April 27, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Maureen Chowdhury, Jessie Yeung, Seán Federico O'Murchú, Ben Morse, Jeevan Ravindran and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 0406 GMT (1206 HKT) April 28, 2022
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8:08 a.m. ET, April 27, 2022

Russia will have "a case to answer" for alleged war crimes in Bucha, ICC chief prosecutor tells CNN

From CNN's Hannah Ritchie in Hong Kong

 Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Karim Khan speaks to CNN on April 27.
Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Karim Khan speaks to CNN on April 27. (CNN)

There will be “a case to answer in due course” on Russia’s alleged war crimes in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Karim Khan told CNN Tuesday. 

“We will get to the truth because there's no place to hide in the courtroom. Whatever the narratives and counter-narratives, the evidence should properly be tested … and there will be — I think — a case to answer in due course,” Khan told CNN’s Anderson Cooper during a wide-ranging interview, when asked how the ICC might build a case in Ukraine. 

Khan made the comments while reviewing images shared with CNN by Ukrainian prosecutors, as they investigate alleged Russian war crimes. 

Located on the outskirts of Kyiv, Bucha was occupied by Russian forces for roughly three weeks in March. The photos -- which were taken from March 5-7 -- show the bodies of civilians littered in the streets of several locations around the town.

A man works to catalog some of bodies of civilians killed in and around Bucha before they are transported to a morgue on April 6.
A man works to catalog some of bodies of civilians killed in and around Bucha before they are transported to a morgue on April 6. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

The Kremlin has denied any involvement in the mass killings of civilians in Ukraine, while reiterating baseless claims that images of bodies on the streets of Bucha are “fake.”

Khan addressed Russia’s disinformation directly. “Those bodies that are in those bags on the screen are not fake. I’ve seen them. I stood beside them. The issue is how did they die, who is responsible and in what circumstances?” Khan said, adding that the world was watching to see how “effective the rule of law” would be regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

We need to go forward in a way that’s much more effective perhaps than in the past,” Khan explained, hinting at jurisdictional issues faced by the ICC. 

On Monday, the ICC joined an EU investigation into possible war crimes committed in Ukraine during Russia’s invasion, marking the court's first joint investigation in its twenty-year history. 

“The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC in The Hague will become a participant in the joint investigation team (JIT) on alleged core international crimes committed in Ukraine,” the EU’s judicial cooperation agency said in a statement. 

During a visit to the towns of Bucha and Borodianka in mid-April, Khan said there were “reasonable grounds to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC” were being committed there. 

But Khan also warned that it would be “challenging” to guarantee justice would be served in Ukraine, given Russia’s decision to withdraw its signature from the ICC statute, which gives the court jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. 

Russia also doesn’t extradite its citizens to other countries.

Evidence of mass graves in the towns of Bucha and Borodianka has continued to emerge since early April, following the withdrawal of Russian forces from the Kyiv region. 

8:13 a.m. ET, April 27, 2022

People flee for their lives from Ukraine's southern city of Kherson

From CNN's Nick Paton Walsh, Natalie Gallón, Maryna Marukhnych and Brice Laine

A steady flow of people have been making their way across fields and rivers dotting southern Ukraine's countryside through the day. As night falls, the crowds swell. They travel on foot, by bicycle, or wheelbarrow.

They are desperate to leave behind the Russian occupation of their hometown, Kherson, and are willing to take — and risk — any route possible out of the city to the rest of the country.

The occupied areas around Kherson — the first to be taken by advancing Russian forces in the opening days of the war — have been terrorized in the past week by both the advancing second phase of Moscow's offensive, but also fears of a referendum on Wednesday.

Ukraine has said Russia plans to hold a vote in the region — widely viewed there as a sham referendum -- to try to show popular support for the creation of a new entity called the Kherson People's Republic, which would mirror similar entities in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region. Multiple locals and several Ukrainian officials told CNN the vote had been scheduled for April 27.

Yet the day before, Russian-backed officials announced a series of new government officials in the occupied city, leading some observers to think the referendum may have been postponed in favor of these new appointments.

Ukrainian officials also say Russia is running into trouble over plans to hold a poll as early as Wednesday.

Regardless, fear of the impending vote and its implications — a possible strengthening of Russia's control — has led many residents to flee fast.

Read more here:

7:30 a.m. ET, April 27, 2022

UK to urge allies to send warplanes to Ukraine

From CNN's Amy Cassidy 

Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Minister for Women and Equalities, Liz Truss leaves Downing Street on April 26, in London, England.
Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Minister for Women and Equalities, Liz Truss leaves Downing Street on April 26, in London, England. (Wiktor Szymanowicz/Future Publishing/Getty Images)

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will urge Western allies to supply Ukraine with warplanes and other heavy weapons, according to a news release from the UK’s Foreign Office published Tuesday.

In a keynote foreign policy speech that she is expected to deliver at London’s Mansion House on Thursday, Truss will argue the need to “double down” on supporting Ukraine’s military.

“We cannot be complacent -- the fate of Ukraine remains in the balance,” Truss will say, according to the release. 

“And let’s be clear -- if Putin succeeds there will be untold further misery across Europe and terrible consequences across the globe. We would never feel safe again. So we must be prepared for the long haul and double down on our support for Ukraine."

“Heavy weapons, tanks, aeroplanes -- digging deep into our inventories, ramping up production. We need to do all of this,” she is expected to say.

The global security architecture “that was designed to guarantee peace and prosperity has failed Ukraine” and a “new approach” is needed, Truss will say.  

It comes as NATO countries ramp up their military support for Ukraine. In a major policy U-turn on Tuesday, Germany announced it will supply Ukraine with anti-aircraft tanks. Canada and the UK also announced they would supply more heavy weapons on Tuesday.

This post has been updated to correct the name of Mansion House, where Foreign Secretary Truss is expected to deliver her speech on Thursday.

8:19 a.m. ET, April 27, 2022

In graphics: The European impact of Russia halting gas to Poland and Bulgaria

An element of a 20-km looping section at transit gas pipeline to Turkey near Lozenets, Bulgaria, on August 3, 2018.
An element of a 20-km looping section at transit gas pipeline to Turkey near Lozenets, Bulgaria, on August 3, 2018. (Stoyan Nenov/Reuters)

Russia has cut off natural gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, dramatically escalating its response to Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over its war in Ukraine.

Russian state energy giant Gazprom tweeted Wednesday that it had fully halted supplies to Polish gas company PGNiG and Bulgaria's Bulgargaz after they refused to meet a demand by Moscow to pay in rubles, rather than dollars or euros.

The European Commission described the decision to halt supplies as attempted "blackmail" and said it was coordinating a response among EU member states.

The news sent US natural gas futures up about 3% Tuesday. European gas prices jumped nearly 20% on Wednesday morning, Reuters reported.

But Russia’s attempts at using Poland and Bulgaria to send a message to the West and prop up its weak currency are likely to have their limitations.

In preparation for such a situation, European states reliant on Russian gas have been increasing their stored supplies. Polish gas company PGNiG, for example, says the country’s stores are 80% full. Europe is also at the end of its heating season, so demand will be low.

Bulgaria typically gets 100% of its gas from Russia, and Poland is almost as reliant, but the two countries don’t use that much gas in their energy mix in the first place, largely because they still depend heavily on coal for power generation.

Read more here:

5:16 a.m. ET, April 27, 2022

Ukraine acknowledges losing towns in the east as Russia steps up offensive

From Tim Lister and Julia Kesaieva

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire in a commercial area following a rocket attack in the Saltivka area of  Kharkiv, Ukraine, on April 26.
Firefighters work to extinguish a fire in a commercial area following a rocket attack in the Saltivka area of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on April 26. (Narciso Contreras/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The Ukrainian armed forces have acknowledged the loss of several towns and villages in eastern regions as Russia steps up its ground offensive.

Heavy fighting is ongoing on three fronts, with Russian forces being reinforced and resupplied from bases inside Russia, according to a spokesperson for the Ukrainian military on Wednesday.

Despite the loss of territory, Ukrainian authorities said nine enemy attacks were repulsed in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions alone, with Russian equipment destroyed — including nine tanks and 11 artillery systems.

Ukrainian troops are essentially fighting in three directions to prevent Russian forces from taking over all of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which has been the Kremlin's declared goal.

From the north, Russian units are attacking in the direction of Barkinove, a town south of Izium, and had taken the village of Zavody which has been contested for several days, the Ukrainian military said.

The Ukrainians also acknowledged that Russians had seized the outskirts of the settlement of Velyka Komyshuvakha in the same area.

From the east, Russian forces have taken control of the town of Zarichne, and have started attacking nearby Yampil.

The spokesman said Russian offensive operations were also focused on the Severodonetsk, Popasna and Kurakhiv areas. Russian troops have also taken control of the settlement of Novotoshkivske, and are trying to advance further westward.

In the south, Russian forces are trying to consolidate a land bridge to Crimea and occupy Ukrainian coastal regions.

The southern command of the Ukrainian armed forces said that Russian units were regrouping and conducting air reconnaissance, and are trying to push north toward the city of Kryvyi Rih and into the Zaporizhzhia region.

It also accused the Russians occupying the region of Kherson of further "filtration" of civilians in two districts. 

Reported damage includes energy infrastructure in the town of Zelenodolsk and a severe fire in Dnipropetrovsk.

"The armed forces of Ukraine are showing courage and conducting successful operations," said the head of the Kryvyi Rih city military administration.

He added that Russian prisoners had been taken.

8:18 a.m. ET, April 27, 2022

EU chief accuses Russia of trying to "blackmail" the bloc with gas

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen rings the bell at the start of the European Commission weekly College Meeting at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on April 27.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen rings the bell at the start of the European Commission weekly College Meeting at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on April 27. (Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images)

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen accused Russia of trying to “blackmail” the bloc with gas, after Russian energy giant Gazprom halted supplies to Poland and Bulgaria on Wednesday. 

“Gazprom's announcement is another attempt by Russia to blackmail us with gas. We are prepared for this scenario. We are mapping out our coordinated EU response,” von der Leyen wrote on Twitter.  
“Europeans can trust that we stand united and in solidarity with the Member States impacted."

In a separate statement, von der Leyen said a meeting between the EU's gas coordination group was underway to map out a response. 

Some context: Gazprom halted gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria after both countries refused to pay in rubles. Russia had warned "unfriendly" countries last month that they would need to pay for gas in the Russian currency starting April 1, or risk being cut off.

The payment spat threatens gas supplies that have continued to flow, even as Russian troops shelled major cities in Ukraine and the West imposed crippling sanctions on Russia's economy.

The EU is planning to slash the consumption of Russian natural gas this year as it prepares for a complete break with its single biggest energy supplier. But Europe would struggle to survive for long without Russian gas, and finding alternative sources presents a huge logistical challenge.

Read more here.

4:05 a.m. ET, April 27, 2022

This football club has lost its home again. Now it tours Europe raising money for war effort in Ukraine

From CNN's Don Riddell and Matias Grez

Darijo Srna the Shakhtar Donetsk Director of Sport during the UEFA Champions League match at Stade Louis II, Monaco, on August 17.
Darijo Srna the Shakhtar Donetsk Director of Sport during the UEFA Champions League match at Stade Louis II, Monaco, on August 17. (Jonathan Moscrop/Sportimage/Cal Sport Media/AP)

When Russia began its invasion of Ukraine on the morning of Feb. 24, Darijo Srna was awoken at 6 a.m. by the sound of air-raid sirens.

It was a noise the former international football star says immediately transported his "head and body" back to his native Croatia, where he lived as an 8-year-old when war broke out in what was then Yugoslavia.

So when his football club Shakhtar Donetsk was forced to leave Kyiv, the city that had been one of the team's many temporary bases since 2014, at the start of the invasion, it was unfortunately a scenario Srna was all too familiar with.

Though he's just 39 years old, he has already experienced three wars in his life; first in Croatia in the early 1990s, then in 2014 in Ukraine's Donbas region -- Shakhtar's real home -- and now across much of the rest of the country.

"It was not a nice memory," Srna, who is Shakhtar Donetsk's director of football, says of his childhood. "When I started to forget about that a little bit and enjoy my life, I heard the sirens again."

Srna — who, along with the rest of the team, managed to escape Ukraine the day after Russia began its invasion — has found his strength in helping those most affected by the war.

Read the full story:

8:18 a.m. ET, April 27, 2022

Russian energy giant confirms suspension of gas to Poland and Bulgaria for refusing to pay in rubles

A view of giant tubes part of one of the physical exit points and compressor gas station of the Yamal–Europe gas pipeline on February 19, in Wloclawek, Poland.
A view of giant tubes part of one of the physical exit points and compressor gas station of the Yamal–Europe gas pipeline on February 19, in Wloclawek, Poland. (Omar Marques/Getty Images)

Gazprom halted gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria on Wednesday after both countries refused to pay the Russian energy giant in rubles, the company said in a statement. 

“At the close of business on April 26, Gazprom Export did not receive payments for the supply of gas in April from Bulgaria and Poland in rubles…Gazprom has notified Bulgaria and Poland about suspending the supply of gas starting from April 27 until payments are made according to the order established by the decree,” the company said.

The "decree" refers to legislation introduced by Russian President Vladimir Putin in March, which orders gas exports to be paid for with Russia's currency. 

Poland was notified of the suspension Tuesday when its national energy company PGNiG was told by Gazprom that all supplies along the Yamal pipeline would be “entirely suspended.”

In late March, Russia announced that “unfriendly” foreign nations would need to pay for their gas in rubles starting April 1, or risk being cut off. Since then, gas shipments to the bloc have largely continued until now. 

3:04 a.m. ET, April 27, 2022

Ukraine retains control over "majority of its airspace," UK defense ministry says

From CNN's Hannah Ritchie in Hong Kong

A Ukrainian serviceman walks past the tail fin of a Russian Su-34 bomber lying in a damaged building in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on March 8.
A Ukrainian serviceman walks past the tail fin of a Russian Su-34 bomber lying in a damaged building in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on March 8. (Andrew Marienko/AP)

Ukraine has maintained control "over the majority of its airspace" some two months into Russia’s invasion, the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) said in an intelligence update Wednesday.

“Ukraine retains control over the majority of its airspace. Russia has failed to effectively destroy the Ukrainian Air Force or suppress Ukrainian air defenses. Ukraine continues to hold Russian air assets at risk,” the report read. 

According to the assessment, Russia’s air activity is now “primarily focused on southern and eastern Ukraine” to provide support to its ground forces there. Meanwhile, Russia’s access to the “north and west of Ukraine” remains “very limited," said the report.

Addressing civilian deaths in the besieged city of Mariupol, the MOD said it is likely Russian air strikes are "being conducted using unguided free-falling bombs" which "reduce Russia’s ability to effectively discriminate when conducting strikes, increasing the risk of civilian casualties."

Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure and military assets across the country remain ongoing, according to the MOD.