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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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.

9:51 a.m. ET, April 28, 2022

International Atomic Energy Agency experts find no danger at Chernobyl site

From CNN’s Martin Goillandeau

Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), informs the press about the situation of nuclear power plants in Ukraine, shortly after his return from Chernobyl, during a special press conference at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on April 28.
Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), informs the press about the situation of nuclear power plants in Ukraine, shortly after his return from Chernobyl, during a special press conference at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on April 28. (Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images)

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi said Thursday while there had been “a small increase” in levels of radiation at Chernobyl, it is still “significantly below the authorized levels for workers in an environment with this type of radiation.”

IAEA experts visited the Chernobyl site over the past few days to measure radiation levels there, after the closed nuclear power plant fell back into Ukrainian hands after being taken by Russian armed forces earlier this month.

“This is three times or more lower than the authorized levels for workers in areas exposed to radiation,” Grossi told journalists at a news conference in Vienna, referring to charts showing dose levels measured by the IAEA experts.

“The situation is not one that could be judged as posing great danger to the environment or to people at the moment that we were taking these measurements,” he added.

Grossi said he does not have any information regarding reports indicating that Russian soldiers could “potentially die within a few months” due to radiation experienced in the Red Forest, a highly contaminated area near Chernobyl.  

“This is the situation in terms of radiation,” the IAEA chief said. “These are the levels we measured,” he added.

9:40 a.m. ET, April 28, 2022

Some of Russia's biggest gas customers in Europe may accept Putin's payment terms. Here's what to know.

From CNNs Anna Cooban

The Mallnow natural gas compressor station of Gascade Gastransport GmbH on April 27, in Brandenburg, Germany. The compressor station in Mallnow near the German-Polish border mainly receives Russian natural gas.
The Mallnow natural gas compressor station of Gascade Gastransport GmbH on April 27, in Brandenburg, Germany. The compressor station in Mallnow near the German-Polish border mainly receives Russian natural gas. (Patrick Pleul/picture alliance/Getty Images)

Some of Russia's biggest natural gas customers in Europe are preparing to accept the Kremlin's new payment terms rather than risk being cut off by Moscow, a fate suffered by Poland and Bulgaria this week.

Gas distributors in Germany and Austria told CNN Business that they were working on ways to accept a Russian ultimatum that final payments for its gas must be made in rubles, while complying with EU sanctions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said last month that "unfriendly" nations would have to pay rubles, rather than the euros or dollars stated in contracts. Buyers could make euro or dollar payments into an account at Russia's Gazprombank, which would then convert the funds into rubles and transfer them to a second account from which the payment to Russia would be made.

Germany's Uniper said on Thursday it would continue to pay for Russian gas in euros but added that it believes a "payment conversion compliant with sanctions law" is possible.

"Uniper is in talks with its contractual partner about the concrete payment modalities and is also in close coordination with the German government," the company said in a statement.

A Uniper spokesperson told newspaper Rheinische Post on Thursday that the company would make payments into a Russian bank in euros, instead of a bank based in Europe.

Germany has reduced its consumption of Russian gas to 35% of imports from 55% before the war in Ukraine, but says it needs to keep buying from Moscow at least until next year to avoid a deep recession.

Uniper said that it cannot cope without Russian gas in the short term.

"This would have dramatic consequences for our economy," it said in its statement.

Austrian energy firm OMV (OMVJF) said on Thursday that it had considered the new payment request from Russian gas giant Gazprom and was "now working on a sanctions-compliant solution."

Putin on Wednesday made good on his threat to cut off countries that refuse the new payment terms. Gazprom announced it had suspended gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland because they had refused to pay in rubles, stoking fears that other EU countries — including major gas importers Germany and Italy — could be next.

Sanctions loophole? There could be a workaround. The European Commission issued guidance to EU member states last week saying that is "appears possible" that buyers could comply with the new Russian rules without getting into conflict with EU law.

EU governments are likely to allow the payment mechanism to go ahead, Eurasia Group said in a note on Thursday.

Go deeper on the story here.

9:30 a.m. ET, April 28, 2022

More than 1,000 civilian bodies recovered in Kyiv region since Russia's invasion started, police chief says 

From CNN's Hande Atay Alam

Coffins being buried during a funeral ceremony at a cemetery in Bucha, Ukraine, on April 18.
Coffins being buried during a funeral ceremony at a cemetery in Bucha, Ukraine, on April 18. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

"As a result of the clearing operation and the work of detective groups in Kyiv Region, we have found and examined 1,150 bodies of civilian citizens who were killed and handed them over to medical forensics," Nebyton said in a video posted on his YouTube channel.

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."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has blamed Russia for the killings and called on Moscow to stop committing "war crimes."

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

During a visit to the towns of Bucha and Borodianka, International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan said there were "reasonable grounds to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC are being committed."

Ukraine's General Prosecutor Iryna Venediktova said a number of Russian soldiers allegedly involved in human rights abuses in Bucha have been identified. In a Facebook post, Venediktova said 10 soldiers had been identified as being "involved in torture of peaceful civilians" during their occupation of the town.

Irina Morgan contributed to this post.

9:05 a.m. ET, April 28, 2022

Moscow warns of "harsh response" to any strikes on Russian territory

From CNN’s Uliana Pavlova

Russia will respond harshly to strikes by Ukrainian Armed Forces on Russian territory, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, said during a press briefing on Thursday.

“Such criminal activity by the Armed Forces of Ukraine against Russian territory cannot go unanswered,” Zakharova said. “I would like Kyiv and Western capitals to take seriously the statements of the Ministry of Defense of our country, that further provocation of Ukraine to strike at Russian targets will necessarily lead to a harsh response from Russia."

“We do not recommend further testing our patience. Russia is determined to achieve the set goals of the special military operation,” Zakharova added.

9:00 a.m. ET, April 28, 2022

Ukrainian prosecutor names 10 Russian soldiers suspected of Bucha crimes

From Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych

Ukraine's General Prosecutor Iryna Venediktova visits a mass grave in Bucha, Ukraine on April 13.
Ukraine's General Prosecutor Iryna Venediktova visits a mass grave in Bucha, Ukraine on April 13. (Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukraine's General Prosecutor Iryna Venediktova said a number of Russian soldiers allegedly involved in human rights abuses in the town of Bucha have been identified.

In a Facebook post, Venediktova said 10 soldiers had been identified as being "involved in torture of peaceful civilians" during their occupation of the town.

The soldiers were of various ranks, she said, naming four privates, four corporals and two sergeants. 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, who praised their “great heroism and courage” and awarded the unit the title of ‘Guards’ for “protecting Russia’s sovereignty.” 

“This high distinction recognizes your special merits, great heroism and courage in defending your Fatherland, and in protecting Russia’s sovereignty and national interests,” the congratulatory statement from Putin read. 

In a "very short time, the investigation established that during the occupation of Bucha, they took unarmed civilians hostage, didn’t provide food and water to them, kept them on their knees with their hands tied and their eyes covered in duct tape, and they were mocked and beaten. They used fists and the stocks [of their guns]. They beat information about the location of the [Ukrainian] Armed Forces and the Defense Forces out of people, and some were tortured for no reason at all," Venediktova said.

"Russian servicemen threatened to kill the victims and even imitated the execution of their prisoners by firing in their direction," she added. "The role and participation of each of them in these crimes has been established through investigative and coordinated work of prosecutors and police officers ... We are currently checking on their involvement in the killings in Bucha."