Russia invades Ukraine live updates: Biden announces new sanctions

Published February 24, 2022 at 7:11 AM EST
President Biden addresses the nation about the invasion of Ukraine.
Drew Angerer
/
Getty Images
President Biden delivers remarks about Russia's military invasion of neighboring Ukraine in the East Room of the White House on Thursday.

President Biden has announced new sanctions against Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine’s president says that there is heavy fighting near the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl and that Russian forces are “trying to seize” it.

A senior U.S. defense official tells NPR that the Russian assault is in the “initial phase” of a “large-scale invasion.” And that it appears Ukrainian forces are fighting back.

Follow live updates below.

    Casualties

    Zelenskyy says 137 Ukrainians have been killed in the Russian invasion

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 7:35 PM EST
    Firefighters work in a building after bombings on the eastern Ukraine town of Chuguiv on Friday.
    Aris Messinis
    /
    AFP via Getty Images
    Firefighters work in a building after bombings on the eastern Ukraine town of Chuguiv on Friday.

    The toll in Russia's invasion of Ukraine has risen, with 137 civilians and military personnel killed and hundreds more wounded so far, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

    In a video address released early Friday local time, Zelenskyy called those killed "heroes," the Associated Press reported.

    He refuted Russia's claim that it is only attacking military targets. “They’re killing people and turning peaceful cities into military targets. It’s foul and will never be forgiven,” he said.

    Earlier on Thursday, Health Minister Viktor Lyashko said that 57 Ukrainians had been killed in the Russian assault, and 169 more were wounded.

    CHERNOBYL

    White House says Russia is holding Chernobyl workers hostage

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 6:48 PM EST

    The White House condemned actions taken by Russian military at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant site and urged the release of workers there.

    “We are outraged by credible reports that Russian soldiers are currently holding the staff of the Chernobyl facilities hostage,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Thursday evening. “This unlawful and dangerous hostage taking which could upend the routine civil service efforts required to maintain and protect the nuclear waste facilities is obviously incredibly alarming and greatly concerning.”

    The International Atomic Energy Agency said earlier in the day that the Chernobyl plant had been taken over by "unidentified armed forces." The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog said "there had been no casualties nor destruction at the industrial site."

    Chernobyl, which became the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986, is located less than 100 miles north of Ukraine's capital, Kyiv.

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted earlier Thursday that Russian forces were attempting to seize the plant saying “our defenders are giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated.”

    The exclusion zone surrounding Chernobyl has been largely uninhabited since the initial disaster, but some fear that fighting in the area could release radioactivity.

    A former member of Ukraine's parliament calls for a no-fly zone over her country

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 6:24 PM EST
    Hanna Hopko, a former member of Ukraine’s parliament, is asking for a no-fly zone over Ukraine to prevent Russian attacks from the air.
    Claire Harbage
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    NPR
    Hanna Hopko, a former member of Ukraine’s parliament, is asking for a no-fly zone over Ukraine to prevent Russian attacks from the air.

    Many Ukrainians woke up to the sound of bombs and airstrikes Thursday morning, as Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.

    Hanna Hopko, a former member of Ukraine’s parliament from Kyiv, says she's ready to fight for her country and calls for “the collective Western civilization really to be tough [on Russia].”

    Hopko tells NPR that the United States and other Western powers should continue to impose harsh sanctions on Russia. However, right now, one of her biggest concerns is the threat from above.

    “You see a lot of attacks on Ukraine from the air. And all these Russian jets attacking Kharkiv, Kherson, Kyiv and all military and critical infrastructure objects in Ukraine,” she said. “We need a no-fly zone over Ukraine.”

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy echoed Hopko’s call for a no-fly zone in a tweet.

    Out of concern for her safety, Hopko fled her home in Kyiv to somewhere outside of the city. But she says, “It's hard to say safe or not. When Ukraine will be free from Russian troops and nobody will be allowed to attack us, [then] I'll be safe.”

    She says that despite the invasion and all Ukraine has been through over the past 8 years, she is not scared.

    “We already went through painful times, it's not time to be scared,” she said. “Putin has to be scared, because he is a little gangster with the heart full of fear. He is afraid of our optimistic spirit that we will win and he will never return us back to the Russian sphere of influence.”

    Listen to the interview

    A Ukrainian soccer player reveals his 'No war in Ukraine' shirt after a goal

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 5:33 PM EST
    Atalanta's Ukrainian midfielder Ruslan Malinovskyi celebrates a goal with a shirt reading "No war in Ukraine" during the UEFA Europa League knockout round play-off second leg football match between Olympiacos FC and Atalanta FC at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus, on the outskirts on Athens, on February 24, 2022.
    Panayotis Tzamaros
    /
    AFP
    Atalanta's Ukrainian midfielder Ruslan Malinovskyi celebrates a goal with a shirt reading "No war in Ukraine" during the UEFA Europa League knockout round play-off second leg football match between Olympiacos FC and Atalanta FC at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus, on the outskirts on Athens, on February 24, 2022.

    Ukrainian professional soccer player Ruslan Malinovskyi staged a brief on-field protest of the Russian invasion of Ukraine Thursday after scoring a goal during a match.

    The midfielder for Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio, based in Bergamo, Italy, lifted his jersey to reveal a white shirt underneath with the message written in large letters: “No war in Ukraine.”

    Malinovskyi received hugs from his teammates following the goal, as well as messages of support on social media.

    “Ukraine under attack right NOW,” Malinovskyi tweeted earlier in the day. “Please, spread the word and pray for our country!"

    Malinovskyi ultimately scored two goals in Atalanta’s 3-0 victory against Olympiacos FC.

    European soccer was awash with pushback against the Russian invasion on the continent Thursday. It included a German soccer team deciding to remove a Russian logo from its jerseys as well as Russian forward Fedor Smolov posting a black image on Instagram with a caption translated from Russian as “No war!!!”

    UEFA, or the Union of European Football Associations, condemned the invasion of Ukraine and its president called an extraordinary meeting of the executive committee for Friday. According to the Associated Press, UEFA has decided not to host the Champions League final in St. Petersburg, Russia, in May.

    The view from Lviv

    A resident describes a surprisingly calm scene in the Ukrainian city of Lviv

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 5:19 PM EST

    As sirens blared in cities across Ukraine amid the invasion by Russian forces, the scene in the western city of Lviv was surprisingly peaceful on Thursday.

    “It's actually warm and the spring is coming and the sun is shining. We have a beautiful peaceful blue sky.” Ivanka Hanok told NPR earlier in the day. “It's absolutely peaceful today comparing to many other Ukrainian cities, absolutely peaceful. So far all Lviv is untouched, and, oh God, help us to stay that way.”

    The 39-year-old city guide and mother of three said that generally, daily life still bears some semblance of normalcy. Store shelves remain stocked and public transport is still operating.

    While many in the city are fearful, she says that she has faith in the Ukrainian army.

    “Lviv believes in its army. We believe in our Ukrainian army and while some people are panicking, the streets [of Lviv] are rather empty,” she said.

    Despite the relatively calm scene in Lviv, the gravity of the threat from Russia’s invasion is not lost on her.

    “Actually, I'm close to panic, because it's damn scary. Everything looks perfectly normal here. But it's just, I have kids.”

    “Luckily, on the internet, there's short recommendations from psychologists on how to talk with kids about war and what's happening and what to give them in a moral support way. And we had to talk today. And that’s awful, actually, I would never think that I’d have to have such a talk with my children.”

    Listen to the interview

    World

    57 Ukrainians have been killed in the Russian invasion, the health minister says

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 4:08 PM EST
    A local citizen stands between debris of his house following Ukrainian shelling in the territory controlled by pro-Russian militants, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Russian troops have launched a three-pronged assault on Ukraine that opened with air and missile strikes on Ukrainian military facilities and included ground troops invading from Crimea. (AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov)
    Alexei Alexandrov
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    AP
    A resident stands between debris of his house in eastern Ukraine on Thursday. Russian troops have launched a three-pronged assault on Ukraine that opened with air and missile strikes on Ukrainian military facilities.

    Russia's assault on Ukraine has killed dozens of people and injured many more, Ukraine's health minister says.

    Health Minister Viktor Lyashko said that 57 Ukrainians have been killed as a result of the Russian invasion, and 169 more were wounded, the Associated Press reported.

    Lyashko also said that authorities are repurposing Ukraine's health care facilities to make room for those injured in the invasion.

    Earlier Thursday, a senior U.S. defense official told NPR that the Russian assault on Ukraine is in the “initial phase” of a “large-scale invasion.”

    Chernobyl

    The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog says Chernobyl has been taken over

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 3:39 PM EST

    The Chernobyl nuclear power plant has been taken over by "unidentified armed forces," according to a statement from the International Atomic Energy Agency. The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog said "there had been no casualties nor destruction at the industrial site."

    Chernobyl, which became the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986, is located less than 100 miles north of Ukraine's capital, Kyiv.

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted earlier in the day that Russian forces were attempting to seize the plant saying “our defenders are giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated.”

    Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian presidential office, told Reuters that Russian forces have captured Chernobyl.

    "It is impossible to say the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is safe after a totally pointless attack by the Russians," he said. "This is one of the most serious threats in Europe today,"

    The exclusion zone surrounding Chernobyl has been largely uninhabited since the initial disaster, but some fear that fighting in the area could release radioactivity.

    History

    Why the U.S. keeps turning to sanctions despite their mixed record

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 2:38 PM EST
    President Biden speaks to a crowd of reporters from a podium in the East Room of the White House.
    Brendan Smialowski
    /
    AFP via Getty Images
    President Biden announces new sanctions against Russia after its invasion of Ukraine in the East Room of the White House on Thursday.

    A slew of world leaders are expected to hit Russia with additional sanctions in response to its invasion of Ukraine.

    President Biden announced new sanctions on Russia's military and economy in remarks on Thursday, in which he said Russian President Vladimir Putin and his country will bear the costs of the war. This latest batch will limit exports to Russia, target its largest state-owned enterprises and "stunt the ability to finance and grow the Russian military."

    They follow a "first tranche" of sanctions announced earlier this week, which targeted Russian financial institutions, oligarchs, access to Western financing and the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

    “This aggression cannot go unanswered,” Biden said from the East Room of the White House. “America stands up to bullies, we stand up for freedom. This is who we are.”

    The U.S. and its allies have for months pledged to enact severe sanctions in the case of a Russian invasion, warnings that evidently did not serve to deter the Kremlin.

    The Council on Foreign Relations defines sanctions as "the withdrawal of customary trade and financial relations for foreign- and security-policy purposes," noting that can take the form of travel bans, asset freezes, arms embargoes and trade restrictions. The U.S. Treasury Department has dozens of active sanctions programs targeting various countries (like Cuba and Iran) and activities (like terrorism and drug trafficking).

    Sanctions have become a favored tool in presidents' aresenals to avoid going to war (though critics note they can backfire and harm civilians) — even though they don't always work.

    "The record of sanctions at deterring war is pretty mixed, and one of the reasons for that is that it's quite difficult to calibrate, to sort of ... really arrange the pressure exactly right," says Nicholas Mulder, a Cornell University history professor who has researched sanctions. "If you make a threat that is too weak, then it doesn't deter. But if you make a threat that is very strong, then you might not be actually able to deliver on that threat, and it might not be credible."

    Mulder spoke with NPR's Ari Shapiro about where the practice of sanctions came from and why the U.S. continues to favor it. Listen to their conversation or read on for details.

    Sanctions emerged in 20th century Europe

    Sanctions were first created in the early 20th century and were mainly used by European countries in an effort to deter nations from going to war again after World War I.

    "And they hit on this thing that they had used during the war itself, economic blockade, and began to use that in peacetime as a form of pressure to try and prevent countries from going to war," Mulder explains, adding that Americans weren't initially enthusiastic about the practice.

    That changed after the 1940s when the U.S. became a dominant global power. Since then, American governments have consistently seen sanctions as an attractive foreign policy tool.

    Russia has been under Western sanctions since 2014

    Mulder says the existing sanctions on Russia have had "serious economic impacts," like reducing the rate of growth of the country's economy and causing the living standards of everyday people to stagnate.

    But they haven't been successful politically, he says, noting that the Russian government hasn't really changed its behavior during that time.

    "So in that regard, I think the sanctions we've had in the last eight years haven't really proven to have worked," he says.

    In fact, Mulder says, Russians seem to have taken precautions to try to withstand sanctions and appear better-prepared for an initial economic disruption than they were eight years ago.

    Speaking weeks before the Russian invasion, Mulder theorized it might be more effective for Biden to motivate Russia to do the right thing in exchange for relaxing certain sanctions, rather than adding more.

    Lifting some sanctions might actually make others more effective

    Shapiro points out that there are several countries, including Iran, North Korea and Russia, acting in a way that U.S. sanctions were designed to deter. Why aren't they working?

    Mulder offers two explanations: The countries have "goals that they find more important than short-term economic loss," and the U.S. hasn't exactly made it clear that it can lift the sanctions if they start behaving better.

    It's also difficult politically to lift sanctions quickly, he adds.

    "Biden can do some things with an executive order, but there are certain sanctions that are congressional legislation. Those are much harder to lift," he explains. "But if the United States shows that it can do that, then its negotiating leverage will be much enhanced."

    Despite their mixed success rate, sanctions appear here to stay

    Sanctions are growing more common and less effective over time. So why do the U.S. and other countries keep reaching for them?

    Mulder says one of the reasons is that the U.S. and other Western countries have grown tired of military intervention over the last decade, particularly after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Economic sanctions offer another route.

    "But still, of course, foreign policy goals need to be pursued," he says. "And in that regard, the foreign policy establishment has seen sanctions as a very effective way of using pressure without actually putting boots on the ground."

    U.S. reaction

    Biden says the U.S. will support the Ukrainian people

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 2:28 PM EST
    President Biden announces "devastating" new sanctions against Russia from the White House on Thursday.
    Brendan Smialowski
    /
    AFP via Getty Images
    President Biden announces "devastating" new sanctions against Russia from the White House on Thursday.

    President Biden said Thursday that the U.S. and its partners are prepared to offer assistance to the people of Ukraine in the face of Russia’s invasion.

    He said he told Ukraine’s president “that the United States, together with our allies and partners in Europe, will support the Ukrainian people as they defend their country,” including humanitarian assistance.

    “History has shown that time and again, how swift gains in territory eventually give way to grinding occupations, acts of mass civil disobedience and strategic dead ends,” he said.

    “The next few weeks and months will be hard on the people of Ukraine. Putin has unleashed a great pain on them,” Biden added. “But the Ukrainian people have known 30 years of independence that have repeatedly shown that they will not tolerate anyone who tries to take their country backwards.”

    He called this “a dangerous moment for all of Europe” and “for the freedom around the world.”

    U.S. reaction

    Biden sends more U.S. troops to Europe after Russia invades Ukraine

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 2:27 PM EST

    President Biden is ordering additional U.S. troops to Europe, as the U.S. and its allies react to Russia’s broad attacks on Ukraine.

    "I'm authorizing additional U.S. force capabilities to deploy to Germany as part of NATO's response, including some of the U.S.-based forces that the Department of Defense placed on standby weeks ago,” Biden said in a news briefing at the White House.

    The announcement comes after president and his national security team met in the Situation Room on Thursday morning to discuss the invasion.

    Biden emphasized that U.S. forces “are not and will not be engaged in a conflict with Russia in Ukraine.”

    The increased U.S. military presence in Europe is aimed at defending “every inch of NATO's territory with the full force of American power,” Biden said, noting that NATO acted earlier in the day to activate protocols allowing it to quickly respond to security threats along its eastern flank.

    Biden also stressed that the U.S. has supported Ukraine’s military, stating, “We provided over $650 million in defensive assistance to Ukraine” in the past year.

    NATO allies are expected to convene on Friday.

    U.S. reaction

    President Biden hits Russia with new sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 1:53 PM EST

    Russia is carrying out “a brutal assault on the people of Ukraine” in “a premeditated attack” that has no justification, President Biden said in a speech on Thursday, in which he announced new sanctions on Russia’s economy and military.

    “Putin is the aggressor,” Biden said, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his country will bear the costs of the war in Ukraine.

    The new sanctions will limit what can be exported to Russia, such as semiconductors, and are designed to maximize the long-term impact on Putin's regime, Biden said.

    He said that U.S. coalition partners represent over half the global economy.

    "We will limit Russia's ability to do business in dollars, euros, pounds, and yen," Biden said. "We're going to stunt the ability to finance and grow the Russian military."

    The U.S will also sanction the largest state-owned enterprises, he said. Additional members of Russia’s elite will be added to the sanctions list, he said, with more names to be added in coming days. Putin himself was not on Thursday’s list.

    Some of the actions have already begun to have an effect, Biden said, adding that both the Russian ruble and stock market plunged on Thursday.

    Russia launched a full-fledged invasion of Ukraine in the early hours of Thursday morning local time, with the sound of explosions, missiles and military aircraft rattling civilians in communities across the country. The two sides' forces battled over territory throughout the day, even as NATO, the European Union and other U.S. allies condemned Putin's actions.

    Newsmaker interview

    Estonia's ambassador to the U.S. says today's events are changing world history

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 1:08 PM EST
    Protesters hold a giant yellow and blue Ukrainian flag in front of a pink brick building flying the Russian flag.
    Raigo Pajula
    /
    AFP via Getty Images
    Demonstrators display a giant Ukrainian flag during a protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine on in front of the Russian Embassy in Tallinn, Estonia, on Thursday.

    The Russian invasion of Ukraine "has no precedent on this continent since 1945," Jonatan Vseviov told Morning Edition.

    Vseviov is the secretary general of Estonia's foreign ministry and has served as Estonia's ambassador to the U.S. since 2018.

    He described today's events as a "major catastrophe," vowing that it would be met with economic devastation for Russia and resistance from the Ukrainian people.

    "Estonia was occupied for 50 years, and yet we managed to keep the flame of freedom alive," he said. "This flame will prevail in Ukraine as well."

    Listen to the interview here or read on for excerpts.

    On how Vseviov would characterize this moment

    What we're seeing right now is a full-scale military aggression against a sovereign European state that is totally unprovoked and is a total violation of all international norms and hence absolutely unacceptable. I can also say that this aggression will be met with wide international condemnation and economic devastation for Russia. European leaders are about to meet actually this very evening to finalize the sanctions package that is fully coordinated with that of the United States and that of the United Kingdom. There will be wide international repercussions for this aggression.

    On whether tougher sanctions will be enough to deter Putin now that the attack is underway

    We've reached the point where the diplomatic efforts that we were engaged in to deter have clearly failed. Military aggression, a full-scale military aggression is taking place. Ukraine is being invaded from three sides. Ukraine cities, major cities, are under attack from the air by missiles. The sanctions are meant to punish the aggressor and force him to pull back, reconsider. The sanctions will be significant. They might take time, but we need to demonstrate strategic patience.

    On what would prevent Russia from seizing control

    As far as we can tell, the Ukrainians are putting up the resistance, they are fighting. The Ukrainian desire for freedom and democracy will not go away. And Ukrainians should know that not just Europe and NATO but the wider world is with them ... Estonia was occupied for 50 years, and yet we managed to keep the flame of freedom alive. This flame will prevail in Ukraine as well.

    On whether he supports concessions to Russia such as barring Ukraine from NATO

    No, we've learned and relearned this lesson in European history, time and time again: If we take a step back in the face of aggression, the aggressor will take a step forward ... What provokes Putin is weakness, lack of unity. I think he has clearly underestimated Western resolve. He will now be faced with a more united, a stronger West, a stronger sanctions package, a stronger and more significant isolation and major economic impact. That is the way to deter an aggressor.

    On more U.S. troops moving East and performing pre-planned exercises in the region

    The military attack has been unleashed against Ukraine, there's no question about that. But what has also happened is the fundamental undermining of the European trans-Atlantic and, actually, international security, the most basic of these norms upon which international life stands. So we need to make sure while we're sanctioning and punishing the aggressor, we need to make sure that there is absolutely no miscalculation regarding NATO and NATO's collective defense.

    There are allied forces in the Baltic states already. A number of allies have already made decisions to increase that presence. NATO held consultations under the so-called Article 4 of the Washington Treaty [which forms the basis of NATO] this very morning. There will be a leaders meeting, hopefully tomorrow, where these decisions will be stressed again. So this is all about making sure that there is no miscalculation regarding NATO and security.

    On whether Europe is prepared for potentially millions of Ukrainian refugees

    The military operation that has now been unleashed on Ukraine has no precedent on this continent since 1945. This is a major catastrophe, not just a theoretical problem in some faraway country. This is changing, not just Europe, it is changing world history, what we're seeing in front of our eyes today. It is also a totally human catastrophe for the civilians of Ukraine. We are prepared for all eventualities. We have been aware of this looming crisis for quite some time, and we have taken precautions to deal with it.

    Economy

    Will Russia be kicked out of the SWIFT banking system?

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 12:53 PM EST

    Russia should be cut off from the SWIFT bank messaging system as a punishment for invading Ukraine, three countries in the Eastern European Union said on Thursday. Their call was echoed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is calling on the international community to help protect his country’s sovereignty.

    On Thursday, the foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania called for the move -- one of the most hard-hitting economic sanctions available -- in a joint statement that condemned Russia’s attacks on Ukraine.

    The ministers called on the international community to impose the “strongest possible sanctions on Russia, including disengaging Russia from SWIFT, isolating it politically” and supporting Ukraine.

    In remarks on Thursday, President Biden said the U.S. and allies would not take the step of cutting Russia from using the SWIFT system for global banking transactions because Europe did not want to, but said it would be held in reserve.

    White House officials predicted last week that the first sanctions triggered by a Russian invasion would not likely include a ban from SWIFT, citing the potential for “spillover effects.”

    SWIFT underpins the global financial system, handling millions of secure messages every day to help banks manage transactions around the world. SWIFT was founded in the 1970s, and its headquarters are outside of Brussels.

    “It doesn't move the money, but it moves the information about the money,” Alexandra Vacroux, executive director of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University, said in an interview with NPR last month.

    Cutting Russia off from the SWIFT messaging system is seen as the “nuclear option” because of the wide impact such a move would have, Vacroux said. When Iran was removed from the system, she added, "they lost half of their oil export revenues and 30% of their foreign trade."

    Vacroux said Russia started working on its own version of SWIFT years ago, out of concern that it might be cut off because of its illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.

    With Russia now attacking Ukraine in a full-scale invasion, Zelenskyy said on Thursday that the country shouldn’t be allowed to remain in the banking system.

    “We demand the disconnection of Russia from SWIFT, the introduction of a no-fly zone over Ukraine and other effective steps to stop the aggressor,” he said via Twitter, adding that he discussed those measures with French President Emmanuel Macron.

    Even though it is an international organization that is jointly owned by its members, SWIFT has said in the past that because it's incorporated in Belgium, it is obligated to comply with decisions that are confirmed by its home country's government.

    Newsmaker interview

    Schiff: The U.S. and Western allies can 'make life very painful' for Putin

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 12:49 PM EST
    House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) speaks to reporters after receiving a briefing in the House Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) at the Capitol on Thursday
    Anna Moneymaker
    /
    Getty Images
    House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff warns the U.S. and its allies can "make life very painful for this Kremlin dictator."

    Rep. Adam Schiff says that Democrats in Congress have responded to Russia's invasion of Ukraine by, among other things, calling for greater resources for Ukraine and NATO and stronger sanctions to make Russia pay the price for its invasion of Ukraine

    "We have the ability to make life very painful for this Kremlin dictator, and I think we should," said Schiff, chair of House Intelligence Committee, in an interview with Eric Westervelt.

    On additional sanctions the U.S. and its allies are prepared to impose

    I think, first of all, the Nord Stream pipeline ought to be dead for all time. So not just suspended; I think that should be the end of that project.

    I also think we should move from sanctions on a few banks to sanctions on the main Russian banks. I think we ought to cut them off from the SWIFT financial transaction system. That will make it very difficult for them to do any banking with the Western world.

    I think we ought to go after more of the oligarchs. And I think we need to take vigorous steps to really end Europe’s dependence on oil and gas so that can never be used as leverage again.

    Cutting their access off to high-technology semiconductors so they can’t use it for military purposes.

    We have the ability to make life very painful for this Kremlin dictator and I think we should.

    On whether additional sanctions are enough

    They’re not going to be enough to stop [Putin]. But they can make it very painful for him. And if we provide defensive weapons to Ukraine it can become very costly to Russian forces as well. Over time, the Russian people and the rest of the world will come to see this as a terrible folly that can bring Putin down.

    But no, if [Putin] is determined to use the military might of Russia against a smaller, weaker neighbor, then sanctions aren't going to stop him, but sanctions can make him pay an awful price for it.

    On Putin’s rhetoric

    The rhetoric, the propaganda directed toward Ukraine, that Ukraine isn’t really a state, that it’s really always been a part of Russia, that Ukraine is led by fascists and neo-Nazis. It’s just all Kremlin lies that he hopes enough of his own people will believe so that when Russian soldiers start coming home in body bags he can somehow try to justify it.

    But it’s unjustified. It’s all a bunch of false propaganda, and you can see in the numerous efforts to create these false flag operations and phony pretexts to invade, that lies come very naturally to Putin and the Kremlin, and they’ll use whatever they think they can get away with.

    White House

    Biden's remarks have been delayed until 1:30 p.m. ET

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 12:25 PM EST

    President Biden is set to speak to the nation about Russia’s attack on Ukraine at 1:30 p.m. ET, the White House said. The remarks had previously been scheduled for 12:30 p.m.

    The president is expected to announce a new round of sanctions to punish Russia for the invasion.

    National security

    A senior U.S. defense official says Russia is aiming to take Kyiv and other cities

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 12:03 PM EST
    A billowing cloud of black smoke rises behind industrial buildings.
    Aris Messinis
    /
    AFP via Getty Images
    Black smoke rises from a military airport in Chuhuiv near Kharkiv on Thursday.

    A senior U.S. defense official tells NPR that the Russian assault on Ukraine is in the “initial phase” of a “large-scale invasion” and is likely to be “multi-phases and how long we don’t know.”

    The official said there are indications that Ukrainian forces are fighting back, but has no idea yet on the overall damage or casualties. The official also said the heaviest fighting is in the northeast city of Kharkiv, and there has been some fighting at an airport in Kyiv. It’s believed that Russian forces are moving to take control of Kyiv, with the "intention of basically decapitating the government and installing another method of governance.”

    According to this official, more than 100 missiles were fired at Ukrainian targets last night. Airports and other military targets appear to be part of this first phase of the operation. Another Pentagon official told NPR that upcoming military targets are in population areas, so casualties could mount.

    Culture

    Supporters of Ukraine protest a Russian conductor at New York concerts

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 12:00 PM EST
    Russian artistic director of the Mariinsky Theater, conductor Valery Gergiev, is shown here in 2017.
    Maxim Shipenkov/AP
    /
    POOL EPA
    Russian artistic director of the Mariinsky Theater, conductor Valery Gergiev, is shown here in 2017.

    Activists who support Ukraine are protesting a planned three-concert series at New York City's famed Carnegie Hall this weekend featuring Russian conductor Valery Gergiev.

    Gergiev is not just any Russian musician: Over the years, he has been closely allied with Putin, in a country that reveres its classical music heritage and performers. In 2014, he — along with another classical celebrity, star soprano Anna Netrebko — voiced their support for Putin's support of separatist in Donetsk. (Donetsk is also one of the areas which Putin recognized as an independent region on Monday, and to which he ordered Russian troops.)

    In 2013, Putin reviveda Stalin-era prize for Gergiev, awarding him the Hero of Labor of the Russian Federation prize — a year after Gergiev appeared in a Putin election campaign video, proclaiming his support. Their ties actually go back even further, to when Putin was a vocal champion of the Mariinsky (formerly Kirov) opera and ballet companies while serving as vice mayor of St. Petersburg, and where Gergiev was and remains general and artistic director.

    Pianist Denis Matsuev, who will be soloing with the Vienna Philharmonic at Friday night's performance, is also a vocal proponent of Putin and publicly endorsed Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014. In 2020, the Russian leader tapped him to be part of a working group to weigh proposed changes to the Russian Federation's constitution.

    The chances that Gergiev or Matsuev will actually step down from these scheduled New York concerts are low. Gergiev in particular is a reliable ticket-seller — an especially important consideration right now, when international orchestras, including the Vienna Philharmonic, are just starting to emerge from their pandemic-era financial losses. (The Friday evening performance with Gergiev, Matsuev and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is scheduled to be livestreamed by member station WQXR.)

    By contrast, the mayor in the Italian city of Milan — home to one of the world's most prestigious opera houses, La Scala — publicly called on Thursday for Gergiev to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Gergiev is scheduled to lead performances of Tchaikovsky's opera Pique Dame there until March 15. The mayor said that if Gergiev doesn't issue the statement, "the collaboration will be over," according to the newspaper Il Corriere.

    Protests

    Around the world, protesters condemn Putin and call for peace in Ukraine

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 11:48 AM EST
    Protesters in Germany hold signs reading "Stop war" and "Stop Putin".
    Hannibal Hanschke
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    Getty Images
    People protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

    Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked protests around the world, with many calling for a stop to the beginning of a new war.

    Just hours after the invasion began, protesters gathered outside the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

    Many people told WUSA TV that they were from Ukraine, still had family there and wanted to see an end to the conflict that has been largely anticipated for months.

    “Different cities throughout Ukraine are currently being bombed, and people are being displaced and it’s horrible," Roxolana Wynar told WUSA. “We’re here to protest to stop this war and to show the world that we’re not going to stand by and do nothing. We’re going to unite, and we’re going to call on the U.S. government to do more and our allies to do more to stop this war.”

    Outside the U.S., demonstrations were held at other Russian embassies and government buildings. Many held yellow and blue Ukrainian flags and signs with messages including “Stop Putin, No To The War” and “Ukraine Is Our Home.”

    A person holds a sign reading "Stop Putin, No ala guerra" in front of a Ukrainian flag and the flag of the European Union.
    Pau Barrena
    /
    AFP via Getty Images
    Demonstrators hold signs reading "Stop Putin, no to war" at a protest in front of the Russian Consulate in Barcelona, Spain.

    Demonstrators also called for additional sanctions from the U.S. and its allies on Russia. President Biden is expected to announce more sanctions on Thursday.

    A Japanese flag and a Ukrainian flag can be seen waving together at a protest.
    Takashi Aoyama
    /
    Getty Images
    Protesters demonstrate in front of the Shibuya Station in Tokyo. It is part of global outrage over the Russian invasion.

    Newsmaker Interview

    Sen. Klobuchar says global sanctions will deal a financial blow to Moscow

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 11:43 AM EST
    Sen. Amy Klobuchar, wearing a burgundy suit jacket, speaks into a microphone while sitting in front of a background reading "msc."
    Pool/Getty Images
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    Getty Images Europe
    Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks during a panel discussion at the 58th Munich Security Conference (MSC) on Saturday in Munich, Germany.

    The U.S. was not alone in warning of a looming Russian invasion of Ukraine, and it is far from the only country vowing to punish Moscow with sanctions.

    Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota told Morning Edition that a vast global network of such consequences will "really create a strong blow at the Kremlin's financial situation."

    Sanctions did not succeed in deterring Russian President Vladimir Putin from initiating the conflict. So what kind of power could they hold now?

    "The fact that the world has come out so strongly, I don't think he anticipated that," Klobuchar said. "He looked at the past and thought the world was his playground. And what you're seeing now is a coordinated response, which is going to hit him economically."

    Click here to hear her full conversation with Rachel Martin, and keep reading for highlights.

    On current U.S. sanctions and what to expect from new ones

    Germany's chancellor announced an end to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, and the Biden administration has already sanctioned several Russian individuals and financial institutions. More U.S. sanctions are expected to follow on Thursday, and Klobuchar says they will likely target individuals and oligarchs.

    "This isn't just the U.S., you heard every country from Kenya to New Zealand come out strongly against Vladimir Putin's actions," she said. "And it is individual financial institutions in Russia, glorified piggy banks for the Kremlin that hold $50 billion — one of them — in assets. Going after them so they cannot transact is going to really, really create a strong blow at the Kremlin's financial situation."

    On the global response sending a unified message

    Klobuchar notes that the U.S. and other countries have coordinated on actions such as military aid and sending troops to other NATO nations, adding that she does not believe Putin expected global condemnation to such an extent.

    "This is a different diplomacy and this is a stronger world that has said enough is enough," she said. "And we simply cannot allow him to invade democracies around the world like this. And he thinks he can. And I think for once, we're seeing a much stronger coordinated response. The U.S. cannot do this alone. The president has made this clear. We have to coordinate with the EU, NATO and countries around the world."

    On whether the U.S. and NATO lose leverage by taking military options off the table

    Klobuchar says there are many other ways to respond to what Putin is doing. She also lauded the strength of the Ukrainian people.

    "I think if you talk to anyone that's studied Ukraine, they're not just going to take this. If he goes in there in some fashion, they're not just going to succumb to this. And it may not be an immediate, obvious fact, but over time, you've seen a country that time and time again has shown incredible bravery. They've lost 14,000 people since he last came in here. I was just in Ukraine a few weeks ago with a bipartisan delegation and saw firsthand their commitment. I stood with Sen. [John] McCain on the front line with their troops a number of years ago. This is a proud nation that is not just going to take this standing down."

    Sports

    A German soccer team is removing a Russian logo from its jerseys after the invasion

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 11:19 AM EST
    Advertisement of the Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom displayed on an advertising board as Benfica fans attend the second half of the Champions League round of 16, first leg, soccer match between Benfica and Ajax at the Luz stadium in Lisbon, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
    Armando Franca
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    AP
    The Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom is one of eight major global sponsors of the UEFA Champions League.

    German soccer team FC Schalke 04 announced the removal of sponsor Gazprom from the team’s jerseys after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Gazprom is a state-owned Russian energy company and has been a sponsor for Schalke since 2007.

    “Following recent developments, FC Schalke 04 have decided to remove the logo of main sponsor GAZPROM from the club’s shirts," the club said in a statement Thursday. It will be replaced by lettering reading Schalke 04.

    Although recently relegated to Germany’s second tier, Schalke is one of the largest clubs in the country, having won the German championship seven times prior to the formation of the Bundesliga league in 1963. Schalke last competed in the Champions League, Europe’s premier soccer competition, during the 2018-19 season.

    Gazprom is also one of eight major global sponsors of the UEFA Champions League, having extended its sponsorship only last year to the tune of a reported 40 million euros ($45 million). The company also currently holds sponsorship rights to the men’s Euro 2024 competition, as well as the 2023 UEFA Nations League Final.

    UEFA released a statement Thursday saying it "shares the international community’s significant concern for the security situation developing in Europe and strongly condemns the ongoing Russian military invasion in Ukraine."

    The UEFA executive committee will meet Friday to discuss Ukraine as well as the location of the 2022 Champions League Final, which was slated to take place on May 28 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

    Ukraine

    Russian forces are trying to seize Chernobyl, Ukrainian leader says

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 11:12 AM EST
    A shelter construction covers the exploded reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear plant, in Chernobyl,Ukraine, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. The Ukrainian authorities decided to use the deserted exclusion zone around the Chernobyl power plant to build a repository where Ukraine could store its nuclear waste for the next 100 years. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
    Efrem Lukatsky
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    AP
    The Chernobyl nuclear plant in April 2021. Russian forces are targeting the facility, the site of a terrible disaster in 1986, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

    Russia’s invading force in Ukraine is targeting the Chernobyl nuclear power plant facility, the site of a terrible disaster in 1986, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

    “Our defenders are giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated,” Zelenskyy said, adding that he has shared the information with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.

    Sweden played a vital role in alerting the world to the Chernobyl disaster, after it was hit with radiation that triggered alarms at a nuclear power plant north of Stockholm.

    “This is a declaration of war against the whole of Europe,” Zelenskyy added.

    The startling announcement comes after initial reports that Russian and Ukrainian forces were fighting at Chernobyl, which sits a few miles away from Ukraine's border with Belarus in the northern Kyiv oblast.

    Because of the lingering peril posed by high radioactivity and nuclear waste in the area, the Chernobyl exclusion zone, which stretches for miles from the original meltdown site, is deemed to be uninhabitable by humans.

    Americans in Ukraine

    U.S. repeats a call for Americans to leave Ukraine; the embassy has advice and contact details

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 11:07 AM EST

    The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine has repeated its call for any Americans in the country to leave immediately.

    This is the latest advice from officials after the Ukraine government declared a state of emergency.

    Actions to take:

    • Depart Ukraine immediately using commercial or private means.
    • Follow any state of emergency measures imposed in your oblast.
    • Carry ID and ensure travel documents are valid and easily accessible.
    • Monitor local and international news and social media news channels for updates.

    If you need assistance:

    Fallout

    Ukraine has cut diplomatic ties with Russia

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 10:49 AM EST
    The blue and yellow Ukranian flag flies atop the dome of a government building.
    Sergei Supinsky
    /
    AFP via Getty Images
    The Ukrainian flag flies above the dome of the parliament in Kyiv; it will not be flying in Moscow after Ukraine cut diplomatic ties with Russia.

    Ukraine is severing diplomatic ties with Russia in response to its military assault.

    Ukraine's foreign ministry announced on Thursday that it has begun the procedure to cut diplomatic ties at the request of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and "in accordance with the norms established by international law."

    "Our country took this step in response to acts of military aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, the invasion of Russian Armed Forces to destroy the Ukrainian state and the seizure by force of Ukrainian territories with the intent of establishing occupation control," officials said in a statement.

    They added that the Russian offensive is "an attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, a gross violation of the UN Charter, and the established norms and principles of international law."

    Ukraine has begun evacuating its embassy in Moscow and has recalled Vasyl Pokotylo, the charge d'affaires of Ukraine in Russia, for consultations. It says Ukrainian consulates in Russia will operate in their routine capacities "for the time being."

    The ministry added it will continue to defend the rights and interests of its citizens in Russia, including Ukrainian political prisoners.

    Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine's foreign minister, confirmed on Twitter that Ukraine had cut ties with Russia and urged its partners to follow suit.

    "By this concrete step you will demonstrate that you stand by Ukraine and categorically reject the most blatant act of aggression in Europe since WWII," he wrote.

    This marks the first rupture in ties since Russia and Ukraine became independent countries in 1991, according to Al Jazeera. It notes that the two countries maintained diplomatic relations even during the pro-Western revolutions (which the Kremlin strongly opposed) in Kyiv in 2004 and 2014.

    Here's how we got here.

    Next steps

    An expert discusses how the United States can support Ukraine going forward

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 10:22 AM EST

    NPR’s Rachel Martin spoke with Daniel Fried, a former assistant secretary of state for Europe, about the Ukrainian invasion as it unfolds. Fried discussed the next steps for the United States and Western powers in supporting Ukraine and combating aggressive Russian expansionism.

    Below are interview highlights from Fried. 🎧 Listen to the full conversation here

    What the United States can do in the short term

    The United States should continue to help the Ukrainian people defend their own country. It should help the Ukrainian military fight the Russian invader. That doesn't mean American troops on the ground. I don't think President Biden is going to change his mind about that.

    [But] we can provide weapons to the Ukrainians. They need it. Let them tell us what they need, and we should provide it. The Ukrainians will fight — they cannot defeat the Russians, but they can force Putin to fight a major war.

    I'm not sure the Russian people are ready to see Russian soldiers killing Ukrainians for no good reason except a dictator's sense of vanity and historic destiny. We need the United States and the free world, generally, to turn Putin's aggression, even if it's a successful short-term aggression, into a long-term strategic defeat, we need to mean it.

    The impact of sanctions

    [Putin] says he doesn't care. The Russians will sneer at them and they will almost certainly impose counter sanctions and other measures, as President Biden has rightly warned.

    But sanctions that hurt the Russian economy can have an impact. We need to think in longer terms of how to put pressure on Putin's Russia, so that he does not succeed. We need to put pressure on the Russian economy long term. That's what sanctions can do. The bad news is that can take years.

    Newsmaker interview

    The world order has shifted, says the former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 10:17 AM EST
    A man in a suit stands in a hearing room with the U.S. government seal on the wall, in front of a table with a placard reading "Adm. Mullen."
    Drew Angerer
    /
    Getty Images
    Retired Adm. Mike Mullen, seen in 2013, said, "I think it was even up until the end very difficult to predict exactly what Putin would do."

    U.S. officials have said for weeks that a Russian invasion of Ukraine was imminent, a warning that Russia dismissed as scaremongering.

    Now, following a spate of cyberattacks, Russian missiles are striking targets across Ukraine.

    "I think it was even up until the end very difficult to predict exactly what [Russian President Vladimir] Putin would do, but certainly now that this has started, it's unfolding in a way that the White House has predicted all along," says retired Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He called this moment "an all-out invasion."

    The U.S. and other allies are providing support to Ukraine — though they have stated they will not send troops into the country — and vow to punish Russia with sanctions. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is urging citizens to join the fight for Ukraine's sovereignty and future.

    Mullen says Ukrainians are in a position to fight back "to some degree ... but they're not equipped to significantly oppose this force in a way that would stop them in their tracks." He suspects Kyiv is Russia's main target "in looking to change out the regime."

    Mullen spoke to Morning Edition host Rachel Martin about how we got here and what might happen next. Listen to the conversation and read on for excerpts.

    On whether additional sanctions from the U.S. or Europe could compel Putin to retreat

    Mullen expects the sanctions will impact Russia in the longer term as opposed to immediately.

    "I think he's pretty well prepared for immediate sanctions," he said of Putin. "Obviously the threat of sanctions hasn't deterred him, and I don't think the implementation of sanctions will stop him at this particular point."

    However, Mullen believes Putin will pay a large price for his actions in the long run, with respect to sanctions.

    "And it's underpinned by great unity in Europe, and actually almost complete unity around the world, at what Putin has done. It's illegal, he started a war and he is destabilizing one of the largest and most critical continents in the world."

    On what kind of leader Putin is in this moment:

    As Martin noted, some experts watching Putin's televised remarks have characterized the Russian leader as a different, angrier version of himself. Mullen disagrees.

    "I don't think he's a different guy at all," Mullen says. "I think what you see is the same guy now executing what he has felt for decades."

    He pointed to Putin's hatred of NATO and long-held stance that the fall of the Berlin wall was the worst thing to ever happen to Russia as examples. Now, Mullen says, he's acting on those beliefs.

    On what happens to Ukraine

    Mullen says it's hard to predict what will happen.

    "It's hard to know, but given the level of force and seeing [Putin's] determination and lack of response ... to the West, there's a good chance that he'll get what he wants at least in the short term," he says.

    Mullen believes an anti-Russian insurgency is likely and urged the U.S. and its allies to support it. Ukraine is a country of more than 41 million people, he adds, many of whom are not supportive of Putin in this regard.

    "So it's hard to know how significant that would be, but that then gets into a much longer-term war, if you will, for Putin, which is dangerous for Putin, particularly when you start seeing Russian body bags being sent back home to Russia."

    On whether Europeans should worry about the possibility of a broader ground war

    Mullen expects the U.S. to move forces pretty rapidly to the East to reassure its NATO allies of its support, particularly in Poland, the Baltics, Romania and Bulgaria. He said that would also signal there is a line "across which, if Putin moves, there would be a significant military response."

    On whether the world order has shifted overnight

    Mullen says he believes it has, saying that the security architecture of Europe has shifted dramatically but that it will take a lot of work to outline what the details of that should be.

    The world needs to respond to Putin's actions, he reiterated.

    "We cannot tolerate that a democratically elected government in a country, and an ally, could be taken over by Putin or anybody else anywhere else in the world," he said. "And we need to work together to make sure that that does not hold, and certainly that he doesn't extend himself beyond what he's doing right now."

    European Union

    Macron calls Russia's invasion of Ukraine a 'turning point in the history of Europe'

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 10:11 AM EST
    A photo shows a video screen displaying French President Emmanuel Macron as he delivers a speech on the situation in Ukraine, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on February 24, 2022.
    Ludovic Marin
    /
    AFP via Getty Images
    A video screen shows French President Emmanuel Macron speaking to his country about the situation in Ukraine, at the Élysée Palace in Paris on Thursday.

    French President Emmanuel Macron said in a televised address to the country on Thursday that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a “turning point in the history of Europe and of our country."

    "They will have profound, lasting consequences for our lives,” he added.

    Macron said that France had done everything it could to broker a diplomatic solution to tensions between Ukraine and Russia, but that now France and its allies would levy additional sanctions on Russia over its military actions. He said they would be "commensurate."

    "In breaking his word and in refusing the path of diplomacy, in choosing war, President Putin has not only attacked Ukraine: He has decided to trample Ukraine’s sovereignty," Macron added. "He has decided to commit the most serious violation of peace and stability our Europe has seen in decades."

    Macron delivered the address standing next to what appeared to be the flags of France, Europe and Ukraine.

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that he had spoken to Macron and other European leaders earlier on Thursday as part of his efforts to create an “an anti-Putin coalition.”

    Over the weekend Macron spoke with both Putin and Zelenskyy separately, in an attempt to discuss a cease-fire to the outbreak of violence in Ukraine’s east.

    White House

    Biden will speak this afternoon

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 10:10 AM EST

    President Biden is to address the nation about the attack on Ukraine at 12:30 p.m. ET, the White House said. NPR will have updates here when he starts.

    Business

    Stocks sink after Russia's invasion of Ukraine and oil prices surge

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 10:08 AM EST
    A person in a face mask speaks into a phone while looking at a computer in a room of TV screens.
    Ahn Young-joon/AP
    /
    AP
    A currency trader at a foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea. Asian stock markets followed Wall Street lower Thursday after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 800 points, or 2.5%, shortly after the opening bell after Russia invaded Ukraine, and the S&P 500 dropped 2.5%. The Nasdaq, which is heavily made up of technology companies, dropped about 3%, entering what is known as a "bear market." That's when an index drops by 20% or more from its recent record high.

    Brent crude, which is considered the global benchmark for oil prices, surged above $100 a barrel for the first time since 2014.

    Russia is one of the world's biggest producers of crude oil and natural gas, and investors worry about a potential disruption to the country’s energy exports. Russia is also a significant source of key metals like aluminum and nickel. And both Russia and Ukraine are important agricultural exporters; together, the two countries supply more than a quarter of the world's wheat exports.

    For now, one of the biggest fears for investors is surging crude prices, which will likely lead to higher gasoline prices in the U.S and around the world. Those higher prices would come at a time when the U.S. is already experiencing its highest inflation level in 40 years. Energy costs have been a significant driver of inflation.

    The Federal Reserve has already indicated it plans to start raising interest rates at its next meeting in March. However, Russia's invasion of Ukraine is bound to complicate the Fed’s thinking given the prospect that the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could slow economic growth.

    U.K. reaction

    Western allies are preparing for massive sanctions against Russia, says Boris Johnson

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 10:07 AM EST

    U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Western allies are readying a massive package of economic sanctions against Russia after its invasion of Ukraine.

    In a video posted to Twitter, Johnson labeled Russian President Vladimir Putin a dictator and said his “hideous and barbaric venture … must end in failure.”

    “A vast invasion is underway by land, by sea and by air,” Johnson said. “We and the world cannot allow that freedom just to be snuffed out. We cannot and will not just look away.”

    “Today, in concert with our allies, we will agree to a massive package of economic sanctions, designed in time to hobble the Russian economy," Johnson said.

    “We must also collectively cease the dependence on Russian oil and gas that for too long has given Putin his grip on Western politics.”

    Johnson said that he had spoken to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier today and that the U.K. would continue to support the country, although he did not outline what exactly that support would look like.

    International Dispatch
    Evacuation

    Ukrainians rush for gas and cash as they flee cities

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 9:56 AM EST

    NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley in Ukraine reports that people are starting to panic, with many forming long lines to get gas and cash while trying to leave the cities.

    “The question is: Do you stay and get trapped, or do you run and face danger on road or bombing?” she said.

    NATO

    NATO condemns Russia’s ‘horrifying attack on Ukraine’

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 9:54 AM EST

    Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “is entirely unjustified and unprovoked,” NATO’s North Atlantic Council said on Thursday, as it activated parts of its defense plans to give its military commanders more authority to move forces -- including fast-response units -- as needed along NATO’s flank in Eastern Europe.

    “Our thoughts are with all those killed and injured, and with the people of Ukraine,” it said. “We also condemn Belarus for enabling this attack.”

    The council met in an extraordinary session Thursday after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his forces to attack Ukraine, using two separatist territories as a pretext.

    The NATO body promised that Russia will pay “a very heavy economic and political price.” But that response, and the alliance’s own plan to bolster its defenses in Eastern Europe, do not include direct military action, with the council calling its moves ”preventive, proportionate and non-escalatory.”

    “We have over 100 jets at high alert protecting our airspace,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a news briefing after the meeting, “and more than 120 allied ships at sea, from the high north to the Mediterranean.”

    “The Kremlin's aim is to reestablish its sphere of influence, rip up the global rules that have kept us all safe for decades, and subvert the values that we hold dear,” Stoltenberg said. “This is the new normal for our security. Peace cannot be taken for granted. Freedom and democracy are contested by authoritarian regimes, and strategic competition is on the rise. We must respond with renewed resolve and even stronger unity.”

    “Democracy will always prevail over autocracy; freedom will always prevail over oppression,” he said.

    Stoltenberg noted that NATO members have been supplying training and equipment to Ukraine, which he said has built “a much stronger, much better-equipped, much better-trained armed force today than Ukraine had in 2014” -- when Russia seized Crimea.

    Stoltenberg described Russia’s invasion as brutal and a return to the type of violence Europe has sought to leave in its past. But, he added, “This invasion doesn't come as a surprise.”

    Noting Putin’s continued military buildup during weeks of diplomatic talks over Ukraine, the NATO leader added, “Russia has shut the door to a political solution. We regret that. But that's sadly the reality.”

    Economy

    Oil surges past $100 a barrel after Russia invades Ukraine

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 9:40 AM EST

    Global oil prices rose to above $100 a barrel on Thursday after Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine, hitting triple digits for the first time since 2014.

    Energy prices were already relatively high before this crisis, as production has not kept pace with surging demand from a global economy that is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Russia's missile strikes on cities across Ukraine, including the capital of Kyiv, have raised those prices even further, which is bound to reinforce fears about inflation.

    Brent crude — the global benchmark for oil prices — went as high as $105.79 for the front-month contract.

    Natural gas prices also climbed; in Europe, natural gas prices were up by 30%.

    Russia is one of the world's top producers and exporters of crude oil and natural gas. Investors fear that some exports could be disrupted by conflict on the ground, while others could be blocked by sanctions or shut down by Russia as a strategic move against Europe.

    The U.S. has not yet issued direct sanctions against Russia's oil and gas exports but acknowledged that other sanctions on Russia will affect global energy supplies and prices.

    "Defending freedom will have costs," President Biden said in a speech this week, while also vowing to protect Americans from feeling too much pain at the gas pump.

    On the ground

    A Kyiv rabbi is sheltering in a synagogue basement with some 50 Ukrainian Jews

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 9:36 AM EST
    A row of military vehicles drives down the streets of Kyiv.
    Daniel Leal
    /
    AFP via Getty Images
    Ukrainian military vehicles move past Independence Square in central Kyiv on Thursday.

    A Kyiv rabbi says he is sheltering with about 50 Ukrainian Jews in the basement of his synagogue, as air raid sirens wailed in the capital.

    In a video call, Rabbi Jonathan Markovitch told reporters he has stocked his synagogue, the Kyiv Jewish Center, with 50 mattresses, fuel and six tons of food.

    Russia says it aims to purge Ukraine of “Nazis and pro-Nazi people and ideologies,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

    Asked to comment about the claim, Rabbi Markovitch said there is little antisemitism in Ukraine. Rather, he is worried about lootings and attacks on the synagogue amid the chaos of the crisis.

    “In history, we know that when there is a problem, unfortunately, others are blamed. And the Jewish people are often blamed for things we did not do,” Markovitch said.

    The synagogue hired an armed guard, but when the crisis escalated, the security company demanded more money and didn’t show up to guard the synagogue, he said.

    The synagogue arranged two minibuses to help community members evacuate the Ukrainian capital, but he said they got stuck in the massive traffic of civilians fleeing the city.

    The synagogue also sent volunteers to bring food parcels to elderly and bedridden members of the Jewish community.

    Markovitch’s wife, Inna, said she visited a 104-year-old Holocaust survivor who pleaded: “Please don’t leave us.”

    Ukraine and Russia both are home to hundreds of thousands of Jews.

    Pakistan reaction

    Pakistan's prime minister meets with Putin in Moscow on a previously scheduled visit

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 9:35 AM EST
    Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Russian President Vladimir Putin sit next to each other, each flanked by another person, in an ornate green, white and gold room.
    Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP
    /
    Pool Sputnik Kremlin
    Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (center left) kept his scheduled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow on Thursday.

    ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Moscow on the eve of the Ukraine invasion for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the optics and content of which risk angering Pakistan's Western allies.

    Khan, in Russia for a two-day official visit, laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow just as the invasion of Ukraine was getting underway.

    Later in the day, Pakistani officials said a working lunch between Putin and Khan had begun. Images released of the two leaders meeting showed Putin sitting in relatively close proximity to Khan — a striking difference from his meetings with European leaders, which have taken place at either end of extremely long tables.

    Khan's visit to Russia has been long sought and is the first for a Pakistani prime minister in more than two decades. His administration has also been working to strengthen its economic and military ties with Moscow, as relations between Pakistan and the United States wane.

    Reuters reports that Khan is also hoping to push for the construction of a multi-billion-dollar gas pipeline that would extend nearly 700 miles across Pakistan to be built by Russian companies.

    But the visit also puts Pakistan in a tough position because it relies on wheat imports from Ukraine.

    If those imports were cut or their cost increased, it could be destabilizing for Pakistan, where rising inflation is squeezing millions of people and limiting their ability to purchase food.

    Pakistan’s national security adviser told the liberal daily Dawn that the delegation was not concerned with the timing of the visit.

    “Yes, there is a global tension, but our visit is of bilateral nature,” said Moeed Yusuf. He compared it to a recent visit by the prime minister to China “where economy, economic indicators and connectivity was at the heart of that tour.”

    United Nations

    Ukraine’s U.N. ambassador slams Russian counterpart: 'War criminals go straight to hell'

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 9:25 AM EST

    Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations launched a scathing attack on his Russian counterpart at a late-night Security Council meeting, telling him, “There is no purgatory for war criminals. They go straight to hell.”

    Ukraine's ambassador, Sergiy Kyslytsya, addressed Russia's U.N. ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, directly at a meeting called to defuse the escalating conflict, telling him he should relinquish his position as current president of the Security Council.

    “I welcome the decision of some members of this council to meet as soon as possible to consider the necessary decision, that would condemn the aggression you launch on my people,” Kyslytsya said.

    Nebenzia described the Russian attacks as “a special military operation” and said, “This isn’t called a war.”

    International Dispatch
    From Jerusalem

    In a shift, Israel condemns Russia

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 9:11 AM EST
    A man in a dark suit and tie, seated against a wood background, looks off-camera.
    Menahem Kahana/AP
    /
    Pool AFP
    Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid speaks at a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem earlier this month.

    Israel has condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in a shift from Israel’s previously cautious approach toward its ally Russia.

    “The Russian attack on Ukraine is a serious violation of the international order. Israel condemns the attack,” Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Thursday.

    As the first signs of invasion became clear, Israel’s initial statement noted concern about “the steps taken in eastern Ukraine” and “the sovereignty of Ukraine” without mentioning Russia by name. Russia retorted with a tweet accusing Israel of violating Syria’s sovereignty in the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in 1967.

    Israel has walked a fine line on the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Israeli leaders pride themselves on their close ties to both the U.S. administration and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who grants Israel freedom of military action against Iranian and Hezbollah weapons caches in Syria. Israel also wants to protect the large Jewish communities in both Russia and Ukraine.

    “I must be more careful than any foreign minister in the world because of these interests,” Lapid said in a speech this week.

    Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine fled to Lviv — a city in western Ukraine thought to be safer than the capital, Kyiv — a few days ago. The embassy is also organizing buses to evacuate Israeli citizens in the country. Israel has consular staff at Ukraine’s border crossings with Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania to help Israelis who wish to leave.

    In an interview with Israel Army Radio, Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky called the situation in Ukraine "the most extreme scenario."

    “We hoped not to get there. We didn’t think this was possible. We thought there might be a limited action,” he said.

    Correction: An earlier version of this post misspelled Ambassador Michael Brodsky's last name as Brodetsky.

    Reaction within Russia

    Putin critic Navalny says Russia is using the Ukraine invasion as a distraction

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 9:09 AM EST
    A photograph taken from a TV screen during live broadcast of the court hearing at the penal colony N2 shows Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny on the first day of his new trial, in the town of Pokrov on February 15, 2022.
    Alexander Nemenov
    /
    AFP
    Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny is seen during live broadcast of the court hearing at the penal colony N2 shows earlier this month on the first day of his new trial, in the town of Pokrov.

    Top Moscow critic Alexei Navalny has spoken out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of using the military campaign to distract from his country’s internal problems.

    Speaking on Thursday from the Russian penal colony where he’s currently facing trial, Navalny said, “I am against this war” and predicted that it would "lead to a huge number of victims, destroyed futures and the continuation of this line of impoverishment of the citizens of Russia,” according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

    The prominent Kremlin antagonist is currently on trial for embezzlement and could receive up to 15 years in prison if convicted, The Associated Press reported. He has denied the allegations, saying they are politically motivated.

    Navalny was poisoned in 2020 by Russian agents using a Soviet-era nerve agent, U.N. experts say.

    Navalny has been using his Twitter account to criticize Russia’s recent moves against Ukraine, comparing it to the Russia's war in Afghanistan several decades earlier.

    “All this ended very badly for everyone in 1979. And it will end just as badly now. Afghanistan was destroyed, but the USSR also received a mortal wound,” he said.

    “Thanks to Putin, hundreds of Ukrainians and Russian citizens may die now, and in the future, this number may reach tens of thousands. Yes, he will not allow Ukraine to develop, he will drag it into the swamp, but Russia will pay the same price,” Navalny added.

    International Dispatch
    From Beijing

    China's foreign minister tells his Russian counterpart that Beijing prefers 'dialogue'

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 8:59 AM EST

    BEIJING — China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in a phone call today with his Russian counterpart, said that Beijing respects the sovereignty of both Russia and Ukraine but understood Moscow's "reasonable" security concerns, after Russian forces invaded Ukraine.

    The call between Wang and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is part of a delicate geopolitical balancing act on China’s part. Beijing has been careful not to explicitly endorse nor condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

    According to a readout from China’s foreign ministry, Lavrov told Wang the invasion was precipitated by the inability of the U.S. and NATO to uphold commitments made under a complicated truce agreement called the Minsk Protocol.

    Wang responded ambiguously: “China respects each country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said, according to a readout from China’s foreign ministry. “At the same time, we also see the Ukraine problem has a complex and particular historical state of affairs and we understand Russia’s reasonable concern on security issues.”

    But Wang also stressed that China wanted “dialogue and negotiation,” rather than military means, to solve tensions. “China’s position is to thoroughly cast aside a Cold War mentality,” he said.

    China has edged closer to Russia as both countries try to counter American influence globally. Earlier this month, presidents from both countries released a lengthy joint statement with Russia, pledging solidarity ideologically.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin was also one of the few world leaders to attend the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony in Beijing earlier this month.

    The partnership has allowed China to hit back against perceived American interference.

    This week, after Ned Price, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department of State, asked that China urge Russia to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, China responded angrily.

    "The U.S. has no right to instruct China what to do in terms of respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity," said Hua Chunying, a Chinese ministry spokesperson. "Just some 20 years ago, the Chinese embassy in [Yugoslavia] was bombed by NATO. Today, we still face the real threat of the U.S. and its so-called 'allies' interfering in China's internal affairs.”

    But China has also been careful not to endorse Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine. It wants to avoid being drawn into a rapidly escalating conflict in Ukraine and attracting some of the global condemnation already being levied against Russia.

    On Wednesday, China’s foreign ministry urged all parties to “maintain restraint” on Ukraine and once again encouraged Russia to return to the negotiation table, rather than the battlefield.

    “The sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of any countries should be respected and safeguarded because this is a basic norm of international relations,” said China’s Wang last week, at the Munich Security Conference. “Ukraine is no exception.”

    Citizens in Ukraine

    Ukrainian President Zelenskyy tells citizens to pick up guns to fight Russia

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 8:52 AM EST

    “We will give weapons to anyone who wants to defend the country,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told his citizens after Russia invaded on Thursday. “Be ready to support Ukraine in the squares of our cities.”

    Zelenskyy is urging Ukrainians to support their military, take up arms themselves or donate blood, while emphasizing the serious threat Ukraine now faces.

    "We have an army of powerful people. Our population is also a powerful army," Zelenskyy said at a briefing, according to his official website. He asked anyone who has combat experience to join the fight against Russia. And he said any Ukrainian who is currently under sanctions or other restrictions will have them lifted if that person is willing to fight to defend Ukraine.

    With both sides already fighting to affect how the invasion and war is perceived, the president urged Ukraine’s media to “more actively inform the public” about military victories.

    "The enemy has suffered heavy losses. The losses of the enemy will be even greater. They came to our land. Ukraine is under attack from the north, east and south. Attacked from the air,” Zelenskyy said, adding that Ukraine’s defenses are holding up.

    Ukrainians should fight for their country’s sovereignty and its future, he said.

    Zelenskyy also urged businesses and employers to keep the economy moving, to help Ukraine get through the crisis.

    Citizens react

    Kyiv’s residents are rushing to stock up on supplies and reach safety

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 8:05 AM EST
    People hug as a woman with a suitcase uses her smartphone outside a metro station in Kyiv
    Daniel Leal
    /
    AFP via Getty Images
    People hug outside a metro station in Kyiv on Thursday morning as Russia launched an attack on Ukraine and explosions could be heard in the city.

    Russia’s wide-scale invasion of Ukraine has dramatically changed the mood in Kyiv, as a nation comes to grips with the new reality that it is at war. Many Ukrainians had been maintaining a state of calm as warning signs grew that Russian President Vladimir Putin would choose violence over diplomacy.

    As Russia launched its early-morning attack, people heard air-raid sirens and explosions in locations across Ukraine.

    “Many residents of Kyiv are trying to evacuate toward the West,” NPR’s Tim Mak said on Morning Edition from Ukraine. “There are long lines that we've observed all day at ATMs, gas stations and supermarkets. In fact, right now as I speak to you, we're in line to get gas. Traffic is at a standstill leaving town, making it really difficult for people.”

    “Obviously, the situation is really quickly evolving,” Mak said.

    Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has voted to impose martial law on all of Ukraine. The body also endorsed the president’s declaration of a national emergency.

    Lawmakers pledged to remain in their offices in Kyiv and continue working -- and Ruslan Stefanchuk, the parliament’s chairman, said anyone who leaves is a traitor. He urged regular citizens to stay in their homes.

    Stefanchuk called on the international community to act against Putin’s decision to invade, saying the stronger that the response against Russia is, the more quickly peace can be restored.

    Inside Ukraine

    What it looks like on the ground in Ukraine today

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 8:03 AM EST

    Russia has invaded Ukraine after weeks of escalating tensions. Many Ukrainians awoke Thursday to sirens and bombings. There were long queues at banks and grocery stores and scores of cars waiting in lines for gas and to evacuate cities.

    Here are scenes from the crisis in Ukraine.

    Military

    Russia and Ukraine provide very different pictures of how the fighting is unfolding

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 7:54 AM EST

    “The Russian troops are suffering losses” during the fighting that broke out after Russia launched an invasion into Ukraine early Thursday, according to Lt. Gen. Valery Zaluzhnyi, the commander in chief of Ukraine's armed forces.

    Ukraine’s military says it’s holding defensive positions, hours after Russia began attacking Ukraine, he said in the address posted to his military’s website.

    But the Russian military is telling a different story, in a conflict where the two sides are promoting their own narratives about what is happening on the ground.

    Ukrainian troops “are leaving their positions in large numbers, dropping their weapons,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that was reported by state media.

    According to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, “fierce fights are taking place in the direction of Kharkiv and in the Joint Forces Operation area, where the enemy suffered casualties in men and materiel.”

    The ministry said that in the northern Chernihiv region near Belarus, “the enemy was stopped.”

    It added, “Our Forces have taken full control of Mariupol and Shchastia. At least six planes, two helicopters and dozens of enemy armored vehicles have been destroyed.”

    In Kharkiv, closer to the disputed territories of Luhansk and Donetsk in northeastern Ukraine, the situation “is difficult,” the ministry said, adding that fighting is ongoing.

    Russian attacks began on a broad scale at 5 a.m. local time, said, Zaluzhnyi said.

    Russian forces launched “an intensive shelling of our units” in the east, the general said. Missiles and bombs also hit airfields in Boryspil, Ozerne, Kulbakino, Chuhuiv, Kramatorsk, Chornobaivka, as well as military infrastructure, he added.

    Artillery also hit areas along the border with Crimea, Zaluzhnyi said, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014.

    Stay informed

    Follow these NPR reporters on Twitter for updates on the ground

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 7:40 AM EST

    There's a lot of information to parse (and misinformation to avoid) as the world watches Russia's invasion of Ukraine unfold in real time.

    As you refresh Twitter, consider following these NPR reporters on the ground in Ukraine:

    European Union reaction

    EU leaders call an emergency meeting and promise new sanctions against Moscow

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 7:38 AM EST
    A woman (left) and a man (right) stand several feet apart from each other at gray podiums, against a blue background reading "European Council Brussels, 21-22 October 2021."
    Olivier Matthys
    /
    Pool/ AP
    European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel, seen at an EU summit in October, have issued a statement condemning the Russian attack on Ukraine.

    European leaders condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine, calling it a gross violation of international law that undermines European and global security and stability.

    European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called an emergency meeting of the European Council to discuss further restrictive measures that will, in their words, impose massive and severe consequences on Russia for its action.

    European leaders say they’ll coordinate their response with NATO and G-7 leaders who are meeting today.

    Germany reaction

    Germany's chancellor calls on Putin to stop the attack and orders a special session of parliament

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 7:25 AM EST
    German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, wearing a suit, stands in front of a blue background and a German flag.
    Michael Kappeler
    /
    Pool/Getty Images
    German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Thursday: “It will become clear that Putin made a grave mistake with his war.”

    German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop his country’s military attack on Ukraine and to withdraw Russian troops from the country.

    “It will become clear that Putin made a grave mistake with his war,” Scholz said at a press conference today, reassuring Eastern European allies that Germany stands by their side and by its duties to NATO.

    Scholz added that Germany will decide on further tough sanctions against Russia later today in close consultation with its international partners and fellow EU members.

    “It’s good we have carefully prepared for this,” said Scholz. “The aim of the sanctions is to make it clear to the Russian leadership that it will pay a bitter price for this aggression.”

    Scholz also said that he had ordered Germany's security cabinet to convene and had called for a special session of the German parliament on Sunday.

    Overview

    Here's what to know about Russia's invasion of Ukraine

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 7:10 AM EST
    Damaged structures stand on a city street, with cars and buildings, against a cloudy sky.
    Sergei Supinsky
    /
    AFP via Getty Images
    An area around the remains of a shell is cordoned off in a street in Kyiv on Thursday.

    Russia began its invasion of Ukraine early Thursday morning local time, shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin said in televised remarks that he was authorizing military action, calling "Russia's interests and the security of our people ... an indisputable priority" and characterizing the operation's goal as the "demilitarization" of Ukraine.

    Explosions were reported almost immediately, with missile strikes and military barrages coming from Ukraine's northern, eastern and southern borders.

    All of this unfolded as the United Nations Security Council was holding an emergency session — requested by Ukraine — in an effort to stave off an invasion, which U.S. intelligence officials have been warning of for weeks despite attempts at a diplomatic resolution.

    The meeting ended dramatically, with Ukraine's ambassador telling his Russian counterpart that "There is no purgatory for war criminals. They go straight to hell." U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres told reporters that the day was the "saddest moment" in his tenure.

    NPR correspondents have heard explosions in the capital Kyiv; in the eastern city of Kharkiv, close to the border with Russia; and in the port city of Odessa in the south of the country. Explosions also were heard on the outskirts of Kramatorsk, a town in the Donbas region controlled by Ukraine.

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy — who had earlier in the day released a video appealing to Russian citizens for peace — has said his country is prepared to defend itself. On Thursday, he declared martial law while calling on the public to remain calm.

    He also spoke with President Biden, who said in a public statement of his own that "President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering." Biden added that the U.S. and its allies will respond decisively, saying, "The world will hold Russia accountable."

    Biden is expected to address the public early Thursday afternoon, after meeting with the leaders of G-7 countries. He also pledged that the U.S. and its allies would impose "severe sanctions on Russia," on top of the first round of financial consequences the administration announced earlier this week. European Union leaders are also considering additional sanctions.

    The world already looks different this morning, with Russian strikes continuing, global tensions rising, and messages of concern and support for Ukraine being offered.

    The violence has drawn quick condemnation of Russia from international leaders, and jarred financial markets around the world. Global oil and gold prices soared, while U.S. stock futures fell, indices across Asia recorded significant losses, and European markets opened with a downward reaction.

    U.S. Reaction

    Biden plans to impose harsher sanctions on Russia

    Posted February 24, 2022 at 7:08 AM EST
    WASHINGTON, D.C. - FEBRUARY 22: U.S. President Joe Biden participates in a virtual meeting about mineral supply chains and clean energy manufacturing in the South Court Auditorium of the White House complex February 22, 2022 in Washington, DC. Earlier in the day, President Biden spoke about the Ukraine-Russia crisis.
    Drew Angerer
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    Getty Images
    Sanctions announced earlier this week by President Biden failed to stop Russian forces from rolling into Ukraine.

    President Biden says the U.S. and the European Union will impose "severe" sanctions on Russia after it launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. A round of sanctions earlier this week failed to stop Russian forces from rolling into Ukraine.

    It's now expected that this next round will go for the jugular, with the goal of shaking Russia's financial sectors and hobbling its economy.

    Among the possible targets for new sanctions are two of Russia's largest banks and its oil and gas industry. Plans to prevent exports of strategic U.S.-made technology to Russia are also in the works.

    But sanctions are not like a missile that has an immediate impact; they take awhile to roll out. And Russia is sitting on $630 billion of reserves, which can help cushion the blow — and it has a leader who has been determined to invade Ukraine.