February 26, 2024 - Russia-Ukraine news

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Trump won't say if he wants Russia or Ukraine to win the war. See Zelensky's reaction
00:57 - Source: CNN

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Swedish prime minister says Russia will not like their accession to NATO

Sweden can expect that Russia will “not like” the country’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said Monday.

“As for Russia, the only thing we can safely expect is that they do not like Sweden becoming a NATO member. They didn’t like Finland becoming a NATO member either,” Kristersson said at a news conference in Stockholm, highlighting that Russia’s ambitions to limit NATO expansion have backfired.

Kristersson also noted the historic nature of his country’s ascension into the alliance.

“Sweden is leaving behind 200 years of neutrality and non-alignment. It’s a big step and something to take seriously but it is also a very natural step that we take. Membership in NATO means that we now come home to a large number of democracies’ cooperation for peace and freedom. A very successful cooperation,” Kristersson said.

Earlier on Monday, Hungary’s parliament approved Sweden’s bid to join NATO, clearing the last hurdle for the country to become the 32nd member of the military alliance.

Sweden's NATO accession will strengthen alliance, Zelensky says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the Hungarian parliament’s vote to approve Sweden’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) membership on Monday.

“This is a historic day for Sweden and Euro-Atlantic security. Congratulations to @SwedishPM Ulf Kristersson and all Swedes. Sweden’s accession will undoubtedly strengthen the Alliance, particularly in light of the Russian threat to the free world,” Zelensky wrote on X, adding that Ukraine is looking forward “to working closely with Sweden and other NATO allies to advance Ukraine’s NATO membership.”

More background: A decision to admit Ukraine would extend the sacred NATO pledge that an attack on one member is an attack on all to a nation Russia regards, at a minimum, as part of its sphere of influence — even if such a claim has no basis in international law. It would commit future Western leaders to go to war with nuclear-armed Russia and potentially risk a third World War if the Kremlin attacked its neighbor again.

French president says sending troops to Ukraine cannot be ruled out

Sending Western troops to Ukraine “cannot be ruled out,” French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday after hosting a conference in Paris where European leaders discussed the prospect.

There was “no agreement this evening to officially send troops onto the ground but we cannot exclude anything,” he told reporters.

The aid conference for Ukraine brought together representatives of the European Union’s 27 member countries including 21 heads of state and governments, he said.

“We will do anything we can to prevent Russia from winning this war,” Macron said. “And I say this with determination, but also with a collective humility that we need to have, in the light of the last two years.”

“The people that said ‘never ever’ today were the same ones who said never ever planes, never ever long-range missiles, never ever trucks. They said all that two years ago. A lot around this table said that ‘we will offer helmets and sleeping bags,’ and now they are saying we need to do more to get missiles and tanks. We have to be humble and realize that we (have) always been six to eight months late,” Macron said.

Macron also announced a new coalition would be set up to supply medium and long-range “missiles and bombs” to Ukraine. EU leaders and government representatives “decided to step up the munitions side and produce tangible results very quickly” across the eight coalitions that already exist, he said.

Navalny's aides say he was going to be part of a prisoner swap before his death. Here are the top headlines

Ukraine’s president is warning that “millions” could die in his country’s war with Russia without aid from the United States. It comes as Ukrainian forces have retreated from a village in the eastern Donetsk region, near a key city where Russia claimed victory last week.

Meanwhile, aides for Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny say he was due to be part of a prisoner exchange before he died in an Arctic penal colony. A Western official, however, said there was no official offer on the table.

Here are the top headlines:

  • On the front lines: Ukrainian forces have retreated from the village of Lastochkyne in the eastern Donetsk region, both sides confirmed on Monday. Russian forces are intensifying attacks and continuing to push west. Lastochkyne is located near Avdiivka, where Russia raised its flag on February 18.
  • Fighting elsewhere: In other parts of the country, at least four people have died and six others wounded in Russian attacks over the past two days, Ukrainian authorities said. Two were killed in Sumy, another two were killed in southern Kherson. In Russia, at least three people were killed and three others were injured after a drone strike hit a car with civilians in a village in the Belgorod region, the regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said.
  • Marking annexation of Crimea: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pointed to the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 as the beginning of Moscow’s aggression toward Kyiv. He said that is where Russia “must suffer its key defeat” in the war and that Ukraine is working “to achieve the necessary results in the sky and on the ground in Crimea.” 
  • Push for US aid: Zelensky is warning that “millions” could die in the war with Russia if US lawmakers don’t approve President Joe Biden’s $60 billion aid request for Kyiv. The Ukrainian leader also said former US President Donald Trump doesn’t understand Russian President Vladimir “Putin will never stop.”
  • Prisoner exchange: An aide for Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny said Monday they “achieved a decision on his exchange” in a prisoner swap while he was still alive and imprisoned in a penal colony. A Western official confirmed that early discussions of a prisoner exchange were underway, but said no formal offer had been made before his death. The US State Department would not comment on the reports. A public farewell to Navalny is expected at the end of this working week, spokesperson Kira Yarmish said in a post on social network X on Monday. 
  • Sweden joins NATO: Hungary’s parliament on Monday approved Sweden’s bid to join NATO, clearing the last hurdle for the country to become the 32nd member of the US-led military alliance. Sweden applied to be a NATO member in May 2022 after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

3 killed after drone strike hits civilian car in Belgorod region, governor says

At least three people were killed and three others were injured after a drone strike hit a car with civilians in the village of Pochaevo, in Russia’s Belgorod region, the regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Monday.

Gladkov blamed Ukrainian armed forces on the strike.

Gladkov said in a Telegram post that the people in the car at the moment of the strike were local construction workers.

Three men “died from their wounds as a result of the explosion” following the strike and another three people were hospitalized with shrapnel wounds, he said.

Earlier on Monday, the village of Novaya Tavolzhanka in the Belgorod region “came under mortar fire from the Ukrainian armed forces,” Gladkov said.

Two children aged 10 and 11 were injured and taken to the local hospital as a result, according to Gladkov.

CNN cannot independently verify the casualties. 

US State Department not commenting on reports of Navalny prisoner swap

The US State Department would not comment on reports of a potential prisoner swap with Russia for the release of Alexey Navalny.

“I’m not going to speak to either internal deliberations or our work to secure the release of people held overseas,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said. “We had long called for Alexei Navalny’s release.”

Miller would not say whether such a deal would have included Paul Whelan or Evan Gershkovich — Americans detained in Russia.

“I’m just not going to speak to our conversations with any of our diplomatic partners about the work that we do to try to secure the release of wrongfully detained Americans or others held around the world,” said Miller.

CNN reported earlier that there were early discussions underway involving a prisoner exchange for Navalny and US citizens, a Western official told CNN on Monday — but no formal offer had been made prior to Navalny’s death.

Zelensky says Russia "must suffer its key defeat" in Crimea

Ukraine’s president pointed to the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 as the beginning of Moscow’s aggression toward Kyiv.

Marking the Day of Resistance to the Occupation of Crimea and Sevastopol on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the day Russia occupied the peninsula 10 years ago was the day “the future fate of international security and international relations was determined.”

Zelensky emphasized that Ukraine has “already achieved significant results in the Black Sea” and is working “to achieve the necessary results in the sky and on the ground in Crimea.” 

He also thanked Ukraine’s partners and noted that everything they “do together for the defense against Russian aggression adds real security” to their nations “for decades to come.”

Hungary's parliament approves Sweden's bid to join NATO

Hungary’s parliament on Monday approved Sweden’s bid to join NATO, clearing the last hurdle for the country to become the 32nd member of the US-led military alliance.

The vote passed with 188 members of parliament in favor and six against. In total, 194 members voted. Hungarian government spokesperson Zoltan Kovacs said on Monday that he is sure Sweden will be “a strong and reliable ally” who will benefit the NATO alliance. 

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson celebrated the vote.

“Today is a historic day. The parliaments of all NATO member states have now voted in favour of Swedish accession to NATO. Sweden stands ready to shoulder its responsibility for Euro-Atlantic security,” Kristersson said in a social media post.

Sweden applied to be a NATO member in May 2022 after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also welcomed the vote, and said, “Sweden’s membership will make us all stronger and safer.”

With Sweden’s accession, NATO will count 32 countries among its members, an ironic twist given that Russia launched its war against Ukraine in part due to the alliance’s growth in Eastern Europe along Russia’s border.

CNN’s Stephanie Halasz contributed reporting to this post.

Western officials: There were early discussions on prisoner exchange but no formal offer

There were early discussions underway involving a prisoner exchange for Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny and US citizens, but no formal offer had been made prior to Navalny’s death, a Western official told CNN Monday.

This comes as Navalny’s team asserted earlier on Monday that an offer had been made and was in the final stages to release Navalny in exchange Vadim Krasikov, a convicted Russian assassin imprisoned in Germany.

The source said the early discussions were between the United States and Germany.

The Western official did not say whether the early discussions involved Krasikov, nor did they say which US citizens were involved. However, it is likely they involved the two Americans who have been designated as wrongfully detained in Russia – Evan Gershkovich and Paul Whelan.

The German government declined to comment on the Navalny team’s claim. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, “I know nothing about such an agreement.”

Ukrainian forces pull back again as Zelensky warns "millions will be killed" without US aid. Catch up here

Ukrainian forces have retreated from the village of Lastochkyne in the eastern Donetsk region, both sides confirmed on Monday, as Russian forces intensify attacks and continue to push west.

Lastochkyne is located about 5 km (about 3 miles) northwest of Avdiivka, where Russia raised its flag on February 18.

The retreat from the village comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tells CNN that “millions” could die in Ukraine’s war with Russia if US lawmakers don’t approve President Joe Biden’s $60 billion aid request for Kyiv.

The Ukrainian leader also said former US President Donald Trump doesn’t understand Russian President Vladimir “Putin will never stop.”

“I think Donald Trump doesn’t know Putin,” Zelensky said. “I know he met him… but he never fought with Putin. (The) American army never fought with the army of Russia. Never… I have a better understanding,” he said.

Zelensky warned that Trump will be “against Americans” if he chooses to support Russia over Ukraine.

Here’s what else to know:

  • Prisoner swap: Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny’s aides said Monday they “achieved a decision on his exchange” in a prisoner swap while he was still alive and imprisoned in a penal colony. Maria Pevchikh, one of Navalny’s closest advisers said on social media that “in early February, (Russian President Vladimir) Putin was offered to exchange Vadim Krasikov, a killer and an FSB officer who is serving a sentence for murder in Berlin, for two American citizens and Alexey Navalny.”
  • Navalny’s body: The Kremlin says it was not involved with the decision to hand over Navalny’s body to his family, after a week in which his mother said she was told her son’s body was not at the morgue, then after seeing it, was threatened into having a private funeral.
  • Navalny farewell: A public farewell to Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny is expected to be held at the end of this working week, spokesperson Kira Yarmish said in a post on social network X on Monday. 
  • Russian attacks: At least four people have died and six others wounded in Russian attacks over the past two days, Ukrainian authorities said. Two were killed in Sumy, another two were killed in southern Kherson.
  • Ukraine investigates: Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s office said Sunday it had launched an investigation into the alleged killing of a group of Ukrainian prisoners of war by Russian forces. Russian forces allegedly shot unarmed Ukrainian servicemen in the Bakhmut district in the eastern Donetsk region on Saturday, the office said.

Hungary "will approve Sweden’s NATO accession," prime minister Viktor Orbán says

Hungary “will approve Sweden’s NATO accession,” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said at the Hungarian parliament on Monday, as quoted by Reuters. 

He asked his fellow lawmakers to approve the accession, adding that it “will strengthen Hungary’s security.”

Hungary is expected to vote on Sweden’s NATO accession bid later on Monday at around 10 a.m. ET. 

Some background: Hungary is the last member of the military alliance to approve Sweden’s application to join NATO, which it made in May 2022 after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine vows return of Crimea from Russian occupation amid growing uncertainly on battlefield

Ukraine is vowing the return of Crimea while appealing for international support in its fight against Russian occupation, as it marks the Day of Resistance to the Occupation of Crimea and Sevastopol on Monday.

This year also marks exactly 10 years since Russia annexed the peninsula.

“I want to address everyone in our country, in Europe, and in the world whose heart holds a sense of justice, who values justice, and who feels devastated whenever justice is destroyed,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said.

“We must step up real counteraction to Russian evil. At all levels. All over the world. We must fight for the people in Crimea and in all other occupied parts of Ukraine. We must fight for the full restoration of international law in relation to Crimea, and therefore, any other land,” he said.

Other Ukrainian officials also echoed Zelensky’s words.

“We will definitely return the peninsula, because it is our land! And it is worth fighting for it until victory,” Ukraine’s Security Service vowed.

Public farewell to Alexey Navalny will be held at the week's end, his aides say

A public farewell to Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny is expected to be held at the end of this working week, spokesperson Kira Yarmysh said in a post on social network X on Monday. 

Yarmysh added that the deceased politician’s aides are actively searching for a venue to host the public farewell and called upon those with suitable premises to get in touch with the team.

“We are looking for a hall for a public farewell to Alexey. Time: end of this work week,” Yarmysh said.

Navalny’s body was handed over to his mother last Saturday, nine days after news of his passing and following widespread public demands for the prompt return of his remains to the family.

People in cities across Russia have been gathering for impromptu vigils for over a week, laying flowers to monuments to victims of repression.

Ukrainian forces retreat from Donetsk village as Russia continues to push west 

Ukrainian forces have retreated from the village of Lastochkyne in the eastern Donetsk region, both sides confirmed on Monday, as Russian forces intensify attacks and continue to push west.

“Ukrainian Armed Forces units withdrew from the village of Lastochkyne to organise defence along the line of Orlivka, Tonenke and Berdychi and prevent the enemy from advancing further west,” said Dmytro Lykhoviy, spokesperson for the Tavria operational and strategic group of forces. 

Lastochkyne is located about 5 km (about 3 miles) northwest of Avdiivka, in what has remained one of the hottest areas on the battlefield. Russia raised its flag in Avdiivka on February 18.

The Russian Ministry of Defense also confirmed on Monday the capture of Lastochkyne, according to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. 

More on the situation on the ground: Over the past day, Russian forces increased their attacks around Lastochkyne, conducting 45 airstrikes, 897 artillery attacks and 83 kamikaze drone strikes, Lykhoviy said, adding 72 combat engagements took place.

“Despite the enemy’s high pressure, our units are actively defending themselves and manoeuvring,” Lykhoviy said. 

The areas of Avdiivka and Marinka “remain the hottest spots,” he said.

“In the Avdiivka sector, our defenders repelled 25 enemy attacks over the last day, and 40 in the Mariinka sector, the highest number in the last few days,” Lykhoviy said. 

Trump doesn't understand that "Putin will never stop," Zelensky tells CNN

Former US President Donald Trump will be “against Americans” if he chooses to support Russia over Ukraine, the war-torn country’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday.

Speaking to CNN’s Kaitlan Collins in Kyiv, Zelensky said he “can’t understand how Donald Trump can be on the side of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin.”

Trump, who is now almost certain to become the Republican presidential nominee after winning the South Carolina Republican primary, has in the past refused to say whether he supports Russia or Ukraine.

Zelensky said that he believed Trump — who also said he would end the conflict in one day if elected — did not understand Putin’s goals.

“I think Donald Trump doesn’t know Putin,” Zelensky said. “I know he met him… but he never fought with Putin. (The) American army never fought with the army of Russia. Never… I have a better understanding,” he said.

Read the full story here.

Ukraine launches investigation into alleged killing of Ukrainian POWs by Russians

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s office said Sunday it had launched an investigation into the alleged killing of a group of Ukrainian prisoners of war by Russian forces.

Russian forces allegedly shot unarmed Ukrainian servicemen in the Bakhmut district in the eastern Donetsk region on Saturday, the office said.

A pre-trial investigation had been launched over an alleged “violation of the laws and customs of war combined with premeditated murder,” after video surfaced on social media that appeared to show the execution of surrendering Ukrainian troops. 

“On 24 February 2024, a video recording was posted on one of the Telegram channels showing Russian soldiers shooting seven captured Ukrainian servicemen during an assault on our positions between the villages of Ivanivske and Khromove in Donetsk Oblast,” the office said. 

“The drone footage shows that representatives of the Russian Armed Forces first order our defenders to leave the trench. Then, having gathered all the defenders in one place and moved a few meters away, the enemy fires automatic gunfire at them,” the office said.

“The military of the aggressor state deliberately killed the wounded and unarmed Ukrainian soldiers, ignoring the norms of international humanitarian law.”

The Ukrainian servicemen appeared to be surrendering when they were killed, Ukraine’s human rights commissioner Dmytro Lubinets said in a personal message shared on social media.

“Their hands were raised in the air, showing that they were unarmed and did not pose a threat. The Russians were supposed to take them prisoner, but instead mercilessly shot them,” Lubinets said Sunday.

CNN is not able to independently verify the claims. 

Navalny aides say he was due to be exchanged in a prisoner swap before his death

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny’s aides said Monday they “achieved a decision on his exchange” in a prisoner swap while he was still alive and imprisoned in a penal colony. 

Maria Pevchikh, one of Navalny’s closest advisers said on social media that “in early February, (Russian President Vladimir) Putin was offered to exchange Vadim Krasikov, a killer and an FSB officer who is serving a sentence for murder in Berlin, for two American citizens and Alexey Navalny.”

Krasikov was arrested in Berlin in 2019 for the murder of a Chechen militant in Berlin’s Tiergarten Park and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Pevchikh said that Roman Abramovich, the Russian oligarch and former owner of Chelsea Football Club, “delivered the proposal to swap Navalny.”

She added that he was acting as “an informal negotiator communication with American and European officials.”

Pevchikh however, added that when she approached Abramovich about the details of: how, when and what circumstances he supplied the information to the President, he “did not answer these questions, but he did not deny anything either.” 

Pevchikh said that they “were at the final stage on the evening of February 15th.”

Navalny died in prison on February 16. 

CNN cannot independently verify these claims, and German government spokesperson, Christiane Hoffmann, said that she “cannot give a comment about this at this stage,” in answer to a question about the prisoner exchange reports.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said he knew “nothing about such an agreement,” in response to a question from CNN’s Matthew Chance about the alleged prisoner exchange.

Kremlin says Putin was not involved in decision to hand over Navalny’s body to family

The Kremlin said Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin was not involved in the decision to hand over the body of opposition figure Alexey Navalny to his family. 

Navalny died while serving in a penal colony on February 16, and his family had for several days pleaded for Russian authorities to release his body.

On Friday, Russian authorities agreed to hand over the Kremlin critic’s body.

Speaking in his regular call with journalists, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov described the accusations made by Navalny’s mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya about blackmail and a suggested secret funeral for her son as “absurd,” adding that the Kremlin “has nothing to do with” the case and therefore “cannot exert pressure.” 

On Saturday, Navalny’s team reported that the body was now back with the family. Plans for his funeral remain unclear. 

Here’s a brief timeline of the events leading up to Navalny’s body being released:

  • February 16: Russian prison service says Navalny “felt unwell after a walk” and “almost immediately” lost consciousness. He is pronounced dead.
  • February 17: Navalny’s mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, and lawyer travel to the penal colony where he was held to see Navalny in the morgue, but are told his body wasn’t there.
  • February 19: A spokesperson for the late Russian politician Alexey Navalny said his mother and lawyers were denied access on Monday to the morgue where his body is allegedly being held. 
  • February 20: Navalnaya, Alexey’s mother releases a video from outside the penal colony, telling Putin to let her see her son.
  • February 21: Navalnaya files a lawsuit in the city court of Salekhard over the “inaction of the investigative committee to release Alexey’s body.”
  • February 22: Navalny’s mother says she has been allowed to see her son’s body. But, she said in her video message on social media, that Russian investigators are “threatening” her into agreeing to a secret funeral for her son otherwise “they will do something with my son’s body. Russia’s Investigative Committee sets conditions on the release of Navalny’s body and says the death certificate will not be released unless terms agreed.
  • February 23:  Navalny’s mother was given an ultimatum by a Russian investigator – either agree to a secret funeral without a public farewell, or Navalny would be buried at the penal colony where he was imprisoned. 
  • February 24: Navalny’s body is handed over to his mother in Salekhard, his spokesperson confirms.

France hosts representatives from 23 nations for conference to support Ukraine

French President Emmanuel Macron will host representatives from 23 nations at the Elysée Palace on Monday for an international conference to show support for Ukraine. 

The Elysée says the meeting is aimed at “exploring ways to strengthen the cooperation of partners in support of Ukraine,” as the war enters its third year.

Macron is hosting the presidents of Finland, Romania, Lithuania and Poland, as well as prime ministers from the Netherlands, Portugal, Estonia, Norway, Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Slovenia, Ireland, Greece, Latvia and Luxembourg.

The foreign ministers of Sweden and the UK, as well as a representative from the US, are also joining.

Macron and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is joining the summit virtually, are expected to deliver a joint opening speech at 11 a.m. ET.

Ukrainian authorities say Russian attacks killed 4 people

Russian attacks on Ukraine have killed at least four people and wounded six over the last two days, authorities said. 

In the northeastern region of Sumy, Russian airstrikes killed at least two on Monday, the local military administration said. The Russian military used glide bombs and four explosions were reported, according to the administration.

In southern Kherson, a Russian attack killed two people and wounded one on Sunday, according to the region’s military administration.

Russian shelling damaged residential areas including three multi-storey buildings and 13 private houses, as well as a gas pipeline and cars in the district, according to regional military chief Oleksandr Prokudin.

In the eastern Donetsk region, Russian attacks wounded at least five people in multiple towns including Kostyantynivka, Kurakhove, Zakitne, Maksymilianivka and Chasiv Yar, according to Vadym Filashkin, head of the region’s military administration.

Analysis: Why Zelensky’s plea will fall on many deaf Republican ears

There is a simple reason why many Republicans will snub Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s desperate plea for billions of dollars in arms and ammunition. Sending more taxpayer funds to a war on the edge of Europe is incompatible with the “America First” creed of a party dominated by ex-President Donald Trump.

The previous and possibly future commander in chief’s position is countered by President Joe Biden, who warns that allowing Russia to win would embolden an adversary that could threaten US security.

Their likely rematch means the 2024 election is about far more than who will run the United States for the next four years. It’s likely to decide the fate of Ukraine, the shape of the Western world, and the nature of US global power.

Zelensky appealed to the Republican-led House to unblock the latest US aid package after Ukraine marked the second anniversary of Russia’s unprovoked invasion amid increasing signs the war is tilting Moscow’s way as Ukrainian soldiers run out of bullets.

He told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins in an interview in Kyiv on Sunday that Republicans such as Trump ally Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance – who have been speaking out against more Ukraine aid – do not comprehend the stakes of the conflict.

“To understand it is to come to the front line to see what’s going on, to speak with the people, then to go to civilians to understand … what will (happen to) them without this support. And he will understand that millions … will be killed. It’s a fact,” Zelensky said in an advance clip from the interview released on Sunday.

The full interview is due to air on CNN on Monday.

Read more of the analysis here.

Zelensky says at least 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have died in the war with Russia. Here's what to know

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said at least 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have died in the war with Russia, in a rare admission of his country’s losses.

Zelensky disputed Russian claims of much higher numbers when it comes to Ukrainian casualties. The Ukrainian president also said tens of thousands of civilians in occupied parts of the country have been killed. 

CNN cannot independently verify these numbers. Ukraine’s battlefield losses are a closely guarded secret, but US officials estimate some 70,000 soldiers have been killed — and nearly twice that number wounded.

In his speech on Sunday, Zelensky reiterated his hope that the US would pass a bill through Congress to provide the nation with more funding.

He rejected comments from Republican US Sen. J.D. Vance that more US funding would not change the outcome of the war, telling CNN’s Kaitlan Collins that “millions will be killed” if the US does not send aid.

Here are the latest developments in the conflict:

  • Aid arrives late: Ukraine’s defense minister said that half of the military aid pledged to his country arrives late, costing Kyiv’s forces on the battlefield. He blamed the delays on what he called a “dynamic and changing” situation and said “allied forces must provide supplies on time.”
  • Schumer urges aid: US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called for more aid to Ukraine after returning from his visit to the country. It adds to mounting pressure on US House Speaker Mike Johnson to bring a Ukraine aid bill up for a vote as concern grows about Kyiv’s dwindling ammunition stockpiles.
  • War crimes: Ukraine’s top prosecutor has said 350 Russian war crimes cases are before Ukrainian courts. More than 20 countries have opened investigations into possible Russian crimes against Ukrainian citizens, including the United States, he said.
  • “Bolder” action: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the West must be “bolder” in its support for Ukraine to stave off Russia’s military advance. Writing in Britain’s The Sunday Times, Sunak called on Kyiv’s partners to supply the country with more weapons. His remarks come a day after G7 leaders said they remained committed to supporting Ukraine for “as long as it takes.”
  • Voting in Zaporizhzhia: In the latest example of the Kremlin trying to enforce legitimacy in occupied parts of Ukraine, a Russian presidential election is underway in the southern region, according to state media. President Vladimir Putin is all but certain to win.
  • More sanctions over Navalny: Australia has imposed financial sanctions and travel bans on seven Russian prison officers it accuses of mistreating Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny at the Siberian penal colony where he died earlier this month. The US and EU enacted fresh sanctions against Russia last week in response to Navalny’s death and Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Australia sanctions Russian prison officials over Navalny's death

Australia on Monday imposed financial sanctions and travel bans on seven Russian prison officers it accuses of mistreating Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny at the Siberian penal colony where he died earlier this month.

“Australia holds President Putin and the Russian Government responsible for Mr Navalny’s treatment and death in custody,” Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said in a statement.

The Kremlin has denied having anything to do with Navalny’s death.

Australia has hit Russian individuals with multiple rounds of “Magnitsky-style” human rights sanctions since December 2022, when it first applied penalties to Russians accused of poisoning Navalny in 2020. 

The United States and European Union enacted fresh sanctions against Russia last week in response to Navalny’s death and Moscow’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Zelensky tells CNN "millions will be killed" in Ukraine without more US aid

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN that “millions will be killed” in the war against Russia if US lawmakers don’t approve President Joe Biden’s request for $60 billion of military aid to the country.

Asked by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins about a statement made by Republican US Sen. J.D. Vance that the outcome of the war would not change even if Ukraine receives the money, Zelensky said he wasn’t sure Vance “understands what is going on here.”

“To understand it, is to come to the front line to see what’s going on, to speak with the people, then to go to civilians to understand … what will (happen to) them without this support. And he will understand that millions (of) people … will be killed. It’s a fact,” Zelensky said.