February 25, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Amy Woodyatt, Rob Picheta, Ed Upright, Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 3:47 a.m. ET, February 26, 2022
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11:48 a.m. ET, February 25, 2022

More than 50,000 Ukrainians have fled, UN refugee agency says

From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez

More than 50,000 Ukrainian refugees have left the country in less than 48 hours, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, who said the majority have gone to Poland and Moldova. 

“More than 50,000 Ukrainian refugees have fled their country in less than 48 hours – a majority to Poland and Moldova – and many more are moving towards its borders,” Grandi said in a tweet. “Heartfelt thanks to the governments and people of countries keeping their borders open and welcoming refugees.”

The United Nations refugee agency estimated Thursday that tens of thousands will be displaced as Russia invades Ukraine. The agency is stepping up operations and capacity in Ukraine and neighboring countries as people start to flee.

12:18 p.m. ET, February 25, 2022

Delta ends partnership with Russian airline Aeroflot

From CNN's Pete Muntean

Delta Air Lines is ending its partnership with Russian airline Aeroflot in response to the invasion of Ukraine. 

Delta did book passengers on some flights operated by the Russian national airline, but says it is ending its codeshare agreement effective immediately. The agreement allowed Delta to ticket its passengers on Aeroflot flights from Moscow and enabled Aeroflot to ticket its passengers on some Delta flights operated from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Los Angeles International Airport.  

“We have removed our code from Aeroflot-operated services beyond Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport and removed Aeroflot’s code from Delta-operated services from Los Angeles and New York-JFK,” said a statement from the airline. “Accommodations will be made for customers affected by these changes.”

Delta’s decision was first reported by Politico.

Aeroflot joined the SkyTeam Alliance in 2004, a partnership of 19 international airlines of which Delta is also a member. Delta said it does not operate flights to Ukraine or Russia.

11:41 a.m. ET, February 25, 2022

Lawmakers urge Biden to release emergency oil reserves in the wake of Russia's attack on Ukraine

From CNN’s Matt Egan

Democrats in Congress are calling for the White House to take new steps to blunt the impact of soaring gasoline prices in the wake of Russia’s attack on Ukraine. 

“As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to cause volatility in the global oil market, we are writing to urge you to consider using all of the tools at your disposal to insulate Americans from rising gasoline prices,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to President Biden dated Thursday.  

The letter, signed by nine senators and one congressman, specifically cited an additional release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Biden said Thursday the United States stands ready to release more oil from America’s oil stockpile, if necessary. 

The lawmakers also encouraged the use of “diplomatic pressure” to persuade global oil producers to boost production and “restrictions on petroleum exports unless they will advance our national security goals and lower prices for consumers.” 

The national average price for regular gasoline climbed to $3.57 a gallon on Friday, according to AAA. That’s up by about 3 cents in just a day and 23 cents in a month. Gasoline prices move with a lag to oil.

12:36 p.m. ET, February 25, 2022

Russia has "about a third of their combat power" that amassed for invasion in Ukraine now, US official says

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

Russia has “about a third of their combat power” in Ukraine out of the total amassed for invasion on Ukraine’s borders right now, a senior US defense official told reporters Friday.

“That does not mean that they will not commit more,” the official said. “I’m just giving you a snapshot of what we’re seeing right now.”

Read more about how Russia's force compares to Ukraine's troops here.

11:29 a.m. ET, February 25, 2022

US trade representative on response to Russia: "Critical" to coordinate and look at "impacts to our economy"

From CNN's Liz Stark

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “gravely concerning” and emphasized the need for US coordination with NATO allies to “respond appropriately” to the attacks.

“I think what's happening between Russia and Ukraine is gravely concerning to all of us who are watching it,” Tai told US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack during a United States Department of Agriculture event Friday.

Tai underscored how “we as a government stand with our NATO allies,” adding that “there is a lot of coordination that we need to do with those allies, but also within our own government and economy to look at appropriate responses to the Russian actions.”

“But the really critical piece,” Tai said, “in terms of the coordination between the allies and within our own government and economy, is to figure out how to respond appropriately and also to look after the impacts to our economy.”

This comes as concerns have grown over the potential impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on agricultural products worldwide. Russia is the world's top exporter of wheat, and Ukraine is also a significant exporter of both wheat and corn.

Tai described Ukraine as an “agricultural powerhouse” Friday and noted to Vilsack that USDA and USTR are “going to have to work very closely to assess where the impacts are going to be, especially when it comes to agricultural trade." 

The US will further need to determine “how our trade policies take into account the foreign policy needs but also our domestic economic needs to ensure that we can be the kind of trading partner that our allies need us to be and how we take care of our own,” Tai said.

11:18 a.m. ET, February 25, 2022

Some of roughly 200 missile launches in invasion "have impacted civilian residential areas," US official says

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman and Barbara Starr

The US has observed at least 200 total missile launches since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a senior US defense official told reporters Friday. 

The missiles being launched are a mix of ballistic missiles and cruise missiles, the official said. The missiles are primarily being launched from ground and air, the official added.

“Some of these missiles we have assessed have impacted civilian residential areas,” the official added. 

The death toll of these missile launches is unknown by the US.

“I cannot tell you at this time what the casualties are, and I cannot tell you at this time whether those civilian residential areas were deliberately targeted. All I can tell you is we have seen that they have been impacted by some of these missiles,” the official said.

11:14 a.m. ET, February 25, 2022

"Amphibious assault" underway west of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov, senior US defense official says

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

There is an “amphibious assault” underway on the Sea of Azov, located west of Mariupol in Ukraine, a senior US defense official told reporters on Friday.

Russians are now “putting potentially thousands of naval infantry ashore there,” the official said.

The official did not know exactly what these infantrymen are going to do in Ukraine, but the official said “the general assumption is they are going to move towards the northeast, towards Mariupol and the Donbas region.”

11:08 a.m. ET, February 25, 2022

Russians "meeting more resistance" in advance towards Kyiv "than they expected," US defense official says

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

Russian forces advancing towards the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv are “meeting more resistance than they expected,” a senior US defense official told reporters on Friday. 

“I can’t give you an exact geographic location of where they are, but they are not moving on Kyiv as fast as they anticipated they would be able to,” the official said.

The official added, Russians “continue to try to move on Kyiv,” even though they are meeting Ukrainian resistance.

The Russian invasion of the country is continuing in the Kharkiv area of Ukraine and from the south towards the Ukrainian city of Kherson on the river, the official added. These are still the three main advances on the country that Russia began yesterday, the official said.

There have been “no additional airborne drops over the last 24 hours” in the Kharkiv area, the official said.  

The biggest change that the US is seeing is from the advance in the south, the official added. Russian forces are still moving towards Kherson on the river, but they are also splitting off some forces to go to the northeast “in the direction of Mariupol and the Donbas region,” the official said.

“The south towards Kherson on the river — we do assess that they continue to move in that direction. But we also think that — based on what we’re seeing in addition to moving from Crimea on an axis towards the northwest towards Kherson — they are also splitting off some forces to go to the northeast, sort of in the direction of Mariupol' and the Donbas region,” the official said.

Here's a map to understand the locations better:

A look at the locations where Ukraine is under Russian military assault
A look at the locations where Ukraine is under Russian military assault CNN's Henrik Pettersson

11:58 a.m. ET, February 25, 2022

Webcam video shows massive Russian military convoy in Nova Kakhovka, Ukraine

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

Video taken by a webcam shows a massive Russian military convoy moving in Nova Kakhovka, Ukraine, at a Dnieper River crossing.

In the video, dozens of military vehicles are seen alongside a railroad near one of the only two Dnieper River crossings. The convoy moves toward the bridge and then appears to double back and head west. 

In the video, an airstrike can also be seen in the distance. 

The two bridges at Nova Kakhovka — a railroad bridge and a vehicle bridge — are vital for the Russians, who have reportedly been trying to advance their frontline in the area and cross from the south bank,to the north bank of the Dnieper River. 

There are only two other Dnieper River crossings for over 100 miles: a bridge a Kherson — which a CNN team in the city says has been the site of intense clashes between Russian and Ukrainian forces — and a railroad bridge just east of Kherson at Prydniprovs'ke. 

The webcam had been broadcasting the location of the Russian convoy for hours, showing the dozens and dozens of military vehicles moving around the bridges. But at 11:11 a.m. local time, the camera suddenly was forced downward so it could only view the ground directly beneath it. 

In frame, as the camera looks at the ground, are a number of Russian soldiers. 

Watch the video: