April 6, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Maureen Chowdhury, Mike Hayes, Jason Kurtz, Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner, Travis Caldwell, Helen Regan, Seán Federico O'Murchú, Amy Woodyatt, Jack Bantock, Lauren Said-Moorhouse and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, April 7, 2022
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1:13 p.m. ET, April 6, 2022

Lebanon "struggling" to find wheat market alternatives as Ukraine war hits commodity reserves, official says

From CNN's Mostafa Salem in Abu Dhabi

A bakery is seen in Beirut, Lebanon, on April 6.
A bakery is seen in Beirut, Lebanon, on April 6. (Hussam Shbaro/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Lebanon, which lost its wheat reserves following the 2020 Beirut port blast, is struggling to find new markets that meet its bread qualifications due to the war on Ukraine, the country's minister of trade and economy told CNNs Becky Anderson. 

Lebanon imports 80% of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine, and is “the most vulnerable state” in the Middle East and North Africa region due to its weakened economy, said the trade and economy minister, Amin Salam. 

“We have been in touch with a number of countries, including the US, France, India, Kazakhstan … because we really need small quantities in Lebanon given the size of the population,” Salam said. 

The minister said the country is looking for support from these wheat producers as it struggles with challenges related to the economy and low purchasing power. 

“Lebanon has not recovered yet from the global inflation on food and commodities after Covid-19, now we have this issue that adds another layer of difficulty at a time where Lebanon is struggling with the economy," Salam said.

An International Monetary Fund negotiating delegation is currently in Lebanon meeting officials in extensive meetings to reach an agreement for an economic rescue deal, Salam said. 

“We are hoping that we will have very soon a staffing agreement in place,” he said. 

“We know that our national reserves are at a very difficult place, but we are very confident that the IMF agreement will help Lebanon get out of the crisis," Salam said.

Salam denied that Lebanon’s Central Bank is bankrupt but it is at a stage that is looking at the national reserves directly impacting all depositors.

“That it is why it is very important to put IMF together now to avoid getting into this difficult spot,” he said. 

12:59 p.m. ET, April 6, 2022

US ambassador to the UN says China is "uncomfortable" in supporting Moscow

From CNN’s Emmet Lyons and Claire Calzonetti  

(CNN)
(CNN)

The United States ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told CNN on Wednesday that Beijing is “uncomfortable” in supporting Russia in relation to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.  

“I can tell you that they're [China] uncomfortable in this position, and you will note that in most of the votes they abstained, they did not vote with Russia, they abstained,” Thomas-Greenfield told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview.  

“While some abstentions were a disappointment, a China abstention was seen as an important message that China is not full bore on Russia’s side in this unconscionable war against Ukraine,” she added.  

On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for Russia to be removed as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and questioned whether the institution was fit for purpose.  

“It is obvious that the key institution of the world designed to combat aggression and ensure peace cannot work effectively,” Zelensky said, addressing the council directly via videolink. 

Speaking to Amanpour from her UN office in New York, Thomas-Greenfield said that she understood the Ukrainian leader’s frustration and acknowledged that the security council has been unable to stop the war. However, she said that the council should be “recognized” for isolating Russia. 

“Their veto does not veto the ability for us to call them out. The fact that President Zelensky was able to speak to the security council with Russia sitting in the room and see that horrific film that he showed, shows the power of the council, that we are able to call them out, to condemn them, to isolate them before the world so they don't use this platform as a permanent member of the security council to press their propaganda,” the ambassador said.  

“No one believes it. There were 14 countries speaking yesterday, all 14 countries called for Russia to cease this effort against Ukraine. So while we can't stop the war, we can make it very difficult for Russia to sit comfortably in this council and promote the lies and the propaganda,” she continued.  

The ambassador said that Russia’s aggression has led to a united front among NATO countries and “a strong coalition of condemnation.”    

“I don't think Russia is winning this propaganda war. They are succeeding inside their own country, and we have to make a greater effort to get information in to Russians themselves, so they know their young boys are dying, their bodies are being left in the streets, they are not being brought home. That's the message we have to get to the Russian people,” she told Amanpour.  

Amanpour asked Thomas-Greenfield about the UN Security Council’s historic failures, and cited Srebrenica, a town that the security council had designated a “safe area” under UN protection before it fell to Bosnian Serb forces in 1995. When pressed on whether she thinks about these failures when addressing the issue of Ukraine, the US ambassador said that it goes through her mind “every single day.”   

Thomas-Greenfield pointed to the fact that the US has this week called for a suspension of Russia from the UN Human Rights Council.  

“We cannot make any mistakes here, we have to keep pressure on Russia, we have to call out what they are doing,” she told CNN, adding that “We know that they are committing war crimes.” 

12:09 p.m. ET, April 6, 2022

Head of Kharkiv military administration announces evacuation of 2 cities 

From CNN's Julia Presniakova in Lviv

Oleh Syniehubov, the head of the Kharkiv regional military administration, said Wednesday authorities would evacuate two towns in the southern part of the region, Lozova and Barvinkove, as a precaution amid escalating fighting in eastern Ukraine. 

"We will centrally evacuate those cities in coordination with the Armed Forces of Ukraine, in particular in the Izium direction: Lozova city, Barvinkove city — in order to prevent and possibly reduce casualties among civilians in the event of relocation of active hostilities to the vicinity of these settlements," he 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 Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said earlier this week.

Syniehubov said no decision had been made for the centralized evacuation of the city of Kharkiv. 

12:29 p.m. ET, April 6, 2022

Russia forces near Kyiv and Chernihiv have completely withdrawn, US defense official says

From CNN's Michael Conte

People walk in front of a destroyed building in Chernihiv on April 5.
People walk in front of a destroyed building in Chernihiv on April 5. (Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The US assesses that Russian forces have completely withdrawn from areas near Kyiv and Chernihiv to “reconsolidate and refit in Belarus and in Russia,” according to a senior US defense official.

The official also said Russia has still not “secured” Mariupol despite isolating the city.

Russia has now launched more than 1,450 missiles against Ukraine since the invasion, the official said.

The alleged atrocities in Bucha appear to be “premeditated,” “planned” and “very, very deliberate,” the official added, saying it’s “difficult to know” what motivated Russian forces to commit such acts, but that they sent a message to the world of “Russia’s brutality.”

11:49 a.m. ET, April 6, 2022

UK will ban Russian coal and freeze asset of Russia's largest bank 

From CNN's Mia Alberti and Lauren Kent 

The United Kingdom on Wednesday announced a new set of sanctions against Russia "to starve Putin's war machine,” according to a statement by the British Foreign Office.

Britain's fifth package of sanctions on Moscow over the war in Ukraine include a full asset freeze on Russia's largest bank, Sberbank, and Credit Bank of Moscow, as well as a ban on new British investment in Russia which was worth over $14 billion in 2020, the statement said.  

Britain will end all its dependency on Russian coal and oil by the end of 2022, and end imports of gas “as soon as possible thereafter,” as well as exports of oil equipment and catalysts and imports of iron and steel products, it added.

"This will be another major hit to the Russian economy and further limit their future capabilities,” the British government said in the statement. 

The UK also sanctioned eight additional Russian oligarchs, whom Russian President Vladimir Putin "uses to prop up his war economy," the statement added.  

"Our latest wave of measures will bring an end to the UK's imports of Russian energy and sanction yet more individuals and businesses, decimating Putin’s war machine," British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said, calling the newest sanctions the "toughest" yet.  

"Together with our allies, we are showing the Russian elite that they cannot wash their hands of the atrocities committed on Putin's orders. We will not rest until Ukraine prevails," she added. 

11:45 a.m. ET, April 6, 2022

Heavy shelling strikes residential districts of Ukraine's Luhansk region, military governor says

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Lviv

The town of Severodonetsk has been heavily shelled, the head of the Luhansk region's military administration said Wednesday, adding that 10 high-rise buildings in the town were on fire. 

"The Russians fired on Severodonetsk — 10 high-rise buildings are on fire," regional governor Serhii Haidai said on Telegram. "Information about casualties is being clarified."

While the shelling did not hit any strategic or military facilities, it did hit a factory workshop in Lysychansk and a house in Rubizhne, Haidai said.

Russian forces had hit towns and villages of Luhansk region a total of 81 times over the previous night, Haidai added.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces were observing the arrival of new Russian forces, in preparation for what Ukrainian officials have warned may be an offensive in the coming days, he wrote.

Earlier in the day, Haidai issued a statement calling for the evacuation of several towns in the region.

"To date, about 30,000 people have been evacuated," he said. "How many people have left on their own is impossible to calculate."

12:56 p.m. ET, April 6, 2022

US won't participate in G20 meetings with Russians

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaks during the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaks during the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday. (Evan Vucci/AP)

The United States won't participate in G20 meetings that Russia is participating in, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Wednesday.

Speaking at the House Financial Services Committee, Yellen said she'd made that position clear to other finance ministers in the group.

"President Biden’s made clear, and I certainly agree with him, that it cannot be business as usual for Russia in any of the financial institutions," Yellen said. "He’s asked that Russia be removed from the G20 and I’ve made clear to my colleagues in Indonesia that we will not be participating in a number of meetings if the Russians are there."

Yellen was referring in her remarks to a number of upcoming G20 finance ministers meetings scheduled for later this month, a person familiar with the matter said.

Another official said the White House had not ruled out US President Joe Biden attending this year's G20 summit should Russia participate. The leaders' summit is not for another seven months.

Biden said during a news conference in Brussels last month that Russia should be ejected from the G20, but there would need to be agreement among other members to formalize the move.

The next G20 leaders summit is set for November in Indonesia. There are ministerial meetings ahead of that gathering. 

10:50 a.m. ET, April 6, 2022

US sanctions on Russia are not "permanent" and can be reversed

From CNN's Kevin Liptak 

US sanctions on Russia are not permanent and may be reversed if Moscow changes course in Ukraine, a senior administration official said.

"It's a negative feedback loop. So we deny capital, we deny technology, we deny talent that can flow into Russia, and the combination of the steps that we're taking create this downward spiral that accelerates the more that Putin escalates," the official said.

The White House has not said specifically what Russian President Vladimir Putin must do to see the sanctions reversed, but the official said Wednesday they are willing to scale down should Russia "change course."

"And if he were to change course, someday, that negative feedback loop would slow and could possibly reverse," the official went on. "None of this is permanent. The only aspect that's permanent are the lives that he's taken away and he can never bring those back.  

"But the sanctions are designed to be able to respond to the conditions on the ground and to create leverage for the outcome we seek," the official went on.

11:25 a.m. ET, April 6, 2022

US officials have disrupted a Russian botnet. Here's what that means.

From CNN's Sean Lyngass

US officials have seized control of a vast Russian government-controlled “botnet” — or army of thousands of infected computers that can be used for cyberattacks, saying that the Russians have used "similar infrastructure" against Ukranian targets.

The botnet was controlled by a unit within the Russian GRU military intelligence agency known for disruptive cyberattacks such as the 2015 and 2016 hacks that cut power in Ukraine, FBI Director Christopher Wray said.

Botnets have a range of potential uses, from knocking websites offline to more disruptive hacks that render computers inoperable. It was not immediately clear what specific hacks may have been thwarted, but Wray said that thousands of small businesses around the world had been infected with the GRU malware. 

US officials have been on high alert for potential Russian cyberattacks, particularly following President Joe Biden’s recent warning to business executives that “Russia's cyber capacity is fairly consequential and it's coming.”