April 22, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Ivana Kottasová, Travis Caldwell, Andrew Raine, Lianne Kolirin, George Ramsay, Adrienne Vogt, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 12:13 a.m. ET, April 23, 2022
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12:30 p.m. ET, April 22, 2022

It's just past 7 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know.

Investigations into allegations of civilian deaths in Kyiv, Bucha and elsewhere continue as more evidence emerges.

Meanwhile, civilians remain trapped in Ukrainian cities like Mariupol and Luhansk, with no new evacuation corridors established Friday. Mariupol's mayor told CNN in an interview that "one clear day of cease fire" is needed to evacuate civilians sheltering in the Azovstal iron and steel plant in the besieged city.

Here are the latest developments on Russia's war in Ukraine:

  • Russia's land bridge ambition: Russia has revealed that the goal of its invasion of Ukraine is to take "full control" over southern Ukraine as well as the eastern Donbas region, and establishing a land corridor connecting Russia to Crimea, the peninsula it annexed in 2014. Ukrainian officials described heavy fighting throughout the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, in addition to at least 20 injured in "intensified" shelling in the southern Mykolaiv region.
  • Mass graves: Ukrainian officials say they have identified mass graves outside the city of Mariupol. The claim is supported by photos collected and analyzed by US satellite imagery company Maxar Technologies that appear to show more than 200 new graves to the west of Mariupol.
  • No way out: No evacuation corridors in Ukraine have been agreed with the Russians due to "danger on the routes," Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Friday. The president of the European Council, Charles Michel, said he "strongly urged" for immediate humanitarian access and safe passage from Mariupol and other besieged cities in a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday. The European Union's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, also called for evacuation corridors in Mariupol to be created "immediately."
  • Bodies examined: Forensic investigators are examining 1,084 bodies of civilians found in the Kyiv region following the withdrawal of Russian forces, according to the police.
  • A call for larger NATO presence: Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda has called on NATO to send more troops to eastern Europe including to his own country.
  • Killings in Bucha: UN human rights officers have documented the "unlawful killing, including by summary execution, of some 50 civilians" in Bucha, a town on the outskirts of Kyiv, the UN Human Rights Office said Friday.
  • Luhansk evacuation disrupted: Serhiy Haidai, the head of the Luhansk region military administration, said Friday that Russian shelling disrupted an attempt to evacuate civilians from the heavily contested eastern Ukrainian town of Rubizhne, stopping a bus from reaching the town.
  • UK PM on Putin's prospects: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday that Russia has a "realistic possibility" of winning the war in Ukraine, calling the situation there "unpredictable" at the moment.
  • Ukraine alleges Russian orders were given to kill POWs: Ukraine’s military intelligence on Wednesday released a purported communications intercept of Russian armed forces referring to an alleged order to kill Ukrainian prisoners of war in the city of Popasna in the eastern region of Luhansk, which is bearing the brunt of Russia’s renewed attack. It appears to feature Russian soldiers saying: “Keep the most senior among them, and let the rest go forever. Let them go forever, damn it, so that no one will ever see them again, including relatives.”
12:23 p.m. ET, April 22, 2022

EU's top diplomat calls for evacuation corridors to be created "immediately" in Mariupol

From CNN's Sarah Diab in London and James Frater in Brussels

High Representative Josep Borrell speaks at a European Council meeting in Strasbourg, France on April 6.
High Representative Josep Borrell speaks at a European Council meeting in Strasbourg, France on April 6. (Philipp von Ditfurth/picture alliance/Getty Images)

The European Union's top diplomat, High Representative Josep Borrell, called for evacuation corridors in Mariupol to be created "immediately with necessary ceasefire assurances, from Azovstal and other areas of the city to other parts of Ukraine" in a written statement on Friday.

"Free and safe access for those delivering humanitarian assistance must be ensured, in line with basic human rights principles and international humanitarian law," he urged.

Borrell commended Ukraine's "efforts to finding a diplomatic solution for the evacuation of civilians" but said the EU regrets "that Russia is not reciprocating."

In the statement, Borrell also highlighted the urgency of the situation, saying:

"For weeks now, the world has borne witness to a cruel, illegal onslaught in Mariupol by Russia leading to wide-scale destruction of the city, including atrocities against civilians, under a twisted pretext of 'liberating' the city." 

"Thousands of its inhabitants have been deported to Russia or forcibly displaced to the non-government-controlled areas of Ukraine," he said.

Borrell added that over 100,000 civilians remain in Mariupol, including as many as 1,000 who have taken refuge at the Azovstal steel plant and are defended by Ukrainian Armed Forces.

11:22 a.m. ET, April 22, 2022

International swimming body suspends Russian Olympic champion for attending Putin rally

From CNN's Sammy Mngqosini in London 

Evgeny Rylov competes at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021.
Evgeny Rylov competes at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

The International Swimming Federation (FINA) – swimming’s governing body – announced on Thursday that it had suspended two-time Olympic champion Evgeny Rylov for nine months for attending a rally hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in March. 

“The FINA Bureau met today and acknowledged the decision of the FINA Disciplinary Panel to suspend Evgeny Rylov (RUS) from all competitions and activities organized or sanctioned by FINA, including any International Competition on the FINA World Aquatic Calendar, for a period of nine months, following Mr. Rylov’s attendance and conduct at an event held at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on 8 March 2022. Mr. Rylov’s suspension took effect on 20 April 2022,” according to a statement

Rylov, a gold medalist in the 100 meter and 200 meter at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, earlier pulled out of the June 18 to July 3 world championship in support of banned Russian athletes. 

The statement also confirmed that Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials will not be invited to any FINA competitions for the remainder of 2022. 

CNN has reached out to Rylov as well as Russian and Belarusian swimming federations for comment. 

10:56 a.m. ET, April 22, 2022

At least 20 injured in Ukraine's Mykolaiv region in past 48 hours, official says

From CNN's Katharina Krebs

At least 20 people were injured in Mykolaiv region in the past two days in attacks by Russian troops, the head of Mykolaiv regional council, Hanna Zamazeeva, said in a Telegram post on Friday.

"Fortunately, there are no children among the victims," she added. 

Zamazeeva said the victims were taken to regional hospitals.

10:48 a.m. ET, April 22, 2022

Netherlands says it is "firmly committed" to ending Russian energy imports by end of 2022

From CNN’s Benjamin Brown in London

The Netherlands is “firmly committed” to ending the import of Russian oil and gas by the end of the year, Dutch Minister for Climate and Energy Policy Rob Jetten said Friday.

The Dutch government will subsidize energy companies to fill its Bergermeer gas storage facility to 70% capacity by the end of the year, spokesperson for the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy Pieter ten Bruggencate told CNN Friday.

Subsidies were necessary as an incentive to import gas at current price levels, ten Bruggencate said, adding that the Netherlands would make an estimated 623,000,000 euros (about $672,000,000) available.

The state-owned energy firm Energie Beheer Nederland would top up the remaining capacity should the subsidy program not prove sufficient, ten Bruggencate added.

12:25 p.m. ET, April 22, 2022

Evacuation bus from eastern Ukrainian city of Popasna came under fire, Ukrainian authorities say

From CNN's Katharina Krebs in London

Russian troops opened fired at an evacuation bus with 25 people onboard from the city of Popasna, the head of the Luhansk regional military administration Serhiy Haidai said in a Telegram statement on Friday.

"This evacuation was special and extremely dangerous. 22 passengers were seated. There were a 25-year-old boy, who was injured in the back and leg, and a paralyzed elderly woman in a stretcher on the floor," Haidai said.

He added that a mother with a baby were also rescued from a bomb shelter. 

According to Haidai, no one was injured and the passengers are now safe. 

10:25 a.m. ET, April 22, 2022

France to send self-propelled artillery system to Ukraine

From CNN's Dalal Mawad and Camille Knight in Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron waits before taking part in a France Inter radio talk show in Paris, France, on April 22.
French President Emmanuel Macron waits before taking part in a France Inter radio talk show in Paris, France, on April 22. (Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images)

France is sending French-made CAESAR self-propelled howitzers — long-range weapons — to Ukraine by the end of the month, the Elysée Palace confirmed Friday. 

In an interview with French media outlet Ouest-France on Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron said the country was “delivering substantial equipment, from MILAN to CAESAR and several types of weapons.”

“I think we have to continue on this path. Always with a red line, which is not to enter into co-belligerence,” the French president added.

About 40 Ukrainian military service members will arrive in France to get trained on the military equipment, according to the Elysée. 

MILAN anti-tank weapons systems have already been delivered, the Elysée said. 

The CAESAR is a truck-mounted artillery system with a self-propelled gun developed by Nexter Systems.

According to the company, CAESAR units have been deployed by the French army since 2009 in various countries, including “Afghanistan, Lebanon, Mali and the Sahel, Iraq, and East Asia.”

"France continues to support Ukraine militarily," the French defense ministry said Friday. "The President of the Republic has decided to deliver several CAESAR artillery guns and thousands of shells. We stand with the Ukrainian people."

9:58 a.m. ET, April 22, 2022

European Council president "strongly urged" for immediate Mariupol humanitarian access in call with Putin

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite and Radina Gigova in London

The president of the European Council, Charles Michel, said he "strongly urged" for immediate humanitarian access and safe passage from Mariupol and other besieged cities in a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday. 

Michel "firmly reiterated the EU’s position: support for Ukraine and her sovereignty, condemnation and sanctions for Russia’s aggression," he said Friday in a tweet on his verified account.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin said that Putin had "a lengthy telephone conversation" with Michel. 

"The development of the situation in Ukraine was discussed in detail. Charles Michel briefed Vladmir Putin on his contact with the Ukrainian leadership during his recent trip to Kyiv," according to a statement from the Kremlin. 

Putin "outlined his principled assessments in connection with a special military operation to protect the republics of Donbass" and spoke about "measures taken on an ongoing basis to protect civilian population, the daily opening of humanitarian corridors and ceasefire declaration for the safe evacuation of civilians from the combat zone," the Kremlin said. 

"It was noted that after the liberation of Mariupol, for humanitarian reasons, an order was given to cancel the storming of the industrial zone of the Azovstal plant. At the same time, all servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, militants of the nationalist battalions and foreign mercenaries who lay down their arms are guaranteed life, dignified treatment in accordance with international law and the provision of qualified medical care. But the Kyiv regime does not allow them this opportunity," the Kremlin said. 

"Attention was drawn to the irresponsible statements of EU representatives about the need to resolve the situation in Ukraine by military means, as well as ignoring the numerous war crimes committed by the Ukrainian security forces," the Kremlin said. "It was noted that Brussels could influence the Kiev authorities in order to force them to stop the massive shelling of Donbas settlements and other gross violations of international humanitarian law."

Some context: World leaders have accused Russia of carrying out war crimes for weeks. There have been mass graves and murdered civilians found in Bucha and outside of Mariupol. The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor called Ukraine a "crime scene," following the ICC formally opening an investigation into the situation in Ukraine on March 2. And just today, London’s Metropolitan Police said it has received around 50 referrals of alleged war crimes in Ukraine, as it collates evidence to assist the ICC with its ongoing investigation. 

Responding to a call by Michel for direct contact between Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Putin "reaffirmed the well-known position on this matter, noting that such a possibility depends, in particular, on concrete results in the ongoing negotiations between Russian and Ukrainian representatives, during which the Ukrainian side is showing inconsistency and is not ready to seek mutually acceptable solutions."

The Kremlin also reiterated unfounded claims that the leadership of "most" EU countries "indulge" in Russophobia, "which manifests itself, for example, in the cultural, humanitarian and sports fields."

9:22 a.m. ET, April 22, 2022

One dead as shelling intensifies in Mykolaiv, mayor says

From CNN's Anastasia Graham-Yooll, Julia Presniakova and Olga Voitovych

A Ukrainian soldier checks the shrapnel marks in a village near the frontline of Mykolaiv, Ukraine, on April 19.
A Ukrainian soldier checks the shrapnel marks in a village near the frontline of Mykolaiv, Ukraine, on April 19. (Celestino Arce/NurPhoto/Shutterstock)

One person has died and six were wounded as a result of "intensified" shelling in Ukraine’s southern city of Mykolaiv, according to the city's Mayor Oleksandr Sienkevych.

“In recent days, shelling has intensified. Just half an hour ago, we were fired upon again. They shoot all sorts: mostly cluster munitions, which are aimed at killing people,” Sienkevych said Friday.

Speaking on national television, Sienkevych urged residents to stay indoors during the curfew and hide between two walls to try to protect themselves.

“Yesterday, three people were injured; one unfortunately died," he said. "Yesterday, people came out at curfew. It is necessary to understand that the curfew is not for walks. And today three more people were injured."

Mykolaiv remains without a central water supply after a missile damaged the main pipeline early last week. The city has organized water distribution with trucks as well as additional well drilling in busy areas, Sienkevych added.

Russian forces have stepped up attacks in the regions of Mykolaiv and Kherson, as the Ukrainian armed forces called the assault in the country’s southern region more “aggressive and bold” on Sunday.

Andriy Yermak, head of the Office of the President of Ukraine
, said Friday that Moscow "has announced its plan for the second phase of the war. They think they can capture Donbas and the south of Ukraine, counting on the economic pressure of our state."

The acting commander of Russia's Central Military District said Friday that Russia had expanded its military goals to control southern Ukraine. 

Yermak added, "We have our own scenarios for the defense of Ukraine and I’d like to remind that many of the Kremlin's plans have already been destroyed by our army and people."