The latest on Ukraine and Russia tensions

By Aditi Sangal, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 11:02 PM ET, Mon February 7, 2022
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2:20 p.m. ET, February 7, 2022

US and Germany "working in lockstep" to deter Russian aggression, Biden says

From CNN's DJ Judd

President Biden welcomed German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to the White House Monday and told reporters gathered in the Oval Office that both countries are "working in lockstep to further deter Russian aggression in Europe.”

Biden acknowledged that the two leaders “have a lot to talk about” in the Oval Office meeting, adding he looked forward to working with Scholz “to address the challenges posed by China and promote stability in the Western Balkans—we then have to take on the pandemic, climate change and many of those other issues.”

The President also said he looks forward to Germany’s presidency of the G7 this year.

Scholz, in brief remarks, acknowledged today’s meeting was “an important meeting at an important time,” pointing to a number of topics they planned to discuss, including “fighting against Russian aggression against Ukraine.”

Neither leader responded to shouted questions from reporters before being escorted out.

2:35 p.m. ET, February 7, 2022

Blinken defends US messaging on Russia-Ukraine: "This is not alarmism, this is simply the facts"

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler, Casey Riddle and Kylie Atwood

(Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)
(Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken defended the US messaging about the Russia-Ukraine crisis, saying Monday that “this is not alarmism, this is simply the facts.”

“We have to deal with the facts. We have to deal with the facts in the context of history and we have to deal with the facts in making sure that we are fully prepared,” he said at a news conference at the State Department alongside EU High Representative Josep Borrell.

He said Russia’s massing of troops along the Ukrainian border is “not happening in a vacuum, it's happening in the context of what Russia already did in 2014 in invading Ukraine, seizing Crimea, creating a conflict in the Donbas that continues to this day.”

Blinken reiterated that the US does not believe Russian President Vladimir Putin has made a decision about whether to invade Ukraine, “but he has put in place the capacity should he so decide to act very quickly against Ukraine and in ways that would have terrible consequences for Ukraine, for Russia, but consequences also for all of us because these actions, this aggression, this threatened aggression against Ukraine would undermine the core principles that were hard established after World War II and after The Cold War that have helped to protect security, stability, peace and prosperity in Europe and beyond ever since.”

2:09 p.m. ET, February 7, 2022

UK says it wants to offer further reassurances to Moscow about NATO's role  

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in London  

The UK wants to offer further reassurances to Moscow about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's role because it is a defensive alliance, a UK government spokesperson said Monday.  

A Downing Street press officer confirmed to CNN that the spokesman told a lobby briefing that Russia has expressed concerns about possible aggressions from NATO.   

The UK has stressed that these concerns are unfounded due to NATO's status as a defensive alliance, the spokesperson said.  

Whilst the UK does want to provide Russia with diplomatic reassurance, it is continuing to emphasize the right of other countries to join NATO, the spokesperson added.   

1:02 p.m. ET, February 7, 2022

Secretary general: NATO is considering "longer-term military posture in eastern Europe"

From CNN's Aliza Kassim Khalidi

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said during a news conference Monday that NATO is considering “longer-term military posture in eastern Europe to strengthen deterrence."

“Russia has deployed over 100,000 troops with enabling capabilities with medical units, command and control and logistics. We also expect well over 30,000 troops to be deployed in Belarus. The largest military buildup since the Cold War. These deployments are not justified, not transparent and very close to NATO borders," Stoltenberg added during the news conference in Brussels with Poland’s president.


2:39 p.m. ET, February 7, 2022

Germany prepared to enforce "unprecedented sanctions" on Russia, foreign minister says

From CNN's Nada Bashir

(Gleb Garanich/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)
(Gleb Garanich/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

The German government is prepared to enforce “unprecedented sanctions” on Russia if the Kremlin fails to de-escalate tensions with Ukraine, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Monday, adding that the “ball is firmly in Moscow’s court.”

The comments came ahead of President Biden's meeting at the White House with Germany's new chancellor Olaf Scholz where Ukraine-Russia tensions are expected to be a key topic.

“We will do everything to ensure that there is no further escalation. We have therefore jointly prepared a series of tough measures against Russia for this eventuality,” Baerbock said. 

“These unprecedented sanctions have been coordinated and prepared with the approval of all partners,” she added. 

Speaking alongside Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Kyiv, Baerbock told members of the press that Germany and its NATO allies “stand absolutely by the territorial integrity and sovereignty” of Ukraine. 

“There is at all times a willingness to engage in serious dialogue with Russia — that is the point of diplomacy — but also absolute clarity that there will be harsh consequences if there is further aggression against Ukraine,” Baerbock said. 

“We are prepared to pay a high economic price for this. Because the security of Ukraine is at stake,” she added. 

12:59 p.m. ET, February 7, 2022

Blinken says the US and Ukraine are "united" in supporting Minsk agreements

From CNN's From Michael Conte and Jennifer Hansler

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the US and Ukraine are “united” in supporting the Minsk agreements as the way forward to resolve the conflict in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine occupied by Russian-backed separatists.

“If you look back over the requirements established in the Minsk agreements… Ukraine has sought to move forward on most if not all of them, while Russia has made good on virtually none of its obligations under Minsk,” said Blinken at a joint news conference with EU High Representative Josep Borrell at the State Department. 

Blinken said that in all of his conversations with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainians remain “committed” to the agreements, and said the current ceasefire could “build confidence toward the implementation of Minsk.”

“Minsk does not spell out some issues of sequencing when it comes to the steps that the parties need to take. Ukraine’s been approaching this in good faith. We have not to date seen Russia do the same,” said Blinken.

About the Minsk agreements: The agreements are a ceasefire protocol signed by Ukraine and Russia in 2015 — but despite the peace deal, which was signed in Minsk and brokered by France and Germany, there have been repeated ceasefire violations.

11:53 a.m. ET, February 7, 2022

Britain will send an additional 350 troops to Poland, defense secretary says

From CNN's Sharon Braitwaite in London 

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace speaks during a joint press conference with Poland's Minister of National Defence Mariusz Blaszczak at the Ministry of Defence Main Building on February 7, 2022 in London, England.
British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace speaks during a joint press conference with Poland's Minister of National Defence Mariusz Blaszczak at the Ministry of Defence Main Building on February 7, 2022 in London, England. (Tolga Akmen/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace announced on Monday that Britain will send a further 350 troops to Poland, as a sign of support, in the face of Russian activity on the Ukrainian border.  

The UK recently sent 100 Royal Engineers to Poland to help support it with a migrant crisis at its border with Belarus. 

“In that spirit of solidarity and helping share each other’s challenges of resilience, we will add to those 100 Royal Engineers by sending a further 350 British troops to Poland, as a bilateral deployment to show that we can work together and send a strong signal that Britain and Poland stand side by side,” Wallace said, speaking at a news conference alongside his Polish counterpart Mariusz Blaszczak, in London. 

Wallace noted that his meeting with Blaszczak happened at a time when "there is real anxiousness about the activity of Russia towards Ukraine, on Europe's eastern borders, and real worry about the continued military build-up of forces both in Belarus and indeed Russia, and near Ukraine."

The pair discussed what the two countries would do "if Russia were to make the foolish mistake of invading a sovereign country," Wallace added. 

Wallace paid tribute to Poland which has been "leading" alongside the UK and the smaller Baltic States efforts "to demonstrate that we stand in solidarity with Ukraine, not just in words, but also in training, and indeed the supplying of weapons and other equipment to help Ukraine defend itself." 

11:29 a.m. ET, February 7, 2022

NATO secretary general pushes for "political solution" with Russia over Ukraine

From CNN's Aliza Kassim Khalidi

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stressed the importance of reaching a political solution with Russia over Ukraine while speaking at a joint news conference with Poland's President Andrzej Duda in Brussels.

"NATO will do whatever is necessary to protect and defend all allies at the same time dialogue with Russia is even more important to find a political solution," he said.

More background: As tensions rise between Russia and Ukraine, the role that NATO plays in the region has come even more into focus.

NATO is a European and North American defense alliance set up to promote peace and stability and to safeguard the security of its members. 

Twelve founding countries — the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and eight other European nations — signed the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949, pledging to protect each other by political and military means.

Over the decades since, the alliance has grown to include a total of 30 members.

Ukraine is not a member of NATO, but has long hoped to join the alliance. This is a sore point for Russia, which sees NATO as a threat and vehemently opposes the move.

CNN's Ivana Kottasová and Bryony Jones contributed reporting to this post. 

11:47 a.m. ET, February 7, 2022

Macron tells Putin he hopes talks between both leaders can start "process of de-escalation" on Ukraine

From CNN’s Sugam Pokharel  

(Sputnik/AFP/Getty Images)
(Sputnik/AFP/Getty Images)

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow that he hopes the talks between the two leaders will “start off at least a process of de-escalation” on Ukraine.  

During a televised meeting that took place shortly after Macron arriving at the Kremlin, he told Putin that a dialogue is “absolutely essential, more than ever, to ensure the stability and security of the European continent.” 

The French president told Putin that in the discussions with the Russian leader today, he would focus on building "a constructive arrangement, which is mutually acceptable to Russia and the rest of the Europe, which will help us to avoid war and create the greatest degree of visibility for all concerned.”