Russia's war in Ukraine

By Jessie Yeung, Brad Lendon, Amy Woodyatt, Sana Noor Haq, Emma Tucker, Angela Dewan, Adrienne Vogt and Joe Ruiz, CNN

Updated 12:36 a.m. ET, April 24, 2022
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12:09 a.m. ET, April 23, 2022

Ukraine prime minister: Mariupol is the "biggest humanitarian catastrophe" of the century


Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal called the situation in Mariupol the "biggest humanitarian catastrophe" since Russia's invasion -- and perhaps the worst catastrophe of the century, as the southeastern port city faces constant bombardment from Russian forces.

Speaking at a press conference in Washington on Friday, Shmyhal said thousands of people had died in Mariupol, adding: "We will see the terrible atrocities when it will be liberated from Russians."

He said Russian troops are "absolutely destroying everything," including shelters where civilians are staying.

An estimated 100,000 people remain trapped in Mariupol 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.

CNN cannot independently identify these figures, as a firm death toll following weeks of heavy bombardment is not available.

The last holdout of resistance: On Friday, Shmyhal said civilians including women and children are hiding at the Azovstal steel plant, the final bastion of Ukrainian defenders inside the city. He said the Russian army is still surrounding the area, and Ukraine is speaking with partners to negotiate an evacuation corridor.

He also called on ambassadors from all countries, including the United States, to return to their embassies in Kyiv.

11:52 p.m. ET, April 22, 2022

Moldova summons Russian ambassador after Russia announces goal to access Moldovan state

From CNN's Hira Humayun

Moldova’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration has summoned Russia's ambassador to Moldova, after Russia announced Friday that its military is aiming to control southern Ukraine and access Moldova.

In a statement, the Moldovan ministry said it “took note of the statements of the representative of Russia’s Ministry of Defense” and “expressed deep concern over the statements made by the Russian official.”

"Full control": Earlier on Friday, Russian state media said the Russian military is aiming to establish "full control" over southern Ukraine in the second phase of its invasion of Ukraine.

State news agency TASS quoted the acting commander of Russia's Central Military District, Maj. Gen. Rustam Minnekaev, as saying the aim was to create a land corridor between Ukraine's eastern Donbas region and Crimea. He added that control over Ukraine's south would give Russian forces access to Transnistria, a separatist statelet in Moldova, where a contingent of Russian forces has been stationed since the early 1990s. 

"Since the beginning of the second phase of the special operation, which began literally two days ago, one of the tasks of the Russian army is to establish full control over Donbas and southern Ukraine, this will provide a land corridor to Crimea," Minnekaev said according to TASS.

Moldovan response: Moldova’s Foreign Ministry said the statements made by the Russian general were “unfounded and contradict the position of the Russian Federation supporting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova, within its internationally recognized borders.”

It added that during the meeting with the Russian ambassador, Moldovan officials reiterated that Moldova is a “neutral state and this principle must be respected by all international actors, including the Russian Federation.”

11:52 p.m. ET, April 22, 2022

UN secretary-general will travel to Ukraine to meet with Zelensky on Thursday

From CNN’s Richard Roth

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will travel to Ukraine next week where he is expected to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday, according to a UN spokesperson.

Guterres will also meet with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba as well as UN agency staff members to discuss the scaling up of humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.

Earlier today, the UN said Guterres “will be received by President Vladimir Putin” on Tuesday after having a working meeting and lunch with the foreign minister of Russia.

A UN spokesperson said Wednesday that Guterres was requesting separate audiences with Putin in Moscow and Zelensky in Ukraine to discuss the urgent need to bring about peace.