April 25, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Maureen Chowdhury, Rhea Mogul, Andrew Raine, Jack Guy, Ben Morse and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN

Updated 12:11 a.m. ET, April 26, 2022
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2:46 p.m. ET, April 25, 2022

It's Monday night in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know.

Local resident Oksana surveys the destroyed second floor of her multi-generational home while searching for salvageable items on Monday, April 25, in Hostomel, a suburb of Kyiv.
Local resident Oksana surveys the destroyed second floor of her multi-generational home while searching for salvageable items on Monday, April 25, in Hostomel, a suburb of Kyiv. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Russian forces struck five railway stations in central and western Ukraine on Monday morning as part of a campaign to "systematically destroy railway infrastructure," according to the chairman of Ukrzaliznytsia, Ukraine's state railway company. The rail system has become a vital cog in the country's war effort, ferrying essential supplies in, and desperate civilians out of harm's way.

Russia has made only "minor advances" since shifting their focus to taking control over the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) said Monday. "Without sufficient logistical and combat support enablers in place, Russia has yet to achieve a significant breakthrough," said the MoD on Twitter.

Here are more of the latest headlines from the Russia-Ukraine war:

  • UN secretary general is on his way to Moscow, UN spokesman says: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is currently on a plane en route to Moscow, deputy spokesperson for the secretary-general Farhan Haq said Monday. Guterres will be “received” by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday and will have a working meeting and lunch with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. He is also scheduled to travel to Kyiv and meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Thursday. 
  • Explosion in Russian-occupied Kreminna results in casualties: A senior official in Ukraine's Interior Ministry says there has been a large explosion in the town of Kreminna in the Luhansk region, an area recently occupied by Russian forces. Anton Gerashchenko said the explosion took place at an administrative building in the town. Ukrainian forces withdrew from Kreminna last week. "As a result of a gas explosion in the city council's building in Kreminna, no one survived," he said on Telegram. CNN cannot verify the number of casualties nor the origin of the explosion. 
  • Russian diplomat says ceasefire unlikely "right now": A deputy to Russia's ambassador to the UN took to the stakeout podium at the UN Monday to say that a ceasefire in Ukraine is not a good option right now. “We don’t think that ceasefire is a good option right now because the only advantage it will give it will give possibility for Ukrainian forces to regroup and to stage more provocations like Bucha,” Dmitry Polyanskiy, First Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia's mission to the United Nations, said. “Frankly it’s not up to me to decide but I don’t see any reasons (this would be pursued) right now."
  • US aid to Ukraine faces an uncertain future in the Senate: US military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine could be at risk of being bogged down in the immigration battle brewing on Capitol Hill between Republicans and the Biden administration. The Biden administration is expected to send another supplemental request to Congress this week for Ukraine after warning that money from the last package is nearly depleted. But, while there is broad support on Capitol Hill to give Ukraine more assistance, the path to passage is much more uncertain in the U.S. Senate.
  • Russia expels 40 German diplomats in retaliatory move: Russia announced on Monday that it was expelling 40 German diplomats from the country in a retaliatory move to Berlin’s decision in early April to expel a "substantial number" of officials at the Russian embassy.  Summoned by the Russian foreign ministry Monday, the German ambassador to Moscow was "met with strong protest in connection with the openly hostile decision of the German government," the ministry said. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called Moscow’s decision to expel diplomats "unjustified." 
  • US State Department approves foreign military sale of $165 million worth of ammunition to Ukraine: The US State Department approved a foreign military sale to Ukraine of $165 million worth of “non-standard ammunition” Monday, according to a release from the State Department. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of the sale on April 24, the release said. The move was relayed to the Ukrainians during US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s trip to Kyiv over the weekend.
  • No agreement with Russia on corridor to evacuate Azovstal plant in Mariupol: No agreement on a corridor had been reached with Russia for the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Monday. "Today, the Russian side once again announced the existence of a corridor for civilians to leave Azovstal," she said in a statement on Telegram. "This could be believed if the Russians had not broken the humanitarian corridors many times before. I know what I am saying because, on behalf of the president, I am personally conducting such negotiations and organizing humanitarian corridors. It is important to understand that the humanitarian corridor is opened by agreement of both sides. The corridor, announced unilaterally, does not provide security, and therefore, in fact, is not a humanitarian corridor."
3:47 p.m. ET, April 25, 2022

"It all comes from the heart": 21-year-old volunteer delivers food and medicine to frontline towns in Ukraine

From CNN's Mick Krever

Maria Shtern, 21, stands in front of her car which she uses to deliver supplies to frontline towns in Ukraine, on Monday, April 25.
Maria Shtern, 21, stands in front of her car which she uses to deliver supplies to frontline towns in Ukraine, on Monday, April 25. (Mick Krever/CNN)

Day after day, Maria Shtern gets into her rusty Lada car and drives the rutted roads of eastern Ukraine.

Shtern, 21, has been volunteering for more than five years on the frontlines of Ukraine’s conflict with Russia – first with its proxies in the Donbas region, now with its military.

On this sunny spring Monday, in a uniform of camouflage cargo pants and hemp leaf bucket hat, she’s delivering food and medicine to homes to the village of Mykolaivka.

“Many people just do not understand that what was in 2014 in Slovyansk and what can happen now are two very different scenarios,” she told CNN.

Every day, Shtern tries to put herself out of a job, telling her patrons to evacuate.

“I am asking people a specific question: Are you ready to hear your children crying and saying, 'Mom, I’m scared to die?'" she said.

As the Russian military closes in, and commercial supply lines stop, Shtern's deliveries of food and medicine are the only lifeline for many people. The Russians have captured Izium, a nearby urban center, and their artillery is bombarding the town of Lyman, just a few miles down the road.

She weaves though the chicanes of checkpoints, past the husks of buildings destroyed in 2015, and alongside gardens blooming with tulips planted long before people even in this war-torn region could have imagined a full-scale war with Russia.

“There is the expression, ‘Who else but us?’ It all comes from the heart. When you realize that your own home could be taken away from you and you could be killed, or your friends and your family could be killed — you simply have no choice but to do it, she told CNN.”

In Mykolaivka, each resident is faced with the same decision every day: stay or go.

The torment is visible in a woman who approaches us and yells that she has no idea what will happen, but she cannot leave.

“My elderly grandmother, who is 80 and can hardly walk, I can’t leave her. Do you understand? It’s my family. Don’t you have families at home that you can’t leave behind? Not under any circumstances," she tells CNN.

Natalia Maligon is among the residents who have had enough and have chosen to leave.

“My sister woke up this morning and said we had to leave,” she explains as her twin nieces run between the elder branches. “We didn’t want to leave until the last minute, but then something made her want to. So we had to.”

Olha Konovalova contributed reporting to this post.

1:45 p.m. ET, April 25, 2022

European Union evacuates 200 Ukrainians in need of urgent medical care 

From CNN’s James Frater in Brussels 

The European Union has evacuated around 200 Ukrainian patients requiring urgent medical care from Ukraine and neighboring countries to hospitals in other European nations, European Commission spokesperson Balazs Ujvari said on Monday. 

Speaking to journalists in Brussels, Ujvari said: “As the war continues, and the population of Ukraine continues to migrate out of the country, the health care systems in neighboring countries are under a great deal of pressure.” 

Following requests from Poland, Slovakia, Moldova and also Ukraine, the EU has transferred Ukrainian patients who need specialized medical help to hospitals in “11 different European countries,” Ujvari explained.  

The transfer of patients has been supported the EU’s first dedicated medical evacuation plane, which has been operational since March. 

4:24 p.m. ET, April 25, 2022

UN secretary general is on his way to Moscow, UN spokesperson says

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is currently on a plane en route to Moscow, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General Farhan Haq said Monday.

Guterres will be “received” by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday and will have a working meeting and lunch with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. He is also scheduled to travel to Kyiv and meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Thursday. 

“It’s important that he [the Secretary-General] is able to talk clearly with the leadership on both sides and see what progress we can make. Ultimately, the end goal is to have a halt to fighting, and to have ways to improve the situation of the people in Ukraine, lessen the threat that they’re under and provide humanitarian aid towards them,” Haq said to reporters during an afternoon press briefing.

Haq also said that while Guterres has not spoken with United States President Joe Biden ahead of his upcoming trip to Moscow and Kyiv, he has spoken with other senior US officials.

“He has been speaking to senior US officials and indeed, many other senior officials by phone in recent days,” Haq said. “He talks to a number of different leaders. I wouldn’t characterize what their discussions are in any particular detail, but certainly, he is apprised of the viewpoints of most of the key governments in terms of what needs to be achieved.”

Haq declined to go into detail Monday about the sort of proposals Guterres is bringing to his meetings but noted that officials from both Ukraine and Russia accepted the itinerary. He added that there is no significance to the Secretary-General visiting Russia before visiting Ukraine. Travel plans remain in flux and it’s possible that Guterres will stop in a third country in between his meetings in Moscow and Kyiv, Haq said.

1:17 p.m. ET, April 25, 2022

Explosion in Russian-occupied Kreminna results in casualties, Ukrainian official says

From CNN's Kostan Nechyporenko and Tim Lister

A senior official in Ukraine's Interior Ministry says there has been a large explosion in the town of Kreminna in the Luhansk region, an area recently occupied by Russian forces.

Anton Gerashchenko said the explosion took place at an administrative building in the town. Ukrainian forces withdrew from Kreminna last week.

"As a result of a gas explosion in the city council's building in Kreminna, no one survived," he said on Telegram. 

"Simultaneously with the natural gas explosion in the building of the city council, there was a second explosion of domestic gas in the district police department, where a group of collaborators had gone for a meeting," he said.

CNN cannot verify the number of casualties nor the origin of the explosion.

1:15 p.m. ET, April 25, 2022

Russian diplomat says ceasefire unlikely "right now"

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

Dmitry Polyanskiy, First Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia's mission to the United Nations, during a news conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on April 25, 2022.
Dmitry Polyanskiy, First Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia's mission to the United Nations, during a news conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on April 25, 2022. (Anthony Behar/Sipa USA/AP)

A deputy to Russia's ambassador to the UN took to the stakeout podium at the UN Monday to say that a ceasefire in Ukraine is not a good option right now.

“We don’t think that ceasefire is a good option right now because the only advantage it will give it will give possibility for Ukrainian forces to regroup and to stage more provocations like Bucha,” Dmitry Polyanskiy, First Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia's mission to the United Nations, said. “Frankly it’s not up to me to decide but I don’t see any reasons (this would be pursued) right now."

He also alleged that Ukraine, with backing from the US, was preparing to deploy "chemical, biological, and tactical nuclear weapons" in a false flag operation, and claim that Russia had been responsible. 

The representative also said he did not think it was time for a humanitarian ceasefire.

Polyanskiy was speaking on the eve of the UN secretary general’s visit to Russia, where he will be received by President Vladimir Putin.

“Our ministry of defense keeps collecting information that the Kyiv regime backed by the US is preparing staged provocations in order to accuse the Russian armed forces of using chemical, biological, and tactical nuclear weapons,” Polyanskiy said. 

Remember: The US has denied that it has been developing chemical or bioweapons in Ukraine, noting that the biological research facilities it funds in Ukraine were created to help minimize the risk of old Soviet weapons left behind in the region. 
US officials have warned that Russia may be sowing disinformation about alleged US-backed bioweapons in advance of its own use of bioweapons in Ukraine.

Still, Polyanskiy gave several speculative scenarios in which he claimed a Ukrainian attack could happen. 

He urged the media to take note of specific locations so it “does not come as a surprise if an incident happens” adding “we have warned the world about it.”

“What has long been considered as unthinkable is now a realistic scenario plotted by the Kyiv regime, encouraged and supported by the USA,” he continued, parroting the accusations of Russian leaders.

He added “the US and its allies have a proven record of using (allegations of) weapons of mass destruction... to assault sovereign countries which do not want to succumb to their pressure,” referencing justifications US officials gave for previous military actions in Iraq and Syria.  

The Russian diplomat also denied that the Russians were responsible for the killing of civilians in Bucha where CNN found mass graves. 

12:54 p.m. ET, April 25, 2022

US aid to Ukraine faces uncertain future in the Senate where immigration battle still looms

From CNN's Lauren Fox and Ellie Kaufman 

US military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine could be at risk of being bogged down in the immigration battle brewing on Capitol Hill between Republicans and the Biden administration.

The Biden administration is expected to send another supplemental request to Congress this week for Ukraine after warning that money from the last package is nearly depleted. But, while there is broad support on Capitol Hill to give Ukraine more assistance, the path to passage is much more uncertain in the U.S. Senate.

It’s still not clear what vehicle Democrats would use to pass Ukraine aid, but one likely option would be to attach the aid to $10 billion in COVID-19 funding that is already moving through the Senate. Attaching Ukraine aid to money for COVID-19 testing and treatments, however, could put the critical wartime aid in the crosshairs of political infighting over immigration.

Where things stand on Covid relief: Before the recess, the $10 billion COVID-19 relief package stalled out after Republicans insisted they wouldn’t fast-track the process unless Democrats agreed to vote on an amendment that would block the administration’s decision to overturn Title 42, a Trump-era order that during the pandemic allowed both the Trump and Biden administrations to turn immigrants at the border back to their home countries immediately citing a public health crisis. That order is expected to be overturned at the end of May, but the decision faces stiff opposition from Republicans and some moderate Democrats who have warned the decision will cause an uptick of illegal crossings at the border.

In order to pass Covid-19 relief quickly before the recess, Republicans argued they wanted a vote to block the administration’s decision on Title 42. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wouldn’t give it to them.

Talks over how to pass both covid relief and Ukraine aid will begin Monday when lawmakers return to Washington. Schumer has also made it clear that he wants to include global vaccine funding in a Ukraine aid package. The vaccine funding wasn’t included in the $10 billion Covid package because of opposition from Republicans in the negotiations.

Why the Biden administration needs more money for Ukraine: The reason the Biden administration says it needs more money for Ukraine now is that the administration has used $2.45 billion out of the $3 billion in funding Congress authorized in Presidential Drawdown Authority funding as of April 22, according to a source familiar with the matter. Congress authorized $3 billion in that specific pot of money when they passed the omnibus spending bill in March.

Overall, Congress passed $13.6 billion in aid for Ukraine when they passed their government funding package in March. That included increasing the specific pot of money the administration had at its discretion to spend for Ukraine to $3 billion.

But the pot of money is running out. After six weeks, the Biden Administration has used up all but about $50 million of a $3 billion pot. Lawmakers are already having preliminary discussions about writing and passing another supplemental aid package for Ukraine, but conversations are still preliminary, a Congressional aide said.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the administration does not want to run out of funding from the Presidential Drawdown Authority before another supplemental aid package is passed in Congress.

“We are getting close to the end of those funds, and so that’s why we are actively engaging with members of Congress,” Kirby told reporters during a briefing at the Pentagon Friday. “We don’t want to get to a point [sic] where we’re in extremes, where we’ve actually run out of the authority and the funding to execute it. So we’re having those discussions.”

Last week, the top Republican of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Jim Inhofe, called for Congress to start writing a new supplemental aid package for Ukraine in a series of tweets.

12:42 p.m. ET, April 25, 2022

Russia expels 40 German diplomats in retaliatory move 

From CNN's Benjamin Brown, Inke Kappeler and Josh Pennington 

Russia announced on Monday that it was expelling 40 German diplomats from the country in a retaliatory move to Berlin’s decision in early April to expel a "substantial number" of officials at the Russian embassy. 

Summoned by the Russian foreign ministry Monday, the German ambassador to Moscow was "met with strong protest in connection with the openly hostile decision of the German government," the ministry said. 

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called Moscow’s decision to expel diplomats "unjustified." 

In contrast to the German diplomatic staff declared as “persona non grata,” the members of the Russian embassy that [Germany] expelled three weeks ago “did not spend a day engaged in diplomatic service," Baerbock said. 

"Their work threatened all who seek shelter with us — we could no longer tolerate this and will not do so in the future," the foreign minister added.  

In early April, Baerbock had said that the expelled Russian officials had been "working against our freedom and against cohesion of our society here in Germany every day." 

 

3:54 p.m. ET, April 25, 2022

West needs to make sure cost of war for Russia is "as high as possible," Danish foreign minister tells CNN

From CNN's Eoin McSweeney

Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod talks to media before an EU Foreign Affairs Ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on March 21.
Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod talks to media before an EU Foreign Affairs Ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on March 21. (Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)

The West needs to make sure the cost for Russia for the war in Ukraine is “as high as possible," Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod told CNN on Monday.

"It is very important that we help Ukraine defend their own country and to make the cost for Russia, as high as possible, also in the battlefield," Kofod said. "That is what we are doing and we will continue to do that." 

Stopping Moscow's aggression in Ukraine means European nations must impose further sanctions on Russia and send more military aid to Kyiv, he continued.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen promised on a visit to Kyiv Thursday to send more military assistance to Ukraine, increasing contribution by $87 million to around $144 million.  

Denmark will increase its natural gas production in the North Sea “for a limited time period,” to reduce its dependency on Russian energy imports, Frederiksen said on Tuesday, adding that the country is ultimately aiming to phase out its use natural gases to become independent of Russian supplies. 

"Everything is on the table from the Danish side. We are ready to do the most sanctions we can agree upon," Kofod told CNN. "Of course, continuing to offer support to isolate Russia politically with our partners, but also the rest of the world — that is really what we had to."