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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9:05 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Germany to construct two liquefied natural gas terminals as it looks to reduce Russian gas dependence

From CNN's Chris Liakos

Germany will construct two liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday, pledging to do more to protect Germany’s energy supply and as it looks to reduce its Russian gas dependence.

“We need to do more in order to protect energy supply of our country,” said Scholz adding “and in order to not depend on certain energy suppliers.”

Germany is Russia’s biggest gas customer. CNN has previously reported that Europe relies on Russia for around 35% of its natural gas, Germany over 50%. But with the threat of supply disruption following Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Germany along with other European countries has been looking to ramp up LNG imports.

Earlier this week, Germany halted certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline which could deliver 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year. 

The two LNG terminals can also deal with green hydropower, according to the German Chancellor. 

“The events of the last days and weeks showed to us that an energy policy that looks into the future is decisive for our climate and economy but also for our security and this is why we need to give renewable energy a push, the more we do it the better,” he said.

Scholz also announced that because of the high energy prices, made higher by “Putin’s war,” the government agreed to a package in order to “soften payments of energy for pensioners” and “give allowances to family with low income.”

9:00 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Putin orders deterrence forces — which includes nuclear arms — to be put on high alert

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio and Nathan Hodge in Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his address to the nation in Moscow, on February 21.
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his address to the nation in Moscow, on February 21. (Alexey Nikolsky/Sputnik/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his country’s deterrence forces – which includes nuclear arms – be placed on high alert.

“Top officials in leading NATO countries have allowed themselves to make aggressive comments about our country, therefore I hereby order the minister of Defense and the chief of the General Staff [of the RF Armed Forces] to place the Russian Army Deterrence Force on combat alert,” Putin said in televised meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov.

“Yes, sir,” replied Shoigu.

The Russian President also said the sanctions placed on Russia were unlawful.

According to state news agency RIA Novosti, citing the Russian Ministry of Defense, the strategic forces "are designed to deter aggression against Russia and its allies, as well as to defeat the aggressor (inflicting defeat on him), including in a war with the use of nuclear weapons."

Here's a list of global sanctions on Russia for the war in Ukraine so far.

9:33 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

These are the latest European countries to close their airspace to Russian aircraft and airlines

From CNN’s Martin Goillandeau, Hada Messia and Chris Liakos

An Aeroflot Russian Airlines plane arrives at Frankfurt Airport in Germany, on February 23.
An Aeroflot Russian Airlines plane arrives at Frankfurt Airport in Germany, on February 23. (Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

Three additional European countries announced that they will close its airspace to Russian aircrafts and airlines in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

Germany said it will close its airspace to Russian aircraft from 3 p.m. local time on Sunday, according to a statement from the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport.

“On February 27, 2022, the Federal Ministry issued a notice to air missions (NOTAM) that Russian aircraft and aircraft operators were banned from flying into and over German airspace. The ban applies from February 27, 2022, 3 p.m. It is initially valid for three months,” the statement read.

The Ministry added that humanitarian aid flights were exempt from the ban.

Italy’s government said on Twitter it was closing its airspace to Russian aircraft on Sunday, following a similar action.

France said it will shut “its airspace to Russian aircraft and airplanes from this evening onwards”, France’s Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari tweeted on Sunday.

“To the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Europe responds with total unity,” Djebbari added.

8:46 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Germany will allocate 100 billion euros for its armed forces and increase defense spending

From CNN's Chris Liakos

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that Germany will allocate 100 billion euros for its armed forces as it looks to increase defense spending in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“It’s clear that we need to invest more in the security of our country in order to protect our freedom and democracy,” Scholz said, delivering a statement on Ukraine at a special parliament session.

Scholz said that the German army needs to have “new strong competences,” including better devices and equipment which “cost a lot of money,” announcing the 100 billion euro special fund for this purpose as part of the 2022 budget.

He added that the country will invest more than 2% of its GDP in defense every year from now on.

“Those who read Putin’s explanation about history, those who have seen him how he announced the war on TV, and before that I had talked to him for hours, so I cannot have any doubt that he wants to have a Russian empire. He wants to change Europe according to his imagination,” Scholz said.

9:13 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Secretary of state announces the US will send nearly $54 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine

From CNN's Aaron Pellish

Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (Carolyn Kaster/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the US is sending nearly $54 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine to assist those affected by Russia’s invasion.

In a statement released Sunday, Blinken said the funds will go to international humanitarian organizations to provide food, water, shelter and health care to Ukrainians in need and help reunify families who have been separated amid Russia’s attacks.

“The United States commends the hospitality of the neighboring countries in the region hosting fleeing Ukrainians, and we are engaging diplomatically to support their efforts to keep their borders open and assist those seeking international protection,” Blinken said. “As with any refugee situation, we call on the international community to respond to the needs of those seeking protection in a way consistent with the principle of non-refoulement and our shared obligations under international law.”

The US has provided nearly $405 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine since Russia first invaded Ukraine in 2014, according to the news release.

3:14 p.m. ET, February 27, 2022

On the ground: How an artsy European metropolis turned into a war zone in less than a week

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová in Kyiv

Families are enjoying the sun on the bank of the Dnieper river in Kyiv on Sunday, February 20.
Families are enjoying the sun on the bank of the Dnieper river in Kyiv on Sunday, February 20. (Ivana Kottasova/CNN)

Last Sunday, Kyiv was a buzzing European city with hip cafes, artwork at every corner and fresh sushi available on demand at midnight. Now, it’s a war zone.

Sirens blasting through the city, the unmistakable loud bangs of explosions and strikes. The transformation inflicted on the city by the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been surreal.

Just a week ago, Dniprovsʹkyy Park was full of runners and cyclists taking advantage of the sunny weather to get their Sunday workout done.

Cyclists pass the National Museum of History of Ukraine in the Second World War on Sunday, Ferbruary 20.
Cyclists pass the National Museum of History of Ukraine in the Second World War on Sunday, Ferbruary 20. (Ivana Kottasova/CNN)

The traffic-free park sits on an island across the river from the old town, its banks lined by sandy city beaches where kids are normally running around, watching the ducks swim by.

In the historical Mariinskyi Park families were strolling around, with kids enjoying the park’s playground that features large boat-shaped monkey bars.

Now, the same city is reeling from a steady stream of news of yet another terrifying incident. A six-year-old boy killed in heavy gunfire. A high-rise apartment building being hit. The dam of Kyiv reservoir destroyed. The streets are deserted, the sense of dread hanging in the air.

Many have fled the city, encouraged by the authorities to go while there still was a chance. The state railway company has been dispatching extra trains heading to the west for days now, Kyiv’s main train station full of families hoping to get onto the next one.

The same people who were happily shopping in fashion stores lining Kyiv’s boulevards, dining at trendy restaurants are now hunkered down in basements, underground parking lots and subway stations.

Instead of hanging out with friends, enjoying the sunshine, they are now sleeping on the floors, trying to calm their children that don’t understand why they can’t go to kindergarten.

Despite the shock and suffering brought in recent days, Kyiv’s residents are showing incredible resolve and defiance.

Within hours after the invasion started, more than 18,000 have responded a call to defend the city, collecting their firearms from authorities, according to Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov.

In the hotel where many western journalists are staying in the city center, the staff, who are now staying there instead of being at home with their families, are alternating between distributing blankets and water bottles in the bomb shelter and serving four different types of egg dishes at the buffet breakfast.

A vast explosion lits up the Kyiv night sky on Sunday, February 27.
A vast explosion lits up the Kyiv night sky on Sunday, February 27. (Sean Walker/CNN)

And Kyiv’s roads once clogged with heavy traffic are now empty. The electronic signs that were displaying traffic updates just last week are now showing a very different message: “Glory to Ukraine!”

A traffic sign seen on a deserted street in central Kyiv says "Glory to Ukraine" on Saturday, February 26.
A traffic sign seen on a deserted street in central Kyiv says "Glory to Ukraine" on Saturday, February 26. (Ivana Kottasova/CNN)

9:01 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Here's where Russian troops have advanced in Ukraine

Fighting has broken out on the streets of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, after Russian forces entered the city.

The Russian Ministry of Defense has previously said it was targeting only military infrastructure, saying in a statement: “The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation do not strike cities and towns, they take all measures to save the lives of civilians.”

But Zelensky said Sunday: “They lied when they said they would not target civilian population. Since the first hours of the invasion, Russian troops have been hitting civilian infrastructure.”

“This is terror,” he added, while Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Russia was committing "war crimes."

Meanwhile, the commander of Ukrainian forces in Kharkiv, Oleg Synegubov, has claimed that dozens of Russian troops have surrendered amid continued fighting in the city, which is some 20 miles from the Russian border.

Battles have also raged in the capital of Kyiv and the southern city of Kherson in recent days.

But Russian forces have been unable to capture any of Ukraine's major cities since launching their invasion on Thursday.

Russia is encountering "stiffer than expected" resistance from the Ukrainian military as well as unexpected difficulties supplying its forces, two senior US officials with direct knowledge tell CNN.

On the battlefield, Russia is suffering heavier losses in personnel and armor and aircraft than expected. This is due in part to the fact that Ukrainian air defenses have performed better than pre-invasion US intelligence assessments had anticipated.

In addition, Russia has yet to establish air supremacy over Ukraine, a senior defense official said, as the Ukrainian Air Force and air defense systems fight for control of the airspace.

9:26 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Sporadic explosions heard around Kyiv Sunday

From CNN's teams in Kyiv

Ukrainian servicemen take positions at the military airbase Vasylkiv in the Kyiv region, Ukraine, February 27.
Ukrainian servicemen take positions at the military airbase Vasylkiv in the Kyiv region, Ukraine, February 27. (Maksim Levin/Reuters)

There have been sporadic explosions Sunday morning on the outskirts of Kyiv — to the northeast across the Dnieper River and to the west.

The Ukrainian military says it has thwarted the advance of a Russian column in the western Kyiv neighborhood of Bucha.

Earlier, some sort of projectile hit an apartment building in the same area. There are no details of casualties.

Smoke from the fires caused by a Russian missile attack on the airfield at Vasylkiv on Saturday night was still visible 12 hours later. 

9:15 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Ukrainian commander in Kharkiv says dozens of Russians surrendered

From CNN’s Tim Lister in Kyiv and Olya Voitovych

A screen grab from a video shows a Russian armored vehicle burning after it was destroyed by Ukrainian forces in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Sunday, February 27.
A screen grab from a video shows a Russian armored vehicle burning after it was destroyed by Ukrainian forces in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Sunday, February 27. (Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The commander of Ukrainian forces in Kharkiv, Oleg Synegubov, has claimed that dozens of Russian troops have surrendered amid continued fighting in the city, which is some 20 miles from the Russian border.

He also claimed that the captured soldiers had complained of demoralization and not understanding the mission, as well as being short of fuel.

Synegubov posted photographs of some of the Russian soldiers allegedly captured on his Facebook account. 

He warned civilians to stay indoors, saying that "Leaving their positions, Russian fighters try to hide among the civilians, asking people for clothes and food."

Social media videos on Sunday showed several abandoned Russian military trucks surrounded by Ukrainian soldiers in Kharkiv, as fighting was reported to continue after an overnight bombardment by Russian artillery.

Earlier Sunday, Vadym Denysenko, adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Minister, said that Russian forces had tried "to break into our cities. But the city of Kyiv, the city of Chernihiv, the city of Mariupol, the city of Kharkiv, are completely under Ukrainian control. Despite the fact that the Russians are sending their sabotage groups and they shell critical infrastructure, we have defended all our cities.”