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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3:37 p.m. ET, April 18, 2022

UN: At least 73 people have been killed in 136 attacks on health care facilities since Ukraine invasion began

From CNN's Laura Ly

A medical worker walks through the damaged maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 9, after a Russian attack severely damaged the hospital.
A medical worker walks through the damaged maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 9, after a Russian attack severely damaged the hospital. (Evgeniy Maloletka/FILE/AP)

There have been at least 73 people killed and 52 people injured in 136 attacks on health care facilities in Ukraine since the invasion began, Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, said Monday during a news briefing.  

Dujarric said he was citing the latest numbers from the World Health Organization, a UN agency responsible for international public health.

He added that the attacks on health care facilities in Ukraine currently account for more than 68% of all attacks on health care facilities worldwide since the beginning of the year. 

Additionally, more than one out of four people in Ukraine (comprising around 12 million people) have been displaced due to the war, including around 4.9 million refugees and 7.1 million people internally displaced within Ukraine, Dujarric said. 

The UN now has more than 1,300 staff on the ground in Ukraine, working in eight operational hubs across the country, the spokesperson said. Dujarric added that Secretary General Guterres continues to be “deeply concerned” about the ongoing attacks in Ukraine, resulting in civilian casualties and infrastructure damage.

3:42 p.m. ET, April 18, 2022

About 1,000 civilians are sheltering in Mariupol's besieged Azovstal plant, patrol police chief estimates 

From CNN's Olga Voitovych

Mariupol's Azovstal steel plant is home to among the last pockets of Ukrainian resistance.
Mariupol's Azovstal steel plant is home to among the last pockets of Ukrainian resistance. (Maximilian Clarke/SOPA Images/Sipa USA/AP/FILE)

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. 

According to Vershynin, civilians sheltering in Azovstal include women with infants, the elderly, as well as small children. He estimated that there were about 1,000 people in total. He said Azovstal had "quite large reserves" of food and water, but supplies were running out fast.

"Azovstal is ready for fierce resistance," Vershynin said. "Here they [defenders] are aware what their fate may be, but no one is going to give up. Yesterday they [Russians] offered us a 'corridor,' they wanted us to leave without weapons, through the filtration points, and then surrender."

"They were sent the same direction as the Russian warship. Nobody agreed to this. No one will leave without a weapon," Vershynin added.

Communications in the city are limited, and CNN reached Vershynin through voice and text message. Vershynin described the situation in the Azovstal plant, where civilians have taken refuge from heavy shelling, as very serious.

"They [civilians] have established their life there, provided themselves with food and water," he said. "The military helped sometimes. These people did not want and still do not want to go out. ... They were aware they had more chances to stay alive here. But this was until the moment when the Russian Federation began to threaten to use airstrikes."

Vershinyn confirmed the city is closed by the Russians, but added the entrance to the city may be open on the left bank to the east of the city. But he added that the road that links Mariupol from with Zaporizhzhia and Berdiansk were blocked because of very serious fighting.

2:43 p.m. ET, April 18, 2022

US State Department: Russia's recent attacks in Ukraine show a "campaign of terror"

From CNN's Kyle Atwood and Christian Sierra

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 when responding to a question about Russia’s recent strikes in Lviv, 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. And so when it comes to what we've seen in recent hours, and in terms of the strikes against Lviv, in terms of the strikes in the outskirts of Kyiv, or what we've seen in towns like Mariupol, towns like Kharkiv, what we've witnessed in Bucha, this, these are clear indications, they are a clear testament to the campaign of brutality, the campaign of terror that the Russians are waging against the people of Ukraine,” Price said. 

Price also noted that the Pentagon said earlier in the day that Russian strikes in recent days “have targeted military instillations, military adjacent instillations.” 

3:11 p.m. ET, April 18, 2022

UN official: Ceasefires in Ukraine are "not on the horizon right now"

From CNN's Laura Ly

An interior ministry sapper collects unexploded ordnance in Hostomel, Ukraine, on April 18.
An interior ministry sapper collects unexploded ordnance in Hostomel, Ukraine, on April 18. (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

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 to reporters at the UN headquarters in New York City.

Griffiths said he plans to go to Turkey later this week to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to identify ways that the UN can help support the peacekeeping and negotiations process between Ukraine and Russia. He added that he was “really impressed” by the role that Turkey is playing in the conflict, calling the country “an important aspect” of the situation.

“We need to watch the talks very, very carefully, hence the trip to Turkey this week,” Griffiths said. 

Griffiths said he also hopes that Turkey can host a “humanitarian contact group” through which negotiations about humanitarian aid can be discussed. He said that Ukrainian officials have already agreed to this and that he hopes Russian officials will too.

Griffiths added that Ukrainian officials have agreed to most proposals made by the United Nations regarding humanitarian aid and ceasefires, but Russia has not yet given a similar response.

“Obviously we have not yet got humanitarian ceasefires in place. On the Russian side, I went into a lot of detail on this, and they continued to promise to get back to me on the details of those proposals,” Griffiths said. “In Ukraine, it was a very welcome meeting with their leadership. They agreed to most of the proposals we are making, we have yet to get the same response from the Russian Federation.”

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres charged Griffiths on March 28 with meeting with officials from both Ukraine and Russia about arrangements for a humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine.

Griffiths said he recently met with the Ukrainian prime minister, two deputy prime ministers, the Ukrainian minister of defense, and the deputy foreign minister for this reason. He has said previously that he met with Russian officials on April 4. 

The aim of the discussions with both parties is to make sure authorities are aware of United Nations aspirations for humanitarian aid and to discuss ways in which the UN might improve its humanitarian notification system, Griffiths said. 

Griffiths said Ukrainian officials agreed to the idea of a common humanitarian contact group and to the idea of local ceasefires for the purpose of delivering humanitarian aid, but said the Russians “are not putting local ceasefires at the top of their agenda, not yet."

“On the humanitarian side, we need to have much more willing acceptance, primarily of the Russian Federation, to allow convoys in and convoys out,” Griffiths said.  

When asked whether he believed Russia would, in good faith, implement a durable ceasefire, Griffiths said he would keep trying to facilitate and mediate one, despite a current lack of action from the Russian side. 

“Hope is the currency of the mediator,” Griffiths said. “In every war that I’ve had anything to do with, you always, always begin from a basis of no hope because it looks so appalling, the atrocities are so terrible…you keep on doing it, because frankly, what’s the alternative? He added that “not to keep at it [negotiations], that would be irresponsible.”

1:53 p.m. ET, April 18, 2022

EU says Lviv strikes show no part of Ukraine is safe from Russia's "onslaught"  

From CNN's James Frater and Mia Alberti

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. 

The European official said the recent attacks on Lviv and "other cities in western Ukraine show that no part of the country is spared from the Kremlin’s senseless onslaught."

Borrell said the EU continues to support the International Criminal Court's investigation into war crimes in Ukraine and called on Russia once more to "immediately and unconditionally cease hostilities and withdraw all forces and military equipment" from the country.

1:57 p.m. ET, April 18, 2022

Here's where things stand in Mariupol

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová

A man walks past a heavily-damaged residential building in Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 18.
A man walks past a heavily-damaged residential building in Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 18. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

The fate of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol is hanging on an unknown number of defenders making their last stand at an iron and steel plant.

An ultimatum given by the Russian Defense Ministry to the last remaining Ukrainian troops still fighting in the port city has come and gone. The battle continues.

Heavy fighting was still going on in Mariupol on Monday, according to Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the city’s mayor.

He said Russian forces had begun issuing passes for movement within the city and that they announced entry and exit routes would be closed on Monday, warning that men remaining in the city would be “filtered out.”

If you're just catching up on the latest news, here's where things stand in Mariupol:

  • Russians continue to attack an iron and steel plant: Andriushchenko and other Ukrainian officials said Russian forces were bombarding the Azovstal plant, one of the city’s last bastions still under Ukrainian control. The Russian military claims they have blockaded Ukrainian forces there. The Azovstal iron and steel works is a sprawling industrial complex in the southeastern corner of Mariupol. The compound spans an area of more than four square miles and used to employ more than 10,000 people. It is unclear how many Ukrainian troops are still holding out in the plant.
  • Mariupol is a 'critical logistics hub' for the Ukrainian forces: Retired Lt. General and CNN military analyst Mark Hertling said Mariupol was a critical logistics hub. Its strategic position on the coast of the Sea of Azov makes it a key target. Taking it would allow Russia to create a continuous land bridge from Donbas to Crimea, the peninsula it illegally annexed in 2014. “It not only has roads, but it also has railroads and it has ports,” Hertling said.
  • Ukrainian president calls the situation in Mariupol "inhumane": Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the situation in Mariupol “inhumane” and said Russia was “trying to destroy everyone who is there in Mariupol.” Speaking to CNN last week, he said nobody knows how many civilians have died in Mariupol. “Several thousand, tens of thousands, were forced to evacuate in the direction of the Russia Federation and we don’t know where they are, they’ve left no document trail,” Zelensky said.
  • Attacks intensify elsewhere, as well: As fighting continued in Mariupol, it has also intensified in other parts of the country. Ukrainian officials in the Kharkiv and Luhansk regions reported heavy bombardments by Russian forces Monday, acknowledging a retreat from one important town but claiming to have successfully repulsed Russian attacks elsewhere. Meanwhile, the western city of Lviv, seen as a safe haven due to its proximity to the border, also 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.

Read more about the situation in Mariupol here.

1:51 p.m. ET, April 18, 2022

Ukraine submits key document on path toward European Union membership 

From CNN's James Frater in Brussels 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday handed over a document with Ukraine's answers to a questionnaire from the European Union — another step on Kyiv's path toward European Union membership, an EU diplomat said. 

The European Union’s ambassador to Ukraine, Matti Maasikas, tweeted that he was “honoured to receive from President Zelensky the answers to the European Commission’s questionnaire.” 

In the tweet, Maasikas noted that the document had been “handed over by President von der Leyen only 10 days ago,” and that “Extraordinary times take extraordinary steps and extraordinary speed.” 

The ambassador also posted photos of him receiving the document alongside Zelensky and other top Ukrainian officials, including Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. 

More on the EU process: Submitting the questionnaire marks another step in the long process to becoming a full EU member country, a process which normally takes years to complete. 

The European Commission will now consider the answers provided by Ukraine in the questionnaire and issue an opinion on whether Ukraine should be granted “Candidate Status.” 

It will be then be up to leaders of the existing 27 member states to approve Ukraine’s status as a candidate country before moving to the next phase in which Kyiv would need to align its social, legal, administrative and financial processes with that of the EU.  

In March, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling on the European Union institutions "to work towards granting" Ukraine the status of EU candidate country.

View the tweet from Maasika here:

3:31 p.m. ET, April 18, 2022

US official: Russia is learning from failures in north and applying lessons on new focus in east and south

From CNN's Michael Conte and Barbara Starr

The US believes that Russia is learning from their failures in the north of Ukraine and applying those lessons on their new focus in the east and the south, according to a senior US defense official.

“What we have seen over the last few days is them continue to try to set the conditions,” said the official in a call with reporters. “We call it shaping operations.”

“It appears as if they are trying to learn from the failed lessons of the north where they didn't have proper sustainment capabilities in the area they were about to operate,” the official said. 

The official added that the US has seen Russia moving in “heavy artillery,” “command and control enablers” and “aviation, particularly rotary aviation support” into these areas as part of the 11 new battalion tactical groups that have moved into the area “over the last few days.”

12:36 p.m. ET, April 18, 2022

Staffers working with chef Jose Andres' Ukraine charity kitchen injured in Russian missile strike in Kharkiv 

From CNN's Tamara Hardingham-Gill

A Ukraine-based humanitarian kitchen linked to celebrity chef José Andrés has been destroyed by a Russian missile in the northeastern city of Kharkiv, according to the charity that runs it.

One of the restaurant partners of the World Central Kitchen (WCK) was struck on Saturday, according to the nonprofit kitchen's CEO Nate Mook, who confirmed the news on Twitter. He said four staff members had been injured in the blast.

"An update I hoped I'd never have to make. I'm at a @WCKitchen restaurant in Kharkiv, where less than 24 hours ago I was meeting with their amazing team," Mook wrote alongside a video of himself standing amongst burnt out cars and severely damaged buildings.

"This is the reality here — cooking is a heroic act of bravery," he continued.

On Sunday, Mook shared an update from Kharkiv, indicating that the injured staff "were doing well" and the restaurant team were in the process of moving "all food products & non-damaged equipment" to another location in the city.

"The work doesn't stop," he added.

Mook posted another photo on Twitter of three restaurant staffers who he said were recovering after the missile attack.

"I want to introduce you to 3 brave staff from @WCKitchen restaurant Yaposhka! Yulia, Liza, and Yulia are in good spirits & recovering in the hospital after the missile attack," he tweeted.

The northeastern city of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest, has been under regular heavy bombardment since Russia began its invasion more than six weeks ago.

Andrés has also taken to Twitter to address the strike, as well as provide an update on the well being of staff at the restaurant

Founded by Andrés in 2010, the WCK, an organization focused on providing meals in disaster and war zones, has been supplying food to Ukrainians since the start of the conflict, with units in around 30 cities across the country, according to its official website.

On April 15, Andrés shared a graphic detailing the scale of the organization's operation in Ukraine, including setting up over 300 restaurants and delivering over 300,000 meals a day.

"We believe that a plate of food is sometimes the beginning of a better tomorrow," Andrés says in a video posted on Sunday.