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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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."

8:46 a.m. ET, April 22, 2022

British prime minister says it's a "realistic possibility" Russia may win war in Ukraine

From CNN's Alex Stambaugh

Britains Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference in New Delhi, India, on April 22.
Britains Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference in New Delhi, India, on April 22. (Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

Speaking to reporters in New Delhi, Johnson said Russian President Vladimir Putin has a "huge army," but added:

"He has a very difficult political position because he's made a catastrophic blunder. The only option he now has really is to try to continue to use his appalling, grinding approach led by artillery, trying to grind the Ukrainians down.
He's very close to securing a land bridge in Mariupol now. The situation is, I'm afraid, unpredictable at this stage. We just have to be realistic about that."

Johnson said Britain is now looking to send "backfill" equipment to countries such as Poland, which may send "heavier weaponry" to support Ukraine's resistance.

"We're looking at sending tanks to Poland to help as they send some of their T-72s to Ukraine," Johnson announced, adding that Britain is looking at other options such as "anti-ship defenses."

"We've got to look at what more we can do militarily, we've got to keep intensifying the economic sanctions ... and we've also got to set out a vision for the future of Ukraine in the security architecture of Europe," he said.

Johnson also said that the British Embassy in Ukraine will reopen in Kyiv "very shortly."

8:10 a.m. ET, April 22, 2022

Avoiding direct military confrontation with Russia should be NATO's top priority, German chancellor says  

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks at a press conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, on April 11.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks at a press conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, on April 11. (Soeren Stache/AFP/Getty Images)

NATO must avoid a direct military confrontation with Russia that could lead to a third world war, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an interview with Germany's Der Spiegel, when he was asked to comment on why Germany has not delivered heavy weapons to Ukraine.

''There is no rule book for this situation that states at what point we are considered a party to the war in Ukraine,'' Scholz said in the interview, which was published Friday, when asked why he thought delivering tanks to Ukraine could lead to nuclear war.

"That's why it is all the more important that we consider each step very carefully and coordinate closely with one another," Scholz said, adding that avoiding "an escalation towards NATO is a top priority for me."

"There must be no nuclear war,'' Scholz said.

"That's why I don't focus on polls or let myself be irritated by shrill calls. The consequences of an error would be dramatic," he added.

Scholz is facing growing criticism from within Germany and abroad for his government's alleged reluctance to deliver heavy weapons, such as tanks and howitzers, to Ukraine as Russia’s invasion has entered a new and potentially decisive phase. 

In the interview, Scholz warned he does not ''think it is justified for Germany and NATO to become warring parties in Ukraine.'' 

Scholz also said he does not believe an embargo on Russian gas would end the war in Ukraine. 

"I absolutely do not see how a gas embargo would end the war. If [Russian President Vladimir] Putin were open to economic arguments, he would never have begun this crazy war," he said.
"Secondly, you act as if this was about money. But it's about avoiding a dramatic economic crisis and the loss of millions of jobs and factories that would never again open their doors," he said. 

The German chancellor and his government have also come under fire for not weaning off Russian energy immediately. Scholz said in early April that his country is doing all it can to achieve this goal "very soon."

Scholz said the most important goal in the current situation is a ceasefire and that Russian troops must withdraw. ''There must be a peace agreement that enables Ukraine to defend itself in future,'' he said. 

7:55 a.m. ET, April 22, 2022

"One clear day of cease fire" is needed to evacuate civilians from Mariupol plant, mayor tells CNN

Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko gives an interview at an undisclosed location in Ukraine on April 21.
Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko gives an interview at an undisclosed location in Ukraine on April 21. (Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters)

The Mayor of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol has told CNN that "one clear day of cease fire" is needed to evacuate civilians sheltering in the Azovstal iron and steel plant.

Hundreds of soldiers and civilians are believed to be hunkered down in the huge industrial complex that has become the final bastion of Ukrainian defenders in the city.

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed the "liberation" of Mariupol by Russian forces, but ordered troops to blockade the steel plant rather than storm it.

Ukrainian officials have denied that the city has fallen to Russia.

"The day before yesterday, we planned to open up an evacuation route that these people [inside the plant] could join," Mariupol mayor Vadym Boichenko told CNN New Day on Friday.

"However, the Russian forces continued bombarding the plant and shelling the plant and we weren't able to get the people out of there."

Yuriy Ryzhenkov, the CEO of Metinvest Holding which owns the Azovstal plant, recently told CNN that the situation inside is "close to catastrophe" as food and water supplies dwindle.

Boichenko added that around 20,000 civilians are estimated to have been killed in Mariupol, which has been leveled by Russian attacks during the course of the war.

CNN cannot independently verify the death toll following weeks of heavy bombardment of Mariupol. Evidence has emerged of mass graves outside the city following the publication of satellite images collected and analyzed by Maxar Technologies.

Journalists in the city have also documented the hasty burial of civilians there, and images have surfaced on social media showing bodies apparently left for collection in the city.

Boichenko said that 90% of the city's buildings were destroyed as of March 21.

"It is very painful for me to see this, very painful and sad," Boichenko said.

For eight year, we were trying to develop Mariupol as a showcase for Ukrainian Donbas, for a restored Donbas since the 2014 attempts [by Russia] to take it.

"And it was blossoming. It was turning into a modern city. We were developing it as a modern, state-of-the-art city to fulfil people's dreams as we imagined ... I feel as if my heart has been torn out," he said.

7:34 a.m. ET, April 22, 2022

More than 1,000 bodies being examined by forensic investigators in Kyiv, police reveal

From CNN's Olga Voitovych

A grave digger prepares the ground for a funeral at a cemetery on April 21, in Irpin, just outside Kyiv, Ukraine. At least 700 murdered civilians have been found in towns around Kyiv, according to Ukrainian authorities.
A grave digger prepares the ground for a funeral at a cemetery on April 21, in Irpin, just outside Kyiv, Ukraine. At least 700 murdered civilians have been found in towns around Kyiv, according to Ukrainian authorities. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Forensic investigators are examining 1,084 bodies of civilians found in the Kyiv region following the withdrawal of Russian forces, according to the police.

Andrii Nebytov, the head of police for Kyiv region, said the bodies had been examined by forensic investigators following the recapture of the region by Ukrainian forces. 

"Currently, the number of dead bodies is 1,084, they were examined by investigators and taken to forensic facilities," Nebytov said, adding:

These are civilians who had nothing to do with territorial defense or other military formations. The vast majority -- between 50 percent and 75 percent -- are people killed by small arms -- either a machine gun or a sniper rifle, depending on the location." 

Nebytov said that more than 300 bodies have not yet been identified, adding: "I’d like to appeal to the citizens: inform us about your acquaintances and relatives who have disappeared and are not in touch. Do not wait."

Investigators in the Kyiv region and other parts of Ukraine wrested from Russian control said they have found widespread evidence of the killing of civilians by Russian forces. 

7:29 a.m. ET, April 22, 2022

British Embassy in Kyiv to reopen in "very shortly," UK PM says

From CNN's Alex Stambaugh in Hong Kong

Britains Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference in New Delhi, India, on April 22.
Britains Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference in New Delhi, India, on April 22. (Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images)

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Friday that the British Embassy in Ukraine will reopen in Kyiv "very shortly."

"The extraordinary fortitude and success of President Zelensky and the Ukrainian people in resisting Russian forces in Kyiv means that I can announce today that we will very shortly, next week, reopen our embassy in Ukraine's capital city," Johnson said in a press conference following his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.

Johnson paid tribute to British diplomats who have remained elsewhere in the region and said his country will continue to support Ukraine:

The United Kingdom and our allies will not watch passively as Putin carries on this onslaught."

"What I think we've seen here in New Delhi is one of the world's oldest democracies and the world's largest democracy sticking together and confronting our shared anxieties about autocracies and autocratic coercion around the world and acting together to make our countries safer and more prosperous," he added. 

Some context: The UK is one of a number of countries that has recently announced the reopening of embassies in Ukraine's capital.

On Monday, Spain said it would reopen its embassy in Kyiv "in the coming days."

France also announced last week that its embassy in Ukraine would "very soon" return to Kyiv from Lviv, while Italy said previously that it intended to reopen its embassy in Kyiv after Easter.

The European Union is also resuming its diplomatic presence in Kyiv after moving it temporarily to Poland following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the bloc announced earlier this month. 

Slovenia has reopened its embassy in Kyiv on March 28, according to Slovenia's Foreign Ministry.   

7:22 a.m. ET, April 22, 2022

Lithuania's president says NATO should "boost forces" in eastern Europe

From CNN's James Frater and Amy Cassidy

Gitanas Nausėda, left, President of the Republic of Lithuania, talks to German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in Vilnius, Lithuania, on April 22.
Gitanas Nausėda, left, President of the Republic of Lithuania, talks to German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in Vilnius, Lithuania, on April 22.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda has called on NATO to send more troops to eastern Europe including to his own country.

Nausėda dicsussed the issue on Friday with Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who was visiting the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.

The pair also discussed military assistance to Ukraine, Ukraine's status as an EU candidate country, and sanctions against Russia and Belarus, according to a statement from the President’s office.

Germany leads NATO’s battle group in Lithuania. At least 28,000 allied troops were stationed there as of March 22, according to the latest figures from NATO.

Nausėda said he wants to see an upgrade of air policing to air and missile defense, and a switch from forward presence to forward defense, according to the statement. He said:

With the outbreak of a large-scale military offensive in the Donbas region, rapid and effective delivery of weaponry to Ukraine could become a decisive factor in this war. We no longer have time to hesitate, we must act decisively and quickly.”

Nausėda also says he wants to strengthen NATO’s presence on the Suwałki Corridor, which sits on Lithuanian-Polish border and links Belarus to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad in the Baltics.

The West should also impose more sanctions on Russia and Belarus, Nausėd said. 

Some background: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February has prompted NATO to deploy more troops to the Eastern Flank.

As of March 21, 40,000 allied troops were stationed in the Baltics as well as Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, according to NATO’s most recent information.

Battle groups are military forces from different NATO countries that train and are stationed together so that, if a conflict arises, they are prepared as a united NATO force.

Since the beginning of Russia's invasion, NATO has agreed to establish four more battle groups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. Those forces add to the battle groups that were established by NATO in 2017 in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, meaning NATO now has forces deployed all along its Eastern European flank.