Russian airfield targeted by Ukrainian forces, geolocated social media video and images show
From CNN's Nathan Hodge, Gianluca Mezzofiore and Katie Polglase
A Russian military airfield near the Ukrainian border has been struck by at least one missile, according to geolocated social media video and images.
It's unclear who carried out the attack: neither the Ukrainian nor Russian governments have commented.
The videos appears to show a long-range missile hitting the airfield and several fires in the runway, which is in Millerovo, Russia, about 10 miles from the Ukraine border.
Komsomolskaya Pravda, a local newspaper, reported that a Ukrainian Tochka-U missile hit the military facility on Friday 25, citing a source in the law enforcement agencies of the region.
Another media outlet, the Rostov Gazeta, reported Millerovo was attacked by armed formations of the Ukrainian army. It also reported an unspecified number of wounded.
Millerovo is part of the Southern Military District and it houses the 31st guards fighter aviation regiment which has two squadrons of Su-30SM.
6:37 a.m. ET, February 25, 2022
German lawmakers call on leader to cut Russia from vital SWIFT payments system
From CNN’s Nadine Schmidt in Berlin
German lawmakers criticized Chancellor Olaf Scholz for not cutting Russia off from the vital high-security payment network, SWIFT, in the European Union’s latest round of sanctions on Moscow.
German Parliament member Norbert Röttgen, from the Christian Democrats party, said on Twitter that cutting Russia from SWIFT is the ''sharpest sword'' for sanctions, adding that: ''The SWIFT exclusion of Russia must not fail now because of Germany!''
This sentiment was shared with other German politicians. ''Russia must now be cut from SWIFT!'' German Green MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht wrote on Twitter Thursday, adding ''If Germany prevents this key sanction, the way will be prepared for Putin to expand his war in #Europe.''
Germany is Russia's biggest gas customer and has tried to keep the Nord Stream 2 pipeline out of global politics. On Tuesday, the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz halted the Nord Stream 2 approval process over the Ukraine crisis.
Thousands protest: Meanwhile, thousands of people took to the streets of Berlin on Thursday night in a show of support for Ukraine, with many carrying Ukrainian flags, CNN's team in the city reports.
Police said that around 2,500 people -- among them some Ukrainian expatriates living in Germany -- gathered at the Brandenburg Gate, which was lit in Ukraine's national colors for a second night in a row.
Around 1,500 people also gathered outside Germany's Chancellery.
Demonstrators were seen chanting "Stand with Ukraine'' and ''Stop Putin, Stop war." Protesters held up signs reading ''Cut Swift, cut Russia off',' and ''Radical sanctions against Russia now.''
Around 150 protesters also gathered outside the Russian Embassy, police said.
Crowds also gathered in other German cities including Potsdam, Leipzig and Munich in a show of support as Moscow began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine Thursday.
6:44 a.m. ET, February 25, 2022
Kremlin says Russians "do not have the right to organize protest actions" without permission
From CNN's Anna Chernova, Vasco Cotovio and Nathan Hodge in Moscow
The Russian government has said that people who are against the country’s invasion of Ukraine “do not have the right to organize protest actions” without seeking permission first.
“Under the law, without following the appropriate procedures, these citizens do not have the right to organize protest actions in order to express their point of view,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a conference call with foreign journalists.
Hundreds of protesters were detained by police on Thursday during anti-war demonstrations, with Russian riot police dispersing people via loudspeakers in Moscow, according to CNN teams in the city.
Under Russian law, large demonstrations require protesters apply for a permit, which has to be submitted no more than 15 but no less than 10 days before the event. Heavy fines -- and in some cases even prison time -- can be imposed on those who protest without a permit.
Individuals are allowed to stage solo “single pickets,” but it is not unheard of for people to be detained for those as well.
“There are single pickets, but such… well, I would not say mass events… but events with the participation of a certain number of people - they are simply not allowed by law. And therefore, certain measures were taken against them,” Peskov added.
Peskov conceded that there are Russians who are against what the Kremlin continues to describe as a “special operation,” and that the government needs to “better explain [its motives] to these citizens.” He also suggested there are more Russians in favor of the invasion than against.
“The President hears everyone's opinion and understands the proportions of those who have a different point of view and those who are sympathetic to such necessary operations,” Peskov said.
6:14 a.m. ET, February 25, 2022
China refrains from acknowledging Russia’s invasion and hits back at Biden's comments
From CNN's Beijing Bureau
China has continued to refrain from acknowledging Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, dodging more than 30 questions in its foreign affairs daily briefing Friday about Russian aggression and the current situation in Ukraine.
"All countries’ sovereignty and territorial integrity should be respected” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin repeatedly responded to reporters, sticking closely to statements made from China in previous days.
Wang also reiterated that China “understands Russia's legitimate concerns on security issues,” and echoed calls for parties to “exercise restraint and avoid further escalation of the situation.”
China also responded to a veiled attack from US President Joe Biden on Thursday that any country that backed Russia would be "stained by association."
"Truly discredited countries are those that wantonly interfere in other countries' internal affairs and wage foreign wars in the name of democracy and human rights,” Wang said on Friday when asked about President Biden's comments.
Normal trade to continue: Wang also said China will continue its "normal trade cooperation" with Russia "in the spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit," and condemned Western sanctions as "never the fundamental and effective way to solve problems."
When asked whether China would veto the upcoming UN Security Council resolution condemning Moscow's actions, Wang evaded the question, saying it "will handle relevant issues in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter on the basis of China’s consistent position,” and that it continues to “promote peace talks in its own way."
6:39 a.m. ET, February 25, 2022
US concerned Kyiv could fall to Russia within days, sources familiar with intel say
From CNN's Jim Sciutto and Katie Bo Lillis
US intelligence officials are concerned that Kyiv could fall under Russian control within days, according to two sources familiar with the latest intelligence.
The sources said that the initial US assessment from before the invasion anticipated that the Ukrainian capital would be overrun within one to four days of a Russian attack remains the current expectation.
Russian forces have moved to within 20 miles of Kyiv, senior administration officials told lawmakers on Capitol Hill Thursday night.
Officials believe Russia has been facing stiffer resistance from Ukrainian forces than it anticipated, according to the sources. But the officials in that briefing to Capitol Hill declined to say whether they believed Kyiv would fall.
CNN previously reported that a senior US defense official said Thursday that Russia was “making a move on Kyiv.”
Western intelligence officials assess that Russia’s plan is to topple the government in Kyiv and install a Russia-friendly proxy government — but they don’t yet know whether Putin will seek to occupy and hold Ukrainian territory afterwards, one of the sources familiar with the intelligence told CNN.
Officials denounce occupation: Ukrainian officials have vowed to resist any occupation. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry on Friday tweeted at Russian troops entered the Obolon district north of Kyiv that citizens should "Make Molotov cocktails and take down the occupier."
Rep. Ruben Gallego, a Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, told CNN Friday that if Russia were to capture Kyiv, the US should arm resistance fighters in the country.
“It certainly does impact our response about who we’re actually arming. At that point we have to make the realization that the Ukrainian military as we know it may be compromised and then I think we have to shift to actually supporting partisans and resistance fighters who are willing to take up the fight against Russia,” Gallego said.
5:59 a.m. ET, February 25, 2022
"I am not afraid. I have to do this": Ukrainians enlist to fight Russian forces
From CNN's Atika Schubert in Lviv, Ukraine
Yuri Ivaniv, a 30-year-old veteran from the conflict in eastern Ukraine in 2014, has returned to volunteer service once again to fight invading Russian troops.
Ivaniv told CNN his wife and child back home have emergency bags packed in case they have to flee to Poland.
His 6-year-old son was sleeping when he kissed him goodbye this morning. "We are all going. We have to fight. It’s our country. So I am not afraid. I have to do this," Ivaniv said.
But it's a conflict he never anticipated. Asked if he expected to have to fight again after his service in 2014, he said: “No. Never. He’s just mad, you know ... Putin."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called on people to join the forces fighting Russia's invasion.
"Our boys and girls, the defenders of Ukraine, held up against this invasion on the first day. Ukrainians are showing their true heroism. Like our ancestors before, they are charging into battle. Russia continues to expect that our forces will grow tired, but we will not tire," Zelensky said in a video message on Friday.
5:49 a.m. ET, February 25, 2022
Western officials are watching Russian activity beyond Ukraine, source says
From CNN's Katie Bo Lillis
Western and US intelligence officials are paying close attention for any signs of potential Russian activity in the western Balkans, according to a source familiar with the intelligence, although so far, they have seen nothing out of the ordinary.
Officials are also closely watching the Russian use of its military assets in Moldova in its campaign in Ukraine, where Russia backs the separatist republic of Transnistria.
The attention hints at lingering Western concerns that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ambitions could be greater than Ukraine.
Asked Thursday by CBS if there is intelligence that Putin intends to advance beyond Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “You don't need intelligence to tell you that that's exactly what President Putin wants.” "He's made clear that he'd like to reconstitute the Soviet empire. Short of that, he'd like to reassert a sphere of influence around neighboring countries that were once part of the Soviet bloc. And short of that, he'd like to make sure that all of these countries are somehow neutral,” Blinken said.
In Ukraine, the source said, Western intelligence officials assess that Russia’s plan is to topple the government in Kyiv and install a Russia-friendly proxy government -- but they don’t yet know whether Putin will seek to occupy and hold Ukrainian territory afterwards, the source said.
5:42 a.m. ET, February 25, 2022
Ukrainians have pushed back Russians on bridge to Kherson
From CNN's Nick Paton Walsh in Kherson
A CNN team visited a bridge that crosses from Russian-held areas into Kherson, southern Ukraine. There had been fighting around it, with our team witnessing four large shell craters, 10 discarded Ukrainian armored vehicles and several dead, but the Ukrainians seems to have been able to push them back.
On Friday morning the team also witnessed low-flying jets. Russian forces are said to be just on the other side of the bridge in hidden positions. Meanwhile, civilians are still driving back and forth over the bridge.
CNN's team is also hearing air raid sirens in Kherson Friday morning.
5:32 a.m. ET, February 25, 2022
18,000 weapons given to reservists in Kyiv region, as Ukrainian men from 18-60 banned from leaving
From CNN’s Tim Lister in Kyiv
Some 18,000 guns with ammunition have been distributed to reservists in the Kyiv region alone since the Russian invasion began early Thursday, according to Ukrainian authorities.
In a joint statement, defense minister Oleksiy Reznikov and Valeriy Zaluzhniy, chief of staff for the Armed Forces, said there were more arms coming.
“Soon we are to receive additional support with modern weapons and other resources from our partners,” they said.
Yesterday,Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky ordered a general military mobilization.
Zelensky said that "in order to ensure the defense of the state, maintaining combat and mobilization readiness of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other military formations," a broad-based mobilization was ordered, including in the capital, Kyiv, and all Ukraine's major cities.
This included a ban on all male citizens from 18- to 60-years-old leaving the country, according to the State Border Guard Service
The mobilization also instructed the "conscription of conscripts, reservists for military service, their delivery to military units and institutions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine" and other state security services.