April 30, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Joe Ruiz, Simone McCarthy, Brad Lendon, Eliza Mackintosh, Sana Noor Haq and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 0405 GMT (1205 HKT) May 1, 2022
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9:39 p.m. ET, April 29, 2022

Woman recounts surviving Kyiv strike that shredded her apartment building: "I was so scared, it was horror"

It had been weeks of relative quiet in Kyiv when a couple of bangs and a plume of black smoke quickly changed that, CNN correspondent Matt Rivers reported.

Ukraine and Russia both confirmed cruise missiles were fired into a central district of Kyiv on Thursday evening, miles away from where the UN secretary general had wrapped up a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Rescuers worked through the night, Rivers reported, and in the morning, a clearer picture emerged of what happened. An apartment complex was shredded by shrapnel, leaving those in the neighborhood shaken. 

"This wall saved my life," a resident of the destroyed apartment building, Larysa Poberezhna, said as Rivers translated her remarks. "Or otherwise, it would've been the end. There was a lot of fire. I could see everything was burning. I was so scared, it was horror."

The woman told CNN she didn't die because she wasn't sitting near the window. Her son Alexi injured his hand, telling Rivers that there was "a clap and a blast, then panic. That's it. I didn't see it until later, I saw my hand was covered blood."

Some of the residents in the neighborhood, however, did not survive. A 54-year-old Ukrainian journalist was killed in the strike.

Rivers reported that Russia's Ministry of Defense said they were aiming for a factory near the apartment complex which is one of Ukraine's top producers of air-to-air guided missiles as well as aircraft parts. 

"The factory was damaged in the strike, but so is that apartment complex just behind me.  Yet another example of Russia targeting places that have supposed military relevance, but killing ordinary civilians in the process," Rivers reported from the site in Kyiv.

Watch the full report:

9:35 p.m. ET, April 29, 2022

The White House is trying to figure out how to approach G20 summit after news Putin will attend

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

US President Joe Biden and his advisers are still in conversations about how to approach November's Group of 20 summit, whose hosts received confirmation Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to attend.

Biden has said Russia should be ejected from the G20. Senior members of his administration have walked out of G20 events where Russian delegates are present. And there were discussions with Indonesia, which is hosting the summit, about stepping up its condemnation of Russia.

But no decision on boycotting the leaders' summit, still six months away, has been made. Officials said there wouldn't likely be a decision in the near-term as they weigh the downsides of skipping the event and ceding the table to Russia and China.

"The President has expressed publicly his opposition to President Putin attending the G20," press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.

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." 

The White House is realistic the G20 will not collectively remove Russia from its ranks, since the decision would likely require consensus and China has been clear it doesn't support such a move. That makes this a different scenario than when Russia was expelled from the G8 after its annexation of Crimea.

Psaki said the White House's understanding was that Indonesia invited Putin to attend prior to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Yet in a statement, the country's President stressed unity among the member countries.

"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," President Joko Widodo said in a statement from Indonesia's Cabinet on Friday, confirming Putin had accepted his invitation to attend.

Read more:

9:35 p.m. ET, April 29, 2022

Belarusian opposition leader calls on US to enact sanctions on Lukasenko that mirror those on Moscow

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

The leader of the Belarusian opposition called on the United States to enact sanctions on the government of Belarus that mirror those imposed on Moscow.

In meetings with the US State Department and members of Congress this week, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said she discussed both strengthening future sanctions and closing loopholes on existing ones.

She also said she presented the US government with evidence of Belarusian strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko’s involvement in the Russian war in Ukraine.

Speaking to reporters Friday, Tsikhanouskaya said sanctions “must be the same on strength” as those imposed on Russia “but different in structure,” and should target state banks and state enterprises.

The opposition leader said she spoke with officials in Washington, DC, about ways of “making sanctions more effective, closing remaining loopholes, freezing Lukashenka’s assets and blocking the money given to him by the (International Monetary Fund).”

Tsikhanouskaya said suggested the use of secondary sanctions to close such loopholes.

“We see how Russia uses Belarus to circumvent their own sanctions,” she said, citing the example of steel.

She said sanctions are hitting the Lukashenko regime, however, citing what she described as letters from the Minister of Foreign Affairs seeking rapprochement sent in recent weeks.

“I hope that Lukashenka will not manage to fool democratic countries again, as he did many times before,” she said.

Tsikhanouskaya met with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman – a meeting that was attended in part by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken – as well as Jim O’Brien, head of the Office of Sanctions Coordination at the US State Department.

Tsikhanouskaya told reporters she gave O’Brien “documents with the evidence of Lukashenka’s involvement in the war against Ukraine, as well as the list of companies and countries that helped to circumvent the sanctions.”

She said that includes “massive evidence of launching missiles from our territory, movement of Russian equipment in the territory of Belarus.”

“It's inside information about some internal orders about deployment of different Russian military equipment in our territory,” she continued. “So people have been collecting this information for the full period of the war. They are well documented and we passed this evidence to the government.”

Tsikhanouskaya said she does not believe that the Belarusian army participated in launching these missiles, and instead Lukashenko gave the land to Russian President Vladimir Putin to use as he wanted. 

“It's already World War. We are so afraid of World War the third but it's already going on,” she said. “It's war between democracy and autocracy.”

9:07 p.m. ET, April 29, 2022

Biden on American killed in Ukraine: "It is very sad. He left a little baby behind"

From CNN's San Fossum and Maegan Vazquez

President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with Inspectors General iat White House in Washington, DC, on Friday, April 29.
President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with Inspectors General iat White House in Washington, DC, on Friday, April 29. (Susan Walsh/AP)

US President Joe Biden expressed dismay Friday at the news that an American, Willy Joseph Cancel, was killed while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces. 

"It is very sad. He left a little baby behind," Biden told reporters at the White House while he was hosting a meeting.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki earlier on Friday offered condolences to Cancel's family and said the US government had not officially confirmed his death, cautioning Americans against traveling to Ukraine for any reason.

Cancel was killed Monday fighting alongside Ukrainian forces, members of Cancel's family confirmed to CNN. The 22-year-old was working with a private military contracting company when he was killed on April 25. The company sent him to Ukraine, and he was being paid while he was fighting there, Cancel's mother, Rebecca Cabrera, told CNN.

Cancel, a former US Marine, according to his mother, signed up to work for the private military contracting company on top of his full-time job as a corrections officer in Tennessee shortly before the war in Ukraine broke out at the end of February. When the war broke out, the company was searching for contractors to fight in Ukraine and Cancel agreed to go, Cabrera said.

9:35 p.m. ET, April 29, 2022

White House warns Americans not to travel to Ukraine after US citizen dies fighting alongside Ukrainian forces

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday offered condolences to the family of an American who was killed while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces, saying the US government had not officially confirmed his death. She cautioned Americans against traveling to Ukraine for any reason.

Willy Joseph Cancel, a 22-year-old veteran, was killed on Monday fighting alongside Ukrainian forces in Ukraine, members of Cancel's family confirmed to CNN. Cancel working with a private military contracting company when he was killed. The company had sent him to Ukraine, and he was being paid while he was fighting there, Cancel's mother, Rebecca Cabrera, said.

“Well, first of all, our hearts go out to his family and loved ones. … We don't have official confirmation, even though we've seen the reports, but we have not had that official process through the government, so I can't speak to other specifics about him beyond that," Psaki said during the White House press briefing when asked by CNN’s MJ Lee about Cancel’s death.

She then cautioned against Americans traveling to Ukraine to take up arms.

“We know Americans are looking for ways to help and the reports about this individual were that he's a veteran,” she said. “He had a child, I believe, and certainly sounded like a very passionate, young man. We know people want to help, but we do you encourage Americans to find other ways to do so … rather than traveling to Ukraine to fight.”

“It's an active war zone. And we know Americans face significant risks, but certainly we know a family is mourning. A wife is mourning and our hearts are with them,” she continued. 

Psaki also reiterated that the administration’s advice “has been that Americans should not travel to Ukraine for any reason.”

The US State Department said Friday it was aware of reports of a US citizen killed while fighting in Ukraine but has no further information to add

Principal deputy spokesperson Jalina Porter said the State Department stands “ready to provide all consular assistance to the family,” but out of respect for the family at this difficult time had nothing further to announce.

She also reiterated that the State Department continues to urge US citizens not to travel to Ukraine. Porter said she does not have an estimate of how many Americans have gone there to fight with the Ukrainian forces – the State Department does not require US citizens to register their whereabouts when going abroad.

CNN's Christian Sierra and Jennifer Hansler contributed reporting to this post.

9:42 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:

9:35 p.m. ET, April 29, 2022

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

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

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.”

9:36 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.

9:36 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.