April 25, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Brad Lendon, Adrienne Vogt, Caolán Magee, Leinz Vales and Christina Zdanowicz, CNN

Updated 11:20 p.m. ET, April 25, 2023
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6:54 a.m. ET, April 25, 2023

Prospects of extending Black Sea grain deal not favorable, says Kremlin

From CNN's Anna Chernova

The prospects for extending the Black Sea grain deal are not favorable, the Kremlin says, claiming its concerns have yet to be addressed.

“The conditions that concerned us have not yet been implemented,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists Tuesday. “Therefore, the circumstances do not add up in favor of [extending] this deal for now.”

Russia has signaled that it will not support a new deal unless obstacles to the export of its own food stuffs, as well as fertilizers, are removed.

Peskov rejected the suggestion that Moscow is to blame for the current global food crisis.

“The loss of Ukrainian grain and Russian grain may be one of the factors, but not the decisive one,” he said.

Ukraine normally supplies about 45 million metric tons of grain to the global market every year and is the world’s top exporter of sunflower oil. Together with Russia, it accounted for about one-quarter of global wheat exports in 2019.

The current grain deal, which permits the safe export of Ukrainian grain through the countries' Black Sea ports, was renewed for 60 days in March and is set to expire on May 18.

Key background: A Black Sea grain deal has enabled the passage of Ukrainian ships carrying the agriculture products to depart the country, which was a challenge in the early days of the war with Russia preventing the ships from leaving.

Turkey, alongside the United Nations, helped broker the deal in July. The agreement established a procedure that guaranteed the safety of ships carrying Ukrainian grain, fertilizer and other foodstuffs through a humanitarian corridor in the Black Sea.

Under the deal, all vessels coming to and from Ukraine’s ports were inspected and monitored by international teams made up of officials from Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the UN.

6:41 a.m. ET, April 25, 2023

Ukrainian military claims "impressive results" against Russia in Kherson

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio in London and Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

Ukraine's military has claimed it is achieving “impressive results” against Russian forces on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson.

“Over the past three days, we have quite impressive results of our combat work,” the spokeswoman for Ukraine’s Southern Command said in a national broadcast Tuesday.

“We have managed to hit and destroy artillery pieces, tanks, vehicles, armored vehicles, and enemy air defense systems,” Natalia Humeniuk said. “In other words, our work on clearing the front line of the east bank is quite powerful, but we are still working in a counter-battery mode.”

Humeniuk hinted that further developments would be expected in the near future. She went on to say Russian evacuations from the banks of the Dnipro were also facilitating Ukrainian operations.

“They [the Russians] are also clearing the territory of the local population, which makes our work much easier, because they are trying to evacuate the locals there where they are moving their units and moving to new locations,” she said.

“Therefore, it is safer for us to carry out our work at combat positions where they are no longer hiding behind the locals.”

Some background: Speaking to CNN earlier this week, Yurii Sobolevskyi, first deputy head of Ukraine’s Kherson regional council, said about 30% of the pre-war population remains in the temporarily occupied territories of the Kherson region.

“It is very difficult to calculate because we have no access to data on the number of active subscribers from mobile operators and other means,” he said.

In the interview, Sobolevskyi claimed that for the past two weeks the Russians had been trying to coerce civilians in towns on the river to leave their homes.

8:39 a.m. ET, April 25, 2023

European Commission sends $1.65 billion in extra funding to Ukraine

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, right, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen sign a Ukrainian flag after their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 2.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, right, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen sign a Ukrainian flag after their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 2. (Ukrainian Presidency/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The European Commission is providing an additional 1.5 billion euros ($1.65 billion) in funding to Ukraine, President Ursula von der Leyen said Tuesday.

“Today we are providing another €1.5 billion to Ukraine under our annual macro-financial assistance package,” she tweeted.

“We will continue helping Ukraine resist Russia’s aggression, keep its institutions and infrastructure running, and conduct crucial reforms,” von der Leyen also said.

Key background: The Russia-Ukraine war marks the first time the European Union has supplied lethal weapons to a third country, underscoring the extent of the threat it believes Moscow poses to its security. Ukraine's other key backers are the United States and the United Kingdom.

In early February, the bloc announced that it would inject another 545 million euros ($575 million) into its 3.6 billion euros ($3.8 billion) military assistance fund for Ukraine.

According to its website, military assistance measures taken by the EU stand at around 13 billion euros, of which 4.6 billion euros have been mobilized under the European Peace Facility.

5:23 a.m. ET, April 25, 2023

Front line town of Tokmak struck by Ukrainian forces, officials say

From Vasco Cotovio in London and Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

Ukrainian forces have struck the front line town of Tokmak in southern Ukraine, about 70 kilometers (43 miles) north-east of Melitopol, officials for both Ukraine and Russia have confirmed.

“The strike was presumably carried out by HIMARS [a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System],” Vladimir Rogov, a member of the Russian installed military-civilian administration of the Zaporizhzhia region, said on his telegram channel.

Rogov claimed Ukraine had struck a “peaceful” territory.   

“A gas station at the entrance to the city was seriously damaged, two private houses, a gas pipeline and power grid facilities were damaged,” he added, claiming two civilians had been injured.

On the Ukrainian side, the exiled mayor of Melitopol confirmed residents were reporting “loud” explosions in Tokmak.

Key background: The full US Army name of the HIMARS is the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System. Essentially it is a 5-ton truck carrying a pod that can launch six rockets almost simultaneously, sending their explosive warheads well beyond the battlefield’s front lines, and then quickly change positions to avoid a counterstrike. 

HIMARS fires munitions called the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) that have a range of 70 to 80 kilometers (about 50 miles). And their GPS guidance systems make them extremely accurate, within about 10 meters (33 feet) of their intended target.

4:59 a.m. ET, April 25, 2023

At least five injured in Russian strike on Kupyansk in Kharkiv region

From Olga Voitovych in Kyiv and Vasco Cotovio in London

Police officers work at a site of a local museum heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike in the town of Kupiansk, Kharkiv region, Ukraine, on April 25.
Police officers work at a site of a local museum heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike in the town of Kupiansk, Kharkiv region, Ukraine, on April 25. (National Police of Ukraine in Kharkiv region/Reuters)

At least five people were injured by what Ukraine says was a Russian missile strike on a museum in Kupyansk, in the eastern Kharkiv region, officials said on Tuesday. 

“The enemy struck the center of Kupyansk. The building of the Local History Museum was hit,” the head of the Kharkiv regional military administration, Oleh Syniehubov, said in a Telegram post.

Syniehubov said five civilians were injured and at least two more people are under the rubble, and added that Ukrainian emergency services were working on the scene. 

Russian forces allegedly used an S-300 surface-to-surface missile to target Kupyansk, according to the Ukrainian President’s chief of staff, Andrii Yermak. 

1:14 a.m. ET, April 25, 2023

Possible end to Black Sea grain deal threatens to accelerate world hunger. Here's what else to know today

CNN Staff

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov chairs a Security Council meeting on defending the principles of the UN Charter at UN Headquarters in New York on Monday, April 24.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov chairs a Security Council meeting on defending the principles of the UN Charter at UN Headquarters in New York on Monday, April 24. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP)

If the Group of Seven nations decide to ban exports to Russia, Moscow officials have threatened to terminate the Black Sea grain deal, viewed as critical to addressing the world hunger crisis.

Such a ban could be part of the ever-evolving set of sanctions the allies have leveled against Moscow for its war in Ukraine.

Normally, Ukraine supplies about 45 million metric tons of grain to the global market every year and is the world’s top exporter of sunflower oil. Together with Russia, it accounted for about one-quarter of global wheat exports in 2019.

Here are the top headlines to know:

UN ambassadors condemn Russia's actions in Ukraine: All 27 ambassadors of the European Union made a joint statement condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine just ahead of Russia chairing Monday’s United Nations Security Council meeting. Russia holds the rotating presidency of that body this month. Also at the meeting, Elizabeth Whelan, the sister of detained American Paul Whelan, demanded Russia free her brother. “Paul has not committed a crime, but a crime has been committed against him,” Whelan said at a UN stakeout, accompanied by the US, Irish and Canadian ambassadors to the UN.

Ukrainian officials detect shift in Russian focus: Ukrainian officials say the Russian focus in the eastern Donetsk region has shifted slightly, but the city of Bakhmut and the ruined towns of Mariinka and Avdiivka remain the focus of Russian assaults. Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said that in the Bakhmut sector, the Russians were using what she called the "Syrian tactics" of total destruction of buildings and facilities.

China and former Soviet countries: China respects the sovereign state status of ex-Soviet Union countries, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said Monday. Mao’s remarks come after the Chinese ambassador to France Lu Shaye sparked controversy for saying during a TV interview that former Soviet countries, including the Baltic states, don't have "effective status in international law." China has so far refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or call for a withdrawal of its troops, instead urging restraint by “all parties” and accusing NATO of fueling the conflict. It has also continued to deepen diplomatic and economic ties with Moscow.

1:14 a.m. ET, April 25, 2023

Ammunition supply to Ukraine needs to speed up, top EU official says

From CNN's Tim Lister

The flow of ammunition to Ukraine needs to increase “in the coming days,” the European Union’s foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, said Monday.

 "More than 1,000 missiles have been provided. The amount of ammunition is growing, and has to grow quicker in the coming days," he said after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg.

Borrell said there needed to be a “just peace” in the conflict, but, until then, the EU would continue to support the defense of Ukraine. So far, the EU had provided about $14 billion in military support, and the EU was continuing to deliver on its promise of 1 million rounds of ammunition, he said.

A second tranche of $1 billion for purchases of ammunition from EU states was being finalized, he said. “There has been some disagreement, but the work continues. We are not waiting for the legal document to be finished to start working.”

 He also said the EU was reaching out to outside countries to reinforce the effect of international sanctions against Russia. 

1:14 a.m. ET, April 25, 2023

Ukrainian officials detect shift in Russian focus in Donetsk and use of "Syrian tactics" in Bakhmut

From CNN's Svitlana Vlasova and Tim Lister

Ukrainian officials say the Russian focus in the eastern Donetsk region has shifted slightly, but the city of Bakhmut and the ruined towns of Mariinka and Avdiivka remain the focus of Russian assaults.

The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said Monday there had been 47 air strikes by Russian planes over the past day, and more than 30 ground assaults had been repelled.

Ukrainian forces continue to cling on to parts of the city of Bakhmut and the access route from the west. The General Staff said that "during the day, the enemy conducted unsuccessful offensive actions in the direction of Novomarkove and Khromove," settlements to the northwest and west of the city.

Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said that in the Bakhmut sector, the Russians were using what she called the "Syrian tactics" of total destruction of buildings and facilities.

"At the same time, our defenders are carrying out active assault operations and preventing the enemy from taking control of the city," Maliar said.

Maliar noted a decrease in Russian attacks in one area of the front line that has been very active for several months — near the Ukrainian-held town of Lyman.

"In the Lyman sector, the aggressor failed to break through our defenses and its activity has slightly decreased," she said. "At the same time, the enemy is shelling our positions in this area and regrouping."

The General Staff reported that, "The enemy did not conduct any offensive in the Lyman sector."

Elsewhere, the same pattern of Russian artillery and mortar fire continued across the front line, with the town of Vuhledar coming under heavy bombardment.

In the south, according to the General Staff, Russian forces are carrying out "defensive actions at the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson directions," but that includes heavy shelling of settlements close to the front lines. Maliar said that the Russians were doing their best "to maintain control over the occupied borders and prevent the advance of our troops" in the south.

1:14 a.m. ET, April 25, 2023

Moscow threatens to end Black Sea grain deal if G7 bans exports to Russia. Here's why the agreement matters

From CNN's Mariya Knight 

An employee of the Romanian grain handling operator Comvex oversees the unloading of a shipment from the Ukraine in the Black Sea port of Constanta, Romania, on June 21, 2022.
An employee of the Romanian grain handling operator Comvex oversees the unloading of a shipment from the Ukraine in the Black Sea port of Constanta, Romania, on June 21, 2022. (Vadim Ghirda/AP/FILE)

If the Group of Seven nations ban exports to Russia, Moscow is threatening to terminate the Black Sea grain deal, viewed as critical to addressing the world hunger crisis.

Such a ban could be part of the ever-evolving set of sanctions the allies have leveled against Moscow for its war in Ukraine.

Ukraine normally supplies about 45 million metric tons of grain to the global market every year and is the world’s top exporter of sunflower oil. Together with Russia, it accounted for about one-quarter of global wheat exports in 2019.

On Sunday, Dmitry Medvedev, the former Russian president and deputy chair of Russia's security council, implied in a Telegram post that Moscow would answer a new G7 export ban by halting the flow of "goods that are the most sensitive for G7."

Alliance response: The G7 called for the “extension, full implementation and expansion” of the Black Sea grain deal in a statement published by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan on Sunday. 

Moscow has pulled out of the deal before: Russia had suspended its participation in the UN-brokered agreement in October 2022 after drone attacks on the Crimean city of Sevastopol, Ukraine.

Shipments have been stop and start during the deal, with each side accusing the other of sabotaging the operation at times.

Origins of the deal and impact: Turkey, alongside the United Nations, helped broker the deal in July 2022. The agreement established a procedure that guaranteed the safety of ships carrying Ukrainian grain, fertilizer and other foodstuffs through a humanitarian corridor in the Black Sea.

Under the deal, all vessels coming to and from Ukraine’s ports were inspected and monitored by international teams made up of officials from Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the UN.

CNN's Uliana Pavlova, Sugam Pokharel, Dennis Lapin, Ivana Kottasová and Katharina Krebs contributed to this report.