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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10:00 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Pro-Kremlin Chechen leader Kadyrov calls for expanding Russian invasion "in all directions"

From CNN's Nathan Hodge

Ramzan Kadyrov, the pro-Kremlin leader of Russia's Chechnya region, called on the Russian military Sunday to expand its military offensive in Ukraine. 

"The time has come to make a concrete decision and start a large-scale operation in all directions and territories of Ukraine," Kadyrov said in a statement on his Telegram account. "I myself have repeatedly developed tactics and strategies against terrorists, participated in battles. In my understanding, the tactics chosen in Ukraine are too slow. It lasts a long time and, in my view, are not effective," he said.

Added Kadyrov: "Full coordination of the actions of the military, competent alignment of forces and a decisive assault. That's it! Nothing else is needed."

Kadyrov has been accused by international and independent observers of gross human-rights violations in his home territory and beyond. He leads sizable paramilitary forces that — while formally a part of Russian security structures — have personal loyalty to him.

9:58 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

White House responds to Russia's decision to put nuclear forces on high alert

From CNN's Sam Fossum

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to put Russia's nuclear forces on high alert are part of a wider pattern of unprovoked escalation and "manufactured threats" from the Kremlin. 

"This is really a pattern that we've seen from President Putin through the course of this conflict, which is manufacturing threats that don't exist in order to justify further aggression — and the global community and the American people should look at it through that prism," Psaki told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week."

She added: "This is all a pattern from President Putin and we're going to stand up for it, we have the ability to defend ourselves, but we also need to call out what we're seeing here from President Putin."

When asked about further military aid or sanctions, Psaki said that the US is prepared to send more humanitarian, economic and defensive military supplies, noting the administration's most recent announcements of aid since the conflict started. 

"I would note that the sanctions that we announced yesterday put Russia on par with Iran, cutting them off from a banking system with the global community," Psaki said. 

Pressed on if the US would take more immediate action against the Russian energy sector, Psaki said that everything is "on the table," and added that the Administration believes the current conflict illustrates that the US should bolster its domestic supply of energy and diversify beyond oil and gas.  

Psaki added that the US remains in close contact with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and praised him for his leadership over the course of the first few days of the current war. 

"He is standing up courageously against the invasion of President Putin and Russian leadership," Psaki said. "We will remain in close contact with him."

10:05 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Romney calls for US to continue "cranking up the sanctions" against "evil regime" of Russia

From CNN's Chandelis Duster

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, in 2021.
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, in 2021. (Greg Nash/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican, on Sunday called the Russian government “a pariah” and said the US should continue “cranking up the sanctions against what is an evil regime.”

“The world is behind the people of Ukraine. ... The Russian government is a pariah, and the entire world should be protesting and letting Russia know how badly they're seen on the world stage,” Romney told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”

The Utah senator in 2012, who would end up being the Republican nominee, called Russia “our number one geopolitical foe," during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

"They — they fight every cause for the world's worst actors," he said back then.

Asked if it was the right move for the US and Western countries to announce additional sanctions Russia and expel certain Russian banks from SWIFT, Romney said “keep cranking that up.”

“As Mitch McConnell said, you can't get the sanctions too high. At the same time recognize that for the sanctions to be most effective, you want them to be shared with our allies around the world. We want to all be together on this. So we can only go as fast as everybody wants to move together. So that's critical. But those sanctions will have an impact,” he said, adding that it’s “good news” for them to go after the rich oligarchs in the sanctions. “Let's keep on cranking up the sanctions against what is an evil regime.”
9:55 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

US ambassador to UN says sanctions on Russia’s energy sector aren’t "off the table"

From CNN's Devan Cole

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Sunday that sanctions on Russia’s energy sector are not yet off the table as the US continues to punish the county for its invasion of Ukraine.

“We have not taken anything off the table. We're continuing to look at this,” she told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” when asked whether such sanctions would put a burden on the US’ economy.

“We're ramping up as the Russians ramp up. So there is more to come. And while energy is not on — in this current announcement, it doesn't mean it's off the table, but we also want to do everything we can to protect our own economy from the impact of this,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

The UN ambassador told Bash that trying Russians for war crimes in a military tribunal was also “on the table.”

Ukraine has accused Russia of committing war crimes in going after civilian targets and has called for Moscow to face a military tribunal. Russia says its forces are only targeting military installations and are not striking residential areas.

Thomas-Greenfield comments come as the US continues to heighten its response to Russia.

The White House, along with the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and Canada, announced Saturday evening that they would expel certain Russian banks from SWIFT, the high-security network that connects thousands of financial institutions around the world, pledging to "collectively ensure that this war is a strategic failure for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin."

9:35 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Ukrainian forces destroy Russian column at the edge of Kyiv

From CNN’s Tim Lister and Julia Kesa in Kyiv

CNN has geolocated video showing the destruction by Ukrainian forces of a column of Russian armored personnel carriers and other vehicles on the edge of the capital, Kyiv. 

One video shot Sunday morning shows the Russian column moving at speed through a residential neighborhood (Bucha) on the western outskirts of the city.

A short time later, the Russian group is geolocated close by, but most of the vehicles are wrecked and some of them are turned on their sides. There is no sign of the Russian soldiers.

Over one video, a man is heard swearing in Ukrainian and then saying "They came to our land. I wish you all to burn in Hell."

"I would give my life if needed."

The man says the Ukrainian Air Force "did its job well," but it's unclear how the attack against the convoy was conducted. 

11:29 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Canada’s airspace closed to all Russian aircraft operators

From CNN’s Paula Newton in Ottawa

Canada’s airspace is closed to all Russian aircraft operators effective immediately, according to the Canadian Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra.

“Effective immediately, Canada’s airspace is closed to all Russian aircraft operators. We will hold Russia accountable for its unprovoked attacks against Ukraine,” Alghabra said on Sunday morning. 

Canada joins a number European countries, including Germany, Italy and France, that have announced they will close its airspace to Russian aircrafts and airlines in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

9:41 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

UN ambassador: US looks forward to what comes out of Ukraine-Russia meeting at Belarus border

From CNN's Kylie Atwood

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield on CNN's State of the Union, Sunday. February 27.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield on CNN's State of the Union, Sunday. February 27. CNN

As Ukrainian and Russian leaders agree to meet at the Belarus border, the US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said on CNN’s State of the Union the US will “look forward to what comes out of those discussions.”

“We have always indicated that we wanted to find a diplomatic solution, and Russia chose confrontation,” Tomas-Greenfield said to CNN's Dana Bash. “This diplomatic effort is one more effort to bring the Russians to the negotiating table.”

 

Thomas-Greenfield did not give a direct answer when asked if the US felt that this was a good-faith effort by the Russians. 

“I can't get into the Russian’s — into Putin's head or into Russian reasoning, so it remains to be seen, but let's — see what comes of it,” she said.

9:18 a.m. ET, February 27, 2022

Ukrainian delegation agrees to meet with Russians at Belarus border, according to President Zelensky’s office

From CNN’s Tim Lister

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. (Peter Kovalev/TASS/Getty Images)

President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office said Belarus President Aleksander Lukashenko called the Ukrainian President Sunday.

"The politicians have agreed that the Ukrainian delegation will meet with the Russian delegation without preconditions on the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, near the Pripyat River," his office said.

"Aleksander Lukashenko has taken responsibility for ensuring that all planes, helicopters and missiles stationed on the Belarusian territory will remain on the ground during the Ukrainian delegation's travel, meeting and return."

Russian state news agencies also reported Sunday that a Russian presidential aide said that Ukraine had confirmed it would meet a delegation from the Russian Federation in the Gomel region of Belarus, without providing details about who would represent the Ukrainian side.

CNN's Nathan Hodge contributed reporting to this post from Moscow.

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.”