Russia invades Ukraine live updates for Sunday, Feb. 27

Published February 27, 2022 at 9:38 AM EST
A woman and a child wait at the main train station in Przemysl, Poland, after arriving from Kyiv on Sunday.
Omar Marques
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Getty Images
A woman and a child wait at the main train station in Przemysl, Poland, after arriving from Kyiv on Sunday.

Governments, private businesses and global organizations took more measures to protest Russia's actions against Ukraine. The European Union is sending military aid to the besieged nation, and a British energy giant is cutting ties to a Russian oil company.

More of the weekend's developments:

Follow the latest news on the invasion below.

Business

BP will exit its multibillion-dollar investment in Russian oil company Rosneft

Posted February 27, 2022 at 5:57 PM EST

BP, the energy giant formerly known as British Petroleum, plans to sever its close ties to the Russian oil company Rosneft over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

It's a major move for BP, one that has financial implications beyond symbolic resonance.

Rosneft is controlled by the Russian government, but after that, BP is its biggest shareholder, with nearly 20% of the company's stock. It's not yet clear who would buy those shares.

BP's stake is valued at some $14 billion, and the British company rakes in cash both through dividends and through joint ventures. Last year, Rosneft earned BP some $2.4 billion dollars and represented about a third of BP's total oil and gas production.

BP also had two seats on Rosneft's board, one occupied by BP CEO Bernard Looney and the other by former BP group CEO Bob Dudley. Both men are resigning those seats.

BP "has operated in Russia for over 30 years, working with brilliant Russian colleagues," the company's chair, Helge Lund, said in a statement.

But the military action is a "fundamental change" that led the board to conclude that "our involvement with Rosneft, a state-owned enterprise, simply cannot continue," he continued.

The U.K. government had been putting pressure on BP to extricate itself from this relationship to Rosneft, and by extension the Russian government.

Oil giants Shell and Exxon are also closely linked to the Russian oil industry. Russia is the worlds second-largest producer of oil and natural gas — after the United States.

Sports

FIFA announces punishments for Russia but doesn’t ban it from the World Cup

Posted February 27, 2022 at 4:39 PM EST
A picture shows the FIFA logo during a press conference held by the president of the football's governing body at the FIFA Executive Football Summit on February 15, 2019 in Istanbul.
Ozan Kose
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AFP
FIFA announced new penalties for Russia on Sunday.

FIFA announced new penalties against Russia on Sunday, the latest example of the far-reaching consequences President Vladimir Putin is facing over his invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

The international governing body for soccer said in a statement that no international competitions would be played on Russian territory, and “home” matches would have to be played on neutral soil without a crowd.

Russia will have to participate in any competition under the name “Football Union of Russia” and its flag and anthem will be banned during matches.

“Violence is never a solution and FIFA expresses its deepest solidarity to all people affected by what is happening in Ukraine,” the organization's leadership said. FIFA decided the penalties in coordination with the Union of European Football Associations.

The World Cup is slated to take place in Qatar later this year. Although a number of countries — including the Czech Republic, Poland and Sweden — have said their national teams won’t play Russia during playoffs, FIFA stopped short of expelling Russia from the competition.

UEFA announced on Friday that its executive committee decided to relocate this year's Men’s Champions League final from St. Petersburg to Saint-Denis, France. It will still take place on May 28.

Soccer players and clubs, including within Russia, have expressed their opposition to the invasion of Ukraine with a variety of protests both on and off the field.

FIFA also said it was in touch with the Ukrainian Association of Football as well as members of the Ukrainian football community who’ve been requesting support to leave the country amid the ongoing invasion.

World response

The U.N. will have an emergency session of its General Assembly in a rebuke of Russia

Posted February 27, 2022 at 4:12 PM EST
Britain's UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward, left, United States' UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, center, and Albania's UN Ambassador Ferit Hoxha vote at United Nations headquarters, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Seth Wenig
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AP
The UN will convene on Monday an emergency session of its General Assembly over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The United Nations will convene an emergency session of its General Assembly for only the 11th time in more than seven decades in a historic rebuke of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The emergency session will allow all 193 members to debate and vote on a resolution calling for Russia’s immediate withdrawal of troops from Ukraine. The emergency session is scheduled to begin Monday.

The resolution, while nonbinding, would carry political weight. The U.S. has pushed for such resolutions in an effort to show that Russia is politically isolated.

The move follows the failure of such a resolution in the smaller, 15-member Security Council after Russia vetoed the measure Friday. Russia is not able to veto a resolution by the full assembly.

“Russia cannot veto our voices. Russia cannot veto the Ukrainian people. And Russia cannot veto the U.N. Charter. Russia cannot and will not veto accountability,” said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

Sunday’s vote passed along the same lines as Friday’s resolution — but because of the procedural nature of the vote, Russia could not veto. Instead, it was the lone vote against, while India, China and the United Arab Emirates abstained.

Joining the U.S. in voting in favor of the special session were permanent members France and the U.K., along with rotating members Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico and Norway.

The 11 countries that voted in favor of the emergency session expressed alarm at reports of harm to civilians and civilian locations and urged Russia to immediately end hostilities and return to the diplomatic table.

“All member states — especially the small ones, like mine, which constitute a majority of the U.N. — must remember that international law, rules and the U.N. charter are their best friend, their best army, their best defense, their best insurance,” said Ferit Hoxha, Albania’s permanent representative to the U.N.

Russia, for its part, accused the other members of the Security Council of speaking “lies, deceit and fakes” about its actions in Ukraine, which it continues to call a “special military operation” rather than an invasion.

Members of the U.N. have a “moral responsibility” to respond to Russia’s invasion with humanitarian aid and military support, Thomas-Greenfield said.

Speaking directly to Russian soldiers, she said: “The world is watching. Photographic and video evidence is mounting, and you will be held to account for your actions. We will not let atrocities slide.”

Military

Satellite images show Russian forces near a power plant in Ukraine

Posted February 27, 2022 at 3:58 PM EST

Images collected Saturday afternoon appear to show Russian ground forces near a hydroelectric plant on the Dnieper River in southern Ukraine.

Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies
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Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies
An overview of one section of a ground forces convoy in Ivankiv, Ukraine.

That's according to images provided by Maxar Technologies.

Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies
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Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies
A damaged aircraft hangar at Antonov airport in Hostomel, Ukraine.

The United Nations estimates hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians are without electricity and water.

Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies
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Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies
The aftermath of combat at Antonov airport in Hostomel, Ukraine.

World response

The State Department says U.S. citizens should consider leaving Russia immediately

Posted February 27, 2022 at 3:29 PM EST

With a growing number of Western airlines announcing they will halt service to Russia, the U.S. State Department is urging U.S. citizens to leave the country immediately or risk being stuck there.

"An increasing number of airlines are cancelling flights into and out of Russia, and numerous countries have closed their airspace to Russian airlines. U.S. citizens should consider departing Russia immediately via commercial options still available," the State Department said.

The bulletin followed the announcement by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen earlier Sunday that the EU would close the airspace above its members states to Russian-owned, Russian-registered or Russian-controlled aircraft.

Prior to Sunday's announcement, the State Department had already issued a Level 4 "Do Not Travel" advisory for Russia.

Separately on Sunday, two of the world's largest delivery giants, UPS and FedEx, similarly announced on Sunday that they were halting service to Russia.

Military aid for Ukraine

In a historic first, the EU says it will buy and deliver weapons to a country under attack

Posted February 27, 2022 at 2:47 PM EST
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gives a press statement about further measures to respond to the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the European Commission in Brussels on February 27, 2022.
Stephanie Lecocq
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AFP
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gives a press statement about further measures to respond to the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the European Commission in Brussels on February 27, 2022.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that the EU would close the airspace above its member states to Russian-owned, Russian-registered or Russian-controlled aircraft.

“These aircraft will no more be able to land in, take off or overly the territory of the EU,” von der Leyen said in a statement.

Von der Leyen also announced new military assistance for Ukraine, a move she described as a "watershed moment."

"For the first time ever, the European Union will finance the purchase and delivery of weapons and other equipment to a country that is under attack," she said.

Her announcement came on the same day that several European leaders announced plans to provide military equipment to Ukraine. Denmark's prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, said her country would send 2,700 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, while Sweden's minister for foreign affairs announced a shipment of 5,000 anti-tank weapons, 5,000 helmets, 5,000 body shields and 135,000 field rations.

Von der Leyen laid out additional punishment on Russia, announcing that the EU would ban Russian media outlets RT and Sputnik as well as their subsidiaries.

The commission will also impose new sanctions on President Alexander Lukashenko's regime in Belarus, a key ally of Russia. Those sanctions will target key economic sectors including mineral fuels, tobacco, wood and timber, cement, iron and steel.

Von der Leyen said the commission was mobilizing to help its eastern member states take in and care for the many Ukrainian refugees escaping the violence.

"President Zelensky's leadership and his bravery and the resilience of the Ukrainian people are outstanding and impressive," she said. "We welcome with open arms those Ukrainians who have to flee from Putin's bombs and I am proud of the warm welcome that Europeans have given them," she said.

Sen. Durbin calls for tougher sanctions on Russia as the invasion rolls on

Posted February 27, 2022 at 1:48 PM EST
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., arrives for a committee business meeting on February 17, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Win McNamee
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Getty Images
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., arrives for a committee business meeting on February 17, 2022 in Washington, DC.

A prominent Senate Democrat is calling for tougher sanctions on Russia amid the ongoing invasion.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said in an interview with NPR’sWeekend Edition Sunday that the Russian economy needed to feel the pain of financial sanctions sooner rather than later.

“At some point the lights in Moscow may dim, but the question is will there still be a flame of hope burning in Ukraine at that point,” he said.

His comments came shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin issued an order putting the country’s deterrent forces, which include nuclear weapons, on high alert. Durbin, who is also co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, said he was “very worried” about that escalation.

Still, Durbin suggested the U.S. should close off Russia’s access to the world economy as much as possible. If that included sanctions targeted Russia’s energy sector, it could cause prices to rise for Americans, something Durbin said U.S. residents should be prepared for.

“Unless Americans are willing to make some sacrifice in terms of energy, the Russians will continue to reap profits from us that they’ll spend killing the people of Ukraine,” he said.

Durbin also said the U.S. should continue to exert global pressure on countries that have failed to condemn Russia’s military aggression, such as China, India and the United Arab Emirates, which declined to vote for a United Nations resolution condemning Russia last week.

“I don’t expect great things to come from that effort, but we need to stand as a family of nations with the United States in leadership around the world against this kind of aggression that we’ve seen in Ukraine,” he said.

“These people in the streets of Ukraine are walking into recruiting offices, being handed a Kalashnikov and sent out to really give their lives for their country. Can we do anything less?”

Banking

What is SWIFT, and why does it matter that some Russian banks are losing access?

Posted February 27, 2022 at 1:28 PM EST

There's a behind-the-scenes part of the global financial system that most of us didn't know about until the U.S. and its allies started exploring how to cripple the Kremlin's spending after Russia invaded Ukraine.

In order for banks around the world to facilitate transactions, they use a mechanism called SWIFT — the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication. It's a messaging system that serves as a key pillar of international banking, supporting millions of secure messages daily between institutions. And those messages are central to their daily business, covering things like orders and confirmations for transactions.

The U.S., Canada and other allies announced over the weekend they're moving to cut off some Russian banks from the system. That's crucial given how ubiquitous the system is — SWIFT is used by some 11,000 financial institutions in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. Russia is thought to have accounted for about 1.5% of SWIFT transactions in 2020, according to the Financial Times.

Alexandra Vacroux, executive director of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University, told us last month that cutting a whole country from SWIFT is a "nuclear option."

It's unclear which Russian banks will be targeted in the newest sanctions.

The battle for Kharkiv

After a night of heavy fighting, Ukrainian officials say they still control Kharkiv

Posted February 27, 2022 at 12:43 PM EST

Officials in Ukraine say that Kharkiv, the nation’s second-largest city, is under the control of Ukraine’s military after an overnight offensive by Russian forces.

Local officials had urged civilians to shelter at home early Sunday amid reports of combat in the streets and “intensive exchanges of rocket artillery,” as the U.K. Ministry of Defense reported.

But by the afternoon, the streets were calmer, according to news reports and social media – and the same officials had claimed victory for now.

"Control over Kharkiv is completely ours! The armed forces, the police, and the defense forces are working, and the city is being completely cleansed of the enemy," regional governor Oleh Sinegubov wrote on Telegram, according to Reuters.

Russian forces struck a gas pipeline in Kharkiv, according to the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Officials warned residents to cover windows with damp cloth to protect themselves from smoke.

About 1.4 million people live in Kharkiv, which sits less than 30 miles from the Russian border. The city was one of the first targets of shelling Thursday morning. For days, residents have crowded in subway stations and bunkers at the sound of the city’s air raid sirens.

On the ground

Zelenskyy accuses Russia of intentionally targeting civilians in Ukraine

Posted February 27, 2022 at 11:42 AM EST

In a video address Sunday morning, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of intentionally targeting civilians and called for an international tribunal to investigate Russia’s “crimes.”

“Since the first hours of the invasion, Russian troops have been hitting civilian infrastructure. They consciously chose tactics to destroy people and everything that makes life just normal,” Zelenskyy said.

Russia says it is not targeting civilians. International law requires parties in armed conflicts to conduct military operations in a way that limits harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure.

But aid groups and Ukrainian officials say that Russian strikes have damaged residential buildings and a hospital in the Donetsk region, among other civilian locations to be hit. According to the UN, damage to utility infrastructure has left hundreds of thousands of residents without electricity or water, and at least 64 civilians had been killed as of Saturday evening.

“They showed their true faces. This is terror. They are going to bomb our Ukrainian cities even more. They are going to kill our children even more insidiously. This is an evil that has come to our land and must be destroyed,” Zelenskyy said.

Humanitarian organizations have expressed alarm over the harm to civilians. On Friday, Amnesty International said that some of the attacks could be considered war crimes.

“We are extremely concerned that the conflict is affecting very densely populated areas, including the capital Kyiv and other major cities,“ said Florence Gillette, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross’s delegation in Kyiv, in a statement Saturday. “We call for all states to do everything in their power and influence to avoid escalating a conflict whose cost and consequences for civilian populations outpaces the capacity to protect and assist them.”

Military

Putin orders nuclear 'deterrent forces' on alert

Posted February 27, 2022 at 11:17 AM EST
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his defense chiefs to put the country's nuclear "deterrence forces" on high alert on Feb. 27 and accused the West of taking "unfriendly" steps against his country.
Alexey Nikolsky
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AFP
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his defense chiefs to put the country's nuclear "deterrence forces" on high alert on Sunday and accused the West of taking "unfriendly" steps against his country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered what Russia calls “deterrent forces” on alert, which includes nuclear weapons.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, slammed the move in an interview on CBS’sFace The Nation.

"President Putin is continuing to escalate this war in a manner that is totally unacceptable, and we have to continue to condemn his actions in the strongest possible way," Thomas-Greenfield said.

Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba, who spoke at a news conference shortly after the two sides agreed to conduct talks, said it would be a "catastrophe for the world" if Russia used nuclear weapons during its invasion of Ukraine, the BBC reported.

"We see this announcement or this order as an attempt to raise the stakes and to put additional pressure on the Ukrainian delegation,” Kuleba said, according to the network.

"But we will not give in to this pressure. We will approach these talks with a very simple approach. We go there to listen [to what] what Russia has to say and we will tell them what we think of all this."

TV

SNL offers a 'Prayer for Ukraine' in its cold open

Posted February 27, 2022 at 10:57 AM EST

"Saturday Night Live" took a break from its usual humor to open the latest episode with a tribute to Ukraine.

Cast members Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong introduced the Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York, with the group performing a "Prayer for Ukraine." A table of candles that spelled the name of Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, was placed before the chorus.

Watch the opening:

Military

Ukrainian soldiers who profanely told off a Russian warship may be alive, officials say

Posted February 27, 2022 at 10:23 AM EST
Ukraine's Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova speaks during a news conference at the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 24, 2022.
Patrick Semansky
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AP
Ukraine's Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova speaks during a news conference at the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.

A group of Ukrainian soldiers stationed on an island military outpost who were presumed dead after a terse yet profane interaction with a Russian warship last week may still be alive, Ukrainian officials announced Sunday.

The Ukrainian troops on Zmiiniy Island – also known as Snake Island – may instead have been captured by Russian military forces, according to a statement from the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine.

"We sincerely hope that the boys will return home as soon as possible, and the information received at the time of the attack on the death will not be confirmed," the statement reads.

Last Thursday, a Russian warship reportedly approached Snake Island, which is located in the Black Sea off the Ukraine-Romania border, and asked the Ukrainian forces there to surrender.

"This is a Russian warship," someone says in a verified recording of the standoff. "I ask you to lay down your arms and surrender to avoid bloodshed and unnecessary deaths. Otherwise, you will be bombed."

The response from Ukraine was simple: "Russian warship. Go f*** yourself."

The interaction went viral on social media, exemplifying the fight the outmatched but defiant Ukrainian military has been waging against the much larger Russian military.

Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova initially said 13 Ukrainian defenders were killed in the fighting that followed. Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelenskyy announced that each service member would posthumously be awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine.

But the Ukrainian border guard service now says that Russian media reports indicate the captured defenders were sent to Sevastopol, a city in Russian-annexed Crimea.

TASS, the Russian state news agency, said on Friday that no Ukrainian troops had died in the confrontation but rather that 82 Ukrainian service members "voluntarily surrendered" to Russian forces.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov was quoted as saying the captured soldiers were signing "written vows to reject military resistance" and would soon be returned to their families.

Refugees

Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have already fled their country

Posted February 27, 2022 at 10:02 AM EST
People coming from Ukraine descend from a ferry boat to enter Romania after crossing the Danube river at the Isaccea-Orlivka border crossing between Romania and Ukraine on Feb. 26, 2022, as Ukrainians flee their country following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Daniel Mihailescu
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AFP via Getty Images
People coming from Ukraine descend from a ferry boat to enter Romania after crossing the Danube river at the Isaccea-Orlivka border crossing between Romania and Ukraine on Saturday.

About 368,000 Ukrainians have already fled the country into Poland, Romania, Hungary and Moldova, according to the UN’s refugee agency. That number comes even as Ukraine has banned adult men under the age of 60 from leaving the country.

“The governments and people of those countries are welcoming refugees. It is now urgent to share this responsibility in concrete ways,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Before the invasion, U.S. officials and humanitarian agencies had warned that a prolonged conflict could cause as many as 5 million refugees to seek safety outside of Ukraine’s borders.

Diplomacy

Ukrainian and Russian negotiators agree to hold talks in Belarus

Posted February 27, 2022 at 9:52 AM EST

The office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a message on the Telegram app that a delegation of the Ukrainian government will meet for peace talks with Russian officials near the Pripyat River in Belarus.

Russia had earlier proposed holding talks in Gomel, a Belarussian city near the border with Ukraine.

The Ukrainian response did not specify when the meeting would take place.

The Ukrainian president's office said Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko pledged that all planes, helicopters and missiles stationed in Belarus will remain on the ground during the Ukrainian delegation's travel, talks and return, NPR's Frank Langfitt reported.

Oksana Markarova, the Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S., said in an interview on ABC's "This Week" that the government is ready for any peace talks that would stop the fighting and see Russian forces leave Ukraine.

"Our president from the beginning, even before the war started, always was focused on the diplomatic solution. And even after they started the war, he actually called for peace talks all the time," Markarova said. "But he always said, 'we are ready for peace talks, we are not ready to surrender.'"