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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1:02 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

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres visits Bucha, Ukraine on Thursday April 28.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres visits Bucha, Ukraine on Thursday April 28. (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

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

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres is greeted by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky prior to a joint news conference in Kyiv, Ukraine Thursday April 28.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres is greeted by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky prior to a joint news conference in Kyiv, Ukraine Thursday April 28. (Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters)

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 speaks during a press conference in Brussels on April 28.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a press conference in Brussels on April 28. (Kenzo Triboullard/AFP/Getty Images)

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

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.”