February 24, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner, Adrienne Vogt, Melissa Macaya, Rob Picheta, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Ed Upright, Maureen Chowdhury and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 8:06 a.m. ET, February 25, 2022
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11:21 p.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Ukraine says it has inflicted 800 casualties among Russian forces

From CNN's Tim Lister in Kyiv

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry says its armed forces have inflicted some 800 casualties on Russian forces since the invasion began in the early hours of Thursday.

It was not immediately clear whether the ministry was referring solely to the number killed.

The ministry said more than 30 Russian tanks had been destroyed, as well as seven Russian aircraft and six helicopters.

CNN is not able to independently verify Ukraine's figures.

11:14 p.m. ET, February 24, 2022

EU announces new "maximum impact" sanctions on Russia

From CNN’s Hira Humayun

The European Union announced new sanctions on Russia early Friday that would target the country's financial, energy and transport sectors, visa policy, and include export controls and export financing bans.

The sanctions will have "maximum impact on the Russian economy and political elite," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at a joint news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron. “We will hold the Kremlin accountable,” she said.

She said the financial sanctions cut Russia’s most important capital markets, and that they are now targeting 70% of the Russian banking market and key state-owned companies. The sanctions will increase Russia’s borrowing costs, raise inflation and “gradually erode Russia’s industrial base," she said.

“We are also targeting Russian elites by curbing their deposits so that they cannot hide their money anymore in safe havens in Europe,” she added.

An export ban will also hit Russia's oil sector, and ban the sale of all aircraft spare parts and equipment to Russian airlines, which Von der Leyen said would hit a key sector of Russia’s economy and the country’s connectivity. The sanctions also limit Russia’s access to "crucial technology," she said.

Diplomats, related groups and businesspeople will no longer have privileged access to the EU, she added.

11:06 p.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Ukraine's deputy interior minister: Explosion over Kyiv caused by Ukrainian air defenses

From CNN's Matthew Chance in Kyiv

Ukraine's Deputy Interior Minister Yevhen Yenin has attributed an explosion early Friday over the capital, Kyiv, to a Ukrainian "anti-missile system shooting a (Russian) missile out of the sky."

CNN has not been able to independently verify this. Earlier Friday morning, CNN reporters on the ground in Kyiv reported hearing several loud blasts.

Separately, Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the Head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, said Friday that Kyiv had been hit by "cruise or ballistic missiles."

Photos shared by Gerashchenko on Friday show a Kyiv residential building on fire, and firefighters responding on the scene as clouds of black smoke rise in the distance.

Firefighters outside a residential building in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Friday.
Firefighters outside a residential building in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Friday. (Provided by Anton Gerashchenko)
11:09 p.m. ET, February 24, 2022

French President says he's ready to broker a ceasefire, accuses Putin of "duplicity"

From CNN’s Xiaofei Xu in Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron.
French President Emmanuel Macron. (Olivier Hoslet/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

French President Emmanuel Macron is positioning himself as the mediator between Russia and Ukraine for a potential ceasefire agreement.

“I think it is my responsibility, first of all, to take such initiatives when they are requested by Ukraine, and then, while condemning, while sanctioning, while continuing to decide and act, to leave this path open so that the day when the conditions can be met, we can obtain a cessation of hostilities for the Ukrainian people,” Macron said a joint news conference Friday in Brussels after an emergency European Union summit.

Macron was the first major Western leader to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin after Russian military actions began. They spoke before the summit — but Macron admitted the phone call didn’t achieve much, "since the Russian President has chosen war.”

Macron also accused Putin of duplicity, saying he and other European leaders had been discussing "the details of the implementation of the Minsk agreements" with Putin just hours before the Russian President launched the operation, referring to the 2015 pact that established a shaky ceasefire in the region.

“So yes, there was duplicity. Yes, there was a deliberate, conscious choice by President Putin to launch the war when we could still negotiate peace," Macron said.

At the summit on Thursday, EU leaders signed off on a new round of sanctions, described by European Council President Charles Michel as “massive” and “painful” against Russia and Belarus.

10:36 p.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Biden: US is "in consultation with India" over Russia-Ukraine

From CNN's Manveena Suri in New Delhi

US President Joe Biden told reporters Thursday the United States was “in consultation with India” on the issue of Ukraine and Russia. 

The comments came in response to a question on whether India, a major US defense partner, was “fully in sync” with the United States, with Biden adding, “We haven’t resolved that completely.”

India has a historic friendship with Russia. At the same time, its strategic partnership with the US has grown at an unprecedented pace over the past two decades. 

Also on Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a phone conversation with India's External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, stressing the importance of a “strong collective response” toward Russia's invasion of Ukraine, an official spokesperson said.

“Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar today to discuss Russia’s premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack on Ukraine. Secretary Blinken stressed the importance of a strong collective response to condemn Russia’s invasion and call for an immediate withdrawal and ceasefire,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in a readout of the call on Thursday.

Following the call, Blinken tweeted a similar statement, highlighting the “importance of a strong collective response to Russian aggression,” adding “Russia’s attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is a clear violation of the rules-based international order.”

In response, Jaishanker tweeted: “Appreciate the call from @SecBlinken. Discussed the ongoing developments in Ukraine and its implications."

10:32 p.m. ET, February 24, 2022

On the ground: Ukrainians take shelter, flee, and get married as they enter a war

A young boy plays with his tablet in a public basement used as a bomb shelter in Kyiv on Thursday.
A young boy plays with his tablet in a public basement used as a bomb shelter in Kyiv on Thursday. (Emilio Morenatti/AP)

People in Ukraine woke up to a new reality on Thursday, as explosions rocked major cities and prompted many to flee the capital Kyiv.

Families in Kyiv told CNN about the decision they faced: leave behind their homes, facing potential danger on the road, or stay?

By early morning Thursday, heavy traffic filled roads in Kyiv heading westward, as residents packed up and drove in the opposite direction of the Russian border.

Sviatoslav Fursin, left, and Yaryna Arieva kneel during their wedding ceremony at St. Michael's cathedral in Kyiv on Thursday.
Sviatoslav Fursin, left, and Yaryna Arieva kneel during their wedding ceremony at St. Michael's cathedral in Kyiv on Thursday. (Christian Streib/CNN)

Yaryna Arieva and her partner, Sviatoslav Fursin, rushed to tie the knot with the sound of air raid sirens ringing in their ears.

"That was very scary," Arieva told CNN Thursday. "It's the happiest moment of your life, and you go out, and you hear that."

The couple had planned to get married on May 6 and celebrate at a restaurant with a "very, very cute terrace" overlooking the Dnieper River, said 21-year-old Arieva — "Just us and the river and beautiful lights."

They don't know what the future will bring — but they're determined to stay and fight. After their wedding, the couple prepared to go to the local Territorial Defense Center to join efforts to help defend the country.

A staff member of a hotel in Kyiv talks on the phone on Thursday.
A staff member of a hotel in Kyiv talks on the phone on Thursday. (Ethan Swope/Bloomberg/Getty Images)
People in Kyiv try to board a bus to travel west toward Poland on Thursday.
People in Kyiv try to board a bus to travel west toward Poland on Thursday. (Timothy Fadek/Redux for CNN)

The specter of war had loomed over Ukraine for years — but residents were still stunned to face their new reality on Thursday as the death toll began to climb.

"It's hard to believe it's actually our neighbor doing this, because we never really believed that our neighbor can just come and just grab our land and tell us what to do," one woman taking shelter in a subway station in the city of Kharkiv told CNN.

"We (are an) independent country of Ukraine, and ... we don't want to be a part of Russia or any other country," she said.
10:24 p.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Russian forces are about 20 miles from Kyiv, Biden administration officials tell lawmakers

From CNN's MJ Lee and Michael Callahan

Russian mechanized forces that had entered Ukraine through Belarus were about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Kyiv, top Biden administration officials told House lawmakers in a briefing Thursday, according to two sources on the call, which occurred about 6:30 p.m. ET.

The officials described another Russian element that entered Ukraine from Russia being a bit further away, but that both were headed toward Kyiv with the goal of encircling the city and potentially toppling the Ukrainian government, according to the lawmaker on the call.

10:20 p.m. ET, February 24, 2022

New satellite images show dozens of vehicles have moved across a pontoon bridge near Chernobyl

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

A long convoy of vehicles has been moved across a military pontoon bridge over the Pripyat River near the Ukrainian-Belarussian border, according to new satellite images from Capella Space.

The images, taken at 9:57 p.m. Kyiv time on Thursday, show the vehicles lined up on the southern shore of the Pripyat River. 

This location is deep in Palieski State Radioecological Reserve, which is part of the greater Chernobyl exclusion zone.

A mile away from the convoy and pontoon bridge site, dozens of other vehicles are arranged in columns near the abandoned village of Dovlyady, Belarus. 

Dozens of vehicles are arranged in columns near the abandoned village of Dovlyady, Belarus seen in this satellite photo taken Thursday night.
Dozens of vehicles are arranged in columns near the abandoned village of Dovlyady, Belarus seen in this satellite photo taken Thursday night.

The road from Dovlyady travels across the Ukrainian border to Pripyat and to the damaged Chernobyl nuclear reactor. 

Earlier on Thursday, Russian forces reportedly took control of the reactor site. CNN has been reporting about the pontoon bridge’s existence since it was first identified on satellite imagery on Feb. 15.

10:28 p.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Indian Prime Minister urges "immediate cessation of violence" in call with Putin

From CNN's Manveena Suri in New Delhi

India's leader Narendra Modi "appealed for an immediate cessation of violence" in a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, according to a statement issued by the Indian Prime Minister's office.

Modi “appealed for an immediate cessation of violence, and called for concerted efforts from all sides to return to the path of diplomatic negotiations and dialogue,” the statement said.

Putin briefed Modi about the recent developments in Ukraine, with Modi “reiterating his long-standing conviction that the differences between Russia and the NATO group can only be resolved through honest and sincere dialogue,” the statement added.

Modi also expressed concern over the safety of Indian citizens in Ukraine, especially students, adding “India attaches the highest priority to their safe exit and return.”

At least 20,000 Indian nationals including students live in Ukraine, according to India's ambassador to the UN.

Russia-India ties: Moscow and New Delhi have a military and technical cooperation pact until 2031, and a pledge to boost annual trade to $30 billion by 2025.

They reinforced their ties in December, when Putin traveled to India and the two leaders signed a flurry of trade and arms deals, including 28 investment pacts.