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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11:30 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Official: US seeing Russian momentum slow in north Ukraine but forces having "bit more success" in south

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman & Oren Liebermann

The US continues to see Russian forces face “stiff resistance” and see their momentum slow in the northern part of Ukraine, while Russians are having a “little bit more success” in the south, a senior US defense official told reporters on Sunday, citing fuel shortages and logistical issues.

The US is seeing the most resistance in the Russian advance on the city of Kharkiv, the official said. The Russians are “facing some logistics challenges as well on their advance down north to Kyiv,” the official added.

The official noted that the Russians would learn from their logistical issues and find ways to overcome them. 

Russian forces remain 30 kilometers, or approximately 19 miles, outside Kyiv’s city center, according to the official. They were in that same position 24 hours earlier, indicating that the Russian military has not made appreciable gains in its invasion of Ukraine from the north in that time.

There is some fighting inside Kyiv, which the US believes is the Ukrainians fighting with Russian reconnaissance elements in the city, the official said.  

The US still has no indication that the Russian military has taken control of any Ukrainian city, the official said, but that continues to be Russia’s goal.

In the south, Russian forces that were part of an amphibious assault on Friday on the Sea of Azov, which put navy infantrymen ashore there, have now “moved up towards Mariupol’,” the offfical said.

The airspace over Ukraine is still contested, the official added.

“That means that the Ukrainians are still using both aircraft and their own air and missile defense systems which we believe are still intact and still viable, though they have been, as I said yesterday, there’s been some degradation by the Russians,” the official said.

The US is also seeing preparations for a potential siege of Chernihiv, a city approximately 80 miles north-northeast of Kyiv on the Belarussian border. 

The concern comes from observations of increased rocket attacks inside the city and the Russian attempt to surround the city.

“It remains to be seen if that’s exactly what they’re going to end up doing, but the indications are enough in terms of how they’re positioning their forces around the city,” the official said. 

6:17 p.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Turkish foreign minister: Turkey recognizes the Russian invasion to Ukraine as "war"

From CNN's Isil Sariyuce in Istanbul

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Sunday that Turkey has decided that Russia’s invasion to Ukraine is a “war.”

“Is this a conflict or a war? We decided on that. Article 19 of the Montreux Convention is very clear. This is a war.” he said in a live interview to CNN Turk. 

Turkey’s recognition is important for the application of 1936 Montreux Convention that regulates naval passage through the Turkish straits.

The Montreux Convention gives Turkey certain control over the passage of war ships from Dardanelles and Bosporus Straits that connect the Aegean, the Marmara, and the Black Sea. 

In peace times, war ships can pass the straits by prior diplomatic notification with certain limitations about the weight of the ships and arms they carry depending on the ship if it belongs to is a Black Sea country or not. 

During wartime, when Turkey is not at war, warships can use the straits except for those belonging to belligerent states. 

According to the convention, if Turkey is a part of the war or considers itself threatened with imminent danger of war, it can shut down the straits to the passage of warships that have a coast onto the Black Sea or not.

However, as Çavuşoğlu mentions the article 19 of the Montreux Convention provides an exception. The war ships of belligerent countries can return to their base of origin in Black Sea. 

“Now this conflict has turned into a war, in this case, this is how we apply Montreux for the parties, Russia or Ukraine. Article 19 provides an exception. If the ship of the war country will return to its port, an exception is made. We will implement all the provisions of Montreux with transparency.”

This means even if Turkey bans, Russian and Ukrainian ships can return to their base of origin. Çavuşoğlu said when applying the exception countries should not abuse the clause, and added, “I explain Montreux and Turkey’s position."

More background: The Montreux Convention gives Turkey control over the passage of vessels through those two key straits. 

In peacetime and war time, Turkey does not have the right to restrict civilian ships even if Turkey is part of the war.  

Warships can navigate through the straits during peacetime, but under conditions that restrict aggregate tonnage depending on if they are or are not a Black Sea country and limits the duration of stay in the Black Sea for non-Black Sea nations.

Black Sea nations include Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Turkey, Russia, and Ukraine.

There are also limitations on the caliber of weapons they can carry, and Turkey needs to be notified of the request. 

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly mischaracterized the Turkish foreign minister's comments about applying the Montreux Convention's exception.

10:55 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Putin has used two-thirds of Russian total combat power amassed for invasion, US defense official says 

From CNN's From Ellie Kaufman

Russian President Vladimir Putin has used two-thirds of the Russian total combat power “he applied to this invasion,” a senior US defense official told reporters Sunday.

This “still means he has a third outside Ukraine, which is not insignificant,” the official said.

The US has assessed that “as of this morning” Russian forces “have launched more than 320 missiles.”

The majority of those missiles are “short-range ballistic missiles,” the official added.

10:44 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Spain will close airspace to Russian airlines

From CNN's From Al Goodman in Madrid

Spain will close its airspace to Russian airlines, according to the Spanish Ministry for Transport. 

The Ministry for Transport announced the move in a tweet Sunday saying the country would "proceed to close its air space to Russian airlines" following the European Union's directives of cooperation. 

Spain joins a slew of other countries that have closed their airspace to Russian airlines this weekend in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, including Germany, Italy, France and Canada.

10:50 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Czech Republic joins Poland and Sweden in refusing to play Russia in 2022 World Cup qualifiers

From CNN's Wayne Sterling

The Czech Republic football national team has joined Poland and Sweden in refusing to play Russia in a potential match at the upcoming men’s 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in protest of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"The Czech FA executive committee, staff members and players of the national team agreed it's not possible to play against the Russian national team in the current situation, not even on the neutral venue," the Czech team wrote on Twitter Sunday. "We all want the war to end as soon as possible."

Poland and Sweden, individually, made their announcements on Saturday.

See the tweet:

More context: Russia is scheduled to host Poland in a playoff semifinal on March 24. The game is due to be held at the VTB Arena in Moscow.

The winner of the Poland-Russia match would host either Sweden or Czech Republic on March 29 in the final of their World Cup qualification route.

Read more about this here.

10:39 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Ukraine's ambassador to US: "We're ready for peace talks, we're not ready to surrender"

From CNN's Aaron Pellish

Ukrainian Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova speaks at a press conference on February 25, in Washington, DC.
Ukrainian Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova speaks at a press conference on February 25, in Washington, DC. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Ukrainian Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova welcomed the news of talks with Russia as a possible way to end the Russian invasion of Ukraine but added her home country is “not ready to surrender.” 

Markarova said in an ABC News interview on Sunday Ukraine’s focus has always been on using diplomacy to resolve the conflict between Russia and Ukraine in response to news Ukraine has agreed to meet with Russian negotiators at the Ukrainian-Belarusian border. 

“Our president, from the beginning, even before the war started, always focused — was focused on the diplomatic solution,” Markarova said. “And even after the war started, he actually called for peace talks all the time, but he always said, we’re ready for peace talks, we’re not ready to surrender,” she said.

Markarova also called on the West to offer more military aid to the Ukrainian military and pushed the US and its allies to issue further sanctions on Russia. Markarova also called on US businesses to consider divesting from Russian businesses and financial institutions. 

“We are grateful for everything that is there already and that is about to come, and we need more because we are defending our country against a very strong enemy. We also need sanctions, more sanctions, and we need Russia to clearly see that and feel that it's not okay in the 21st century, to attack another country, a sovereign country without any reason,” Markarova said. 

“And I also would like to use this opportunity also to call on American business,” Markarova added. “I think it's time to think about saving reputations and not cooperating with a regime that will end up in The Hague for everything they've done and they're doing now to Ukraine,” referring to the International Court of Justice where alleged war crimes are heard," she said.

Background: On Saturday, the White House, alongside the European Commission and other allies, announced their intent to expel some Russian banks from the international banking network SWIFT and target the Russian Central Bank with severe sanctions. 

Markarvoa also gave an update on the safety of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, saying he is “as safe as our country.” 

 “He is as safe as our country, and that’s the choice he made to stay in Kyiv, to stay in Ukraine and lead the nation in this very difficult moment,” Markarova said.  

10:20 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Ukrainian foreign minister: Putin's nuclear readiness move attempts to put pressure on Ukraine

From CNN's Ivana Kottasova in Kyiv

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Sunday that Russian leader Vladimir Putin's order to put Russian deterrent forces on alert was an effort to raise pressure on the Ukrainian delegation at Monday's scheduled talks.

"As you notice, this order by President Putin came shortly after the announcement was made about the two delegations ready to meet. And we see this announcement this order, as an attempt to raise stakes and to put additional pressure on the Ukrainian delegation," Kuleba said a briefing in Kyiv.

Kuleba added, "But we will not give into this pressure" and said, "We will approach this talks with a very simple approach."

Kuleba indicated that Ukrainian officials are willing to "listen to what Russia has to say."

"We will tell them what we think of this. And what we are ready to discuss is how to stop the war and the occupation of our territories. Full stop,'" the foreign minister said.

Kuleba said Putin’s decision "to put on high alert his nuclear weapons is a direct threat to us. I have very simple message. It will be a catastrophe for the world, but it will not break us down."

10:23 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

White House says Russia's invasion of Ukraine will be part of Biden's State of the Union address Tuesday

From CNN's Sam Fossum

President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the White House on Friday, February 25.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the White House on Friday, February 25. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Sunday that the current Russian invasion of Ukraine will be included in US President Joe Biden's State of the Union address on Tuesday. 

"I think there's no question that in the State of the Union, the American people and anybody watching around the world will hear the President talk about the efforts that he has led over the past several months to build a global coalition to fight against the autocracy and the efforts of President Putin to invade a foreign country. That is certainly something that is present in all of our lives and certainly in the President's life in this moment," Psaki told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This week." 

Psaki added that in his State of the Union address Biden will also reflect on the "resilience" and "strength" of Americans and that he will speak about what lies ahead for the country, noting that the speech is about "delivering a message to the public in a moment in time." 

"What people will also hear from President Biden is his optimism and his belief in the resilience of the American people and the strength of the American people," Psaki said. "Leaders lead during crises, that's exactly what President Biden is doing, he'll speak to that, but he's also going to speak about his optimism about what's ahead and what we all have to look forward to."



10:09 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

White House official: Putin's move on deterrence forces "yet another escalatory" and "unnecessary step"

From CNN's Arlette Saenz

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to put his country’s deterrence forces, including nuclear arms, on high alert, is “yet another escalatory and totally unnecessary step,” a senior Biden administration official says.

“At every step of this conflict Putin has manufactured threats to justify more aggressive actions — he was never under threat from Ukraine or from NATO, which is a defensive alliance that will not fight in Ukraine,” the official said. “The only reason his forces face a threat today is because they invaded a sovereign country, and one without nuclear weapons. This is yet another escalatory and totally unnecessary step," the official added.  

More background: During a televised meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov earlier today, President Putin said, “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.” 

Shoigu replied, “Yes, sir.”