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
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
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
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.
2:46 p.m. ET, April 28, 2022
UN chief urges evacuation corridors to open in Mariupol: "Thousands of civilians need life-saving assistance"
From CNN's Zahid Mahmood
United Nations secretary-general António Guterres urged on Thursday for evacuation corridors to open up in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, saying that the besieged city is a “crisis within a crisis.”
“Today the people of Mariupol are in desperate need for such an approach. Mariupol is a crisis within a crisis,” Guterres said in Kyiv, speaking at news conference alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky .
“Thousands of civilians need life-saving assistance. Many are elderly need medical care or have limited mobility, they need an escape route out of the apocalypse,” he added.
The UN chief met with Zelensky and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Thursday following a visit to Moscow where he met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.
Guterres cited his meeting with Putin and said that the Russian president agreed “in principle” for the involvement of the United Nations, and international committee for the Red Cross in the evacuation of civilians in Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant.
He added that he had “intense discussions” with Zelensky to make evacuation from Mariupol a reality.
In a message to the Ukrainian people, Guterres said he wanted them to know that “the world sees you, hears you, and is in awe of your resilience and resolve.”
“I also know that words of solidarity are not enough. I am here to zero in on needs on the ground and scale up operations,” he continued.
He said the UN Security Council “failed to do everything in its power to prevent and end this war” and that the failure is “a source of great disappointment, frustration and anger.”
During a news conference with Guterres, Zelensky said he believes that UN secretary general's mission would be effective in the evacuation of civilians in Mariupol.
"It's important that Secretary has raised the issue of evacuating civilians from Mariupol," Zelensky said, "Ukraine is ready to have immediate negotiations on the evacuation of people from the steel plant, as well as to ensure that the implementation of any agreements to be reached."
Zelensky also said, "We believe that part of the mission of the Inspector General would be effective and we're ready to support this in whatever matters possible."
Earlier, the UN chief had visited the town of Borodianka and “expressed his sadness in seeing the destroyed buildings there," according to deputy spokesperson for the secretary-general Farhan Haq said.
“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,” Haq said.
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.