The latest on Ukraine and Russia tensions

By Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 8:11 PM ET, Fri February 11, 2022
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3:33 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022

US will send 3,000 more troops to Poland as concerns grow over Russia and Ukraine

From CNN's Oren Liebermann and Barbara Starr

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered 3,000 more soldiers from the 82nd Airborne to deploy to Poland amid rising concern about Russia’s potential invasion of Ukraine, according to a senior defense official. The troops will leave in the next couple of days, joining about 1,700 members of the unit already there. 

The soldiers will fall under the command of Maj. Gen. Christopher Donahue, who was the commander of forces during the final evacuation and withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Three hundred members of the 18th Airborne Corps have also arrived in Germany, the official said. They are under the command of Lt. Gen. Michael Kurilla, slated to be the next commander of US Central Command.

This group of 5,000 troops will “reassure our NATO allies, deter any potential aggression against NATO’s eastern flank, train with host-nation forces, and contribute to a wide range of contingencies,” the official said.

On Wednesday, CNN reported that the White House has approved a plan for members of the 82nd Airborne in Poland to help Americans who may try to leave Ukraine. The troops will begin setting up processing areas and temporary shelters.

3:54 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022

French president will speak with Putin on Saturday

From CNN’s Xiaofei Xu

French President Emmanuel Macron meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday.
French President Emmanuel Macron meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday. (SPUTNIK/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron will speak Saturday at noon local time (or 6 a.m. ET), according to Élysée Palace.

Macron met with Putin on Monday in Moscow, and he said he and the Russian president were able to find "points of convergence" over the crisis.

3:23 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022

Ukrainian authorities acknowledge threat of "provocations" that may be staged by Russia

From CNN's Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

Ukrainian authorities discussed the threat from "provocations" during heightened tensions caused by the buildup of Russian forces around the borders of Ukraine and insisted that cities under threat will be protected.

Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, was asked at a press briefing in the city of Kharkiv about possible provocations that Russia might blame on Ukraine, so-called false flag operations.

"We are currently considering any issues. Every day we receive information from our services," he said.

"We have heard so far about the Chernobyl [nuclear] station, we have heard about the territory of the occupied Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and about other facilities both in our territory and in the occupied Crimea, and in the occupied Donetsk and Luhansk regions," he said.

The Chernobyl area near the border with Belarus is an exclusion zone after the disaster at its nuclear plant in 1986. Much of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are under the control of pro-Russian separatists and have been since 2014.

"If we are talking about a provocation that the Russian Federation will try to make, we are well aware of what we are talking about," Danilov said. 
"We do not know where this or that provocation may take place, in what form it will be realized," he said. 

"The Russian Federation has started a war in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and is now beginning to tell nonsense that we will allegedly reclaim the Donetsk and Luhansk regions militarily. I would like to emphasize once again that we cannot do that because we are responsible for the civilian population," Danilov said.

"I just do not understand why the Russians need that 'trouble' called our country? Believe me, we will not give anything to anyone," he said. "They are aware of the position of our citizens that we will fight for our [land.] ... We have never attacked anyone in the history of our country. But we will not give ours to anyone."

Danilov said the city of Kharkiv will be protected in case of an invasion.

Speaking on the evacuation of government institutions, Danilov said. "To date, there are no reasons to take out or evacuate documents. If there are such reasons, the relevant institutions will immediately work in the appropriate direction."

"Now no one is moving anywhere, because we do not see any reasons for it today," he added.

3:22 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022

Oil prices jump to fresh seven-year highs amid Russia-Ukraine fears

From CNN’s Matt Egan

US oil prices briefly climbed above $94 a barrel on Friday for the first time since September 2014 as concerns mount about a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Crude jumped as much as 5.3% to a fresh seven-year high of $94.66 a barrel. 

Oil prices eased off their highs, however, as US national security adviser Jake Sullivan briefed reporters. Although Sullivan said an invasion could begin at “any time,” even during the Olympics, he added that the United States does not believe Russian President Vladimir Putin has made a decision on whether to invade. 

In recent trading, oil was up 3.5% to $93 a barrel. Brent crude, the world benchmark, gained 3.2% to $94.20. US stocks similarly pared their losses during Sullivan’s briefing.

Analysts have warned that a conflict in Ukraine could threaten energy supplies, including through potential sanctions. Russia is the world’s No. 2 producer of both oil and natural gas.

Oil could “easily” hit $120 a barrel if there are “any disruptions” to oil flows from Russia, JPMorgan analysts said earlier this week. A halving of Russian oil exports would likely send oil to $150 a barrel, JPMorgan said. The record high for Brent crude was set in July 2008 when it hit $147.50 a barrel.

Higher oil prices will only drive up prices at the pump and contribute to historic inflation in the United States.

The national average for regular gas stands at a seven-year high of $3.48 a gallon, up from $3.30 a month ago, according to AAA.

3:01 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022

NATO secretary general warns "the risk of conflict in Europe is real"

From CNN's Abby Baggini, Sharon Braithwaite and James Frater

Following a virtual meeting with US President Biden and key allies, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said "the risk of conflict in Europe is real" in a statement.

"Participants made clear that any further Russian aggression against Ukraine would come at a high cost, while reiterating that they were ready to continue dialogue with Russia," the NATO statement said.

Biden organized a call on the situation between Russia and Ukraine Friday morning with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, NATO and EU leaders.

In a statement by the European Commission, the group underscored its support for Ukraine and its final adoption of an emergency financial assistance package of 1.2 billion euros. European Union chief Ursula Von der Leyen indicated that sanctions against Russia would concern the financial and energy sectors, as well as exports of high-tech products, according to the statement.

Von der Leyen also emphasized "the need to continue fighting Russian disinformation through effective strategic communication efforts."

Stoltenberg has invited Russia and all other members of the NATO-Russia Council to further meetings to discuss European security, according to the NATO statement.

The conference comes as multiple embassies worldwide, including those of Japan, Norway, South Korea, Latvia and the United Kingdom, advise their citizens to evacuate Ukraine.

2:58 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022

UK prime minister says heavy economic sanctions should be "ready to go" in case of Ukraine invasion

From CNN's David Wilkinson and Sharon Braithwaite in London

United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson told allies that he feared for the security of Europe due to the current situation in Ukraine, a Downing Street spokesperson said Friday.

Johnson held a virtual meeting with the leaders of the US, Italy, Poland, Romania, France, Germany, the European Council, the European Commission and NATO to discuss the situation in Ukraine on Friday evening, the spokesperson said in a statement.

"He impressed the need for NATO allies to make it absolutely clear that there will be a heavy package of economic sanctions ready to go, should Russia make the devastating and destructive decision to invade Ukraine," the spokesperson said.

3:57 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022

National security adviser: The way to de-escalate Russia-Ukraine tensions is for Russia to scale back troops

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan arrive to the the daily White House press briefing on Friday.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan arrive to the the daily White House press briefing on Friday. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

The fastest way to de-escalate tensions between Russia and Ukraine is for Russia to pull back its buildup of troops at the countries' border, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said.

"Only one country has amassed more than 100,000 troops on the border of another country with all of the capabilities and capacities to conduct an invasion. That country is Russia. That country is not the United States," Sullivan said during a briefing at the White House.

"So the fastest way to de-escalate this situation for all involved would be for Russia to choose to de-escalate its mobilization of forces. The United States is responding to the active sustained buildup of military pressure on Ukraine, we are doing so in lockstep with allies and partners and at the same time we have been extremely forward-leaning in our willingness to engage in diplomacy to address the mutual concerns of Russian, the Europeans and the United States when it comes to Europe security," he said.

Sullivan said that he speaks "nearly every day" with aides to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, while President Biden has spoken with Zelensky.

8:06 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022

Biden is expected to speak with Putin amid heightened warnings of invasion, national security adviser says

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

US President Biden is expected to engage his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin over the phone amid new, urgent warnings about the potential of a conflict in Ukraine.

"I expect that he will engage by telephone with President Putin, but I don't have anything to announce for you on that right now," national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters at the White House.

Biden last spoke with Putin at the end of December. Since then, Russian forces have amassed in larger numbers along the Ukraine border, and Sullivan said Friday there was a "very distinct possibility" an invasion could proceed.

Other leaders, including from France and Germany, have engaged with Putin in Moscow.

2:35 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022

White House: US doesn't believe Putin has decided on invading Ukraine, but it's a "distinct possibility"

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt and Kevin Liptak

The US does not believe Russian President Vladimir Putin has made a decision on whether to invade Ukraine, President Biden's national security adviser said today in a news briefing.

Even as he sought to convey an urgent message that an invasion could occur at any time, Sullivan said he could not get inside Putin's head.

"I want to be crystal clear though. We are not saying that a decision has been taken — that a final decision has been taken by President Putin. What we are saying, is that we but we have a sufficient level of concern based on what we're seeing on the ground and what our intelligence analysts have picked up, that we are sending this clear message, and it remains a message that we have now been sending for some time, " Sullivan said at a White House press briefing.

"And it is, yes, it is an urgent message because we're in an urgent situation," the adviser continued.

Sullivan expanded on his statement that Russia could launch an invasion of Ukraine "at any time." He said there was a "very distinct possibility" that Russia would act militarily, but couldn't pinpoint when or how.

"I'm not going to get into intelligence information, but if you look at the disposition of forces in both Belarus and in Russia on the other side of the Ukrainian border from the north, from the east, the Russians are in a position to be able to mount a major military action in Ukraine any day now. And for that reason we believe that it is important for us to communicate to our allies and partners, to the Ukrainians and to the American citizens still there," Sullivan said.