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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5:50 p.m. ET, April 28, 2022

Zelensky: 10 Russian soldiers identified as suspects in "crimes committed" in Bucha

From CNN's Hira Humayun

(Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky/YouTube)
(Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky/YouTube)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said 10 Russian servicemembers have been identified as suspects in the “crimes committed against our people in Bucha”.

In his nightly address posted to social media on Thursday, Zelensky said the investigation into crimes committed by the Russian military is underway and that the “first ten Russian servicemen from the 64th motorized rifle brigade of the Russian Ground Forces who committed crimes against our people in Bucha, Kyiv region, received the status of suspects.”

Zelensky said the suspects’ surnames are known and “it is established what they did.”
“We know all the details about them and their actions. And we will find everyone. Just as we will find all the other Russian thugs who killed and tortured Ukrainians. Who tormented our people. Who destroyed houses and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine,” Zelensky said, adding that none of them will avoid responsibility.

In early April, images emerged from Bucha showing bodies lying along streets and accounts of Russian atrocities emerged as its forces retreated from areas near Kyiv.

Zelensky called it “genocide” and the alleged atrocities in Bucha have drawn international outrage, with Western leaders calling for war crimes investigations and fresh sanctions on Russia. Russia’s Ministry of Defense denied responsibility and said "not a single local resident suffered from any violent actions" in Bucha.

5:41 p.m. ET, April 28, 2022

Orphaned Ukrainian girl is reunited with grandfather after she was taken to a Russian-controlled area

From CNN's Sandi Sidhu, Roman Tymotsko and Oleksandra Titorova

Oleksander Obedinsky is reunited with his granddaughter Kira Obedinsky in Donetsk.
Oleksander Obedinsky is reunited with his granddaughter Kira Obedinsky in Donetsk. (CNN)

When 12-year-old Kira Obedinsky, orphaned by war, was whisked from her hometown of Mariupol to a hospital in a Russian-controlled area of eastern Ukraine earlier in March, she was unsure if she would ever be reunited with her remaining family members.

Now in Kyiv, against all the odds, she sits on a hospital bed with her grandfather Oleksander Obedinsky — and on Wednesday spoke to CNN for the first time about her ordeal. She continues to recover from injuries that nurses say include shell fragment wounds to her face, neck, and legs. Her scarred face and introverted manner are signs of the physical and psychological trauma she has suffered.

The Obedinsky family has been torn apart by this war. Kira’s father, Yevhen Obedinsky, a former captain of Ukraine’s national water polo team, was killed on March 17 as Russian forces shelled the city. In that moment, Kira was orphaned, her mother having died when Kira was two weeks old.

Days after her father’s death, Kira was taken to a hospital in the Donetsk region by Russian-speaking soldiers after sustaining injuries from a landmine while trying to flee Mariupol with her father’s girlfriend.

“The [Russian] military came running, they stopped two cars and took us to Manhush, to a hospital because we were bleeding. Then they took us from Manhush to another Donetsk hospital,” said Kira.

Speaking to CNN earlier this month from Kyiv, Oleksander told CNN that he feared he would never see his granddaughter again because it was almost impossible to travel across the war-torn country to retrieve her. He said he had spoken to the hospital where Kira was being treated and was told she would eventually be sent to an orphanage in Russia.

Their grateful reunion, more than a month after they had last seen each other, was orchestrated by negotiators from Ukraine and Russia – and involved an epic international journey.

On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Kira in the hospital to celebrate her return, also giving her an iPad to entertain her as she recovers.

Oleksander said he had told Zelensky that Kira was “tired but happy” and thanked him for the safe return of his granddaughter. “Nobody believed [it would be possible]. But thank God we managed,” he told CNN.

Retrieving Kira from territory controlled by Moscow-backed separatists was no easy task. Following media coverage of her plight, the Ukrainian government told her grandfather they had reached an agreement that would allow him to travel to Donetsk to pick up his granddaughter — but that it would not be an easy undertaking.

Undeterred, Oleksander immediately embarked as instructed on what was to be a grueling four-day journey, taking a train to Poland, a flight to Turkey, a second flight to Moscow, followed by a train ride to the southern Russian city of Rostov, before finally reaching a tearful Kira after another car journey to Donetsk, he said.

After an emotional reunion – with countless tight hugs, they said — the pair then set off home, taking the same protracted route on the return leg to Kyiv.

Read more about Kira's journey here.

4:46 p.m. ET, April 28, 2022

US House passes Ukrainian Lend Lease Act

From CNN's Kristin Wilson 

The US House passed a bill that will give President Joe Biden broader authority to help Ukraine defend itself against the Russian incursion into their country. 

The Ukrainian Democracy Defense Land-Lease Act, which passed the House with a wide bipartisan majority — allows the President to enter lend-lease agreements with Ukraine to provide them with defense articles in order to protect civilian populations.

The final vote was 417-10, with the ten no votes coming from Republican Reps. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar of Arizona, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Dan Bishop of North Carolina, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Warren Davidson of Ohio, and Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin.

Broadly speaking, the bill waives certain requirements that typically apply to lend-lease agreements for defensive equipment and arms, provided that those “articles are intended for Ukraine's government or the governments of other Eastern European countries affected by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.” It also waives the prohibition that the loan or lease cannot extend beyond five years. 

The bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent in early April and now heads to the President’s desk for his signature.

4:26 p.m. ET, April 28, 2022

Blinken and US lawmakers applaud Ukrainian parliamentarians who stopped at hearing in DC

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and lawmakers from the US House Foreign Affairs Committee applauded a delegation of Ukrainian parliamentarians who came in to observe a hearing Thursday afternoon.

Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski noted their presence in the room, and they were given about 13 seconds of sustained applause during the hearing. The camera showed them standing up for recognition

“It is our great hope that you will soon be able to meet as we do here without any fear of violence being done to your beautiful capital and that your democracy will long endure,” said Malinowski, who was presiding over the briefing.

4:40 p.m. ET, April 28, 2022

Ukrainian president says missiles struck Kyiv while UN chief was visiting

From CNN's Tim Lister in Lviv

Smoke rises after missiles landed at sunset on April 28, in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Smoke rises after missiles landed at sunset on April 28, in Kyiv, Ukraine. ( John Moore/Getty Images)

Ukrainian officials have condemned Russia’s missile attack on Kyiv Thursday night, which occurred as the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was finishing a visit to the Ukrainian capital. 

President Volodymyr Zelensky, in his daily video message, said that "Today, immediately after the end of our talks [with Guterres] in Kyiv, Russian missiles flew into the city. 5 missiles. This says a lot about Russia's true attitude to global institutions, about the Russian leadership's efforts to humiliate the UN and everything that the organization represents. And therefore requires an appropriate, powerful response."

"Russian missile strikes on Ukraine — on Kyiv, Fastiv, Odesa, Khmelnytskyi and other cities — prove once again that one cannot relax yet, one cannot think that the war is over. We still need to fight, we need to drive the occupiers out," Zelensky said

The Ukrainian Prime Minister, Denys Shmyhal, said in a tweet: “During the meeting with @antonioguterres in Kyiv, we heard explosions. Russia launched a missile strike on the capital. I am sure that such defiant behavior of the occupier will be assessed properly by the UN Secretary-General. War in #Ukraine is an attack on world security!” 

A statement from the State Emergency Service in Kyiv stated:

"On April 28, at 8:13 p.m., the State Emergency Service in Kyiv received a report of a fire in the Shevchenkivskyi district of the capital. As a result of enemy shelling, a fire broke out in a 25-storey residential building with partial destruction of the 1st and 2nd floors. 
At 9:25 p.m., the fire was extinguished on a total area of ​​100 square meters ... Search and rescue operations are underway. According to preliminary data, 5 people were rescued and 10 were injured. The information is being clarified."
4:13 p.m. ET, April 28, 2022

Putin's war on Ukraine has "driven US-Russia relations into the depths," US ambassador to Moscow says

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

John Sullivan, US ambassador to Moscow, speaks with Alisyn Camerota in an interview on CNN Newsroom, on Thursday, April 28.
John Sullivan, US ambassador to Moscow, speaks with Alisyn Camerota in an interview on CNN Newsroom, on Thursday, April 28. (CNN)

The Russian war on Ukraine has "driven US-Russia relations into the depths," US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan told CNN on Thursday. 

Although the top envoy did not say that the relationship between Washington and Moscow was at its absolute lowest point, Sullivan noted that it was "about as bad as it could be."

"US-Russia relations were bad when I arrived here in January of 2020," and "they have just gotten worse, spiraled downward, since then," he said. 

In an interview from Moscow with Alisyn Camerota on CNN Newsroom, Sullivan said there is "very little engagement with the Russian government," and his communications have focused on the detained US citizens and "the functioning of our embassy," which is under sharp restrictions imposed by the Russian government.

On Wednesday, American Trevor Reed was released from Russian custody in a prisoner swap — a major development with which Sullivan was a key player. However, other Americans remain detained, including Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, the latter of whom has asked why he was "left behind."

"Why was I left behind? While I am pleased Trevor is home with his family, I have been held on a fictitious charge of espionage for 40 months," Whelan said in a statement to his parents and shared with CNN. "The world knows this charge was fabricated. Why hasn't more been done to secure my release?"

Sullivan told CNN that he "couldn't agree with Whelan more in the sense that he has been convicted of a fabricated charge. 

"I've been advocating for his release both publicly in negotiations with the Russian government since before I got here as ambassador, when I was deputy secretary of state when Paul was originally arrested back in December of 2018," he said.

"I've never relented in my advocacy for Paul in engagement with the Russian government, for Paul's release," Sullivan added, noting that "this case, Trevor's case is just one step."

On the Russian war in Ukraine, Sullivan suggested it is up to one man — Russian President Vladimir Putin — to bring the brutal conflict to an end.

"This war started with a decision by President Putin; this war will end with a decision by President," he said, adding that the United States is "going to do all we can to make sure that that decision is is a strategic defeat for him and his government, and not a victory for him in Ukraine," the ambassador added.

The US ambassador said the rhetoric about Russia potentially using nuclear weapons has escalated in "a dramatically irresponsible way recently," but noted it "isn't new." He recalled that in past conversations with the Russian government related to issues that were in the past related to Ukraine, the discussion would begin normally and then would "spiral" to warnings about nuclear confrontation if the US and NATO continued to support Ukraine.

"And my reaction on the other side of the table is astonishment," Sullivan said. "And unfortunately, what we've seen most recently, is at the most senior levels of the US government, an escalation of that rhetoric."

Sullivan said the US has ratcheted down in response, noting that US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin had paused and then canceled a missile test despite pre-planning and notifying the Russian government.

"We do not engage in irresponsible rhetoric with respect to nuclear weapons," he told CNN. 

The US is "prepared to deter nuclear aggression against the United States," Sullivan added.

"We won't succumb to nuclear blackmail, but we won't tolerate nuclear saber rattling and nuclear brinksmanship," he said.

3:26 p.m. ET, April 28, 2022

Canadian military service members are training Ukrainians on Howitzers, defense official says

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

Canadian Minister of National Defence Anita Anand confirmed that Canadian military service members are also training Ukrainians in how to use Howitzers, which are long range weapons, during a news conference at the Pentagon on Thursday after meeting with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

“We stepped up our support by delivering M777 Howitzers to Ukrainian forces, and I can confirm that Canadian soldiers are now training their Ukrainian counterparts in the use of these weapons,” Anand said at the news conference.
2:55 p.m. ET, April 28, 2022

45 Ukrainians freed in latest prisoner exchange with Russia, official says 

From CNN's Anastasia Graham-Yooll

Ukrainian deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Thursday that 45 Ukrainians were freed in the latest exchange of prisoners of war with Russia. 

“Today 45 of our people have been released from Russian captivity: 13 officers and 20 soldiers, including 5 wounded,” Vereshchuk said in a post on Telegram. 

“We are also returning 12 of our civilians home,” she added. 

The deputy prime minister did not provide details on how many Russian prisoners were freed in the exchange. Russia is yet to confirm the swap.

2:40 p.m. ET, April 28, 2022

Europe's human rights parliament proposes criminal tribunal to prosecute Russians accused of war crimes

From CNN's Amy Cassidy

The parliamentary body of Europe’s principle human rights organization has adopted a resolution calling on all its member and observer states to set up an international criminal tribunal with power to investigate and prosecute Russian politicians and soldiers allegedly committing war crimes in Ukraine.     

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said in a statement Thursday that they had unanimously adopted a resolution to “urgently set up an ad hoc international criminal tribunal, with a mandate to investigate and prosecute the crime of aggression allegedly committed by the political and military leadership of the Russian Federation.”  

The assembly is made up of 324 parliamentarians from the national parliaments of the Council of Europe’s 47 member states. The Council of Europe — not to be confused with the Council of the European Union — is the continent's principle human rights organization.   

“The Assembly is appalled by widespread reports of the use of rape and torture as weapons of war,” it added.  

They propose it be set up in Strasbourg, possibly cooperating with the European Court of Human Rights.