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February 24, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

What we covered

  • Blasts are being reported in Kyiv early Friday, with a Ukrainian official saying the country's capital has been hit by cruise or ballistic missiles. Russian forces are now about 20 miles from Kyiv, according to top US officials.
  • Russia’s assault began Thursday with a series of missile attacks and the use of long-range artillery. It quickly spread across central and eastern Ukraine as Russian forces attacked the country from three sides.
  • US President Joe Biden announced new “strong” sanctions on Russia as he condemned President Vladimir Putin's invasion, calling him an "aggressor."
  • Having connection issues? Bookmark CNN's lite site for fast connectivity or read updates at CNN Español here. Scroll through photos on the ground here.

11:40 p.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Top US general speaks with European allies on Russian invasion of Ukraine

US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley spoke with allies in Europe by phone on Thursday, after Russia began an invasion of Ukraine.

Milley spoke with officials from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Canada. He also had a "combined meeting with the Bucharest 9 allies," — Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia — according to a readout of the calls. 

"The leaders shared assessments of the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces into Ukraine," the readout said. "The Chairman addressed US reinforcement of NATO Allies through repositioning of forces in Europe to assure Allies and partners and deter Russia from conducting further provocations."
Earlier Thursday, US President Joe Biden and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced the deployment of an additional 7,000 troops to Germany from the US to support NATO allies amid the crisis. 

Milley will "continue to conduct outreach" to partners and allies in the coming days, the readout said. 

11:39 p.m. ET, February 24, 2022

At least 3 more explosions heard across Kyiv at dawn 

At least three more explosions reverberated across the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, at dawn on Friday. They appeared to be coming from the southwest of the city. 

It's now just past 6:30 a.m. in Kyiv. Earlier this morning, CNN teams on the ground reported hearing large blasts in the city.

11:29 p.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Ukraine's foreign minister: Kyiv hasn't experienced anything like this since 1941 Nazi attack

In a tweet early Friday morning, Ukraine's Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba decried the "horrific Russian rocket strikes on Kyiv."

"Last time our capital experienced anything like this was in 1941 when it was attacked by Nazi Germany," he wrote. "Ukraine defeated that evil and will defeat this one. Stop Putin. Isolate Russia. (Sever) all ties. Kick Russia out of (everywhere.)

CNN teams in Kyiv reported hearing blasts early Friday morning.

Ukraine's Deputy Interior Minister Yevhen Yenin attributed an explosion Friday to a Ukrainian "anti-missile system shooting a (Russian) missile out of the sky." CNN has not been able to independently verify this.

11:21 p.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Ukraine says it has inflicted 800 casualties among Russian forces

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry says its armed forces have inflicted some 800 casualties on Russian forces since the invasion began in the early hours of Thursday.

It was not immediately clear whether the ministry was referring solely to the number killed.

The ministry said more than 30 Russian tanks had been destroyed, as well as seven Russian aircraft and six helicopters.

CNN is not able to independently verify Ukraine's figures.

11:14 p.m. ET, February 24, 2022

EU announces new "maximum impact" sanctions on Russia

The European Union announced new sanctions on Russia early Friday that would target the country's financial, energy and transport sectors, visa policy, and include export controls and export financing bans.

The sanctions will have "maximum impact on the Russian economy and political elite," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at a joint news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron. “We will hold the Kremlin accountable,” she said.

She said the financial sanctions cut Russia’s most important capital markets, and that they are now targeting 70% of the Russian banking market and key state-owned companies. The sanctions will increase Russia’s borrowing costs, raise inflation and “gradually erode Russia’s industrial base," she said.

“We are also targeting Russian elites by curbing their deposits so that they cannot hide their money anymore in safe havens in Europe,” she added.

An export ban will also hit Russia's oil sector, and ban the sale of all aircraft spare parts and equipment to Russian airlines, which Von der Leyen said would hit a key sector of Russia’s economy and the country’s connectivity. The sanctions also limit Russia’s access to "crucial technology," she said.

Diplomats, related groups and businesspeople will no longer have privileged access to the EU, she added.

11:06 p.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Ukraine's deputy interior minister: Explosion over Kyiv caused by Ukrainian air defenses

Ukraine's Deputy Interior Minister Yevhen Yenin has attributed an explosion early Friday over the capital, Kyiv, to a Ukrainian "anti-missile system shooting a (Russian) missile out of the sky."

CNN has not been able to independently verify this. Earlier Friday morning, CNN reporters on the ground in Kyiv reported hearing several loud blasts.

Separately, Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the Head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, said Friday that Kyiv had been hit by "cruise or ballistic missiles."

Photos shared by Gerashchenko on Friday show a Kyiv residential building on fire, and firefighters responding on the scene as clouds of black smoke rise in the distance.

Firefighters outside a residential building in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Friday. (Provided by Anton Gerashchenko)
11:09 p.m. ET, February 24, 2022

French President says he's ready to broker a ceasefire, accuses Putin of "duplicity"

French President Emmanuel Macron. (Olivier Hoslet/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

French President Emmanuel Macron is positioning himself as the mediator between Russia and Ukraine for a potential ceasefire agreement.

“I think it is my responsibility, first of all, to take such initiatives when they are requested by Ukraine, and then, while condemning, while sanctioning, while continuing to decide and act, to leave this path open so that the day when the conditions can be met, we can obtain a cessation of hostilities for the Ukrainian people,” Macron said a joint news conference Friday in Brussels after an emergency European Union summit.

Macron was the first major Western leader to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin after Russian military actions began. They spoke before the summit — but Macron admitted the phone call didn’t achieve much, "since the Russian President has chosen war.”

Macron also accused Putin of duplicity, saying he and other European leaders had been discussing "the details of the implementation of the Minsk agreements" with Putin just hours before the Russian President launched the operation, referring to the 2015 pact that established a shaky ceasefire in the region.

“So yes, there was duplicity. Yes, there was a deliberate, conscious choice by President Putin to launch the war when we could still negotiate peace," Macron said.

At the summit on Thursday, EU leaders signed off on a new round of sanctions, described by European Council President Charles Michel as “massive” and “painful” against Russia and Belarus.

10:36 p.m. ET, February 24, 2022

Biden: US is "in consultation with India" over Russia-Ukraine

US President Joe Biden told reporters Thursday the United States was “in consultation with India” on the issue of Ukraine and Russia. 

The comments came in response to a question on whether India, a major US defense partner, was “fully in sync” with the United States, with Biden adding, “We haven’t resolved that completely.”

India has a historic friendship with Russia. At the same time, its strategic partnership with the US has grown at an unprecedented pace over the past two decades. 

Also on Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a phone conversation with India's External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, stressing the importance of a “strong collective response” toward Russia's invasion of Ukraine, an official spokesperson said.

“Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar today to discuss Russia’s premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack on Ukraine. Secretary Blinken stressed the importance of a strong collective response to condemn Russia’s invasion and call for an immediate withdrawal and ceasefire,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in a readout of the call on Thursday.

Following the call, Blinken tweeted a similar statement, highlighting the “importance of a strong collective response to Russian aggression,” adding “Russia’s attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is a clear violation of the rules-based international order.”

In response, Jaishanker tweeted: “Appreciate the call from @SecBlinken. Discussed the ongoing developments in Ukraine and its implications."