February 22, 2022 Ukraine-Russia crisis news

By Maureen Chowdhury, Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Jessie Yeung, Brad Lendon, Rob Picheta and Jeevan Ravindran, CNN

Updated 12:02 a.m. ET, February 23, 2022
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3:14 p.m. ET, February 22, 2022

Biden: Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline "will not move forward"

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury, Charles Riley and Julia Horowitz

An exterior view of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline receiving station in Lubmin, Germany, on February 2. 
An exterior view of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline receiving station in Lubmin, Germany, on February 2.  (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

President Biden announced new round of sanctions against Russia during his remarks from the White House on the Ukraine crisis and the latest actions announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Biden said that the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline will "not move forward" as a part of the latest sanctions from the US and its' allies.

"Because of Russia's actions we've worked with Germany to ensure that Nord Stream 2 will not, as I promised, will not move forward. As Russia contemplates its next move we have our next move prepared as well. Russia will pay a steeper price if it continues its aggression, including additional sanctions," Biden said.

The 750-mile pipeline was completed in September but has not yet received final certification from German regulators. When up and running, it would boost deliveries of gas directly from Russia to Germany.

On Tuesday, Germany said it was halting certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline following Moscow's actions in eastern Ukraine on Monday.

The United States, the United Kingdom, Ukraine and several EU countries have opposed the pipeline since it was announced in 2015, warning the project would increase Moscow's influence in Europe.

Nord Stream 2 could deliver 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year. That's more than 50% of Germany's annual consumption and could be worth as much as $15 billion to Gazprom, the Russian state owned company that controls the pipeline.

2:41 p.m. ET, February 22, 2022

Biden: Putin has attacked Ukraine's "right to exist"

US President Joe Biden speaks from the East Room of the White House on February 22.
US President Joe Biden speaks from the East Room of the White House on February 22. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin's speech on Monday a "twisted rewrite of history" in which he attacked Ukraine's "right to exist."

"I'm not going to go into it, nothing in Putin's lengthy remarks indicate interest in pursuing real dialogue on European security in the year 2022. He directly attacked Ukraine's right to exist. He indirectly threatened territory formerly held by Russia, including nations that today are thriving democracies and members of NATO," Biden said.

Biden continued, saying Putin "explicitly threatened war unless his extreme demands were met." The President said that there's no question that Russia is "the aggressor" against Ukraine. 

Biden said he believes that "there is still time to avert the worst-case scenario" with diplomacy.

"The United States and our allies and partners remain open to diplomacy if it is serious. 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." 

The President concluded his remarks, saying, "I'm hoping diplomacy is still available." 

6:06 p.m. ET, February 22, 2022

Biden: Putin's actions are the "beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine"

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

(Pool)
(Pool)

US President Joe Biden described events now underway in Ukraine as "the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine" as he unveiled harsh new sanctions to punish Moscow.

"I'm going to begin to impose sanctions in response, far beyond the steps we and our allies and partners implemented in 2014. And if Russia goes further with this invasion, we stand prepared to go further, as with sanctions," Biden said in White House remarks.

"Who in the Lord's name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called countries on territory that belongs to his neighbors?” Biden asked. "This is a flagrant violation of international law and demands a firm response from the international community."

Biden’s description of Russia’s actions in Ukraine immediately ups the stakes for his response. He and other senior officials have vowed to impose severe economic consequences if Russian troops cross into Ukraine, including on members of Putin’s inner-circle and Russian financial institutions.

“We've said all along, and I've told Putin face to face a month — more than a month ago, that we would act together in the moment Russia moved against Ukraine,” Biden said. “Russia has now undeniably moved against Ukraine by declaring these independent states.”

But Biden is also expecting to reserve some of his toughest measures, hoping to use them should Putin wage the type of bloody and sustained attack US officials have been warning about for weeks. 

The administration began describing events in eastern Ukraine as an "invasion" earlier Tuesday after assessing the situation on the ground there, according to administration officials.

The White House declined to provide specific intelligence that might further explain the shift in tone.

3:04 p.m. ET, February 22, 2022

Biden: Putin is "setting up a rationale to take more territory by force"

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

President Biden addressed Russian President Vladimir Putin recognizing two separatist-held regions in eastern Ukraine and said that the action is "the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine."

"Yesterday Vladimir Putin recognized two regions of Ukraine as independent states. And he bizarrely asserted that these regions are longer a part of Ukraine and their sovereign territory," Biden said during his remarks from the White House on the Ukraine crisis.

"To put it simply, Russia announced it is carving out a big chunk of Ukraine. Last night, Putin authorized Russian forces to deploy into these regions. Today, he asserted these regions are actually extend deeper than the two areas he recognized, claiming large areas currently under the jurisdiction of the Ukraine government," he said.

"He's setting up a rationale to take more territory by force, in my view, and if we listen to his speech last night, and many of you did, I know, he's setting up a rationale to go much further. This is the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine," the President said.

2:29 p.m. ET, February 22, 2022

NOW: Biden delivers remarks on Ukraine crisis 

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

(Pool)
(Pool)

US President Joe Biden is delivering remarks on the Ukraine crisis from the White House.

Today's remarks are his first public appearance since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops to deploy to separatist regions of Eastern Ukraine on Monday.

Biden's remarks come amid a hardening of the White House language on Russian's actions Tuesday morning.

"We think this is, yes, the beginning of an invasion, Russia's latest invasion into Ukraine," US principal deputy national security adviser Jon Finer said in an interview on CNN's "New Day," adding the sanctions imposed Monday were the merely the "beginning" of the US response.

"An invasion is an invasion and that is what is underway," Finer said. "I am calling it an invasion."

That was further than US officials were willing to go on Monday evening, and reflected the growing sense among Biden's team that a fuller assault on Ukrainian territory would begin shortly. Officials said continued signs of Russian aggression overnight led to a change in tone.

Read more here about Biden's remarks and where things stand in the crisis.

1:59 p.m. ET, February 22, 2022

French foreign minister: "There are no longer any rules for stability and security in Europe today"

From CNN’s Xiaofei Xu and Anaëlle Jonah in Paris

A Ukrainian soldier walks in the town of Schastia, near the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk, on February 22.
A Ukrainian soldier walks in the town of Schastia, near the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk, on February 22. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called for the need to rebuild security mechanism in Europe as he and European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell announced the EU’s first sanction package against Russia at a joint news conference in Paris on Tuesday, following Moscow’s decision to recognize the independence of the two breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine. 

“There are no longer any rules for stability and security in Europe today,” Le Drian said. “The tools, the treaties, the legal acts that, until now, have ensured stability in Europe are all obsolete.” 

Le Drian said that the latest sanctions package is only a first step. The EU will impose more sanctions if Russia further violates Ukraine’s sovereignty. 

“This is a first train, there are other ammunitions, to use the term of Josep, that are in the hold,” he said. 

He also announced that his meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, originally scheduled for Friday in the French capital, has been called off due to Russia’s recent actions. 

1:57 p.m. ET, February 22, 2022

Russia’s declaration "directly undermines Ukraine’s sovereignty," US defense secretary says 

From CNN's Michael Conte

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, left, welcomes Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba before a meeting at the Pentagon on February 22.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, left, welcomes Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba before a meeting at the Pentagon on February 22. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Russia’s recognition of two separatist-held regions in eastern Ukraine as independent states "directly undermines Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” 

Austin said the “latest invasion” of Ukraine “is threatening the peace and security and prosperity of Ukraine, and of the transatlantic community,” and that the US would impose additional “severe economic costs as events dictate."

The defense secretary is meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba at the Pentagon today.

Austin called the US support for Ukraine “unwavering” in the face of Russian President Vladimir Putin “attacking the very notion of independent Ukraine.”

“Mr. Putin can still avoid a full-blown tragic war of choice,” said Austin, praising Ukraine’s “measured response” to the renewed invasion and continued pursuit of a diplomatic resolution.

Kuleba responded that though he is on a diplomatic mission to the US, “these days diplomacy means also defense.”

1:21 p.m. ET, February 22, 2022

Russian Foreign Ministry cites "threats of physical violence" in diplomatic evacuation announcement

From CNN's Darya Tarasova and Nathan Hodge

Police stand guard in front of the Russian Embassy in Kyiv on February 22.
Police stand guard in front of the Russian Embassy in Kyiv on February 22. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs cited "threats of physical violence in a lengthy statement announcing a decision to pull diplomatic staff from Ukraine.

"Since 2014, the Russian Embassy in Kiev and the Consulates General of our country in Odessa, Lviv and Kharkiv have been subjected to repeated attacks," the statement read. "Provocations were regularly staged against the Russian Center for Science and Culture in Kyiv, harm was caused to the health of its head, and damage was also caused to the property of the Center. Russian diplomats also became objects of aggressive actions. They received threats of physical violence. Their vehicles were set on fire. Contrary to their obligations under the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations, the Kyiv authorities did not react to what was happening," the statement said.

The statement was issued shortly after Russia's Federation Council approved a request by Russian President Vladimir Putin to deploy troops abroad, amid concerns over possible war with Ukraine.

1:09 p.m. ET, February 22, 2022

State Department official: Russia's actions Monday "the beginning of the latest Russian invasion of Ukraine"

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler and Kylie Atwood

Russia’s actions on Monday “are the beginning of the latest Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Tuesday.

“They are utterly unprovoked and unjustified,” Sherman said of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recognition of the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and its deployment of “peacekeeping” forces to the region. 

“Moscow calls these troops ‘peacekeepers,’ but we all know this is a lie,” Sherman said in remarks delivered virtually to the OSCE Permanent Council.

Sherman’s language – and that of Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer – acknowledging the moves as an invasion are a shift from the inconclusive language used by a senior administration official on Monday.

That official refused to say whether they considered the actions a further invasion, despite being repeatedly pressed by reporters during a call, and emphasized that Russian forces had already been operating in those regions. 

Sherman said that “in the coming hours, the United States will announce significant additional sanctions and other measures that will impose severe costs and consequences on the Russian Federation.” 

“We expect our allies and partners will take additional, coordinated steps as well to respond to Russia’s unprovoked and unacceptable aggression against Ukraine,” she said.

Sherman said the Russian President “is testing our international system, he is testing our resolve. He wants to demonstrate that through force, he can make a farce of the international order.” 

“In this moment, no one, not one of us, can stand on the sidelines. We must remain united in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity—and, indeed, of the right of all sovereign nations to choose their own paths, free from the threat of coercion, subversion, or invasion,” she said.

“The United States continues to believe that the diplomatic path is the only way for responsible nations — for great powers — to resolve their legitimate differences. That path is still available to Russia. It is still available to us all. But we can only make progress in the context of de-escalation, not invasion. Of peace, not war,” Sherman said.