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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2:40 p.m. ET, April 4, 2022

It's 8:30 p.m. in Kyiv. Catch up with the latest developments in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky examines the town of Bucha, Ukraine, on Monday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky examines the town of Bucha, Ukraine, on Monday. (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

If you're just joining us, here's what you need to know about the developments in Ukraine so far today.

Zelensky visits Bucha: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the town near the country's capital after images over the weekend showed civilian bodies found strewn across a street and sparked international outrage.

He addressed the cameras around him briefly, saying that it was "very difficult" for Ukraine to negotiate with Russia following the atrocities carried out by Russian forces in Bucha. He the atrocities carried out in the town typify "the nature of the Russian military" and added that they "treat people worse than animals."

Growing number of leaders and institutions call the Bucha atrocities a "war crime: The European Union on Monday announced it has established a joint investigation team with Ukraine to probe alleged Russian war crimes and crimes against humanity.

US President Joe Biden Monday called the atrocities committed by Russia and President Vladimir Putin in Bucha, Ukraine, a “war crime” but said it was not a genocide, adding that he is looking into more sanctions on Russia.

French President Emmanuel Macron said it’s “his wish” to see a total block on Russian exports of coal and oil to the European Union “this week," following the discovery of what he described as “war crimes” in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.

European countries consider more sanctions against Russia but face economic concerns: Germany’s Finance Minister Christian Lindner said Germany supports further sanctions on Russia, but cutting off gas supplies was not possible right now. This comes as one of the country's top banking officials, Christian Sewing, said Germany would face a "substantial recession" if supplies of Russian gas stop.

Similarly, Belgian Finance Minister Vincent Van Peteghem said Monday that the process of the fifth package of sanctions against Russia should be accelerated. However, he stressed that any proposed sanctions had to have a stronger economic impact on Russia than on the EU, adding that the effect of the war was being felt across Europe.

“We see rising energy prices, we see rising prices at the pump, rising prices in the supermarkets, so we really need to see how we can coordinate that situation,” he said.

Here's a look at Ukraine's claimed counteroffensives around Kyiv:

1:04 p.m. ET, April 4, 2022

Germany expelling "substantial number" of Russian diplomats, foreign minister says

From Inke Kappeler in Berlin

Germany is expelling “substantial number” of officials at the Russian embassy, declaring them as “persona non grata,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in a statement on Monday.  

The Russian officials “have been working against our freedom and against cohesion of our society here in Germany every day,” Baerbock said.  

“Their work is a threat for those seeking shelter with us. We will not continue to tolerate this. This is what we told the Russian ambassador today,” she added. 

The images from the Ukrainian town of Bucha “testify the incredible brutality of the Russian leadership and those following their propaganda, of a will to destruction that is crossing all borders,” the minister also said.  

“We have to fear similar pictures (will emerge) from many other places occupied by the Russian forces,” she continued. 

12:59 p.m. ET, April 4, 2022

The UK is looking to step up sanctions on Russia, foreign secretary says

From CNN's Lauren Kent in London

The United Kingdom has discussed stepping up sanctions against Russia and increasing support for Ukraine, said UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Monday, speaking alongside the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Warsaw. 

“It is the responsibility of the UK and our allies, and that’s what Dmytro and I have discussed today, to step up our support for our brave Ukrainian friends," Truss said in a news conference. "That means more weapons and more sanctions. Putin must lose in Ukraine.”

Truss said she will be working with Britain's partners and allies to go further on sanctions, noting that the UK is looking into added measures "in banning Russian ships from our ports, in cracking down on Russian banks, in going after new industries for filling Putin’s war chest like gold, and agreeing a clear timetable to eliminate our imports for Russian oil gas and coal.”

“We need to do more on oil and gas, which are key to funding Russia’s war machine," the foreign secretary said. "We’ve agreed that the United Kingdom will end our imports on oil by the end of this year.”

Truss added that there should be "no talk of removing sanctions while Putin's troops are in Ukraine and the threat of Russian aggression looms over Europe."

“As far as the UK is concerned, nothing is off the table in terms of sanctions,” Truss said. “We simply should not be doing business with this country. We simply should not be doing business with Putin.”

1:21 p.m. ET, April 4, 2022

UK foreign secretary says Russia must be suspended from the UN Human Rights Council

From CNN's Lauren Kent

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, right, and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba give a press statement at the British Embassy in Warsaw on April 4.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, right, and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba give a press statement at the British Embassy in Warsaw on April 4. ( Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty Images)

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said that Russia must be suspended from UN Human Rights Council following the "indiscriminate killing of civilians" in Ukraine, adding that "that war crimes have taken place."

Truss's comments came Monday while speaking alongside Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Warsaw. 

“We’re all appalled by the scenes in Bucha," Truss said. "It’s very clear that war crimes have taken place.”

Truss added that the United Kingdom wants to see "justice done at the International Criminal Court" and said Britain will provide additional funding to the ICC. 

“We have seen butchering, evidence of rape and sexual violence, as well as the indiscriminate killing of civilians," Truss added. 

“We will not rest until these criminals have been brought to justice. We are clear that after these appalling crimes, Russia has no place on the Human Rights Council," said Truss.

5:34 p.m. ET, April 4, 2022

CNN team witnesses removal of bodies from a Bucha basement

From CNN's Vasco Cotovio, Frederik Pleitgen, Byron Blunt and Daria Markina in Bucha, Ukraine

Bodies found in the town of Bucha were gathered to be buried on Monday.
Bodies found in the town of Bucha were gathered to be buried on Monday. (Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Ukrainian officials showed international media the removal of five bodies from a basement in Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv recently retaken by Ukrainian forces.

A CNN team visited the basement and saw the bodies before removal. They were in advanced stage of decomposition.

Five men had been tortured and executed by Russian soldiers, an adviser to the Ukrainian interior minister, Anton Gerashchenko, told CNN on the ground. CNN cannot independently verify Gerashchenko’s claims.

The men were found in an area held by the Russian military until a few days ago. Several foxholes, trenches and positions for armored vehicles were still visible around the site, as were leftover Russian rations. Several "V" letters — informal symbols for the Russian military campaign — were also painted at the entrance to the territory. 

The dead men had their hands tied behind their back and most of them had several gunshot wounds, not just to the head, but also to the lower limbs. There were several cartridge casings on the floor next to the bodies. 

Volunteers removed the bodies and placed them in body bags, which were later taken away.  

A volunteer told CNN they have been recovering bodies in large numbers, saying, “it’s in the hundreds, not dozens.” The volunteer and his unit showed CNN the body bags of at least 30 people who had been recovered on Sunday, plus an additional nine on Monday, including the five found in the basement.  

That unit is one of several operating in the outskirts of Kyiv. 

11:33 a.m. ET, April 4, 2022

US defense official: About two-thirds of Russian troops who were centered around Kyiv have departed the area

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

About two thirds of Russian troops that were centered around Ukraine’s capital city, Kyiv, have “departed the area,” a senior US defense official told reporters Monday. 

The troops that have left the area around Kyiv are “heading north,” and “consolidating in Belarus,” the official said. 

“What we continue to believe is that they’re going to be refit, resupplied, perhaps maybe even reinforced with additional manpower, and then sent back into Ukraine to continue fighting elsewhere,” the official added. 

The US “assessment” is that these troops will be “applied in the eastern party of the country, in the Donbas region,” to fight there, the official said. 

“Our best assessment, and it is only an assessment, is that they will be applied in the eastern part of the country in the Donbas region, but that is an assessment only,” the official said.

A “bitter fight” continues over Mariupol, but “there are no indications that the Russians have made any progress” in taking the city, the official said.

Russian forces are now “much more to a defensive posture” around Kherson, the official said.

“We assess that in the Kherson area, as we’ve been talking about for the last few days, the Russians have kind of gotten pinched between Kherson and Mykolaiv. We now assess that they’ve shifted much more to a defensive posture around Kherson,” the official added.

Russian forces are “still flying about more than 200 sorties a day,” and “most of their airstrikes are focusing on the Izyum area,” the official said.

9:07 p.m. ET, April 4, 2022

Mariupol is "on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe," mayor says 

From CNN's Yulia Presniakova in Lviv

A woman walks past a damaged building in Mariupol on April 1.
A woman walks past a damaged building in Mariupol on April 1. (Victor/Xinhua/Getty Images)

The besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol is "on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe," with over 100,000 people still requiring evacuation, Mayor Vadym Boichenko said in a televised press briefing.

"The situation in Mariupol remains very difficult," he said. "We are on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe — no light, no water, no food, no medicine for more than a month. Therefore, we insist that Mariupol must be given a full evacuation and access to the city. But we see that today the Russian Federation is blocking all humanitarian aid moving in the direction of Mariupol. And no cargo reached Mariupol."

Boichenko said no evacuation buses had yet reached the city, despite agreements between Russia and Ukraine to open evacuation corridors. Some residents, he said, had managed to reach the nearby Russian-held city of Berdiansk in private cars, but added that the route was "very difficult and intermittent." 

About 90,000 people have managed evacuation along the corridor between Berdiansk and the Ukrainian government-held city of Zaporizhzhia, he said, but added that more than 100,000 people still trapped in Mariupol.

"Today there are more than 100,000 people in Mariupol, whom we plan to but cannot evacuate. That is why we are asking the international community today to unite for the complete evacuation of the residents of Mariupol," Boichenko said.

12:00 p.m. ET, April 4, 2022

US President Biden calls Bucha atrocities a "war crime"

From CNN's Allie Malloy

US President Joe Biden speaks to reporters upon arrival at Fort McNair in Washington, DC, on April 4.
US President Joe Biden speaks to reporters upon arrival at Fort McNair in Washington, DC, on April 4. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden Monday called the atrocities committed by Russia and President Vladimir Putin in Bucha, Ukraine, a “war crime” but said it was not a genocide, adding that he is looking into more sanctions on Russia.

“You may remember I got criticized for calling Putin a war criminal. Well the truth of the matter is you saw what happened in Bucha. This warrants him — he is a war criminal. But we have to gather the information. We have to continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons they need to continue the fight and we have to get all the details so this can be an actual — have a war crime trial. This guy is brutal and what’s happening in Bucha is outrageous and everyone’s seen it,” Biden told reporters upon landing in Washington, DC.

Asked whether the crimes committed in Bucha warrant the situation a genocide, Biden told reporters,“ No. I think it’s a war crime.”

Biden also said he was “seeking more sanctions” and would be announcing them shortly.

11:09 a.m. ET, April 4, 2022

Ukraine's top prosecutor calls scenes in Kyiv region "evidence of brutal war crimes of Russian Federation"

From CNN's Katharina Krebs in London

The scenes in the towns of the Kyiv region freed from Russian control were "crucial evidence of brutal war crimes of the Russian Federation," Ukraine's Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said in a statement published on Sunday via her verified Facebook page.

"The tortured Kyiv region is not a route for political tourism, but a crime scene," Venediktova said, urging prosecutions in Ukrainian and international courts. 

Substantial evidence of the massacre of civilians has emerged in recent days in suburbs of Kyiv, such as Bucha and Irpin.

To date, 410 bodies of slain civilians have been removed from Kyiv region and 140 of them have already been examined by prosecutors and other specialists, according to Venediktova.

The Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, together with the pre-trial investigation bodies, the military command, and the Military Law Enforcement Service, are working to document alleged crimes committed by Russian troops, she said.

Here are some more details she provided:

  • Ukrainian authorities have subdivided the region into areas of responsibility in which investigative and operational groups of prosecutors and the National Police are working.
  • Forensic inspectors, explosives technicians, K-9 teams and doctors are involved in site inspections.
  • The State Emergency Service are first on site to clear out unexploded ordnance left behind.
  • In Bucha region alone, there are more than 50 National Police officers and prosecutors currently involved in conducting urgent investigative actions.
  • The Office of the Prosecutor General will further increase the number of investigative task forces to ensure efficient collection of the evidence of war crimes.

Officials have said efforts are underway to search for witnesses, victims and to collect photo and video evidence.

The Russian Ministry of Defense has issued blanket denials in response to intense international outcry, calling claims of alleged war crimes "fake."