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U.S., allies gear up to hammer Russia's economy after Putin launches attack on Ukraine

This has been CNBC's live blog tracking Wednesday's developments in the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Follow the latest updates here.

Russia's attack on Ukraine is under way.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an early Thursday morning address in Moscow, announced that Russia would launch a military action in Ukraine. Soon thereafter, NBC News reported that explosions were heard in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.

U.S. President Joe Biden condemned the attack. "The world will hold Russia accountable," he said in a statement before he held a late-night call with Ukraine President Volodimyr Zelenskyy.

Stock futures in American markets plummeted as the news broke. The United Nations Security Council had just convened an emergency meeting Wednesday night.

Earlier, European and U.S. officials scrambled to penalize Russia on Wednesday, responding to its deployments of troops to eastern Ukraine with a cascade of economic sanctions.

As concerns grew that Russian aggression would escalate, Ukraine warned its citizens to avoid traveling to Russia and to leave the country immediately if they are already there. The move came after Putin said Wednesday that Moscow is "always open" to diplomacy, days after ordering troops into eastern Ukraine and recognizing the independence of two self-declared republics in the region.

The European Union was set to hold an emergency meeting on Thursday, and was reportedly considering another round of sanctions on Russian individuals. Officials from the United Kingdom and United States also announced or threatened more retaliatory measures after they unveiled initial tranches this week.

VIDEO1:3101:31
Putin orders Russian forces to attack Ukraine, explosions rock major cities

Biden speaks to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy

U.S. President Joe Biden is seen through a window in the Oval Office as he speaks by phone with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky at the White House in Washington, December 9, 2021.
Leah Millis | Reuters

President Joe Biden held a late-night secure call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as Russian forces were launching a shocking multi-front assault on the country.

Biden and Zelenskyy have spoken often, and the United States had condemned Russia's attack in the strongest terms.

Biden later said he had briefed Zelenskyy "on the steps we are taking to rally international condemnation," and said the besieged president "asked me to call on the leaders of the world to speak out clearly against President Putin's flagrant aggression, and to stand with the people of Ukraine."

U.S. officials have also reportedly spoken to Zelenskyy's team about potentially moving the president out of the capital if there is a Russian invasion of Kyiv. Zelenskyy has so far said he plans to remain in his country.

But intelligence reports suggest that one of Russia's chief goals is to replace Zelenskyy's democratically elected government with a puppet regime beholden to Moscow, which potentially makes Zelenskyy and his cabinet especially valuable targets for arrest or attack.

Biden also held a secure call Wednesday with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and national security advisor Jake Sullivan about the attack on Ukraine.

– Christina Wilkie

Explosions are being reported in at least 4 cities across Ukraine

CNBC

Multiple explosions across Ukraine were reported by journalists and Ukrainian government officials in at least four cities early Thursday morning local time, undermining Russian President Vladimir Putin's claim that Russia was launching a military operation that would be limited to the far east of the country.

Starting about two hours before dawn on Thursday, explosions were felt in and around the cities of Kyiv, Odessa, Kharkiv and Mariupol. The explosions are ongoing, according to reports.

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine's minister of foreign affairs said in a statement that a "full-scale invasion" of his country was underway.

The top Republican on the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, echoed Kubela's description of what was happening.

-- Christina Wilkie

U.S., allies look to hobble Russia's economy with new sanctions, WSJ says

The U.S. and its allies are preparing to announce additional sanctions on Russia after Vladimir Putin's military launched an attack on Ukraine, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing U.S. officials.

The sanctions, which may include targeting much larger Russian banks and debt and banning investment in Russian gas projects, are aimed to shock the Kremlin's financial system and hobble its economy, U.S. officials told the Journal.

The officials hope that that economic strain will pressure Russia to end its campaign in Ukraine, the newspaper reported.

Kevin Breuninger

NATO chief condemns Russian attack on Ukraine

CNBC

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in a statement condemned Russia's military action against Ukraine.

"I strongly condemn Russia's reckless and unprovoked attack on Ukraine, which puts at risk countless civilian lives," Stoltenberg said.

"Once again, despite our repeated warnings and tireless efforts to engage in diplomacy, Russia has chosen the path of aggression against a sovereign and independent country," he said.

Kevin Breuninger

Ukraine official: 'Cruise and ballistic missile strikes are underway'

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Russian ambassador to UN tries to justify invasion, blames crisis on 'Ukraine itself'

A Ukraine interior minister told NBC News in a text message that "cruise and ballistic missile strikes are underway."

The reporting from NBC came after a CNN correspondent in Kyiv said on live television that his team had been informed "the invasion has begun" by an advisor to Ukraine's interior ministry.

"And he said that what we've been hearing, these explosions, are missile strikes," the CNN correspondent, Matthew Chance, said on air. "He didn't give any further detail about what has been hit or about what's been targeted."

Kevin Breuninger

Senate Intel chairman: It's time for the U.S. to 'up the pain level' for Russia

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)
Drew Angerer | Getty Images

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., called on President Joe Biden to "up the pain level" on the Russian government in response to its invasion of Ukraine.

"President Biden has already imposed an initial tranche of sanctions, and it is now time for us to up the pain level for the Russian government," Warner said in a statement late Wednesday.

"What is happening in Ukraine is a tragedy not only for Ukraine, but for the Russian people as well. They will pay a steep cost for Putin's reckless ambition, in blood and in economic harm," he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said early Thursday morning in Moscow that he had authorized a military operation in Ukraine. Explosions were soon heard thereafter in Kyiv, Ukraine's capital.

Putin claimed the goal of the attack, for which he has positioned 190,000 Russian soldiers along Ukraine's border was the "demilitarization and de-Nazification of Ukraine," according to a Reuters translation.

Biden is scheduled to meet with G-7 leaders on Thursday morning to coordinate a response to the invasion.

--- Christina Wilkie

Biden promises a 'strong, united response' from NATO to Russian invasion of Ukraine

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks to reporters on the situation in Ukraine before a meeting with his Infrastructure Implementation Task Force, in the Cabinet Room at the White House, in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2022.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

President Joe Biden responded to Russia's attack on Ukraine Wednesday night. His statement is below:

"The prayers of the entire world are with the people of Ukraine tonight as they suffer an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces. President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering. Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its Allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way. The world will hold Russia accountable.

"I will be monitoring the situation from the White House this evening and will continue to get regular updates from my national security team. Tomorrow, I will meet with my G7 counterparts in the morning and then speak to the American people to announce the further consequences the United States and our Allies and partners will impose on Russia for this needless act of aggression against Ukraine and global peace and security. We will also coordinate with our NATO Allies to ensure a strong, united response that deters any aggression against the Alliance. Tonight, Jill and I are praying for the brave and proud people of Ukraine."

On Thursday morning, Biden will meet with fellow G-7 leaders to discuss a coordinated economic response to the attack on Ukraine.

Later on Thursday, the White House said Biden will address the nation to announce new actions being taken against Russia.

--- Christina Wilkie

Mitt Romney: U.S. and allies must expand national defense

U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to examine the federal response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and new emerging variants at Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., January 11, 2022.
Greg Nash | Pool | Reuters

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, urged the U.S. and its allies to "answer the call to protect freedom" after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a military operation in Ukraine.

Putin and Russia must be subjected "to the harshest economic penalties" and expelled from global institutions, Romney said in a statement.

The U.S. and other nations must also respond "by committing ourselves to the expansion and modernization of our national defense," Romney said.

"Putin's Ukraine invasion is the first time in 80 years that a great power has moved to conquer a sovereign nation," Romney said. "It is without justification, without provocation and without honor."

Romney, who as a presidential candidate in 2012 had been mocked for labeling Russia a top geopolitical foe, also said, "Putin's impunity predictably follows our tepid response to his previous horrors," making reference to the positions of multiple prior U.S. administrations.

"The '80s called' and we didn't answer," he said.

"The peril of again looking away from Putin's tyranny falls not just on the people of the nations he has violated, it falls on America as well," Romney said.

"History shows that a tyrant's appetite for conquest is never satiated."

Kevin Breuninger

Putin says Russia will launch military action in Ukraine, reports say

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a video address announcing the start of the military operation in eastern Ukraine, in Moscow, Russia, in a still image taken from video footage released February 24, 2022.
REUTERS TV

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a public address that aired early Thursday morning in Moscow that he had authorized a military operation in Ukraine.

The announcement was broadcast shortly after 5:30 a.m. local time, precisely at the same time as the United Nations Security Council was meeting in New York, and member state representatives were openly pleading with Putin not to attack.

Putin claimed that Russia's goal was not to occupy Ukraine, but merely protect residents of eastern Ukraine from what he called a "regime."

Putin claimed the goal of the attack, for which he has positioned 190,000 Russian soldiers along Ukraine's border was the "demilitarization of Ukraine," according to a Reuters translation.

Putin warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to "consequences they have never seen," according to Reuters.

Within minutes after Putin announced that action, the NBC News team in Ukraine's capital of Kyiv reported hearing explosions in the city.

A CNN team stationed in Kharkiv, a Ukrainian city closer to the Russian border, also reported hearing artillery.

U.S. President Joe Biden is closely monitoring the situation in Ukraine with his national security advisor, the White House said Wednesday.

--- Christina Wilkie

White House: Biden is monitoring events in Ukraine

President Joe Biden is closely monitoring the events unfolding in Ukraine, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday night.

Psaki's tweet was posted as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield addressed an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, the second this week.

"In the last few hours, we have received very concerning reports of destructive malware placed on hundreds of computers and executed on at least some" in Ukraine, Thomas-Greenfield said.

"After that, we said, would come the bombs and missiles, the soldiers and tanks. Already soldiers have been deployed to the occupied regions of Ukraine. We are here tonight because we believe the rest is imminent," she added.

The speech is ongoing.

--- Christina Wilkie

Civilian flights in Ukraine restricted

Civilian flights within Ukraine have been restricted due to a "potential hazard for civil aviation," according to a notice posted on a Federal Aviation Administration website.

Several foreign airlines, including Lufthansa and KLM, have suspended flights to Ukraine due to the rapidly escalating fears of a Russian invasion.

Kevin Breuninger

Asian markets fall as investors monitor intensifying Ukraine crisis

Currency traders watch monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022.
Ahn Young-joon | AP

Major Asia-Pacific indexes declined Thursday morning as investors continued to watch the intensifying crisis between Russia and Ukraine.

The Shanghai composite in mainland China fell 0.16% and the Shenzhen component dropped 0.44%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was down 1.64%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 declined by 1.09%, while the Topix slid by 0.7%.

South Korea's Kospi was down 1.71%, and the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia fell 2.5%.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 1.54% lower.

— Abigail Ng

France urges its citizens to depart Ukraine 'without delay'

French President Emmanuel Macron looks on during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Polish President Andrzej Duda, ahead of a Weimar Triangle meeting to discuss the ongoing Ukraine crisis, in Berlin, Germany February 8, 2022.
Thibault Camus | Pool | Reuters

France urged its citizens in a Wednesday evening statement to leave Ukraine "without delay" amid growing concerns that Russia is preparing a full-scale attack.

The French foreign ministry said in a statement that the decision had been taken "in the context of the intense tensions created by the concentration of Russian troops on the borders of Ukraine, by the Russian decision to recognize the independence of the provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk and in light of the establishment of the state of emergency passed by the Ukrainian Parliament today."

The French government also advised against any travel to Ukraine until further notice. The French Embassy in Kyiv continues to be operational.

The United States, Germany and the United Kingdom have also previously called on their citizens to depart Ukraine immediately.

 — Amanda Macias

UN Security Council sets emergency meeting Wednesday night

The UN Security Council votes on a draft resolution at UN Headquarters in New York, on Dec. 22, 2021.
Loey Felipe | Xinhua News | Getty Images

The United Nations Security Council will hold an emergency meeting Wednesday night as the crisis on Ukraine's borders intensifies.

The meeting, which was requested by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, is slated to begin at 9:30 p.m. ET, a United Nations diplomat confirmed to NBC News.

This is the second time this week that Kuleba requested an urgent meeting of the U.N. Security Council. The 15-member Security Council met on Monday.

Russia holds the rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council and will be running the meeting.

Earlier on Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield met with Kuleba following their addresses to the U.N. General Assembly. The two discussed the "importance of a robust response from the international community to stand with Ukraine," according to U.S. Mission to the United Nations spokeswoman Olivia Dalton.

— Amanda Macias

Blinken: Full-scale invasion could begin within hours

A convoy of Russian military vehicles is seen as the vehicles move towards border in Donbas region of eastern Ukraine on February 23, 2022 in Russian border city Rostov.
Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday evening that Russian forces could engage in a full invasion of Ukraine before the night is over.

Blinken shared the stunning revelation during an interview with Lester Holt on "NBC Nightly News."

Holt asked, "Do you have reason to believe that before this night is over Russian forces will be engaged in something akin to a full invasion of Ukraine?"

To which Blinken responded, "I do."

"Unfortunately, Russia has positioned its forces at the final point of readiness across Ukraine's borders to the North, to the East, to the South," the nation's top diplomat said.

"Everything seems to be in place for Russia to engage in a major aggression against Ukraine," Blinken added.

 Holt then followed up and asked, "To be clear, you think tonight that could happen? Or will happen?"

Blinken said, "Look, I can't put date or an exact time on it, but everything is in place for Russia to move forward."

— Amanda Macias

Biden to meet with G-7 leaders Thursday morning

G7 leaders in Corwall, England at the 2021 summit.
Ludovic Marin | AFP | Getty Images

President Joe Biden will hold a meeting Thursday morning with the leaders of the G-7 group of economically developed nations to discuss the crisis in Ukraine, the White House announced Wednesday.

Biden will be joined in the Situation Room of the White House by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

News of the meeting comes as Ukraine faces an imminent threat of invasion by Russia, which has amassed 190,000 Russian troops on Ukraine's borders.

As the West seeks to leverage sweeping economic sanctions against Moscow to deter further invasion of Ukraine, unity among the G7 nations is considered paramount.

---Christina Wilkie

White House believes Putin is 'improvising' after unexpected U.S. moves

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks about the Russian economy during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, February 23, 2022.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

The White House believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin was caught off guard by several U.S. and NATO decisions and that he is now being forced to improvise because of them, a spokeswoman told reporters Wednesday.

"Our assessment is that President Putin did not expect the United States to have the level of information that we have, did not expect us to put out this amount of information that we have put out, and he did not expect the global community to be as unified," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Wednesday.

"What we're seeing now, our assessment is that [Putin] is improvising, adapting, and having to respond and adapt his own actions ... even as we are responding to him," she said.

In recent weeks, President Joe Biden and top U.S. military commanders have taken the unusual step of publicly releasing details of what they believe Russia plans to do in Ukraine with the more than 190,000 troops it has amassed on its border with the country.

"We have reason to believe the Russian forces are planning and intend to attack Ukraine in the coming week, in the coming days," Biden said Friday at the White House. "We believe that they will target Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, a city of 2.8 million innocent people."

This kind of advance warning about another country's military tactics is almost never released to the public, so Biden's statement on live TV made news around the world.

Biden's top White House aides have also revealed to the public surprising details, many of which were clearly gathered by U.S. intelligence agencies.

In late January, Psaki told reporters the U.S. had reason to believe "Russia is laying the groundwork to have the option of fabricating a pretext for invasion — including through sabotage activities and information operations — by accusing Ukraine of preparing an imminent attack against Russian forces in eastern Ukraine."

Making this kind of information public has made it more difficult for the Russian regime to carry out a successful disinformation campaign about what is going on in eastern Ukraine. The largely failed campaign was initially aimed in part at making Russia's actions seem quasi-justifiable to the world.

As of Wednesday, Russia had more than 190,000 troops positioned along the Ukrainian border, fueling fears that an invasion could be launched within hours.

— Christina Wilkie

Pentagon says Russia would bear the blame for lives lost in a conflict with Ukraine

Department of Defense Press Secretary John Kirby participates in a news briefing at the Pentagon on August 23, 2021 in Arlington, Virginia.
Alex Wong | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The Pentagon placed the blame squarely on Russian President Vladimir Putin for the destruction caused by war if Moscow invades farther into Ukraine.

"If he chooses war, he chooses violence, which means he's deliberately choosing to put lives in danger, soldiers' lives and civilians' lives," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday.

Kirby reiterated that the United States and its allies still hope for a diplomatic resolution to the conflict but that Putin has not given "any indication" he will take that route.

"He's going to have to bear the responsibility for that. And I think, I would hope that he understands that some of those lives at risk are going to be his soldiers' lives, and he's going to have to answer to Russian moms and dads, about their soldiers that aren't making it back home alive, or making it back with injuries," Kirby said.

— Amanda Macias

Dow plummets more than 460 points, closing at its lowest level of the year so far

CNBC

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at its lowest level in 2022 on Wednesday, as U.S. stocks slid amid escalating tensions in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The 30-stock index ended the trading session down 464.85 points, closing at 33,131.76. The S&P 500 lost 1.8%. The broad-market benchmark is nearly 12% off from its Jan. 3 record close, tumbling further into correction territory.

Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite declined nearly 2.6%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq is now more than 18% from its November closing record, approaching bear market territory.

The Nasdaq and the Dow closed below their Jan. 24 intraday lows, key levels that market professionals have been watching closely.

— Darla Mercado

U.S. ambassador to UN warns of 'new refugee crisis'

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks at the General Assembly 58th plenary meeting in New York on February 23, 2022, on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield warned that Russia's aggression in Ukraine could lead to one of the largest refugee crises in the world.

"If Russia continues down this path, it could, according to our estimates create a new refugee crisis, one of the largest facing the world today, with as many as 5 million more people displaced by Russia's war of choice," Thomas-Greenfield said during an address at the United Nations.

"This is President Putin's war of choice. If he chooses to escalate further, Russia and Russia alone will bear full responsibility for what is to come," she added.

"What we can do together today is make clear that Russia will pay an even steeper price if it continues this aggression, that responsible countries do not bully their neighbors into submission, that former empires cannot lay claim to sovereign and independent nations," Thomas-Greenfield said before the international forum.

— Amanda Macias

Biden announces new sanctions on Nord Stream 2

U.S. President Joe Biden listens during a virtual roundtable on securing critical minerals at the White House in Washington, February 22, 2022.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

President Joe Biden announced that he would impose new sanctions Wednesday on the company behind the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which was built to ferry natural gas from Russia to Germany.

"Today, I have directed my administration to impose sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG and its corporate officers. These steps are another piece of our initial tranche of sanctions in response to Russia's actions in Ukraine," Biden said in a statement.

"Through his actions, President Putin has provided the world with an overwhelming incentive to move away from Russian gas and to other forms of energy," Biden said.

Until now, the question of whether to impose sanctions on Nord Stream 2 has been a thorny one for the Biden administration. Since its inception, Germany has strongly supported the pipeline project, and viewed it as a crucial source of affordable energy for western Europe's most populous country.

But earlier this week, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz made the surprise announcement that final approval of Nord Stream 2 would be put on hold, after Russia moved troops into regions of eastern Ukraine.

Scholz's announcement freed up the Biden administration to move ahead with its own sanctions, which have strong bipartisan support in Congress.

— Christina Wilkie

Russian forces look ready to launch 'large-scale invasion'

T-72B3 tanks of the Russian Southern Military District's 150th Rifle Division take part in a military exercise.
Erik Romanenko | TASS | Getty Images

A Pentagon official said Wednesday that about 80% of Russia's military forces that are amassed around Ukraine are "ready to go" for an attack.

"They are literally ready to go now if they get the order to go," the official said.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to share new details of the Pentagon's assessment, said that Russian President Vladimir Putin has assembled enough aviation, maritime and ground assets to "conduct a large-scale invasion." 

The majority of the forces are ground military assets, the official added.

"What continues to give us concern is the full range of capabilities that Mr. Putin has at his disposal right now, everything from significant offensive missile capability to offensive ground power. He has more than two dozen warships in the Black Sea," the official said.

"He has a cruise missile capability, he's got ballistic missile capability arrayed, armor, artillery, certainly infantry, special forces and we assess today that he is near 100% of all the forces that we anticipated that he would move in."

— Amanda Macias

Pelosi calls Russian actions in Eastern Ukraine a modern day ‘Sudetenland’

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, speaks during her weekly press briefing at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 23, 2022.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that Russia's recent decision to recognize two regions of Eastern Ukraine as "independent republics" is the modern day equivalent to Nazi Germany's 1938 annexation of Sudetenland, a German-speaking region of what was then Czechoslovakia.

At the time, the annexation was agreed to by Western European leaders, who believed Adolf Hitler's false claim that it was the only territory Nazi Germany intended to take over. A year later, Hitler invaded Poland and went on to invade most of Europe.

"This, my friends, is our moment. This is the Sudetenland, and that's what people were saying there," Pelosi, a California Democrat, said at the Capitol.

"You cannot ignore what Putin is doing. Nobody's, of course, ignoring it. But you cannot take it any lighter than what it is: a total assault on democracy," she added.

Pelosi's remarks came a day after President Joe Biden announced sanctions on two Russian banks, the country's sovereign debt and several individuals as a penalty for President Vladimir Putin's declaration that two regions of Eastern Ukraine were "independent republics."

Putin subsequently announced that Russia would send "peacekeeping" troops into the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, a move that outside observers said resembled a military attack positioning more than it did a "peacekeeping" mission.

The House of Representatives is on recess this week, but a bipartisan group of members sent a letter to Biden on Tuesday reminding him that the War Powers Resolution requires him to seek authorization from Congress for committing American troops to a conflict.

— Christina Wilkie

'This is just the start': UK warns of more sanctions against Russia

Britain's Minister of State for the Commonwealth Tariq Ahmad speaks during a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly on the situation between Russia and Ukraine, at the United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., February 23, 2022.
Carlo Allegri | Reuters

The United Kingdom warned the Russian government on Wednesday that it was ready to impose more rounds of devastating sanctions should Moscow push farther into Ukraine.

"This is just the start," said Tariq Ahmad, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the United Nations, referencing the U.K.'s previously announced sanctions.

"If Russia continues its campaign of aggression, we have a further package of sanctions ready to go. We asked the wider international community to join us in this effort," Ahmad told the international forum.

Ahmad's remarks follow the United Kingdom's largest sanctions package against Russia.

"We must meet Russia's aggressive acts with solidarity with strength including through coordinated sanctions to impose a severe cost on Russian interests and their economy," he said.

Ahmad warned that further Russian military action will take a horrific toll not only on Ukrainians but also on Russians, calling both "victims of an unnecessary war of the Kremlin's choosing."

— Amanda Macias

Ukrainian government websites down after cyberattack, official says

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

Several Ukrainian government websites were down on Wednesday after a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, Mykhailo Fedorov, the head of Ukraine's Ministry of Digital Transformation said in his Telegram channel.

A DDoS attack is when a hacker overwhelms a system with traffic so that others are unable to access it. Fedorov said the government websites were down as they attempted to switch traffic to another service to minimize damage.

Ukraine reported a cyber attack last week that affected its websites. Russia denied responsibility for that earlier attack.

—Lauren Feiner

EU set to unveil sanctions on close Putin allies, report says

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu attends a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia February 14, 2022.
Aleksey Nikolskyi | Sputnik | via Reuters

The European Union is set to unveil sanctions on key allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin in response to Moscow's move to recognize two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine and send troops into the areas, The New York Times reported.

The retaliatory measures, which could be detailed Thursday, would target individuals including Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Putin's chief of staff Anton Vaino, according to the Times. The bloc may also outline sanctions on key Russian media officials.

The EU already announced a first round of sanctions in response to the incursion. EU countries plan to hold an emergency meeting on Thursday, a spokesperson confirmed to CNBC.

The new round of sanctions would follow initial economic measures imposed by the EU, United States, United Kingdom and Canada. U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday threatened harsher sanctions if Russia continues to advance into Ukraine.

— Jacob Pramuk

'Russia will not stop at Ukraine,' warns Ukrainian foreign minister

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speaks during a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly on the situation between Russia and Ukraine, at the United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., February 23, 2022.
Carlo Allegri | Reuters

In a grim speech to the United Nations, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba warned the international forum on Wednesday that Russia's aggression toward its neighbors will disrupt world peace and security.

"Russia will not stop at Ukraine. If a permanent member of the UN Security Council succeeds in breaking literally all rules, other actors will be inspired by him and follow his pattern," Kuleba said in a nearly 30-minutes address.

"Rules do not apply to him, to Russia, to Putin," Kuleba said, adding that Kyiv still hopes for a peaceful resolution to the ongoing crisis.

"We Ukrainians want peace and we want to resolve all issues through diplomacy," Kuleba said.

"We stand ready for all possible scenarios and ready to protect our land and our people," he said, adding that Kyiv will exercise its "inherent right of self-defense."

— Amanda Macias

EU to hold emergency meeting as Russia conflict intensifies

EU flags flutter in front of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium October 2, 2019.
Yves Herman | Reuters

The European Union will hold an emergency meeting Thursday to discuss the deteriorating security situation on Ukraine's borders, a spokesperson for the 27-member group confirmed to CNBC.

The emergency in-person meeting of European Union members in Brussels is slated to take place at 8 p.m. local time or 2 p.m. ET.

In a letter to EU members, European Council President Charles Michel said the "aggressive actions by the Russian Federation violate international law and the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. They also undermine the European security order."

"It is important that we continue to be united and determined and jointly define our collective approach and actions," he added.

The meeting comes exactly one week after the most recent hastily-called summit to discuss the ongoing Ukraine crisis. Unanimity among the 27 nations is required for the bloc to impose sanctions.

— Steven Kopack and Amanda Macias

Ukraine president calls for ‘immediate and harsh’ international response to Russian aggression

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiyy holds a joint news conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda in Kyiv, Ukraine February 23, 2022.
Umit Bektas | Reuters

Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy referred to Russia's recognition of two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, and Putin's ordering of troops into the region, as a crime.

"This is an act of aggression against Ukraine [and] its sovereignty [and] integrity," he said. "The response of the international community to this crime should be decisive and immediate and harsh."

Zelenskyy said he welcomed new sanctions imposed on Russia in recent days by the EU, the U.S., the U.K. and Canada.

"We do expect further sanctioning of Russia," he added. "It is also very important to see Germany's decision to put on hold certification of Nord Stream 2. It is very important to fully stop this project, which is a weapon that is already being used against Ukraine, against Europe."

Nord Stream 2 is a highly contentious gas pipeline that had been designed to deliver Russian gas directly to Germany under the Baltic Sea, bypassing Ukraine. If approved, the project would double the amount of gas flowing from Russia to Germany.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced on Tuesday that he had taken steps to halt approval of the pipeline in the wake of Russia's military escalation in Ukraine.

— Chloe Taylor

Russia threatens ‘strong response’ to U.S. sanctions

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a joint news conference with OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Poland's Minister for Foreign Affairs Zbigniew Rau in Moscow, Russia February 15, 2022.
Shamil Zhumatov | Reuters

The Kremlin has hit out at the sanctions imposed on Moscow by U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday.

In a post on its official Facebook page, the Russian Foreign Ministry called the sanctions "ineffective and counter-productive for America's own interests."

"Russia has proved that it can minimize the losses of these sanctions. More than that, the sanctions pressure will not affect our resolve to keep standing up for our interests," the ministry said.

It claimed that the U.S. had "a false conviction that [it] still has the right to impose its own rules of the world order," dubbing the new sanctions "blackmail."

"We are open only towards diplomacy that is based on principles of mutual respect, equality and consideration of each other's interests," the ministry added. "There is no doubt there will be a strong response to the sanctions, not necessarily a symmetrical one, but measured and considerable for the American side."

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a speech on Wednesday that Moscow was open to diplomacy, despite having ordered troops into eastern Ukraine a day earlier.

— Chloe Taylor

Mayor of Kyiv outlines what Ukraine’s capital can expect in a state of emergency

Mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko at his office on February 10, 2022.
Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images

Mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko has outlined what Ukrainians might expect their lives to look like if lawmakers approve the government's proposed state of emergency.

Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council declared a state of emergency throughout the country on Wednesday, and lawmakers must vote on whether to approve it within 48 hours.

In a speech on Wednesday, Klitschko said that under a state of emergency vehicle movement may be restricted, there would be increased controls on entry and exits to and from cities and regions, and there would be a ban on mass events and rallies.

Urging the people of Kyiv not to panic, Klitschko said the prospect of a state of emergency is, at this stage, "a precautionary step to ensure law and order and public safety in cities, towns and villages."

"The city authorities are working, we are all on the ground," he said.

"We make the necessary decisions to support the city, to create a system of territorial defense [and] to ensure the operation of public transport, institutions and establishments ... We must and will be able to overcome these challenges only together."

— Chloe Taylor

Satellite imagery shows Russian military activity near Ukraine

A satellite image shows a close up of assembled vehicles at V D Bolshoy Bokov airfield, near Mazyr, Belarus, February 22, 2022.
Maxar Technologies | via Reuters

U.S. satellite imagery company Maxar has collected new images that it says show additional deployments of Russian troops, movement of additional logistics and supplies and increased military activity near the Ukrainian border in southern Belarus and western Russia.

The images were collected on Feb. 22.

A satellite image shows a close up of a field hospital and a troop deployment, in Belgorod, Russia, February 22, 2022.
Maxar Technologies | via Reuters
A satellite image shows an overview of a new deployment at V D Bolshoy Bokov airfield, near Mazyr, Belarus, February 22, 2022.
Maxar Technologies | via Reuters

— Chloe Taylor

Footage shows ammunition arriving in Ukraine from Canada

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov shared footage on Wednesday of an ammunition delivery from Canada arriving in Ukraine.

— Chloe Taylor

Russia-Ukraine crisis will ‘probably be the largest war in Europe since 1939,’ former ambassador says

A map showing Russia troop positions along Ukraine border.
San Francisco Chronicle/hearst Newspapers Via Getty Images

Speaking to NBC's "Today," Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, said he heard nothing in the speech Putin gave on Monday that suggested the Russian president was interested in diplomacy.

McFaul added that Putin "doesn't care about face-saving," and that sanctions and giving military aid to Ukraine were "not enough to deter Putin."

"Tragically, I think he's going to go in, he's going to go in big, and this will probably be the largest war in Europe since 1939," he said.

— Chloe Taylor

Russia says it has begun evacuating personnel from Kyiv embassy

Workers leave the Russian Embassy in Kyiv with their materials, on February 23, 2022.
Daniel Leal | AFP | Getty Images

Russian state-controlled media reported on Wednesday that Moscow had begun to evacuate personnel from its embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine's capital.

A Reuters witness reported on Wednesday that the Russian embassy in Kyiv had taken down its flag.

According to Russian state news outlet RIA, Andrei Rudenko, deputy head of Russia's Foreign Ministry, said Moscow does not want to break off diplomatic relations with Kyiv.

Police officers and members of the Ukrainian National Guard are seen outside the Russian embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine February 23, 2022.
Valentyn Ogirenko | Reuters

The Kremlin announced this week that it would recognize the independence of two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, with Russian President Vladimir Putin ordering troops into those regions, where fighting between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces has been ongoing for eight years.

Officials from the U.S. and the U.K. have referred to the move as the beginning of an invasion of Ukraine.

— Chloe Taylor

Sanctions on Russia will hurt U.S. citizens, ambassador says

Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov speaks during a discussion about the legacy of Anatoly Dobrynin at the Woodrow Wilson Institute on November 18, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The Russian ambassador to the U.S. has hit out at the sweeping sanctions Washington has said it will impose on Moscow.

In a post on the official Facebook page of the Russian embassy in the U.S., Ambassador Anatoly Antonov argued that "sanctions cannot solve a thing."

"It is hard to imagine that there is a person in Washington who expects Russia to revise its foreign policy under a threat of restrictions," he said. "I don't remember a single day when our country lived without any restrictions from the Western world. We have learned to work in such conditions. And not only to survive, but also to develop our state."

Many western countries, including the U.S., imposed sanctions on Russia in 2014 after Moscow invaded and annexed Crimea.

"There is no doubt that the sanctions introduced against us will hit global financial and energy markets," Antonov added, warning: "The United States will not be left out, with its ordinary citizens feeling the consequences of the price increase in full."

— Chloe Taylor

UK to send Ukraine more weapons

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London.
House Of Commons - Pa Images | Pa Images | Getty Images

Britain is set to send more weapons to Ukraine, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Johnson said the decision had been made "in light of the increasingly threatening behavior from Russia."

"The U.K. will shortly be providing a further package of military support to Ukraine," he said. "This will include lethal aid in the form of defensive weapons, and non-lethal aid."

— Chloe Taylor

UK announces economic support measures for Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba attend a news conference following their talks in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 17, 2022.
Efrem Lukatsky | via Reuters

The U.K. announced Wednesday that it would guarantee up to $500 million in loans in a bid to help stabilize Ukraine's economy and mitigate the impact of Russian military aggression.

British Foreign Minister Liz Truss said in a statement that the U.K. was using its "economic expertise and strength to support the people of Ukraine."

"These guarantees can help inject vital capital into Ukraine and help its economy weather the storm of Russian aggression," she said.

"Britain stands four-square behind Ukraine and its people. We stand ready to offer direct economic support, providing defensive weapons, and exposing Russian attempts to engineer fake pretexts for invasion."

— Chloe Taylor

Recognition of Ukrainian breakaway regions won’t be changed, Russian official reportedly says

Secretary of the United Russia Party's General Council Andrey Turchak speaks during a news conference in Donetsk, Ukraine February 23, 2022.
Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters

A senior Russian official said Wednesday that no force in the world could change Moscow's recognition of two separatist-held regions in eastern Ukraine as independent republics, Reuters reported.

Visiting the leader of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic, Andrey Turchak, a high-ranking member of Russia's ruling party, said 93,000 people had been evacuated from the region into Russia, according to Reuters.

— Chloe Taylor

Ukraine to declare state of emergency

Secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov speaks after Russia's on February 22, 2022, in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukraine is set to impose a state of emergency across the entire country.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Ukraine's top security official Oleksiy Danilov announced a state of emergency would be imposed for 30 days and could be extended for another 30 days. The measures must first be approved by parliament and a vote is expected in the coming days.

Regional commissions will be set up, Danilov said, which will include representatives of state and local authorities who can make decisions on security measures.

Danilov reiterated the government's stance that martial law would be imposed in Ukraine if Russia launched a full-scale invasion of the country.

The state of emergency will apply to all Ukrainian territory, with the exception of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the country's east, which have been under a state of emergency since 2014.

Around 13,000 people have died in a conflict in those regions in an eight-year war between government forces and pro-Moscow separatists.

Russia announced on Monday that it would officially recognize two separatist-held regions in eastern Ukraine as independent republics.

— Chloe Taylor

Ukraine imposes heavy sanctions on 351 Russian lawmakers

The building of the Verkhovna Rada, the parliament of Ukraine.
Konoplytska | Istock Editorial | Getty Images

Ukraine's Parliament approved sanctions on 351 Russian lawmakers on Wednesday, including those who voted to recognize the independence of two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.

The sanctions will ban lawmakers from traveling to Ukraine, and bar them from accessing property, capital, assets and business licenses, according to Reuters.

Ukrainian lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favor of imposing the sanctions.

— Chloe Taylor

Excluding Putin from sanctions shows weakness, EU official says

Russian President Vladimir Putin gives start to training launches of ballistic missiles as part of the exercise of the strategic deterrence force, in Moscow, Russia February 19, 2022.
Aleksey Nikolskyi | Sputnik | via Reuters

European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova has argued that excluding Russian President Vladimir Putin from the EU's sanctions package is a mistake.

"Vladimir Putin should be first on the list," Jourova told Czech newspaper Hospodarske Noviny on Wednesday.

"It is always a question of whether [excluding Putin] is a professional art of diplomacy or weakness. I would see it as the latter," she added, according to a Reuters translation.

The EU imposed sanctions on Russia on Tuesday in response to the Kremlin ordering troops into eastern Ukraine and recognizing two breakaway areas in the region as independent.

The bloc's sanctions package, which secured unanimous approval, includes sanctions on all members of Russia's lower house of parliament who voted to recognize the breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine. The EU sanctions will also ban investors in member states from trading Russian sovereign debt, and clamp down on trade with eastern Ukraine's self-declared republics.

— Chloe Taylor

China criticizes sanctions on Russia

China has criticized coordinated efforts to sanction Russia over its action in Ukraine.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters at a regular press briefing on Wednesday that China's government opposed the move.

"Sanctions have never been an effective way to solve problems, and China has always opposed unilateral sanctions," she said, according to Chinese state-run broadcaster CGTN.

Several countries, including the U.S., the U.K., Australia and Japan have imposed new sanctions on Russia in recent days.

— Chloe Taylor

Putin seeks 'regime change' and could launch full-scale invasion of Ukraine, says analyst

Ukrainian servicemen patrol in the settlement of Troitske in the Lugansk region near the front line with Russia-backed separatists on February 22, 2022.
Anatolii Stepanov | Afp | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin is seeking "regime change" and will likely invade the rest of Ukraine, says Jeffrey Edmonds, a former director for Russia at the National Security Council.

Putin will likely go "all the way to the capital," Edmonds said, referring to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.

The Russian president is trying to create a pretext for invading the rest of Ukraine, he said, adding: "What you're seeing right now is a lot of false flag operations. These claims… [that] the people on the East are having to fight back this onslaught of Ukrainian offensives, which just isn't true."

Given the significant military build-up, it doesn't make sense for Putin to just hold on to the separatist territories.

"He's had these territories since 2014, so just moving more troops in there, I don't think gets him what he wants," he said.

— Chelsea Ong

From wheat to barley, a Russian invasion of Ukraine could hit supply chains

Ears of wheat are seen in a field near the village of Hrebeni in Kyiv region, Ukraine July 17, 2020.
Valentyn Ogirenko | Reuters

Ukraine is considered the "breadbasket of Europe," and an invasion would result in the food supply chain getting "hit hard," said Alan Holland, CEO and founder at sourcing technology company Keelvar.

Ukraine produces wheat, barley and rye that much of Europe relies on, analysts said. Russia is also the world's top wheat exporter. Together with Ukraine, both account for roughly 29% of the global wheat export market.

Ukraine is also a big producer of corn. "China is also a big recipient of Ukrainian corn — in fact, Ukraine replaced the U.S. as China's top corn supplier in 2021," said Dawn Tiura, president at Sourcing Industry Group.

Russia and Ukraine are big suppliers of metals and other commodities as well, analysts said.

Weizhen Tan

Ukraine warns citizens to leave Russia immediately

A woman says goodbye to her father through a bus window during the evacuation of local residents to Russia, in the rebel-controlled city of Donetsk, Ukraine February 19, 2022.
Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters

Ukraine has warned its citizens not to travel to Russia, and advised any Ukrainians currently in Russia to leave immediately.

In a travel advisory issued on Wednesday, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said "the intensification of Russian aggression against Ukraine … may lead to significant restrictions on the provision of consular assistance in the Russian Federation."

"We emphasize that ignoring these recommendations will significantly complicate ensuring proper protection of Ukrainian citizens in the Russian Federation," the ministry added.

— Chloe Taylor

Ukraine calls for more sanctions on Russia to ‘stop Putin from further aggression’

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba looks to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken as he speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, February 22, 2022.
Carolyn Kaster | Pool | Reuters

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has called for Ukraine's international partners to ratchet up pressure on Moscow with further economic curbs.

— Chloe Taylor

IMF working to disperse fresh funding to Ukraine

Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Kristalina Georgieva speaks during a press conference as she meets with economic and financial organizations in Berlin at the German chancellery on August 26, 2021 in Berlin, Germany.
Pool | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The International Monetary Fund is starting a new review of its $5 billion program in Ukraine, which Kyiv is hoping could lead to the disbursement of $700 million and reassure markets that its economy is stable, Reuters reported.

Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the IMF, told CNBC's Tania Bryer in an interview broadcast Wednesday that the organization was working with Ukrainian authorities and "a lot of progress" had been made.

"[We] remain focused on making sure that the Ukrainian economy has sound fundamentals," she said. "Our intention is to continue the review and complete the review, so we can provide a much needed financial injection for the Ukrainian economy. We have still $2.2 billion available to disburse by the end of June and we are on track to complete the necessary prerequisites for this disbursement."

Georgieva also expressed concern that sweeping economic sanctions on Russia could spill over to neighboring countries in central Asia, particularly those with economic ties to Moscow.

"So, it is in the interest of everyone that a solution is found, and while it seems very difficult now to charter the pathway to this solution, we must always persevere for the sake of people whose lives are now so dramatically impacted," she said.

— Chloe Taylor

Australia hits Russia with sanctions

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media to announce sanctions on top Russian officials following the invasion of eastern Ukraine, during a press conference in Sydney on February 23, 2022.
Steven Saphore | AFP | Getty Images

Australia announced Wednesday that it was taking "immediate action" to sanction Russia over its activity in Ukraine.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement that the government would impose travel bans and targeted sanctions on eight members of Russia's Security Council.

They said the Russian Security Council "bears responsibility for the current phase of the invasion by providing policy advice and justification to President Putin's unilateral declaration recognising the so-called Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic."

Australian individuals and businesses would no longer be able to do business with five banks — Rossiya Bank, Promsvyazbank, IS Bank, Genbank and the Black Sea Bank for Development and Reconstruction — and Australians would be prohibited from investing in Russian state development bank VEB.

Morrison and Payne said these moves were just the first phase of Australian sanctions on Russia, as the government remained "deeply concerned that Russia is escalating its aggression."

— Chloe Taylor

Japan imposes sanctions on Russia

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks to media after a virtual meeting with the U.S. President Joe Biden (not in picture) at his official residence in Tokyo, Japan January 21, 2022, in this photo taken by Kyodo.
Kyodo | via Reuters

Japan has hit Russia with sanctions over its recognition of two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine and the deployment of Russian troops to Ukrainian territory.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced Wednesday that his government would ban imports and exports to the two breakaway regions and prohibit the issuance and trading of new Russian sovereign bonds in Japan, local news agency Kyodo News reported.

Japan would also suspend visa issuance to individuals from the two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, according to Kyodo News.

— Chloe Taylor

Putin says Russia ‘always open’ to diplomatic solutions

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the Kremlin Wall on the Defender of the Fatherland Day in Moscow, Russia February 23, 2022.
Aleksey Nikolskyi | Reuters

In an address to the nation to mark Russia's Defender of the Fatherland Day, President Vladimir Putin said Moscow is still open to diplomacy after ordering troops into eastern Ukraine.

"Our country is always open for a direct and honest dialogue, for searching [for] diplomatic solutions to the most complicated issues," he said in the speech early on Wednesday, according to Russian state media agency TASS.

However, Putin — who described NATO's military activity as an "existing challenge" — added that "Russia's interests and the security of its citizens are unconditional."

"That is why we will continue developing, upgrading the army and fleet, increasing their efficiency," he said.

— Chloe Taylor