By Aditi Sangal, Melissa Macaya, Maureen Chowdhury, Ed Upright, Andrew Raine, Seán Federico O'Murchú, Ben Morse and Jeevan Ravindran, CNN
Updated 0632 GMT (1432 HKT) April 29, 2022
1:58 p.m. ET, April 28, 2022
Explosions heard in Kyiv
From CNN's Tim Lister
CNN teams in Kyiv observed two large explosions Thursday evening several kilometers east of the city center.
The explosions came soon after talks between President Volodymyr Zelensky and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres ended in the Ukrainian capital.
"The enemy fired on Kyiv. There were two hits in the Shevchenkivskyi district. All services are working on the scene. Information about casualties is being clarified," Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.
1:37 p.m. ET, April 28, 2022
Talks over the US's $33 billion Ukraine bill will take some time to play out, sources say
From CNN's Manu Raju, Daniella Diaz and Lauren Fox
Democratic and GOP in the US sources said that there are many issues that need to be sorted out over the country's Ukraine package — including drafting the legislative language — and the whole process will take weeks until there are final votes in both chambers.
The likely goal at this point is to pass this package before the Memorial Day recess. But there are added complications to sort out — namely what to do with the stalled Covid-19 aid.
A senior Democratic House aide said US President Joe Biden’s supplemental request still has a long road ahead in both chambers, "There will be bicameral, bipartisan talks on the supplemental request. Language must also be drafted. It is also unresolved which Chamber will work to advance the supplemental first. This will not be an instant process."
In a sign of the potential roadblocks ahead, many Republicans are already signaling they need more information about Biden’s supplemental before they could commit to voting on it in the Senate.
Republicans are still going through the President’s supplemental for Ukraine, but Sen. Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, said he has concerns about a provision in the package that authorizes International Monetary Fund (IMF) to spend roughly $20 billion. It’s not new money. This money has previously been appropriated, but it had not been authorized. It is an issue that Republicans and Democrats have been fighting about for months and Republicans say Biden slipped in this package.
It’s still early and Risch said many Republicans are still inclined to support the package, but he warned that Republicans want to take a few days to more carefully consider what is included.
“I have to go through the details,” Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, said. “I don’t fixate as much on the amount. It’s more about what is it that you intend to provide to them? Is it what they need right now for the foreseeable future?”
Another divide emerging is Republicans view the high price tag for the humanitarian aid as potentially being misdirected. Sen. Steve Daines, a Republican from Montana who traveled to Ukraine during the recess, told reporters that he believes the better place to spend the money is on military assistance.
“The war crimes that are being committed as we speak won’t end until Ukraine wins this war. So while humanitarian aid is very important, the most important thing Ukrainians want is lethal aid to beat the Russians. I am not convinced the White House understands that,” Daines said.
“I want to know what we are investing in. I want to make sure between lethal aid and humanitarian aid, it is actually getting where it’s supposed to go. The devil is in the details,” Ernst said.
Sen. Roger Wicker, a Republican from Mississippi, said he’s comfortable with the package’s price tag.
“We need to send a strong signal that we intend for Ukraine to win this war against Vladimir Putin’s illegal war crimes,” Wicker said.
While members on both sides recognize there is an urgency to pass this legislation quickly, the mechanics of how this gets through the House and Senate are still very much in flux with some Democrats still insisting money should be wrapped into one package with Covid-19 money that has been held up over Biden’s immigration policy on Title 42.
“It needs to be done,” Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington, said.
Republicans, including whip John Thune, has already said adding Covid-19 funding to this bill is a nonstarter.
1:02 p.m. ET, April 28, 2022
How Russian forces are trying to eradicate Ukrainian identity in Kherson
From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Presniakova
Russian forces occupying much of the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson are trying to extend their grip over the area and eradicate its Ukrainian identity.
They have made modest advances on the battlefield, with the Ukrainians acknowledging a loss of territory in the direction of Mykolaiv to the northwest.
In recent days the Russians have appointed their own officials to run Kherson, replacing elected Ukrainian officials. On Thursday one of those newly installed officials said Kherson would begin to use the ruble from next week and the Ukrainian currency, the hryvnia, would be replaced within four months.
Additionally, Russian television channels have taken the place of Ukrainian networks.
Now one of the Ukrainian representatives on Kherson's regional council has accused the Russian forces of threatening educators.
Serhii Hlan said the message to principals from the occupiers had been simple: "Either give us the keys and documents, or we’ll send you 'to rest' in the basement."
"This is what the occupiers are telling the school administration in Kakhovka," he said.
The town of Kakhovka has seen several protests against the Russian military presence.
Hlan said the Russians were demanding all school equipment be surrendered.
"The Russians are simply destroying Ukrainian education, threatening employees, and intimidating principals. In total, they plan to leave two schools in the city [open], what the fate of others will be is unknown," the official noted.
"The workers are scared. They did not leave, remained in the occupied territories, guarded the school property," he added.
1:31 p.m. ET, April 28, 2022
It's 8 p.m. in Kyiv. Catch up on the latest developments in Russia's war in Ukraine
The bodies of 1,150 civilians have been recovered in Ukraine's Kyiv region since Russia's invasion started, Kyiv regional police chief Andriy Nebyton said Wednesday.
Nebyton emphasized that "these were civilians, not military, who had no involvement with Territorial Defense or other military entities."
The majority of casualties are from the Bucha region and Bucha leads in the number of bodies they have found, Nebyton said, adding that "50-70% died of firearm wounds, shot with automatic rifles."
If you're just joining us, here's a look at other key updates about the invasion and the global response on Thursday so far:
The UN secretary general visited Bucha: Antonio Guterres visited the war-ravaged town of Bucha, which was associated with war crimes by Russian troops in Ukraine on Thursday. Guterres toured residential areas in the suburb of Kyiv and nearby town of Borodianka, that were left largely in ruins when Russian troops pulled out. He also met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, according to a spokesperson. Some officials in Kyiv have criticized his itinerary after he first met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Tuesday.
Ukrainian prosecutor names 10 Russian soldiers suspected of Bucha crimes: In a Facebook post, Iryna Venediktova said 10 soldiers had been identified as being "involved in torture of peaceful civilians" during their occupation of Bucha. They were from the 64th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade, she added. Earlier this month, the 64th Brigade was awarded an honorary title by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The attacks and destruction continue: An official in southern Ukraine has said that an important bridge in a part of southern Ukraine occupied by the Russians has been destroyed. A photograph of the bridge suggests that at least part of it was brought down by an explosive charge. The bridge connects Russian-occupied Crimea with the city of Melitopol. Meanwhile, a Ukrainian official in Mariupol has told CNN that the last holdout of Ukrainian forces in Mariupol — the Azovstal steel complex — was hit on Wednesday night by the heaviest Russian airstrikes yet. CNN cannot independently confirm the extent of Russian airstrikes nor the casualties they caused.
The US is looking at sending more money to Ukraine: The Biden administration is sending a $33 billion supplemental funding request to Congress aimed at supporting Ukraine through a new phase over the next several months as Russia continues its brutal and unrelenting war. It includes funding for security, economic, and humanitarian aid. "We need this bill to support Ukraine in its fight for freedom," he said. "The cost of this fight is not cheap, but caving to aggression is going to be more costly if we allow it to happen."
NATO chief thinks the war in Ukraine could continue for months: North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that the alliance is ready to support Ukraine against the Russian invasion in a war that can “drag on and last for months and years.”
1:09 p.m. ET, April 28, 2022
UN secretary-general met with the Ukrainian president and foreign minister in Kyiv, official says
From CNN's Samantha Beech
The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres visited with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Thursday in Kyiv, according to the secretary-general’s deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq.
Haq added that Guterres plans to speak to journalists in Kyiv shortly.
“They have met, I don’t frankly know if at this stage whether the meeting is over, but they are expected to be going into a press encounter very soon," Haq said while speaking at a news briefing at the UN Headquarters in New York,
The spokesperson noted that earlier on Thursday, the secretary-general visited the town of Borodianka and “expressed his sadness in seeing the destroyed buildings there.”
“He added that the war is an absurdity in the 21st century. The war is evil. And when one sees these situations our heart of course stays with the victims," the spokesperson said.
Guterres then visited the St. Andrew’s Church in Bucha. After seeing the massacre site there, the secretary-general said that it was important to have a thorough investigation and accountability, Haq told reporters.
“He expressed his support for the work of the International Criminal Court and appealed to the Russian Federation to cooperate with that court,” Haq said.
Guterres also visited the destroyed Lipki residential complex in the town of Irpin and said that innocent civilians have been living in these buildings, according to Haq. “Wherever there is a war, he said, the highest price is paid by civilians,” the UN secretary-general’s spokesperson said.
Guterres met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Tuesday. He proposed that the Russian leader create a three-party humanitarian group between the UN, Russia, and Ukraine regarding cooperation in creating humanitarian corridors in Ukraine.
1:36 p.m. ET, April 28, 2022
War in Ukraine can "drag on and last for months and years," NATO chief says
From CNN’s Zahid Mahmood
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that the alliance is ready to support Ukraine against the Russian invasion in a war that can “drag on and last for months and years.”
“We will continue to put maximum pressure on [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin to end the war by imposing sanctions, by providing economic support but also military support to Ukraine, and we need to be prepared for the long-term,” Stoltenberg said during a NATO Youth Summit taking place in Brussels.
“It's a very unpredictable and fragile situation in Ukraine. But there is absolutely the possibility that this war will drag on and last for months and years," he continued.
Stoltenberg also said that NATO allies are preparing to help Kyiv advance form an “old Soviet-era equipment to more modern standard-weapons and systems,” but added that it will “require more training.”
The United States and some European countries including Netherlands and France have recently announced that they will be supplying Ukraine with howitzers, long-range weapons, to help defend itself against Russia.
Germany has said they will supply anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine, as it attempts to deflect criticism that the government has been slow to provide military equipment to the war-torn country.
On Wednesday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said they will support the Ukrainian military by providing “training and maintenance.”
Baerbock added that Germany had chosen not to make public all the weapons it had previously sent to Ukraine. “We have supplied anti-tank weapons, Stingers and many other weapons that we haven’t spoken about in public,” the foreign minister said.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss rallied for support for the United Kingdom to send warplanes and other heavy weapons in a keynote speech on Wednesday.
“Heavy weapons, tanks, aeroplanes – digging deep into our inventories, ramping up production. We need to do all of this,” Truss said.
“Our sanctions have already seen Russia facing its first external debt default for a century. We need to go further,” she added.
11:57 a.m. ET, April 28, 2022
Biden: Russian comments about possibility of a nuclear war were "irresponsible"
From CNN's Nikki Carvajal
US President Joe Biden said that Russian comments about the possibility of a nuclear war were “irresponsible.”
“No one should be making idle comments about the use of nuclear weapons or the possibility of the need to use them,” he said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier this week that nuclear deterrence is Russia’s “principled position," but he added “the danger is serious, it is real, it cannot be underestimated.”
Biden also said it’s “not true” that the US and NATO are in a proxy war with Russia – and that Russian claims of a proxy war are “an excuse for their failure” in Ukraine.
“They’re not true,” Biden said, responding on Thursday to a reporter who asked about Lavrov’s accusation that NATO was using the Ukraine war as a proxy. “They do concern me, because it shows the desperation that Russia is feeling about their abject failure in being able to do what they set out to do in the first instance.”
“I think it's more of a reflection not of the truth, but of their failure,” the President continued, “and so instead of saying that the Ukrainians are equipped with some capability to resist Russian forces, they got to… tell their people the United States and all of NATO is engaged in taking out Russian troops, and tanks, et cetera.”
Asked later about possible Russian aggression against NATO and its allies, he said the US is “prepared for whatever they do.”
1:00 p.m. ET, April 28, 2022
Russian progress "slow and uneven" in Donbas region due to logistics problems, senior US defense official says
From CNN's Michael Conte and Barbara Starr
The US assesses that Russian forces are making “slow and uneven” and “incremental” progress in the Donbas region, in part because of Ukrainian resistance, as well as continued logistics problems, according to a senior US defense official.
“There’s a lot of still back and forth in the Donbas in terms of territory gained and or lost by frankly both sides,” said the official on a background call with reporters.
The official said Russia now has 92 battalion tactical groups in Ukraine, up from 85 last week.
However, the official also said that continued “logistics and sustainment challenges” prevent Russian forces from making more than “several kilometers or so progress on any given day, just because they don’t want to run out too far ahead of their logistics and sustainment lines.”
Russia is making some advances to the east and south of Izium, while still facing pushback from Ukrainian forces, said the official.
In the south, the official said that the US has seen some Russian forces departing the besieged city of Mariupol and heading to the northwest towards Zaporizhzhia, despite the fact that Mariupol still has not fallen to Russia as indicated by continued Russian strikes against the city.
The official said that Russia has now launched more than 1,900 missiles against Ukraine since the beginning of the February invasion.
Russian forces are still facing “morale and cohesion problems,” according to a senior US defense official, particularly as they are using conscripts to reinforce their battalion tactical groups that they are sending back into the Donbas region.
“We have some early indications that while the conscripts start out with high morale because they’ve been feasting on Russian propaganda, it doesn’t take very long before that morale is sapped once they get put into combat and face Ukrainian resistance,” said the official on a background call with reporters.
12:13 p.m. ET, April 28, 2022
US claims Russian invasion includes "forced capitulation of Ukraine’s democratically elected government"
From CNN's Jennifer Hansler
The United States has “information that Russia’s planning for its further invasion of Ukraine includes a forced capitulation of Ukraine’s democratically elected government, including dissolving all local municipal governments in Ukraine,” US Ambassador to the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Michael Carpenter said Thursday.
“Plans for a new government and new constitution are being developed by Russian officials and so-called ‘separatists,'" according to a transcript of Carpenter's remarks. “This planning includes a moratorium disallowing legitimate Ukrainian leaders and those supporting Ukraine’s legitimate government from any leadership positions."
Calling this move “straight out of Russia’s playbook," he also cited the Kremlin's plans to "stage a sham referenda" in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine "in a futile attempt to legitimize its illegal invasion and assert control over these areas."
Speaking at the OSCE Permanent Council, Carpenter said the US is seeing credible reports that Russia is transferring and detaining locals in camps, and interrogating them brutally to investigate links to Ukrainian government or independent media.
The world should expect this to intensify, he added.
“There are alarming reports that those suspected of having such connections are being beaten or tortured before being transferred to the so-called ‘Donetsk People’s Republic,’ where they are reportedly disappeared or murdered,” Carpenter said. “Reporting indicates that many civilians in these filtration camps who ‘pass’ the interrogation are transferred to Russia or Russia-controlled Donbas, including via Belarus.”