February 27, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Helen Regan, Steve George, Rob Picheta, Jeevan Ravindran, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Maureen Chowdhury, Amir Vera and Emma Tucker, CNN

Updated 8:17 a.m. ET, February 28, 2022
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2:25 p.m. ET, February 27, 2022

England will not play Russia in any international football matches "for the foreseeable future"

From CNN's Homero De La Fuente

English football’s governing body, the Football Association (FA), announced on Sunday that England will not play any matches against Russia “for the foreseeable future.” 

“Out of solidarity with Ukraine and to wholeheartedly condemn the atrocities being committed by the Russian leadership, The FA can confirm that we won’t play against Russia in any international fixtures for the foreseeable future. This includes any potential match at any level of senior, age group or para football,” the FA said in a statement on Sunday. 

Some context: England now join the Czech Republic, Poland, and Sweden in refusing to play in any potential football matches against Russia due to their invasion of Ukraine.

3:33 p.m. ET, February 27, 2022

European Union takes further action to isolate Russia

From CNN's Jack Guy

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks at the European Commission in Brussels on Sunday, February 27.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks at the European Commission in Brussels on Sunday, February 27. Stephanie Lecocq/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Russia is facing universal condemnation and increased sanctions from Western powers over its unprovoked assault on Ukraine, and more moves were announced Sunday.

The European Union (EU) is closing its airspace to Russia, said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

“We are proposing a prohibition on all Russian-owned, Russian-registered and Russian-controlled aircraft. These aircraft will no more be able to land in, take off or overfly the territory of the European Union. This will apply to any plane,” von der Leyen said. 

“Our airspace will be closed to every Russian plane. And that includes the private jets of oligarchs too," she added.

The UK has also banned Russian private jets from its airspace on Friday.

Top EU diplomat Josep Borrell also announced a ban for Russian news outlets Russia Today and Sputnik.

Speaking in a joint news conference in Brussels on Sunday, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy announced that the bloc would ban the two outlets in a bid "to fight" Russian disinformation.

"Today we are taking a crucial step to turn off the tap for the Russian's information manipulation in Europe by banning Russia Today and Sputnik from broadcasting in the European Union," Borrell said. "We are killing the snake on its neck." 

And more than half of the central bank reserves of Russia will be blocked as part of new EU sanctions against the country, Borrell added. 

Measures against neighboring country, Belarus will also be "reinforced," Borrell said, in return for its role in "facilitating the Russian assault against Ukraine."

Von der Leyen also announced that the EU will provide finance to purchase weapons for Ukraine, adding that this is the first time the bloc has ever done so.

Borrell said the EU is doing so "because this war requires our engagement in order to support the Ukrainian army."

"We asked for SWIFT and we asked for arms and now we are delivering on both sides," the diplomat remarked.

2:20 p.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Ukrainian Americans express fear and anger as Russian troops take aim at Kyiv

From CNN's Alaa Elassar

Bohdan Andrukh was on his way to meet friends for dinner at a San Francisco restaurant last Wednesday when he received a phone call from his mother in Lviv.

She was crying; the sound of a nearby explosion had woken her. The war has begun, she told Andrukh, who was far from home and unable to help her find safety.

He did his best to assure her that everything would be alright, but in his heart knew that tragedy was fast approaching.

"I knew I was lying and I am way too helpless to make such promises but I had to," Andrukh, 26, told CNN. "She is mom, she should never cry unless it's tears of joy."

Like Andrukh, Ukrainian Americans across the United States are closely monitoring Russia's violent assault on Ukraine.

They fear for the lives of family and friends, worry the destruction will render their beloved country unrecognizable, and curse Russian President Vladimir Putin for instigating the conflict. Some also feel betrayed by Western governments, who they say abandoned Ukraine in its time of need.

Here's how they feel and what they want the world to know:

Mariya Soroka has not been able to stop thinking about her last visit to Ukraine.

On the last day of her trip, she spent the evening at a friend's "fairytale" home on the outskirts of Lviv, where she was surrounded by loved ones, delicious food, and stunning nature.

She recalls dancing in the garden and stargazing on the roof, consumed with joy and love for her homeland, culture and people.

Soroka, 33, was born in Yavoriv, but immigrated to the United States at the age of 15. Despite the many years she's lived away from Ukraine, she says no day goes by without her longing to return.

"What I love most about Ukraine is the people. And the food," Soroka told CNN. "I think a lot about Kyiv. It is so beautiful, home to amazing shops and concerts and streets and buildings full of history. Now I wonder when or if I'll ever see those places again."

Soroka learned of Russia's invasion following a dinner with friends at her apartment in Jersey City, New Jersey. Her heart immediately shattered into pieces, she said.

"I asked my friends to pray. We held hands and we just prayed and prayed," Soroka said through tears. "An hour later we saw the news and I just kept trying to reach my dad [in Kyiv] but he wouldn't pick up. I stayed up all night, trying to hear his voice."

Eventually, she reached her father, who was safe but had decided against evacuating in order to let families with children leave first.

Soroka fears Ukraine's allies have abandoned it, but remains hopeful for a victory.

"My biggest fear is that the world is not going to do anything, that the war is going to continue and it's going to destroy my country and my people," she said. "But the spirit of the fight in Ukrainians is very strong. I don't think the Russians can fight as hard as we can, because goodness and justice is not on their side."

She also warns that if Ukraine falls, the impact could be felt across the world.

"You can't just say Ukraine is not my problem," Soroka said. "Right now Ukraine is fighting to keep the world order. And if the world leaders won't get involved in a serious way, a world war will be on their conscious."

Read more here.

2:13 p.m. ET, February 27, 2022

More than half of central bank reserves of Russia will be blocked under new EU sanctions, top diplomat says

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in London

More than half of the central bank reserves of Russia will be blocked as part of new EU sanctions against the country, the EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell announced on Sunday.

Speaking alongside European Commission chief Ursula Von der Leyen in Brussels, Borrell said later on Sunday he would provide the political endorsement of the 27 EU member states for a new package of sanctions against Russia.

"With these measures, more than half of the central bank reserves of Russia will be blocked," Borrell said.

Under the package, "important Russian banks will be excluded from the SWIFT system," Von der Leyen told the news conference.

Measures against neighboring country Belarus will also be "reinforced," Borrell said, in return for its role in "facilitating the Russian assault against Ukraine."

Von der Leyen also announced that the EU will provide finance to purchase weapons for Ukraine, adding that this is the first time the bloc has ever done so.

Borrell said the EU is doing so "because this war requires our engagement in order to support the Ukrainian army."

"We asked for SWIFT and we asked for arms and now we are delivering on both sides," the diplomat remarked.

Some more context: SWIFT, the high-security network that connects thousands of financial institutions around the world, was founded in 1973 to replace the telex and is now used by over 11,000 financial institutions to send secure messages and payment orders. With no globally accepted alternative, it is essential plumbing for global finance.

On Saturday, the White House, along with the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and Canada, announced that they would expel certain Russian banks from SWIFT, pledging to "collectively ensure that this war is a strategic failure for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin."

Read more about SWIFT here.

1:47 p.m. ET, February 27, 2022

These countries have closed their airspace to Russian aircrafts. Here's how it can impact the world's air map

From CNN's John Walton

Russia's invasion of Ukraine and aviation bans are creating huge no-go areas in the sky, with major implications for long-haul carriers that normally criss-cross the skies of Eastern Europe en route to Asia.

As of Sunday, many European countries announced that they were closing their airspace to Russian airlines and aircrafts, including Germany, Italy, France and Spain.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen confirmed on Sunday that the European Union is shutting down the EU airspace to Russia.

Canada also announced that the country is closing its airspace to Russia as well on Sunday.

The United Kingdom and Russia have banned each other's aircraft from overflying or landing on their territories. Other bans have begun to follow, with Poland and the Czech Republic both restricting access to Russian aircraft on Friday.

All this could have significant consequences for passengers, airlines and the cost of flying if Europe and Russia revive the Cold War era, when sky routes were diverted around an Iron Curtain that extended into the sky.

Apart from punching a significant hole in the aviation traffic map of Eastern Europe, disruption of long-haul traffic is minimal so far. Even Russian aircraft using international airspace over the Atlantic are unaffected, despite the area being managed by air traffic services based in the UK.

But what about flights to East Asia? During the frostiest days of the Cold War, avoiding the Soviet Bloc meant flying north around Greenland to Alaska, refueling in Anchorage, and then around the Bering Straits to reach Japan. China-bound flights skirted the Black Sea and Caucasus, avoiding Afghanistan and entering China across Central Asia.

We're not there yet. And perhaps thanks to the range of modern aircraft, such steps won't be needed.

The effects on already Covid-impacted commercial airlines and their passengers will at this point be relatively limited if the bans stay between Russia on one side and the UK, Poland and Czech Republic on the other. Equally, the situation could easily escalate.

"Because of Russia's geographic scale, overflights from airlines all over the world pass through Russian airspace each day," Mikael Robertsson, co-founder of aircraft tracking service Flightradar24, tells CNN. "From the UK, normally about a dozen flights each day pass through Russia en route to places like Hong Kong and India.
"From the EU, hundreds of flights each transit through Russia en route to destinations in Asia. And from the US, most cargo traffic between the US and Asia passes through at least a small portion of Russian airspace. Pre-Covid, the numbers were even greater, especially from the UK, but long-haul passenger flights have yet to really recover."

In terms of flight services, the only Russian passenger airline serving the UK is Aeroflot. The UK's largest carrier, British Airways, served Moscow before the war. BA's parent company, International Airlines Group, has announced that its airlines will not be overflying Russian airspace.

At the beginning of the conflict, the US Federal Aviation Administration issued NOTAM (Notice To Air Missions) instructions to US carriers to avoid operations in areas that include all of Ukraine, Belarus and western parts of Russia. Few US passenger airlines overfly Russia, with nonstop flights to India slow to restart after aviation's Covid shutdowns.

British Airways' and Virgin Atlantic's Asian networks, meanwhile, have largely not been restored after being suspended because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The relatively closed borders of Japan, China and other countries to international arrivals for public health reasons mean that passenger services by UK airlines remain limited.

Read more about how worldwide air traffic could be impacted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine here.

CNN's Al Goodman, Paula Newton, Martin Goillandeau, Hada Messia and Chris Liakos contributed to this report.

2:14 p.m. ET, February 27, 2022

US President Biden is receiving regular updates on Ukraine today 

From CNN's Arlette Saenz and Sam Fossum  

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

US President Joe Biden is receiving regular updates on the evolving situation in Ukraine, according to a White House official.

Biden has been speaking with his national security team regularly, the White House official said.

2:09 p.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Ukrainian ambassador to the US says they are ready for talks, "but we are not ready to surrender"

From CNN's Sarah Fortinsky

Ukrainian Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova speaks during a news conference on February 26, in Washington, DC.
Ukrainian Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova speaks during a news conference on February 26, in Washington, DC. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Ukrainian Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova told CNN's Dana Bash that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will "definitely not" be part of the delegation attending talks with Russia, saying Zelensky is in Ukraine defending the country.

Markarova called on the Russian president to stop the war, and said that Ukraine would send people to the talks. She added that Ukraine is always ready for talks, "but we are not ready to surrender. And we will defend our country, and we will win."

Asked whether she thinks Russia is genuine in extending this olive branch, Markarova said, "There is an ongoing, full-fledged war with war crimes conducted by Russians in Ukraine on a daily basis. So how genuine is this proposal? We don't know."

On Putin putting deterrence force, including nuclear weapons, on high alert, Markarova said, "This is yet one more example of a terrorist behavior of Russia. They attacked our country. They are scaring everyone."

2:14 p.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Ukrainian woman recounts decision to escape from Kyiv

From CNN's Oleksandra Ochman

(Courtesy Diana Poladova)
(Courtesy Diana Poladova)

Diana Poladova told CNN she hesitated on whether she'd flee the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, but ultimately decided to move Friday.

Poladova described her journey to escape the city as Russia invaded the country, saying at times, people were running when they felt threatened.

"We hesitated for a long time — about an hour, whether to leave Kyiv. We went to the station without a plan, there was a train to Lviv. We stood in line. There was a huge queue. Someone started shouting about the bomb, about the grenade — we all ran in different directions. Then it turned out that it just drove people away from the train. We could not fit on the train, stayed at the station. We looked at train schedules to the West, anywhere," Poladova said

She said she was able to eventually find a train going to Rivne, Ukraine, where they were able to stay with a friend.

"We heard by chance that a train was going from the suburban station to Rivne. We ran there. There was some space in one of the train cars, we got up there. It was an electric train. We have been going to Rivne 8 hours, we were standing there 8 hours in crush with bags, with our cats. We arrived in Rivne. It turned out that there was a friend of a friend in this city, and we spent the night at her place. I plan to manage to take the train to Poland. In Rivne we were able to vaccinate and chip our cats in order to have an international passport for them," she told CNN.

12:57 p.m. ET, February 27, 2022

BP says it will offload its 19.75% stake in the state-owned Russian oil firm Rosneft

From CNN's Anna Stewart and Niamh Kennedy in London

Oil pumping jacks in a Rosneft oilfield near Sokolovka village, Russia.
Oil pumping jacks in a Rosneft oilfield near Sokolovka village, Russia. (Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Oil giant BP will offload its 19.75% shareholding in Russian state-owned oil firm, Rosneft, according to a statement from the company.

"The bp board today announced that BP will exit its shareholding in Rosneft. Bp has held a 19.75% shareholding in Rosneft since 2013," the statement published on Sunday said.

Chief Executive Officer Bernard Looney will also resign immediately from Rosneft's board, according to the statement.

The British company had faced calls from the UK government to offload its ownership stake following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Looney said he “like so many" others was "deeply shocked and saddened by the situation unfolding in Ukraine," which prompted the company "to fundamentally rethink bp’s position with Rosneft."

"I am convinced that the decisions we have taken as a board are not only the right thing to do, but are also in the long-term interests of bp," the CEO added.

BP chair Helge Lund added that "the Rosneft holding is no longer aligned with bp’s business and strategy."