April 27, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Helen Regan, Sophie Tanno, Ed Upright, Aditi Sangal, Leinz Vales, Jennifer Korn and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 12:07 p.m. ET, April 28, 2023
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7:31 a.m. ET, April 27, 2023

NATO allies have delivered almost all combat vehicles promised to Ukraine 

From CNN’s Jo Shelley

Ukraine’s NATO allies have delivered almost all the combat vehicles they promised Kyiv, the head of the alliance said Thursday. 

“More than 98% of the combat vehicles promised to Ukraine have already been delivered,” Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said. 

“That means over 1,550 armored vehicles, 230 tanks and other equipment, including vast amounts of ammunition. In total, we have trained and equipped more than nine new Ukrainian armored brigades. This will put Ukraine in a strong position to continue to retake occupied territory.”

7:32 a.m. ET, April 27, 2023

Ukrainian PM invites pope to visit country after discussing peace formula at Vatican 

From CNN's Radina Gigova

Pope Francis, left, meets with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal during their meeting at the Vatican on April 27.
Pope Francis, left, meets with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal during their meeting at the Vatican on April 27. (Vatican Media/­Reuters)

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Thursday he has invited Pope Francis to visit the country and that Kyiv's peace formula was discussed during talks at the Vatican earlier in the day. 

Speaking at a news conference in Rome, Shmyhal said various aspects of support for Ukraine were also discussed. 

He reiterated that a Chinese delegation will be arriving in Ukraine following the call between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday, but didn't provide additional details about the delegation.

Xi and Zelensky spoke by phone on Wednesday, in their first known conversation since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Moscow reacted to the conversation by saying it welcomes all contacts that can bring an end to the conflict.

7:10 a.m. ET, April 27, 2023

Top US and Ukrainian generals speak on phone, Kyiv says

From CNN’s Olga Voitovych

The US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, has spoken to Ukraine's most senior military commander, Valerii Zaluzhny, in a telephone call, the government in Kyiv said in a Thursday statement.

The call also included US national security adviser Jake Sullivan and the head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Andriy Yermak, according to the statement. 

Yermak and Zaluzhny "emphasized the importance of continuing active support of the Ukrainian army by partners, including the supply of weapons and ammunition," it said.

6:07 a.m. ET, April 27, 2023

Expectations of Ukrainian counteroffensive "overheated," defense minister says

From CNN's Olga Voitovych

Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov gives a statement at Ramstein U.S. Air Base, Germany, on April 21.
Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov gives a statement at Ramstein U.S. Air Base, Germany, on April 21. (Heiko Becker/Reuters)

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov has spoken about public expectations of a counteroffensive against Russian forces, in an interview with news outlet RBC Ukraine.

Asked whether “the public's expectations of a counteroffensive are somewhat overheated” he said: “I agree… They are definitely overheated. Everyone wants another victory.” 

Reznikov said that Ukrainian successes in the Kharkiv region, and in the city of Kherson, meant that the public now believed a victory for Ukraine’s troops was possible. “They want the next victory. It's normal… (these) expectations of success,” he said. 

Ukraine has made efforts to conceal the start of any counteroffensive, as CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh wrote earlier this week. Reznikov’s deputy, Hanna Maliar, has previously said that the counteroffensive will not be announced. 

Later in the interview, Reznikov said Ukraine’s priority was to bolster its Soviet-era air defenses: “The country must survive, and for this purpose, air defense is number one. We have a Soviet system that is running out of missiles.” 

“This is not a sprint distance... We are running a marathon. I can't say how many kilometers we are from the finish line,” he added

5:50 a.m. ET, April 27, 2023

NATO chief welcomes Xi-Zelensky call, but notes China still hasn’t condemned Russia's invasion 

From CNN's Jo Shelley

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that he welcomed the conversation between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky that took place on Wednesday, but noted that Beijing still hasn’t condemned Russia’s invasion

“I welcome the call between President Zelensky and President Xi. I think it’s important also that China gets a better understanding of Ukrainian perspectives. This doesn’t change the fact that China has not been able to condemn Russia’s illegal war, illegal invasion of Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said at a news conference in Luxembourg. 

He added that, “NATO allies have expressed strong support to President Zelensky’s peace plan, which includes of course, full respect for Ukraine’s territorial integrity.” 

Xi and Zelensky spoke by phone on Wednesday, in their first known conversation since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Zelensky, who has long expressed interest in speaking with Xi, said he had “a long and meaningful phone call” with the Chinese leader that lasted for an hour. “We discussed a full range of topical issues of bilateral relations. Particular attention was paid to the ways of possible cooperation to establish a just and sustainable peace for Ukraine,” Zelensky said in a statement.

“There can be no peace at the expense of territorial compromises,” said Zelensky.

In a readout, China’s Foreign Ministry quoted Xi as telling Zelensky that “mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity is the political basis of China-Ukrainian relations.” Xi also reiterated Beijing’s point that China’s “core position” on the Ukraine conflict is to “promote peace and talks.”

5:21 a.m. ET, April 27, 2023

Russian troops are fortifying defenses around Mariupol, Ukrainian official says

From CNN’s Olga Voitovych 

An adviser to the mayor of Mariupol has reported that Russian troops are fortifying their defenses around the city. 

“The occupiers continue to dig in and build echelon defenses around Mariupol,” Petro Andriushchenko said in a Telegram post.

“Now they are getting wood to build dugouts. Yesterday, for the first time, military trucks went in large numbers to the Mangush district and partially in the direction of Berdiansk. They were full of wood for the construction of fortifications.” 

The number of fortifications is growing in all directions," he added. 

Andriushchenko also claimed that, this week, Russian-backed troops had “begun resettling in empty houses in villages north of Mariupol” in order to defend it. 

CNN is unable to independently verify these claims. 

Mariupol, a port city on the Sea of Azov, is located in Ukraine’s Donetsk region and has been under direct Russian control since May 2022.

4:16 a.m. ET, April 27, 2023

Russia has emptied out a base in northern Crimea, satellite imagery shows

From CNN's Vasco Cotovio and Yulia Kesaieva

The military base in Medvedivka, Crimea, on February 11.
The military base in Medvedivka, Crimea, on February 11. (Maxar Technologies)

Recent satellite imagery reviewed by CNN shows Russian forces have emptied out a key base in northern Crimea

The facility, near the village of Medvedivka and close to the border with the region of Kherson, housed a significant number of Russian armor. 

Imagery from the European Union’s Sentinel 2 satellite from January 21, 2023 shows a large footprint of Russian equipment. Higher resolution Maxar images from February 11, 2023 reveals dozens of armoured vehicles, including tanks and artillery pieces. 

The base at Medvedivka seen from above on January 21.
The base at Medvedivka seen from above on January 21. (Copernicus Sentinel-2)

Newer imagery taken by the EU’s Sentinel 2 satellite reveals that most of those vehicles are no longer present at the base. 

The base at Medvedivka seen from above on March 27.
The base at Medvedivka seen from above on March 27. (Copernicus Sentinel-2)

It wasn’t immediately clear why Moscow had relocated the equipment or where to, but earlier in the month, Russian-installed officials in Crimea had signaled they expected a Ukrainian counteroffensive to target the peninsula. 

“I think the decision to build defensive structures in Crimea and on the approaches to the peninsula was correct and justified,” the Russian appointed Crimean governor Sergei Aksyonov said on April 11. 

Maxar imagery from February 11 to February 16 shows a large concentration of defensive structures near Medvedivka, including a network of trenches and wedge-shaped anti-tank concrete barriers known as dragon’s teeth. One Maxar image from January 3 shows the fortifications were much smaller at the beginning of the year. 

“In general, I can say that our armed forces have built a modern, deeply echeloned defense,” Aksyonov said on April 11. “This does not mean that they will necessarily be used for their intended purpose.”
“We had to prepare for any scenario, and we did,” he added.

In light of Aksyonov’s comments, experts have suggested the withdrawal of Russian military equipment from the base in Medvedivka may be related to defensive operations ahead of a Ukrainian counteroffensive.

3:35 a.m. ET, April 27, 2023

1 police officer dead, 1 injured in Melitopol explosion 

From CNN's Olga Voytovich and Radina Gigova

One police officer was killed and another injured in an explosion at an apartment building in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Melitopol on Thursday, local authorities said.

"At about 5:15 a.m. in Melitopol, there was an explosion near the entrance of an apartment building on Kirova Street. An improvised explosive device went off," the Russian-backed city administration said on its Telegram channel. 
"The circumstances of the incident are being investigated. Operational services are working at the site," the administration said. 

According to the Ukrainian mayor of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov, who is not currently in the city himself, the explosion occurred at a residential building where individuals who worked at Russian-backed law-enforcement agencies lived. 

7:33 p.m. ET, April 27, 2023

2 dead after Zaporizhzhia region hit with over 80 Russian attacks, official says

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

Yurii Malashko holds a briefing in Zaporizhzhia, southeastern Ukraine, on April 2.
Yurii Malashko holds a briefing in Zaporizhzhia, southeastern Ukraine, on April 2. (Dmytro Smolienko/Ukrinform/Future Publishing/Getty Images)

Zaporizhzhia's regional military administration said it has recorded more than 80 Russian attacks on the region in the past day, according to a statement released on Thursday. 

Yurii Malashko, head of the Zaporizhzhia region military administration, said there were "83 attacks on peaceful towns and villages," consisting of 69 artillery attacks, seven air attacks, five UAV drone attacks and two attacks from a Multiple Launch Rocket System, or MLRS.

Malashko described "chaotic shelling" in Orikhiv, Preobrazhenka, and Novodanylivka, which resulted in the deaths of two men in their 40s.

"Unfortunately, two men born in 1976 and 1979 were killed," the statement said. 

Aerial strikes also hit residential buildings in the Huliaipole district, a town in the Zaporizhzhia region on the front lines in eastern Ukraine, but no casualties or injuries have been recorded there.