April 28, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

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
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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

Municipality workers clean streets in Mariupol, Ukraine on April 27, 2022.
Municipality workers clean streets in Mariupol, Ukraine on April 27, 2022. (Leon Klein/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

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

 US Ambassador to the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Michael Carpenter speaks with CNN on Wednesday April 27.
 US Ambassador to the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Michael Carpenter speaks with CNN on Wednesday April 27. (CNN)

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.”
11:43 a.m. ET, April 28, 2022

Here's what is in Biden's $33 billion supplemental funding request for Ukraine 

From CNN's Betsy Klein

US President Joe Biden announced Thursday he has signed a $33 billion request for supplemental funding for Ukraine from Congress as Russia’s invasion takes on a new, critical phase. 

The funding request is expected to support Ukraine through this fiscal year, or about five months, and includes $20.4 billion in military assistance.

Biden framed the massive request as critical for global stability.

He called on Congress to approve the funding “as quickly as possible.”

He reiterated that he would not send US troops to Ukraine and said that the US is “not attacking Russia,” but is instead, “helping Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression,” casting blame on Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

“Russia is the aggressor, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Russia is the aggressor, and the world must and will hold Russia accountable,” he said.

Biden ticked through some of the provisions in the $33 billion request, including:

  • $20.4 billion requested for military and security assistance
  • $8.5 billion in economic assistance for the Ukrainian government and people
  • $3 billion will be allocated for additional humanitarian assistance and food security funding, and targeted funding to address economic disruptions

He also detailed new proposed legislation to hold Russian oligarchs to account.

While members have agreed that more money for Ukraine is necessary, it’s still not clear how the supplemental would move swiftly through Congress nor is it clear how quickly this proposal on oligarchs could move. A likely path would be to tie the two pieces of legislation together, but Republican and Democratic leaders are in the early stages of talks on how to pass the broader funding for Ukraine. 

The President also reacted to news earlier this week that Russia halted gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria after both countries refused to pay in rubles, injecting more uncertainty into the already-unstable global oil markets rocked by the war.

“Let me be clear, we will not let Russia intimidate or blackmail their way out of these sanctions. We will not allow them to use their oil and gas to avoid consequences. We are working with other nations like Korea, Japan, Qatar and others to support our effort to help European allies threatened by Russia with gas blackmail, and their energy needs in other ways,” he said.

Read more about the proposal here.

1:52 p.m. ET, April 28, 2022

Biden says Ukrainians shouldn't enter the US through southern border

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

US President Joe Biden said Ukrainians fleeing violence don’t need to try and enter the United States through the Southern border because they now have access to a special visa system.

“We have made a direct means by which they can get from Europe, from Ukraine directly to the United States without going to the Southern border,” Biden said at the White House after a speech unveiling new aid to Ukraine.

Biden announced last week a new system allowing Ukrainian refugees to enter the United States on humanitarian grounds. They require a sponsor inside the US to be eligible.

Biden noted that system when discussing Ukrainians attempting to enter the US through the southern border.

“In the meantime, at the Southern border, we’re trying to work through and make sure there's an orderly process and they're able to get in,” he said. “But just so you know, we have said there's no need to go to the southern border. Fly directly to the United States, we set up a mechanism whereby they can come directly with a visa.”

11:52 a.m. ET, April 28, 2022

The aid to Ukraine "is not cheap, but caving to aggression" will be more costly, Biden says

US President Joe Biden speaks about the war in Ukraine in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on Thursday, April 28.
US President Joe Biden speaks about the war in Ukraine in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on Thursday, April 28. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

As US President Joe Biden addressed Americans on why he requested Congress to approve a $33 billion aid package to Ukraine, he said the fight in Ukraine is the fight for freedom, and it not be cheap but it will be more costly if the world caves into Russian aggression.

"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."

The choice is between backing Ukrainians as they defend their country or standing by as Russians "continue their atrocities," he added.

"Our NATO allies, our EU partners, they're going to pay their fair share of the cost as well, but we have to do our part as well in leading the alliance," he said, adding that the aid will go towards contributing arms, funding, ammunition and other economic support.

The aid "will make their courage and sacrifice have purpose, so they can continue this fight," Biden said, urging Congress to approve the funding "as quickly as possible."

The President, however, emphasized that the US is not attacking Russia.

"We're not attacking Russia. We're helping Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression, and just as Putin chose to launch this brutal invasion, he could make the choice to end this brutal invasion. Russia is the aggressor, no ifs, ands, or buts about it," he said.

11:28 a.m. ET, April 28, 2022

Biden: It's "critical" additional $33 billion funding in Ukraine aid be approved "as quickly as possible"

From CNN's Arlette Saenz and Kate Sullivan

US President Joe Biden speaks at the White House on Thursday April 28.
US President Joe Biden speaks at the White House on Thursday April 28. (CNN/Pool)

US President Joe Biden is delivering remarks now at the White House on a $33 billion supplemental funding bill aimed at helping Ukraine as Russia's brutal and unrelenting war enters a new phase over the next several months.

"It's critical this funding gets approved and approved as quickly as possible," Biden said.

"We're not attacking Russia. We're helping Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression, and just as Putin chose to launch this brutal invasion, he could make the choice to end this brutal invasion," he added.

The $33 billion request includes $20.4 billion requested for military and security assistance, including $5 billion in additional drawdown authorities, $6 billion for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and $4 billion for the State Department's Foreign Military Financing Program, a senior administration official told reporters.

The official said a portion of the $20 billion in military assistance could be used to backfill contributions of munitions and equipment from other countries, allowing those countries to "be able to defend themselves fully." The official characterized the initiative in the context of Biden's effort to rally the world behind support for Ukraine.

More on the aid request: It also includes targeted funding "to address economic disruptions at home and around the world due to Putin's aggression," which will help increase US production of food crops like soybeans, as well as funding to allow the use of the Defense Production Act to expand US production of critical reserves of minerals and other materials disrupted by the war.

Biden will also send a proposal to Congress Thursday outlining a legislative package to further pressure Russian oligarchs over Russia's war in Ukraine, including using money from their seized assets to fund Ukraine's defense, the White House said.

The package — developed through an interagency process including the Treasury Department, Justice Department, State Department and Commerce Department — will "establish new authorities for the forfeiture of property linked to Russian kleptocracy, allow the government to use the proceeds to support Ukraine and further strengthen related law enforcement tools," the White House said in a fact sheet.

Read more about the proposal here.

10:44 a.m. ET, April 28, 2022

Biden administration requests $33 billion in Ukraine aid from Congress

From CNN's Betsy Klein and Kevin Liptak

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.

US President Joe Biden is set to further outline the request when he gives remarks on US support for Ukraine at 10:45 a.m. ET.

The $33 billion request includes $20.4 billion requested for military and security assistance. That $20 billion includes $5 billion in additional drawdown authorities, $6 billion for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, and $4 billion for the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing Program, a senior administration official told reporters. 

While members have agreed that more money for Ukraine is necessary, it’s still not clear how the supplemental would move swiftly through Congress nor is it clear how quickly this proposal on Oligarchs could move. A likely path would be to tie the two pieces of legislation together, but Republican and Democratic leaders are in the early stages of talks on how to pass the broader funding for Ukraine.

Read the full report here:

11:45 a.m. ET, April 28, 2022

Rail bridge destroyed in Russian-occupied southern part of Ukraine

From CNN's Tim Lister in Lviv

A railway bridge near the village of Yakmivka, Ukraine that connects Russian-occupied Crimea with the city of Melitopol is seen on April 28.
A railway bridge near the village of Yakmivka, Ukraine that connects Russian-occupied Crimea with the city of Melitopol is seen on April 28. (Telegram)

An official in southern Ukraine has said that an important bridge in a part of southern Ukraine occupied by the Russians has been destroyed.

At about 8 a.m. local time on Thursday a railway bridge near the village of Yakmivka had "self-liquidated," said Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesperson for the Odesa military administration. 

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, which has been held by the Russians since early March.

"The occupiers supplied weapons and fuel from the Crimea through this bridge," Bratchuk claimed.

Earlier this month, an important road bridge in northeastern Ukraine that was being used by the Russians as a resupply route was destroyed by Ukrainian soldiers. 

10:15 a.m. ET, April 28, 2022

Mariupol steel plant suffers "heaviest airstrikes so far," Ukrainian official says

From CNN's Tim Lister and Olga Voitoivych

Azovstal Iron and Steel Works in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 26.
Azovstal Iron and Steel Works in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 26. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

A Ukrainian official in Mariupol has told CNN that the last holdout of Ukrainian forces in Mariupol — the Azovstal steel complex — has been hit by the heaviest Russian airstrikes yet.

"Last night, the plant was hit by the strongest strike so far. First, there was a massive air strike using seven Tu-22M3 aircraft. Then there were more than 50 air strikes. Apparently, either the Su-25s worked, or the Su-24s. I can't identify since we were in the shelter. The bombing was inflicted on the place where the seriously wounded are — in the hospital," said Mykhailo Vershynin, chief of the Mariupol Patrol Police, who was at Azovstal amid the airstrikes. 

"There is a suspicion that after photos from the hospital were published, the place was identified by the enemy. And there was not just a bombing, but a massive bombing strike inflicted there. There is rubble, there are people under the rubble. There are dead and wounded. That is, the wounded are injured once again," he told CNN. "This is a violation of all norms and rules of warfare. This is a violation of the Geneva Convention."

CNN cannot independently confirm the extent of Russian airstrikes nor the casualties they caused. 

A week ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin said there was no need to storm the industrial area around the Azovstal steel plant. 

"I believe the proposed storming of the industrial zone is no longer necessary," Putin told Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu. 

Putin told Shoigu the industrial area should be sealed and those remaining at the plant should once again be offered to surrender in exchange for their lives and a "dignified treatment." 

The defenders of Azovstal have repeatedly refused to give up their weapons. There are thought to be several hundred soldiers still there, and hundreds of civilians.