April 26, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Maureen Chowdhury, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Jessie Yeung, Andrew Raine, Ben Morse and Jack Guy, CNN

Updated 8:21 a.m. ET, April 27, 2022
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7:22 p.m. ET, April 26, 2022

Zelensky: Russia is trying to destabilize region through occupation of breakaway region in Moldova

From CNN’s Mitchell McCluskey

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia is trying to destabilize the region through military activity in Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria.

“This is just one of the steps of the Russian federation. This is happening to destabilize the region and threaten Moldova,” Zelensky said when asked by a journalist during a joint press conference in Kyiv with IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi on Tuesday.

“This is showing that if Moldova supports Ukraine this is what’s going to happen,” he said.  

In recent days, Ukraine has accused Russian troops of firing missiles and conducting operations in Transnistria.

When asked about the number of Russian troops present in Transnistria, Zelensky said Ukrainian armed forces are “prepared and not afraid” to deal with a new front of the military invasion.  

“With regard to certain Russian troops that are constantly present in the temporarily occupied territory — this has been so for many, many years. We know they’re on alert, just waiting for the order,” Zelensky said.

7:42 p.m. ET, April 26, 2022

Germany has agreed to send heavy weapons to Ukraine. Here's why that is significant. 

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová, Stephanie Halasz and Ulrike Heil

Germany will provide Gepard anti-aircraft systems, similar to the one seen here.
Germany will provide Gepard anti-aircraft systems, similar to the one seen here. (Sven Eckelkamp/IMAGO/Reuters/FILE)

Germany has agreed to deliver anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine, the German Defense Ministry announced on Tuesday, a move that underscores a major shift in its approach to providing military help to Ukraine.

The commitment to deliver the Gepard anti-aircraft systems was announced by defense minister Christine Lambrecht during a meeting of international defense officials at the Ramstein US Air Force base in Germany on Tuesday.

"We decided yesterday that we will support Ukraine with anti-aircraft systems ... which is exactly what Ukraine needs now to secure the airspace from the ground," Lambrecht said during the meeting at the base.

This is significant as it is the first time Germany has agreed to provide this type of heavy weaponry to Ukraine as it fights off the Russian invasion. The Gepard systems were phased out from active duty in Germany in 2010.

Germany initially resisted calls to provide weaponry to Kyiv, agreeing only to provide humanitarian help and medical equipment. That approach was in line with Germany's decades-long policy of not supplying lethal weapons to crisis zone.

Just months before Russian President Vladimir Putin order the invasion into Ukraine, the then new German government agreed to include the restrictive arms export policy into its coalition agreement.

But facing pressure from allies and the German public, the government was forced to overhaul the rules. By late February, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced Germany would start delivering some weapons to Ukraine, although at that point he insisted on calling them "defensive."

He also announced Germany would start pumping more money into its own armed forces.

First such investment was publicly confirmed last month when Germany announced it would buy 35 US-made F-35A fighter jets.

Read more here.

9:09 p.m. ET, April 26, 2022

Exclusive: New drone video shows Russian military vehicles and forces on Bucha street strewn with civilian bodies

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy and Sandi Sidhu

(Obtained by CNN)
(Obtained by CNN)

Despite Russia's repeated denials they were responsible for any carnage in Bucha, Russian military vehicles and forces were seen on a Bucha street near civilian bodies, new drone video obtained exclusively by CNN shows. 

CNN has geolocated and confirmed the authenticity of the videos, which were taken by a drone on March 12 and 13. CNN is not naming the individual that took the video over concerns for their safety.

A Russian military vehicle is seen sitting at an intersection in the video from March 13. CNN has identified three objects in the video — just down the street from the military vehicle — are the same bodies that were seen in the video from April 1 and satellite images taken by Maxar Technologies on March 18.

Additional drone video from March 13 shows another Russian military vehicle traveling further up the street, in the direction of the bodies.

In the March 12 video, a number of Russian soldiers are seen around a military vehicle parked outside of a house, just down the street from the bodies. It's unclear what they are doing at the house.

CNN asked the Russian Ministry of Defense for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

Russian officials — President Vladimir Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov — have repeatedly claimed that the videos and satellite images that show bodies in Bucha are fake.

This drone video is the first piece of evidence to emerge from Bucha that shows Russian vehicles and troops operating on the street, where the bodies were found by Ukrainian forces when they retook the town on April 1.

The images that emerged from Bucha after Russian forces retreated have drawn enormous outrage from the international community.

It's also led some leaders, including US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron, to call for the atrocities that took place in Bucha war crimes.

Watch the report here:

5:55 p.m. ET, April 26, 2022

CNN tours devastated city of Kharkiv, weeks after Russian attacks

From CNN's Clarissa Ward / Written by CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

After nearly nine weeks of shelling by Russian forces, CNN toured the devastated northeastern city of Kharkiv, Ukraine.

In one neighborhood that was hit repeatedly, CNN's Clarissa Ward witnessed building after building left in destruction. "No site was spared, not even the local nursery school," Ward reported.

"Mercifully, the school had been evacuated so no children were killed in the strikes. The mayor of Kharkiv says that 67 schools and 54 kindergartens have been hit here since the war began. And what's so striking, when you look around, is that it's so clearly not a military target. This is a residential neighborhood," she said.

In another residential building in the city, that was severely damaged, Ward found a 73-year-old woman.

"So, she saying that she does have a sister who she can stay with but she also lives in an area that's being heavily hit and she's living in a shelter at the moment," Ward explained after speaking with her. "It's from all sides, she says, from there and there they can shell."

The city still continues to be shelled.

Watch the full report here:

5:49 p.m. ET, April 26, 2022

Russia will shut off gas deliveries to Bulgaria starting Wednesday, Bulgarian energy ministry says

From CNN’s Sugam Pokharel and Josh Pennington 

Russia's Gazprom has told Bulgaria’s state-owned gas company Bulgargaz that it will shut off gas supplies starting Wednesday, Bulgarian energy ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. 

Bulgaria is now the second country, after Poland, to face Russia's gas embargo starting Wednesday after they refused to pay in rubles.

The energy ministry said that the new payment procedure proposed by Russia was not compatible with the existing contract until the end of this year and posed "significant risks" to Bulgaria.

It said the Bulgarian side has “fully fulfilled its obligations and has made all payments required under this contract in a timely manner, diligently and in accordance with its provisions."

The Bulgarian government agencies have taken steps to make alternative arrangements for the supply of natural gas and to address the situation, it said.  

“At present, no restrictive measures have been imposed on gas consumption in Bulgaria,” the ministry added. 

Bulgarian Minister of Energy Alexander Nikolov will make a statement on the situation on Wednesday, according to the statement.

7:29 p.m. ET, April 26, 2022

UK prime minister says he doesn't expect Putin to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine

From CNN's Zahid Mahmood in London

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday that he does not expect Russian President Vladimir Putin to use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

When asked during a sit-down interview with Britain’s "Talk TV" if he fears that Putin may use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine if Moscow faced defeat in its ongoing invasion, Johnson said that he does not share the same worry.

Russia Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday that nuclear deterrence is Russia’s “principled position," but he added that “the danger is serious, it is real, it cannot be underestimated.”

Johnson said Putin had the “political space” to be able to back down and withdraw from Ukraine.  

“[Putin] could come to a point, when you look and say to the Russian people: The military technical operation that we launched in Ukraine has been accomplished. We had to go into to accomplish certain protectors to protect the rights of certain people that’s been done,” Johnson said.

5:45 p.m. ET, April 26, 2022

Ukrainian president says Russia has no right to "blackmail the world" with the threat of nuclear weapons

From CNN’s Mitchell McCluskey and Jennifer Deaton

(Aleksey Filippo/AFP/Getty Images)
(Aleksey Filippo/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke about Russia and nuclear weapons while criticizing recent Russian troops’ operations at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on Tuesday during a joint news conference in Kyiv with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general Rafael Mariano Grossi.

“Today on the 36th anniversary of the disaster at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, again the world was just a step from disaster because for the Russian troops, the plant and the entire was just another combat action zone where they didn’t care for nuclear safety,” Zelensky said. 

Zelensky accused the Russian troops of operating with little regard to nuclear danger and of looting and damaging several areas of the plant, including the system control center and laboratory. 

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant in northern Ukraine was occupied by Russian forces just a few weeks ago and is now back under Ukrainian control. 

He warned that their carelessness signals the danger of Russia using nuclear weapons.  

“Given the level of the threat, we believe Russia has no right to turn nuclear energy into weapons and blackmail the world with the use of nuclear weapons,” Zelensky said. 

During the news conference, Zelensky personally thanked the staff members who stayed to maintain the plant as the Russian troops occupied. The staff was offered medals for their work. 

Zelensky and Grossi discussed the current level of nuclear threat and damage to the facilities. 

Grossi said he agreed that the IAEA would continue to work to restore the capacity and infrastructure that was damaged in recent weeks. 

“In spite of these difficulties, it’s important to look into the future, look into peace, the moment that Ukraine will regain its peace, its tranquility, and the safety that all its citizens deserve,” Grossi said.

Grossi made a working visit to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day, marking 36 years since an explosion there “spread a radioactive cloud over large parts of the Soviet Union, now the territories of Belarus, Ukraine and the Russian Federation,” as the UN describes it. 

Nearly 8.4 million people in the three countries are known to have been exposed to the radiation, the UN also says. 

The IAEA chief said of the visit, “We are marking the day. We are remembering what needs to be remembered. We are paying respect and honor to those who deserve it, but we are working.”  

During the working visit, the IAEA delivered a first batch of equipment, including radiation-monitoring equipment, Grossi said. IAEA safety inspectors are working closely with their Ukrainian counterparts to monitor and compare radiation measurements at the plant and the exclusion zone and then maintain a presence “for as long as the situation requires,” Grossi added, while speaking on scene to reporters. 

When asked by one reporter how close Chernobyl had been to another disaster while under Russian occupation, Grossi said that while the situation was “completely different” than the 1986 explosion with a then working nuclear reactor, that it still “could have developed into an accident.” 

All credit for avoiding a worse fate was due to the operators, the IAEA chief said. 

“I think the first credit must go to the operators. To these people here, because they carried on their work in spite of all the difficulties. In spite of the stress, in spite of the fact that they could not be working normally," he said

8:21 a.m. ET, April 27, 2022

US Department of Defense establishes control center for Ukraine military aid in Germany, official says

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

The Department of Defense has established a control center to coordinate shipments and “streamline the delivery” of military assistance to Ukraine with both US and allied forces in Stuttgart, Germany, within the US European Command area of responsibility, a senior US defense official told reporters on Tuesday.

The EUCOM Control Center of Ukraine, or ECCU, is based at US European Command headquarters in Stuttgart and is run by a US two-star admiral, the official said. The center works closely with what the US military calls the international donor coordination center, or IDCC, which is run by a one-star general from the United Kingdom, the official added.

“This was set up to support this security system’s efforts,” the official said. 

The control center, along with US personnel, includes staff from 15 other supporting nations in Stuttgart, the official said. The control center will also manage the network of more than 40 partner and allied nations that met in Germany earlier Tuesday and are providing assistance to Ukraine, the official said. 

This new group of allies will meet once a month, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced earlier Tuesday. The first meeting was hosted by Austin at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Tuesday.

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly described who runs the EUCOM Control Center of Ukraine. It is run by a US two-star admiral.

6:36 p.m. ET, April 26, 2022

Ford will take "long view" on Russia and is in no rush to reopen business once Ukraine conflict ends

From CNN's Robert North

American motor company Ford will be in no rush to reopen its Russian businesses, whatever happens with the conflict in Ukraine, according to Bill Ford, the company's executive chair.

Speaking to CNN's Richard Quest, the boss of the carmaker said that it would take the “long view” on Russia.

“There will be a new Russia one day. But it will take a little time to sort out what that means and we'll take our time with that. It's important that that we do get the human rights equation correct. And that, that we feel that the country is headed in the right path," Bill Ford explained.

Ford suspended its Russian operations indefinitely on March 1. The motor company has a 50% stake in Ford Sollers, a joint venture between the American automaker and Russian company Sollers.

Ford Sollers operated three plants in Russia and employed around 4,000 people. Bill Ford said the move was the “right thing to do” even though it affected employees who weren’t part of Russian politics.