April 11, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Jessie Yeung, Helen Regan, Aditi Sangal, Jack Guy, Adrienne Vogt, Maureen Chowdhury and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 9:36 p.m. ET, April 11, 2023
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11:36 a.m. ET, April 11, 2023

Ukraine denies Wagner founder's claim that Russia controls 80% of Bakhmut

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio and Olga Voitovych

Wagner founder and financier Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed on Tuesday that Russian forces now control much of the embattled eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut

“We are fully concentrated on Bakhmut, continuing to carry out combat missions. In Bakhmut, most of it — that is, more than 80% — is under our control, including the entire administrative center, plants, factories, the city administration,” Prigozhin said. “What is left is part of the multi-story residential areas, where fortification districts were made. There are tunnels under these high-rise buildings.”

Ukrainian officials have denied Prigozhin’s claim.

"This statement by Prigozhin is not true,” Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesperson for the eastern grouping of the Ukrainian Armed Forces told CNN on Tuesday. “I've just been in touch with the commander of one of the brigades that are defending the city. I can confidently state that the Ukrainian defense forces control a much larger percentage of the territory of Bakhmut."

"Prigozhin needs to show at least some victory in the city, which they have been trying to capture for nine months in a row, so he makes such statements," Cherevatyi added. 

The Wagner founder has been known to make incorrect claims about his forces’ advance on the ground in Ukraine. Last week, he posted a grainy video raising a flag at dawn, saying Bakhmut had "been taken," despite ongoing fighting in and around the city. His claim was seen as a "pretty desperate" attempt, Western officials said.

What Western officials are saying: The officials conceded Russia had been able to make some progress in Bakhmut, but added it could be "measured in meters."

"The Russians at the moment, despite trying for six months, with huge numbers of personnel and huge numbers of losses, have been unable to take the town, and at the moment have made very, very slow progress,” the officials said at a briefing last Wednesday. 

In the video this Tuesday, Prigozhin said Wagner fighters had relinquished control of some areas around Bakhmut to the Russian military. 

“We handed over the flanks to the Ministry of Defence. Units of the Ministry of Defence, including the airborne troops, have today taken over both the right and left flanks,” he said. “That is why Zaliznyanskoye, Nikolaevka, and other settlements, which were stormed by units of the Wagner PMC in previous months, are in the area of responsibility of the airborne troops and other units of the Ministry of Defence.”

CNN’s Max Foster contributed to this post.

11:25 a.m. ET, April 11, 2023

Ukraine’s foreign minister says US secretary of state "reaffirmed ironclad support" in call

From CNN’s Florence Davey-Attlee 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has reassured Ukraine of the United States’ support following a leak of classified Pentagon documents, according to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

During a call on Tuesday, Blinken “reaffirmed the ironclad U.S. support and vehemently rejected any attempts to cast doubt on Ukraine’s capacity to win on the battlefield,” Kuleba wrote Tuesday on Twitter, adding that the US "remains Ukraine's trustworthy partner."

The comments come after a number of highly classified Pentagon documents were released online in recent weeks. Some divulge key weaknesses in Ukrainian weaponry, air defense, and battalion sizes and readiness at a critical point in the war, as Ukrainian forces gear up to launch a counteroffensive against the Russians – and just as the US and Ukraine have begun to develop a more mutually trusting relationship over intelligence-sharing.

CNN's Natasha Bertrand and Kylie Atwood contributed reporting to this post.

10:31 a.m. ET, April 11, 2023

Biden says he plans to speak with family of detained Wall Street Journal reporter

From CNN's Betsy Klein

US President Joe Biden told reporters that he planned to speak to the family of jailed Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich during his flight to Northern Ireland today.

The US State Department formally designated Gershkovich as wrongfully detained by Russia, and Biden said that he tried to speak to Gershkovich’s family on Monday but would attempt again today.

“We’re making it real clear that it’s totally illegal what’s happening. And we declared it, so changes the dynamic,” he said.

10:51 a.m. ET, April 11, 2023

Egyptian official denies leaked intelligence suggesting Egypt's military was producing weapons for Russia

From CNN’s Mostafa Salem and Anna Chernova

A senior Egyptian official denied that Egypt’s military was planning to produce 40,000 rockets for Russia, following a report from The Washington Post citing a leaked US intelligence document, Egyptian state-affiliated media said.

A leaked US intelligence document obtained by The Washington Post said Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi instructed officials to keep production and shipment secret "to avoid problems with the West."

The "top secret" document from February contains purported conversations between Sisi and senior Egyptian military officials, according to the newspaper. It referenced plans to supply Russia with artillery and gunpowder, with Sisi asking officials to keep the plans a secret, The Washington Post reported.

CNN has not seen the document cited by the Washington Post and is not able to confirm its authenticity.

The unnamed Egyptian official called the report "informational absurdity" and said that Egypt follows a "balanced policy" with all international parties, according to Al Qahera News, a state-affiliated media outlet. The statement was also carried by several other Egyptian state-affiliated news outlets.

Egypt is one of the world’s top recipients of US military aid, receiving $1.3 billion in military financing annually.

What Russia says: Russia’s Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov called the information a "hoax."

"It looks like another hoax, of which there are plenty now. This is how you should treat such publications," Peskov said in response to a question from a journalist on the report.

CNN has reached out to the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment.

Remember: Highly classified Pentagon documents leaked online in recent weeks have provided a rare window into how the US spies on allies and foes alike, deeply rattling US officials, who fear the revelations could jeopardize sensitive sources and compromise important foreign relationships.

Many of the documents, which US officials say are authentic, had markings indicating that they had been produced by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff's intelligence arm, known as J2, and appear to be briefing documents.

10:30 a.m. ET, April 11, 2023

US Senate leader requests all-Senate classified briefing about Pentagon documents on Ukraine

From CNN's Lauren Fox

A spokesperson for US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told CNN that Schumer has requested a classified briefing for all senators on the leaked classified US documents that appear to contain information about the war in Ukraine.

Investigations and impact: The US Justice Department is investigating how the trove of highly sensitive documents ended up on social media sites.

The Defense Department is still reviewing the matter and has taken steps to tighten the flow of such highly sensitive documents, officials said, which are normally available on any given day to hundreds of people across the government.

While the Pentagon has stood up an “interagency effort” to assess the impact of the leak, US officials and close allies already fear the revelations could jeopardize sensitive sources and compromise important foreign relationships.

Read more about what's believed to be in the documents.

10:04 a.m. ET, April 11, 2023

Russian parliament votes in favor of electronic military call-up papers 

From CNN's Anna Chernova

The Russian parliament, the State Duma, voted in favor of amendments to a bill that would allow for the electronic delivery of military call-up papers in addition to traditional letters. 

The bill passed through its third reading in the lower chamber of Russia’s parliament Tuesday. It now needs to be approved by the upper chamber, the Federation Council, which is scheduled to meet Wednesday. The final step is for the bill to be signed by President Vladimir Putin before it becomes law.

The Kremlin said Tuesday the amendments to military conscription legislation are not connected to mobilization, dismissing rumors of a new wave of enlistment in Russia.

Asked during a regular call with reporters if the Kremlin is concerned that the proposed law, if passed, would trigger another wave of a mass exodus of Russians, spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, "Absolutely not. It has nothing to do with mobilization; it has to do with military registration." 

"There is no second wave," Peskov said after being pressed further to respond to the rumors of an upcoming second wave of mobilization.

The State Duma published the bill on Tuesday. According to the document, electronic summonses for military service will be equated to paper summons. Currently, conscription documents in Russia must be hand-delivered by the local military enlistment office or through an employer.

A person will be considered notified even if they have not seen the call-up papers or email and from the moment of receipt of the summons. Those liable for military service will be banned from traveling abroad.

Remember: Russia’s "partial mobilization" for its war in Ukraine, which was announced in September, resulted in a significant number of citizens fleeing Russia, as CNN previously reported.

The Kremlin acknowledged mistakes were made in its military draft process, but maintains there is no discussion of a new wave of mobilization.

 

8:18 a.m. ET, April 11, 2023

Nearly 8,500 civilian deaths confirmed in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, UN says 

From CNN’s Allegra Goodwin in London 

Volunteers stand next to the bodies of members of a civilian convoy killed near the village of Kurylivka in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, on October 1.
Volunteers stand next to the bodies of members of a civilian convoy killed near the village of Kurylivka in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, on October 1. (Vitalii Hnidyi/Reuters)

Nearly 8,500 civilians are confirmed to have been killed since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said in a statement Monday.

The OHCHR said it had recorded 22,734 civilian casualties in Ukraine between the beginning of the full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022 until April 9, 2023 — with 8,490 civilians killed and 14,244 injured.

The actual figures are likely to be “considerably higher,” the OHCHR cautioned, because information from some frontline locations such as Mariupol and Severodonetsk had been delayed, with many reports pending corroboration. 

Most confirmed civilian deaths occurred in Ukrainian government-controlled territory that is under attack by Russia, according to the OHCHR, with 3,927 killed in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which have seen some of the bloodiest battles in the war so far. At least 1,894 civilians have been killed in territory occupied by the Russian Federation when the casualties occurred, the OHCHR said. 

7:52 a.m. ET, April 11, 2023

Russian security services detain man accused of sending money to Ukrainian armed forces  

From CNN's Darya Tarasova and Sarah Dean

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has detained a man on suspicion of treason, state news agency TASS reported Tuesday. He is accused of transferring money to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

The man was detained in Khabarovsk, a city in Russia’s southeast, after making “transfers of personal funds for the purchase of weapons, ammunition and uniforms by the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” the FSB said, according to TASS.

He faces a prison sentence of 12 to 20 years and a possible additional fine of up to 500,000 rubles (around $6,000) if found guilty of treason, TASS reported.

7:46 a.m. ET, April 11, 2023

Ukraine's top national security official downplays leaked intelligence documents

From CNN's Inke Kappeler in Berlin

The Pentagon from above on March 3, 2022.
The Pentagon from above on March 3, 2022. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Some of the information in the highly classified leaked Pentagon documents was “not secret at all," according to the head of Ukraine’s National Security Council. 

"You can find it in publicly available sources,“ Oleksii Danilov told journalist, Vassili Golod of German broadcaster ARD, in an interview on Sunday.

Ukraine is in constant contact with its key allies, such as the US, the UK, Germany and Poland, according to Danilov.

"The data for conducting certain operations, the size of the units, who is involved and in what direction - this information is absolutely secret. If someone thinks he has it, I can only congratulate him. But I don't know where he could have them from," he said.

“For the other part of the information - if it was indeed secret - the agencies in the United States and the United Kingdom will know exactly where it came from. And why it surfaced at this particular time," added Danilov.

The start of Ukraine’s planned counteroffensive will be decided by the staff of the Commander-in-Chief at the very last moment, stressed Danilov.

"If someone believes that we have only one option, it does not correspond to reality. Even three options would not be much," Danilov said in the interview.

"Intelligence agencies need to be more vigilant when it comes to classified documents," he added. 

Some context: Ukraine has had to alter some of its military plans after the leak of highly classified Pentagon documents, a source close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskytold CNN.

However, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, has said he believes the documents have “nothing to do with Ukraine’s real plans” and are based on “a large amount of fictitious information” disseminated by Russia.