It was a day of high-level meetings on Thursday, with an extraordinary NATO summit taking place in Brussels, as well as meetings of EU leaders and the G-7.
NATO committed extra troops along its eastern flank, with Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg telling CNBC ahead of the summit that Russian President Vladimir Putin had made "a big mistake."
The U.K. and U.S. rolled out more sanctions against Russian elites and government officials, while the U.S. announced billions more in aid and said it would take up to 100,000 Ukraine refugees.
U.S. President Joe Biden sent Russian leader Vladimir Putin a stern warning, saying NATO would respond "in kind" if Russia uses chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine.
Support for Ukraine increases the chances of Russia wanting a ceasefire, says ex-NATO policy planner
The odds of Russia and Ukraine reaching a ceasefire depend on the balance of power between the two sides, according to Fabrice Pothier, former head of policy planning for NATO secretary generals.
"The more support we will provide to [Ukrainian] President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian forces, the more likely Russia is to call for a durable ceasefire because Russia will see that they are not prevailing at all on the military terrain," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia" on Friday.
However, Moscow hasn't reached that point yet, said Pothier, who is now CEO of political consultancy Rasmussen Global.
Russia is digging in its heels at the moment, he said. "Unless we are willing to double down in our support to Zelenskyy and in our sanctions, I don't see why President Putin will stop where he is now," said Pothier.
— Abigail Ng
Zelenskyy urges the EU to grant Ukraine membership
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the European Council to let his country into the bloc in a Thursday address.
"You and I are preparing Ukraine's membership in the European Union. Finally. Here I ask you — do not be late. Please," he said, according to a video posted on his official Telegram channel.
Earlier in the speech, Zelenskyy thanked the EU for its support in imposing sanctions on Russia, but said those measures came "a little late."
He added that over the past month of fighting, the EU saw "who is worth what" and has seen that Ukraine should be allowed to join the group "in the near future."
— Abigail Ng
Ukraine strikes 'high value' logistics targets
The Ukrainian military has launched strikes against "high value targets in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine," including ammunition depots and a landing ship, the U.K. Ministry of Defence said on Thursday evening.
In its latest intelligence update, the ministry said it expects Ukrainians to continue targeting logistics-related targets held by Russian invaders.
"This will force the Russian military to priortise the defence of their supply chain and deprive them of much needed resupply for forces," the Defence Ministry said.
Ukrainian officials said on Thursday that they sank the Orsk, a large Russian amphibious vessel, off Berdyansk, Ukraine, earlier this week.
Russian military authorities had expected the Orsk to boost their logistics capabilities in the Berdyansk port, according to comments from an officer of the Russian Black Sea Fleet which were translated by NBC News.
Berdyansk is about 40 miles (64 km) west of the Black Sea city of Mariupol, which Russians are destroying with artillery.
A Russian embassy contacted for comment referred CNBC to the country's ministry of defense website, the English version of which was not loading.
Moscow's inability to adequately resupply its troops, combined with fierce Ukrainian resistance, have largely brought Russian advances to a halt in the month-old war.
— Ted Kemp
Humanitarian crisis grows for thousands trapped in Mariupol
People stand in a long queue during the distribution of humanitarian aid near a damaged store of wholesaler Metro in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine.
Ukraine to feature heavily in Blinken travel to Middle East, North Africa
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to the Middle East and North Africa starting on Saturday in a trip that will be heavily dominated by discussion of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Blinken is set to visit Israel, the West Bank, Morocco, and Algeria from Saturday to Wednesday, the State Department announced on Thursday, in a trip that will focus on Iran and the conflict in Ukraine.
"Both of those are going to be really at the top of the agenda," top U.S. diplomat for Near Eastern affairs Yael Lempert told reporters.
Lempert said that Blinken will discuss Israel's role as mediator between Russia and Ukraine during his visit over the weekend.
Biden says U.S. would ‘respond’ to Russia if Putin uses chemical or biological weapons
U.S. President Joe Biden said NATO would respond "in kind" if Russia uses weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine.
"We will respond if he uses it," Biden said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. "The nature of the response depends on the nature of the use."
The president spoke after a marathon of summit meetings with the European Union, G-7 partners and NATO allies.
Biden also said he would support an effort to expel Russia from the G-20 group of economies.
— Christina Wilkie
At least 977 killed and 1,549 injured in Ukraine, UN says
Russian forces have killed at least 977 civilians since it began its invasion of Ukraine, according to the United Nations.
At least an additional 1,594 people have been injured, including 64 children, from Feb. 24 through March 22, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said.
The majority of deaths recorded have been caused by the use of explosive weapons with a "wide impact area," the office said. That includes shelling from heavy artillery and airstrikes.
The agency said it believes the actual number of casualties are "considerably higher," since information from areas with intense fighting is delayed and some reports are being corroborated.
– Amanda Macias
EU leaders send a message to China to stop Putin
Speaking to CNBC Thursday, Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi said: "China is [the] most important country, they can be crucial in the peace process, they have lots of leverage, a lot of leverage, and so we are all waiting."
Latvia's Prime Minister Arturs Karins also told CNBC: "China has a choice, it's rather a simple choice: put your lot in with Russia — that is waging war against Ukraine, bombing women, children, hospitals — or find a way to work with Europe, with the U.S. and with western democracies."
Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin also called China a "major player" and said the European Union had to make sure "China is on the right side of history with this war."
Read the story here.
— Matt Clinch
UN calls for an immediate end to war, blames Russia for humanitarian crisis
The United Nations General Assembly, in a two-day emergency meeting, adopted a resolution that formally blames Russia for causing the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and calls for a peaceful and immediate end to the war.
France and Mexico proposed the resolution which was supported by dozens of other UN member states. Russia created its own humanitarian proposal which the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations described as a "flimsy fabrication."
"It really is unconscionable that Russia would have the audacity to put forward a resolution asking the international community to solve a humanitarian crisis that Russia alone created," U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said.
The adopted resolution, "Deplores in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine" and "urges the immediate peaceful resolution of the conflict."
– Amanda Macias
'We are entering an unprecedented food crisis,' Macron warns
French President Emmanuel Macron urged the G-7 heads of state to invest in ways to alleviate the mounting food crisis triggered by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"We are entering an unprecedented food crisis," Macron told G-7 leaders in Brussels, adding that it should be an "imperative that Russia doesn't create a famine."
The war "makes countries have difficulty getting supplies of wheat and more generally cereals," Macron said. He noted that Russian and Ukraine are two of the world's largest cereal producers.
Earlier in the day, U.S. President Joe Biden met with Macron on the sidelines of the NATO leaders' meeting. The two discussed ways to continue holding Russia accountable, as well as additional ways to support the Ukrainian government, according to a White House readout of the meeting.
– Amanda Macias
U.S. makes plans in case Russia uses chemical, nuclear weapons
The White House has set up a team of experts to plan how the United States could respond should Russia use weapons of mass destruction - chemical, biological or nuclear - during its invasion of Ukraine, senior administration officials said on Thursday.
Russia has repeatedly raised the prospect of using nuclear weapons as it struggles to overcome Ukraine's military during the month-old war that the Russian government calls a "special operation." This week, the Kremlin said such weapons would only be used in the case of an "existential threat."
U.S. officials have warned that Russia's accusations that Ukraine might use chemical weapons are a lie, and also an indication Moscow may resort to their use, given past precedent.
The White House National Security Council sent an internal memo to agencies on Feb. 28 to create a strategy group to examine major geopolitical shifts that are occurring as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, officials said. A second group, known internally as the "Tiger Team," is looking at what the next three months look like.
NATO boosts defenses in Europe, says it faces ‘gravest threat’ to its security in decades
NATO said it will strengthen its defenses in Europe in the face of Russia's continuing aggression toward Ukraine.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the organization has collectively agreed to reinforce its defense capabilities in the region following an extraordinary summit of the military alliance in Brussels earlier Thursday.
"Today NATO leaders agreed to reset our deterrents and defense for the longer term to face a new security reality. On land, we will have substantially more forces in the eastern part of the alliance at higher readiness, with more pre-positioned equipment and supplies," he said.
"In the air, we will deploy more jets and strengthen our integrated air and missile defense. At sea, we will have carrier strike groups, submarines and significant numbers of combat ships on a persistent basis," he added, with members also set to strengthen their cyber defenses.
— Holly Ellyatt
Ukraine says it sank Russian warship Orsk
Ukrainian authorities said they destroyed a Russian warship that entered the port of Berdyansk earlier this week.
"In the temporarily occupied Berdyansk, our soldiers destroyed a large Russian landing ship, the Orsk, and damaged a number of other ships," said Anrdii Yermak, head of the office of the president of Ukraine, in comments translated by NBC News.
The ship was used to deliver military equipment, including tanks, weapons, ammunition and humanitarian supplies, according to the Russian Federation.
"The arrival of a large amphibious ship in the port of Berdyansk is a truly epoch-making event that opens up opportunities for the Black Sea Fleet in logistical matters, to use the infrastructure of the port of Berdyansk in full," one of the officers of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation said in a statement announcing the ship's arrival that was translated by NBC. The ship "will go to strengthen our group operating in the direction indicated by the higher command."
— Dawn Kopecki
Stoltenberg extends term at NATO as Russia's war wages on
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg will extend his term as head of the alliance for one more year.
Stoltenberg's term, which was set to expire in September, comes as the world's most powerful military alliance works to end Russia's war in Ukraine.
"Honoured by the decision of #NATO Heads of State and Government to extend my term as Secretary General until 30 September 2023," Stoltenberg wrote in a tweet.
"As we face the biggest security crisis in a generation, we stand united to keep our alliance strong and our people safe," he said.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Air Force One that President Joe Biden thinks "very highly of Secretary General Stoltenberg."
– Amanda Macias
NATO calls on China to 'join the rest of the world and clearly condemn the brutal war'
The leaders of the 30-member NATO alliance called on China to "uphold the international order" and abstain from supporting Russia's war effort in any way.
"Our message to China is that they should join the rest of the world and clearly condemn the brutal war against Ukraine," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said during a press conference following the leaders' meeting.
In a joint statement, NATO leaders said they were "concerned by recent public comments by PRC officials and call on China to cease amplifying the Kremlin's false narratives, in particular on the war and on NATO."
A senior administration official, who declined to be named in order to share details of the NATO meeting, said China was a big topic among allies. The official said that there was "a recognition that China needs to live up to its responsibilities within the international community as a UN Security Council member," the official said.
"We need to continue to call on China not to support Russia and its aggression against Ukraine, and that we need China to call for a peaceful end to the conflict as a responsible member of the international community," the official added.
– Amanda Macias
NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg briefs press following extraordinary meeting
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg briefs the press following the organization's extraordinary meeting in Brussels.
He said NATO was sending more troops on the ground as well as committing more naval and air warfare capabil