Russia-Ukraine Live Updates: Zelenskyy Declares Martial Law, Tells Citizens 'Don't Panic'

Live Updates
Map of Ukraine's territorial disputes
The map provided by Getty shows the areas of dispute in Ukraine. Moscow has recognized the independence of the Luhansk and Donetsk people's republics. Getty

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Zelenskyy declares martial law, tells citizens "don't panic"

In a video to the public, Ukraine President Volodymir Zelenskyy imposes martial law.

Martial law involves the temporary substitution of military authority for civilian rule and is usually invoked in times of war.

"We are working. The army is working," Zelenskyy said. "Don't panic. We are strong. We are ready for everything. We will defeat everyone. Because we are Ukraine."

He went on to say Russia has hit military commands, airports and military depots in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Dnipro.

Soon after Zelenskyy made his statement, air raid sirens could be heard over Kyiv.

NATO calls Russia "reckless"

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg issued a statement on Russia's unprovoked attack Wednesday night.

He criticized Putin for putting "countless civilian lives" at risk during the attack on Ukraine.

"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," Stoltenberg said.

"This is a grave breach of international law, and a serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security," he continued. I call on Russia to cease its military action immediately and respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. NATO Allies will meet to address the consequences of Russia's aggressive actions."

Stoltenberg said NATO stands with Ukraine and will do all it takes to protect and defend its Allies.

Mitt Romney Says Invasion Follows Inaction in Georgia, Crimea

U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) took to Twitter Wednesday night condemning Putin's attack on Ukraine.

"Putin's Ukraine invasion is the first time in 80 years that a great power has moved to conquer a sovereign nation. It is without justification, without provocation and without honor."

Romney said Putin's actions are mirroring what he did in Georgia and Crimea, announcing a pullback before launching its military operation.

"The peril of again looking away from Putin's tyranny falls not just on the people of the nations he violated, it falls on America as well," Romney said. "History shows that a tyrant's appetite for conquest is never satisfied."

Romney went on to say that America and its allies will punish Russia to the "harshest economic penalties by expelling them from global institutions."

Other Republicans echoed Romney's response. U.S. Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) said he also hopes Putin suffers losses.

"I hope Vladimir Putin fails and suffers immense losses," Crenshaw said. "This is barbaric behavior. Praying that Ukrainians fight like hell and overcome this. May God be with the innocent people of Ukraine."

Senate Republicans also shared a tweet saying "America stands with the people of Ukraine."

Ukrainian Ambassador To Russian Ambassador: There is no purgatory for war criminals. They go straight to hell

Ukraine's ambassador to the United Nations had sharp words for his Russian counterpart as the U.N.'s Security Council met Wednesday to discuss the crisis between the two countries.

As the council wrapped up its meeting, Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya said he welcomed the condemnation of Russian's invasion of his country. But he called for Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia to relinquish his duties as rotating of the council.

"There is no purgatory for war criminals," Kyslytsya said to Nebenzia. "They go straight to hell, ambassador."

Nebenzia shot back that Russia was not being aggressive toward the Ukrainian people but the "junta in Kyiv."

Ukraine at UN: You Declared the War

The ambassador for Ukraine spoke at the United Nations Security Council emergency meeting for a call to end Russia's attack on Ukraine.

The Ukraine ambassador spoke to Russia saying, "about 48 minutes ago your president declared war on Ukraine.

"You declared the war. 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."

Trump Says Putin Got Ukraine for '$2 of Sanctions'

Former President Donald Trump again praised Russian President Vladimir Putin Wednesday, suggesting the economic toll from was worth the price of invading Ukraine.

"I mean he's taking over a country for $2 worth of sanctions, I'd say that's pretty smart," Trump said speaking at an event at Mar-a-Lago. "He is taking over a country—really a vast, vast location a great piece of land with a lot of people and is walking right in."

Trump's remarks were posted to Twitter by political advocacy group American Bridge. They come a day after Trump speaking on a conservative talk radio show described Putin's aggression toward Ukraine as "genius" and "wonderful," calling the Russian leader "tough."

President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced new sanctions against Russia for invading Ukraine.

Biden Says Russia Attack on Ukraine Unprovoked, Unjustified

President Biden issued a statement shortly after explosions were reported in Kyiv and Kharkiv.

He said Ukraine is suffering "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," Biden said. "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."

Biden went on to say he would be closely monitoring the situation from the White House Wednesday night.

Thursday morning Biden plans on making an address to "announce the further consequences the United States and our Allies and partners will impose on Russia."

Russia-Ukraine Live Updates: Kyiv Rocked by Multiple Explosions

Shortly after Putin announced a military operation in Ukraine, explosions were reported in Kyiv and Kharkiv.

Putin warned other countries not to interfere with the Russian invasion or it would lead to "consequences they have never seen."

Putin said the Russian military operation aims to ensure a "demilitarization" of Ukraine. He also said that all Ukrainian servicemen who lay down arms will be able to safely leave the zone of combat, AP reports.

Russia's Putin announces military operation in Ukraine

In a televised address, Vladimir Putin said the action comes in response to threats coming from Ukraine. He added that Russia doesn't have a goal to occupy Ukraine. Putin said the responsibility for bloodshed lies with the Ukrainian "regime."

Putin warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to "consequences they have never seen."

"I say to anyone who is considering intervention from the outside: If you do this, you will face far greater consequences than you have faced in history. All the necessary measures have been taken. I hope you can hear me," Putin said according to Russian reporters.

UN to Open Urgent Security Council Meeting

U.N. Secretary General António Guterres is set to open the U.N. Security Council emergency session on Ukraine Wednesday night, reports indicate.

This is the second time Wednesday that the U.N. has met to discuss the Ukraine-Russia conflict. The meeting is set to start at 9:30 p.m. EST.

Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba requested the meeting Wednesday morning as Russian forces close in upon the Ukrainian border.

"Ukraine requested an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council due to the appeal by Russian occupation administrations in Donetsk and Luhansk to Russia with a request to provide them with military assistance, which is a further escalation of the security situation," Kuleba said on Twitter.

Kuleba said he was concerned about reports from Crimea about an entire night shift of workers from a chemical plant being evacuated.

"This might be a preparation for another staged provocation by Russia," Kuleba wrote. "Moscow seems to have no limits in attempts to falsify pretexts for further aggression."

Zalensky Call Met With 'Silence' While DOD Says Attack is Imminent

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said he tried to call Russian President Vladimir Putin asking for peace between the two countries, but was met with "silence," according to the Associated Press.

A senior defense official with the U.S. Department of Defense said Russia's attack on Ukraine is "imminent."

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby did not say when Russia's attack might come, saying only Putin knows that.

"What we see is that Russian forces continue to assemble closer to the border and put themselves in an advanced stage of readiness to ... conduct military action in Ukraine again, at virtually any time now," he said. "They are ready."

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that Russian forces were uncoiling. Russian forces have taken positions as close as 3 miles away from the Ukrainian border.

There are between 160,000 to 190,000 Russian troops facing off against Ukraine, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Ukraine Asks UN Security Council for Emergency Meeting

Ukraine has reportedly asked the United Nations Security Council for an emergency meeting, BNO News reported Wednesday evening.

This comes amid heightened tensions, the Pentagon stating an invasion could happen at any time and with Putin allegedly not responding to a call Wednesday from Ukraine's Zelensky.

""Today I initiated a phone call with the president of the Russian Federation. The result was silence, though the silence should be in the Donbas. As a result I want to address all citizens of Russia," Zelensky told the Russian citizens within Ukraine.

The U.S. has introduced new sanctions against Russia, which were announced on Wednesday.

Pentagon says invasion could happen "any time"

The Pentagon believes additional Russian military forces are moving into the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.

"What we see is that Russian forces continue to assemble closer to the border and put themselves in an advanced stage of readiness to act, to conduct military action in Ukraine at virtually any time now," Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said during a press conference Wednesday. "We believe that they are ready."

Kirby said the Pentagon cannot confirm specific numbers, formations or capabilities.

Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the independence of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics Monday, ordering Russian troops into the regions.

Kirby said every indication shows Putin will proceed with invading Ukraine. Once it starts, Kirby said "it's difficult to know where this will go."

"What we believe is that it will involve significant casualties and destruction and that it will only cause instability on the European continent," he said.

Kirby said if Putin chooses war, he will be doing so with "diplomacy and options still on the table."

Approximately 150,000 Russian troops are surrounding Ukraine.

U.S. troop movement:

Biden on Tuesday announced the repositioning of additional U.S. troops to the Baltics. Kirby said the approximate 1,000 members are already in Europe and being repositioned temporarily. He explained the goal is to reassure NATO Allies, deter any potential aggression against NATO member states and train with host nation forces.

The Pentagon put 8,500 U.S. troops on 'heightened alert' in late January amid rising tensions. As of Wednesday, Kirby said all of those units are still in the United States. The vast majority would be deployed as part of the NATO Response Force (NRF) and therefore, would be activated by NATO.

Jen Psaki details sanctions on Russia

On Wednesday, during a press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki began her remarks by offering more details on the Biden administration's new sanctions against Russia.

"Obviously, the bite of these sanctions has not taken place yet," Psaki said. "This is a vicious feedback loop that will get more severe," Psaki said.

As the briefing progressed, Psaki stated that the US believes Vladimir Putin has been caught off-guard by the west's response to Russia's military actions in Ukraine.

"What our assessment is is that President Putin did not expect the United States to have the level of information that we have, did not expect us to put out this amount of information that we have put out, did not expect the global community to be as unified," Psaki added.

Meanwhile, despite concerns over Russia launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, President Biden still has no plans to send US troops to Ukraine, Psaki said.

"The president has been crystal clear and consistent: he is not sending US troops to fight in Ukraine. That has not changed," the White House press secretary said.

U.S. aims to prevent an "all out war"

During the daily press briefing, the State Department said a Russian invasion of Ukraine remains "potentially imminent," meaning it could start today, tomorrow or next week.

The United States' goal is to prevent "an all-out war," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said, noting that a war would be "brutal, costly and devastating" for Russia and Ukraine.

Russia would wage war on the Ukrainian people to "subjugate them, crush them and exact revenge" that could include an attack on major urban centers, including Kyiv, "horrific" human rights abuses and other potential war crimes, Price said.

The U.S. remains ready to enact an escalating series of measures on Russia unless it changes course and proves it is willing to seriously engage in good-faith efforts and "change their posture," Price said.

The current sanctions the U.S. placed on Russia differ from those placed in 2014 and will not be permanent, Price said.

"Sanctions are a means to an end," he said. "No sanctions programs are permanent. We don't enact sanctions just to enact sanctions. It is a policy to change behavior and deter a war."

The U.S. is also concerned about the relationship between Russia and China and where the Chinese government stands in terms of Ukrainian independence. Price said China previously said national sovereignty is a fundamental rule countries should respect and has called on Russia to resolve the current issue peacefully.

"Every responsible country has obligation to use influence with Russia to urge, to incentivize Putin to back down," he said.

However, Price said Russia and China are working towards a different world order that stand in contrast to the current rules-based international system that has maintained prosperity for seven decades.

He said the Russia-China system is "illiberal" and would be "destructive rather than additive."

"We are seeing world divided among democracy and autocracy," he said, which bolsters the need for democratic nations to act in unison and galvanize collective action to counter authoritarianism.

With the stoppage of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, the U.S. is also working with countries around the world to secure global energy supplies. This includes having consumer nations use their strategic reserves and producing nations share spare capacities to balance the markets in the case of a disruption.

"Any further attempt by Russia to weaponize energy would have massive consequences," Price said, adding that this conflict only further emphasizes effort to diversify energy supply for Europe and the rest of the world.

U.S. says Russia is engaging in "diplomatic Kabuki theater"

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Russia has engaged in "diplomatic Kabuki theater."

When asked if Secretary of State Antony Blinken will reschedule his diplomatic meeting with his Russia counterpart, Price said the U.S. will no longer engage in "pretense of diplomacy."

"That is what we've seen," he said. "This is, and has been, diplomatic kabuki theater on the part of the Russian: making statements that they are committed to a diplomatic path while their actions suggest exactly the opposite."

He added that this is not an environment in which diplomacy can achieve the results it needs to achieve.

Price said the U.S. is still open to diplomacy with Russia, "but only if Moscow is serious."

"We are not going to engage in this pretense with [Russia]...in which they suggest one thing and do another" and make plans as they "give the world a head fake that they are actually committed to the diplomatic path."

He added that de-escalation would be the most concrete, clearest indication that Russia is serious about diplomacy.

"That is the kind of diplomacy we are interested in," Price said. "That is also the kind of diplomacy we have not seen any indication that Moscow is interested in."

Ned Price has "no words" after Trump praises Putin

During a press briefing Wednesday, a reporter asked State Department Spokesperson Ned Price about comments from former president Donald Trump praising Putin.

Price stated that he had no words in response to Trump's comments.
"I have no response. In fact, I have no words," Price said.

Donald Trump initially said that Vladimir Putin is "very savvy." Also stating that the Russian president made a "genius" move by declaring two regions of eastern Ukraine as independent states and moving Russian armed forces to them.

Biden administration sanctions Nord Stream 2

President Joe Biden directed his administration to impose sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG, the company behind the pipeline, and its corporate officers Wednesday.

"These steps are another piece of our initial tranche of sanctions in response to Russia's actions in Ukraine," Biden wrote in a statement. "As I have made clear, we will not hesitate to take further steps if Russia continues to escalate."

Tuesday, Germany announced it would halt certification of Nord Stream 2, the $11 billion dollar pipeline connecting Russian and European gas lines via Germany.

Germany and the U.S. have coordinated efforts to stop the pipeline in the event of a Russian invasion into Ukraine.

"Through his actions, President Putin has provided the world with an overwhelming incentive to move away from Russian gas and to other forms of energy," Biden said. "I want to thank Chancellor Scholz for his close partnership and continued dedication to holding Russia accountable for its actions."

WATCH: State Department press briefing

The State Department will give its daily press briefing shortly.

The briefing with department spokesperson Ned Price is set to begin at 2 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on the State Department website and YouTube page.

Ukraine declares 30-day state of emergency

Ukraine has declared a 30-day state of emergency starting Thursday.

The Ukrainian parliament adopted the measure which could include restrictions on the freedom of movement of conscripted reservists, impose curbs on the distribution of information and media and introduce personal document checks, according to a draft document.

The Ukraine government also told its citizens to leave Russia and the military put more than 200,000 reserve forces on notice that they will be mobilized. The Ukrainian Ground Forces said reservist aged 18 to 60 "will be called up" for a maximum service time of one year.

Cyberattack hits Ukrainian government websites, banks

The Ukrainian government reported several government websites and banks were targeted in another cyberattack Wednesday.

Ukraine's Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov said a mass DDoS attack began around 4 p.m.

Fedorov wrote on his Telegram of issues accessing several government websites including the Verkhovna Rada, the Cabinet of Ministers and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He also said the attack was also reported by a number of banks. It follows a similar cyberattack last week.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken laid out what the U.S. believed Russia's "next steps" would be during his address to the United Nations Security Council Feb. 17.

Following a manufactured pretext for an attack and possible "emergency meetings," Blinken said attacks could begin on the ground and online.

"Communications will be jammed, cyberattacks will shut down key Ukrainian institutions," Blinken predicted.

U.S. to sanction Nord Stream 2 pipeline company

According to Reuters, the Biden administration is expected to announce sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG, the company in charge of building the Russian gas pipeline.

Nord Stream 2 AG is a registered Swiss firm whose parent company is the Russian gas giant Gazprom.

The move will be part of steps taken by the Biden administration as penalties against Russia for President Vladimir Putin's recognition of separatist territories in eastern Ukraine as independent statelets.

Trump says Biden being "played like a drum"

Former U.S. President Donald Trump continues to slam President Joe Biden's handling of Russia's escalatory aggression against Ukraine.

"Putin is playing Biden like a drum, it is not a pretty thing to watch!" Trump wrote in a statement released by his office Wednesday.

Trump argues an invasion could have been avoided, calling the economic sanctions Biden announced Tuesday "weak." He also said skyrocketing gas prices in the U.S. are making Russia even more rich.

Trump full statement:

"If properly handled, there was absolutely no reason that the situation currently happening in Ukraine should have happened at all. I know Vladimir Putin very well, and he would have never done during the Trump Administration what he is doing now, no way!

Russia has become very very rich during the Biden Administration, with oil prices doubling and soon to be tripling and quadrupling. The weak sanctions are insignificant relative to taking over a country and a massive piece of strategically located land.

Now it has begun, oil prices are going higher and higher, and Putin is not only getting what he always wanted, but getting, because of the oil and gas surge, richer and richer.

The U.S. was energy independent under the Trump Administration, an independence that we had never obtained before, and oil prices would have remained low. Now, what a mess our Country is in!"

Biden's tweet resurfaces:

Meanwhile, a tweet sent by Biden two years ago resurfaced this week, after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the independence of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics and ordered Russian troops into the regions.

"Vladimir Putin doesn't want me to be President," Biden's tweet says. "He doesn't want me to be our nominee. If you're wondering why — it's because I'm the only person in this field who's ever gone toe-to-toe with him."

Putin's announcement was made two years to the date of Biden's tweet, which is now receiving some criticism.

The Republican National Committee shared Biden's words from 2020 saying, "this has not aged well."

European Union announces sanctions, emergency summit

The European Unions adopted a sanctions package against Russia following the Kremlin's recognition of the non-government-controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk in Ukraine.

"Such decisions are illegal and unacceptable," Josep Borrell, the EU High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said, "they violate international law, Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty, Russia's own international commitments and further escalate the crisis."

The sanctions include:

  • Extended restrictive measures to cover members of the Russia State Duma and freeze funding to 27 other high-profile individuals, including government officials, bankers and military officials, who have "played a role in undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine."
  • A travel ban to prevent these persons from entering through EU territory.
  • Restrictions on economic relations with Donetsk and Luhansk, including a ban on imports, exports and investments in tourism.
  • Financial restrictions on the Russia Federation or its Central Bank.

"By restraining the ability of the Russian state and government to access the EU's capital and financial markets and services, the EU aims to limit the financing of escalatory and aggressive policies," the EU said in a statement.

These sanctions come as the European Council announced an emergency summit in Brussels Thursday.

"The aggressive actions by the Russian Federation violate international law and the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine," EC President Charles Michel said in a statement. "They also undermine the European security order."

Michel said he would like to discuss ways to protect the "rules-based international order," how to hold Russia accountable for its actions and how to further support Ukraine.

Russia vacates Kyiv embassy as fears mount

Russia has started evacuating its embassy in Kyiv, fearing that Russian President Vladimir Putin might invade Ukraine.

On Wednesday, Russian state news agency Tass reported that Russia began pulling personnel from its diplomatic posts in Ukraine.

The move came a day after the Russian Foreign Ministry announced a plan to evacuate, citing threats against Russians in Ukraine.

Russia warns of strong response to U.S. sanctions

Russia warns of a "strong response" to a series of "ineffective and counterproductive" economic sanctions announced by President Joe Biden.

"There should be no doubt that sanctions will be given a strong response, not necessarily symmetrical, but measured and sensitive for the American side," Russia's Foreign Ministry wrote in a statement Wednesday.

The Ministry called the sanctions "in line with Washington's ongoing attempts to change Russia's course."

Tuesday, Biden issued sanctions blocking two of Russia's financial institutions, cutting the Russian government off from Western financing and supporting Germany halting certification of Nord Stream 2.

The U.S. is also set to impose sanctions on Russia's elites and family members beginning Wednesday. Biden has vowed to impose more severe sanctions if Russia escalates its aggression against Ukraine.

Biden Update on Russia and Ukraine
President Joe Biden speaks in the East Room of the White House about Russian military activity near Ukraine Feb. 22. Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

"Despite the obvious futility of the efforts made over the years to hinder the development of our economy, the United States is again reflexively seizing on restrictive instruments that are ineffective and counterproductive from the point of view of American interests," the Ministry continued.

"Russia has proved that, with all the sanctions costs, it is able to minimize the damage. And even more so, sanctions pressure is not able to affect our determination to firmly defend our interests."

The Ministry concluded saying it is open to diplomacy based on mutual respect, equality and consideration of each other's interests.

Canadian 'Lethal Military Aid' Arrives in Ukraine

Canadian Minister of National Defense Anita Anand said a second aircraft filled with "lethal military aid" was delivered to Ukraine Tuesday.

"Today, our Canadian Armed Forces made a second delivery of lethal military aid to support our Ukrainian partners," Anand wrote. "Russia's further invasion of a sovereign state is absolutely unacceptable, and we will continue to stand by Ukraine as the country defends its sovereignty and independence."

The first aircraft delivery arrived over the weekend carrying machine guns, surveillance gear and rifles.

"We received military aid in the form of rifles, machine guns with optical sights, night vision & surveillance devices & military equipment. Thank you for this important & timely decision," Ukraine Minister of Defense Oleksiy Reznikov said on Twitter.

Canada has been very vocal about its support and long-standing relationship with Ukraine.

Japan, Australia join U.S. in Russia sanctions

Japan and Australia are the latest countries to impose sanctions against Russia.

Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced immediate sanctions on Russia in areas including transport, oil, and telecommunications.

"Australians will always stand up to bullies, and we will be standing up to Russia," said Morrison at a news conference.

Morrison also said Australia would initially impose travel bans and targeted financial sanctions on eight members of the Security Council of the Russian Federation.

"Our actions today are supported by the National Security Committee and ensure we are in lockstep with the United States and the United Kingdom in the sanctions they are imposing upon Russia and other areas," Morrison said.

Japan also announced sanctions against Russia.

Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio made the announcement saying that country will suspend the issuance of visas and freeze the assets of certain Russian individuals, according to the Japan Times. Kishida also said a trade ban will be imposed.

Russia Makes Advancement on Ukraine's Belarusian Front

Satellite images over the past 24 hours show new deployments of troops, armored vehicles and other equipment in Russia near the Belarus-Ukrainian border.

Images were released by U.S.-based Maxar Technologies, which has been tracking Russian military movement for weeks.

Maxar has collected new satellite imagery over the past 24 hours that reveals additional deployments, the positioning and movement of additional logistics and supplies in the region and increased activity in southern Belarus and at multiple sites in western Russia near the Ukrainian border," Maxar said in a release Tuesday.

A new deployment of at least 100 vehicles and dozens of troop tents were spotted today near Mozyr in southern Belarus, an area which is less than 25 miles north of the border with Ukraine.

In Western Russia, satellite images showed new deployments of troops and equipment being established southwest of Belgorod, about 12 miles northwest of the border with Ukraine.

Maxar said it also spotted a new field hospital to Russia's military garrison on the west of Belgorod. Troop tents, military vehicles and heavy equipment transporters-used to transport tanks and artillery—were also noted.

Ukraine Foreign Minister Says U.S. Promised Defense Weapons

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says the U.S. promised Ukraine more defense weapons as the threat for Russia's invasion continues.

President Biden and other U.S. representatives met with Kuleba on Tuesday to "reaffirm the United States' commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," the White House said in a statement.

Kuleba thanked U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for the "support that you extended to us in terms of defensive weapons, military equipment, training for our military," according to the U.S. Department of Defense's transcript of the meeting.

Biden assured Kuleba the United States "would continue providing security assistance and macroeconomic support to Ukraine" while reiterating America's readiness to act "swiftly and decisively" to any further Russian aggression towards Ukraine.

Austin backed Biden's sentiments and commended Ukraine for its continued call for peace amidst Russia's aggression.

"Now, I know that we've all heard President Putin's speech yesterday where he threatened war and—and attacking the very notion of independent Ukraine, so let's be clear: The U.S. support for Ukraine's self-defense, sovereignty and territorial integrity is unwavering," Austin said.

Congress Urges Biden to Get Authorization Before Sending Troops Inside Ukraine

In a letter to the president, more than 40 members of Congress, both Republican and Democrats, are urging Biden to receive authorization from Congress before deploying U.S. troops to Ukraine.

"We strongly urge your administration to respect the separation of powers, U.S. law, and Congress's constitutional war powers authority," the bipartisan letter reads.

"The American people, through their representatives in Congress, deserve to have a say before U.S. troops are placed in harm's way or the U.S. becomes involved in yet another foreign conflict."

The unusual bipartisan effort shows a sign of the Russia-Ukraine conflict escalating drastically.

Blinken, Kuleba hold joint press conference

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a joint press conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba at the State Department Tuesday.

Blinken said the past 24 hours proved that Russian President Vladimir Putin's plan was to invade Ukraine all along.

"Now that Russia has moved against Ukraine, so too have we moved in our strong, unified response," Blinken said during the press conference.

Blinken, Lavrov meeting is off:

Blinken called off Thursday's scheduled meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

"Now that we see the invasion is beginning, it does not make sense to go forward with that meeting at this time," Blinken said.

Blinken sent a letter to Lavrov on Tuesday, informing him of the decision. The pair were scheduled to meet Feb. 24 in Europe to discuss mutual security concerns; however, the meeting was contingent upon Russia not invading Ukraine.

Tuesday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also called off his scheduled meeting with Lavrov, set for Feb. 25 in Paris.

What is Ukraine saying?

Kuleba said Ukraine and the world do not accept Putin's recognition of the "republics" as independent and said now is the time for harsh sanctions.

"Russian aggression has brought the world to the edge of the largest catastrophe since WWII," Kuleba said. "Yesterday, President Putin moved to recognize two pieces of Ukrainian land as independent entities. Ukraine does not and will never recognize this absurdity."

Putin recognized the independence of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics Monday and ordered troops to move into those regions as "peacekeepers."

Kuleba called the move a great breach of international law, killing the Minsk agreements. He commended diplomatic efforts led by Blinken and welcomed the sanctions announced by Biden.

"Hit Russia's economy now... and hit it hard," Kuleba said.

He explained Ukraine has two plans. The first, to use every diplomatic tool to deter Russia of further aggression. If that fails, he said Ukraine will fight for its land.

"Fight for every inch of our land and every city and every village," he said Tuesday.

Is diplomacy off the table?

Blinken said steps will always be pursued to avert "an all out assault" on all of Ukraine, including Kyiv.

"We, our partners, remain open to diplomacy, but Moscow needs to demonstrate that it's serious," Blinken said. "The last 24 hours, it's demonstrated just the opposite."

He warned sanctions will escalate if Russia continues to escalate its aggression toward Ukraine.

Biden also met with Kuleba:

President Joe Biden met with Kuleba earlier Tuesday at the White House.

Biden said the U.S. would continue to provide security assistance and macroeconomic support to Ukraine, following Russia's actions Monday. Biden also asserted the U.S., its Allies and partners are ready to respond "swiftly and decisively" to any further Russian aggression.

House Republicans release statement on Ukraine invasion

Republican leadership in the House of Representatives calls Russia's invasion of Ukraine "reprehensible."

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, Republican Conference chairwoman, joined House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, Republican Whip Steve Scalise, House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul, House Armed Services Committee Lead Republican Mike Rogers, and House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Mike Turner in issuing a statement.

"Vladimir Putin's decision to launch a renewed invasion of Ukraine is reprehensible."

House Republicans also expressed their disapproval of President Biden's "tough talk on Russia."

"Sadly, President Biden consistently chose appeasement, and his tough talk on Russia was never followed by strong action. Lethal aid was slow-walked, anti-air and anti-ship capabilities were never directly provided, pre-invasion sanctions proportionate to the aggression Putin had already committed were never imposed, and sanctions on Nord Stream 2 were waived," the statement said.

"We stand in complete solidarity with the innocent Ukrainian people and vow to continue to support them as they defend themselves from Putin's unprovoked onslaught," the statement concluded.

Graphic compares Russian, Ukraine military forces

NATO and the United State have sent additional troops to support eastern European allies as Russian troops remain on the Ukraine border.

As shown in a graphic from Al Jazeera, Russia's military force is much larger than Ukraine's.

There is "big concern" among people in front-line cities in southeastern Ukraine, as "sporadic shelling" has been heard in the area throughout the day, Al Jazeera reported. No evacuation plan has been put into place.

President Joe Biden said Tuesday there are 150,000 troops surrounding Ukraine and in Belarus.

Biden praises end of Nord Stream 2

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced Tuesday he has suspended the certification process for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

The decision to stop the natural gas pipeline comes after Russia recognized separatist-held states in eastern Ukraine.

"With regard to the latest developments, we need to reassess the situation also with regard to Nord Stream 2," Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in Berlin. "It sounds very technocratic, but it is the necessary administrative step in order to stop certification of the pipeline."

The 750-mile-long pipeline runs under the Baltic Seas connecting Russian and European gas lines via Germany. It runs parallel to the Nord Stream and would double its capacity.

While the pipeline is completed, it is not yet operational. It has been awaiting approval from Germany and the European Commission.

After Russia's "serious break in international law," Scholtz said the German government decided to reassess the certification to "send a clear signal to Moscow that such actions won't remain without consequences."

The pipeline would offer Russia an alternative to Ukraine's outdated system, lower costs and avoid energy cutoffs from Ukraine.

Ukraine, the United States, the U.K, and other NATO and EU allies have long opposed the $11 billion dollar pipeline.

Many argued Europe's increase dependence on Russian gas could be weaponized by the Kremlin.

White House Press Secretary said the U.S. was in close consultation with Germany and supports the decision.

"Because of Russia's actions, we've worked with Germany to ensure Nord Stream 2 will not move forward," President Biden said Tuesday.

European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen told CNN that European leaders need to assess if Nord Stream 2 is "contributing or dangerous for the energy security for the whole of Europe."

"The focus on Nord Stream 2 will increase our [Europe's] dependence on Russia gas," she said.

Von der Leyen refuted Russian claims that halting the pipeline would result in higher prices and adds that Europe needs to diversify and invest in energy independence.

President Biden hopes diplomacy is still available

Despite President Biden's evaluation that Russia has started its invasion of Ukraine, the president said there is "still time to avert the worst-case scenario."

During a press briefing, Biden said nothing in Putin's remarks indicate interest in pursuing dialogue.

"He directly attacked Ukraine's right to exist; he explicitly threatened war unless his extreme demands were met," Biden said.

Biden added that the US and its allies remain open to a diplomatic solution during a press briefing even as the White House announces its first round of sanctions on Russia.

"When all is said and done, we're going to judge Russia by its actions, not its words. And whatever Russia does next, we're ready to respond with unity, clarity, and conviction," Biden said.

"I'm hoping diplomacy is still available."

How "defending freedom" will cost the U.S.

President Joe Biden says steps are being taken to minimize the impact on domestic gas prices as the United States issued a new round of sanctions against Russia.

"Defending freedom will have a cost," Biden warned during a press conference Tuesday. "For us as well, and here at home. We need to be honest about that."

Tuesday, Germany said it will halt certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, a multi-billion-dollar natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany. Biden said the U.S. worked with Germany to ensure the project "will not move forward." However, the move will have wide implications.

"My administration is using every tool at our disposal to protect American businesses and consumers from rising prices at the pump," Biden said. "I want to limit the pain the American people are feeling at the gas pump, this is critical to me."

Biden said the U.S. will take robust action to ensure the "pain" of the new sanctions is targeted at Russia's economy, not America's.

The U.S. is closely monitoring energy supplies for any disruption and executing a plan in coordination with major oil producers and consumers toward collective investment to maintain stability of global energy supplies.

U.S. to move forces to protect Baltic allies

The United States will move additional forces and equipment to eastern Europe to protect NATO allies in the Baltics.

President Biden said this is a "defensive" move that involves forces already in Europe.

He said the U.S. has no intension of fighting with Russia, but will protect "every inch" of NATO territory.

Biden added that he believes Russia is poised to go much further in its invasion of Ukraine.

"I hope we're wrong about that," he said.

Biden also reiterated his support for Germany's decision to stop the approval of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, ensuring that it will not move forward.

"We have our next move prepared as well," he said. "Russia will pay a steeper price if takes further action."

Biden announces sanctions on Russia

President Joe Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin's action yesterday is "the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine."

In response to this "flagrant violation of international law," Biden said the U.S. will issue sanctions on the Kremlin, in coordination with allies and partners.

He said these sanctions will go "far beyond the steps we and our allies and partners implemented in 2014.

The sanctions include blocking two of Russia's financial institutions, cutting the Russian government off from western financing.

Starting tomorrow, the U.S. will also impose sanctions on Russia's elites and family members.

Biden also promised to increase sanctions if Russia continues to escalate.

"If Russia goes further with this invasion, we stand prepared to go further as with sanctions," he said.

UK government issues travel alert

In a tweet Tuesday, the UK government advised British nationals to leave Ukraine immediately over fears war could be imminent.

"The safety and security of British nationals in Ukraine is our top priority. All Brits should leave now via commercial routes while they are still available," UK in Ukraine tweeted.

It comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin moved to recognize pro-Russia breakaway republics in the east, a move widely seen as a precursor to military action.

Moscow has stationed as many as 190,000 troops on the border, and tanks have been seen inside Ukrainian territory overnight.

Putin calls for recognition of Crimea as Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for international recognition of Crimea as part of Russia Tuesday, one day after recognizing the independence of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics. Putin then ordered Russian troops into the two regions, located in eastern Ukraine.

Also in Moscow Tuesday, Putin called for an end to Ukraine's NATO membership bid and a halt to weapons shipments there, the Associated Press reports.

Putin Military Moves
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his address to the nation at the Kremlin in Moscow on February 21. Alexey Nikolsky/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Putin's recognition of separatist regions was slammed during Monday's United Nations Security Council emergency meeting. U.K. Ambassador to the U.N. Barbara Woodward said the move showed "blatant contempt" for international law.

"Russia's decisions are a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and inconsistent with the principles of the U.N. charter," Woodward said. "In seeking to redraw borders by force, Russia's actions show blatant contempt for international law."

"Putin wants the world to travel back in time, to a time before the United Nations, to a time when empires ruled the world," U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said. But the rest of the world has moved forward. It is not 1919. It is 2022."

Both ambassadors condemned Putin's decision, saying it violates the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.

WATCH: Biden speaks on Russian invasion

President Biden will provide an update on the situation with Russia and Ukraine soon.

Biden signed an Executive Order Monday that will prohibit new investment, trade and financing by the U.S. to persons in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.

During his remarks today, the president will likely address possible sanctions against Russia and Germany's decision to stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

The speech will stream live at 1 p.m. ET on the White House YouTube page.

NATO Chief: There is "real risk" of war between Russia and Ukraine

NATO Chief said there is a "real risk" of a full-scale war between Russia and Ukraine as Moscow invade parts of eastern Ukraine.

During a press conference in Brussels, Secretary-General Jen Stoltenberg said this is "the most dangerous moment in European security for a generation."

Stoltenberg said he has every indication Russia continues to plan for a full-scale attack on Ukraine.

"We see ongoing military build-up," he said. "They promised to step back but continued to step up."

NATO forces have been put on high readiness but have not yet been deployed, Stoltenberg said.

"We will continue to provide Ukraine with strong political support and allies are providing equipment to help Ukraine defend itself as well as sustained financial support," he said.

While Stoltenberg said this crisis was "created by Russia alone," he insists it is still possible for the Kremlin to stop the invasion and "change course" towards diplomacy.

The European Union is ready to issue a set of sanctions on Russia after the federation's decision to recognize independent entities and send troops to certain areas of Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk.

The EU called these actions "illegal and unacceptable" and a violation of international law.

The sanctions package contains proposals to target those involved in the making the decision, the banks financing Russian military and other operations in those territories, as well as to target the ability the Russian government to access capital and financial markets.

President Biden to speak on invasion

President Joe Biden will deliver his remarks on Russia invading Ukraine at 1 p.m. ET the White House announced.

The speech comes as members of both parties are urging Biden to follow through on his repeated threats to enact severe sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine.

Senior administration officials seemed reluctant Monday to describe Russia's planned troop movement into eastern Ukraine as an "invasion." Still, that stance appears to have shifted today.

The principal deputy national security adviser, Jon Finer, told CNN this morning, "We think this is, yes, the beginning of an invasion, Russia's latest invasion into Ukraine."