April 18, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Melissa Macaya, Maureen Chowdhury, Travis Caldwell, Helen Regan, Jack Guy and George Ramsay, CNN

Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT) April 19, 2022
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9:22 p.m. ET, April 18, 2022

Women and children purportedly sheltering in basement of Azovstal steel plant in besieged Mariupol, video shows

From CNN's Paul Murphy

(Azov Battalion)
(Azov Battalion)

New video images of women and children, purportedly sheltering in the basement of the Azovstal steel plant in the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, were published Monday evening on Telegram. 

The video was posted by the Azov Battalion, a unit that began as an ultra-nationalist militia but has since integrated into the Ukrainian armed forces. The video was later shared by the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It appears to show dozens of children and families who have been sheltering for weeks in the basement of the plant where Ukrainian forces are holding out against Russian attacks.

CNN cannot verify the authenticity of the video, or when it was taken. However, after reviewing thousands of photos and videos of the Azovstal steel plant, the walls of the shelter appear to match the lime-green painted walls of the steel plant's basements.

Some context: Commander of the Azov Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Denys Prokopenko, in Mariupol said in a video posted Monday on Telegram that Russian forces have been firing "willingly" on the Azovstal steelworks factory, where hundreds of civilians are sheltering alongside Ukrainian forces.

Prokopenko said that among those sheltering are, “people of all ages, women, children, and families of Mariupol defenders. They are sheltering in the basements and bunkers from the ‘Russian world’." 

Myhailo Vershynin, the chief of the Mariupol Patrol Police, also told CNN that women, children and the elderly were among those sheltering inside the steel plant.

8:56 p.m. ET, April 18, 2022

New images show Russian warship Moskva before it sank

From CNN's Jonny Hallam, Brad Lendon, Uliana Pavlova and Ivana Kottasová

(From Social Media)
(From Social Media)

New images emerged early Monday on social media showing Russia's guided-missile cruiser, the Moskva, badly damaged and on fire in the hours before the ship sank in the Black Sea on Thursday.

The sinking of the Moskva, the flagship of Russia's Black Sea fleet, was the biggest wartime loss of a naval ship in 40 years -- and a huge embarrassment for Moscow.

The images show the Moskva listing to one side, with black holes from possible missile puncture marks, and significant scarring at and just above the waterline on the port (left) side of the middle of the vessel.

A large plume of black smoke can be seen billowing upwards, partly obscuring the front of the stricken ship.

Analysts told CNN the warship in the images looked like the Moskva, a Slava Class guided-missile destroyer.

Ukraine and Russia have provided conflicting accounts of what happened during Thursday's incident in the Black Sea.

Read the full story here.

8:24 p.m. ET, April 18, 2022

Exclusive: Zelensky rejects "tall tales" his forces need months of training to operate advanced weapons

From CNN's Jake Tapper and Jeremy Herb

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pushed back against concerns from US and NATO officials that his military would need significant training before receiving advanced weapons from other countries, telling CNN his forces need weapons quickly – and can learn to use them just as fast.

“I’ve heard these tall tales that we would need months to train our troops to use new tanks. OK, give us a Soviet-era tank,” Zelensky said in an exclusive interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Friday.
“We are prepared to use any type of equipment, but it needs to be delivered very quickly. And we have the ability to learn how to use new equipment. But it needs to come fast.”

Zelensky said in the interview from the office of the president in Kyiv that weapons provided by the US and other countries, including the Biden administration’s new $800 million security assistance package, have helped his country resist Russia’s invasion.

But he said that more would be needed, and his country’s trainers would be able to get his forces up to speed quickly.

Read the full story:

7:28 p.m. ET, April 18, 2022

US border officials encountered just more than 5,000 Ukrainians in March, new data shows

From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez

US Customs and Border Protection officials encountered just more than 5,000 Ukrainians in March, including 3,274 along the US southern border, according to newly released agency data.

The challenge some Ukrainians face in getting to the US through an existing legal pathway is reflected in part on the US-Mexico border. There, hundreds have gathered to enter the US through a port of entry and potentially be paroled into the United States.

"What we do on an individualized basis is evaluate whether a Ukrainian family and frankly other families from other countries qualify for our discretionary authority of granting humanitarian parole," Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas recently told CBS.

US Customs and Border Protection has sent additional officers to the San Ysidro port of entry, near the Mexican border city of Tijuana, to help with processing, according to the agency. The Biden administration is also planning to roll out a program that would expedite the process for Ukrainians trying to come to the United States.

The 3,274 Ukrainians made up a small share of the 221,303 encounters at the US-Mexico border in March, which marked yet another jump in arrests along the US-Mexico border. CBP has already apprehended more than 1 million people this fiscal year. That includes some repeat crossers. 

7:35 p.m. ET, April 18, 2022

Ukrainian commander: Russian forces firing "willingly" on Mariupol factory where people are sheltering

From CNN's Katharina Krebs in London and Karen Smith in Atlanta

Smoke rises above the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works company and buildings in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Monday, April 18,
Smoke rises above the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works company and buildings in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Monday, April 18, (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

In an address on Monday to world leaders, commander of the Azov Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Denys Prokopenko, said Russian forces are firing on the Azovstal steelworks factory “willingly” in Mariupol as hundreds of people are sheltering inside. 

Prokopenko is the commander of one of the Ukrainian units defending the port city of Mariupol.

Prokopenko said in a post on Telegram account that among those sheltering are, “people of all ages, women, children, and families of Mariupol defenders. They are sheltering in the basements and bunkers from the ‘Russian world.'"

According to Prokopenko, those sheltering “found their only available shelter next to the Ukrainian soldiers, who are still defending the city from Russian invaders.”

“Russian occupational forces and their proxy from Luhansk People’s Republic/Donetsk People's Republics know about civilians and keep their fire on the factory willingly. They use free-fall bombs, rockets, bunker-buster bombs, and all varieties of artillery, both ground and naval, for indiscriminate attacks,” Prokopenko said.

He added, “City theatre, maternity hospital, schools, kindergartens, and houses were destroyed by those who now offer civilians evacuation and safety. These are the same people. And nobody believes.”

7:07 p.m. ET, April 18, 2022

It's just after 2 a.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know.

Russia bombarded cities across Ukraine on Monday, with at least four missile strikes reported in the western city of Lviv and at least seven people killed. 

Ukraine’s defense ministry, meanwhile, says Russian forces have completed the regrouping of troops to launch an offensive in the east. Control of Kreminna, a town in the eastern Luhansk region, has been "lost" during heavy fighting, a Ukrainian official said.

Here are the latest developments on the war in Ukraine:

  • The battle for Donbas: Russian forces have started the battle for Donbas, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address on Monday. The president underscored that Ukrainian forces will continue to fight against a Russian incursion in the region. “I’m thankful to all of our warriors, our soldiers, our heroic towns and towns in the region who are resisting and standing firm,” he added.
  • No plans for Biden to visit Ukraine: White House press secretary Jen Psaki reiterated Monday that there are no plans in place for US President Joe Biden to travel to Ukraine, following comments from Zelensky encouraging him to do so. “That has not changed — what our focus continues to be on is providing Ukraine, the Ukrainian government, Ukrainian leaders — a historic amount of security assistance,” Psaki told CNN.
  • Civilians sheltering in Ukrainian plant: Civilians — including women, children, and the elderly — are sheltering inside the Azovstal iron and steel plant in the besieged Ukrainian port of Mariupol, according to Myhailo Vershynin, the chief of the Mariupol patrol police. Vershynin told CNN he was at the Azovstal plant, one of the city’s last bastions still under Ukrainian control which has been the focal point of heavy Russian bombardment following weeks of grinding warfare in the city that has leveled much of its infrastructure.
  • US describes "campaign of terror": State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that Russia’s attacks in Ukraine in recent days further illustrate that the country is “undertaking a campaign of terror” against the people of Ukraine. “The fact is that Russia, more than just launching an invasion, more than just launching a war, has launched, is undertaking a campaign of terror, a campaign of brutality, a campaign of despicable aggression against the people of Ukraine.
  • Ceasefire "not on the horizon": A ceasefire in Ukraine is not on the horizon, but may come in the coming weeks depending on how the war and ongoing negotiations continue, according to Martin Griffiths, UN under secretary general for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. “Ceasefires … they’re not on the horizon right now, but they may be in a couple of weeks. They may be a little bit longer than that,” Griffiths said in his remarks Monday.
  • No safety from Russia's "onslaught," EU says: The European Union has condemned the latest round of Russian attacks on Ukrainian cities and said the recent shelling in western Ukraine show no part of the country is safe. "Ukraine is being struck by the most intensive missile attacks by the Russian Federation since weeks. The EU condemns the continued indiscriminate and illegal shelling of civilians and civilian infrastructure by Russian armed forces,” the EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement Monday.
7:02 p.m. ET, April 18, 2022

Ukrainian official: There is not "a town, a city or a village left where it is safe now in Ukraine"

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

Ihor Zhovkva, chief diplomatic adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said that there isn't a "single place" in Ukraine that's safe now following Russian missile strikes in Lviv Monday.

"There is not a single place, a town, a city or a village left where it is safe now in Ukraine," Zhovkva told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

"That's what [the Russians] were trying to implement since the beginning of the war. Because look, they not only fight the military people. They not only fight the military infrastructure. They fight with civilian Ukrainians. I mean what a auto service shop, a car repairing shop has to do with the military infrastructure, but they bombed it today in Lviv, having killed civilian people. Not a single soldier but civilian people, killed," he said.

He made a plea for additional military aid so that Ukraine can "win" the war.

"Please support Ukraine with more arms, and we'll be able to win," Zhovkva said.

The western city of Lviv, seen as a safe haven due to its proximity to the border, came under attack on Monday. Maksym Kozytskyy, the Lviv regional military governor, said three missile strikes hit warehouses that were not being used by the military, and a fourth hit a tire-repair shop. Seven people have died, he said.

Watch the full interview with Zhovkva here:

CNN's Ivana Kottasová contributed to this report.

5:31 p.m. ET, April 18, 2022

Zelensky: Russia will have difficulty replenishing arsenal amid sanctions

From CNN staff

The Russian army will have difficulty replenishing their arsenal of missiles, helicopters, and other military equipment, amid international sanctions, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said during a video address on Monday. 

“The Russian army is not slowing down the use of missiles against Ukraine, although it should have realized that it will be extremely difficult to restore its missile stockpile in the face of even existing sanctions,” Zelenksy said, “Without imports, they can't even do that. And when all the loopholes used to circumvent sanctions are closed, and even tougher sanctions are imposed, restoring Russia's missile capabilities will be unrealistic,” he said.

“A similar process is taking place with other Russian weapons. Producing new artillery, planes, new helicopters, and cruisers under sanctions will be a daunting task for Russia,” he added.

5:16 p.m. ET, April 18, 2022

US State Department looking at possibly labeling Russia a state sponsor of terrorism

From CNN's Kylie Atwood

US State Department officials are looking at every tool available to them to hold Russia accountable for the war in Ukraine, including the possibility of labeling Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, according to a senior administration official. The process could take weeks before a determination is made, the official said.

“We're taking a close look at the facts. We're taking a close look at the law,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price on CNN Monday when asked about the possibility of designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism on Monday. “Whether it is this authority, whether it's any other authority available to us under the law, we will apply it if it's effective and appropriate.” 

The definition of a state sponsor of terrorism is a country that has “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism,” according to the State Department. There are only four countries that are currently labeled state sponsors of terrorism by the US: North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Syria.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked US President Biden in one of their recent phone conversations to designate Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, CNN reported last week. 

The US has already rolled out severe sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine war, but adding Russia to the list would be a symbolic move that would also inflict an even greater cost on Russia’s economy. It would lead to actions such as prohibiting Russia from buying certain items that can be used commercial or militarily, and sanctions on other people and countries still engaged in certain trade with Russia.