO and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. G7 and EU leaders may gather as well.

-Margaret Brennan, Mary Hager

 

Warner says now is the time to "up the pain level for the Russian government"

Senator Mark Warner, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, denounced Russia's attack on Ukraine and said now is the time to "up the pain level for the Russian government." 

"For more than 70 years, we have avoided large-scale war in Europe. With his illegal invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has tragically brought decades of general peace to an end," Warner said. 

"Now the U.S. and our NATO allies must stand united and resolute against Putin's efforts to renew the Russian empire at the expense of the Ukrainian people. President Biden has already imposed an initial tranche of sanctions, and it is now time for us to up the pain level for the Russian government. We should also continue to bolster the defenses of our NATO allies while exploring how we can further help the Ukrainian people in their time of need."

Warner added that the attack on Ukraine "is a tragedy not only for Ukraine, but for the Russian people as well."

"They will pay a steep cost for Putin's reckless ambition, in blood and in economic harm," he said.

By Kathryn Watson
 

Biden to speak Thursday and announce "further consequences" for Russia

President Biden will deliver remarks early Thursday afternoon to announce "further consequences" the U.S. and its allies will impose on Russia for its attack on Ukraine, a White House official tells reporters. 

Exactly when the remarks will take place has yet to be announced. The president will be at the White House all day Thursday. 

By Kathryn Watson
 

Ukraine says "cruise and ballistic missiles strikes are underway" in Kyiv

A Ukrainian government spokesperson confirmed early Thursday that "cruise and ballistic missile strikes are underway at the control centers" in Kyiv. 

By Caroline Linton
 

Biden: "The world will hold Russia accountable"

President Biden condemned the "unprovoked and unjustified attack" by Russian forces.

"The prayers of the entire world are with the people of Ukraine tonight as they suffer an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces. President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering," the president said in a statement. 

"Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way. The world will hold Russia accountable."

The president said he would be monitoring the developments from the White House and receiving updates from his national security team. He is also scheduled to meet with Group of 7 leaders on Thursday morning and plans to address the nation "to announce the further consequences the United States and our allies and partners will impose on Russia for this needless act of aggression against Ukraine and global peace and security."

The U.S. will also coordinate with NATO allies "to ensure a strong, united response that deters any aggression against the Alliance," Mr. Biden said. 

By Melissa Quinn
 

Explosions mark beginning of Russian invasion of Ukraine

Explosions heard by CBS News journalists in Kyiv and Kharkiv are the beginning of a Russian invasion, a NATO official confirmed to CBS News national security correspondent David Martin. 

This shelling is expected to continue up until daybreak, and then ground operations will begin. That could potentially include airborne troops, either carried by helicopters or jumping as paratroopers. That would likely be followed by tanks coming across the border in a "classic invasion force" going into Ukraine, Martin reports. 

-David Martin, Kathryn Watson

 

Russia facing sanctions, "further consequences" to come

In response to Putin's recognition of the breakaway regions, Mr. Biden issued an executive order barring "new investment, trade and financing by U.S. persons to, from, or in" Donetsk and Luhansk and imposing sanctions that target the regions.

Mr. Biden also imposed economic sanctions on two Russian banks, VEB and Promsvyazbank, and five Russian oligarchs, as well as on Nord Stream 2 AG, the company building the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, and its corporate officers in response to Russia's escalating aggression against Ukraine.

The White House has stressed the measures make up a first tranche of sanctions, issued alongside Western allies, with the U.S. and partners poised to impose harsher penalties if Russia continued to escalate.

Mr. Biden said in a statement he will announce "further consequences" on Russia for the attack on Ukraine on Thursday. 

By Caroline Linton
 

Biden "closely monitoring" developments in Ukraine, White House says

President Biden is "closely monitoring" the developments in Ukraine and is receiving updates from national security adviser Jake Sullivan, White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted ahead of Putin's remarks announcing the "special military operation" in eastern Ukraine.

Psaki said the president also spoke with U.N. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield before the U.N. Security Council meeting Wednesday evening.

By Melissa Quinn
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