April 29, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Steve George, Seán Federico O'Murchú, Jessie Yeung, Sana Noor Haq, Ben Morse, Ed Upright, Adrienne Vogt, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 0417 GMT (1217 HKT) April 30, 2022
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3:52 p.m. ET, April 29, 2022

Pentagon spokesperson gets emotional talking about Putin's actions in Ukraine

From CNN's Michael Conte and Barbara Starr

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, Friday, April 29.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, Friday, April 29. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Asked whether the Defense Department considers Russian President Vladimir Putin a “rational actor,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby got emotional speaking about Putin’s “depravity” in Ukraine.

“It’s difficult to look at some of the images and imagine that any well-thinking, serious, mature leader would do that. So I can’t talk to his psychology. But I think we can all speak to his depravity," said Kirby at a Pentagon news briefing before pausing for nearly 10 seconds.

Pressed on the characterization by CNN’s Barbara Starr, Kirby called Putin’s justifications for the invasion “BS,” at one point pounding on the podium for emphasis.

“It’s hard to square his ... BS that this is about Nazism in Ukraine, and it’s about protecting Russians in Ukraine, and it’s about defending Russian national interests, when none of them, none of them were threatened by Ukraine,” said Kirby.

Kirby listed some of what he called “unconscionable” actions by Russian forces, including civilians being “shot in the back of the head, hands tied behind their backs. Women, pregnant women being killed, hospitals being bombed.” 

Kirby subsequently apologized for what he said was injecting his “personal perspective,” and would not elaborate further on the US assessment of Putin’s mental state.

Here's the moment Pentagon press secretary John Kirby got emotional after a question about Putin's actions in Ukraine:

2:58 p.m. ET, April 29, 2022

White House told G20 host Russia shouldn't be allowed to participate

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during the Council of Lawmakers at the Tauride Palace, on April 27 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during the Council of Lawmakers at the Tauride Palace, on April 27 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Getty Images)

The White House conveyed privately to Indonesia that Russia should not be allowed to participate in this year’s G20 summit, though the country’s president announced Friday that President Vladimir Putin had accepted an invitation to attend.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki noted the summit was still six months away, and did not provide an update on whether President Biden would also participate. But she said his views were clear that Russia shouldn’t be there.

“The President has expressed publicly his opposition to President Putin attending the G20,” she said.

The White House’s understanding was that Indonesia invited Putin to attend prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, she said.

Still, in a statement confirming Russia’s acceptance of the invite, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said, “Indonesia wants to unite the G20. Don’t let there be a split. Peace and stability are the keys to the recovery and development of the world economy.” 

Indonesia has also extended an invitation to Ukraine to participate as a guest, a step Psaki said the US welcomed, but she said it was too early to say how the summit would look.

“It is six months away. So we don't know how to predict, we can't predict at this point, what that will look like,” she said, adding, “We’ve conveyed our view that we don't think they should be a part of it publicly and privately as well.” 

Psaki said there were no indications Russia was willing to engage in serious diplomacy.

“There's a lot that could happen between now and then, but we certainly haven't seen an indication to date of Russia's plan to participate in diplomatic talks constructively,” she said. “Our hope certainly is that will change because obviously diplomatic talks and conversations is the way to bring an end to this conflict and President Putin could end this tomorrow, could end this right now.”

5:50 p.m. ET, April 29, 2022

US now training Ukrainian forces in Germany, Defense Department says 

From CNN's Michael Conte and Oren Liebermann

The US has begun additional training for Ukrainian armed forces at US military installations in Germany, the Defense Department announced. 

“These efforts build on the initial artillery training that Ukraine’s forces already have received elsewhere, and also includes training on the radar systems and armored vehicles that have been recently announced as part of security assistance packages,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said at a news briefing with reporters.

Kirby said that Germany is one of “roughly three” sites being used by the US to train Ukrainians outside of Ukraine, but would not disclose the others.

He also said “the bulk of the training” will be conducted by the Florida National Guard who had been training Ukrainians before being repositioned out of Ukraine in February prior to the Russian invasion.

“The recent reunion now of these Florida National Guard members with their Ukrainian colleagues, we are told, was an emotional meeting, given the strong bonds that were formed as they were living and working together before temporarily parting ways in February,” Kirby said.

Meanwhile, a senior US defense official said Friday that "more than a dozen flights” carrying military assistance for Ukraine from the US are expected to arrive in the European region for transport into Ukraine “in the next 24 hours."

Those flights will include shipments of “Howitzers, more 155 rounds, some of those Phoenix Ghost UAVs and even some of the radars that we talked about,” the official said.

This security assistance is all coming from US President Joe Biden’s latest presidential drawdown authority package, the official added, saying that 155 artillery rounds “continue to flow into Ukraine even over the last 24 hours."

In the last 24 hours, “there have been almost 20 deliveries via airlift from seven different nations,” of security assistance, the official said.

CNN's Ellie Kaufman contributed reporting to this post.

3:28 p.m. ET, April 29, 2022

Railway bridge blown up near Sloviansk as Russian forces advance towards the city

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy, Tim Lister and Ellie Kaufman 

This photograph taken on April 29, 2022 shows a railway bridge, over the Siverskyi Donets river, destroyed by a missile strike according to Ukrainian soldiers, in Raygorodok, eastern Ukraine.
This photograph taken on April 29, 2022 shows a railway bridge, over the Siverskyi Donets river, destroyed by a missile strike according to Ukrainian soldiers, in Raygorodok, eastern Ukraine. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images)

A railway bridge across the Siverskyi Donets river was blown up on Friday, new video shows. CNN has geolocated and verified the authenticity of the video. 

The bridge was located along a highway between the Ukrainian cities of Sloviansk and Lyman. A satellite image from the European Space Agency's Sentinel-2 satellite shows the bridge intact on Thursday. 

Russian air strikes have pummeled infrastructure in Lyman, specifically targeting a railway hub that serves as a vital supply line for Ukrainian troops. On Friday, a senior US defense official told CNN that Russian forces are making “some incremental, uneven, slow advances" towards Sloviansk. 

1:39 p.m. ET, April 29, 2022

Ukrainian commander inside Mariupol plant calls for safe passage of civilians as relentless attacks continue

From CNN's Scott McLean, Roman Tymotsko and Tim Lister in Lviv 

Sviatoslav Palamar of the Azov Regiment is seen recently.
Sviatoslav Palamar of the Azov Regiment is seen recently. (CNN)

A commander inside the Azovstal steel complex in the besieged city of Mariupol told CNN of the relentless bombardment of the plant, where hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians have been trapped for weeks. 

Sviatoslav Palamar of the Azov Regiment told CNN that there was intensive shelling of the Azovstal plant last night from both ships and aircraft.  

"At the same time they shell us from the ground," he said. There had also been attempts to storm the area controlled by Ukrainian troops, he said, but they had been deflected. 

"On one side, the (Russians) had declared the silence and non-fighting mode, but on the parallel (at the same time) with infantry and equipment they try to storm the territory of the factory," he told CNN.

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin told his defense minister in Moscow that the plant should be sealed off but not stormed and said that those who choose to surrender should be treated in accordance with international conventions.  

Palamar told CNN that there were a lot of wounded fighters and more than 500 soldiers who needed guarantees that their lives would be saved. 

"We also have civilians that will be killed if they storm the factory," he said. 

Palamar said that on Thursday morning, a shelter for the wounded at the plant was shelled.

“It’s very hard to provide medical help to our guys, because our surgical room was destroyed where the remaining medicine and surgical equipment was stored," he told CNN.

Asked if the Ukrainian troops left inside Azovstal were ready to surrender, Palamar said: "We do not think about any scenarios of giving up. We only see it possible through a guarantee of third party politicians, leaders, possibly the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel or Turkey, a guarantee that would allow every soldier to leave in safety." 

"We are ready to leave this territory because it is very hard and complicated to hold here with our personal weapons. We're ready for extraction, possibly extraction to the territory of a third country but with our weapons in our hands," he continued.

On the situation inside the plant: Palamar told CNN that there was not much food and water left for the plant's defenders. He said they had a limited amount of ammunition. "We don't have the possibility to destroy the aircraft and vessels that are shelling us," he said.

Even so, he insisted: "We do not consider giving up or the conditions of giving up. We only consider guarantees of leaving the territory of the plant. If there is no other choice left but giving up, we won't give up." 

Palamar stressed that the soldiers in the plant wanted civilians who were sheltering there to be evacuated. 

"We asked for evacuation of the civilians. We're talking to the whole world since March that international politicians or organization guarantee the safe extraction of civilians to Ukrainian territory. So if being asked whether we are ready for civilians to leave from here, we are not only ready but we ask that the civilians are saved first of all," he told CNN.

Speaking about the Ukrainian government's plan to evacuate civilians stranded in the plant, which was due to go into effect Friday, Palamar said he was aware of such a convoy that would come to Mariupol but could not speak further about it for security reasons. 

"We count on the Red Cross and the organizations that are heading here to take our heavily wounded first of all, because they need to be treated, they need to get help," he said.

Palamar said that the soldiers and civilians were in separate parts of the Azovstal plant. They were in cellars and bunkers but some had been wounded. 

"There are cellars and bunkers that we cannot reach because they are under rubble. We do not know whether the people there are alive or not. There are children aged four months to 16 years. But there are people trapped in places that you can't get to," he told CNN.

1:02 p.m. ET, April 29, 2022

Russian forces "appear to be advancing" toward Ukraine's Sloviansk and Baranivka, US official says

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

Russian forces “appear to be advancing” toward Sloviansk and Baranivka, a senior US defense official said Friday, adding that they are making “some incremental, uneven, slow advances to the southeast and southwest of Izium,” in Ukraine. 

Russian forces “continue to use… long-range fires,” the official noted.

“What we see them doing is using artillery and some airstrikes in advance of their ground movements, and so their ground movements are fairly plotting, because a, the artillery and airstrikes that they are launching against Ukrainian positions are not having the effect that they want them to have — the Ukrainians are still able to resist. And b, they are still a little wary of getting out ahead of their supply lines,” the official added.

11:18 a.m. ET, April 29, 2022

Kyiv tells citizens to cut vehicle use to save fuel for the military

From Tim Lister and Kostan Nechyporenko

Authorities in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, have urged people not to use their cars to save fuel for the military.

"Kyivites, if you have returned to the capital, please use public transport if possible. Those in safe places [outside Kyiv], please wait before coming back," said Mykola Povoroznyk, deputy head of Kyiv City State Administration, adding that authorities are keeping the needs of the Ukrainian military and defenders in mind.

Povoroznyk said there are no problems with public transport network in the city, which was constantly expanding to provide transportation for residents returning to the capital.

The authorities in the capital have urged citizens not to return yet because of the continuing danger of missile attacks. At one point about one-third of Kyiv's population was thought to have left.

11:23 a.m. ET, April 29, 2022

Russian are trying to disrupt Ukrainian reinforcements, senior US defense official says

From Michael Conte and Barbara Starr

The US believes Russia is attempting to disrupt the Ukrainian military’s ability to “replenish their own stores and to reinforce themselves,” according to a senior US defense official.

The official gave the example of attempted Russian attacks on electrical power facilities, which could hinder Ukrainian trains.

The US also believes that while recent strikes reportedly hit residential areas, they were intended for military production facilities, the official added.

Russian strikes in Odesa are possibly meant to pin down Ukrainian forces there and prevent them from reinforcing defenders in the Donbas region, according to the official.

The official also said that now 1,950 missiles have been launched by Russia against Ukraine since the invasion began in February, and that most of the ordnance being dropped against Mariupol is “dumb” ordnance that is not precision-guided, which suggests Russian forces are still having difficulty replenishing their precision-guided munitions.

Meanwhile, the US has also trained two groups of Ukrainian trainers so far on US artillery outside of Ukraine, according to the official, with the first group being “a little it more than 50” and the second group being “around 50.”

The US has also trained a group of about 15 Ukrainians on the US radar systems that are being provided to Ukraine, with more groups of a yet to be determined number to be trained in the future, the official said.

US training for Ukrainians will “go on for as long as it needs to go on,” the official added.

The US is helping transport some Ukrainians already outside of Ukraine for training and returning them to locations outside of Ukraine so they can reenter Ukraine, according to the official, who stressed that all US transportation of Ukrainian trainers “starts and ends outside of Ukraine.”

11:27 a.m. ET, April 29, 2022

UN will redouble its efforts to save lives in Ukraine, chief says after visit

From CNN's Hande Atay Alam 

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres wrote in a tweet Friday that the UN will not give up and would redouble its efforts to save lives and reduce human suffering in Ukraine.

His tweet came after his visit to Ukraine and meeting with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday. He also visited to Moscow on Tuesday to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.

During a news conference in Kyiv with Zelensky, Guterres urged for evacuation corridors to be open in Mariupol, saying, “Today the people of Mariupol are in desperate need of such an approach. Mariupol is a crisis within a crisis,” and added “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.”