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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8:49 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Ukraine files lawsuit against Russia at The Hague

The Peace Palace housing the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands.
The Peace Palace housing the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands. (Peter Dejong/AP)

Ukraine has filed a lawsuit against Russia at the International Court of Justice following Moscow's invasion of the country.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday the country submitted its application with the UN's highest court at The Hague.

"Russia must be held accountable for manipulating the notion of genocide to justify aggression," Zelensky said.

He requested the court immediately orders Russia to halt its invasion, and that the country expects trials to begin soon.

7:36 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

There are now 368,000 Ukraine refugees, UN estimates

From CNN's Pierre Bairin

People coming from Ukraine disembark a ferry boat in Romania, on February 26.
People coming from Ukraine disembark a ferry boat in Romania, on February 26. (Daniel Mihailescu/AFP/Getty Images)

Nearly 400,000 Ukrainian refugees have fled their homes since Russia's invasion on Thursday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported on Sunday.

"#Ukraine refugee numbers have just been refreshed - these are based on data made available by national authorities. The current total is now 368,000 and continues to rise," UNHCR tweeted Sunday.

Vast crowds have sought to escape cities and towns in the country, with roads clogged as people moved westwards towards Poland and the European Union.

6:27 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

German chancellor says Russia will pay "high price" as he boosts nation's military funding

From CNN’s Chris Liakos

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks during a special session of the Bundestag on the war in Ukraine, on February 27.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks during a special session of the Bundestag on the war in Ukraine, on February 27. (Kay Nietfeld/picture alliance/Getty Images)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz vowed Sunday that “very soon the Russian leadership will feel what a high price they will have to pay” for the invasion of Ukraine, as he announced he will raise German military funding in a special session with lawmakers.

Russian President Vladimir Putin "will not change his path overnight,” Scholz conceded.

“Yesterday we decided that Germany will deliver weapons to Ukraine to defend themselves. Putin’s aggression meant we cannot give any other response,” he added.

Scholz also revealed he would raise the proportion of Germany's economic output spent on defence to 2%, and allocate 100 billion euros ($112 billion) to its armed foces, in order to modernize and better equip the country's army -- a significant expansion of German defense spending.

Scholz also mentioned the sanctions package against Russia, which he said was unprecedented.

The Russian attack on Ukraine is “despicable -- it breaches international law, it cannot be justified,” Scholz said.

“February 24, 2022, marks a watershed in history of our continent,” he added in the special session of parliament. “The horrid pictures we see from Kyiv, in Mariupol, show how unscrupulous [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is. This is so unfair, the pain of the Ukrainians, it gets really close to our hearts."

Scholz mentioned the EU's decision to remove Russian banks from the SWIFT international payments system and said that “Russian banks and companies will be cut off from financing. We will focus on oligarchs in the EU. We have punitive measures against Putin and people around him."

“We need to support Ukraine in this desperate situation and we have done so during the last weeks and months, the attack on Ukraine means we are in a new time. As democrats, as Europeans, we are on your side, the right side of history,” Scholz said.

Germany locks Russia out of its airspace: Germany also will close its airspace to Russian aircraft from 3pm local time (9aET) on Sunday, according to a statement from the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport.

The Ministry added that humanitarian aid flights were exempt from the ban, which will run initially for three months.

It sees Germany join a growing band of nations in Europe closing its airspace to Russian planes.

6:07 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Russia gives Ukraine deadline for decision on talks in Belarus

From CNN's Vasco Cotovio in Moscow and Jennifer Hauser in London

Vladimir Medinsky, the head of the Russian delegation and aide to President Vladimir Putin, and  Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Vladimir Medinsky, the head of the Russian delegation and aide to President Vladimir Putin, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. (Getty, AP)

Russia has given Ukrainian officials a deadline of 3 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET) on Sunday to decide whether to meet for talks in the Belarusian city of Gomel.

Vladimir Medinsky, the head of the Russian delegation and aide to President Vladimir Putin, told state news agency RIA Novosti they would stay until the allocated time and wait for a response.

"As soon as we receive this confirmation, we shall immediately set off to meet our counterparts in the negotiations,” Medinsky said. “We stand for peace.”

However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday he would be willing to hold talks with Russia but rejected their proposal for a meeting to be held in Belarus.

Belarus is an ally of Russia and played a key role in Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Russian troops invaded through the Belarus border with support from Belarus' government, according to Ukrainian officials. The Biden administration subsequently sanctioned nine Belarusian defense firms for their support of the invasion.

Zelensky directly addressed Belarus in an address on Sunday, saying "aggressive actions" from Belarusian territory meant it was not possible to hold talks in the country. Ukraine said it had intercepted a cruise missile launched toward Kyiv from Belarusian territory.

The US State Department on Thursday said Zelensky remained "a prime target for Russian aggression," while Zelensky himself said, "the enemy marked me as target No. 1."

“If the talks are rejected, the Ukrainian side shall bear all responsibility for bloodshed," Medinsky said. "But we remain here until 15:00 waiting for a response from the Ukrainian side."

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said Sunday he was "waiting" for Ukraine to come to the country for negotiations with Russia, to be hosted by Belarus.

"We are waiting. Everyone is in Gomel waiting. If they come then there will be negotiations," Lukashenko told reporters after voting in the constitutional referendum in Minsk on Sunday, according to Belarusian state news agency Belta.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters a Russian delegation has already arrived in Belarus for notional talks with the Ukrainian representatives, RIA Novosti reported Sunday.

5:20 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Ukraine says it intercepted a cruise missile from Belarus headed for Kyiv

From CNN's Sophie Jeong and Jennifer Hauser

Ukraine has said it shot down a cruise missile launched at Kyiv on Sunday from neighboring Belarus.

"Ukrainian Air Force shot down a cruise missile launched at the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv, by a TU-22 bomber from the territory of Belarus. This is another war crime committed against Ukraine and its people," Oleg Nikolenko, spokesperson for Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a tweet Sunday.

Belarus has played an important role in Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Russian troops invaded through the Belarus border with support from Belarus' government, according to Ukrainian officials, and the Biden administration has sanctioned nine Belarusian defense firms for their support of the invasion. 

5:11 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

At least 64 civilians killed and hundreds hurt since Russia's invasion, UN says

From CNN's Ruba Alhenawi

A damaged residential building following a rocket attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 26.
A damaged residential building following a rocket attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 26. (Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/Shutterstock)

At least 64 civilians have been killed since Russia invaded Ukraine, the UN said on Sunday.

The agency's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported "at least 240 civilian casualties, including at least 64 people killed" in the fighting that has erupted since Moscow launched the attack.

The statement added that the damage to civilian infrastructure has deprived hundreds of thousands of people of access to electricity or water.

Hundreds of homes have been damaged or destroyed, while bridges and roads damaged by shelling have left some communities cut off from markets, it said.

5:08 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Zelensky accuses Russia of "terror," calls for an international tribunal

From CNN’s Victoria Butenko and Ivana Kottasová in Kyiv

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Sunday accused Russian troops of targeting civilians, including children, and called for an international investigation into the conflict.

“What they are doing in Kharkiv, Okhtyrka, Kyiv, Odessa, and other cities and towns deserves an international tribunal. We are documenting their crimes. And there would have been many more of these crimes if it hadn't been for our courageous defenders,” Zelensky said in a video address posted on his Facebook page.

“We have to call a spade a spade. Russia's criminal actions against Ukraine show signs of genocide. I spoke about this with the UN Secretary-General,” he said, arguing that Russia should be stripped of its voting rights on the UN Security Council.

Zelensky said there was “not a single facility in Ukraine the Russian troops would consider an unacceptable target.”

In the capital Kyiv, residents awoke Sunday to find the city still firmly under Ukrainian control, despite two massive explosions some 30 kilometers, or about 18 miles, south of the city lighting up the sky overnight.

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."

“They are fighting against everything and everyone," Zelensky said. "They are [hitting] kindergartens, residential buildings, and even emergency vehicles. They use artillery and missiles against whole residential blocks where there have never have been any military infrastructure. Many Ukrainian cities and towns are surviving in conditions we previously had only during the World War II."

Read more here:

4:40 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Zelensky agrees to talk with Russia, but rejects Belarus as the meeting place

From CNN’s Victoria Butenko and Ivana Kottasová in Kyiv

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he would be willing to hold talks with Russia but rejected the Russian proposal for a meeting to be held in Belarus, a staging ground for Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

“We’ve heard a lot of talk about a meeting between Ukraine and Russia that might end this war and bring the peace back to us. Quite often [Minsk] is mentioned as the place for these negotiations," Zelensky said in an address posted on the presidency website on Sunday morning. 

"The location was not chosen by [Ukraine] nor by [Belarus]. It was chosen by the Russian leadership."

Belarus has played a key role in Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Russian troops invaded through the Belarus border with support from Belarus' government, according to Ukrainian officials. The Biden administration has sanctioned nine Belarusian defense firms for their support of the invasion. 

Addressing Belarus directly, Zelensky said: “If there were no aggressive actions from your territory, we could talk in Minsk, your city. When you were neutral, we talked in Minsk. That’s why we’re not talking in Minsk now."

In 2015, Ukrainian and Russian officials met in the Belarus capital to draw up the Minsk Agreements, which included a fragile ceasefire in two areas of Ukraine taken over by pro-Russian separatists the year before.

"Of course we want peace and want to meet. We want to end the war. Warsaw, Bratislava, Istanbul and Baku were offered to Russia. Any other cities are fine with us as long as there are no missiles flying from this country,” Zelensky said. 

4:47 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Ukraine's Zelensky calls on "citizens of world" to join in fight against Russia 

From CNN's Olga Voitovich in Lviv and Ivana Kottasova in Kyiv

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the nation on February 27.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the nation on February 27. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is calling for people around the world to join the fight against Russia.

In a statement on Sunday, he accused the Russian army of killing civilians and praised Ukrainians for having the courage to defend themselves.

"Ukrainians have manifested the courage to defend their homeland and save Europe and its values from a Russian onslaught. This is not just Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This is the beginning of a war against Europe, against European structures, against democracy, against basic human rights, against a global order of law, rules and peaceful coexistence," Zelensky said.

Addressing "all citizens of the world, friends of Ukraine, peace and democracy," Zelensky said: "Anyone who wants to join the defense of Ukraine, Europe and the world can come and fight side by side with the Ukrainians against the Russian war criminals."

The statement added that those who wish to join should contact the Defense Attache of the Embassy of Ukraine in their countries.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also echoed the call, tweeting Sunday:

"Foreigners willing to defend Ukraine and world order as part of the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine, I invite you to contact foreign diplomatic missions of Ukraine in your respective countries. Together we defeated Hitler, and we will defeat Putin, too."