April 4, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Melissa Macaya, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Travis Caldwell, Helen Regan, Ben Church, Jason Kurtz and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 2:01 a.m. ET, April 5, 2022
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4:05 p.m. ET, April 4, 2022

Lawmakers urge Biden administration to expand weapons being sent to Ukraine

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

A bipartisan group of more than three dozen lawmakers is pushing the Biden administration to expand the weapons being provided to Ukraine’s military amid continued demands from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to help his country with more weapons to defend itself against Russia, according to a letter obtained by CNN.

Democratic Reps. Andy Kim of New Jersey and Jason Crow of Colorado and GOP Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan spearheaded the letter sent to President Joe Biden on Monday urging the US to provide more weapons, including long-range surface-to-air missiles, fighter aircraft and anti-ship missiles. The lawmakers say their request is based off a wish list Ukrainian officials provided Capitol Hill last week obtained by CNN laying out 17 areas where Ukraine is seeking additional assistance.

The lawmakers’ request also includes increasing the supply of Stinger anti-air and Javelin-anti-tank missiles that Ukraine is running low on, as well as drones that have a greater range so Ukraine can “better disrupt Russian supply lines and counter Russian siege tactics, especially in Eastern Ukraine.” 

“We recognize that the United States and its allies and partners have already provided substantial military aid, in response to the Russian invasion, including a portion of the $13.6 billion in emergency funds through the fiscal 2022 Omnibus Appropriations bill,” the lawmakers wrote. “However, Ukrainians are clear that more needs to be done for Ukraine to win this war.”

The Biden administration has said the US and NATO allies are providing Ukraine with weapons at a historic pace, sending hundreds of millions worth of equipment since Russia’s invasion began in February. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that there would soon be 10 anti-tank weapons systems in Ukraine for every Russian tank in Ukrainian territory.

US officials have emphasized they are providing Ukrainians with weapons they can use while suggesting that some of the requests – like fighter jets – aren’t as practical as other needs.

The lawmakers, however, argued that Ukraine is running low on its fighter aircraft. “Ukraine has more than enough pilots trained to fly additional aircraft if supplied,” the letter said. “Additional aircraft would also allow Ukrainian forces to provide a more adequate defense of urban areas like Kharkiv and Mariupol, where numerous civilian casualties have occurred following Russian attacks.”

3:39 p.m. ET, April 4, 2022

US will issue additional sanctions against Russia this week, White House says

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

The US will announce new sanctions against Russia this week, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Monday.

“You can expect further sanctions announcements this week. And we are coordinating with our allies and partners on what the exact parameters of that will be, but yes, this week we will have additional economic pressure elements to announce,” Sullivan told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins during the White House press briefing.

Responding to recent violent images of atrocities allegedly committed by Russian forces in Bucha, Ukraine, US President Joe Biden told reporters earlier Monday that he was “seeking more sanctions” against Russia and would be announcing them shortly.

He did not label the killings a "genocide” but said they were a “war crime,” calling for a trial to take place against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

3:47 p.m. ET, April 4, 2022

US national security adviser says images from Bucha show "now is not the time for complacency" 

From CNN's Betsy Klein

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on Monday.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on Monday. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

White house national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday that horrific images from Bucha, Ukraine, of the latest atrocities committed by Russia against Ukrainian civilians underscore that “now is not the time for complacency,” stressing the importance of ongoing US support for Ukraine. 

“The images from Bucha so powerfully reinforce now is not the time for complacency. The Ukrainians are defending their homeland courageously, and the United States will continue to back them with military assistance, humanitarian aid and economic support,” Sullivan told reporters at the White House.

The Biden administration, he added, is “working around the clock” to fulfill security assistance requests from Ukraine, detailing US and allied response so far and hinting at forthcoming “additional military assistance in the coming days.” 

“We expect additional new capabilities to be delivered in the near future. We can't always advertise what is being delivered out of deference to our allies and partners or for operational sensitivities, but we are moving with speed and efficiency to deliver,” he said.

The US has committed $1.65 billion in weapons and ammunition to Ukraine since Russia invaded and a total of $2.3 billion since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, according to Sullivan. He cited US-produced air defense systems and anti-tank systems, as well as laser-guided rocket systems, Puma unmanned aerial systems, and armored multipurpose vehicles among the supplies provided to Ukraine from the US and other allies.

As he concluded his remarks, Sullivan emphasized three constants over course of the war: “First, Russia will continue to use its military to try to conquer and occupy sovereign Ukrainian territory. Second, the Ukrainian military and people will continue to effectively and bravely defend their homeland. And third, the United States will stand by them for as long as it takes.”

3:30 p.m. ET, April 4, 2022

Here's what you need to know about Russia's culture of military brutality

From CNN's Nathan Hodge

Ukrainian soldiers examine destroyed Russian military vehicles in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha on Monday, April 4.
Ukrainian soldiers examine destroyed Russian military vehicles in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha on Monday, April 4. (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

The grotesque pictures emerging from the Kyiv suburb of Bucha are some of the strongest evidence yet of apparent war crimes by Russian forces in Ukraine: Dead civilians on the street, some with hands bound and shot execution-style, others apparently mowed down at random.

For anyone who has followed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s way of war, it’s a depressingly familiar pattern. Russia’s military has a culture of brutality and scorn for the laws of armed conflict that has been extensively documented in the past.

“The history of Russia’s military interventions – be it in Ukraine or Syria, or its military campaign at home in Chechnya – is tainted with blatant disregard for international humanitarian law,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

“The Russian military repeatedly flouted the laws of war by failing to protect civilians and even attacking them directly. Russian forces have launched indiscriminate attacks, used banned weapons and sometimes apparently deliberately targeted civilians and civilian objects – a war crime.”

That statement, made less than a month before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has proven sadly prophetic.

Read more about this here.

3:28 p.m. ET, April 4, 2022

How Biden reacted to the possibility of the Pope visiting Kyiv

From CNN's DJ Judd

On Monday US President Joe Biden responded to reports that Pope Francis may travel to Kyiv, Ukraine, telling reporters gathered on the White House South Lawn, “for his safety, whatever he can do — he’s a fine, fine man.”

On Sunday the Pope said a trip to Ukraine "is on the table," while speaking to journalists.

Biden met with the Pope while in Rome for the G20 summit in October, at the time calling the pontiff, “everything I learned about Catholicism.”

3:40 p.m. ET, April 4, 2022

US is supporting multinational team collecting and analyzing evidence of Ukraine atrocities, official says

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

State Department spokesperson Ned Price speaks during a news conference on March 10 in Washington, DC.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price speaks during a news conference on March 10 in Washington, DC. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/Pool/AFP/Getty images)

The United States is supporting a multinational team to collect and analyze evidence of atrocities in Ukraine, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Monday.

“Right now, at the request of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, the United States is supporting a multinational team of international prosecutors to the region to directly support the efforts of the Prosecutor General's War Crimes Unit to collect, preserve and analyze evidence of atrocities with a view towards pursuing criminal accountability,” Price said at a State Department briefing.

“Those responsible for atrocities must be held accountable, as must those who ordered them. They cannot and will not act with impunity,” Price added.

Price also said that based on the reports the US has seen, the atrocities “are not the act of a rogue soldier,” but rather “part of a broader, troubling campaign.”

He noted that “as Russia's forces have retreated over the past few days, the world has been shocked by the horrifying images of the Kremlin's brutality in Bucha and other cities near Kyiv. Civilians, many with their hands tied apparently executed in the streets, others in mass graves.”

“We are seeing credible reports of torture, rape, and civilians executed alongside their families,” he said. “There are reports and images of a nightmare litany of atrocities including reports of landmines and booby traps left behind by Putin’s forces to injure even more civilians and slow the stabilization and recovery of devastated communities after they failed in their objective and withdrew.”

“In keeping with its long track record of accusing others of its own heinous acts, the Kremlin issued a baseless and shameless denial of what we can all clearly see in Bucha and throughout the liberated towns of Kyiv oblast,” he said.

More background: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on March 23 that the US government had determined that members of the Russian armed forces are committing war crimes in Ukraine.

At the time, Beth Van Schaack, ambassador-at-Large for global criminal justice, said the US government would “continue to track reports coming out of Ukraine of war crimes, and we will share this information with our friends and allies and with international and multilateral institutions, as appropriate.”

“This is going to be an ongoing process throughout this conflict,” she said.

Blinken reiterated this in his interview with CNN’s State of the Union Sunday, saying, “Since the aggression, we’ve come out and said that we believe that Russian forces have committed war crimes and we’ve been working to document that, to provide the information that we have to the relevant institutions and organizations that will put all of this together, and there needs to be accountability for it.”

2:51 p.m. ET, April 4, 2022

What happened in Bucha "could be replicated on a very large scale," Human Rights Watch chief warns

From CNN's Zeena Saifi in Abu Dhabi 

Kenneth Roth, the head of Human Rights Watch, told CNN on Monday that the images of mass graves emerging from Ukraine's Bucha are “sickening” and warned that it “could be replicated on a very large scale.” 

“What is happening in Bucha and other cities around Kyiv could be replicated on a very large scale. And so the message we're trying to send to the Kremlin is that, here's the evidence of these atrocities taking place. If you want to avoid criminal responsibility, reign in your troops,” Roth told CNN’s Becky Anderson in an interview.    

The International Criminal Court has already established an investigation into war crimes in Ukraine, but Roth stressed that “it’s urgent to move as quickly as possible” to minimize the amount of evidence lost.    

“From a war crimes perspective … it’s not enough to just have a body. You need to figure out, why did that person die? In some cases, we’re getting accounts of people who were bound, who were executed. That’s a clear war crime. But if somebody was killed in crossfire, you need to look more carefully. Some of these conceivably could have been soldiers, either Ukrainian or Russia. So you really need to investigate,” he added.  

US President Joe Biden on Monday called the atrocities allegedly committed by Russian forces in Bucha a “war crime” and called for a trial to take place against Russian President Vladimir Putin. He didn’t, however, label the killings a “genocide.”  

In response to Biden’s remarks, Roth said we shouldn’t be diminishing what we’re seeing in Bucha, just because it doesn’t constitute genocide.  

“A war crime is serious enough. Some people are conflating language and saying this is genocide. We haven’t seen genocide yet. I hope we don’t get to that in Ukraine,” he said.  

When asked if Putin could be held personally responsible for the alleged war crimes, Roth said: “In principle, yes”.  

“What needs to be proven is that he was aware these crimes were taken place. I suspect that can be proven, and that he didn’t take steps to reign them in, to stop them,” he continued. 

2:39 p.m. ET, April 4, 2022

Ukrainian official: Convoy of evacuation buses held up on route to Mariupol

From CNN's Julia Presniakova in Lviv

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Monday that a convoy of buses headed for the besieged city of Mariupol had been stopped in the Russian-held city of Manhush. 

"A convoy of seven buses to evacuate people from Mariupol, accompanied by the International Committee of the Red Cross, is still blocked in Manhush," she said.

Earlier in the day, the mayor of Mariupol said that more than 100,000 people required evacuation from the city, which has been battered by weeks of Russian bombardment. 

2:36 p.m. ET, April 4, 2022

European Parliament head: Invasion of Ukraine needs to be the "costliest mistake that Kremlin has ever made"

From CNN's James Frater in Brussels 

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola on Monday called for an “immediate adoption of a new package of forceful sanctions” against Russia, so that Moscow’s decision to invade Ukraine be “the costliest mistake that the Kremlin has ever made.” 

Addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, Metsola said the hit to Russia’s economy “must be proportionate to the unprecedented atrocities that we are seeing,” adding that any new sanctions need to “target those who bankroll and support Putin and close any existing loopholes.” 

“These coordinated acts of inhumanity cannot remain unanswered, and that we will hold all those responsible to account,” she said. 

Speaking to European lawmakers, Metsola said that the “atrocities committed by the Russian army in Ukraine are horrific. They are disgraceful, and they are shameful.” 

The images of mass graves and murdered civilians “are war crimes, that are perpetrated by war criminals,” the Maltese politician added.   

Mestola, who visited Ukraine last week and gave an address to the Ukrainian Parliament, told European lawmakers that she “was proud to take our message to Kyiv and to show that our parliament stands with them in these dark times.” 

“Ukraine is fighting for our values, in the most impossible conditions, and we have to support them,” she said. 

Following Metsola’s remarks, European lawmakers held a minute’s silence for the victims of Bucha, Irpin and all those who have died in the conflict in Ukraine.