Ukraine-Russia crisis: What to know as the tension grinds on

Feb 18, 2022, 7:54 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 4:41 pm
Dozens of pro-Ukrainian activists and Ukrainian Americans rally outside of the United Nations (UN) ...
Dozens of pro-Ukrainian activists and Ukrainian Americans rally outside of the United Nations (UN) as world leaders gather there to discuss the increasing tension with Russia over its military build-up on Ukraine's border on February 17, 2022 in New York City. The U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, made an unscheduled appearance at a U.N. Security Council meeting to discuss the situation in Ukraine on Thursday. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Spiking tensions in eastern Ukraine are heightening Western fears of a Russian invasion and a new war in Europe, with U.S. President Joe Biden saying he’s “convinced” that Russian President Vladimir Putin has made the decision to invade.

NATO countries fear that the volatile east, which has seen intense shelling in recent days and orders for civilians to evacuate, could be a flashpoint in their tensest standoff with Russia since the Cold War, providing the Kremlin with a pretext to invade Ukraine.

The United States upped its estimate of Russian troops for a possible invasion to as many as 190,000. Russia also plans to hold military exercises on Saturday, including multiple practice launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles and cruise missiles in a display of military might.

The United States and its European partners are keeping on with their strategy of diplomacy and deterrence, offering to keep talking with the Kremlin while threatening heavy sanctions if an invasion happens.

Here’s a look at what is happening where and why:


After weeks of saying the U.S. wasn’t sure if Putin had made a final decision to launch an invasion, Biden said Friday he’s now convinced he has and it could occur in the “coming days.”

He said an invasion could include an assault on the capital, Kyiv.

Biden said he was confident in the new assessment because of the Americans’ “significant intelligence capability.”


The U.S. has decided to hold off on at least one of the most crushing financial options available to punish Russia if it invades Ukraine, Deputy National Economic Council Director Daleep Singh told reporters at a White House briefing Friday.

Booting Russia out of the SWIFT financial system that moves money around the world was one of the most damaging steps the U.S. could take against the Russian economy, but it is opposed by some European allies for the spillover damage it would cause to their economies as well.

Asked Friday if Americans and their European allies — many of them more exposed to any collateral damage from sanctions hitting Russia’s economy — were on the same page on specific financial penalties, Biden said he expected “slight differences.

Singh described sanctions against Russian financial institutions and state-owned enterprises, as well as U.S. export controls that would deny Russia advanced technology it seeks for its industry and military.

At a time of high oil and gas prices, the U.S. also did not intend to try to block Russian energy from reaching global markets, he said, but gave no details.

Italy, which is heavily reliant on Russian gas, has pushed for energy to be kept out of any sanctions. Italian Premier Mario Draghi told reporters on Friday that he laid out his government’s view at a European Council meeting in Brussels a day earlier.


In Ukraine’s Donbas region, where fighting since 2014 between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed rebels has killed some 14,000 people, the rebels announced in videos posted online Friday that they were ordering an “immediate evacuation” to Russia because of the unrest.

But metadata embedded in the video files showed they had been created two days earlier.

A group of international monitors in eastern Ukraine that is tasked with keeping the peace reported more than 500 explosions in the 24 hours ending Thursday midday.

On Friday, a car exploded outside the main government building in Donetsk, but no casualties were reported, and a U.N. Refugee Agency convoy came under shelling.

The rebels accuse Ukraine of preparing to invade the region, which Kyiv denies. The unrest may be part of Moscow’s suspected playbook of portraying Ukraine as the aggressor, thereby giving Russia grounds to invade.

Putin sent his emergencies minister to the Rostov region bordering Ukraine to help organize the evacuation. He ordered the government to give 10,000 rubles (about $130) to each evacuee. That’s equivalent to about half the average monthly salary in the area.


The U.S. and Britain are blaming Russia for this week’s cyberattacks targeting Ukraine’s defense ministry and major banks.

Anne Neuberger, the White House’s chief cyber official, said the attacks this week were of “limited impact” since Ukrainian officials were able to quickly get their systems back up and running, but it is possible that the Russians were laying the groundwork for more destructive ones.

She and the British Foreign Office linked Tuesday’s attacks to Russian military intelligence officers.


The Kremlin says Putin will watch drills involving Russia’s strategic nuclear forces from the situation room at the Russian Defense Ministry.

The Defense Ministry said Putin will personally oversee Saturday’s display of his country’s nuclear might. Notably, the planned exercise involves the Crimea-based Black Sea Fleet. Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula after seizing it from Ukraine in 2014.


The new U.S. estimate of up to 190,000 includes the Russian-backed separatists inside Ukraine, the Russian National Guard and Russian troops in Crimea, the peninsula that Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014. These forces were not counted in previous assessments of troops deployed near Ukraine’s borders and in neighboring Belarus.

As further indication that the Russians are preparing for a potential invasion, a U.S. defense official said an estimated 40% to 50% of the ground forces deployed in the vicinity of the Ukrainian border have moved into attack positions nearer the border. The defense official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal U.S. military assessments.

The official also said the number of Russian ground units known as battalion tactical groups deployed in the border area had grown to as many as 125, up from 83 two weeks ago. Each battalion tactical group has 750 to 1,000 soldiers.


Meanwhile, NATO is beefing up its eastern regions.

The U.S. has begun deploying 5,000 troops to Poland and Romania. The Biden administration announced Friday it has approved a $6 billion sale of 250 Abrams battle tanks and related equipment to Poland.

Britain is sending hundreds of soldiers to Poland and offering more warships and planes. It also is doubling the number of personnel in Estonia and sending tanks and armored fighting vehicles.

Germany, Norway and the Netherlands are sending additional troops to Lithuania. The Dutch government also is sending to Ukraine 100 sniper rifles, combat helmets and body armor, two mine detection robots and weapon-detection radar systems.


Biden spoke by phone on Friday afternoon with a number of European leaders and the leaders of the European Union and NATO about the likelihood of Russian aggression, the White House said.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who was on the call, planned to speak with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday and with Putin on Sunday.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken were attending the annual Munich Security Conference in Germany. Moscow sent no delegates there.

Harris indicated the alliance’s approach to the crisis would continue.

“We remain, of course, open to and desirous of diplomacy, as it relates to the dialogue and the discussions we have had with Russia,” Harris said in Munich.

“But we are also committed, if Russia takes aggressive action, to ensure there will be severe consequences in terms of the sanctions we have discussed,” she said at a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock expressed regret that Russian leaders declined to attend the Munich conference.

“Particularly in the current, extremely threatening situation, it would have been important to also meet Russian representatives in Munich,” Baerbock said. Even tiny steps toward peace would be “better than a big step toward war,” she added.


AP reporters around the United States and Europe contributed.


Follow AP’s coverage of the tensions between Russia and Ukraine at

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

World News

CUSCO, PERU - MAY 23: A view over the city of Cusco from the Inca ruins of Sacsayhuaman on May 23, ...
FRANLIN BRICEÑO Associated Press

Peru home build vexed by ‘the neighbors’ — Inca-era mummies

Hipólito Tica had saved for decades to finally build himself a proper house in a working class neighborhood of Lima. His problem was what to do about “the neighbors” — as he called the centuries-old mummies buried below.
2 days ago
Japanese musician Takeshi (L) and Canadian musician Randy Bachman (R) exchange guitars on July 01, ...
MARI YAMAGUCHI, Associated Press

Rock star Randy Bachman reunited with beloved stolen guitar

Canadian rock legend Randy Bachman’s long search has ended after he was reunited in Tokyo with a cherished guitar 45 years after it was stolen from a Toronto hotel.
2 days ago
DONETSK DISTRICT, UKRAINE - JULY 01: A fireball appears in the woods as a tank unit with the 14th M...
NOMAAN MERCHANT Associated Press

US announces $820M in Ukraine aid, including missile systems

The U.S. announced on Friday that it will provide Ukraine with $820 million in new military aid, including new surface-to-air missile systems and counter-artillery radars to respond to Russia's heavy reliance on long-range strikes in the war.
2 days ago
ODESSA, UKRAINE - JULY 01: A destroyed building is seen after the Russian missile attack where 17 p...
Rob Picheta, Jonny Hallam, Cristiana Moisescu and Julia Presniakova CNN

Russian missile strikes on Odesa kill 20, including a child, after housing block hit overnight

At least 20 people, including a child, were killed when Russia launched overnight missile strikes at a residential building and a recreation center near Odesa, southern Ukraine, officials said on Friday.
2 days ago
FILE: Julian Assange speaks to the media from the balcony of the Embassy Of Ecuador on May 19, 2017...
FRANK GRIFFITHS, Associated Press

Julian Assange appeals to UK court against extradition to US

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has appealed against the British’s government decision last month to order his extradition to the U.S.
2 days ago
Soldiers survey damage and salvage items after a projectile and subsequent fire destroyed a warehou...
FRANCESCA EBEL, Associated Press

Russian forces leave Snake Island, keep up eastern assault

Russia has pulled back its forces from a Black Sea island where they have faced relentless Ukrainian attacks, but is keeping up its push to encircle the last bulwark of Ukraine’s resistance in the eastern province of Luhansk.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Ukraine-Russia crisis: What to know as the tension grinds on