April 5, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Melissa Macaya, Jason Kurtz, Maureen Chowdhury, Aditi Sangal, Helen Regan, Travis Caldwell, Ben Church, Lianne Kolirin and Seán Federico O'Murchú, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, April 6, 2022
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3:18 p.m. ET, April 5, 2022

Portugal will expel 10 Russian embassy staff members, foreign ministry says 

From CNN’s Alex Hardie and Duarte Mendonca

Portugal will expel 10 staff members of the Russian embassy in Lisbon, Portuguese foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. 

The activities of the 10 employees, declared now as “persona non grata,” were “contrary to national security” of Portugal, the statement said, adding that they will have two weeks to leave the country. 

None of the 10 people are “career diplomats,” according to the ministry.   

“The Portuguese Government reiterates its firm and vehement condemnation of Russian aggression on Ukrainian territory,” it added.

Italy, Sweden, Spain, Estonia, Denmark and Latvia all announced Tuesday that they would expel Russian diplomats and staff members from their respective territories. 

2:55 p.m. ET, April 5, 2022

US sanctions Russia's "most prominent" dark web market

From CNN's Sean Lyngaas

The US Treasury Department on Tuesday sanctioned what it called Russia’s “most prominent” dark web market, a place where cybercriminals sold hacking tools and where millions of dollars in ransomware payments changed hands. 

The sanctions coincided with a move by German police to shut down the computer servers of Hydra, as the dark web market is known, and seize $25 million in cryptocurrency.  

Since emerging in 2015, the Hydra dark web market — an internet-based network accessible through specialized software — has been a haven for illicit commerce, according to researchers and US officials. Over $5 billion in bitcoin transactions have taken place on Hydra, according to Elliptic, a firm that tracks cryptocurrency. 

That includes about $8 million in ransom payments made to hackers that have deployed three prominent strains of ransomware in attacks on US companies.  

“The global threat of cybercrime and ransomware that originates in Russia, and the ability of criminal leaders to operate there with impunity, is deeply concerning to the United States,” Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen said in a statement

After a spate of ransomware attacks on US critical infrastructure last year, the Biden administration has looked to choke off sources of funding for cybercriminal gangs. The Treasury Department in September sanctioned Suex, a cryptocurrency exchange that US officials accused of doing business with hackers behind eight types of ransomware.

5:11 p.m. ET, April 5, 2022

Regional military governor: 6 killed and 8 injured after shelling hits Kharkiv and region

From CNN's Kostan Nechyporenko in Vasylkiv and Nathan Hodge in Lviv

(CNN)
(CNN)

Oleh Syniehubov, the military governor of Ukraine's Kharkiv region, said Tuesday that Russian shelling had killed six people and injured another eight in the city of Kharkiv and the region over the past day. 

"Over the past day, the occupiers have struck 54 strikes from various long-range weapons: artillery strikes, mortar and tank shelling, MLRS shelling. The districts of Saltivka, Pyatihatka, Oleksiyivka, Kholodna Hora, Derhachi, Barvinkove, Chuhuiv were affected," he said in a statement on Telegram. "Among the civilian population there are victims of yesterday's shelling in Kharkiv and Chuhuiv. In Kharkiv and the district — four dead, three people were hospitalized. In Chuhuiv district — two dead, five injured."

On Monday, Col. Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, said Russia was focusing efforts to surround Ukraine's Joint Forces Operation troops in the country's east and capture the city of Kharkiv. 

"The Kharkiv region is ready for any scenario, our Armed Forces of Ukraine are on the positions and defending the region. We have to keep a strong rear," Syniehubov said.

9:17 p.m. ET, April 5, 2022

Regional military governor confirms strike by Russian forces on children's hospital in Mykolaiv

From CNN's Nathan Hodge in Lviv 

The military governor of Ukraine's Mykolaiv region posted a video Tuesday that appeared to show shelling of a children's hospital on Monday.

"Yesterday's attack on a secret medical facility — a children's hospital," Vitalii Kim said, without further elaboration.

The video appears to show CCTV footage of a blast hitting parked ambulances. 

Late Monday evening, Kim put out a separate statement reporting casualties in the city due to shelling.

It was unclear if Kim was referring to the same incident in both statements. On Tuesday, the aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) gave a more detailed statement that describing a strike on a hospital in Mykolaiv.

"On April 4, a four-person team from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) visited Mykolaiv, Ukraine, to meet with city and regional health authorities," the statement read. "As the MSF team entered the city's oncology hospital, which has been treating the wounded since the beginning of the war, the area around the hospital came under fire at about 3:30 p.m. local time."

"Several explosions took place in close proximity to our staff over the course of about 10 minutes," said Michel-Olivier Lacharité, MSF head of mission in Ukraine, in the statement furnished by MSF. "As they were leaving the area, the MSF team saw injured people and at least one dead body. However, we are not in a position to give exact numbers of dead and injured. Fortunately, our staff were able to take cover and were not hurt in the explosions, although the windows of their vehicle, parked outside the hospital entrance, were blown out by the blasts."

MSF also stated that the regional pediatric hospital, about 300 meters away, was also hit in the strike.

2:28 p.m. ET, April 5, 2022

US Democratic lawmakers ask President Biden to strengthen cyber assistance to Ukraine

From CNN's Sean Lyngaas

A pair of Democratic lawmakers is asking US President Joe Biden to increase cybersecurity assistance to Ukraine and European allies in the aftermath of a hack that disrupted service at a key Ukrainian internet service provider last month. 

In a letter to Biden on Tuesday shared with CNN, Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Bill Keating, both of Massachusetts, expressed concern that Russia could lash out with further cyberattacks in Ukraine or with hacking that tests NATO’s resolve as Russian military progress in Ukraine stalls.

A cyberattack last week on Ukrtelecom, which describes itself as Ukraine’s largest “fixed line” internet and phone provider, that reportedly knocked connectivity down at the telecom operator to 13% of its pre-war levels.

The lawmakers, both members of their respective chamber’s foreign affairs committees, want a newly formed cybersecurity bureau at the State Department to bolster US cooperation with Ukraine and European allies on cybersecurity issues, and in turn help defend against Russian hacking threats. 

A spokesperson for Markey’s office called the $37 million the White House requested from Congress to run the bureau in fiscal 2023 a “strong starting point,” but said that it was “imperative” that the State Department coordinate with government entities like the US Cyber Command and the Department of Homeland Security that have long provided cybersecurity assistance to Ukraine. 

CNN has reached out to the White House for comment. 

Separate from the new bureau, the State Department has overseen millions of dollars in aid to Kyiv to shore up its networks in recent years. And the head of US Cyber Command, the military’s hacking unit, said Tuesday that the command dispatched a team of cyber specialists to Ukraine late last year to help defend Ukrainian infrastructure.

More on the hacks: While there have been an array of Russia-linked hacking incidents against Ukrainian organizations since the war began, there haven’t been the level of disruptive hacks against critical infrastructure that some analysts feared.  

One exception was a cyberattack at the onset of the war that knocked out internet service for tens of thousands of satellite modems in Ukraine and elsewhere in Europe. US officials are investigating that incident as a potential state-sponsored Russian hack, CNN previously reported.

On March 21, Biden warned US business executives that “the magnitude of Russia's cyber capacity is fairly consequential and it's coming." So far, no consequential hacks on US organizations publicly attributed to the Russian government have emerged. But US officials continue to prepare for the possibility. 

Markey and Keating asked Biden to “promptly” nominate an ambassador-at-large to lead the State Department’s new cybersecurity bureau. (Secretary of State Antony Blinken told State Department employees Monday that Biden would nominate someone for the role “very soon.”)

The Democratic lawmakers also want to know what lessons the Biden administration have learned from Russian hacking in Ukraine in recent weeks. 

“How is the Administration coordinating U.S. government agencies to apply these lessons to shore up potential U.S. vulnerabilities as well as those of our allies and partners?” Markey and Keating wrote to Biden, asking for answers by April 29.

2:10 p.m. ET, April 5, 2022

Zelensky has addressed 19 global parliaments since Russia’s invasion began

From CNN staff

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has so far addressed 19 global parliaments in a bid to drum up support during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to CNN's count. 

Described by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison last month as a "lion of democracy," Zelensky has also addressed four multilateral institutions — the United Nations Security Council, the European Council, G7 and NATO — and he also spoke virtually at the Doha Forum. In addition, he delivered a pre-taped message to the Grammy Awards on Sunday evening.  

His first virtual address was to the European Parliament on March 1 and his latest address was to the Spanish Parliament on Tuesday.  

His second address was to the UK Parliament on March 8, with subsequent addresses every few days to the following countries' governments: Poland, Canada, United States, Germany, Switzerland, Israel, Italy, France, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Australia and Romania.

2:40 p.m. ET, April 5, 2022

In address to Spanish Parliament, Ukraine’s Zelensky compares Russian invasion to Nazi bombing of Guernica

From CNN’s Al Goodman in Madrid

Attendees applaud the appearance of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the Spanish Parliament on April 5 in Madrid.
Attendees applaud the appearance of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the Spanish Parliament on April 5 in Madrid. (R.Rubio/Europa Press/Pool/AP)

President Volodymyr Zelensky invoked the Nazi and Italian fascist air raid bombing of the Spanish Basque town of Guernica in 1937 as he described Russia's modern-day Ukrainian invasion.

The Ukraine President made the remarks while addressing the Spanish Parliament on Tuesday, saying, "Just imagine, people in Europe now are spending weeks in basements to save their lives from shelling and air bombardment. It’s April 2022, but it feels like April 1937, when everybody found out about Guernica.”

Guernica came under a surprise attack in April 1937, during Spain’s civil war, when the German and Italian dictators — Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini — sent warplanes to support General Francisco Franco, the eventual winner of the conflict.

Pablo Picasso’s iconic painting, Guernica, depicted the deadly attack.

“Just imagine, Ukrainian mothers are writing in pen on the backs of their children, the child’s name and phone number, so that if the occupier kills the parents, the child has a chance to save itself,” Zelensky said.

The Ukrainian leader thanked Spain for its recent shipments of weapons to Ukraine, but asked for more. He lauded Spain’s support of economic sanctions against Russia, but also called for more, “really powerful sanctions.” 

Zelensky said that while some Spanish companies have stopped business dealings in Russia after the war started, others have continued doing business with Moscow, and he cited several by name.   

“I think you know them better than me,” he told the parliament. “Please stop doing business with Russia.”

2:00 p.m. ET, April 5, 2022

Twitter says it will no longer amplify or recommend Russian government accounts — stops short of a full ban

From CNN's Brian Fung

Twitter said Tuesday it will no longer amplify or recommend Russian government accounts on its platform, bringing its stance on Kremlin-linked accounts closer in line with its approach to Russian state media. 

Twitter accounts operated by the Russian government will no longer "be amplified or recommended to people on Twitter, including across the Home Timeline, Explore, Search, and other places on the service," the company said in a blog post.  

The move reflects a new policy Twitter said it is unveiling to ensure the free flow of information. The policy states that Twitter will not amplify or recommend accounts on its platform run by governments that are "engaged in armed interstate conflict" and that are also simultaneously restricting "access to free information."

The policy is being invoked for the first time against Russia in light of its invasion of Ukraine, and it follows concerns voiced by civil society groups that official Russian accounts have continued to promote propaganda about the war.

However, Tuesday's announcement stops short of a full ban, in another example of the policy tightrope that social media companies have had to walk since Russia's invasion. 

The Russian government collectively has millions of followers across numerous accounts, including several operated by the office of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia's foreign and defense ministries, and diplomatic missions. 

Twitter's announcement comes after critics highlighted the discrepancy between the company's earlier actions to limit Russian state media on its platform — such as content from Sputnik and RT — and its comparatively hands-off approach to Russian government accounts. 

1:24 p.m. ET, April 5, 2022

US will announce new sanction package on Russia tomorrow, Biden administration official says

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Phil Mattingly

People receive humanitarian aid in Bucha, located near Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 5.
People receive humanitarian aid in Bucha, located near Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 5. (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

The US will announce new sanctions on Russia Wednesday in coordination with G7 nations and the European Union, according to a member of US President Joe Biden's administration, who said the sweeping package "will impose significant costs on Russia and send it further down the road of economic, financial, and technological isolation."

The new sanctions package will ban all new investment in Russia, increase sanctions on financial institutions and state-owned enterprises in Russia and sanction Russian government officials and their family members. 

"These measures will degrade key instruments of Russian state power, impose acute and immediate economic harm on Russia, and hold accountable the Russian kleptocracy that funds and supports Putin’s war," the official said. "These measures will be taken in lock step with our allies and partners, demonstrating our resolve and unity in imposing unprecedented costs on Russia for its war against Ukraine."

The official added, "We had already concluded that Russia committed war crimes in Ukraine, and the information from Bucha appears to show further evidence of war crimes. And as the President said, we will work with the world to ensure there is full accountability for these crimes. One of those tools is sanctions — and we have been working intensively with our European allies on further sanctions."