Ukraine leader calls for more help, says Putin in war “against Europe”

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.

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.

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.

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.


Stocks up on Wall Street despite invasion

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.

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.

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:

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.

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 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. 

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. 

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.


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.” 

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.

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.  


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.

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


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, 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.

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.

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.”

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.

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

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