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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8:08 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022

What we know so far about Biden and Putin's high-stakes call tomorrow 

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez, Kevin Liptak, Natasha Bertrand, Kylie Atwood and Kaitlan Collins

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

US President Biden plans to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday, a person familiar with the matter said, as the US warns Russia could attack Ukraine using bombs and missiles at any moment.

The high-stakes talks come at what US officials describe as a critical juncture in the ongoing crisis. A significant increase of Russian ground forces and military assets have surrounded Ukraine, and Putin could decide at any moment to activate them into a deadly invasion.

He hasn't decided whether to act, the White House said Friday. But that has not stopped American officials from dramatically increasing their warnings an attack is now a "distinct possibility" and could occur swiftly.

Biden's phone conversation with Putin — scheduled for 11 a.m. ET Saturday, according to the Kremlin — will be his first since the end of December. Since then, the number of Russian troops near Ukraine has increased and the prospects of an invasion have increased, according to American intelligence assessments.

Putin has also engaged a series of Western leaders in talks that have so far appeared fruitless in defusing the situation. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Friday accused Western countries and the media is spreading a "large-scale disinformation campaign," which promotes the thesis about an allegedly impending Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"At the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022, the global information space faced a media campaign unprecedented in its scale and sophistication, the purpose of which is to convince the world community that the Russian Federation is preparing an invasion of the territory of Ukraine," the Ministry said in a statement published on its website, accusing Western nations and media outlets of spreading disinformation "in order to divert attention from their own aggressive actions."

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Friday the two men would speak by phone but didn't specify when. The President was planning the spend the weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat.

Earlier Friday, Sullivan warned a Russian assault on Ukraine could begin soon, beginning with aerial bombings and missile attacks. He advised all Americans to depart the country for their own safety as quickly as possible.

"Any American in Ukraine should leave as soon as possible, and in any event in the next 24 to 48 hours," Sullivan said. "We obviously cannot predict the future, we don't know exactly what is going to happen. But the risk is now high enough and the threat is now immediate enough that this is what prudence demands."

Read more about the call and where things stand on Ukraine-Russia tensions here.

7:10 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022

US defense secretary spoke with several NATO counterparts today and stressed US commitment to Article 5 

From CNN's Oren Liebermann 

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with several of his NATO counterparts today, underscoring the US warning that a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine could come at anytime, including in the coming days. 

Austin spoke with his Polish, German, Canadian, French, Romanian and Italian counterparts Friday, making clear that the US continues to see signs of Russian escalation, according to a readout of the calls. 

"The Secretary made clear that the United States continues to see signs of Russian escalation, including new forces arriving at the Ukrainian border. He also reiterated that we are in the window when an invasion could begin at any time," the readout said.

Austin laid out steps to reassure NATO allies and underscored the United States' "ironclad commitment" to Article 5 of NATO, according to the readout.

Article 5 is the principle that an attack on one member of NATO is an attack on all members. It’s been a cornerstone for the 29-member alliance since it was founded in 1949 as a counterweight to the Soviet Union.

Though Austin did not speak with his Ukrainian counterpart, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper, who covers DoD policy in the region, spoke with Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Defense Oleksandr Polishchuk.

On Friday, the top US general also spoke with a number of his NATO counterparts, as well as a call with the head of the Russian military.

6:44 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022

Ukrainian official says "situation is really serious and uncertain"

From CNN’s Emmet Lyons, Natasha Bertrand, Katie Bo Lillis, Kylie Atwood and Jim Sciutto 

Responding to new intelligence suggesting possible Russian military action in Ukraine before the end of the Olympics, a Ukrainian official close to the government’s thinking on this says that the “situation is really serious and uncertain.”

Multiple sources familiar with the matter told CNN earlier today, that the US and its allies have new intelligence that suggests Russia could launch an attack on Ukraine even before the end of the Olympics,

Previous assessments had suggested that Russia was unlikely to move into Ukraine until after the Olympics end on Feb. 20, U.S. officials had told CNN in��the past. 

The revelation of the new intelligence comes as administration officials have dramatically ramped up the urgency of their public warnings related to Ukraine in the past 24 hours.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that a Russian invasion of Ukraine "could begin at any time," including during the Beijing Winter Olympics, and the United States continues "to see very troubling signs of Russian escalation, including new forces arriving at the Ukrainian border."

Kyiv is among the targets identified in the Russian planning, three sources familiar with the new intelligence tell CNN. 

When asked about new intelligence, reported by CNN, that Russia could launch an attack before the end of the Olympics, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian Defense Minister said that such warnings “have already been heard.”

CNN’s Mick Krever and Alex Marquardt contributed reporting to this post.

6:19 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022

Top US general spoke with Russian and NATO counterparts

From CNN's Oren Liebermann

In a series of phone calls, the top US general spoke with his Russian counterpart and NATO allies Friday, as the Pentagon announced another 3,000 troops headed for Poland in the coming days.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley spoke about “security-related issues of concern” with Russian General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov, according to a readout of the call.

The two agreed to keep the details of the call private.

Shortly before the call was publicized, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan warned a Russian invasion of Ukraine could be imminent and told American citizens to leave the country within the next 24 to 48 hours.

Milley also spoke with Adm. Rob Bauer, the chair of the NATO Military Committee, as well as his counterparts from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, and the United Kingdom.

The calls focused on “ongoing coordination during the adjustment of US force posture in Europe,” according to the readouts.

 

6:16 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022

White House national security advisor met with Swedish counterpart today to discuss Russia and Ukraine

From CNN's Sam Fossum

White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan met with Karin Wallensteen, the Swedish state secretary for foreign affairs, on Friday to discuss the continued tensions on the Russia-Ukraine border. 

 "They discussed their shared concerns about Russia’s continued build-up of military forces around Ukraine, reaffirmed their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and reviewed transatlantic efforts to coordinate diplomacy and deterrence efforts," said Emily Horne, national security council spokesperson.  

She added: "In addition, they discussed the close defense partnership between the United States and Sweden. They agreed on the importance of boosting our bilateral cooperation in promoting democracy and human rights worldwide as well as addressing climate change, global health, and health security."

 

5:47 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022

Russia accuses Western countries and media of spreading disinformation about plans to invade Ukraine

From CNN's Darya Tarasova in Moscow and Sharon Braithwaite in London

Ahead of the expected call tomorrow between US President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is saying that Western countries and the media are spreading a "large-scale disinformation campaign" that promotes the thesis about an allegedly impending Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"At the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022, the global information space faced a media campaign unprecedented in its scale and sophistication, the purpose of which is to convince the world community that the Russian Federation is preparing an invasion of the territory of Ukraine," according to a ministry statement Friday published on its website.

The ministry accused Western countries and Western media of spreading disinformation "in order to divert attention from their own aggressive actions."

What the US is saying about Russia-Ukraine tensions: President Biden's national security adviser Jack Sullivan warned a Russian assault on Ukraine could begin soon, beginning with aerial bombings and missile attacks. He advised all Americans to depart the country for their own safety as quickly as possible.

Earlier Friday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US believes a Russian invasion of Ukraine could begin "at any time," including during the ongoing Olympics in Beijing. He also said the US continues "to see very troubling signs of Russian escalation, including new forces arriving at the Ukrainian border."

CNN's Maegan Vazquez, Kevin Liptak, Natasha Bertrand, Kylie Atwood and Kaitlan Collins contributed reporting to this post.

5:01 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022

US secretary of state spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart, according to official  

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens during a joint press availability at the Quad meeting of foreign ministers in Melbourne, Australia, on February 11. (Kevin Lamarque/Pool Photo via AP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens during a joint press availability at the Quad meeting of foreign ministers in Melbourne, Australia, on February 11. (Kevin Lamarque/Pool Photo via AP) (Kevin Lamarque/Poo/AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba Saturday morning local time in Australia, according to a senior State Department official.

The latest call between the two diplomats comes as CNN has learned that the US and its allies have new intelligence that suggests Russia could launch an attack on Ukraine even before the end of the Olympics, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

Spokesperson Ned Price said Blinken reaffirmed "the United States’ robust support for Ukraine in the face of an increasingly acute threat of possible further Russian aggression."

"The Secretary underscored that any and all aggression against Ukraine by Russia will be met with swift, severe, and united consequences. The Secretary briefed on global efforts to urge de-escalation and enhance defense and deterrence measures against Russia’s unprovoked and continued build-up of troops and equipment in Ukraine and around its borders. He reinforced that Ukraine continues to have the United States’ enduring and steadfast support for its sovereignty and territorial integrity," according to Price.

5:54 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022

Biden-Putin call will take place tomorrow, Kremlin spokesperson says

From CNN's Kevin Liptak, Kaitlan Collins and Matthew Chance

President Joe Biden on the South Lawn of the White House before boarding Marine One in Washington, on Friday.
President Joe Biden on the South Lawn of the White House before boarding Marine One in Washington, on Friday. (Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a telephone conversation with US President Biden on Saturday at 7 p.m. Moscow time (11 a.m. ET), Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told CNN on Friday.

According to Peskov, a telephone conversation between Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron is also planned on Saturday.

A person familiar with the matter told CNN earlier that Biden and Putin would speak tomorrow.

The White House confirmed CNN's reporting that the leaders will speak tomorrow, but an official says the Kremlin proposed holding a call on Monday. The White House, offering a bit of unusual detail, says they counter-offered a call for tomorrow. 

"President Biden and President Putin of Russia will be speaking on Saturday morning. Russia proposed a call Monday. The White House counter-proposed Saturday, and they accepted," a White House official says. 

At a White House press briefing today, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the two men would speak by phone, but didn't say when.

Biden last spoke to Putin at the end of December. Prior to that, on Dec. 7, they had negotiations via videoconference. The first face-to-face meeting between Putin and Biden as leaders of state took place in Geneva in June 2021.

Biden is spending the weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat.

CNN's Darya Tarasova and Sharon Braithwaite contributed reporting to this post.

4:16 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022

Some Americans in Ukraine are receiving calls from the State Department asking if they have plans to leave 

From CNN's Kylie Atwood

The State Department is calling Americans in Ukraine to find out if they have plans to leave as the US continues to urge Americans to depart the country.  

Lee Humerian, an American living in Ukraine with his family and working as a missionary, told CNN that he got a call from the State Department on Friday asking if he had plans to leave the country.

The State Department official asked if he read the most recent email from the State Department encouraging Americans to leave, he said. He told her he had read it and he did not have plans to leave.  

Humerian registered with the State Department's program that tracks Americans abroad.

The State Department did not immediately respond to request for comment about these calls.