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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11:00 a.m. ET, April 23, 2022

Europe discussing sixth round of sanctions, including hit on Russian energy, EU Commission official says

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

European Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis speaks with the media in Washington on Thursday April 21.
European Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis speaks with the media in Washington on Thursday April 21. (Cheriss May/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Europe is discussing a sixth round of sanctions on Russia, including a hit on Russia's energy market, a top official from the European Commission and Lithuania’s finance minister said on Friday.

European Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis said one of the issues under consideration concerns an oil embargo. There have been discussions about “smart sanctions” that might include tariffs rather than a full embargo at first.

“So there may be some nuances, but this work is ongoing,” Dombrovskis told reporters in Washington, DC. 

In a separate interview with CNN in the US capital, Lithuanian Finance Minister Gintarė Skaistė said she discussed a possible next tranche of sanctions with US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo.  

"We are always offering to include in the sanctions the energy sector, especially oil,” as well as “additional sanctions to the financial sector of Russia," Skaistė said.

Skaistė said the sanctions must be coordinated for them to have an impact. “If we won’t agree on the sanctions together, the United States with all Western allies, it won't work,” she said.

Dombrovskis said that “technically speaking, approval of sanctions can be very quick view, can be done in a matter of one or two days.”

“The question here is basically is that sanctions require unanimity among member states, so those political discussions are ongoing in parallel, so it's important to reach unanimous political agreement,” he said.

Skaistė said it was too early to say when there will be agreement on that next round of sanctions. She noted that there is both a shorter-term and longer-term goal for the sanctions: to draw Russian President Vladimir Putin to the negotiating table and to weaken Russia’s economy so it is unable to reinforce its military.

“If there will be no possibilities to reinforce their army, we would like to think that there will be no war in Europe,” she said.

Dombrovskis said it is important that existing sanctions are actually enforced, noting they are working with EU member states as well as the broader international community.

“It's a fact that not all countries have joined those Western sanctions,” he said, noting that Beijing is “hedging its bets,” and they are trying to nudge China and other nations “to be closer to our approach to Russia.” 

Skaistė said they are also focused on helping Ukraine’s government survive in the shorter-term, and in the longer-term how to rebuild Ukraine more efficiently, which she believes “should be closely engaged with the process of Ukraine's accession to European Union.”

Both Skaistė and Dombrovskis expressed concern about Putin’s future targets if he is not decisively stopped in Ukraine.  

Skaistė told CNN that Russia is trying to impose its influence on neighboring countries, noting it’s “not the first time.”

“Russian propaganda, certain authorities, representatives are not making a secret that Russia plans to go further and if we do not stop them in Ukraine, they will be invading other neighboring countries,” Dombrovskis said, calling it not only an attack on Ukraine but on European security more broadly. 

Asked if Europe would respond with the same unity if Moldova were attacked by Russia, Dombrovskis said they needed to focus on Ukraine right now, “because Putin will go as far as we will let him to go.”

CNN's Kylie Atwood contributed reporting to this post.

10:15 a.m. ET, April 23, 2022

Ukrainian government announces curfews for Easter weekend

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva in Lviv

A boy paints an Easter egg in the traditional style during a lesson for children for the upcoming Easter holiday in Kyiv, Ukraine on April 22.
A boy paints an Easter egg in the traditional style during a lesson for children for the upcoming Easter holiday in Kyiv, Ukraine on April 22. (Gleb Garanich/Reuters)

The Ukrainian government announced new curfews for Easter weekend amid warnings from authorities about the potential for increased Russian military activity during holiday celebrations. 

Many Ukrainians celebrate Easter according to the Julian calendar, with Easter Sunday falling this year on April 24.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, announced the curfews in a statement on Saturday. Curfew hours will be in place from 7 p.m. local time Saturday until 5 a.m. local time Sunday in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv and Kherson regions, all of which have seen active fighting. 

In other regions of Ukraine, including the capital of Kyiv, curfew will run from 11 p.m. local time on Saturday until Sunday at 5 a.m.

Earlier this week, officials in Luhansk and Sumy regions urged residents to attend virtual services online, saying that possible Russian "provocations" could happen and that many churches have been destroyed as well.

9:13 a.m. ET, April 23, 2022

Russian missile strike hits Odesa, according to city

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Lviv

A Russian missile strike hit Ukraine's southern port city of Odesa, the city's official Telegram channel said Saturday.  

"A missile strike was launched in Odesa," the statement said. "Infrastructure facilities were hit. Do not share photos and videos, do not help the enemy. The information is being clarified."

The purported strike comes as top Russian military officials revealed that the goal of the invasion of Ukraine is to take "full control" over southern Ukraine as well as the eastern Donbas region.

Maj. Gen. Rustam Minnekaev, the acting commander of Russia's Central Military District, said 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 — according to TASS, a Russian state news agency.

8:59 a.m. ET, April 23, 2022

How to watch the CNN film "Navalny"

From CNN's Foren Clark and Janelle Davis

What is it about?

The CNN film “Navalny” follows Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, who was poisoned in August 2020 with a nerve agent during a flight to Moscow. The film paints an intimate portrait of one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics and takes viewers inside the harrowing search for answers following his poisoning. 

When and where can I watch it?

Sunday, April 24, at 9 p.m. ET on CNN

How long is the film?

98 minutes 

Who is Navalny?

Navalny is a Russian opposition leader, Kremlin critic and activist. He has been a prominent organizer of street protests and has exposed corruption in the Russian government on social media.

He created the Anti-Corruption Foundation, a nonprofit organization that investigates corruption among high-ranking Russian government officials.

In March, Navalny was sentenced to nine years in a maximum-security jail, according to the Russian state-owned news agency TASS, after being convicted on fraud charges over allegations that he stole from his Anti-Corruption Foundation. The Russian state-owned news agency RIA reported that Navalny will appeal the guilty verdict, according to his lawyer.

Who made the film?

Daniel Roher directed the documentary.

“I want audiences to be reminded that bad guys win if people stop caring and stop paying attention, whether it be authoritarians rising in Brazil, Hungary, Turkey, Russia, China — or the US,” said Roher. “Alexey wants to remind us that we cannot be inactive. I want people to focus on that when they think about Alexey.”           

8:41 a.m. ET, April 23, 2022

It's 3 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

From CNN staff

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at a shop following a Russian bombardment in Kharkiv, Ukraine on Friday April 22.
Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at a shop following a Russian bombardment in Kharkiv, Ukraine on Friday April 22. (Felipe Dana/AP)

Russian forces are continuing their assault across the southern and eastern regions of Ukraine, with Ukrainian officials reporting heavy shelling and civilian casualties in cities, including Kharkiv, Popasna and Mykolaiv.

Meanwhile, a Ukrainian minister announced an evacuation corridor from the besieged southern port city of Mariupol would open, following a brief halt earlier because of security concerns.

Here are the latest developments:

Russia takes small towns but makes "no major gains," say UK officials: Russia has captured dozens of small towns and settlements in its assault on the eastern Donbas region, and Ukrainian officials describe continued heavy fighting throughout Donetsk and Luhansk there. A situation report by the UK's Ministry of Defense, however, said on Saturday that Russian forces had made "no major gains" in the past 24 hours, in the face of Ukrainian counterattacks. Ukrainian air and sea defenses have also been able to stop the progress of Russian air and maritime forces, the ministry added in a post on social media.  

New plans for evacuations from Mariupol: Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk announced an evacuation corridor would open on Saturday, with a focus on moving "women, children and the elderly" from Mariupol to safer areas. In a statement on Telegram, Vereshchuk warned of Russian traps, where troops might open a “parallel corridor” and take residents into Russian-controlled territories instead. She urged residents to be vigilant and “not to follow any deceit and provocations” by the Russian side.

Mykolaiv official announces curfew: After Russian forces continued shelling the city of Mykolaiv overnight, Vitaliy Kim, head of the regional military administration there, announced a new curfew of 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. ahead of local Easter services. The announcement comes a day after Hanna Zamazeeva, chief of Mykolaiv's regional council, said that at least 20 people had been injured in the region in the past two days, amid attacks by Russian troops.

Russian forces target civilian infrastructure: Residents in the northeastern city of Kharkiv and Popasna in the east have experienced sustained Russian bombardment. Russian troops fired 56 strikes on civilian infrastructure of Kharkiv and the region, killing two people and wounding 19, according to a Ukrainian military governor. In Popasna, two people also died as Russian forces targeted civilian homes and high-rise buildings, a Ukrainian regional official said.

8:35 a.m. ET, April 23, 2022

100 people from one California church opened their homes to Ukrainians in need

From CNN's Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN

Volunteer Silas Breen, left, from the Calvary Bible Institute, prays with David, from Ukraine, at San Diego Calvary's shelter for Ukrainians after crossing into the United States from Tijuana, Mexico on Friday, April 1.
Volunteer Silas Breen, left, from the Calvary Bible Institute, prays with David, from Ukraine, at San Diego Calvary's shelter for Ukrainians after crossing into the United States from Tijuana, Mexico on Friday, April 1. (Gregory Bull/AP)

Phil Metzger flew home to California from Ukraine soon after the war broke out, devastated by what he saw.

He'd been helping deliver medicine and evacuate families from danger, and the evangelical pastor knew he wanted the church he leads in suburban San Diego to do more to help those in need.

He never expected the crisis would end up coming to them.

"Who would ever imagine that a pipeline into America (for Ukrainians) would open through Mexico?" Metzger says. "That just caught us all completely off guard."

The church, Calvary San Diego, is in Chula Vista, California, about 8 miles north of the US-Mexico border. And as a growing number of Ukrainians were crossing the border from Tijuana to seek refuge in the United States, Metzger saw it as an opportunity to turn the church's beliefs into action.

Over the past six weeks, Metzger says thousands of Ukrainians crossing the border have spent at least a night inside his church, and hundreds more have stayed at the homes of church members.

About 100 people connected to Calvary -- including members and their families -- opened up their homes to give the new arrivals a comfortable place to stay for a night or two. Many also volunteered to make airport runs, dropping off families who were continuing their journeys to meet up with relatives across the US.

This story is part of a CNN series, "The Helpers," which seeks to showcase people who are going the extra mile to help others and make their communities a better place.

Read the full story here:

6:30 a.m. ET, April 23, 2022

Street fights and shelling: Official in eastern Ukraine town says Russia targeting civilian homes

From CNN's Julia Presniakova and Olga Voitovych in Lviv

Two people have been killed in bombardments in the eastern town of Popasna, said head of the Luhansk regional military administration
 Serhiy Hayday, who accused Russian forces of shelling private homes.

"Popasna suffered the most," Hayday said of the town, which is in Ukraine's eastern Luhansk region.

"In addition to the street fights, the Russian army is constantly shelling high-rise buildings and private houses," he said.

"Yesterday, locals withstood five enemy artillery attacks. However, not everyone survived. In the evening, [a] 66-year-old Popasna resident died, his wife was injured. Also, one more person died as a result of shelling," Hayday added.

Separately, Hayday said about 30 people had been evacuated from the nearby city of Severodonetsk, including 15 bedridden patients. 

Settlements in Luhansk have come under heavy fire amid a broad Russian military push to take and hold more territory in the eastern Donbas region.

6:05 a.m. ET, April 23, 2022

Russian shelling hit southern city of Mykolaiv overnight, curfew announced ahead of Easter

From CNN's Julia Presniakova, Katharina Krebs and Tim Lister

A stray dog walks in the rubble of a destroyed terminal at the airport in Mykolaiv, Ukraine on April 22.
A stray dog walks in the rubble of a destroyed terminal at the airport in Mykolaiv, Ukraine on April 22. (Anastasia Vlasova/Getty Images)

Russian forces continued shelling the city of Mykolaiv overnight, a Ukrainian regional governor said Saturday, prompting officials to impose a curfew ahead of the Easter period.

"There was shelling again tonight," said Vitaliy Kim, head of Mykolaiv's regional military administration. "They hit a cafe -- no casualties, thank God." 

Kim added that a curfew would be in effect from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. ahead of local Easter services.

Some background: The announcement comes a day after Hanna Zamazeeva, chief of Mykolaiv's regional council, said that at least 20 people had been injured in the region in the past two days, amid attacks by Russian troops.

Ukrainian officials have warned of unspecified provocations by Russian forces over the Easter holiday, which is observed by many Ukrainians according to the Julian calendar, and have urged citizens in some regions to mark the holiday at home.

The territory between Mykolaiv and Kherson to the southeast has seen intense fighting over the last three weeks as Ukrainian forces have launched counter-attacks.

Mykolaiv itself has been regularly shelled by Russian forces but remains under Ukrainian control.

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

Mariupol evacuations to resume Saturday, Ukraine official says, warning of Russian trap corridors

From CNN's Anastasia Graham-Yooll 

Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk announced an evacuation corridor on Saturday from the besieged city of Mariupol, following a brief halt earlier because of security concerns.

"We are trying to evacuate the women, children and the elderly again today," she said.

"We are starting to gather around Port City shopping centre. If everything goes to plan the evacuations will commence at midday," Vereshchuk said in a statement on Telegram.

She warned, however, that Russian troops might open a “parallel corridor” for taking residents into Russian-controlled territories instead. She urged residents to be vigilant and “not to follow any deceit and provocations” by the Russian side.

“Our corridors will take place solely in the following itinerary towards Zaporizhzhia: Manhush, Berdiansk, Tokmak, Orihiv,” Vereshchuk said.

Some background: US and European officials have claimed that Russian forces have been forcibly deporting residents of Mariupol to separatist-held territory in Ukraine and, in some cases, even into Russia, after stripping them of phones and identification and screening them through a so-called "filtration" process.

Ukraine has been evacuating civilians to the government-held city of Zaporizhzhia, but convoys must navigate through a series of Russian-held towns and military checkpoints. 

Ukrainian officials have said over 100,000 people still remain in the southern city of Mariupol. The Russian government claims to control the strategic port, but Ukrainian fighters remain holding out in the city's massive Azovstal steel factory.