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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12:23 p.m. ET, April 22, 2022

Luhansk region evacuation bid disrupted by Russian shelling, military official says

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Lviv

Smoke rises above the city skyline in Rubizhne, Ukraine, on April 18.
Smoke rises above the city skyline in Rubizhne, Ukraine, on April 18. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

"We will try to get to the southern part of Rubizhne by car, because people are waiting to be evacuated," Haidai said.

"We will also bring food there. Unfortunately, the evacuation bus did not get there due to the heavy artillery fire. The Russians do not allow us to save the civilians, they are blocking people in cities that are constantly under fire. "

Rubizhne has seen heavy fighting amid a Russian offensive in Ukraine's Donbas region.

On Wednesday, Haidai told CNN that 80% of Luhansk's territory is under Russian control. In the last few weeks, Russian forces have made a greater effort to direct their invasion toward taking parts of eastern and southern Ukraine.

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

"I can’t leave it": The residents of an embattled Donbas village are determined to stay

From CNN's Clarissa Ward, Brent Swails and Scott McWhinnie

Galina Nikolaevna is weeping in the wreckage of her home in the village of Kamyshevakha in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. Two days ago, a couple of Russian shells landed on the house and the garage, making it uninhabitable.

But Nikolaevna and her husband are refusing to leave.

Like so many people here, they have nowhere to go and no means to support themselves, Nikolaevna said. She has been told that it costs $300 just to get to Bakhmut, the nearest town under full Ukrainian control.

We don’t even have [a] liter of gasoline. And our property,” Nikolaevna told CNN, breaking down and sobbing before pushing on: “We worked all our lives for this.”

This village, on the outskirts of Popasna in Luhansk, has been hit hard by artillery over the past days. People here are now completely cut off from basic services. Large buckets and troughs are laid out in front of the damaged building to collect the rainwater. 

Read the full story here:

4:53 a.m. ET, April 22, 2022

It's 11:45 a.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

A man walks past a damaged residential building in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 21.
A man walks past a damaged residential building in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 21. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

New satellite images have revealed newly dug mass graves outside Mariupol. The desperate situation in the the besieged southern city shows continues, with Ukraine saying that no evacuation corridors have been agreed with the Russians for Friday.

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

  • Mass graves: Ukrainian officials say they have identified mass graves outside the city of Mariupol, which they say adds to mounting proof of Russian war crimes against Ukrainian civilians. 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 at a site on the northwestern edge of Manhush, a town around 12 miles (19 kilometers) 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. Ukrainian officials have appealed for the Russians to guarantee safe passage for civilians, particularly those trapped in Mariupol. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday that "thousands" of civilians remain blockaded inside Mariupol as he likened the Russian siege to a "terrorist operation." 
  • Donbas: Ukrainian officials described heavy fighting throughout the Donetsk and Luhansk regions amid a Russian offensive in the Donbas. Olena Symonenko, an adviser to the Deputy Head of the Office of the President, said in televised remarks late Thursday that over the last 24-hour period, 42 more settlements had come under Russian control in the Donetsk region.
  • 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.”
  • Neighboring nations say Russia committed genocide: The Estonian and Latvian parliaments adopted statements on Thursday saying Russia has committed genocide in Ukraine, citing mass graves and atrocities discovered in areas since vacated by Russian forces.
  • Annexations will cripple Russia, Zelensky says: Zelensky warned Russia on Thursday that any attempts at annexation -- similar to Crimea or the so-called breakaway republics in the nation's east -- will lead to sanctions that will leave Russia as poor as it was after its civil war in 1917.
  • US sends more aid to Ukraine: Saying there was a "critical window" as Russian forces build up in the east of Ukraine, Biden announced an additional $800 million in military assistance to Ukraine. The new package would include heavy artillery and drones, he said Thursday, along with ammunition.
3:40 a.m. ET, April 22, 2022

4 ways Russia is trying to prove it can live with sanctions

From CNN's Clare Sebastian

Russian President Vladimir Putin has devoted considerable airtime over the past few weeks to reassuring the Russian public that sanctions hurt the West more than they hurt Russia.

Putin is preparing his country for the long haul.

"The collective West does not plan on backing off its policy of economic pressure on Russia," he told aviation executives recently. Every sector of Russia's economy needs to "make a long-term plan based on internal opportunities."

Putin's policy of self-reliance was predictable. Ever since Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, the country has been preparing for increased Western sanctions with a strategy dubbed "Fortress Russia."

And yet the scale of the economic counter-offensive waged by the West since the invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, along with the rising tide of companies cutting off business with Russia to guard against reputational risk or future sanctions, was a shock.

Here are some of the ways companies, industries, and officials are scrambling to live with Russia's new normal.

Read the full story:

12:21 p.m. ET, April 22, 2022

Heavy fighting in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, officials say

From CNN's Olga Voitovych and Yulia Kesaieva in Lviv

A man walks past a missile that lodged in the ground in Rubizhne in the Luhansk region of Ukraine, on April 21.
A man walks past a missile that lodged in the ground in Rubizhne in the Luhansk region of Ukraine, on April 21. (Hamuda Hassan/Reuters)

Ukrainian officials described heavy fighting throughout the Donetsk and Luhansk regions amid a Russian offensive in the Donbas. 

Olena Symonenko, an adviser to the Deputy Head of the Office of the President, said in televised remarks late Thursday that over the last 24-hour period, 42 more settlements had come under Russian control in the Donetsk region.

"This happened today, so it may well happen that our armed forces will return them under our control tomorrow. But as of today, we understand that fierce hostilities are ongoing in these settlements. And people who stayed there are staying in the shelters or basements."

Serhii Haidai, head of the Luhansk regional military administration, said that Russian forces had been advancing in three directions toward the towns of Rubizhne, Popasna and Novotoshkivske. 

"The enemy is trying to advance in the area of ​​Rubizhne," he said. "The defensive battles with the enemy continue in the direction of the settlements of Novotoshkivske and Popasna."

Some context: Haidai told CNN on Wednesday that 80% of Luhansk's territory is under Russian control. Russian forces have made a greater effort in the last few weeks to direct their invasion toward taking parts of eastern and southern Ukraine.

3:17 a.m. ET, April 22, 2022

No evacuation corridors are open Friday, Ukraine deputy Prime minister says

From CNN's Olga Voitovych

Women from Mariupol disembark at an evacuation point, carrying people from Mariupol, Melitopol and surrounding towns under Russian control, on April 21, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine.
Women from Mariupol disembark at an evacuation point, carrying people from Mariupol, Melitopol and surrounding towns under Russian control, on April 21, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

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.

Ukrainian officials have appealed for the Russians to guarantee safe passage for civilians, particularly those trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, the Donetsk regional military administrator, said 79 residents of the besieged city of Mariupol were safely evacuated to Zaproizhzhia on Thursday, adding that almost 100,000 residents of Mariupol have already arrived in Zaporizhzhia.

Evacuations of Mariupol have been fraught with danger, however, as corridors for safe passage have failed on numerous occasions due to Russian forces' attacks in the area.

6:12 a.m. ET, April 22, 2022

What we know about the situation in Mariupol

An armoured convoy of pro-Russian troops moves along a road in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 21.
An armoured convoy of pro-Russian troops moves along a road in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 21. (Chingis Kondarov/Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed the "liberation" of the besieged southern port city of Mariupol by Russian forces but claimed to have stopped short of storming of a steel plant — the final bastion of Ukrainian defenders inside the city, where civilians have also sheltered. But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukrainian forces there continue to resist.

Here are the latest developments:

  • Evidence of mass graves outside city: Claims by Ukrainian officials about the location of apparent mass graves outside Mariupol were bolstered by the publication of satellite images collected and analyzed by Maxar Technologies. CNN cannot independently verify claims that Russians have disposed of bodies in mass graves at that location, and a firm death toll following weeks of heavy bombardment of Mariupol is not available. But journalists in the city have documented the hasty burial of civilians there, and images have surfaced on social media showing bodies apparently left for collection in the city.
  • Steel plant barely holding on: The situation at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, a sprawling complex that once employed more than 10,000 people, is “close to a catastrophe,” the CEO of the company that owns the plant told CNN. Yuriy Ryzhenkov said originally there had been enough supplies for two to three weeks but they were almost eight weeks into the blockade. He added that those still there “were not giving up.” Hundreds of soldiers, as well as civilians seeking refuge, are believed to be pinned down by Russian attacks.
  • Russia scraps taking steel plant by force: According to state media, Putin told Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at a meeting at the Kremlin Thursday that there is no need to storm the industrial area around the Azovstal steel plant, and those who choose to surrender should be treated in accordance with international conventions. 
  • Ukraine disputes Russia's claim of control in Mariupol: Putin also congratulated Shoigu and the Russian military on taking control of the city of Mariupol. Ukrainian officials have denied that Mariupol has fallen to Russia, and President Zelensky has likened the siege to a "terrorist operation."
  • US questions Russia claims of city capture: US President Joe Biden said Thursday it was “questionable” whether Putin controls the city, and called on Putin to allow humanitarian aid into Ukraine to allow those trapped inside the steel plant to be able to get out.
  • Thousands remain trapped: President Zelensky said that "thousands" of civilians remain blockaded in the city and remain trapped by air and ground attacks with little opportunity to evacuate safely. Seventy-nine residents were safely evacuated to Zaproizhzhia on Thursday, the Donetsk regional military administrator said. However, shelling near the extraction point prevented others from being evacuated, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said, and there was no possibility to evacuate civilians from the Azovstal plant. Vereshchuk said Friday that no evacuation corridors had been agreed with the Russian side due to "danger on the routes."
1:44 a.m. ET, April 22, 2022

Ukrainian lawmaker: "What's happening in Ukraine is called genocide"

From CNN's Travis Caldwell

In this file photo from June
In this file photo from June (Ovsyannikova Yulia/Ukrinform/Future Publishing/Getty Images)

A Ukrainian lawmaker said on Friday that Russia's brutality during its invasion of the country is evidence it cannot be trusted to uphold future peace and described its acts as "genocide."

Kira Rudik, a member of Ukraine's parliament, told CNN in an interview from Kyiv that fellow lawmakers were heartbroken over the news on Thursday of evacuation corridors in the besieged city of Mariupol — where estimates of tens of thousands of civilians are trapped — failing to hold.

“We had at least five buses of women and children ready to go, and we were not able to take them out because Russians didn't stop firing. We were not able to get the ceasefire from them, though beforehand they promised to do that,” Rudik said.
“So, could you even imagine what these women and children felt sitting there in the buses for, I don’t know, a couple of hours waiting if their life will be spared or not. And they were not. They had to return back.”

Russian atrocities have made it apparent to Ukrainians that the entirety of the nation must be defended at all costs, she said, noting the slain civilians found in cities north of Kyiv after Russian forces retreated.

"We are aware about what's facing us if we fail. I have been to Bucha. I know what they will do to us. And I don't want this to happen to myself, to any of the people that I love. That's why we are fighting. We'll be fighting for every single inch right until the end."

Rudik said she had faith in the international community to try and help put pressure on Russia moving forward, but called out countries for taking “halfway” acts — condemning the invasion yet still conducting trade with Russia.

Referencing Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, she added, “I understand that it takes time for the world to adapt to the truth that we in Ukraine have known for eight years. You cannot trust Russia.”

Rudik told CNN she did not have faith in settlements or negotiations because of Russian aggression, equivalating Putin’s acts with Nazi Germany in World War II.  

“This is why we are explaining to the world that what's happening in Ukraine is called genocide. This is why we're explaining to the world that you cannot get into any peaceful agreement with Russia, because in comparison it is like going into a peaceful agreement with Hitler and saying, ‘Oh, we will talk to him and probably he will spare some lives of the Jews,'" she said.

Further evacuations of Mariupol: Shelling near the extraction point prevented people from being evacuated Thursday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk had said.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, the Donetsk regional military administrator, said 79 residents of the besieged city of Mariupol were safely evacuated to Zaproizhzhia on Thursday.

12:49 a.m. ET, April 22, 2022

Mass graves near Mariupol are evidence of war crimes, Ukrainian officials say

From CNN's Nathan Hodge, Julia Presniakova, Katie Polglase, Jennifer Hauser, Hira Humayun and Julia Hollingsworth

Ukrainian officials say they have identified mass graves outside the city of Mariupol, which they say adds to mounting proof of Russian war crimes against Ukrainian civilians.

The claim is supported by photos collected and analyzed by US satellite imagery company Maxar Technologies that appears to show more than 200 new graves at a site on the northwestern edge of Manhush, a town around 12 miles (19 kilometers) to the west of Mariupol.

An estimated 100,000 people remain trapped in Mariupol which has been under constant bombardment since it was surrounded by Russian forces on March 1, according to Ukrainian officials. Ukrainian officials claim that more than 20,000 people in the city have died during the assault.

In a post Thursday on messaging app Telegram, Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, said Russian trucks had collected bodies from the port city, before "dumping them" in Manhush.

"This is direct evidence of war crimes and attempts to cover them up," he said.

CNN cannot independently verify claims Russians have disposed of bodies in mass graves at that location. A firm death toll following weeks of heavy bombardment of Mariupol is not available.

However, journalists in Mariupol have documented the hasty burial of civilians in the besieged city, and images have surfaced on social media showing bodies apparently left for collection in the city.

Read the full story: