UN General Assembly elects Czech Republic to replace Russia on the Human Rights Council
From CNN's Jorge Engels
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) met on Tuesday to elect the Czech Republic to replace Russia on the Human Rights Council, with 157 votes in favor and 23 abstentions.
The Czech Republic’s term begins Tuesday and will expire on December 31, 2023. It was the only candidate announced to replace Russia.
On April 7, the UNGA voted to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council with 93 votes in favor, 24 against, and 58 abstentions.
In the draft of the April 7 resolution, the UNGA said the General Assembly would “suspend the rights of membership in the Human Rights Council of a member of the Council that commits gross and systematic violations of human rights.”
With previous reporting from CNN’s Richard Roth.
11:23 a.m. ET, May 10, 2022
Russia’s economy is "clearly in recession" and facing 20% inflation, US Treasury secretary says
From CNN’s Matt Egan
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Tuesday that Western sanctions have delivered a powerful blow to Russia’s economy following the invasion of Ukraine.
“Their economy is clearly in recession,” Yellen told lawmakers during a hearing on the Financial Stability Oversight Council’s annual report to Congress, adding that there are forecasts the Russian economy will contract by 10% to 15%.
Inflation in Russia is probably running around 20% this year, Yellen said. That would be more than double the 8.5% year-over-year jump in consumer prices in the United States in March.
“Russian firms that have been sanctioned are finding it almost impossible to gain access to goods and services that they need in global markets,” Yellen said, adding that this includes major defense firms that can’t find the computer chips and other components they need to restock their defense arsenals.
Earlier, Yellen said that “Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has further increased economic uncertainty.”
The war in Ukraine has disrupted supplies of food and energy, contributing to the highest level of inflation in decades. The average price of regular gasoline has increased about 25% to record highs since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.
Yellen said financial regulators will continue to monitor developments and “coordinate actions as the risks and threats evolve.”
10:59 a.m. ET, May 10, 2022
Lithuania declares Russia a perpetrator of terrorism
From CNN’s Benjamin Brown and Jennifer Hansler
The Lithuanian Parliament on Tuesday passed a resolution declaring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a "genocide" and Russia a perpetrator of terrorism.
In the resolution, the Seimas, Lithuania’s Parliament, recognized "the full-scale armed aggression — war — against Ukraine by the armed forces of the Russian Federation and its political and military leadership [...] as genocide against the Ukrainian people."
Passed unanimously, the resolution accuses Russian military forces of "deliberately and systematically targeting civilian targets," declaring Russia "a state that supports and perpetrates terrorism."
The Seimas also called for the establishment of an international tribunal to investigate alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told CNN Tuesday that the decision is a recognition of reality and “gives impetus for further legal investigations into the situation.”
In his first reaction to the unanimous passage of the resolution, Landsbergis said the designations must be followed up by investigations, such as those being carried out by the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice.
“We haven't seen anything like it since the Second World War, so that might give additional speed to the investigation and resources that they require, because especially ICC … they have as much money as the countries provide and as many investigators as the countries provide,” said Landsbergis, who noted Lithuania was one of the first countries to provide financial assistance to the investigators.
“We clearly have reasons to call this an act of genocide,” Landsbergis said in an interview with CNN in Washington. “Putin clearly stated that he does not believe that Ukraine has the right to exist as a country and he's trying to prove his point by killing basically entire civilian cities full of civilians.”
Landsbergis said that the international community must not only work to strengthen mechanisms aimed at accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity, but perhaps look for new ones because “Russia truly changed the reality with their attack on Ukraine."
“We had trust that after the Second World War, we built the mechanism that should empower this ‘never again’ concept. Obviously the mechanisms were not sufficient. And so we really need now to start working on strengthening those mechanisms,” he told CNN. “I think that we not only need to strengthen what we built, but maybe even to look for new mechanisms and new instruments that would really allow us once again to say this was the last time.”
10:26 a.m. ET, May 10, 2022
War in Ukraine likely to become "more unpredictable," US national intelligence director says
From CNN's Katie Bo Lillis and Michael Conte
The US intelligence community believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine is likely to become “more unpredictable and escalatory” in the coming months, the nation’s director of national intelligence told Congress on Tuesday.
Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines painted a grim and uncertain picture of the next phase of Putin’s two-month-old invasion, which she told the Senate Armed Services Committee will be difficult to predict in part because “Putin faces a mismatch between his ambitions and Russia’s current conventional military capabilities.”
“At the very least, we believe the dichotomy will usher in a period of more ad hoc decision-making in Russia, both with respect to the domestic adjustments required to sustain this push, as well as the military conflict with Ukraine and the West,” she said. “And the current trend increases the likelihood that President Putin will turn to more drastic means, including imposing martial law, reorienting industrial production, or potentially escalatory military actions to free up the resources needed to achieve his objectives as the conflict drags on, or if he perceives Russia is losing in Ukraine.”
Still, Haines told lawmakers, the intelligence community does not believe Putin would turn to the use of nuclear weapons unless he felt there was an existential threat to Russia.
The intelligence community believes that Putin is preparing for a protracted conflict — and that his goals extend far beyond the eastern region of the Donbas, where his military is currently focused after being repelled from Kyiv in the early weeks of the war.
“The next month of fighting will be significant as Russian attempts to reinvigorate their efforts,” Haines said. “But even if they are successful, we are not confident the fight in Donbas will effectively end the war.”
In the near term, Putin wants to capture the two eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, control the city of Kherson and potentially extend a land bridge around the southern rung of the country to Transnistria, a separatist region of Moldova where Russian troops are currently stationed, Haines said.
But to reach Transnistria, the intelligence community believes that Putin would need to launch a full mobilization inside Russia, a step he has so far not taken.
“As both Russia and Ukraine believe they can continue to make progress militarily, we do not see a viable negotiating path forward, at least in the short term,” Haines said.
10:02 a.m. ET, May 10, 2022
The bodies of 44 civilians recovered from rubble in occupied Izium, official says
From CNN's Katherina Krebs, Tim Lister and Julia Presniakova
The bodies of 44 civilians were found in the rubble of a five-story building in the town of Izium, which is currently controlled by Russian troops, according to the head of the Kharkiv regional military administration.
Oleh Syniehubov said the building had been "completely destroyed by the occupiers" but it's not yet clear when it happened.
Russian forces have been in control of Izium for nearly two months. Before that, the town was heavily contested and intensively shelled.
Syniehubov said that locals who had stayed behind in Izium had excavated the site.
He said there was "no special equipment for dismantling debris, everything is done by hand."
"And of course it does not happen around the clock. When there is no shelling, people come out and try to dismantle those blockages," he added.
What's unclear is whether Russian forces in the area were aware of the operation and permitted the retrieval of the bodies.
Syniebuhov said that, since Izium was occupied, about 1,700 people had been evacuated while what he called a "green corridor" was in existence.
"After that, the occupiers did not allow people to be taken out or humanitarian aid brought there," he added.
He also said that Tsirkuny, a town near Kharkiv, had been liberated and described the scene there as a "total war crime."
"There are a lot of destroyed houses, a lot of office buildings, schools. There are bodies, bodies of civilians," he said. "The occupiers did not even take their own soldiers, they are on the streets, in private homes and so on. We still have a lot of work to do to clean everything up."
What we know: The Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor's Office said a criminal case "for violating the laws and customs of war, combined with premeditated murder" has been opened.
Between March 7 and 10, the Russian military "systematically shelled the city of Izium. As a result of the shelling, public infrastructure and residential buildings were destroyed," the prosecutor's office said. "So far, the bodies of the victims have been removed from the rubble, and 14 people have been identified."
9:31 a.m. ET, May 10, 2022
China's Xi agrees on urgency of Ukraine ceasefire in call with Macron, Élysée Palace says
From CNN’s Xiaofei Xu in Paris
Chinese President Xi Jinping "agreed on the urgency of a cease-fire" in Ukraine during a 90-minute phone call with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, the Élysée Palace said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The two Heads of State reiterated their commitment to respecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and agreed on the urgency of reaching a cease-fire,” according to the statement.
“All efforts to provide humanitarian support to the Ukrainian population should also be supported," it added.
9:19 a.m. ET, May 10, 2022
Belarus begins second stage of inspection of its army's reaction forces in response to NATO drills
From CNN's Katharina Krebs in London
Belarus has started the second stage of inspection of its army's reaction forces, Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin said Tuesday in a video commentary posted on the Telegram account of Belarusian state media Belta.
"This is all planned as part of an adequate response to the 'Defender-Europe' exercises that have been taking place on the territory of NATO countries since May 1," Khrenin said.
He said that the Belarusian side watches the NATO exercises and sees "every movement that battalion groups are involved in" and "the tasks that they plan to carry out."
"Understanding the threats that may come from them, we respond adequately; we put forward appropriate troops in these areas," the minister added.
Last week, the Belarusian army began a previously unannounced inspection of its reaction force, planning movement of a significant amount of military equipment, according to a statement published by the Belarusian Ministry of Defense.
The threat of missile strikes on military and civilian infrastructure of Ukraine from the territory of the Republic of Belarus has never ceased, said Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, the spokesperson of Ukraine's defense ministry, last Wednesday.
"As you know, today the Russian army is using the territory of the Republic of Belarus as a springboard for the attack on Ukraine. In fact, due to this, Russian units were able to appear in the suburbs of the capital so quickly," Motuzyanyk said last week.
9:05 a.m. ET, May 10, 2022
More than 8 million people are internally displaced in Ukraine, according to UN agency
From CNN's Benjamin Brown in London
More than eight million people have been internally displaced in Ukraine, according to the latest report from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), a United Nations agency.
Over 18% — or nearly one in five — of Ukraine's pre-war population is now internally displaced, said the fourth Ukraine Internal Displacement Report, published Monday.
"The needs of those internally displaced and all affected by the war in Ukraine are growing by the hour," IOM Director General António Vitorino said Tuesday.
The latest survey, conducted between April 29 and May 3, found that 63% of those internally displaced are women.
More than 50% of displaced households have children, 55% include elderly members and over 30% have people with chronic illnesses, according to the survey.
With more than 5.9 million refugees having left Ukraine for neighboring countries, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a total of at least 13.9 million people have been left displaced since the beginning of the Russian invasion in late February.
8:55 a.m. ET, May 10, 2022
Biden economic adviser says record high US gas prices "somewhat up to Putin"
From CNN's Betsy Klein
Ahead of US President Joe Biden’s remarks on addressing inflation Tuesday, the White House sought to tie record high US gas prices to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We certainly hope that these will come down soon. That's somewhat up to Putin. But the President is focused on addressing these kinds of issues,” Biden economic adviser Cecilia Rouse told CNN, but pointed to efforts from the administration to ease prices, including the release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves.
Rouse also indicated that the possibility of a national gas tax holiday was one of many options on the table.
“The President understands the uncertainty ... All measures are on the table. He is focused on these issues,” she added as she laid out longer-term measures to relieve pricing pressures.
She later reiterated that Biden wants to consider all measures but he will need the support of his partners in Congress.
“He cannot do everything unilaterally. So he needs to work with partners in Congress in order to make meaningful change, but it's very important to understand that this President is focused on rising prices," she continued.
Later on Tuesday morning, Biden is expected to lay out a “whole of government approach” to combating inflation. She indicated that Chinese tariffs and trade policy more broadly will be part of his speech, as well as clean energy, and later called on Congress to confirm the administration’s Federal Reserve nominees.
She dismissed a recent assertion from Trump economic adviser Kevin Hassett, who has indicated the US is already in a recession.
“I’m not sure where that comes from,” she said, laughing, as she outlined economic growth in 2021 and GDP. “We are not expecting that we're already in the recession. In fact, the guts and the bones of this economy remains strong. Yes, there are headwinds, yes, there's uncertainty, which is why the President is so focused on trying to reduce costs and grow this economy by investing in people in our physical infrastructure, and really building the kind of economy that will generate sustainable growth going forward."